The place of rest

 

There are times and seasons in our lives where our mind and emotions become overwhelmed. Usually the feeling of being overwhelmed comes from the fact that we have no experience on how to handle the situation at hand. Many times our uncertainty will open the door to confusion and confusion usually opens the door to emotional pain.

God’s desire is that is all things we would learn to rest in Him. There is a supernatural rest that He calls us to live and abide in Him that will enable us to become overcomers and victorious in every situation. “”Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”” (Matthew 11:28–30, NIV84) It is the spiritual place of rest in God that will still the confusion in our soul and quiet our emotions. “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15, NIV84)

As we pursue our callings and our destinies, perhaps our ability to rest in God is the one test of our readiness for promotion. If we have no peace and rest in the circumstances we are in now, how will we be able to handle the soulish stresses that will increase when our responsibilities and authority increase? “”If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5, NIV84)

Rest is a direct reflection of our trust in God. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”” (Psalm 91:1–2, NIV84) It makes sense that God, who loves us, will not give us more than we can handle. We must learn to trust God with those things that overwhelm us and confuse us. As we allow trust in God to fill our lives, we find that we are resting in Him.

Rest is a reflection of our relationship with Jesus. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14–16, NIV84) As we move through life, we are presented always with the opportunity to come to Jesus, to the place of rest, to find the grace and mercy we need. Our confusion and feelings of being overwhelmed only show that we have not yet learned the lesson of bringing everything to Jesus and drawing on His grace and His mercy and trusting Him to work good through the situation.

How do we enter the place of rest then? How do we find the place of trust and growth with God that will carry us through the storms and the tests?

“This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” (1 John 3:19–20, NIV84) The first step is to know that God is greater than our situation. If we do not believe that God is supreme over everything, then that which is supreme becomes our God. If we believe that God is not bigger than the circumstance, than the circumstance has become our God. Once we believe that God is bigger than everything, we must all believe that God is fully aware of our circumstance. God knows and in the knowing, He has also created a place of rest for us.

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, […]. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.” (Hebrews 4:9–13, NIV84) The place of rest can be found through seeking God through His Word. The Word of God is God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1, NIV84) We can rest knowing that God has prepared a place for us and our priority is to seek God when we feel overwhelmed until we find the place of rest. “This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.'” (Jeremiah 6:16, NIV84)

As we declare who God is in our lives and over our situation, we will find rest. We must declare that even if our situation seems bad, God’s goodness and love towards us never changes. “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” (Psalm 116:7, NIV84) We enter rest by recalling God’s love, mercy, grace, and goodness towards us that never changes. We declare and re-establish our trust in that goodness and in those declarations we bring the situation to God and allow Him to be Lord of the circumstance. “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.    Selah” (Psalm 62:5–8, NIV84) We reaffirm our hope, our trust in God alone.

When our eyes are turned on Jesus once again, we will enter the place of rest.

 

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The brook Cherith (Kerith)

 

There are seasons in our lives where God Himself calls us to be alone with Him. It His ultimate desire that we would be drawn to commune with Him and that our hearts would focus on Him alone. He calls and draws and woos us to come away with Him for a season where He alone can feed us and He alone can sustain us and He alone is our focus and our purpose.

The prophetic voice is developed only through times alone with God. It is in the times of solitary consecration and worship and dependence upon God where we learn to hear, obey and become transformed into the purpose, calling and destiny of God.

“And the word of the Lord came to him, saying, Go from here and turn east and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan. You shall drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there. So he did according to the word of the Lord; he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning and bread and flesh in the evening, and he drank of the brook. After a while the brook dried up because there was no rain in the land.” (1 Kings 17:2–7, AMP)

Elijah already had an awesome prophetic ministry. He had the opportunity to speak to kings the Word and declaration of God. And yet, immediately after he had spoken before the king, God called him to a season of solitude. Elijah did not run away from the impact of the Word. Elijah did not move by fear. Elijah was called by God, after fully obeying God, to come once again to a place of solitude with God.

God said, “Go from here and turn east and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan. You shall drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” (1 Kings 17:3–4, AMP) The word “hide” speaks of concealing yourself, becoming hidden so that others cannot see you. The word “Cherith” means “cutting”. It seems that God called Elijah to come alone, away from the public ministry in order to learn, grow and be sustained by God alone. What kind of cutting happens at Cherith? We do not know for sure; the word is used only in this verse of Scripture. However Scripture teaches us about what to cut.

