The Power of God

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
Me:
Good evening Father!
ABBA:
Good evening Jon!
Me:
This scripture is pretty stark, Father. In twenty centuries, nothing much has changed except the list of idols has expanded.
ABBA:
Throughout twenty centuries of My patience, some have accepted My power through the gospel and have been saved from the due penalty of sin and have instead learned to love Me and to honor me as their creator and Father. The reason not much has changed in twenty centuries of degradation is that Satan is not creative, only I AM. Do you remember Abraham, knowing Lot was in Sodom, bargaining with Me about how many righteous would have to be found to save the city from destruction?
Me:
I do. It’s in Genesis 18, according to a search on Bible Gateway. I also know that Jesus told us that in Your eyes, none is righteous. (Romans 3:10)
ABBA:
He meant apart from accepting His offering for sin and becoming in Him, of course.
Me:
It is a great and majestic blessing that You have bestowed on us a way of escape!
ABBA:
That is My point about Abraham and Lot. I AM providing a way of escape, such as Lot took advantage of. Just as surely as in Sodom, that which has been dedicated to the profane will be destroyed by fire and ultimately will not continue.
Me:
What does it mean that Your righteousness is revealed from faith to faith?
ABBA:
It means that I have ordained that those, like you, who have faith in Me shall be the channel by which My revelation shall flow to those who are open enough to come to faith in Me themselves.
Me:
Who are these who are open enough? How can they be found?
ABBA:
By My Spirit. No heart is hidden from Me.
Me:
I feel inadequate as a convincer.
ABBA:
Not to worry. I AM making the Truth evident (v19). You only have to be a witness of the faith that you have. Do not expect those to whom you speak to suddenly have arrived at the abundant life. They only have to recognize the futility of their current path and desire to turn toward My call. The rest takes time. You yourself are still growing in Me.
Me:
That is a fact for which I am most grateful! I love You Father!
ABBA:
I love you, Jon!

His Choosing

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14
But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Me:
Good morning Holy Spirit!
Holy Spirit:
Good morning Jon!
Me:
I am blessed to be chosen for salvation, even from the beginning!
Holy Spirit:
I see you are still somewhat puzzled by that language. It is not exclusory, as is human choosing.
Me:
I looked up the word for ‘chosen’ in the Greek. It is not ambiguous. It means simply to lay hold of by personal choice.
Holy Spirit:
Your calling by Me and to Me is by My personal, completely informed, and passionate decision. You cooperate by desiring to be selected. If one does not want to be selected, that free-will decision is honored by Me. Since my choice is completely and eternally informed, that one is excluded simply by My having honored his will. My passionate desire for a relationship with such a resister is not diminished and is no less personal than for you. My ardor toward him does not diminish as time passes for him nor does his doom become fixed prior to his physical death. Unfortunately for him, having rejected the Spirit of Truth, he is laid open to the spirit of untruth and his training in the lies of the darkness only solidifies the habits of his mind and heart with long practice. Pray for him, when you meet him. Remember My love for him is in no way dimmed. Allow My heart for him to be your heart for him.
Me:
I will try to keep that in view and attempt to be more faithful to pray. Please keep reminding me if I forget! Thank you for being the active agent in my sanctification!
Holy Spirit:
Your continuing desire for Me to do that is the sole guidance for the direction of your life; your faith will either develop in the Truth resulting in more a more abundant life and more peace and more joy and more love and more self-control, or if I am not your desire, life will decay under the plan of the one who comes to steal and kill and destroy.
Me:
Thank You Holy Spirit! I love You!
Holy Spirit:
You’re welcome! I love you!

Presumption

Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:12ff

Me:
Good morning Father!
ABBA:
Good morning Jon!
Me:
[My wife] asked my opinion about several things this morning that relate to someone accurately judging the state of his relationship with You, and whether any other can know or even be comforted by that knowledge when mortal life comes to an end. We have the same difficulty in assessing our own relationship with You, from a purely rational perspective. This question is voiced in the Psalm above. Who can discern his errors? Elsewhere, the scripture says that every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the end thereof is death. (Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25) Doing what ‘seems’ right is obviously perilous. In our society, voices are raised in an ever increasing din, proclaiming this thing that was previously held as sinful is the new virtue, or that thing which was thought to be blameless is now evil. Some of the loudest claim that the things that seem to be plainly stated in Your Word are the basis of “hate” and an affront to “diversity”. The various denominations argue endlessly about why Your Word doesn’t/can’t mean what it plainly says. The members of those denominations and of political systems struggle to gain dominance for their particular opinion; either about what You say, or – for those who claim You don’t even exist – what they say. Yet, You call us to a life of faith. How can the path be so hard to find?
ABBA:

