The FRUIT of PEACE is Ripe; Ready for the Pickin!

Quality of the FRUIT
 
We all know the physical benefits to eating selected fruits.  They say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but many of us still don’t eat them.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be eating them, however. 
 
“Pound for pound, FRUITS are among the healthiest foods a person can consume offering numerous benefits (from antioxidants to vitamin C to potassium to fiber) in huge quantities that other foods don’t come close to.  But what fruits offer which specific benefits?  That’s the question of the day, so lets dive in” [quoted from DocShop by Neil Smith.
 
THE NINE FRUITS FOR GOOD PHYSICAL HEALTH
 
1.  APPLES
2.  BANANAS
3.  BLUEBERRIES
4.  APRICOTS
5.  BLACKBERRIES
6.  CHERRIES
7.  POMEGRANATES
8.  ORANGES
9.  PURPLE (NOT GREEN) GRAPES
 
When I was 17 and just graduated from high school, my dad sat me down at the kitchen table one evening and gave me some shocking news:  “Since you are attending college in the fall, your mom and I have decided that the ‘gravy train’ has come to the end of the line.  You need to find a job, pay rent to live here and help with college expenses.  Any questions?”
 
So in September, the day I registered for college classes, I started my first real job at a grocery store as a “box boy” ; now referred to as “courtesy clerks”.  I ended this journey some 5 1/2 years later with experiences as daytime grocery shelf- stocker,  night time shelf- stocker, and night crew manager.  I even worked in the produce section of the store for a few months. 
I would notice people examining the fruit qualities to the extreme at times.  They would pick up the fruit, feel the fruit, smell the fruit and if there were cut samples, they would taste the fruit; to pick the best apple or banana or any of the nine listed fruit that was mentioned. They didn’t want to purchase un-ripened fruit; they wanted what was ready to eat right now; “ready for the pickin!”
 
THE NINE FRUITS FOR GOOD SPIRITUAL HEALTH—Galatians 5:22-23
 
“…the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within you accomplishes] is LOVE, JOY (gladness), PEACE, PATIENCE (an even temper), KINDNESS, GOODNESS (benevolence), FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS (meekness, humility), SELF-CONTROL (self-restraint, continence).  Against such things there is no law [that can bring charge].”
 
I have selected only one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in this blog which is the fruit of PEACE.  I chose that particular fruit because of all the bad news around us today. The debt crisis in congress, home mortgages in default, broken relationships; divorce rate still at fifty percent in the U.S., gas prices, job security…  It’s hard to have the FRUIT OF PEACE in our lives in today’s world except for the fruit of the Holy Spirit living inside of us.  REMEMBER, it’s “the fruit of the Holy Spirit” living in us and not the fruit of ourselves. The world has that confused.
 
TRIVIA
 
A little bit of trivia to begin with concerning “The FRUIT of PEACE” blog.  The word PEACE occurs in each of the books of the New Testament except 1 John.
 
In my story of working in the produce department observing customers in their fruit selection, let’s examine “The FRUIT of PEACE” in God’s grocery store, the Gospel of the Lord; His Word store.
 
FOUR DESCRIPTIONS OF PEACE FRUIT
 
1.  Harmonious relationships between man:
 
Matthew 10:34  “Do not think that I have come to bring PEACE upon the earth…but a sword.”
 
Mark 9:50  “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its saltness, how will you restore [the saltness to] it? Have salt within yourselves, and be at PEACE and live in harmony with one another.”
 
Romans 14:19  “So then let us pursue the things which make for PEACE and the building up of one another” (NAS).
 
2.  PEACE between nations:
 
Luke 14:31, 32  “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king.  Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of PEACE” (NIV).
 
Acts 12:20  “And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon; but they came with one accord to him, and having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired PEACE; because their country was nourished by the king’s country” (KJV).
 
Revelations 6:4  “And another horse came out, flaming red. And its rider was empowered to take the PEACE from the earth, so that men slaughtered one another, and he was given a huge sword”  (AMPLIFIED).
 
3.  Friendliness of PEACE:
 
Acts 15:33  “And after spending some time there, they (Judas and Silas) were sent back by the brethren with [the greeting] PEACE to those who had sent them.”
 
1 Corinthians 16:11  “So [see to it that] no one despises him (Timothy) or treat him (Timothy) as if he were of no account or slights him. But send him off [cordially, speed him on his way] in PEACE…”
 
Hebrews 11:31  “[Prompted] by faith Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed along with those who refused to believe and obey, because she had received the spies in PEACE [without enmity]”  (AMPLIFIED).
 
4.  Order in the state or PEACE in the churches:
 
1 Corinthians 14:33  “For He [Who is the source of their prophesying] is not a God of confusion and disorder but of PEACE and order. As [is the practice] in all the churches of the saints (God’s people).”
 
2 timothy 2:22  “Shun youthful lusts and flee from them, and aim at and pursue righteousness (all that is virtuous and good, right living, conformity to the will of god in thought, word, and deed); [and aim at and pursue] faith, love, [and] PEACE (harmony and concord with others) in fellowship with all [Christians], who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart.”
 