“I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit. You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you]. Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.” (John 15:1–4, AMP) In the life of everyone who chooses to follow God there will be seasons of pruning. When God sees, as He did in Elijah, that we are bearing His fruit, He may very well call us once again to come close to Him, to a place of pruning, so that our obedience becomes even more fruitful.

We know that Elijah had just started his ministry with one word to a king. Afterwards, God called Elijah to come away and be with Him. I believe the purpose of God was that Elijah would grow and bear more fruit, richer fruit, and even more excellent fruit. The brook of God is a place of learning and wisdom. “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” (Proverbs 18:4, NIV84) It is a place of peace and rest where strength is found to walk in triumph. “He will drink of the brook by the way; therefore will He lift up His head [triumphantly].” (Psalm 110:7, AMP)

God does not make us come alone to be with Him. He desires it. God does not force us to come to a place of cutting, He lovingly calls us to come.

Jesus had many times alone with His Father. “And after He had dismissed the multitudes, He went up into the hills by Himself to pray. When it was evening, He was still there alone.” (Matthew 14:23, AMP) It was only from time alone with God, that the strength and power to minister to others came.

It was in the time of solitude and being hidden from others that God spoke to Joseph. Joesph was hidden in prison away from the view of others. Here, Joseph learned to hear. “And they said to him, We have dreamed dreams, and there is no one to interpret them. And Joseph said to them, Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me [your dreams], I pray you.” (Genesis 40:8, AMP)

Daniel was also a captive to a foreign king and learned to hear God. “But there is a God in heaven Who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what it is that shall be in the latter days (at the end of days). Your dream and the visions in your head upon your bed are these:” (Daniel 2:28, AMP)

Do not think God has fogotton you when you find yourself alone. Look around and you may very well find that you have been called to a special place, the brook Cherith, where God is choosing to sustain you, feed you and provide for you. This is a season to grow. This is a season to become sustained supernaturally. It is a place of the daily miracle and the place of the presence of God. Enjoy Cherith!

 

 

 

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Don’t become a captive

Captivity according to the dictionary is bondage, servitude, and imprisonment. In the natural, captivity happens in many ways. During seasons of war, those seeking power may bring people into captivity. Captivity may occur when people are imprisoned in their natural bodies through disability and weakness. Those who find themselves in captivity are unable to move and function beyond the limits of their captivity. A prisoner is free to move within his prison cell, but he cannot go beyond his prison cell. A person in a wheelchair can move freely within the limitations of the wheelchair, but cannot move beyond those limitations. Captivity then is life with limitations.

The opposite of captivity is freedom. Freedom is the absence of limitations. It is a life that is exempt from external control and limits. A person who is free is able to act upon the dreams and desires within them. Freedom is the ability to make choices. The truth, in the natural, is that as citizens, we are all subject to some rules and regulations that enable us to live peacefully as a society. Freedom within those constraints is the ability to choose to leave or choose to stay and abide within those constraints created to allow peaceful living.

Just as there is captivity and freedom in the natural, there is captivity and freedom in the spiritual realm. One who is truly free in the spiritual will find that they are never captives in the natural. Paul was free even while in the confines of house arrest. Paul and Silas were free even while worshipping God in prison. Daniel was free even as a captive serving a foreign king. In fact, the spiritual freedom they each experienced became a testimony to the people around them. Paul wrote about the freedom we have in Christ. He encouraged us to live in Christ, to grow in Christ and to express thankfulness for the freedom of Christ. “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6–7, NIV84)

Paul also warned the people of the easy path to spiritual captivity. “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8, NIV84) The word captive speaks of controlling another. The word philosophy speaks of human understanding and human wisdom. The word deceptive speaks of a lack of understanding and misleading views of the truth. The Amplified shares the verse; “See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah). For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature].” (Colossians 2:8–9, AMP)

There are those who like the ideas of Christ and the moral teachings of Christ but they reject the supernatural power of Christ because they cannot control the supernatural. They reject moves of God because it is outside their traditional teachings. In fact, their traditions and their doctrines become the standard by which they measure truth and not the Word of God. They accuse those who follow Christ in power as being false because they are unable to control and apply their understanding to the realm of the spirit. Those who are focused on only the teachings of Christ that can be achieved naturally through self-discipline will strive to put those who live by the Spirit and the supernatural power of Christ into bondage and captivity. Heresy hunters cannot stand the power of God because it defies their natural thinking and understanding. They seek to control and place under legalistic bondage people seeking truth by labeling certain groups of Christians as false with no basis in the Word of God and only on the authority of their personal traditions and experiences.

