Set Your Faith Thermostat ~ higher

 

 

Raise up your faith level…

This winter more than half the USA is in a deep freeze. Temperatures in many of the fifty states are in double digests below zero. This brought to mind an illustration about faith I’d heard Pastor George Pearsons of Eagle Mountain International Church give. He said that you have to set your faith thermometer higher. I think that is so good, especially if you were not born into a Christian home where they talked about faith on a daily basis. I was not born into a Christian home and, as an adult, had to first start learning about the wonderful gift from God of faith.

So, what exactly is faith. Well in Hebrews 11: 1-3 the Bible tells us exactly what faith is. In my opinion, the Bible is written to everyone, but it’s for Christians, and the part that is the Old Testament is also for Jews. It’s to everyone in a historical literature sense, you might say. You could read the Bible to find out how some ancient religious peoples lived and interacted with their God. And then you might wonder how this book, this Bible has impacted the world over the course of centuries. However, to Bible believing Christians, it’s so much more that that. It’s teachings are the way we live out our lives on a practical daily basis. It’s the ‘Owner’s Manual’. If you own a car and you want to know something about how the thing is supposed to operate, you turn to the manufacturer’s ‘Owner’s Manual’. If you’re smart, you do.

So, we want to know what faith is, and we turn to the ‘Owner’s Manual’ in Hebrews 11:1 to see what the Manufacturer has to say about it. This is our foundational Scripture for this study.

Now faith is the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen. ~ Hebrews 11:1, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

There is so much in this one Scripture. First off, it tells us that ‘faith is’. Faith isn’t in the past or in the future. It’s now in the present. And it’s the present ‘certainty of things hoped for’. So, faith is the present certainty. So, as we believers raise our faith level, we become more and more certain of what we hope for. As we raise our faith thermostat, we become certain in the present that what we have hoped and prayed for is ours, as long as it’s within God’s will. We find out what God’s will in by studying the Bible.

And the Bible tells us we can hope for things because faith is ‘a proof of things not seen’. I like the NASB because it strives to be as close to the original ancient Greek language as possible. Some Bibles are translated to be easy to read. Some Bibles strive to use more modern vernacular. Some Bibles are not translations at all but are paraphrasing. I like the NASB because it is a translation following as closely as English can to the original Greek. It says, ‘a proof of things not seen’. So, for believers there could be other proofs besides your faith. You might have a godly dream or some other sign that your children have come to know God and are saved, or that you are healed, or that you have a new and better working vehicle, or a good home for your family to live in, or that your church has grown in numbers and in the faith. These may not be realities in the natural, but you see them as being, as existing in the spiritual realm.  These are all things. They are good things and they fall under the faith umbrella. All of the ‘things’ mentioned above are all things that according to Scripture God would not be against you having. These other ‘proofs’ might include another Christian having a strong inner witness to pray for your children to be saved, or your bills to be paid, not knowing that is what you’ve asked God for. This would be spiritual confirmation (proof) to bolster your faith and would help to keep your faith strong. Sometimes faith brings about the desired result quickly, sometimes it takes years. As we mature as Christians, we build the muscles of our faith when we have to stand in faith for a long time.

Getting back to the illustration of the thermometer. What we do is set our faith above what we naturally can achieve, or above what would be easy for us to achieve. If we can, at the snap of our fingers, achieve it, we don’t need faith. Is there a dream in our hearts that we feel is from God? Something we come back to in our imagination…in our deep desire? Pray. Seek the Lord, and if it’s from God, why not go for it. Raise the faith thermometer a bit. What is the first step?

Another Christian teacher I admire is Joyce Meyer. She says, “Put your big toe in the water.” Find out what you have to do to prepare, find out what skills you need and begin the process. Don’t jump into the pool over your head, but do put your foot in the water. And keep that faith thermometer raised above what you of yourself can easily achieve and/or obtain. If believers keep exercising their faith for what God has for them, then they will  have an exciting and fulfilling life. For certain, it won’t be dull.

