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Day 4 Victory

All I want to say about today is that God gave me a victorious day. Do you notice that I’m not posting my weight loss, nor my foods that I eat? That’s because I’m not measuring my success by the foods that I eat or the numbers on a scale. I’m not keeping a journal nor am I stepping on the scales each day.

My main focus is on obedience to the Spirit each meal, each day. After, all, Jesus is my primary care physician. I expect that His prescription will heal me completely. And when the time comes to help others, each individual’s prescription from God will be unique. Anyway, here’s the Word from God today.

Isaiah 1:18-20 The Message (MSG)

Let’s Argue This Out

18-20 “Come. Sit down. Let’s argue this out.”
    This is God’s Message:
“If your sins are blood-red,
    they’ll be snow-white.
If they’re red like crimson,
    they’ll be like wool.
If you’ll willingly obey,
    you’ll feast like kings.
But if you’re willful and stubborn,
    you’ll die like dogs.”
That’s right. God says so.

Feasting Like a Princess with excellent health sounds like a plan to me. Don’t like the other plan…just saying.

It’s exhilarating to be successful at what God is speaking to me! Onward, upward.

Day 3 – Lost Battle

All was well in the morning. All went well in the afternoon. Except for the incredible craziness at work, I felt okay. Just okay. I had a headache in the background. Do you know what I mean? It wants to be a full fledged headache, but it comes just ever so slightly.

On top of that, the pressure of the day was intensified. Residents had many struggles that day and as the social worker, I’m in the midst of those struggles. It was a long, drawn out day.

I left at 5:30 p.m. and had a 40 minute drive home. I talked to God. I debated whether or not I was going to finish the two glasses of wine left in the bottle. Oh, I just want to go home and relax with my husband. I called him to tell him that I was on my way home and he was visiting our friends and neighbors. Great, I thought. I’ll stop by and we’ll chat for a bit.

So, I did. “Do you want a glass of wine?”, says my friend. “Sure”, I said. And the battle was lost. After about an hour of great conversation and two glasses of wine, we went home. And I finished the two glasses of wine in my refrigerator along with my leftover hamburger (no bun). Life is good.

I decided not to feel guilty or condemned. I enjoyed the evening. I was relaxed. God said, “Remember that the battle belongs to Me”. Oh, yea! My job is to put on the armor. And I know how to do that. Read what He has written and put it in my mind. And, stand and let God fight for me.

Onward and upward, I stand still and see the deliverance of God. I may lose a few battles, but the victory in the war belongs to me.

Day 2 – Wine

I don’t know how long ago I started drinking wine, sometime in the late 80’s. One night, Skip came home late from work and brought a bottle of wine and 2 wine glasses and we just celebrated being together. I enjoyed the taste, the relaxation and definitely the glasses.

As time went on, I learned more about wine and enjoyed it on special occasions. Still do. Whenever we took a trip, we bought two lovely wine glasses to remember the event. I have quite a collection of wine glasses from the past 4 decades. My favorite is a very small – maybe 3 oz. wine glass that is probably…oh, I don’t know – old. It’s red and very light and fragile. I like to use it when I’m taking the Lord’s Supper at home.

I’ve gone through several phases in my enjoyment of wine and even a phase where I thought that was a sin to drink wine. I love God and I don’t want to knowingly sin, so, I stopped drinking wine. Then, I asked God about it and He impressed upon my mind to study it in his Word. So, I did. There are 233 references to wine in the Bible. I’ve read every one of them and pondered them. I even looked up the original meaning of the word wine as used in each Scripture. But, that’s not the point of this story.

The first references in Genesis show the fallen nature of mankind. Sadly, we are told about Noah getting drunk and engaging in sexual perversion. The next few examples are the same, involving incest and drunkenness. Clearly, God warns us that drinking wine in excess can lead to inhibition and fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. However, God does not prohibit wine. There are examples of certain individuals who may not consume wine, but that is a direct command from God in each instance. If God speaks to you and you are convicted to not consume wine, then don’t. But don’t mandate it to another individual. That, like every other word from God, is personal and should be a conviction from God, not a religious mandate.

