Abundance in the Authentic Christian Walk

Ein Geddi - 1

Ein Geddi in Israel

Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.
“Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?

Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance.
“Incline your ear and come to Me.
Listen, that you may live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
According to the faithful mercies shown to David. Isaiah 55:1-3

Every week, Keith and I go to the grocery store and spend hard-earned money on food. We eat a meal, and a few hours later, we’re hungry again. The next week, we repeat the trip to the store.

We fill our tanks with gas.  We purchase clothes that represent our professions. We put on the lifestyle that our families, friends, neighbors and coworkers expect of us.

We show our happy lives on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Some of us even blog about it.

Does anyone post a photo on Facebook that shows our sinful nature? What about our unhappy times? I tend to post things that demonstrate that I have it all together.

Seems empty.

What if God provided all that we need to be satisfied, or as our Italian landlord once said, “Molto content”?

God has provided more than satisfaction. He has provided a promise to wipe away all our sins. The promise includes living with Him forever. The promise includes an abundant life now. The promise includes satisfaction.

This promise is a free gift, but there is a cost: you must step out in authenticity.

5 Steps to Authentic Satisfaction

  1. Come. God beckons us to come to Him in our hunger and thirst. We can only come to the Father through Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.’ John 14:6
  2. Buy. We have nothing to offer Him except our broken lives. He takes those lives and nourishes them with Living Water and the Bread of Life, Jesus. “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” Revelation 22:17
  3. Listen. We are commanded to listen attentively to Him, to listen with the intention of acting and obeying HimThen a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!’” Luke 9:35
  4. Eat. As we read God’s Word and abide in Jesus, we are nourished by the Bread of Life and the Living Water. Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.’” John 6:35
  5. Delight. When I take pleasure in the things of God, He will give me the desires of my heart. This verse can also be read that God gives me the desires that conform to His will. Either way, I delight in that! Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

3 Steps to Authentic Restoration

Seek the Lord while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.

Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon. 
Isaiah 55:6-7

In our hunger, we seek satisfaction; we come; we seek God; we call upon Him; we buy with our brokenness, and we listen. He tells us our next steps:

  1. Forsake your way. Remember that you are a new creation in Jesus, turn from the inauthentic life, and do the things you did when you were a new Christian. Did you fellowship with other believers, study the Bible, and pray? Do it again. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.” Revelation 2:5
  2. Forsake your thoughts. Take your thoughts captive. Meditate on the Bread of Life and His words. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8
  3. Return. Return to Jesus. He has paid the price of your sins, my sins, and the world’s sins. In Him, we can rest. “Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.Psalm 116:7

Abundant spiritual provision and abundant pardon.

That is the way of a satisfied life, an all-together life. 

That is the way of the authentic Christian life. 

My prayer:

Father, You have provided all that we need or could ever want. You have given us the desires of our hearts. You know us better than we know ourselves. Search our ways and our thoughts, renew our minds and transform our ways to Your ways, our thoughts to be more like Your thoughts. We hunger and thirst for the Bread of Life, the Living Water. We long for more awareness of Jesus living in us and the freedom that this knowledge brings us. You have dealt bountifully with us. We come to You. Lead us by the right hand in an authentic walk with You and with our brothers and sisters. Amen

Please share the steps you are taking to ensure your walk with Jesus is authentic.

 

The Love-Powered Marriage

Wedding Rings - 1
The word “love” is mentioned 551 times in the ESV version of the Bible, “wife” 384 times, “husband” 115 times, bridegroom 26 times, “bride” 27 times, and  “marriage” 27 times. Love and marriage must be important to God.
Marriage begins the Bible with the creation of Adam and Eve and marriage ends the Bible with the marriage Supper of the Lamb and His bride, the church.
The Song of Songs, written by King Solomon, appears in the middle of the Bible and is often referred to by devout Jews as the Holy of Holies.
God refers to Israel as His wife, and the church is called the Bride of Christ.
There must be something special about marriage.
Could it be a reflection of what our relationship with God could be … intimate, serving, living for each other, passionate, sacred, and holy?
Let’s look at a few Scriptures.