 

 

Snakebite to the Soul ~ and the anti-venom

God’s Word has an answer for every problem you have…

The Apostle Paul knew about snakebite. First, the primitive tribal people of Malta thought he was a murderer and worthy of death by snakebite. Then when he shook the offending snake off and lived, they wanted to worship him. That’s the fickle nature of humanity. Paul had to explain to them that he was not a god, but that the God he served saved him from death by snakebite.

As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand. The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.” But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god. ~ Acts 28: 2-6, New Living Translation [NLT]

Today, although it is possible that believers could be bitten by a reptilian snake and that God could save their lives, it’s much more likely that they will become the victims of poisoning of their soul. The enemy (the deceiver, Satan) can do things to poison our soul, but it’s just as likely that we are the ones poisoning our own souls with strife, unforgiveness, bitterness, malice, etc.

 Is it possible we’re choked with bitterness, we’re continually caught up in anger, persistent resentfulness, or we’re planning revenge? The godly antidote for this is forgiveness. Forgiveness is not an emotional issue. It’s a spiritual decision. We decide to be obedient to the Word of God and we forgive. Yes, we even forgive our enemies! We commit ourselves to the Lord and His Word no matter how we feel. We feed on Scripture as our prescribed medicine. We read and say the corresponding Scriptures aloud. Such as…

25 And whenever you stand praying, if you find that you carry something in your heart against another person, release him and forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also release you and forgive you of your faults. ~ The Passion Translation [TPT]

21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” 22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! ~ New Living Translation [NLT]

It’s so interesting that the decision to forgive and the act of forgiveness is releasing to the forgiver. We are releasing the offending party from our consciousness. They have been taking up far too much space. We may have to do this act of releasing (i.e. forgiving) seventy times seven times. First, we have to realize that as long as we are consumed (bound) with hatred, anger, resentment, thoughts of revenge…the offending party is dominating our mind, will, and emotions…which spiritually in the Bible is our soul. We need to get free of the offending party. We need to perform an act of our will and forgive them. However, God didn’t make us stupid. We don’t have let them into our lives again. If we can’t avoid them because they are a member of our extended family, or we work with them…we don’t have to trust them, we can beware of them (be aware of their actions and schemes, having spiritual discernment with prayer. Pray for wisdom and protection). And avoid them as much as possible.

Are we murmurers and complainers? I have to confess that I had whining down to an art form. I’m sure my friends got tired of listening to me and thought, there she goes again. Over time, God dealt with me about this. I began to see that thankfulness (a posture and attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude) was the antidote to murmuring and complaining. If you come from a dysfunctional family like I do, you’ll understand how whining over the doling out of love and the short supply of positive reinforcement, continual disappointment, disillusionment, the embarrassment and shame due to ruined situations we thought should’ve been good, and much more has led to our whining. Through intimacy with God, and also with some good and sound teaching on the dangers of murmuring and the benefit of thanksgiving, I have largely walked out of habitual whining. First of all, whining, murmuring, and complaining are useless. They do no good and put other people off. That’s not a good return, not profitable. The Lord began to lead me back (and this was painful and still can be painful) to look at the people and early situations that disappointed, embarrassed, and shamed me. These were the ‘seeds’ of a habitual attitude on my part of whining and complaining. He showed me how (not just that) many of the people early in my life who hurt me were themselves broken people I should have compassion for. He began to show me little gems of joy, happiness, laughter in my early life that I could savor as memories..and give thanks for. Yes, give thanks. Many of the people in my early life were not saved. Even if they were, they didn’t have teaching on how to live a joyous and prosperous life. They were average Americans, from immigrant roots, trying to make a life and often blundering along the way. I now choose to remember the good while not denying the broken. When a painful, shaming memory comes to mind, I can chose to ‘quickly’ replace it with one of those nuggets of early happiness, fun, peace. When the enemy says, “Your family didn’t have it together much, did they?” I can now ‘quickly’ push him aside with memories of my grandmother’s good cooking and her love of feeding people. I can recall my dad, the high school teacher, reading bedtime stories to me and my brother. I can recall my mom baking her ‘Alaska Logs’ Christmas cookies on Christmas Eve. I can’t tell you how much this has freed me and made my present life a happier place. I’m not longer enshrining the pain.

