trough (not like this picture)

I am grateful that You laid aside Your glory and majesty to graciously serve us in our helpless dilemma, becoming helpless yourself that You might rescue us.

While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. – Luke 2:6-7

Me:
Good morning Jesus!

Jesus:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
I am prone to think that I need some kind of position of authority to make a difference, that I would have to be in charge of something. What authority does an infant in a feed trough have? Yet that is the way You came and You have made all the difference. I love You!

Jesus:
I love you! And that is why I came in the way that I came. I want you to make a difference and know that it is not your power or authority or circumstance that makes it possible to achieve the goal set before you.

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Be Perfect?

Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48

Me:
Good afternoon Father!

ABBA:
Good afternoon Jon!

Me:
When I read this verse that came during Jesus’ discourse to the crowd on a hill near the sea of Galilee, it has often awakened dis-ease about my own tendency toward perfectionism. The wisdom of today is that perfectionism is not good. It seems to lead to a lot of criticism, both of self and of others. Also a lot of dissatisfaction and unfinished projects, as work is seldom accounted good enough to be called complete. I know it is behind my difficulty in putting away the tools and trappings of a task; it is obviously not quite done. I can certainly observe these negative effects of trying to be perfect. I know that sinking feeling when a mistake I have made comes to light, even when I am the discoverer of the problem and know I have to report it to those affected. I also know, though, that Your Word never gives bad advice and that no unwholesome directive ever crossed Jesus’ lips. How should a recovering perfectionist view this passage?

ABBA:
I Am the example Jesus gave to emulate. Like so many of the standards that Jesus cited, it is simply not possible for man who is decaying in the ravages of sin to attain the mark. That was His point. He was preaching against the prevailing way; do all kinds of dark things, don’t spend any time examining whether they are right or wrong, then bring a sacrifice at the prescribed time to atone for one’s wrongdoings. Much of that sermon on the mount was aimed at trying to get the people to understand that their way of looking at their deeds and God’s way of assessing them were not the same.

Today, the prevailing way is to compare oneself to one’s friends and neighbors, or even the evildoers heard about on the news, saying, “I am better than that, so I must be OK”. Jesus is still speaking in this sermon: I Am holy and I Am not impressed by self-excusing attitudes. Jesus wanted it to become obvious after his crucifixion and resurrection that placing faith in Him as having suffered in place of all was the only way out from under the condemnation that was due to all, for all had fallen short. (Romans 3:23)

So it is with “being perfect”, with My perfection as the standard to meet. Let’s say, from today forward, you never executed another flawed action or entertained a motive or thought that failed to live up to everything you were created for. You would still only have to turn around an look to yesterday’s failures to prove that you were already disqualified. This is why Paul explicitly points out that under the law, no flesh is justified. (Galatians 2:16) The Gospel is one of grace. We know you cannot pull yourself out of the mire of sin by your bootstraps. That is why Jesus came as an unblemished lamb to be the sacrifice for all who would trust in Him and rely on His provision for them.

Back to your question about being perfect. Now you know that you are not under the standard of the law any longer but are under grace instead, you can examine your deeds and grow to be mature and complete in the things I have designed you for. Even the negative programming you have operated under, with regard to perfectionism, you can recognize as falling short of how I Am. Wanting to be like me, you make adjustments and grow as a result. Now you strive for better because you love Me and you rely on the Holy Spirit to enable you. It is not the misguided basis for justification.

Me:
Thank You Father! I love You!

ABBA:
You are welcome! I love you!

Prayer-Refiner’s Fire

Me:
Good morning Father!

ABBA:
Good morning Jon!

Me:

Father, in Ephesians 6, verse 18, it says this: “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,”. What would You tell me further about this?

ABBA:

There is the possibility of doing anything either in the Spirit, or in the flesh. Do everything in the Spirit, especially prayer, which is of particular importance.

1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.” 21 So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas [or yourself] or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, 23 and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.