THE COLOR; CONTENTS AND TASTES  [“PEACE-FRUIT” DESCRIPTIONS]
 
1.  The harmonized relationship between God and man; the color and the content in the gospel:
 
Acts 10:36  “And you know the CONTENTS of the message which He sent to Israel, announcing the good news (GOSPEL) of PEACE by Jesus Christ, Who is Lord of all—“
 
Ephesians 2:17  “And He came and preached the glad tidings of PEACE to you who were afar off and [PEACE] to those who were near.”
 
2.  There’s the TASTE of the fruit of PEACE! The grocery store “sample”; The sense of rest and contentment:
 
Matthew 10:13  “Then if indeed that house is deserving, let come upon it your PEACE [that is, freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as the result of sin]. But if it is not deserving, let your PEACE return to you.”
 
Mark 5:34  “And He said to her, Daughter, your faith has restored you to health. Go (into) PEACE and be continually healed and freed from your [distressing bodily] disease.”
 
Luke 1:79  “To shine upon and give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to direct and guide your feet in a straight line into the way of PEACE.”
 
John 14:27  “PEACE I leave with you; My [own] PEACE I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled].”
 
Other Scriptural References:  Lk, 2:29; Rom. 1:7, 3:17, 8:6.
 
 
 
QUESTION:  “WHAT’S YOUR DEFINITION OF “PEACE FRUIT’?
 
Whatever you choose, it’s all the same produce; Holy Spirits presence from within gives.  And what does that accomplish?
 
FRUIT PRODUCTION at a high quality:
 
1.   NO FEAR.
2.  NO INTIMIDATION.
3.  NO COWARDNESS.
4.  NO UNSETTLING.
 
“NONE?  But what if I do experience those ‘blemishes’?  Here comes a promise from the Orchard Manager:
 
“[Yes] I will grant [I Myself will do for you] whatever you shall ask in My Name [as presenting all that I AM].  If you really love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands.  And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever—The Spirit of Truth…”  (John 14:14-17).
 
WOW!  Now that’s what I call ORGANIC FRUIT!!
 
NEXT BLOG:  PEACE; The Hybrid By-Product IN the Genetic Order of LOVE
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Exercising in the Promises of God

2 Peter 1:5

REMEMBER that old hymn, “Standing on the Promises”?  I will give the first verse in case you have forgotten the words or never heard of the hymn. It’s based on II Corinthians 1:20 “For all promises of God are “yes,” and in Him “Amen”

“Standing on the promises of Christ my King,

Through eternal ages let His praises ring!  Glory in the

highest I will shout and sing—  Standing on the promises of God,

Standing on the promises of God!”

THE PROMISES

A few people have asked me how I get the ideas for The WORD Detective blog and my answers are various.  After my quiet time in the morning, reading in God’s Word and praying with thanksgiving, Holy Spirit guides my thinking.  I’ve kept six years of written notes from my spiritual mentor, Creflo Dollar and those notes can get me started doing the necessary detective work.  Other times, from my reading Scripture; through God’s leading, conversation might go something like this;

“Mel, that verse you just read in II Peter, I want you to develop that idea in your writing the blog today.”  And my response at times might be…?   “BUT…I thought you wanted me to go over here and ….” ADD:  If God wants you to do something, don’t argue, just “do it!”

So that’s the way the conversation went this morning and thus the title  “Exercising in the Promises of God”; developed from 2 Peter 1:2-7.

Galatians 3 description of The Promises of God:

Verse 5— “Then does He Who supplies you with His marvelous [Holy] Spirit and works powerfully and miraculously among you…because of your believing in and adhering to and trusting in and relying on the message that you heard”

Verse 7— “Know and understand that it is [really] the people [who live] by faith who are [the true] sons of Abraham.”

Verse 8— “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify (declare righteous, put in right standing with Himself) the Gentiles in consequence of faith, proclaimed the Gospel [foretelling the glad tidings of a Savior long beforehand] to Abraham IN THE PROMISE saying, In you shall all the nations (families), [that’s US] be blessed.”

Verse 9— “So then, those who are people of faith are blessed and made happy and favored by God [as partners in fellowship] with the believing and trusting Abraham.”

Verse 14— “To the end that through [their receiving] Christ Jesus, the BLESSING [PROMISED] to Abraham might come upon the Gentiles[that’s US again], so that we through faith might [all] receive [the realization of] the PROMISE of the [Holy] Spirit.”

1 John 2:24-25  “As for you, keep in your hearts what you have heard from the beginning.  If what you heard from the first dwells and remains in you, then you will dwell in the Son and in the Father [always].  And this is what He Himself has PROMISED us–the life, the eternal [life].”

EXERCISE CAUSES DEVELOPEMENT

The position of “Standing” on the promises of God might keep you breathing easier, it might improve your posture and it might even cause your blood to circulate in your body better because of salvation and grace.  I don’t know about you, but after standing at the Rose Bowl Parade one particular New Years day for over three hours, I just wanted to sit somewhere; I was tired of standing still, being immobile.  Could that experience be true in our spiritual lives?  Can  “prolonged immobility” cause tragic consequences in our spiritual being? Our testimony?

David Bloom–an NBC news correspondent–called his wife from a few miles outside of Bagdad, resting on the fender of a tank.  It was April 2003, and Bloom had spent several weeks traveling in military vehicles across the deserts of Iraq.