Proverbs 21
1 The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord;
He turns it wherever He wishes.
2 Every man’s way is right in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the hearts.
3 To do righteousness and justice
Is desired by the Lord more than sacrifice.
4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart,
The lamp of the wicked, is sin.
5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage,
But everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.
6 The acquisition of treasures by a lying tongue
Is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death.
7 The violence of the wicked will drag them away,
Because they refuse to act with justice.
8 The way of a guilty man is crooked,
But as for the pure, his conduct is upright.
9 It is better to live in a corner of a roof
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
10 The soul of the wicked desires evil;
His neighbor finds no favor in his eyes.
11 When the scoffer is punished, the naive becomes wise;
But when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge.
12 The righteous one considers the house of the wicked,
Turning the wicked to ruin.
13 He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor
Will also cry himself and not be answered.
14 A gift in secret subdues anger,
And a bribe in the bosom, strong wrath.
15 The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous,
But is terror to the workers of iniquity.
16 A man who wanders from the way of understanding
Will rest in the assembly of the dead.
17 He who loves pleasure will become a poor man;
He who loves wine and oil will not become rich.
18 The wicked is a ransom for the righteous,
And the treacherous is in the place of the upright.
19 It is better to live in a desert land
Than with a contentious and vexing woman.
20 There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man swallows it up.
21 He who pursues righteousness and loyalty
Finds life, righteousness and honor.
22 A wise man scales the city of the mighty
And brings down the stronghold in which they trust.
23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue,
Guards his soul from troubles.
24 “Proud,” “Haughty,” “Scoffer,” are his names,
Who acts with insolent pride.
25 The desire of the sluggard puts him to death,
For his hands refuse to work;
26 All day long he is craving,
While the righteous gives and does not hold back.
27 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination,
How much more when he brings it with evil intent!
28 A false witness will perish,
But the man who listens to the truth will speak forever.
29 A wicked man displays a bold face,
But as for the upright, he makes his way sure.
30 There is no wisdom and no understanding
And no counsel against the Lord.
31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
But victory belongs to the Lord.

I AM not the author of confusion. My Word if full of instructions like these that are intended to aid you in walking in the right way, and not merely in the way that seems right to the deceived. I AM the Lord, and I weigh the thoughts and intentions of the heart. My Word is intended as a source of meditation that over your years we may have opportunity to discuss My heart and My plan for you and for you to be transformed by the renewing of your mind by the power of My Spirit so that your plan lines up with My plan, and this of your own choosing. You should not expect My Word to be limited to your understanding; indeed, I AM not. You see, then, that your natural mind is actually incapable of encompassing all that I have already communicated. Despair not. You were made in My image. I AM Spirit. You are not limited by your natural mind. Those you refer to that argue endlessly have not attained that understanding. They are deceived. They do not yet know Me. It is hard to teach one who is convinced he already knows the answers.
As for the question of judging whether others have come to know Me, a better question is, “How much of Me have they come to know?”

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12 KJV) [KJV explicitly includes ‘own’ which is in the original.]

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matthew 7:1-6

Me:
What does the warning about dogs and swine mean? Who are dogs and swine? How can I know dogs and swine without judging?
ABBA:
Dogs and swine are those driven solely by their physical appetites. You can recognize them because by My Spirit, I will help you see in them the spirit that previously bound you and from which you have been set free. I intend that you help and encourage one another. Share what you learn out of love alone. You cannot, by any of your works, add to the completeness of salvation purchased for you by Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself on your behalf. Nor can you increase your standing with Me by your works. My love for you is a limitless love. Instead, know that you are My witness. (Acts 1:8) Witness from your own joy. The responsibility for how each one responds lies with himself.
Me:
Thank You for being so patient with me and for spending this time with me today. I am immeasurably blessed. I love You!
ABBA:
I love You, more than you can conceive! I love to spend time with you. When you are open to new understanding and are willing to concede that previous understandings may be too limiting or even wrong, you have a better chance of learning.