I Am telling you, this is why it is of prime importance that you pray; “all things belong to you” means you have authority over all things – and therefore responsibility. This responsibility is the charge of a steward, for all comes from My hand. This means that you are representing My authority and not that which is within your flesh. The authority of the flesh was given away in Eden. The authority of the Spirit was given under a new covenant at the cross to any who will be bound to it. I Am Spirit. It is not possible to discharge your stewardship in the flesh, as all things done in the flesh will prove to be wood, hay and stubble. Only things done in the Spirit will prove to be gold, silver, or precious stones.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 2 Peter 3:10

Things done in the flesh, even for the wisest and strongest, are therefore useless. They will not pass the test. The things done in the Spirit will only be further clarified as the Refiner’s fire purges all vestiges of corruption.

Me:
Thank You Father! I ask You to help me learn how to carry out my charge in the Spirit at all times. Let me remember to allow the Spirit to have complete sway by faith. I am grateful also, for the myriad ways that You have given for us to sense whether Your Holy Spirit is the Power operating in our hearts at any moment or whether we have given place to the corruption of our rational minds. I am grateful that You are transforming my mind and have given Your Truth and your many great promises with which to occupy it, even in the sense of an armed force occupying territory in war. Thank You that You are Jehovah Nissi, God our Banner, God our Victory! I love You!

ABBA:

You are welcome! I Am indeed transforming You by the power of the Spirit and of My Word. No Word which I have spoken returns to me unfulfilled. Instead it accomplishes that which I send it to do. Therefore you can absolutely count on My promises and in My restoring all your mind and all your heart and all your strength to the purposes and to the joy and to the fulfillment of their original and perfect purposes. I love you!

Rest and Responsibility

Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

Me:
Good morning Father!

ABBA:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
This is not the first time lately You have instructed me to rest in You.

ABBA:
I know that it is difficult for you. I made you with a high sense of responsibility. What I need you to see is that the most responsible thing for you to do is to recognize that it is My doing that makes all the difference.

Me:
How do I properly put that sense of responsibility that You put in my makeup to work in a way that it fulfills its proper function and does not just end up producing stress?

ABBA:
One thing to recognize is that the enemy knows you. He may not truly understand My purposes, but he knows how to pull your strings, so to speak.

Me:
I want to learn how to be all that You intend me to be and also how not to give him any latitude for manipulation. What You intend for good should never be subverted for bad! Not even to produce stress in myself.

ABBA:
You have heard the secret to the martial art of Judo is to use the momentum of an opponent against him. In the spiritual realm, think of striving as momentum and resting in Me as a perfect counter to the very principle that gives the enemy the ability to use your own energy against you. True achievements are enabled in My power. The voice of the enemy will encourage you to glory in successes as though they were your own; ever striving for the next one. I remind you of Paul’s words of admonishment to the Corinthians: … so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? [1 Corinthians 4:6-7]

Me:
Are You telling me that my sense of responsibility is a gift that I have received?

ABBA:
A gift, and also one aspect of being made in My image (though every one is unique). Like every spiritual thing bestowed upon My children, it is a power for good when exercised in Me and powerfully destructive when operating apart from Me. This is the nature of power. Moment by moment, breath by breath, the heart focuses on things above or on things below. This is so because I have determined that you shall determine your way, whether you will walk with Me or not. I know you have heard the quote attributed to Francois-Marie Arouet (Voltaire), “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Me:
Yes, I have heard it. I have heard that he was disturbed by the abuse of power and privilege while the poor and downtrodden suffered.

ABBA:
He was exactly right about the linkage between power and responsibility. The power which I bestow can only be properly exercised in Me. It is the responsibility of the bearer of the gift to present it for My purposes, else it will putrefy under the direction of self-interest and produce only rottenness.

Me:
Voltaire had pretty mixed opinions about things of faith.

ABBA:
Do not all men? He saw the misuse of power in the church as well as in the government. Still, his reasoning was not without its flaws. This is the nature of reason.

Me:
I suppose we do. I want to know You in all Your ways and learn to miss-step less often.

ABBA:
Then keep looking to Me, as I Am the One to guide you. I have given Jesus as Example and the Holy Spirit as Enabler.

Me:
I am grateful for Your guiding hand in my life. I would obviously not have any hope of enjoying all that You have promised except You teach me to walk in the Truth. I love You!

ABBA:
You are welcome to all the guidance you will accept. I love you!