He casually mentioned that he was having leg cramps, but neither he nor his wife thought much about it.  “Cramps didn’t seem unusual since he was sleeping most nights in a tank with his knees up to his chin.”  “Everyone was having aches and pains”.  Besides, Bloom–who was 39–had always been in excellent health! 

What they didn’t know is that Bloom had developed “deep vein thrombosis” (DVT)–a blood clot in the leg–partly the result of dehydration and traveling in cramped positions.  A few days later, as troops prepared a final push across the Bagdad border, David Bloom collapsed and died.

Ever since I heard that story told, when traveling by airplane, I have always got up at least once during the flight to help prevent DVT.  Doctors have said, “prolonged immobility” is one of the causes.

“For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence),  And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control, and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety),  And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love”  (II Peter 1:5-7–AMPLIFIED).

In the Amplified version of the three verses above, the emphasis is placed on “exercising” and “developing”; no “prolonged immobility” here in our spiritual health. There is more than “standing” on God’s promises; there is action, mobility, exercise!

ADDING TO THE PROMISES— (II Peter 1:5)

The verb epichorego (“adding”) has a colorful and fascinating history.  In greek drama the plays were put on by the combined effort of a poet (who wrote the script); the state (which provided the theater); and a wealthy individual called a choregos, who paid the expenses.  This called for a generous but sometimes costly effort on his part.

In Peter’s view, God has written in the blood of Jesus the script for a Christian life; the world is the theater where it will be played out; but the believer must cooperate by “exercising” and “practicing” his efforts to make the script come alive.

INACTIVE WORDS USED IN OUR VOCABULARY

Diligence:  Determined zeal which marks a daily goal[to the divine promises].

Virtue:  The character of Christ; being examples (patterns and models of Christian living to the flock; the congregation ( 1 Peter 5:3); (excellence, resolution).  We cannot produce VIRTUE or the Character of Christ from ourselves, but we add it only in the sense of chosing to act [exercising].

Steadfastness: Unwavering, intense, single minded in purpose.

EXERCISING IN THE 7 VIRTUES

When going to work-out at a fitness training facility, when you haven’t exercised your muscles in years, you wouldn’t attempt to press 500 pounds on your back. You would start out lifting five pounds, then ten pounds and so on until development of your physical stamina and strength became capable of handling more weight.

Exercising spiritually begins in the same way. We have God’s “precious and exceedingly great promises” and now it’s time to “add to” the promises; to start out by “exercising your faith”; to develop VIRTUE, KNOWLEDGE, SELFCONTROL, STEADFASTNESS, GODLINESS, BROTHERLY AFFECTION, CHRISTIAN LOVE.

Remember God’s Word when you want to give up, cave in and quit exercising.  “EXERCISE CAUSES DEVELOPMENT” in the physical body and in your spirit, mind and soul!

God Has A Plan For My Life! What The Heck Is It Then?

Running the GOOD Race!
“A manufacturer has a plan before there’s a finished product”.
 
GOD HAS A SET RACE FOR YOU TO RUN
 
“THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the TRUTH], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us”  (Hebrews 12:1 AMPLIFIED).
 
 
 
 
God says that each one of us has a set race for us to run.  You don’t choose your race, the race and the lane you run in has already been chosen.  If you don’t discover the right race to run in, you will get frustrated.   Which do you prefer?  To quote Shakespeare;  “To be or not to be? That’s the question.”  Everyone has an appointed course to run!
 
RUNNING WITH CERTAINTY
 
“Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim).  I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary”  (1 Corinthians 9:26).
 
Nothing can give you confidence more than your course of certainty.  Michael Phelps, the world champion swimmer, won the Gold Medal in every event he entered in the 2008 Olympics. He was asked on The Today show this morning after winning the 200m Butterfly in Singapore, “Are you going to train as hard for the 2012 Games as you did in 2008?”  Michael responded, “After a few more races, I will know what my training program will be”.
 
EXPRESSED FAITH
 
I was just thinking about the 2012 Olympic Games in London next summer after hearing Michael Phelps comments.  The preparation that is being made by the organizers and the athletes around the world.  I vividly remember the last Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China four years ago (2008). The marching into the stadium by the athletes, each one representing with pride, their home  nation.  Knowing who they were representing in the games, knowing how hard they’ve been in training to bring home a medal in their given event.
 
An Olympic sprinter from Jamaica, by the name of Usain Bolt broke the 100 meter world record in the 2008 Games, then on August 16th, 2009 he broke his own world record. Here is how ESPN Track and Field describe the record:
 
“Usain Bolt crossed the finish line, saw his record-setting time on the clock and spread his arms as if he were soaring like a bird.  The Jamaican shattered the world record again, running 100 meters in 9.58 seconds.  The American sprinter Tyson Gay, crossed the finished line in second place with a time of 9.71 seconds, an American record.  Usain said he thought the time of 9.4 seconds could be reached soon. “
 
Their coaches and staff must have been jumping up and down over their athletes accomplishments.  I am doing good enough if I could get myself out of my recliner in 9,58 seconds. 
All of the training, exercise and preparations had been worth the incurred pain.  The Olympic runners had faith in their coaches, in the training programs they had experience. Because of their intense training, their confidence had been reinforced; their faith was being expressed on the track, in their given lane or path, to finish the race.
 