Paul encourages us to remember Christ. “For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature]. And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and reach full spiritual stature]. And He is the Head of all rule and authority [of every angelic principality and power].” (Colossians 2:9–10, AMP) The COMPLETE expression of God and the fullness of the GOD nature was found in Christ such that wherever Christ was, he walked and operated in signs, wonders, and miracles. We also are called to this fullness of life, the fullness of GOD in us. As the fullness of Christ finds expression in us, we too will walk in signs, wonders and miracles. This was how the early church lived. People were healed. Demons were cast out. The dead were raised. Christ was proclaimed. Christ was demonstrated and the church grew.

It seems that when we fail to see the signs and wonders in our life, our natural mind wants to make excuses and justify our lack of spiritual power. We say things like God did not want to heal so and so. We speak of certain types of miracles as being for the original apostles only. We justify the lack of power instead of confessing that our lives are not yet fully yielded to the life of Christ in us. This then becomes our hollow philosophy and human traditions. This deception that it is not possible to live in power places people in a life of bondage where they are not free to walk in supernatural power and must live the Christian life in natural strength and will. It is bondage and captivity.

The solution is this. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1–3, NIV84) When we see the lack of power, we seek God. We meditate on God, His Word and His promises. We allow God to transform our lives. As we keep seeking, we most certainly will find the supernatural power of Christ will begin to move and invade our natural understanding and change our natural world.

The natural mind will excuse some sins because the world accepts them. The supernatural mind of Christ will abhor sin because God in us is holy. “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices” (Colossians 3:5–9, NIV84)

The natural mind will see holiness as a duty. The supernatural mind of Christ sees holiness as an expression of God and an act of joy. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12–14, NIV84)

People consumed by God will express God’s nature not only in character but in deeds. They will walk in the power of their own lives transformed and also in the supernatural power of signs, wonders and miracles because the fullness of Christ dwells in us.

 

 

 

 

 

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The mystery of Christ in me

I am pondering a great mystery, one that I find I cannot grasp with my mind and am trying to understand with my heart. The mystery is Jesus: Jesus, God’s son, and yet fully God and yet fully man. This Jesus is the one who died for us and yet is the same Jesus in whom ALL the fullness of God dwells.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:15–20, NIV84)

This is Jesus who created all things including me. This is Jesus who created me for Him. This is Jesus who holds my life together. Yes—He is holding my life together even when I think it is falling apart. This is Jesus who is Lord and supreme over everything. This is Jesus who is Lord over my life and over every circumstance of my life. ALL the fullness of God, All the wisdom of God, ALL the power of God, ALL the presence of God, ALL the holiness of God, ALL the Love of God, ALL the compassion of God, ALL of GOD is in Jesus. A relationship with Jesus is a relationship with God. Imagine that…. God spending time with me…..

That in itself is mind boggling…. But there is more….

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.” (Colossians 1:21–23, NIV84)

The word alienated means to be a stranger, someone who does not belong. The word reconciled means to being back to the former state of harmony. Now I must consider that through the cross I fully belong and dwell with God in a perfect state of harmony. The dictionary says harmony is unity, peace and friendship. Imagine that, God wants me as His friend.

Consider what this harmony, friendship and reconciliation truly means. “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27, NIV84) Christ is in me. The fullness of God, is in me. All the wisdom of God is in me. All the power of God is in me. All the eternity of God is in me. All the supremacy of God – the everlasting God – is in me. Is it even possible to grasp this idea, this mystery with our natural minds? I think this is a truth we must embrace with our hearts because my natural mind, created by God cannot comprehend that God and all that God is, dwells in me through faith in Christ. This is the mystery. Christ is in us (me). ALL of the fullness of God is in Christ. Therefore, ALL of the fullness of God is in me. WOW! Think about that for the rest of eternity.

Think about what that means.

Is anything too hard for God? All things are possible for God (Mark 10:27). Is God subject to our circumstances? Is there anything God does not understand? Job struggled with huge questions on the meaning of his life and God revealed His nature to Job. “”Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his?” (Job 40:7–9, NIV84) The response of Job demonstrated awe and humility. “”I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”” (Job 42:2–6, NIV84)

What this means is this: Therefore, everything I do, I can do in the strength and in the fullness of the power of God. Where ever I am, God is. And where ever I am, whatever I do, I must do to the glory of God in the power of God for the purpose of God. “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” (Colossians 1:28–29, NIV84)

Do you feel like you are in a prison? Really??? Can anyone chain and imprison God? Paul understood this and made what looked like a prison into a church. “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.” (Acts 16:25–34, NIV84)

