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.

 

 

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]

You Can’t Go Back ~ victory is in your future!

car trip

God is always moving forward, not back!

You can’t go back and change what they did to you!

  • They didn’t treat you the way you should’ve been treated.
  • They didn’t love you in your family of origin.
  • They betrayed you.
  • They didn’t give you the promotion you worked so hard for.
  • They lied and gossiped about you.

My father and mother walked out and left me,
    but God took me in. ~ Psalms 27:10, The Message Bible [MSG]

You can’t go back and change what you did to others!

  • You lived with bitterness, and it spilled over onto others.
  • You weren’t responsible, and it harmed others.
  • You weren’t a loyal person, and you ruined past relationships.
  • You were lazy, and others had to do more than their share of duties/work.

For I will demonstrate my mercy to them and will forgive their evil deeds, and never remember again their sins. ~ Hebrews 8:12 [The Passion Translation, TPT]

As believers, we don’t need a PhD in theology to notice in the Bible God used a lot of highly imperfect people. They made mistakes and treated people badly, and/or others had treated them badly. In fact, it might be easier for God to use flawed people because, they’re not so ‘holier than thou’, that they can’t be used at all. It seems God picks people with a bit of humility who have been through some life battles who He can equip for His purposes. So, no matter what kind of a mess we’ve made, He can still use us for good. In the process, He can also bring peace and joy to our lives.

So what is it that is torking us off and twisting us up inside? Did we come from an abusive background, then married and divorced an abusive spouse, and we’re just mad, mad, mad? We can be blood bought and know we’re going to heaven and still have this low-level, simmering anger on the back burner. Our spirit was saved when we accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit came to dwell in our human spirits. But our souls (mind, will, and emotions) and flesh were not saved. Our souls and flesh have to be renewed and regenerated and this is a for the rest of our life journey.

There is a simple Biblical tool we can use to help us forget past hurts and to have more peace and joy in our lives. It’s the law of sewing and reaping. First of all, we’re to sew into good ground, not cast our seed toward someone or something we know is a poor prospect. For example if we were rejected by our parents as a child, then felt rejection since, and now feel lonely, we can sew friendliness. We don’t have to give money to someone, deep down, we know is a user. Remember…good ground. We don’t have to give money at all, or loan our car. Just friendliness.

Friendliness is of our inner self. Give a smile. Open and hold a door for someone. Say hello to people at church and remember their names, so you can use their name the next time. Introduce yourself to the pastor. Tell him/her what a good sermon it was. When their faces light up and they smile back, receive it and in that moment let it warm you. Let the experience go both ways. Ah, but you’ve always been reserved, an introvert. Receive it for what it is and feel good about it. It’s just a smile, a simple smile. It’s not a lifelong commitment. It’s not even an invitation to brunch, but it’s a start. Enjoy the moment, and resolve to move forward from there.

I have to keep telling myself these very things. I came from a reclusive family. We were definitely not movers and shakers in the local social scene. I had to learn how to make friends as an adult.  ~~  Don’t keep looking back at past hurts. Test the friendship water. Yes, test. Test! That’s using wisdom. Some people will not be up your alley. That doesn’t make them bad people. They’re just not your cup of tea. Smile and keep on going. Put your little toe into the shallow end of the people-pool. Keep engaging , keep smiling, laugh a little. It feels good.

 

ribbon pink

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Deep Healing Prayer ~ during a pandemic

 

AA Bible

Rests upon peace with yourself and forgiveness.

Love and forgiveness, first of ourselves, is the foundation of soul healing and also physical healing. So many of us are fearful of contracting Corona Virus. Some have chronic diseases that make them vulnerable to C19. Others have already contracted the virus and are fighting it.

As believers, we fight more effectively when we are free of self-condemnation. Don’t let self-anger, self-loathing, self-pity, or any of the other selfies get in the way of healing.