BIBLICAL FAITH can be defined:  “The practical expression of the confidence in God and in His Word”.  The race that Christians run “isn’t a 100 meter dash but a long and sometimes grueling race, a marathon”.
 
GOD’S INSTRUCTIONS FOR RUNNING THE RACE
 
In Hebrews 12:1, the writer tells us when we are running life’s race,  “let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight)…”  What are those weights that are handicapping us? Are you about to drop out of the race; “give-up, cave in and quit”?  How prepared are you run?
 
THE “GOLD MEDAL” WINNERS
 
In Hebrews 11, the Scripture lists “the men of old”, who by FAITH had “divine testimony borne them” (Hebrews 11:2). I like to call them our coaches; the “Gold Medal” champions.  God is not going to ask you to do something without equipping you to do so!  So then you might ask, “What is my path, my course that God wants me to take?”
 
“Nothing can give you confidence more than your course of certainty” quote by Dr. Creflo A. Dollar on 10/27/05. Romans 8:29-30 explains it this way:  “For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was aware and loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning to be molded into the image of His son [and share inwardly His likeness], that He might become the firstborn among many brethren.”
 
Our course to run in then, based on those two verses, is to be like JESUS!  Our goal as believers, is to reach our purpose; making God’s vision a reality in our training.  When God calls you, He will anoint you in His call and His might go along with His calling to ‘run the good race’. 
 
For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This VICTORY that has overcome the world, even our FAITH”     
(1 John 5:4 NIV).
 
There has been many times in my Christian life I became frustrated in running the race; thinking I was answering God’s call.but being encumbered by the obstacles in front of me.  Like the hurdles that are set in place for the runner to stride over them, like a bird or a gazelle, before crossing the finish line. My eyes were on the prize, “looking away [from all that would distract] to Jesus”.  Who is the Leader and the Source of our FAITH…”  (Hebrews 12:2). My disobedience kept clinging to me,  my endurance and active persistence became so heavy, I wanted to quit!  My strength was exhausted.  And then, from the balcony on the other side of the stadium, coach Abraham encouraged and reminded me of his Gold Medal performance:
 
“[Urged on] by FAITH Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went…”  (Hebrews 11:8).
 
Abraham was called by God, urged on by FAITH to ‘go forth’.  Abraham “did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go”.  He was in the starting blocks, positioned to ‘go forth’, to run the race, and by FAITH knew that by expressing his confidence in God and in His Word, Abraham would win the prize; the Gold Medal!
 
PREPARING FOR THE RACE
 
Ladies, you must know that you have to be in preparation before you walk down the aisle if you are a bride.  God is making us everyday to follow Him.  When you get certain opportunities presented, be prepared to thank God first for the opportunity, then put your FAITH and TRUST in God’s plan for your life.  Jesus gave His disciples an opportunity in Matthew 4:19,  ““Come after Me [as disciples–letting Me be your Guide], follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men!”
 
Would you pay someone you didn’t hire?  If you got a knock at your front door and a young man said to you, “I just finish mowing your front lawn. Please pay me”.  You most likely would say, “I never told you to mow my lawn. I’m not going to pay you!”  God didn’t hire you; He isn’t going to pay you either.
 
If you step out WITHOUT God supporting you or telling you, it will fail.  “BUT God never said to me anything about that”.  God already gave all of His instructions in His Word; the Bible.  “When the blind leads the blind, they will both wind up in the ditch!” Have you ever felt you were in a ditch and had no idea how you got there?
 
Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, if the Lord has not authorized and commanded it?”
 
WE ARE ALL ATHLETES IN TRAINING
 
“Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately [level-headed, composed, collected— at the starting blocks] and restricts himself in all things.  They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither”  (1 Corinthians 9:25).
 
Verse 26-27 continues, giving us steps or preparations in winning the good race:
 
“Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim)… BUT [like an Olympic boxer] I buffit my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, unapproved and reject as a counterfeit].”
 
I have experienced many opportunities in my Christian life. I found out MY reasons weren’t the same as God’s reasons. SELF had become an encumbrance (an unnecessary weight).  And now I know the plan God has laid before me.  It has been there all the time in His Word.  As a disciple of Christ, I am a “fisher” of men. God calling has anointed me as The WORD Detective to bring to the readers the Word, the Gospel and I now have confidence through FAITH IN my doing:
 
“Know that [God being a partner in Mel’s labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose [NOT Mel’s purpose]”  (Rom. 8:28).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

“I’m JUST STRESSED Out!”

Handling Stress
Handling Stress

THE ROOT AND THE FRUIT

“For there is no good (healthy) tree that bears decayed (worthless, stale) fruit, nor on the other hand does decayed (worthless, sickly) tree bear good fruit”  (Luke 6:43).

Years ago, I lived in Southern California where citrus trees abounded in back yard neighborhoods and after buying our first home, we were going to plant our first fruit tree in our backyard.  The soil was all clay, without grass, and without a fenced in area, BUT I was going to plant a tangerine tree. NO MATTER WHAT! NO STRESS TO BE SUCCESSFUL HERE!

