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!

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.

Me:
Good morning Father!
ABBA:
Good morning Jon!
Me:
We watched an old movie last night: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I found it disturbing, the inmates of the insane asylum stripped of their fundamental human rights by their keepers and afforded no dignity as those made in Your image.  It would have been different if the authorities running the institution were actually trying to help those afflicted.  But, not only that, it highlighted the ravages of Satan’s work on the mind and heart – on both sides of the institutional hierarchy. Of course You know my attempts to help my own brother and how that has worked out.  I don’t know now whether he is even alive.  But I can surely understand his fierce desire to remain independent, even if he doesn’t eat.
ABBA:
Yes, the film did not whitewash how Satan’s schemes play out in the lives of My children.  It saddens me that it is so.  That is why Jesus came to redeem.
Me:
Even though the Lamb of God has paid the price for sins, it still seems to prove unlikely that the deceived will put their faith in Him.  Except You cause them to hear and cause them to see, it seems they remain unaware of the Gift.  Maybe not unaware, in many cases, more that they are unwilling.
ABBA:
Consider this passage:

10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11 Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. 12 For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
15 For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’ (Quoted from Isaiah 6.)
16 But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. (Matthew 13)
Me:
Why, Lord?  Why has it not been granted for them to know the mysteries of the kingdom?  How do I reconcile this with the scripture that says You are not willing that any should perish? (2 Peter 3:9)


ABBA:
If I make all the Truth obviously and irrefutably plain to those who have not already chosen to embrace Me, you could not say they actually had a choice in the matter.  The plain explanations to the disciples show what it is like for those who have already decided to follow Me.  The choice comes first, then the revelation.  I Am not willing that any should perish.  But I choose to keep My desire subjugated to the choice of the individual.  I do know the end from the beginning.  I could have chosen to give you no choice.  I desired that those who love Me do so of their own free will. Nothing short of that actually fits My definition of love.
As far as reconciling the scripture, if your foundation is the knowledge that I Am the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, you will suspect that the passage in the Greek is much more nuanced than the English translation shows.  Isaiah’s prophecy sheds more light.  The people do not hear because of their hearts.  They close their eyes.  Is that not a voluntary act?

Me:
Thank You Father!  I am grateful for Your patient explanations!  I love you!
ABBA:
You are welcome!  I love you!

Delegated Authority – What will I do with it?

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government[a] will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government[a] and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. [Isaiah 9; [a] rule, dominion]

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. [Ephesians 1]

Me:
Good morning Father!
ABBA:
Good morning Jon!
Me:
I look forward to the fulfillment of Your plan! In our current governmental systems, we have nothing like unity or unending peace.
ABBA:
I have given among men the freedom to choose. When the times reach their fulfillment, all things will be brought into unity. In the mean time, you have the freedom to choose. All the things that are under your authority can, even today, be brought into unity under the Son.
Me:
What things are under my authority?
ABBA:
What you will believe. What you will do with the time alloted to you. What you will speak. What you will give. Whether you will follow My Word and heed My Spirit, and love my Son. Will you love others? Will you show compassion? Will you trust Me when others deny Me? The matters of your own heart and of your own mind, these are under your authority. Will you stand on the Truth or compromise for safety or convenience? In My Son, I have freely given you life in place of the wage of death that you had earned in sin. No one can take you out of My hand. Therefore, no one can take away the choices of what you decide to do under the authority that I have given you. In these things, under Jesus, in the Spirit, by My zeal for this plan of redemption, let your mind be transformed and let your spirit be renewed. In the world, lies abound, but they will be shown for what they are and will go the way of death to which they lead. My Word is Truth and it will never pass away. Stand on that foundation and you will never be shaken.
Me:
Thank You Father! When I consider Your Word and Your mighty promises, my confidence is renewed and joy rises in my heart! I love You!
ABBA:
You’re welcome! The joy is a gift for you to enjoy and to share. I love you!

Authority – Some Rightful, Some Usurped

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.  Romans 13:1-2

Me:
Good morning Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
For years, I have struggled with the 13th chapter of Romans.

Holy Spirit:
I know.

Me:
I see Your way, clearly laid out in Galatians 5 – self-control as the produce of a life infused by Your power and subject to Your desire.

Holy Spirit:
What about those who have no intention of being subject to My desire?  A purpose of appointed authorities is to restrain those who serve the destroyer from wronging others.