Make a list. Make it as an act of prayer, submitting to Him. If there is anything we hold against ourselves, let’s write it down on paper, in detail, all of it. Be honest, what is that ‘thing/s’ we seldom talk about?  If writing this thing/s is extremely hard, make a cup of tea, put on some soft worship music, and then write…but write! As believers, we know God has not only forgiven us, He doesn’t hold that/those sin/s against us, and in fact He remembers it/them no more.

I, even am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins. ~ Isaiah 43: 25 9 [New American Standard Bible, NASB] 

If God doesn’t want to be weighted down with our sins, it might be a good and healthy idea if we let go of them too. There is a spiritual principal here for health and healing. How can we fully come before the throne and worship God when we secretly harbor these self-condemning feelings? Let them go, For His own sake.

Make a prayerful, quality decision to let the self-condemnation go. A firm decision. Take communion over it. If we’re used to carrying this self-condemning burden, we might have to let it go more than once…in fact, numerous times if we’ve carried it for years. That’s okay. God’s not counting. He doesn’t even remember the sin/s.

Since God doesn’t even remember the sin/s, destroy the list. Rip it up with bare handed, or shred it. Remember, if feelings of self-condemnation for sin God has already forgiven come back…banish them, again and again until they cease and desist.

When we have let go of this burden, we can come before the throne of God refreshed, more joyous as we ask for continued renewing of our mind, healing of our soul (mind, will, and emotions), and physical healing.

10 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ ~ Isaiah 41:10 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

 

ribbon blue

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.    CD Cover

 

 

 

KNEE DEEP ~ in the 23rd Psalm


A path sunny

The Living-Word jumped out at me in a way I’d not seen before.

The 23rd Psalm has been my go-to for perhaps twenty-five years. That would be since I was saved. In that time, I’ve always thought ‘paths of righteousness’ would look something like this lovely photo. I thought those paths would have been put there by God for me to follow and they’d have sunlight and birds singing.

Today the words ‘paths of righteousness’ jumped out at me in a new way. They became living words, or rhama words. That is specific words from the Lord that sort of explode in a person’s consciousness and have special meaning. This is something that can happen to any believer, every believer. I think it most often happens during private devotions when reading and meditating in Holy Scripture, or some other devotional literature, or when deeply listening to worship music.

A path trees

Today I saw ‘paths of righteousness’ as paths other Christians have walked, perhaps even blazed…and I have followed in those paths where these righteous brothers and sisters have trodden. They may not always be bucolic paths where songbirds flit here and there filling the air with their song. Those paths could have hills, bumps, ruts, places where stalwart believers stumbled and got up again, places where the enemy lay in wait.

I got saved during a time of conflict in my husband’s family. Neither he nor I came from an idyllic Christian home where hymns were sung and where family members prayed together. This particular Sunday there was a huge and tumultuous family commotion, mostly in the kitchen. People had been running in and out of the house. Voices had been raised. I retreated to the living room to get away from it, started surfing channels, and found Gloria Copeland. She was smart, obviously extremely well versed in the Bible, and she didn’t have big hair. At the end of the program, I put my hands on the television and gave my life to the Lord. That was twenty-five years ago.

So, this morning, I’m thinking who blazed those paths for me? At that time, I didn’t know anything about Christian churches. I kept watching Christian TV and came under Kenneth Copeland Ministries. Kenneth and Gloria have had the greatest influence upon me in my walk with God. They are my parents in the faith. I soon bumped into a local woman who was under their ministry. Lillian and I began sharing cassette and video tapes (the dark-ages of audio and video). I’d go to her house and she’d come to mine, and we’d be so excited about the Lord.

Very soon, I learned that Oral Roberts was Kenneth’s father in the faith and I began listening to Oral Robert’s Ministry teachings. Of course the prime message at ORM is “God is a good.” And Oral always said, “Something good is going to happen to you today.” I took a course in the Holy Spirit from ORM and received a certificate. In those days, they sent you the lessons by snail mail. You returned your answers by mail, and they sent the corrected lesions back to you. Well, we’re talking 24-25 years ago. So, Oral Roberts became my grandfather in the faith.