THE RESULTS

The first year there were sweet-smelling blossoms but little fruit. The tree must be trying to adapt itself to the poor surrounding soil [I looked that up in a garden book].  Now the second year, not only did we have lots of fruit,  God had put a ‘praying mantis’ in the foliage; to ward off harmful insects [I found that reasoning in the same book]. The third year of growing, not only was there only one tangerine found growing, but the leaves began to wilt; then the tree succumbed with all the leaves falling dead on the ground. That healthy looking specimen of a tree stood in our back yard that summer like the “Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree”!  At the end of the summer, I dug up the tree with remorse and found out that the roots were all shriveled up!  My conclusion; the roots were the problem! Because of my failure, I would be stressed out about planting any kind of tree again; in that particular backyard anyway.

TAKE CARE OR DEAL WITH THE ROOT AND YOU WILL TAKE CARE OF THE FRUIT

“If you’re dealing with fruit in your life that just keeps coming back in earnest even when you continually repent, STOP the vicious cycle of “fruit management” and allow the Lord to show you the ROOT that’s giving life to the FRUIT that is manifesting. Let Jesus heal you and deliver you”  Pat Hodges.

THE ROOT IS STRESS:  Stress [Root] —>Fruit

The FRUIT might include;

HELPLESSNESS

HEADACHES

MIGRANES

FORGETFULLNESS

TENSION

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

FAILURE MINDED

TIRED TO THE BONE

The ROOT is STRESS; handle the “root” to prevent the bad fruit fall, not to far from the tree.

In defining stress, it sometimes can be explained using construction terminology;  “A building under construction is designed to handle STRESS”; a pressure placed on certain structures in relation to their ability to provide support.

Everyone has the “ability” to deal with stress, but not everyone knows exactly how to deal with it.  Any building is equipped to handle a certain amount of applied weight; built to “specs” in that regard. We were never created to bear, or carry more than God intended.

LEARNING HOW TO DEAL WITH IT!

“We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way], but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair; We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven), but not deserted [to stand alone]; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out and destroyed”  (II Corinthians 4:8-9 Amplified).

“STRESS COMES FROM THE OUTSIDE IN”

Stress comes from pressure and circumstances around us that we may have control over or not. According to the apostle Paul, he confessed to the church of Corinth he experienced stress in every way. The key that’s given, when stress rises up, and it will, is being ready for what comes our way at any given time. Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John, the best way to handle stress:

“DO NOT let your hearts be troubled, (distressed, agitated). You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me”  (John 14:1).

When you read and meditate on God’s Word on a daily basis, you are preparing for what is going to happen for that day. Don’t wait for the FRUIT to show up first. If you do that, you will meditate on the FRUIT; the circumstance, the problem, in lieu of the solution found in God’s Word. 

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened or troubled [or “stressed out”], for this must take place, but the end is not yet”  (Matt. 24:6).

“Behold, God is my helper and ally; the Lord is my upholder and is with them who uphold my life”  (Psalm 54:4).

“Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it} and He will sustain you; He will NEVER ALLOW the [consistently] righteous to be moved (made to slip, fall, or fail)”  (Psalm 55:22).

 “Many evils confront the [consistently] righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all”  (Psalm 34:19).

CAUSES OF STRESS WHEN THEY ARISE

1.  Uncertainty.

2.  Unresolved conflict.

“UNCERTAINTY” in your finances?  We all know that “finances” can cause us stress. There are two words that I want to emphasize in regards to your finances: STOP and MEDITATE.

1.  STOP spending more than you earn.

2.  MEDITATE more on things that don’t cost you money.

If you are unemployed, or you think that “inflation” has caught up to you, you might pray this prayer right now; “Father, you know my situation and I don’t want to go down that “stress road”. You promised me in your Word, that if I “cast my burden”, my financial uncertainty on the Lord, you will remove the weight off my shoulders! I believe and trust in You and your Word that my finances will be taken care of NO MATTER WHAT! In Jesus Name.  Amen”.

UNRESOLVED CONFLICT

“Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]”  (James 5:16).

Unresolved conflict will cause stress in a believer’s life and confession will remove the conflict. DON’T CONFESS your sins to someone you don’t know in the Lord; immature Christians.  Maturity isn’t how long you’ve been “born again”!  It’s how long you’ve been obedient.

SOME RELIEF FROM STRESS

“He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and that which he has given He will repay to him”  (Prov. 19:17).

1.  Ministering to the poor will cause stress relief in your life. Try it! Giving to others will always bless you.  And if you are being blessed in your giving, there is no room for stress.

2.  Order in your life.  Lack of order causes stress in marriage and your finances.

3.  Please God and live by faith.  Quit trying to PLEASE everybody.

4.  Take care of your body!

BIBLE VERSES TO READ AND MEDITATE ON BEFORE STRESS ARRIVES

Exodus 33:14  “And the Lord said, My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”

2 Samuel 22:7

Psalm 16:8  “…I shall not be moved”.