From creation to unity

After God created the Garden of Eden and put Adam to work to name the animals, Adam realized that he did not have a suitable companion.

That’s the way God works in our lives. He lets us work to direct our careers, our lives, our marriages, and our happiness until we come to the realization that there’s something missing in our lives … intimacy with God.

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:21-24
One flesh, blessed by God. Together, they walked with God in the Garden in the cool of the evening. A triune relationship: Adam, Eve, and God, walking together in unity, in perfection.
A honeymoon in Paradise.

From unity to separation

Then, the serpent deceived Eve. The serpent told her that she could be like God. He twisted the Scripture.
Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 
 
“We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 
 
“You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5
Deceived, Eve ate.
Eve gave it to Adam, and he ate.
Immediately, they knew evil and saw that they were naked, and they hid from God.
The Fall.
Unity with God torn.
Tension in marriage created!
The struggle in life began.

From self-focus to love-focus

Tension in marriage creates a focus on ourselves and how we can make our lives more comfortable.

There’s an infatuation stage in marriage, isn’t there? Although we love each other, much of the first weeks are about the physical.

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine;
your anointing oils are fragrant;
your name is oil poured out;
therefore virgins love you.
Draw me after you; let us run.
The king has brought me into his chambers.
Song of Songs 1:2-4
Notice that although the bride is focused on Solomon, the desired outcome is how he will make her feel good. The focus is on the Shulamite.
My beloved is mine, and I am his Song of Songs 2:16
As their relationship matures, the bride’s comment about Solomon shifts from herself to Solomon,
I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine Song of Songs 6:3
She’s now living for her husband.
When a friend asked Keith what the secret was to our 45-year marriage was, he said, “Each of us lives for the other.”
That’s the key, isn’t it?
Before thinking of ourselves, we think of our beloved.
A few weeks ago, Keith said, “Have you noticed that when you get up first, you make my tea before you make yours, and when I get up first, I make your tea before mine?”
Thinking of the other first.
It’s easy with tea, but it can be challenging when children are involved, the mortgage needs to be paid, home is half-way around the world, or a chronic illness interrupts plans.
It’s a constant struggle.
That’s where God comes in.
Remember the cool of the Garden of Eden?
The love walk.

From separation to unity

The Jewish marriage is a picture of the church’s marriage to Jesus.
Before marriage, the young couple became betrothed, much more binding than an American engagement. It was a contract as binding as marriage, and divorce was the only way to break the betrothal.
After the betrothal, the bridegroom went away to build a suitable room at his father’s home where the bride and bridegroom would live. While the bridegroom was building the room, the bride prepared herself and her belongings for the day when the bridegroom would come to take her to her new home.
The father of the bridegroom inspected the construction of the room and once he was satisfied that it was fit for the bride, he gave the son permission to get his bride.  The bridegroom gathered his friends, and they made a great procession to the bride’s home to take her to the father’s home for a week’s wedding celebration.
Does this sound similar to the story of Jesus?
The first time Jesus came to earth, He came to teach, preach, pay the sacrifice for our sin, and rise from the dead. Jesus became betrothed to His bride—the church.
He’s now in heaven advocating for us AND preparing our dwelling places.
When the Father tells Jesus that our dwelling places are ready, Jesus will come for us (the Rapture), take us to His home, heaven, and we’ll have a marriage feast—the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Like the biblical Jewish wedding, it will be for a week—seven years.
The Love Promise: Jesus is coming back for His bride, the church!

From Scripture to application 

Marriage IS important to God. It’s the story of Jesus. It’s your story.
We don’t live in the Garden of Eden. We live in a fallen world. That’s why Jesus came to earth—to make it possible for all who believe and trust in Him to live with Him forever as His bride.
We’re waiting on Him to return, to take us to our new dwelling place.
In the meantime, He gave His Word to us in the Scriptures, and He summed it up in Matthew.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40

Love is a verb. 