Do we have deep sadness and are we in a state of mourning? Did we lose a spouse, a child, a parent, sibling, or friend far too young. As a widow, I know what sadness and mourning are. I’ve also lost two dear friends far too young. And, I’m also old enough to have lost both of my parents. Did you lose a house, a job, a business? As a maturing Christian, I know mourning is a process we have to go through to be healthy. Still, there is a time we must leave that deep state of mourning behind and get on with life. While, there is no cure for mourning, the very real feelings will surface from time to time,  they should not kill our joy. Our joy comes from the Lord.

Here are two Scriptures from the Word of the Lord to help us when we seem lost in grieving…

This one from Proverbs is one of my Scriptures. I claim it. It’s good to laugh, to have some fun, some lightness of spirit, even during mourning…maybe especially during mourning.

22 A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. ~ Proverbs 17:22, New King James Version [NJKV]

This one from Isaiah is so deep on so many levels, it’s good to study and meditate on when in the grip of mourning that seems consuming.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. 4 They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. ~ Isaiah 61: 1-4, English Standard Version [ESV]

So many times in her life, Detective Katerina “Kat” Andruko experienced sorrow, abandonment, and betrayal. She’s just starting to trust the city’s handsome forensic profiler, but she can’t shake that he could be a murder suspect.  COURTING DANGER

What Is The Kingdom of Heaven? ~ where is it?

A father and baby

After this manner therefore pray ye

I most often use the New American Standard Bible [NASB], thinking it’s the closest word-for-word translation of the Bible in English. Young’s Literal Translation [YLT] would be another one. However, there are some verses and entire sections of the Bible where I gravitate toward the King James Version [KJV] for its exquisite beauty. What we call “The Lord’s Prayer” is one of those sections, and in it Jesus tells us about the kingdom of God. This is where Jesus teaches us how to pray. And if Jesus said it, I know I can absolutely ‘take that check to the bank’. It’s good.

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. ~ Matthew 6:9-13, King James Version [KJV]

I placed the above text in red because the words of Jesus are often shown in red to honor them and also to point them out. So what is He telling us about the Kingdom of Heaven? He says, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” To me, to my mind and heart this is saying the kingdom of God is something that comes to earth and can exist on earth. And God’s will (the Father’s will) can be done on the earth as it is in heaven. That the kingdom of God is possible and available to us.

17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 14:17, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

This passage in Romans speaks to me saying the kingdom of God is here on earth in the Holy Spirit, and further than that in righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. When we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we are made righteous before the Father. That is how God sees us, washed in the blood of His Son and as righteousness. With all my being, I think that believers who have truly made Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior do NOT wish to sin, do not seek to sin, but strive to do God’s will and to be in God’s will. And that is our job…to fully submit to the Father’s will. Fully submitted to the Holy Spirit is where we will find the kingdom of God on earth.

Brother Kenneth Copeland points to John 5:30 to show us the “kingdom process” here on the earth.

Don’t like to snort-giggle out loud. Then DON’T read this book. HARMFUL INTENT! Detective story with a pulse racing plot. Murder, mayhem, drugs. Sometimes hilariously funny. As addictive as Stephanie Plumb but a #cleanrread. #humor #inspy 

Lighthearted ~ a word from the Lord

If we could lighten up some right about now, we’d all be better off.

I stood at the pumps, and it was one of those that gave a word for the day with its definition on a small screen. Today the word was lighthearted. In my spirit, I heard the Holy Spirit telling me, ‘That’s My Word for you. Only ponder the biblical aspects of lighthearted’. This verse immediately came to mind:

2“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is comfortable, and My burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-20 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

Then I thought of the Hebrew word Chesed that Brother Kenneth Copeland and D.Min. Greg Stephens have been teaching and insisting believers should walk in for their own benefit, the benefit of others, and ultimately to please God. Chesed? (You actually pronounce the first two letters as if you were bringing up flem, but in American English the “C” is silent) What is the Hebrew meaning?