I wish I could say there was a local minister/ministry, in that time, that blazed a path for me, but I can’t. I lived in an area where almost all of the charismatic churches had had church-splits and none of them had recovered from that. So, Christian television became my lifeline.  I met another woman who believed the Word as I did and Theresa and I also began sharing and praying together. She and I became volunteers in the Protestant Chaplain’s Office at the local Veteran’s Hospital and attended Sunday services there. We also attended a weekly Bible study and a weekly prayer group there.

Back to trail blazers. I soon found Joyce Meyer, who to me is the Mother of Independent Women of Faith. I particularly liked her practical preaching because she didn’t come from a wonderfully serene Christian home. She came from a nonChristian home with turmoil. I said, okay, I can relate to that.  I was then, and still am now, the only member of my immediate family and almost the only member of my large extended family who knows the Lord. My cousin and his wife on the other side of the county are believing Christians, and I am in contact with them electronically.

Today, I live in northeast coastal Florida where I attend Destiny Church. I’m waiting for the church to reopen from Covid 19. I so want to “do church” again.

Who are your spiritual fathers and mothers in the faith? Whose footsteps have you followed? Who has helped to shape your faith?

 

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CD Cover

Telling The Truth ~ character matters

A crossed-fingers

I Seem To Have A Verse For 2020

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

Christians have this thing about lying…we’re not supposed to.

What was so interesting in this verse that so randomly kept popping up in my life since January is that the first two points (what is true, honorable) deal with the deepest realms of dealing with and telling truth.

I discovered that when the thought came to me that I should look up the word “true” in Strong’s Concordance. [No, not Strong’s. Anything but Strong’s.] So, after that thought assailed me for the third or fourth time, maybe even the fifth time, I finally dragged out my heavy, hardcover Strong’s, leafed through its cumbersome pages, and found the ancient meaning of “true” as it appears in that verse. And, the meaning is ‘truth without deceit, without concealing or hiding’.

I immediately thought of the times I’d parsed my words (not often) so that I could say to myself and to others if need be, “I didn’t lie”. Oh, those little white lies. I’d like to say I usually did this parsing to shield others. But of course, that would not be truth without deceit or without concealing or hiding. That statement would not only be a fantasy, but the reality would be a 50/50 toss up.

Returning to the Scripture, I searched Strong’s for honorable. I most often use the New American Standard Bible [NASB] and Strong’s translates from the King James Version [KJV]. The King James translates the ancient Greek word as ‘honest’. So next I went to Webster’s Dictionary. I used the 1828 edition because our modern dictionaries water-down ‘values ladened words’. And according to Noah Webster, ‘honest’ means: 1. Upright; just; fair in dealing with others; free from trickishness and fraud; acting and having the disposition to act at all times according to justice or correct moral principles; applied to persons. 2. Fair; just; equitable; free from fraud; as an honest transaction; an honest transfer of property. The definition goes on to include ‘frank’ and ‘sincere’.

So, when put on the spot about something in my own life, or someone else’s how do I cease and desist the parsing of words? Dare I say, Biblical dishonesty? First of all, other people do not, repeat NOT have a God given, or constitutional right to the details of my life. And I have NO right to give out the details of another’s life. We believers will feel much better about ourselves, on a deep internal level, if we simply tell the truth.

If someone carelessly, callously, or nosily asks about a personal part of my life, about my private plans, hopes or dreams I can simply say, “I’m not prepared at this time to talk about that.” I can also say that if asked about another’s life. When asked about another, I could say, “That’s his/her story. It’s not mine to tell.” Those statements would be totally true, honorable, honest, and meet.