Love taught the multitudes, fed the 5,000, calmed the sea, healed the sick, touched the leper, opened eyes to see, and raised the dead.
Love watches the football game and learns about the rules and players even though she doesn’t enjoy football.
Love escorts her to a musical even though he doesn’t enjoy the musical.

Love is a choice. 

Love looked down from the cross and asked the Father to forgive those who nailed Jesus to the cross.
Love prays for God to bless a supervisor who is unreasonable.
Love washes the dishes for her even when she snaps at you.
Love sneaks a love note in his lunch container even if the night before he came home, ignored her, and plopped down in front of the television.

Love is a story.

The love story is Jesus emptying Himself of His glory for one purpose: you. He loves you so much that He denied himself to live and die for you. That’s love, and marriage is a dim reflection of this love story.
The marriage love story is a journey of remembering the sacred connection to Jesus and living for the other as Jesus lived for us.

How are you living your love story?

My prayer

Father, thank You for Your incredible love story. Thank You that You have created a reflection of that love story in the creation of marriage. Help us to remember that connection, and empower us to treat our marriages as holy and our spouses as special creations customized for us. Fuel our marriages with the power of Your love, grace, and mercy. Thank You, Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Please share your love story in the Comment Section and Tweet this post.

The Promise Walk Is About Waiting

China Wall strip

My life’s verse was given to me when I was 19 and in the hospital.

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

The “wait” is active.

It’s hoping so intensely that action explodes from the hope. It’s looking for the renewal. It’s flexing muscles and feeling the new strength. It’s dreaming of soaring with the eagles. It’s buying running shoes. It’s getting a Fitbit in anticipation of the walk.

It’s all consuming. It’s the name of this blog.

It’s waiting on the Lord.

It’s a promise.

It’s worthy of renewing, mounting up, running, and walking.

I’ve been a Christian for more than 50 years, and I’ve learned to be content in the waiting, trusting that God is in control. And in the waiting, there is much for me to do. After God told Keith, my husband, and me that He was going to heal me of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, we waited two years. Those two years were filled with prayers thanking the Lord for His healing, consuming the Scriptures and books on healing, and walking with God. The wait was intense, filled with gratitude, and anticipation of what it would feel like to be well.

The word “wait” appears 106 times in the Bible. God must value waiting.

Abraham waited 25 years for the promise of Isaac. The Israelites waited for centuries for the Messiah, and God brought Jesus to them at just the right time.

Jesus came into the world as a poor child. He waited to accomplish the work that He came to do. He grew as a child in truth and grace … waiting and preparing for His ministry and for the cross. His mother pushed Him to take care of the wine at the marriage of Cana, and He responded that His time was not yet. When His disciples encouraged Him to go to Jerusalem, He told them that His time had not yet arrived.

Today’s world is focused upon instant gratification. We are able to contact our friends and families instantly through our cell phones and the Internet. Businesses are focused upon providing quality products more conveniently and faster.

Sometimes, we shift that instantaneous approach to our Christian lives, and we’re disappointed that we are not instantly changed. We’re not instantly “holy.” We’re not instantly possessors of God’s promises for us.

The Christian life is not like a business transaction.

It’s a Promise Walk.

A slow walk.

A meditation walk.

A power walk.

A walk waiting for God.

  • Take a moment and share this post with others.
  • Tweet this post or share on Facebook.
  • Ask your followers what steps they are taking on their Promise Walk.
  • Tell us what you learned in the Comment Section.

I look forward to learning how your Promise Walk is going.

My prayer

Father of the Promise, thank You for Your great grace. Thank You for showing us throughout Your Word that You are waiting on Your children. Through the waiting, You have chosen to reveal Yourself to us. Bless, we pray, Your followers with the knowledge of the value of waiting in Your presence.  We love You, Lord.

 

2 Steps begin the Promise Walk

Jewels 2
Gathering them together, He [Jesus] commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”Acts 1:4-5
Have you noticed that God has established an order to the Christian walk?
  • He reveals Himself to us. God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the garden.
  • We accept His free gift of salvation. All who who receive the Holy Spirit will be forgiven.
  • He gives us guidance. Noah found favor from the Lord, and God told him to build an ark.