  • kindness or love expressed between people
  • the devotional piety of people expressed towards God
  • The love or mercy of God expressed towards humanity, the refusal by God to wash His hands of wayward, lost people

Right now in the world there is an absence of lightness of spirit. People all over the world are burdened, fearful, and depressed for a myriad of reasons. But Chesed, God’s loving-kindness His tenderheartedness, His joy, His peace doesn’t depend on circumstances. We can be in the midst of a global pandemic, in political turmoil, social unrest, economic distress and still walk in God’s Chesed…His peace, mercy, love, and lightheartedness. In the midst, we can love others intensely. Our hearts (inner being) can become lighter, not emotionally and psychologically dependent upon world circumstances. Actually, right now it’s imperative that we walk in God’s Chesed…for our sanity’s sake. We can find the humor in crazy circumstances instead of letting the circumstances drive us crazy. We are made in the image and likeness of God. If we have many ways to demonstrate a sense of humor, that would indicate that God has a wonderful sense of humor. Also He made us, and that’s pretty funny.

Then another verse came to me, and in my opinion, here Jesus is not talking about heaven. He’s talking about what type of life can be available to believers here on earth. And I think it has everything to do with walking and having our being in Chesed.

and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you change and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 18:3 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

Then another verse popped up inside me.

35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 22: 35-40, New English Version [NEV]

What Is Christmas ~ all about?

 

 

 

Believers are the product of Christmas. We came from Him, from His bloodline. ~

Merry Christmas to one and all. The idea/concept of a merry Christmas season is something that delights my heart. And so much of Christmas is about this to me. Actually, so much of life is about this to me. Perhaps that’s because I’ve had so many things happen to me designed to steal my happiness and rob my joy. So, I’ve made a study of being merry and of good cheer and I’m striving to invite these two spirits into my thinking and being more and more each day.

Merry is actually a Bible word. Merry appears 28 times in the King James Version of the Bible. Merrily, once and Merryhearted, once. Cheer, ten time (eight of them ‘be of good cheer’). Cheerful, four times. Cheereth, Cheerfully, Cheefulness, each once.

So why is a merry/cheerful spirit or attitude associated with the Christmas season which begins with Advent on the fourth Sunday in November and ends on December 24th? First of all, Christmas means the celebration of the Christ, or of the Christ’s coming. In Roman Catholic Church, and in the Western Rite Orthodox churches, the Old Catholic churches, Eastern Catholic churches, some Lutheran churches, as well as in some Anglican churches the Mass is celebrated. The word Mass itself means ‘sent’, or in the case of Jesus ‘the One Who was sent’. We celebrate The One Who Was Sent in this Christmas season, the One who taught us about freedom of the spirit. That, in Him, we could be free. That in and of itself brings on a feeling of merriment, delight and good cheer. There is a place where we can be free from this world’s strife, rage, and hate and that place is in Jesus.

Wow! That’s what Christmas is all about. The celebration of the coming of the Christ. Jesus Christ. Christ isn’t Jesus’ last name. It’s more accurately stated Jesus the Christ. Christ means the Anointed One but it’s more than a title. It’s who He is, His very being, the Son of God in the flesh. He came to us as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem, entrusted to the care and protection of Joseph and Mary. He suckled at Mary’s breast like every other baby.

During this season, from time-to-time, almost every person thinks of Him as a baby…has that concept in their heads. For many that brings on a warm feeling. Joy. Gentleness. Kindness. Happiness. a Merry heart, and Good Cheer. Many of us want to help someone else, give to the less fortunate, share of our abundance.

Sharing with others makes us feel good. It’s the evidence of our prosperity. Yes, prosperity! Even if we only have a little, if we share some of it that is an act of prosperity. Christian prosperity starts with inner prosperity, the prosperity of the soul. That is something that should bring good cheer to our lives. Of course, the Bible teaches in many places, that it’s God’s will that we should prosper materially as well, that we should have enough, and that God is our source of enough.