Dwelling Places, so to Speak

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He raised His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Ps 46:4-7

Me:
Good morning Holy Spirit!
Holy Spirit:
Good morning Jon!
Me:
I read this passage and it makes me think of You. The river flowing out from the throne spoken of in Revelation in my understanding represents You and Your flow. I love this reference to the river “making glad” the city of God.
Holy Spirit:
But of the fruit Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Me:
Taken all those things together that flow from you, “making glad” seems an apt description.
Holy Spirit:
In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:23)

These “dwelling places” are reference to the fact that we can be together in an intimate setting – at home together, as it were. Safe and secure, no matter what. Most think this talks about some kind of afterlife apartment. There is much loss in that understanding. Jesus said there are many dwelling places. The word translated ‘are’ has the same root as I AM. We are together right now. Jesus’ talk about “going to prepare” was about His death in the disciples (and your) stead which had not yet taken place. He could have said “I am going  to the cross to prepare a place for you.” He was not going on about unfinished drywall in heaven. It is you that have to be made ready; not the dwelling place. He was speaking of preparing a place in the sense of “home”. Home is not a location where you normally feel “there is no place for me here” because you do not fit. The ‘dwelling place’ is a metaphor for being in/one with Him. Rejoice that you are ‘dwelling’ at-one with Us, in the River, made Glad!  When Jesus said ‘I will come again to receive you to Myself’, he was not  looking down through time to the last trumpet of Revelation.  He was looking forward to in-dwelling fellowship with sin atoned for and no longer blocking the relationship.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Neither the individual you, nor the collective ‘you’ of all who ‘dwell’ will be moved, though nations make an uproar until kingdoms totter or natural disasters proliferate.

Me:
Thank You for this explanation! I love You!
Holy Spirit:
You’re welcome! I love You!

His Dominion

19 The Lord has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.
20 Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.
22 Bless the Lord, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion;
Bless the Lord, O my soul! (Psalm 103)

Me:
Good morning Father!

ABBA:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
Let my soul be a place of Your dominion! For Your will is flawless and Your loving kindness is endless! How foolish for me to act without due consideration of Your Word; to mindlessly stroll along in the gloom without knowledge of the precipice at hand, or even to charge forth headstrong – as a willful stallion who has clenched the bit in his teeth. Only You know the end from the beginning. I am easily deceived, except I walk steadfastly in Your Spirit. But You by Your Spirit reveal the Truth! Your promises are life and fulfillment! Help me to be intimate with Your Word, that Your precepts might be ever-ready in time of decision. Make me mindful that there are no minor choices. For the path from yesterday is fixed by steps made irrevocable by time’s passing moment and the path to tomorrow known to You alone. Only in this instant resides the moment of my choosing. For my part, let my passion for You be the deciding weight on the scales of decision! Help me to remember that the thing left undone may be of more weight than the thing done. Guide my heart, Lord! Endless possibilities overwhelm the resources of the mind. Help me be faithful in the things that matter to You and not merely indulge myself nor be occupied with taking my ease.

ABBA:
Today is a Sabbath day that I have ordained for rest and for restoration. A day for healing and for rejoicing. Because I AM love, I desire you to know that My yoke is easy, and My burden is light. All power is Mine and I share the work with you that you may revel with Me in the victory. I want you to be able to shout in triumph at the defeat of the enemy, to be glad as evil falters because it is made lame by relying on lies. Hope in My promises. They are for you! Have faith in Me. I AM your Father! Trust in My Word. It never returns, except it accomplishes that which I sent it to do. (Isaiah 55:11) Be filled with My Spirit. He will lead you into all the Truth. He will disclose to you what is to come. (John 16:13) Observe My heart concerning the deception of evil among men. For My wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about Me is evident within them; for I AM making it evident to them. (Romans 1:18-19). See the river that flows out from My throne and from the throne of the Lamb. Enter into its life-giving flow and be renewed. (Revelation 22, John 4:14)

Me:
Thank You Father for such an encouraging Word! Your love is beyond measure! I love You! My ability to express gratitude seems wholly inadequate!

ABBA:
You are welcome! You were made that we might have communion! Do not let past failure be a shadow that keeps you from our time together. The accuser will stop at nothing to bring shame. But I AM quick to forgive and will stop at nothing to bind up the repentant heart. My Own Son has borne the penalty of your sin. By this, I AM showing you continually that I love you with an unending love!

A Great Advantage

If you are a believer in Jesus, He has provided a great advantage through the grace of the Holy Spirit in your life. I say grace, for surely, outside the atoning work of Christ, none of us could avoid being consumed by having the Holy Spirit of Almighty God dwell within us.  Is He making a difference in you?  Is He making a difference in Me?