Me:
I’m perfectly OK with that.  It is when the authorities themselves appear to be serving the enemy that I am troubled by Romans 13; giving hearty approval to abortion, for instance, and vilifying those who would oppose that abomination.

Holy Spirit:
You are asking how that type of authority could possibly be established by Me?

Me:
Yes.

Do I prevent you from sinning, or do I permit you to choose?

Holy Spirit:
You, appear to give me free will to obey or to not obey.

Me:
If you do not obey, on whose authority are you acting?

That is a hard question.  I see that You permit the choice, but cannot imagine You being in favor of a bad choice.

Holy Spirit:
Bad choices grieve Me (Ephesians 4:30).

Your freedom to choose is embedded in the fact that you are created in the image of God.  I Am free to choose.  I choose always according to My nature.  That is why the scripture tells you that I Am light and that in Me there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).  I desire you to choose according to My nature in you.  Since I Am in you, the only way for you to do otherwise is to quench the fire of My truth that is resonating in your heart and charge ahead in spite of what I Am telling you.  You know how that feels, just as you know how it feels to obey and grow and love and rejoice.

Me:
And the government or other authorities are groups of people with the same choice: whose authority will they exercise?

Holy Spirit:
There is only One Authority.  But it is possible to choose to act outside of My authority or the authority that I delegate.  Those who act wrongfully are usurpers.

Me:
I know Jesus told Pilate that he would have no power over Him except it had been given from above.  I know how dependent I am on Jesus’ sacrifice in submitting to the crucifixion carried out at Pilate’s order and the insistence of the Jewish leaders.

Holy Spirit:
I make all things work together for good for those who love me, for those who are called according to My purpose (Romans 8).  All things include the actions of usurpers.

Me:
Thank You that you are above all earthly powers and that my life is wholly in your hand.  You are only good and merciful continually!  I love You!

Holy Spirit:

You are welcome! I love you!

 

 

Free Will and Other Things

If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you. – from Deuteronomy 13

Me:
Good Morning Father!

ABBA:
Good Morning Jon!

Me:
All of Deuteronomy 13 talks about those – prophet, dreamer, family member, or friend – who would entice others to follow ‘gods’ who are not You and commands their being put to death. Jesus advised tearing out an eye or lopping off a hand if it makes you sin. (Matthew 5:28-30) Yikes!

My question is whether I am making too much of Your intention to give us free will.   You know I have argued stridently that You are free by Your very nature and that being made in Your image, You grant us freedom that we might also love You freely.  These verses about capital punishment in this life for sin always make me wonder if I have understood free will correctly.

ABBA:
Jesus knew that neither a physical eye nor a physical hand was the literal cause of any sin. He wanted to impress upon His listeners the seriousness of sin. He is your Redeemer; a serious solution for a serious problem.  As for the dreamer and the prophet, how do you suppose they would deliver signs and wonders to authenticate their false message?

Me:
By intentional deception or by demonic activity?

ABBA:
Those are the same thing, and the correct answer. Every word from Me is Truth. The devil is a liar. Whether his deceptions come through a “prophet” or he plants his words directly in your mind, the result is the same. Knowing my Word (commandments) and listening to My voice counter his lies with the Truth, for I put forth nothing but the Truth. Serving Me speaks of the intent of the will. Clinging to Me speaks of the desire of the heart.

As for free will, do you suppose that the deceived is even able to exercise free will? Having free will presupposes the true options are known and are present to choose from. The “prophet” or “dreamer” who presents a lie as the Truth has already circumvented free will. Satan cares not a whit for your free will. I present you with this: I cause all things to work together for good to those who love Me, to those who are called according to My purpose (Romans 8:28). If you seek Me in faith, I Am faithful to give you the good gift of of hearing My voice (Deuteronomy 13:4, Habakkuk 2:2, Luke 11:13, Revelation 1:11). Knowing Truth unlocks the possibility of free will.

Joshua spoke of the true option that is always before you if you know the choice I Am giving you. “… choose you this day whom you will serve …” – Joshua 24:15 Your sharing of this choice with those who do not know the truth is the work of your calling.

Me:
Thank You Father! I love You! Strengthen me by Your Spirit to speak only the Truth. Deepen my understanding! Let my heart be purely devoted to You!

ABBA:
You’re welcome! I love you! I Am indeed working in you by My Spirit to accomplish that which you ask.