Here’s a tricky one. What to do when someone asks for an unreasonable favor? Money, perhaps? There’s no need to go round-and round, parsing words to come out with a reasonable sounding negative statement. Here’s a straight forward one. “No, I wish I could, but I just can’t. Not at this time.” I could add, “I’m really sorry,” if I am. If the individual is a habitual user, I’d leave the’ sorry part’ off. That would also be totally true, honorable, honest, and meet. It’s not parsing words, or beating around the bush. Am I good at this? No! Am I getting better? Yes, I am.

Doesn’t the Bible say…

But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. ~ Matthew 5:37 New King James Version [NKJV]

Flying Solo ~ so, what’s that about?

Fighter Piolot

Party of One.

Flying Solo doesn’t mean there are no other people around. It means you alone are in the cockpit flying the craft. The fighter pilot has a ground crew, yet, when he’s at the controls, it must often feel as if he is alone. As believers, we are in the army of God, and for some of us who have lost a mate, who have prayed for a mate and are still single, whose mate has repeatedly and consistently been unfaithful or alcoholic or drug addicted or addicted to pornography, those who have outlived all their relatives and friends, or for some other reason are living alone…the reality might be we are flying solo. And we really are. It’s not just a cute statement. We go home and we’re cooking for one, watching TV alone, sleeping alone in the bed. An individual can be in assisted living or in a nursing home surrounded by people and still be solo.

Flying Solo also doesn’t mean that there is no radar system. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit and we must develop a closer relationship with God. That’s an absolute if you are flying solo. You need the best guidance system you can possibly have and that starts with making Jesus the Lord of your life, and getting into the manufacturer’s manual…the Bible.

I’ve been a widow for nearly four years, yet it was only about six months ago that it hit me, as if I’d slammed into a wall, that I was flying solo and what that really meant. I wish I could say I handled it in a delightfully pretty and delectably appropriate manner. I didn’t. Still, I’m pretty stoic. I kept functioning. My house was clean, I fed my strays every morning and my inside cats, walked Sophie the Wonder Dog twice a day and fed her. Published my latest murder mystery release by the deadline. But, but…emotionally, I was messy, messy, messy.

Of course, I went to ‘my’ default. Whining. I whined to friends and associates. And mostly, I whined to God. And I heard very clearly in my spirit that I should pay attention to my feelings and actions because God had given me the gift of writing and my assignment was to write about flying solo for the purpose of helping other people. So, I whined about THAT to God. I’m pretty sure the Bible says, “Whining endureth for a season.” It’s probably in the Taylor Swift translation.

So, what have I learned about flying solo in the last six months? To go back to the basics.

PRAY. Pray for yourself, bless your house, your pets, put a prayerful hedge or protection around yourself and what’s yours. Talk to God. It’s okay to have an out-loud, running convo with God. Talk to Him as if He’s an older, wiser friend, a father, a brother. He’s all that. Pray for others. Pray for their healing, prosperity, the health and protection of their children. Pray for the nation. Keep it up and soon you’ll become a prayer warrior without even trying.

KEEP AFTER THE DETAILS. Get up, get dressed, eat nutritious meals. Keep your home/surroundings in good order. God loves you. Take care of yourself. And, as much as you can, surround yourself with the things you love.

KEEP IN TOUCH. You have a phone, so use it. Phone, text, and/or email friends and associates. Get involved on social media. Facebook has groups you can join. So do other social media platforms.

GO OUT. Don’t stay trapped in your home. Go to church…and also to the mid-week service. Don’t have a church? Go church shopping for a few weeks or months until you find one that’s warm, comfy, and welcoming for this stage of your life. Get your hair cut and/or styled regularly and start a convo with your stylist. Go to the library, sit, read some magazines, recipe books, holiday decorating books, health and beauty books. Ask the librarian to guide you. Start a dialog, but a quiet one…it’s the library.

I hope this is helpful. I’ll be praying for everyone who subscribes and /or reads this blog.