With that being said, I love the first miracle that Jesus did when He started His earthly ministry. At a wedding (celebrate) He turned water into wine. Here’s the encounter from the Message Bible.

John 2:1-11 The Message (MSG)

From Water to Wine

1-3 Three days later there was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus and his disciples were guests also. When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus’ mother told him, “They’re just about out of wine.”

Jesus said, “Is that any of our business, Mother—yours or mine? This isn’t my time. Don’t push me.”

She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.”

6-7 Six stoneware water pots were there, used by the Jews for ritual washings. Each held twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus ordered the servants, “Fill the pots with water.” And they filled them to the brim.

“Now fill your pitchers and take them to the host,” Jesus said, and they did.

9-10 When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn’t know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, “Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you’ve saved the best till now!”

11 This act in Cana of Galilee was the first sign Jesus gave, the first glimpse of his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

I’m certainly not a theologian and not even an expert on any subject in the Bible. But, I study and listen to what the Spirit is saying to me. So, I want to make it clear that God has spoken to me and has told me that wine has become an idol to me. Oh, I know, I blew it off too. But as I enjoy wine almost every night with my evening meal, I began to think about it more. It certainly has contributed to my weight gain. But, God, I said, I really love wine and enjoy everything about it. The taste, the relaxation, the glasses, the absolute pleasure of pairing a wine with a delicious meal.

Whenever I give up wine for a time period, the meals are boring. I don’t care about wine for breakfast or lunch or any other time, just with my evening meal. God was patient with me. This “discussion” has been going on for a few years with God. I really don’t believe that He is telling me to give up wine, but He is telling me something else.

In Song of Solomon 1:4 (again Message Bible), The woman says, “Take me away with you! Let’s run off together! An elopement with my King-Lover! We’ll celebrate, we’ll sing, we’ll make great music. Yes! For your love is better than vintage wine. Everyone loves you—of course! And why not?”

As much as I love wine and enjoy everything about it, God says that His love and (in another section of Song of Solomon) and kisses are sweeter than wine. “Ok”, I said to God. “I will leave the wine behind during this season together and spend more intimate time with You. I have great expectations that You will show me what You mean when You say that You are better than wine”.

So, that’s what He’s said to me on Day 2 of this Journey. Ascending. Onward and Upward.

Being born a female…

When I was a young, abused girl, I can remember questioning God (I did not know for sure that He existed, but I hoped that He did) as to why I wasn’t born a male. I clearly recall thinking that the abuse that I was suffering at the hands of men who should have loved and cherished my femininity, would not have occurred if I was a male.

For many of my confused young teenage years, I was mad about being a female, especially an abused one. God heard my cries and saw my suffering, even though I did not know it way back then. But, in my heart, I had no desire to try to be a male on my own whim; I guess that I was questioning God about my abuse deep down inside. I wondered why He allowed it.

I probably pondered it for many years; it’s a gray area these days, but revealing my heart and my journey can help someone. After all, at the chronological age of 64 at this writing, I’ve been privileged to learn a thing or two. Not that I think that wisdom comes with age because true wisdom comes from God at any age, but God has certainly given me more years to “learn the lessons of life”.

One day, many years ago, after a personal journey (later, I’ll write about it), I accepted Jesus as my Savior – knowing that I had, at the very least, broken several of His Ten Commandments. Understanding that if I broke even one, I was guilty of them all, it frightened me to spend another day without Jesus’ saving grace. All that I believed on that wonderful day in May 1981 at the young age of 28 years was that Jesus is the Son of God who came to this earth to take away a penalty that I deserved for being a sinner. I was changed forever – literally.

So, how was I changed? What happened inside of me and around me to change my destiny? My blog is about this incredible journey, full of wild and crazy adventures with Jesus and with other people in my life. It is my privilege and duty to share with you.

Are you being bullied?