Our enemy, the devil, has a standard litany of lies he tells anyone who desires to turn their hearts and minds over to the Spirit’s help.  Those who succumb to doubt – about whether they are “doing it right” or “hearing right” or whether they have “quenched the Spirit”– become like the unstable double-minded man who should not expect to receive anything from God.  Satan’s list of lies is practically endless.  You are no doubt familiar with some.   Rather than dwell on such a dismal litany, I want to share a list of promises from the Bible to counter them with, whatever doubt he sends:
•    But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. John 16:7
•    And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  John 14:16-17,26
•    And when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:11
•    And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them.  And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them.  Then they will be My people and I shall be their God. Ezekiel 11:18
•    ‘And it shall be in the last days’, God says, ‘that I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind; and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, any your old men shall dream dreams; Even upon My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My spirit and they shall prophesy.  And I will grant wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth beneath, blood and fire and vapor of smoke.  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.  And it shall be that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved’. Acts 2:17-21

Does the tone of the quote in Acts sound like the Spirit will spend time counseling men to salve their fears by engaging in the latest self-help technique?  No, He counsels everyone to call upon the name of the Lord.  For there is no other Name given under heaven, whereby men may be saved.

I asked before, in so many words, “Am I different today than I was yesterday, or merely fooling myself?”  Those promise passages make it clear that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit because without His help, I would be unable to stand in the trials that are coming.
______________
Father, how can I offer high enough thanks for such promises?  You have provided for Your pure and Holy Spirit to occupy my vessel of earth! Though You formed me from the dust of the ground, You the Potter are sanctifying your children for holy use by the Name of the Son, that Name which is above every other name.  Jesus!  Thank You! I know each moment presents a choice: will I believe Your witness or listen to the enemy’s propaganda?  Your Word tells me that the enemy comes but to steal and kill and destroy.  I know that listening to You leads to victory and glory and eternal life.  Oh, let me be attuned to Your voice always and at every moment!  Let me know that the shield of faith is effective.  Let no lingering doubts creep in disguised as doubts of self, but actually stinking as an affront to belief in Your promises!  I love You, Holy Spirit!  Thank You for dwelling with me.  Teach me to be steadfast in my faith, let my belief in Your promises be quicker than thought, build it into my heart!

Under His Banner at the Front

banner

I was meditating, recently, about the “one another” reference in verse ten of Romans chapter twelve.  Perhaps, because I had just read an article about a call for legal action against Major General Craig Olson for daring to invoke Jesus’ name at the National Day of Prayer Task Force event when crediting Him for his success in life.  The group calling for a court martial was the so-called Military Religious Freedom Foundation.  I was wondering How the Major General felt about the unwanted notoriety and how he would respond.  I was seeking God in the vein of the Who is my neighbor? question that Jesus was asked by the lawyer in Luke chapter ten.  See, the people who are opposing the right of officers to mention their faith claim to be “protecting” Christians, among others, from having religion different from their own imposed on them from higher up the chain of command.  That would kind of make them neighbors, would it not?   Still, I’m having an extremely tough time reconciling the things this group says their aims are with the things they actually seem to be doing.  Anyway, enough about the origin of my quandary.  Down toward the end of the chapter, it starts to talk about “those who persecute you”, and “never pay back evil for evil to anyone”.  Clearly, those are more expansive than even “neighbor”.  I said, “This looks hard, Father!”

The Father reminded me of His provision for my own sin.  “I permitted the un-neighborly sort you are thinking about to crucify My Son.  Did that qualify as persecution?  Did that fit the definition of evil done?  What did I do in return?”

I had to admit that He has blessed me with salvation and a relationship with Him in which I can talk to Him freely.  He is returning immeasurable good for the evil done by me; for the evil amassed by my sin and repeated against Him at intervals over a lifetime.  I am ashamed that the un-neighborly sort has at times been, well, me.

As long as you’re here, I’ll let you eavesdrop on the rest of our conversation:

ABBA: “You must seek My heart about the evildoers.  Outside of becoming one with My heart, this call is too challenging for you.  This is what it means to stand under My banner of Love.  The world can absolutely not understand how good might overcome evil.  They would return evil for evil, retribution for injury.  There is a day of vengeance; a day when the blood of My Son shall be recompensed from those who have not been baptized in its cleansing fountain.  Today is not that day.  Today is a day in which I am patiently waiting for any who would yet avail themselves of that purifying flow.

“When you read or hear of evil in the land, or experience it done to you or the ones you love, remember My heart toward you while Jesus was yet suffering on the cross.  Then, seek Me with your whole heart.  Let My heart become one with yours.  Let My heart guide your attitude toward the evildoer.  Remember they are but slaves of the evil one.  Pray that they may yet see and seek Me to find the Way of Escape.”

Me: I pray You will help me with this, Father.  I have so far to go to have a heart like Yours.  Please help me to learn to love with Your love.  I have not really appreciated the notion of standing under Your banner of love at the front of the battle where evil rages on every side and Your call is still Your limitless love!  I have prayed every morning in Your name, Jehovah Nissi – God our Banner –without comprehending even a fraction of what that means.  Please help me to learn to be like You in this regard too.  I love You!