Exercise Strengthens Discernment

After I broke my right foot in 2013, my doctor sent me to physical therapy. Why? I was in a boot for 6 weeks, and unable to put any weight on it. Multiple muscles were weakened because my left side had to take up the slack. Everything was out of balance.

That was what Hebrews 5:1-13-4 was addressing. It says, “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to  those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

Why do we have to train young children to follow orders? They have not had their senses conditioned through past experiences. Verse 14 in the Amplified says, “….trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble, and what is evil and contrary to divine or human law.”

We learn to discriminate or distinguish from reading God’s word consistently. 1 Corinthians 2:13 says that spiritual judgment comes when we compare spiritual things with spiritual. That means that when we need to make a decision, we need to look up Scriptures that pertain. Our decision, according to verse 14, needs to be spiritually discerned.

2 Timothy 2:15 Amplified says, “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing (rightly handling and skillfully teaching) the Word of Truth.”

Have you ever started to do something, and then hesitated because it didn’t seem right? When that happens, we need to step back because we were just checked by the Holy Spirit. He knows what is ahead of our next step ~ we don’t. 

True Rest Restores

Psalm 23 is such a well known and quoted Psalm. I like to think of verse 2 as a small lake with water that is so absolutely still I can see my reflection in it. I would sit beside it, basking in the magnitude of God’s creation. 

I would watch the cloud’s reflections change formation, listen to the various bird songs, and just drink in His Presence. Verse 3 that follows the description of green pastures and still waters says, “He restores my soul…”

The fruit of true rest is having our body, soul, and spirit restored. Let me take you to the Song of Solomon. I read it as though I am speaking to the Lord. “O my Dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff, let me see Your face, let me hear Your voice, for Your voice is sweet, and Your face is lovely.” It’s a perfect picture of intimate communion that results in heart-rest.

Matthew 11:29-31 says to go to the Lord when we are burdened, or literally bent over with heavy emotional weights. His promise is that He will give us true rest when we release the burdens that were not ours to carry in the first place.

He desires that our heart be truly yoked to His. We do that by giving Him our fleshly yokes, and receiving His which is light and fits perfectly. If an oxen’s yoke is off kilter just a little, it will injure them so that they are not able to pull a load. Our fleshly burdens cause spiritual injuries. 

Here’s a great verse. Though written to Israel, we can apply it to our own lives. It says, “…his burden will be taken away from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil.”

The anointing oil speaks of the deep inner work of the Holy Spirit. Here is a line from a new song that speaks of that work. ‘Your words like oil penetrate the places in my heart that were hardened through fear.’ His whispered words penetrate like oil, meandering through tiny cracks and crevices to soften the hardness through hidden sin.

When we have disobedient unconfessed sin in our heart we will not be able to rest. Isaiah 30:15 says, “…In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength. But you would not.”

We will not find rest when we continue to choose our own way. Jeremiah 6:16 says, “…Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk in it.”

Let us follow God’s example. Genesis 2:2 says, “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” I encourage you to evaluate how you are spending your Sabbath, and seek ways to cease your work and make time to rest in His Presence.

Not Resting: Disobedience

Not Resting: Disobedience

Releasing

Everything

Simply

Trusting

According to Hebrews 4:6, 11 we are disobedient when we do not rest in what He has provided for us. God rested on the seventh day after He finished six days of creation. He designed us so we could follow His example.

Verse 6 says of those who did not rest, “…those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience.” Verse 11 says, “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”

What does resting mean for us? Hebrews 4:10 says, “For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” Ceased. The best way I know to cease from all my work, is to go into the secret place of the Most High.

As I read verse 11 this time, “…lest we fall…” caught my attention. Before I fell into the ravine (1977) I was always on the go. I purposely kept myself busy serving others so I didn’t have time to think. I even had the radio plugged in. When I walked in the front door I could flip the switch and my house was filled with noise to drown out my thoughts.

However, that all came to an abrupt halt. It was through my fall that the Lord taught me how to rest in Him. He wooed me into intimate communion. He taught me to listen to His heart beat and abide in His love.

We enter into His nature through resting in Who He is at all times. 2 Peter 1: 3 says, “As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him…” Verse 4 says that we share in His nature through His promises.

He shares His secrets with those who have a heart to hear them. Job 26:14 says, “Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him!…” I don’t want to miss one of His whispered words.