I remember when our sons were in elementary school and had to face a bully.  You know what I’m speaking about.  While the details are irrelevant, my husband and I were aware that if the bully was not confronted, then the bullying would persist.  Right?  Can you recall a bullying situation in your own life?  Our sons quickly learned how to confront and the bullying stopped.

Bullying is actually a spirit of intimidation.  The purpose of this spirit is manifold, but for believers in Christ Jesus, this spirit comes against us to stop the work of God in our lives and to cause the gifts of God inside of us to be dormant.  Jesus faced bullying in the Garden of Gethsemane.  The battle was over His will or the Father’s will.  Thank God that Jesus never sinned and accomplished the purpose for which He came!  Hallelujah!  However, in the Garden, for the “first time, we see the will of the Father and the will of the Son in conflict in the life of Jesus….It exposed the only thing that could hold Him back-choosing to fulfill the will of the Father another way and thereby saving Himself” (Bevere, 1997, p. 118).

After three hours of prayer, Jesus won this battle and was ready and fully equipped to fulfill His purpose – to defeat the works of the devil.  What works?  Why the works that occurred in another garden – the Garden of Eden.  The devil deceived Eve and she ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.   She handed the fruit to her husband, who was standing beside her, and Adam dishonored God and his wife and chose his will above God’s will.  He was self-centered which led to disobedience.  He gave the authority that God had given to him, which was to have dominion over all the earth, to the devil.  The devil now had a legal right to use his stolen authority against all of God’s creation.

Jesus defeated the devil 4,000 years later.  Jesus gained His rightful authority on earth back (legally) in order for His purpose to be accomplished through His beloved Church.  In fact, He said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).  Once again, mankind and God are able to walk together in agreement and God’s will on earth can be done as it is in Heaven.  A born-again believer has full authority to accomplish God’s will.

So, why are Christians being bullied and still giving their authority over to the bully over and over and over and over?  Why are we not reigning and ruling on this earth as God originally planned?  Intimidation is one of the main reasons.  And, for the most part, many believers are completely blind to this spirit and until recently, I was one of them.

A few days ago, I went to visit a very kind neighbor for the first time.  We had small talk over tea and I asked her what type of work she did.  She told me that she has several homes around the world that she founded where she houses hundreds of young girls and boys who come from abuse of all kinds.  WOW!  How awesome, I thought and told her so.  But, a little bit of jealousy was stirring in me.  I didn’t tell her.  As I listened to her describe how she left her position as a CFO after hearing a “call” on her life, I grew even more envious of her accomplishments.

Her life was free and she was serving her divine purpose.  Sometime during the conversation, I made a comment to that effect; that she was blessed to be walking in her call from God.  She quickly said that she liked to think about God as a creative force…and went on.  I was shell-shocked from the bomb that she had just dropped.  How can anyone think of my beloved God as a “creative force”?  I replied in a rather feeble voice that God is real, He’s not a creative force and He desires a personal relationship with us.  I think that I said that we were created in His image and we are not creative forces.  Did I detect a roll of the eyes?

She changed the subject and went on to talk more about her works, which are admirable by the world’s standards.  But, the atmosphere had changed and I felt uncomfortable.  I wanted to talk about God and share my love for Him with her.  But I did not.  I did not want to offend her, for after all, I just sat down with her for the first time so that we could get to know one another.  If I offended her, I may not get a chance to show her God’s love and help her see that God is quite real and desires intimacy with us.  I felt embarrassed that I was not walking in the things that God put in my heart for many years and was intimidated into silence.  I did not understand the magnitude of that afternoon and how God would use it to transform me even more into His image.

I came home and spoke to my husband about our meeting, but did not reveal the embarrassment that I felt about my “pitiful life”.  After all, I did not want to make my husband feel bad about the course of our lives together.  But, I was miserable.  I asked God why this woman, who calls Him a “creative force” and has no love for Him in her heart was being blessed to do “great things” and yet I was struggling in every area of life.  And while we’re at it, why do so many people in the world who could care less about You seem to have all the blessings and favor while your Church is struggling and suffering?  I don’t get it, I cried out.  What is wrong, Father?  God was listening and He was answering me….