Psalm 18:3-6

Psalm 34

Psalm 55:22  “Cast [fling] your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it]…”

Psalm 118:5-9  “Out of my distress I called upon the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free and in a large place.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-11

2 Corinthians 11:27-28

Philippians 4:6-7  “Do not fret or have anxiety about anything…”

If you feel that you don’t know how to pray about your building fears; of stress of related circumstances, pray out loud and remind God of His promises. No, He hasn’t forgotten what He has said, but He likes to know of your faith and confidence of His Word.

 

 

 

 

 

The “Naked” Truth; Our Identity In The Church (PART 2 of 2)

Our IDENTITY in the CHURCH

As born-again believers, we are reminded from the Sunday pulpit, to be an example to lost; the unbelievers in the world. It’s our testimony, our responsiblity in our Christian walk to LOVE the un-lovely.  Scripture backs all this up!

“Little children, let us not LOVE  [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity)”  1 John 3:18.

He who does not LOVE has not become acquainted with God, for God is LOVE”  1 John 4:8. 

And we know (understand and recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the LOVE God cherishes for us.  God is LOVE, and he who dwells and continues in LOVE dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in Him”  1 John 4:16.

Those three verses in 1 John, are only a few verses that talk about our true identity in a lost world. We are to put on Christ’s LOVE. toward the man begging holding a sign on a street corner; a person whose limited vocabulary consists of only four-letter words; the lady who goes through the “15 items or less” check-stand at the grocery store, with a basket full of items. Hopefully, our reactions should demonstrate who we are in Jesus; our LOVE towards others, our real identities, regardless of the circumstance. If not, they will see in us The “Naked” Truth; the emperor’s new clothes.

“WHO AM I”  IN THE CHURCH; How do Christians recognize me?

“Be gentle and forbearing with one another…”  Colossians 3:13. 

What does “forbearing” mean, or in the N.I.V. translation; “Bear with each other”?  It means to be patient with other believers in the church body. Why is it that we are the patient with some things or people and not with the family of God?

 Ask yourself these questions:  “What should my relationship be with the rest of the body in Christ?”  “How do people in church see me?”  “What is Our Identity in The Church?”   Turn with me in your Bibles to “The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians” church:

“Living as becomes [Mel] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you LOVE one another.”

Because of what reason?  Mel, you are to “LOVE one another“!  Often when I read Scripture verses and come across a personal pronoun, like “you“, I make it personal and insert my name. Try it sometime. It can sometimes shine a light on the words.

LOVING THE BODY: Do they see in you the “Naked” truth?.

Colossians reminds us as members of the same body, the Church, how we are to be recognized. For we are the church; the church isn’t that building we go to on Sundays: purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself]” Colossians 3:12.  Now re-read those words but this time, insert your name before reading; “[your first name] is…“purified and holy and well-beloved”.  Since God Himself is observing your true identity; your loving attitude towards others in the church, knowing this should remind us who we really are.  We are God’s “own picked representatives” [Colossians 3:12 AMPLIFIED].  We clothed ourselves before coming into church on Sunday mornings as God’s representatives; for other’s sake and not for our own sake.  “WOW! God picked me out. God chose Mel as His personal representative!”

Colossians 3:13 continues, “and” …walking in the Truth, we are to forgive; “pardoning each other” as we go. For just SOME of the “complaints or “grievances”?  That’s NOT LOVE!  No, “whatever grievances”. If I have a difference of opinion, if I have a complaint in the body of Christ (the CHURCH), I need to walk in the Truth [God’s Word], and not be exposed; not “naked” as in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” story.  How many bodies of Christ have become dis-jointed in the land because of their “nakedness”; their “grievances”, their “complaints”?

WHAT’S THE ACTION PLAN IN PLACE?

Who was the Apostle Paul writing to?  To you and I; the church! With the putting on of your new clothes; your new attitude toward others in the church, we are given a  plan to follow:

1.  FORGIVENESS; “even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you”. REMEMBER THIS: The word given is, FOR GIVE- NESS! Not FOR SALE- NESS!   LOVE isn’t for sale; “I’ll love you if you will love me”.

2.  TO PARDON OTHERS; to set free from my attitude of selfishness.  Mel’s imposed punishment.

IS THERE A KEY IN THE ACTION PLAN IN “FORGIVING OTHERS”?

Remember how much God has forgiven you!  It’s difficult at times to forgive someone who has wronged you a little when God has forgiven you so much.

And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tender-hearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another…”  (Eph. 4:32).

Realizing God’s infinite [without limits, endless immeasurable] LOVE and FORGIVENESS.

“SO, WHO AM I IN CHRIST?”

You should now know the Truth to your identity in the relationships surrounding you every day:

1.  I AM Holy.

2.  I AM hand-picked.

3.  I AM God’s chosen representative.

4.  I AM clothed, covered and enveloped.

5.  I AM unselfish.

6.  I AM patient with others in the body of Christ.

7.  I AM NOT judgemental…at all!

All of the “I AM’s” come from God’s LOVE, not from your own will. With out the power from the Holy Spirit, your Helper and friend, you can’t, you will not change. How do I know that for sure?  Because God says so every day. And if God says it…I can believe it!

Your LOVE for others will be tested. I have personally gone through those tests about loving others for Christ sake. But then again “others” have probably been tested in loving Mel at various times and situations.