The Christian walk is strewn with brightly colored jewels and nuggets waiting to be polished, promises. Our eyes may not be trained to look for the jewels, and the emeralds may blend in with the green grass while the rubies appear to be roses.

Step 1: Study the Bible

It’s the same with God’s promises. The Word of God reveals the promises that He has for us. The Christian is called to meditate on the Word of God, as Joshua was commanded. We need to understand the context of the promises as well as the recipients. Steeped in prayer, we wait upon the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s promises to us.

Jesus tells the disciples in John 14, 15, and 16 that the Father will send the Holy Spirit to teach them, reveal the truth to them, and to guide them.
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. John 16:13

The Bible reveals how God’s people recognized the promises set before them. God gave Eve the promise of a Savior, Abraham the promise of a land and descendants, and Christians the promise of a new heaven and new earth.

Many promises lie within the Bible, and they wait upon God’s followers to discover and cherish.

Step 2: Wait on the Promise

Waiting is active, not passive; it’s hopeful expectation.

After Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples waited in the Upper Room. They weren’t just sitting and wondering when the Holy Spirit would come. They devoted themselves to prayer; they chose Matthias as the twelfth disciple to replace Judas, and they expected the Holy Spirit to come upon them and give them power in God’s perfect timing.

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:25

Notice, the person seeks God as he waits for the Lord.

Throughout the Bible, followers of God waited upon Him to act.

  • Joshua and his warriors walked around the walls of Jericho for seven days. They stared at the problem, the walls and the soldiers watching them from atop the walls. They walked in silence and waited upon the Lord. The seventh time around the walls on the seventh day, God acted, and the walls tumbled down.
  • Joseph waited upon the Lord in the pit, in Potiphar’s house, in the prison, and in the palace. God brought Joseph’s family to him and saved a country, in His time.

My prayer:

Father, teach us how to study the Bible, so that we recognize the promises You have placed there for us. Holy Spirit, guide us in our Promise Walk. We wait in eager expectation for the treasured promises and what they will bring.

Write in the Comment Section what steps you will take to discover God’s promises for you.

Heaven … It’s a Promise!

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A new year brings a new way to talk about an old subject, heaven. Men, women, and children have shared their stories and imaginations about what heaven is like. Many have claimed that they have been to heaven and back. The Bible gives us much information about heaven. Yet, we still wonder what heaven will be like. Some wonder if heaven really exists.

Scot McKnight has taken a fresh approach to heaven and uses the Bible as his authority. He writes that Heaven is God’s promise. I had never thought of Heaven as a promise, but, rather, a fact.

Herein lies the difference, McKnight writes that the first heaven (lowercase) “is the undisclosed, hidden reality of the presence of God” and the final Heaven (uppercase) “is the disclosed, visible reality of the presence of God on earth.” (p. 45) In other words, when a Christian dies, McKnight writes that the Christian goes to the first heaven, which can be compared to moving into a dormitory, and when the Christian moves to the final Heaven (the new Heaven), it’s like moving home.

I’m thinking about that. If God created the heavens and the earth, if God is perfect, if God is holy, then His dwelling place is perfect and holy … magnificent beyond our imaginations. Indeed, God will create a new heaven and new earth, and it will be splendid and different. Jesus promised His disciples that He was going to prepare a dwelling place for them and He would return to get them.

I’m struggling with the idea that God presently dwells in a lesser heaven than He will in the future. Presently, I think that it is just as splendid, just different.

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” Revelation 21:1

The new Heaven is McKnight’s Heaven Promise, and the resurrection of Jesus is the “heart of the Heaven Promise.” (p. 15) Jesus is the focus for Christians, isn’t He? His work, His sacrifice, His death, His resurrection, His coming again.

“There is a way to die that I call ‘standing in the empty tomb’ upon the promise of the resurrection and looking forward into the great beyond with hope.” (p. 52)

This sentence was precious to me. In 2014, I watched my Mama stand in the empty tomb, focused and peacefully waiting to step from the tomb into the Light. In that empty tomb, she waited in great expectation, sometimes smiling.