The next day, I had lunch with another friend who is a godly woman.  I told her my experience the day before.  To my surprise, I revealed that I felt intimidated.  My friend asked me why I felt that way.  I responded that I did not know why and she said that she would bring me a book to read that would help me understand intimidation.  The book, “Breaking Intimidation – How to Overcome Fear and Release the Gifts of God in Your Life” by John Bevere, was in my hands in two days.  Okay, Father, this is great and I began reading.

As the Holy Spirit began to speak clearly to my heart, many scenes from my life passed through my mind.  I began to see what had been happening to me over the years as God exposed the spirit of intimidation that had been operating in my life.  I was once again shell-shocked…but this time, it was God dropping His truth into the territory that the enemy had taken possession of inside of me.

Back to Jesus and the Garden…

Jesus deliberated for three hours in that Garden “until He knew His battle was won.  His will was totally one with the Father’s.  He was now ready to face the intimidation of the enemy at the hands of the Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers” (Bevere, 1997, p. 118).

“And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.  Then Pilate said to Him, ‘Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?’  But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly” (Matthew 27:12-14).

“Boldness is not how loudly or how much we talk.  It is also found in silence – silence while false accusations are thrown in your face.  Jesus stayed in His authority by not reacting.  He knew they had no power over Him.  To react would indicate they did.  They attempted to control Jesus with their accusations, threats and powerful positions.  To answer them would be folly, for they had no concern for the truth.  Jesus knew they couldn’t take His life because He had already given it to the Father!” (Bevere, 1997, p. 118-119).  The silence that Jesus had was not the same as the silence that I had experienced that afternoon a few days ago.  A spirit of intimidation had silenced me.

“The root of fear and intimidation is the love of self.  Perfect love casts out fear and gives us boldness.  Boldness born of love breaks the grip of intimidation.  Imperfect love, or self-love opens the door to intimidation….Jesus said, ‘Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life…’ (John 15:13).  When we truly lay down our lives out of love for Jesus, we will no longer care what happens to us because we know we are committed into His care.  Then we are dead and hidden in Him….He purchased us; therefore, whatever happens to us is His concern only.  We just love and obey.  Fear should no longer torment us because a dead person can’t be tormented.  You can point a gun at a man in a casket and threaten him, but he won’t even blink” (Bevere, 1997 p. 119-120).

Today, as the spirit of intimidation in my life is exposed and defeated, I pray the same for you.  I highly recommend the book that I referenced here.  Christians must understand our authority, our position and the tactics that the enemy uses against us so that we can go forward in the plan that God has for each one of us.  There is nothing that can compare to a life that has been laid down and given to Jesus.  Being hidden in Him is the safest place in the universe.  Therefore, we have boldness to do all that He has given us to do.  May you be filled with the Spirit of Boldness from God, whether in speaking or in silence.

References

Bevere, John.  Breaking Intimidation: How to Overcome Fear and Release the Gifts of God in Your Life. Creation House.  Lake Mary, FL.  1997

The elections might be over, but you still vote every day, right?

After the election is over as far as we think it “over”, hopefully God has your attention.  “From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word.  Your are dead to sin and alive go God.  That’s what Jesus did.  That means that you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives.  Don’t give it the time of day.  Don’t even run little errands that are connected with your old way of life.  Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time-remember, you’ve been raised from the dead! – into God’s way of doing things.  Sin can’t tell you how to live.  After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer.  You’re living in the freedom of God….As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn’t have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that  matter.  But do you call that a free life?  What did you get out of it? [How’s that workin’ for ya’?]  But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise!  A whole, healed, put-together  life right now, with more and more of life on the way!  Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death.  But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master” (Romans 6, various verses, Message Bible).

I wish that I could write like this and take the credit for such wisdom. But, this is Paul talking to the intellectual Romans (and to the intellectual others in any culture).  I can’t say it any better.  I’m reading Romans in the Message Bible.  How inspiring and what fun to hear what God is saying in this version.  Read something new in God’s Word today and be filled with life.