Do you feel like your circumstances are out of control? Really? Is there anything beyond the control of God? Consider the storm Paul faced. “After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”” (Acts 27:21–26, NIV84)

Do you feel like your life has no meaning? How can God in you dwell in you not be a life of no meaning? Is it enough to just be with Him and live with Him? Is it not the purpose of God that our lives are reconciled to Him? “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6–7, NIV84) Our purpose is never measured by man’s accomplishment. Our purpose is measured by Christ in us working out His purpose. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV84)

Do you feel alone and forgotten? Is it not enough to have ALL of God in you? Perhaps the season of solitude is a time where God Himself is conforming you into the image of His son. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29, NIV84)

A life surrendered to God in me can never be a life without purpose or destiny. “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.” (Romans 8:37–39, NIV84)

 

 

 

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Words that build

 

What comes out of our mouths reveals the depths of our hearts, especially in times of stress and challenges. “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45, NIV84) When times of testing come, and they will come, the effort to build our hearts will be revealed by the words of our mouths.

It is the desire of God that we spend our time learning about Him. As we learn who God truly is, we grow in trust and hope. Hope in God never fails. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, NIV84) Those who spend time with God display joy and peace even as confusion and tumult surround them. Those who spend time with God find that they grow in power to overcome every challenge through the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes when a test or trial comes, we discover that what comes out from our mouths are the words of self pity. No one likes the struggles that come our way. However self-pity is the expression of a lack of faith and trust in God who promises that He is with us in all things. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 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.” (Romans 8:35–39, NIV84)

Sometimes when things fail to go the way we expect, our words are used to express frustration. Frustration is nothing more than hidden anger and is always expressed at someone, either ourselves or at another person. Frustration is anger that our expectations were not met. Frustration expresses a lack of trust that God works out all things for good. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV84)

Sometimes our words begin to express confusion and doubt. We wonder about the reason for our existence and the purpose of our days. Doubt is the opposite of faith and confusion demonstrates a lack of wisdom. We must choose faith and seek God in every moment including those we do not understand. In times of testing we must remember that indeed God wants us to seek HIM. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6, NIV84)

Relationships are strengthened and people grow because of words. “I love you.” “You did well.” “You are blessed.” “I know you can do it.” These words of encouragement build people. Relationships are also broken and destroyed by words. “I can’t believe you did that”. “You never do anything right.” “You are stupid.” Our words carry life or they carry death to the people around us. “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21, NIV84) Our words are the direct expression of the value that we see in people.

We are admonished to take care with the words we speak. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV84) The word unwholesome speaks of harmful words or words that case decay and degeneration. The word good speaks of that which brings people to excellence. The word benefit speaks of building and strengthening. We are commanded to not allow words that bring decay to come from our mouths but only words that build.

Sometimes the person we are building in faith is ourselves. Sometimes the pep talk we speak is given to ourselves. David found that to be true. He was in a season of loss and distress. No one around him had anything good to say, so David decided to encourage himself. “NOW WHEN David and his men came home to Ziklag on the third day, they found that the Amalekites had made a raid on the South (the Negeb) and on Ziklag, and had struck Ziklag and burned it with fire, And had taken the women and all who were there, both great and small, captive. They killed no one, but carried them off and went on their way. So David and his men came to the town, and behold, it was burned, and their wives and sons and daughters were taken captive. Then David and the men with him lifted up their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess and Abigail, the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. David was greatly distressed, for the men spoke of stoning him because the souls of them all were bitterly grieved, each man for his sons and daughters. But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (1 Samuel 30:1–6, AMP) If no one around you is speaking good about you, then you speak good about you. You will be agreeing with what God says about you.

Sometimes the person we are building is the person who will become a leader to many. Moses was told to encourage Joshua. “But your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will enter it. Encourage him, because he will lead Israel to inherit it.” (Deuteronomy 1:38, NIV84)

Choose today to use words that build and encourage. You will find that your strength will grow and the people around you will grow as well. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:4–6, NIV84)

 

 

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The Dark Night of the Soul

What is the “Dark Night of the Soul”?

