Courage Within from Above

And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Me:

Good morning Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit:

Good morning Jon!

Me:

Thank you for the reassurances that Your work involves giving courage to do that which You call me to do, even when the truth is unpopular and the enemy appears to make inroads of corruption into every life. We hear so many lies that we become accustomed to them. What a contrast to You unfaltering truth and to Your reliability!

Holy Spirit:

Consider this psalm: Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; This I know, that God is for me. Psalm 56:9 I Am listening for the cry of your heart. My help does not require you to foresee the plan or the method. If you seek Me for what I Am doing, and you run to wherever I show you that My banner is raised, there you will see the mighty hand of Jehovah Nissi, God your Banner. The battle is fierce and the enemy is ruthless and he misleads many after him, but My victory is assured and all who can find courage in Me will see triumph and will play a part even in snatching the perishing from the flames.

Me:

Oh, let me keep my eyes on the Lord and walk in confidence in You! Often the enemy reminds me how I fall short. Thank You that the strength required is Yours and not mine! In You I trust! Only you can get through to us when we are blinded by our willfulness. Only Your voice can penetrate our ears deafened by falsehood. I cannot count the times that You have spoken gently to me when I deserved only condemnation; when You have shown light into dark dungeons of fear in which I was bound. I treasure the freedom that is granted in Jesus! Thank You, Holy Spirit, for enabling a new life of liberty!

I love You!

Holy Spirit:

You are welcome! I love You!

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The Truth Will Make You Free

31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”
39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus *said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. 40 But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. 41 You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”
48 The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.’ 53 Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; 55 and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” 59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.  [John 8]

Me:
Good morning Father!

ABBA:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
Father, You have provided a wealth of revelation in these words of Jesus, which we know from His own testimony that He got from You!  I even see Him describing for any who would listen exactly how He heard from You: “I speak the things that I have seen with My Father” (v38).

ABBA:
Yes, He was speaking of that facility that I built into you to “see” intuitively or imaginatively.  Some call it “the mind’s eye” or visual imagery.  You know from long experience that it can be used to help focus on solutions to the things you are working on.  In these last few years, I have shown you through Mark Virkler’s teaching that you can turn that aptitude toward spending time with Me and have faith that I will honor your seeking.

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, [g]will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!  [Matthew 7]

Me:
Father, I could scarcely hope to express proper gratitude for the gift of regularly being able to spend time with You!  Since my mid-teen years, I would have acknowledged that I belong to You.  Until I learned the value of honoring our time together by writing it down (Habakkuk 2), though, the progression of my relationship with You was nothing like it is now.  There are many other things that You told the prophet in that chapter that were keeping my relationship with You on the fringes of my life for many years; even preventing me from hearing from You at all for long stretches.

ABBA:
I have given You that insight. Notice even the word insight is descriptive of our meeting.  I give you clues everywhere you look with the capability to visualize that I Myself have placed within you that you might be with Me.  And you are right that many things have the capacity to interfere with our meeting:

  • Pride, for the soul of the proud is not right within him.
  • Inattention, which tells Me you do not care to meet.  It is your choice.
  • Alcohol, for it anesthetizes your ability to see Me or to hear from Me.  In the end, it becomes an idol that you have given the place that belongs to Me.  It is no coincidence that your relationship with me was not really progressing until you confessed and quit.
  • Idol worship of any kind obstructs your ability to see Me, for in your worship, you have placed the thing of your desires in front of Me.
  • Unbelief, for he who would come to Me must believe that I will reward that faith. (Hebrews 11:6).

Me:
Father, I pray You will help me keep these things out of my life!  I don’t want anything to come between us ever again!

ABBA:
What did Jesus say in the passage you opened with?

Me:
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

ABBA:
Exactly.  All the things in the list I gave you from the second chapter of Habakkuk are shackles of bondage.  I Am free.  Nothing binds me, for I Am above all.   I desire to set you free.  With all that is within Me, I want you to be free.  It is a gift so precious that I was willing to ask Jesus, my own Son, to make the sacrifice for you.  He himself values freedom for you so much that He was willing to make the sacrifice of Himself.  He made the choice freely out of His love for you.  We value freedom so much that we allow you to freely choose to enter in, or not; even though it breaks Our heart that one would reject freedom in favor of an idol that will ultimately prove worthless.

Me:
I love you Father!  Thank You for building into my life the Truth and diligently making it clear that I can be free.  I lament that so few seem to value true freedom.

ABBA:
It is the nature of an idol to obstruct sight of the Truth.  You are welcome!  I Am have and I Am going to great lengths to set you free.  I Am glad that you are one who sees the value in it.

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!

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!