When I read Isaiah 58 this last time, I was challenged by verses 13-14. What do I do that is resting on His appointed day of rest? Verse 13 says, “…and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure…”

Asking In Faith

When we ask the Lord for wisdom, we need to tune our heart to hear His response. He has wisdom stored up for those who walk in His truth (Proverbs 2:7). When we ‘hear’ His wisdom, we need to believe it and act on it immediately.

When we hem and haw, or vacillate we fall into error. That moment of hesitation allows doubt, fear, and unbelief to creep in. All of satan’s lies are designed to undermine our faith. However, when we immediately mix what we hear with faith, it will crowd out the enemy’s plan of attack.

Note that in James 1:5, we are invited to ask for wisdom. It is not a command. It says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

What a promise. All we have to do is ask the One who is filled with all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). The only condition is that we ask in faith. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests by made known to God.”

The Lord knows everything that is circling the wagons in our hearts. Psalm 139:1 says, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me.” He wants us to ask so that we empty our hearts before Him. Psalm 62:8 says, “…pour out your heart before Him…”

Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing God’s word. Think of a dry sponge when it is submerged in water. It becomes saturated with the water. When we saturate our minds with the living water of His word, we stabilize our heart so that it will not waver when we face temptations or impossibilities.

Matthew 7:7-8 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you…For everyone who asks receives…” That is exactly what James 1:5-6 said, “…who gives to all liberally…But let him ask in faith…” Matthew 7:11 says of earthly fathers, “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 good things to those who ask Him!”

We arm our minds with the truth of Who God is at all times before we ask. Inward truth is like a sentinel on guard duty. We fill our mind with Scriptural promises that pertain to our need. When we ask believing that what He says is what we will do, then we prime our hearts to obey and not back out.

I love to pray specifically. I know that when the Lord answers in a specific way, it is Him and I can wholeheartedly embrace it. I remember when I received my first ‘unspecified’ prayer request. I had no clue how to pray. It took me off guard. I truly didn’t know how to ask in faith, believing.

Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask for when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” It doesn’t mean things that we can consume upon our own lusts (James 4:3). It does mean that we can thank Him for Who He is, and praise Him because He will answer according to His perfect will for us.

Hear ~ Believe ~ Act

Hebrews 4:2 says, “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” 

What does it mean to mix what we hear with faith? When we hear God’s word, we must first receive it as truth, then believe it for ourselves. Next is to act on it by making it our own. We take ownership as we implement or graft it into our thought processes.

Ephesians 1:13 is an example of hear, believe, and act. It says, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”

Trusting is an active verb. Trust means to fully rest in the truth that we hear. We lean on it’s steadfastness. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” Our flesh works through our own understanding. 

Galatians 5:16 says, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit,  and  you shall not fulfill the lust  of the flesh.” John 14:17 says, “The Spirit of truth…you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

1 John 2:27 says, “But the anointing which  you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is  not a lie, and  just as it has taught you, you will abide  inHim.”

Our trust is in the One Who is eternal. We don’t trust in circumstances, others, or ourselves because we are not in control. Hebrews 1:2 says of Jesus, “Has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.”

Colossians 1:16-17 says, “…All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is  before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Consist means to hold together. Jesus is our Creator and Sustainer. Acts 17:28 says, “For in Him we live and move and have our being…”

Our conclusion must be that He is trustworthy and faithful. When we believe that foundational truth, our thoughts will cause us act it out through our actions, attitude, and habitual patterns. God’s word within is designed to shape our character to be more like Christ. More on this tomorrow.

Eternality Of God’s Word

Psalm 104:24 says, “O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions.” Verse 33 says, “I will sing praise to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.”

Psalm 145:5-6 says, “I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works.  Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, and I will declare Your greatness.”

Psalm 8:1 says, “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have  set Your glory above the heavens.” Psalm 102:25 was quoted in Hebrews 1:10. It says, “And: You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.”

What else happened before the Lord laid the foundation? Ephesians 1:4 says, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”

Here is something else. Revelation 13:8 says, “All  who dwell on the earth will worship him…” Let me clarify who the ‘him’ is. Verses 1-7 say that it is the beast. Verse 8 continued who would worship him. Read the last part of the verse. “…whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” God’s plan for our salvation was set in place before He began His creative work.

Eternal amazing love. Romans 8:38-39 is another foundational truth that we can stand on. It says, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Jeremiah 31:3 says, “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”  The Hebrew word for lovingkindness is hased. It conveys the concept of covenant loyalty, love, and faithfulness.