St. John of the cross coined the phrase in the 1500s. He saw it as the journey God brings us through to grow into union and communion with God. It was the process where character and strength occur in the life of a believer. “INTO this dark night souls begin to enter when God draws them forth from the state of beginners—which is the state of those that meditate on the spiritual road—and begins to set them in the state of progressives—which is that of those who are already contemplatives—to the end that, after passing through it, they may arrive at the state of the perfect, which is that of the Divine union of the soul with God. Wherefore, to the end that we may the better understand and explain what night is this through which the soul passes, and for what cause God sets it therein, it will be well here to touch first of all upon certain characteristics of beginners (which, although we treat them with all possible brevity, will not fail to be of service likewise to the beginners themselves), in order that, realizing the weakness of the state wherein they are, they may take courage, and may desire that God will bring them into this night, wherein the soul is strengthened and confirmed in the virtues, and made ready for the inestimable delights of the love of God. And, although we may tarry here for a time, it will not be for longer than is necessary, so that we may go on to speak at once of this dark night.”

Thomas Merton (1915- 1968) also spoke of the experience of the Dark Night. “If we set out into this darkness, we have to meet these inexorable forces. We will have to face fears and doubts. We will have to call into question the whole structure of our spiritual life. We will have to make a new evaluation of our motives for belief, for love, for self-commitment to the invisible God. And at this moment, precisely, all spiritual light is darkened, all values lose their shape and reality, and we remain, so to speak, suspended in the void.” “The most crucial aspect of this experience is precisely the temptation to doubt God himself. We must not minimize the fact that this is a genuine risk. For here we are advancing beyond the stage where God made Himself accessible to our mind in simple and primitive images. We are entering the night in which he is present without any image, invisible, inscrutable, and beyond any satisfactory mental representation.

The Dark Night of the Soul is a season. How long each person walks through it depends on God. It is a season of waiting. It is a season of brokenness. It is a season of soul searching. It is a season where we have more questions than answers. It is a season of searching for God. It is a season of crushing. It is a season of surrender. It is a desert season when God seems far away. It is a season of our death. It is a season of hope deferred. It is a season we want to escape. It is a season of loss.

The Dark Night of the Soul is also a season of growth. It is a season of transformation. It is a season of worship. It is a season of wisdom. It is a season of authority. It is a season of trust in God alone. It is a season of new life. It is a season of hope in the Word and promise of God. It is a season we must persevere. It is a season to learn that God is enough.

The Dark Night of the Soul was a common experience in the Bible although the phrase is not used. Joseph experienced his dark night in the dungeon as a slave. David experienced the dark night running for his life and hiding in caves. Paul was imprisoned. John was exiled. Peter was in prison. Jesus went into the desert.

No one chooses to enter the dark night. It is God who leads us into the dark night and it is God who will lead us out of the dark night. We overcome the darkness with the Light of God.

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The journey for authority and arriving into the presence of the king

What we do when we are not in the presence of the King will determine what we receive when we are in the presence of the King. The time spent on the journey to the King’s presence is our preparation for a Kingdom encounter. There will be a moment. It will be our moment to appear before the King.

When we come into the King’s presence, we never come without a gift. The queen of Sheba came to visit King Solomon with a caravan of gifts. She came seeking wisdom, but understood the protocol of the Kingdom. Esther came with what the King’s servant to her to bring. “No man should appear before the Lord empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.” (Deuteronomy 16:16–17, NIV84) Our gifts reflect our heart towards the King. Our gifts are our demonstration of love. “A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great.” (Proverbs 18:16, NIV84) It is not the physical size of the gift that demonstrates love for the King; It is the magnitude of the sacrifice of the gift that shows our love for the King. “As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”” (Luke 21:1–4, NIV84) What is the gift we can give our King? It is our very lives, given wholly to Him. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1, NIV84)

When we come with an acceptable gift, when we offer the entirety of our lives to the King as an act of love, we become empowered to ask the King. We can now lay our requests at the foot of the throne. “”Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7–11, NIV84) We know that because our lives now belong to the King, what we ask is what in fact He desires. We know that when our lives are fully HIS we can ask and we can receive. “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” (1 John 3:21–24, NIV84)

We started this journey seeking true spiritual authority and that is what we ask for. We ask for the power of God to do the word of God. We ask to be used in a mighty way to establish the Kingdom of God in the places where darkness reigns. We ask to transform the world around us. We ask to fulfill the heart of God. We ask to destroy the strongholds of darkness and establish the Kingdom of light. We seek power not to establish ourselves, to create a ministry for ourselves. We ask to obey the will of God. “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:7–8, NIV84) It is the great desire of God for us to walk in His authority and so we can ask boldly. “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:18–20, NIV84)