McKnight explores six promises about heaven:

  1. God will be God
  2. Jesus will be Jesus
  3. Heaven will be the Utopia of Pleasures
  4. Heaven will be Eternal Life
  5. Heaven will be an Eternal Global Fellowship
  6. Heaven will be an Eternal Beloved Community

Although we have little information about the Holy Spirit in heaven, I would have liked to have read about an additional promise about heaven: “The Holy Spirit will be the Holy Spirit.”

“Clearly, since the Holy Spirit is a member of the triune God, he will be present for all eternity, no doubt taking an active role in the creation and among God’s people. However, the Bible doesn’t specifically answer the question of exactly what His role will be.” (Randy Alcorn)

McKnight answers questions that are commonly asked about heaven, questions like the validity of near-death experiences, pets in heaven, and children who die.

Traditional expectations are challenged in The Heaven Promise: Engaging the Bible’s Truth About Life to Come, and McKnight identifies Christians as Heaven people. He asks how Heaven people should live in today’s world.

This book caused me to rethink some of my ideas about heaven.Thank you, Mr. McKnight.

I received The Heaven Promise: Engaging the Bible’s Truth About Life to Come from Blogging for Books for this review.

My prayer

Thank You, Father, for Scot McKnight and his scholarly approach. Bless him with Your perfect wisdom. Pour out Your grace and peace upon Your followers as we embark upon a new year. As Heaven people, guide us in Your ways and in Your will. Empower us to walk towards Your Heaven promise in boldness and in Your authority. Thank You for Your promises steeped in love.

Is Heaven God’s promise to you?

 

Pursue righteousness passionately

Fountain - 1
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5:6
In the first three Beatitudes, Jesus focused upon His followers’ recognition of their emptiness: “poor in spirit,” “mournful over sin,” and “meek, not defending ourselves.”
As a result of our emptiness, we crave something to fill us.
Like Isaiah when he saw God, we must come to the realization that God is holy and we are unclean.
“Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Isaiah 6:5

To hunger is to “crave ardently,” and those who thirst “painfully feel their want of, and eagerly long for, those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, strengthened …” according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.

This fourth Beatitude tells us what will satisfy that craving … righteousness.

Twice in the Beatitudes, Jesus mentions “righteousness,” and three more times in the rest of His Sermon on the Mount. Righteousness is important to Jesus.
Jesus tells us that our righteousness must exceed that of the religious leaders. The righteousness that we hunger and thirst for cannot be found in rituals, traditions, or things that the world values.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. … Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.'” Matthew 6:33-35
Righteousness is found in Jesus.

“you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,” 1 Corinthians 1:30

 When I had fibromyalgia, I craved a day without pain. I went on special diets, tried new supplements, and even tried some risky medicines, all for a day or two without pain. And yet, during those nights of sleeplessness, I found myself praying to see God’s glory, to get closer to Him. The more pain, the more of His presence I felt.
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
As I delighted in the Lord’s presence, my heart’s desires changed, and my prayers changed. I craved more of God. During this time, I was reading A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God, nothing to do with healing, and yet, everything to do with healing. I began pursuing God.
I was hungry and thirsty for more of God. I couldn’t get enough of Him.
God gave me more than a physical healing; He gave me more of Him. He gave me a keener sense of His working in and around my life.
I know that the Beatitude says that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied, and I know that we will be satisfied in heaven, but on this earth, I don’t want to be satisfied. I want to continue to pursue God and ask Him for more of Himself, so that I can point people to Jesus.
“Make it the passion and the hunger and the thirst of your life to do great acts of righteousness.” John Piper
How are you pursuing righteousness?
Please share this post with others and make the pursuit of God your passion.
My prayer:
Father, thank You for the hunger and thirst for You that has  been placed in our hearts. May our passion for righteousness cause us to work great acts of righteousness that will point people to You. To You be all the glory, majesty and honor! Amen