We are loved with God’s everlasting love, which has no beginning nor end. All of mankind was made in His image for an eternal relationship. For God, His love expresses Who He is. For us, we entered into our love relationship with Him the moment we accepted Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord. Salvation is open to all ~ no exception. However, His offer must be believed and received.

Psalm 119:111 says, “Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart.” Verse 138 says, “Your testimonies, which You have commanded, are righteous and very faithful.” Verse 147 says, “I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your word.” 

He Upholds All Things

I started reading the book of Hebrews. This little new song popped into my heart after I read verse 3. It says, “Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

As I thought about ‘upholding all things by the word of His power’ I began to sing these words. Who makes the sun rise, who sets it down? The One Who upholds it all, the Sun of Righteousness. He died for us, redeeming us from a life bound in sin. He set us in the light of His countenance, flooding our hearts within with His love. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Genesis 1 is such an amazing chapter. In the midst of darkness and total void, God spoke in verse 3, “…Let there be light; and there was light.” Just like that. He, our Creator God, separated the light from the darkness. 

2 Corinthians 4:6 says, “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Proverbs 3:19-20 says, “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens; by His knowledge the depths were broken up, and clouds drop down the dew.”

Psalm 119:89-91 says, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides. They continue this day according to Your ordinances, for all are Your servants.”

Psalm 19:1-3 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.”

I reiterated these verses because they undergird the totality of Who it is that upholds us. I love this verse. Psalm 63:8 Amplified says, “My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You; Your right hand upholds me.”

I encourage you to read Proverbs 8:22-31 when you have a chance. It was written about wisdom. Verse 30 says, “Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; and I was daily His delight. Rejoicing always before Him.”

When Your Way Is Blocked

I had another really great lesson in store for me upon waking many years ago. The Holy Spirit put this thought into my mind with His definition for frustration. God intercepting my way to redirect me into His way.

That day was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. My way was blocked repeatedly. Each time I rehearsed the thought He gave me. In the afternoon I was driving to my appointment. The road was blocked on both sides. Traffic backed up for miles because of an accident.

My lane finally opened up. I started my car and this tell tale steam rose up from my radiator. I pulled off at the next road to the right. It was in front of a small post office. I went in and called my doctor’s office to tell them what happened. 

As I walked back to my car an older gentleman held up a water bottle. He offered to put the water in and then told me to wait a little while for my car to cool off. I waited while thinking of His definition to frustration.

I knew the Lord was up to something but at that point I didn’t know what. When I finally started back home, the Holy Spirit told me to go right (instead of left). There were several other blocks to navigate. Here is the short version.

It was getting late so I stopped at a restaurant to eat supper. As I walked in, there to my left was a family from Costa Rica. I did not know they were in our country until right then. He said,   “Marilyn, I wanted to call you this morning.” It was a great reunion. 

Does your flesh react when your way is blocked? Our flesh is noisy. If we don’t silence it, we will not be open and sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is saying and doing. 

Waiting: An Active Verb

I read Matthew 26 yesterday. This morning (July 19) I woke up with these words in my mind: waiting is an active verb. In Matthew 26:36-40 is the account of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane.

In verse 36 He told His disciples to, “…Sit here while I go and pray over there.” Then He took Peter, James, and John with Him. In verse 38 He expressed His heart of sorrow, then said, “…Stay here and watch with Me.”

They fell asleep. Verse 41 in the Amplified says, “All of you must keep awake (give strict attention, be cautious and active) and watch and pray, that you may not come into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing; but the flesh is weak.”

Have you noticed how your flesh bucks against words like obey, submit, be willing? Waiting brings up our hidden flesh. Impatience rises, we sigh, complain, and fidget. Like the three disciples we often fall asleep on the job of waiting. We dull down instead of remaining sharp and alert.

Waiting is active. It means to occupy, watch, be vigilant, pray, be attentive, alert, and prepared for action. I love 2 Samuel 5:24. David was actively waiting. What was he doing? He was listening for a certain sound. The moment he heard that sound he was to go into action.

Verse 24 says, “And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly. For then the Lord will go before you…” No matter what the Lord tells us to do, He has a purpose in our waiting. 

Let’s recount David’s words. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say on the Lord!” Being of good courage comes through our thoughts focused on God’s character of faithfulness.

I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit gave me “Waiting is an active verb” this morning because I lived it out. I had three appointments this morning. Each one required long waiting times. Since I was away from home, my action could only be praying for those I normally pray for. Great lesson. More tomorrow.