After we lay our lives before the King as a gift to Him, after we ask the King for the authority to establish His Kingdom, we then must receive the authority we have asked for. This authority is a spiritual authority. It is given by revelation directly from the King. “I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:12, NIV84) The word revelation speaks of making clear, disclosing and manifestation. When we truly receive the authority we have sought, we become the manifestation of that authority and make the authority of God known to the world around us. It is a high calling and requires a high price. “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1, NIV84) It is a calling that requires us to work and see the Kingdom work completed. “Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.”” (Colossians 4:17, NIV84) It is a calling that demands our worship of the King because He receives all the glory for the authority belongs to HIM. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”” (Hebrews 12:28–29, NIV84) That authority received becomes the burning passion of our lives and the unction, the anointing that gives our lives purpose and direction. “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.” (1 John 2:27, NIV84)

As we receive the authority of the King, we must believe that we receive and believe that what we receive changes us and empowers us. “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”” (Matthew 21:22, NIV84) We become people who can overcome obstacles. “”I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:23–24, NIV84) We become God’s overcoming champions. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37, NIV84) We join the people of faith before us “who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” (Hebrews 11:33–34, NIV84)

After we have received the authority we have sought, it becomes time to leave the Kingdom and do the work of the King. It is time to establish the Kingdom rule and reign where the Kingdom is not yet ruling. We testify with power the truth of the Kingdom. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”” (Acts 1:8, NIV84) We establish and seek the Kingdom to be established on the earth where we are. “”This, then, is how you should pray: ” ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'” (Matthew 6:9–13, NIV84) We teach the people around us to obey the commands of the King. “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19, NIV84) We obey the will of the King. “”Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21, NIV84)

We become the King’s warriors against the forces of darkness and fight to establish the Kingdom. “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” (Matthew 11:12, NIV84) We bind evil and loose good. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”” (Matthew 16:19, NIV84) We preach the Kingdom and demonstrate the Kingdom with the power and authority of the King. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” (1 Corinthians 4:20, NIV84)

This world desperately needs people who are walking in the authority of the King. Will you be one of them?

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The journey to meet the giver of authority

Once our hearts are fully set on walking the road to seek the King and gain His authority, we begin to walk. The road can be long. We may be fighting sleepiness and lethargy. We may question ourselves and our decision. We may ask ourselves questions about the value of seeking the King.

The King is watching our journey. Perhaps that knowledge alone will enable us to fight lethargy and questions. He watches us to strengthen us. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9, NIV84)

The King also watches us on our journey to see how we conduct ourselves. How we conduct ourselves on the journey is very important. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13, NIV84) God tested Abraham (Gen 22). God tested Joseph. God tested His people (Ex 20:20). His purpose is that our hearts would become totally consecrated to Him. “For the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with your entire being.” (Deuteronomy 13:3, AMP) Authority is given to those who can walk in it. “On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4, NIV84)

Part of the reason the journey is long is that the process of testing needs to be fully embraced by us. “Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.” (Psalm 26:2–3, NIV84) In the course of testing our hearts, we learn to test the Word of God and find that the promises of God are indeed true and powerful. As we are tested, we test the Word of God. “Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.” (Psalm 119:140, NIV84)

As we go on the journey, we learn to embrace the testing process and we realize that each test brings us closer to the King. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.” (2 Corinthians 13:5–6, NIV84)

There are questions that we must learn answers to on the journey. There is the question of “Who am I” and “by what authority can I come to the King?” We learn on the journey that authority is never given based on our merit but only on the merit of Christ. We approach Christ because of Christ. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14–16, NIV84)

We learn on the journey that our identity is not ourselves anymore. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV84) We become new through our choices to obey God. “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22–24, NIV84) And in the process of obedience on the journey we find we are transformed. “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV84)

We also spend time on the journey how we should honor the King when we enter his presence. We practice the protocol of the kingdom in order to demonstrate our love for the King. It honors the King that we express our love and desire for HIM. “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” (Psalm 84:2, NIV84) Humility also honors the King. “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” (Psalm 84:10, NIV84) We honor the King by declaring the truth of who He is. We offer our lives to the King. We worship. “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.” (Psalm 96:8–9, NIV84) We come before Him with thankfulness and praise on our hearts. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:4–5, NIV84)

Our journey to find authority to transform our world is an opportunity to allow the Word of God to changes us. We must use the journey time with purpose. We learn to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the King on our journey. We learn the protocols of the King on the journey. If we fail to use the time of the journey wisely, we will not receive authority when we have our audience with the King.

What we do when we are not in the presence of the King will determine what we receive when we are in the presence of the King.