Once more I will leave you with God’s words given to the Colossian’s church; We are the church!

Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]”  (Col. 3:13).

“That’s Who I am”.  Who are you?

 

 

 

 

MY IDENTITY — Who We Are Today! (PART 1 of 2)

It Begins In Colossians Chapter 3

I was reading today a blog entitled, “Wearing Many Hats; the Roles We Play” by Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross. She is a licensed psychotherapists and clinical psychologist in California. I want to give you a picture of what the world has been dealing with today, an area in your life that you are most likely contending with everyday. Have we lost our true identities?

Yesterday was not unlike most of my days which are filled with many activities that take place at many different locations…I went from therapist, to friend, to mother and medical advocate for my child, daughter, book group member and forever the chauffeur.  This is not unusual for most women today who are working moms.”

If Cyndi’s words stir up your thinking just a bit, about who you really are, then know that you’re not alone when you say,  “WHO AM I ?”

As believers in Christ Jesus, we know that we are called Christians and we know our identity as “believers”. Do you know that, really? What was your thinking this past week when after getting off at work, you rushed to the ball field, picked up your son, drove to the pizza place to pick-up dinner, got home and fed the dog. Thenturned the oven on to pre-heat, changed your clothes while the oven got to 450 degrees, then made a quick salad, and yelled, “Dinner is ready!” Can we really know who we are in Jesus Christ at this crazy pace?  It’s hard enough to develop a true relationship with our husbands, our wives, our kids, our neighbors and friends much less our relationship with God when we can’t take the time during the day for ourselves; “I just don’t have the time anymore”.

THE BLUEPRINT OF COLOSSIANS

Chapters 1:1 thru 2:23; shows us “What Christ has done”.

Chapters 3:1 thru 4:18; shows us “What Christians should do”.

I was reading in II Corinthians in my devotions and prayer this morning and as I was about to close my Bible when, I felt Holy Spirit was tugging at my ear to read a particular verse. After reading the verse, I felt I should share it on my FACEBOOK page.

For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing]”  (II  Corinthians 5:10-AMPLIFIED).

 The AMPLIFIED  bracketed words were really poignant to “Who We Are Today!” topic. What is my purpose and motives of late, what have I achieved, been busy with, given attention to in accomplishing the things that I do? WHO AM I in Christ Jesus, REALLY?

NEW CLOTHING

I know than when your life seems closing in at times around you, going out shopping by yourself and getting something new to wear makes you feel better. You look in the mirror at the store, smile and sigh then say, “I look and feel like a new person.”  Did you have the same reaction when you became a new believer in Jesus?

“Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices.  And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it”  (Colossians 3:9-10).

Those of us who are true [not “faux”] believers remember our salvation experience. Mine was August 16th, 1972 and I can remember the exact circumstances of my “born-again” experience.  However, we forget about the ongoing experience of “renewing and remolding” process thereafter (Colossians 3:10; Romans 12:2).  The process of being “renewed and in the knowledge of” Christ Jesus is never-ending. And yet in seeking our identities, in all that we do, we often feel NAKED at times.  Remember the scene when after the fall of man in the Garden, Adam and Eve heard the Lord God walking in the cool of the day. They hid themselves behind the trees, hoping God wouldn’t know  they had disobeyed Him and wouldn’t see them. Boy, that reminds me of my childhood when I disobeyed my mother and hid under mom and dad’s big bed. She would tell me, “You better get out of there, for the punishment will be more severe”.

Genesis 3:9-11  “But the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, Where are you?  He [Adam] said, I heard you walking in the garden, and I was afraid because [ugh, ugh…] I was naked; and I hid myself.  And He said, Who told you that you were naked?…”

“CLOTHES CAN MAKE THE MAN”

Have you ever heard of the above expression?  What is it’s meaning?

“Refers to the fact that when people see a person look well-dressed, they assume that person is a professional, capable, and (especially in the old days) rich.  Therefore, you had to dress like how you wanted to be perceived…” (Yahoo).

Looking today at myself and others around me in today’s society, we have pretty much thrown out the window that expression of “clothes make the man”.  Now it’s, “I am who I am and if everyone else dresses this way, I am too!”  How does Scripture say we are to dress?

Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tender-hearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper]”  (Colossians 3:12–AMPLIFIED).

That verse tells me that since I am a “spiritual man”, my clothing will demonstrate “power”; to endure adversity, no matter what, and others will see my true identity in Christ.  Do you remember the story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes“? The emperor was convinced, if he was to put on these new clothes that the tailor had made, people would see him differently. He would be great and honored and known throughout the land. The problem was for the king, these new clothes were “invisible clothes”.  When he went out with his “new clothes”, he was really NAKED! People laughed at him and whispered behind his back. “What kind of king would go out in the public…NAKED?” Yet, he had convinced himself that he had a new identity; though he was really naked.

Who are we today, to non-believers; the unsaved world?  How do they really see in us? I hope they don’t see us NAKED as the emperor.

WHO AM I?

Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]”  (Colossians 3:13).

I have talked about our identity to unbelievers around us but how about our identities around other Christians? Who are we today to them…the “and…” in “Who Am I?”. 