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. ~ 3 John 1:2 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

And that is my Christmas wish for you all. That you would come to know Him and that you would prosper in all ways and be in good health, as your soul prospers…and that you will enjoy prospering in your soul and be merry, cheerful, and that you would laugh a lot. Merry Christmas.

My two Christmas season novels are ACTS OF MALICE and BLOOD SPEAKS.

The Season of Merriment and Good Cheer ~ is at hand

A concert

“…Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

The Bible speaks of merriment as something that is not only fun, but healing.

A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. ~ Proverbs 17:22 [New King James Version]

Twenty-five years ago, Norman Cousins, editor of the Saturday Review, American political journalist, professor, and world peace advocate, was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, an incurable and fatal spinal column illness of unknown cause. He did the traditional medical route, but they could not help him. He tried various ‘alternative remedies’ but was not cured. So, he did what he loved. He shut himself in his apartment for one month and read humorous stories and jokes, watched the old comedy movies (humor without mean barbs), and read ‘the funnies’. At the end of the month, when he returned to the hospital and, the doctors could find no trace of the disease. He was cured by intensive merriment and laughter.

Over nine months ago, I was given a serious diagnosis in the natural. One of my doctor’s personality and temperament leans toward optimism, while the other’s slides toward negatives. While I appreciate their medical knowledge and skill, I felt the Holy Spirit guiding me to research Christian healing. I looked back to the faith healers of decades ago and learned how to negate generational curses, word curses, and formal curses that might have impacted my life and health and could block healing. Present day healing preachers and teachers often stress finding healing Scriptures in the Bible that speak to you, then feed on them (reading them and saying them aloud continually, also writing them). Another contemporary practice is to regularly take communion at home for the purpose of healing. Since my diagnosis in late March, I’ve done all of these things…and I’ve seen progress in healing, supernaturally in my body. At the time of my partial healing, there was no medical reason for it. I almost can’t express my gratitude to the Lord, and my desire to draw closer to Him.

So, when I sensed the Holy Spirit guiding me toward humor as the next avenue toward my healing, I took it as gospel (good news). I felt the need to enjoy good, clean humor on a regular basis. Wholesome laughing (with not at someone and without meanness) is good medicine and should be a regular part of my life. Seeing the humor in difficult and painful situations brings good cheer and is healing.

Jesus said: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” ~ John16:33 [JKV]

It’s in red in the Bible. Jesus is telling us in Him we can have peace, the peace that passes understanding. His spirit that indwells us can give us His peace. After all, it is His peace that we want, not whatever little bit of momentary peace we can scratch together. Then He says that in the face of tribulation we can be of good cheer because His spirit lives in us, and He has overcome the world. So good cheer, a happy countenance, is something Jesus would like believers to have even in the face of stress, affliction, and trials. Sickness is the enemy putting all of that on us: stress, affliction, and trials.

I’ve been spending time on YouTube watching a few of my favorite Christian comedians go through their comedy routines…and I’ve been laughing out loud.

Jean Robertson, a classy lady, runs through her routines, such as convincing her husband to go white water rafting on the Colorado River with a Christian group from all denominations. You can guess how that turned out.

I’m tickled and warmed by Mark Lowry’s humor, ranging from gentle to raucous, drawing from his own life, having been born and raised in the church. Who knew growing up churched could be so funny.

And of course Shandra Pierce is hysterically funny. She has drawn from family experiences and activities, as well as from the deep pain in her life to make others laugh.

Jeff Foxworthy is just good old down home humor.

I also find Bob Smiley and Tim Hawking routines get me laughing. These two Christian stand up comics would probably be appealing to the younger generation.

And don’t forget to watch old movies, or contemporary comedy films without smut and without snide, rude, crude, debasing humor. Guard your heart from that. Not only is it not humor, it’s deadly to the inner man.

As we head toward Christmas, it’s a good idea to rev up our merriment and cheer and have a good laugh, and then laugh again and again. Hey, it’s healthy for body, mind, and spirit.

ribbon-green

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