“”Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. ” ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:14–30, NIV84)

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Fear of the unknown

There are times in life when we are faced with the reality that truly we are living in the unknown and are unable to control the circumstances of our lives. Such a time may come with an unfavorable medical diagnosis when the doctor may say he has no answers. It may come during an airplane flight when tremendous turbulence arises.

In my community, in my region, such a time has come to an entire city which is facing unexplained shaking, tremors, explosions, sounds. Apparently, those who normally are able to provide insight and help have no idea what is going on. As I follow this story which started two nights ago, I hear reports of people thinking of evacuating the town, children being kept home from school and family members concerned for the safety of their loved ones.

In the presence of the unknown, we realize that our lives are but a vapor. We face the reality that with as much knowledge as we have, we are still subject to greater forces than we can control. Our sense of stability is erased and our security is eroded. A door opens for fear to walk in.

The Bible teaches us that fear is the opposite of faith. When the disciples became fearful in a storm in their lives, Jesus asked them, where is your faith? “One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”” (Luke 8:22–25, NIV84) God used the storm that was beyond the control of the disciples to demonstrate His love and mercy to them. Faith in God removed the fear and calmed the storm. Where faith lives, fear must flee.

To those who trust God, we know that we can cry out to God. “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”” (Romans 8:15, NIV84) We know that when we fear, it is an indication that it is time to seek God. We also know that the love of God has the power to destroy fear. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4:18, NIV84)

There is one who has the answer needed for the unknown seasons in our lives. He has all wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:5–6, NIV84) We can use the fear we feel to propel us to begin to seek and ask God for the wisdom on how to live in the unknown season. If we do not doubt, but believe, God will hear.

In fact, God desires that we seek Him. “”So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”” (Luke 11:9–13, NIV84)

Fearful events will come. “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” (Luke 21:11, NIV84) The answer in every season of fear is to begin to seek God. His love and compassion for us will become our strength.

This is the promise of God. He will deliver us. His love will surround us. When God is near, joy will replace the fear in our hearts.

“Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.    Selah I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:6–11, NIV84)

When our fear is greater than our faith, it is time to seek God. God promises to fill those who are empty and turn the fearful into faithful warriors.

 

 

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The Word of God is powerful

The foundation of the Christian faith rests upon the Bible, which is the written and recorded Word of God. Christianity does not rely on the traditions of men, but on the power and life and the promises of God. As a Christian, the Word of God becomes the standard and guide of our lives. It is the test by which we decide what is good and what is evil. It teaches us how to live as light in a dark world.

We know that the Word of God is eternal and carries the Life and the Power of God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1–2, NIV84) We also know that what has been recorded for us was inspired by God for our benefit. “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20–21, NIV84) The Holy Spirit, God Himself, speaks through His Word. Thus, we know that Scripture is to be embraced as the power and life of God to accomplish in us all that God wants. The Word of God guides us, as we obey, into the purpose of God for us.

Here we see the purpose of the Word of God for us. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, NIV84) I want to examine the meaning of the words in the Greek.

The first part of this verse, . “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” seems to define the identity, power and source of the Word of God.

“ALL” seems to mean all. The dictionary defines all as the whole, every, each. In the Greek it speaks to all, every and each. There is not one that is excluded when all is used. Jesus himself affirmed that ALL was indeed ALL. “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18–19, NIV84)

“SCRIPTURE” speaks to the Holy Writings. It is the Word of God. It is this Scripture that Jesus desire to open our understanding to. “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45, NIV84)

“GOD-BREATHED” speaks to being inspired by God. It is God’s communication to us. It is the Words of God given to us. God chose and decided what Words to give to us.

“USEFUL” is translated as ‘profitable’ in the King James. The Greek word speaks of advantage, benefit and beneficial. It literally means profitable. If we look at the rest of the verse, we clearly see that the Scripture is designed not to be profitable to God, but God intends that His Words become profitable to us.

“TEACHING” is translated as ‘doctrine’ in the King James. The Greek word here signifies the activity of teaching. It is the action of providing instruction both formally and informally. It is also used here as the action of learning. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4, KJV 1900) Teaching and learning seem to go hand in hand.