PART 2 in the blog will identify who “We Are Today” in the church.

 

The Act of Wrestling with a Spiritual Balance

The Act of Wrestling

For we are not wrestling with physical opponents—but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly supernatural sphere”  (Ephesians 6:12 AMPLIFIED).

WHO IS REALLY OUR OPPONENTS?

When “wrestling” comes to mind, I first think of the name that has become synonymous with wrestling in the United States; Dan Gable.  He perhaps was the greatest amateur champion in freestyle wrestling as of today. Dan won 181 consecutive matches in high school and college and the won 15 national championships as a college coach. He is also known for his quotations regarding wrestling, such as,   “Right out of high school I never had to fear of getting beat, which is how most people lose.”  Wouldn’t it be great if we could express that quote in our spiritual lives?

THE “WHO” AND “WHO IT’S NOT” IN EPHESIANS 6:12

“The Who’s”:

1.  Rulers.

2.  Oppressors (“despotisms).

3.  Authorities.

4.  Powers; “the DARK SIDE” or “the world”.

5.  “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm”.

The “NOTS”:

1.  Physical opponents.

2.  Flesh and Blood.

Another Dan Gable Quote:  “Wrestling is the only sport I’ve ever competed in that puts you totally in a situation of constant [motion] without breaks.  I could play football or baseball, swim—but there’s always some kind of situation that would break my thoughts, break my concentration.”

Author Frank Peretti’s statement on the back of two of his books, “This Present Darkness” and “Piercing the Darkness” says,  “If you think spiritual warfare is just fiction, think again.” If by chance, you have never read these Christian classics, I encourage you to do so! It will put your thinking inline with the author’s statement. Nothing I’ve ever read before gave me such a vivid picture of Ephesians 6:12 than these two books mentioned. With that said, turn to the Book of Romans in your Bible.

Romans 8:37-39  “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”  (the N.I.V. translation).

Dan Gable said that he “never had the fear of getting beat”.  And as Scripture tells us, “we are more than conquerors” in Christ Jesus. Have you thought you were a loser at times; you have been defeated by sin and temptation. That notion isn’t coming from Jesus. “Conquerors” can’t be labeled as “losers” and Scripture say we are “more than conquerors”!  That verse quoted in Romans 8 is our security when it comes to our wrestling against spiritual forces.

AT OUR “SALVATION”

When we first became believers, something happened in the “heavenly sphere”. We were given assurance by the Holy Spirit “VICTORY” (Rom. 8:37).  Something else happened at the same time; we became enemies to the “WHO’S”.  Ephesians 6:12 says we must then engage the opponents in “The Act of Wrestling”.

THE MANNER OF ENGAGEMENT

There is always preparation that come before engaging an opponent; before going to the wrestling mat. You need to know everything about the wrestling opponents schemes or plans before you even enter the ring of life.

The 5 “D”s:

1.  Doubt—you question God’s Word and His goodness.

2.  Discouragement—makes you look at your problems.

3.  Diversions—makes the wrong things attractive.

4.  Defeat—makes you feel like a failure.

5.  Delay—makes you put off doing something so that it never gets done; spiritual procrastination. That was King Rehoboam’s problem in 2 Chronicles 12:14. 

GRAPPLING IN THE ACT OF WRESTLING

In Olympic “free-style” wrestling, grappling is often used in trying to defeat your opponent. In martial arts, grappling weapons can be used.  “Grappling’s object is either to take down and pin the opponent or to catch the adversary in a specialized chokehold or joint lock which forces him or her to submit and admit defeat or be rendered helpless.”  In plain and simple terms, to grapple means “to seize and hold fast”; grip the legs, arms, neck, shoulders all for one purpose:

1.  Get you off-balance.

2.  Get you off your feet.

3.  Get you to the mat on your back.

A grapple hold in wrestling is to get your opponent off-balance. In the Spiritual Realm, the opponent uses two subtle grappling holds:

1.  Suggestion—robs you of your blessings.

2.  Emotions—emotions are your “feelings”, your control.

DO WE HAVE A GRAPNEL [a weapon] AGAINST OUR OPPONENT?

We sure do and,  It’s God’s Word!

John 12:31  “Now the judgement (crisis) of this world is coming on [sentence is now being passed on this world]. Now the ruler (evil genius, prince} of this world shall be cast out (expelled).”

Other verses in the Gospel of John:  John 14:30; John 15:11.

What then is Spiritual Balance?

“It’s the movement of obedience and the distribution of faith between vision and sacrifice as we move together in unison.”  That’s body movement, our position in the ring, The Act of Wrestling. As Dan Gable said about wrestling, “It puts you totally in a situation of constant [motion]…”  It becomes harder for the opponent to take hold.

When I was doing the detective work for this blog regarding competitive wrestling, I came across this move against the opponents grappling hold. It is called the Technique of Escape. In a general sense, an escape is accomplished by maneuvering out of a danger or from an inferior position. In the Technique of Escape in the spiritual sense; apply your martial arts experience and grab your weapon; the “helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God”  (Eph. 6:17}. If your opponents can use “flaming missiles” against you in wrestling, then you will need to “put on God’s complete armor”  (Eph. 6:13).