“REBUKING” is the declaration of wrongdoing. It is “to state that someone has done wrong, with the implication that there is adequate proof of such wrongdoing—’to rebuke, to reproach, rebuke, reproach”. Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (435). New York: United Bible Societies. It speaks to investigating, convincing and calling to account. The only other place the Greek Word is used is in Hebrews. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV 1900) So it seems that the Word is profitable for providing proof for our lives that God is real and as we see the character of God through His Word, that Word provides the proof that we have missed the mark. This concept of the Word investigating us is seen here. “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12–13, NIV84)

“CORRECTING” is to “cause something to be or to become correct, with the implication of a previous condition of faults or failures.” Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (673). New York: United Bible Societies. It is only used in this verse. It speaks of transforming us into what we are to be which God reveals in His Word. “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV84) “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2, NIV84)

“TRAINING” is translated as ‘instruction’ in the King James. It is “to provide instruction, with the intent of forming proper habits of behavior.” Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (413). New York: United Bible Societies. It speaks to the training of a child and the “upbringing and handling of the child which is growing up to maturity and which thus needs direction, teaching, instruction and a certain measure of compulsion in the form of discipline.” . Vol. 5: Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964- (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (596). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. The Greek word is also used in this verse. “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” (Hebrews 12:5–7, NIV84)

“RIGHTEOUSNESS” speaks of “the act of doing what God requires—righteousness, doing what God requires, doing what is right.” Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (743). New York: United Bible Societies.

The second part of the verse, “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” seems to focus on the purpose of the Word of God.

“SO THAT” translates as that. In the Greek it is a “markers of purpose for events and states (sometimes occurring in highly elliptical contexts)—’in order to, for the purpose of, so that.’ Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (784). New York: United Bible Societies.

“MAN OF GOD” is inclusive of all mankind. The Greek translates man as human being. The man of God is the one who follows God. It is ME. If I choose to follow God, then the Word of God has purpose for ME.

“MAY BE THOUROUGHLY EQUIPPED” is translated in the King James as “may be perfect, throughly furnished”. The word perfect speaks of ‘pertaining to being qualified to perform some function—’qualified, proficient.’Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (678). New York: United Bible Societies. It is the ability to meet demands. The word “thoroughly furnished” is to cause to become “fully qualified” and to be “completely adequate”. It speaks of lacking nothing. The Word has the power to equip us to do the works of God. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV84)

 

“GOOD” means good. It is used to speak of the fruit of our lives. “Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” (Matthew 7:17, NIV84) “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” (Matthew 12:35, NIV84)

“WORK” is that which we do. It is the tasks God has given us. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV84) Our good works glorify God. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, KJV 1900) Jesus intends that as we follow Him, our works become even greater. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12, KJV 1900) Our works will be tested. “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (1 Corinthians 3:10–15, NIV84)

 

If we put the first part of the verse together then… “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness..” we can see what the Word is. ALL of the Word, every part of the Word is God’s communication to us. ALL of the Words are profitable to us. ALL of the Words are to be taught and to be learned. ALL of the Words investigate our lives and reveal to us the nature of God and how we miss that mark.. ALL of the Word has the power to cause to become correct in the eyes of God. The Word embraced and obeyed transforms us into the likeness of God. We become corrected and walk in the will of God through the power of the Word of God. ALL of the Word is to train us into proper habits. ALL of the Word is to control our behavior. ALL of the Word is to establish us as those who walk as “sons/daughters” of God. ALL of the Word empowers us to move into the actions of doing what God requires of us and doing what is right.

If we put the second part of the verse together then…., “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The purpose of ALL the Word of God is for ME to follow so that I will become fully and completely equipped, qualified and proficient to do the work of God for my life.

If we take a quick peek at the mandate that Jesus left the church with we see the in general what the work of God is. “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:18–20, NIV84) It seems that the WORK of God is to make disciples that follow Jesus and obey EVERYTHING that Jesus commanded the first disciples.

The Gospels speak of the many teachings of Jesus with regards to character, morals and values to follow as we follow Jesus. That is only part of what Jesus commanded the disciples.

Jesus commanded the disciples to follow Him. “”Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”” (Matthew 4:19, NIV84) His desire was for them to learn to love God. That speaks of intimacy. “Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”” (Matthew 22:37–40, NIV84) Jesus desired that the disciples would “be with him” (Mark 3:14) and that speaks of relationship.

Relationship with Jesus changes us to embrace the heart and the mission of Jesus. “Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”” (Matthew 9:37–38, NIV84) We are commanded to walk in the mission of Jesus with the power and authority of Jesus. “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. […] Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:1–8, NIV84)

Jesus commands his disciples to be people of faith. “Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”” (Matthew 21:21–22, NIV84)

It seems that if I discount any part of the Word of God, I cannot be equipped to accomplish the purpose of God for my life. The only way that I will ever fully do all that God has set before me is by embracing fully the authority and power of ALL the Word of God. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV84)

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