FRUIT

Foggy morning at the coast.  I’m sitting at my desk, looking out at the fog, a warm little heater at my feet.   Comfy feelings comin’ on.

I have been thinking lately about the Holy Spirit and His work in our lives.  We love to see Him at work in the miraculous “gifts of the Spirit” he deposits in us for use when they are needed to bring deliverance or knowledge or wisdom.  I am completely convinced that we will experience much more of that kind of lifestyle in the very near future – like today.   It is happening everywhere I look.  God is using His people like He did in the beginning of the church.  I am not satisfied to merely hear about those kinds of incidents, I want to be involved in them.  I know God will answer that prayer, too.

There is another kind of supernatural lifestyle that makes our enemy run, screaming into the night.  It is not loud or demonstrative.  It is just the opposite.  It may take even more submission to the Holy Spirit than working in His gifts.  It is called the “fruit of the Holy Spirit”.    The fruit of the Holy Spirit is the evidence that He dwells in you, and that you are listening to His voice.  The fruit is:  love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness (great power under control), and self-control.  Galatians 5.

I recently had an opportunity to choose to let God’s fruit develop in me.  I am sorry to say that I chose poorly.  Instead, I went ahead full force, leading with my emotions and thoughts about being mistreated, unloved, my unfair life, blah, blah, blah.    Worked myself up into a pretty good lather about it all, too.  Until one day I was in prayer about the whole miserable victim mentality, and the Holy Spirit spoke to me.   He told me that if I was not careful, I could give my enemy a good foothold into my life that is not so easy to get rid of.  My issue, I discovered, was not with the person who made me angry.   My issue was with the Holy Spirit.  I had not surrendered the situation to Him, nor had I surrendered my mind to His leading.   I led with my own thoughts and emotions, right into the pity party pit.  Thank God for setting me straight and showing me how I had let my enemy lead me around like a bull with a ring in its nose.   How disgusting is that?!

It was then I began to see how God’s fruit in our lives not only serve us well, they are also a great weapon against Satan and his schemes.   Had I recognized his devious plan from the start, I would have submitted to the Holy Spirit; asked Him to love through me, to give me peace and joy; to show His kindness and gentleness in the situation, and ask Him to give me His patience and self-control.   Things would have looked much different.  I would have avoided the flood of negative emotions and thoughts, and went on my happy way.   Not only that, but living the Holy Spirit’s fruit will defuse any and all weapons designed to get me off track.

What if, every time Satan throws discouragement at you, you can put him in despair by your joy?  What if you exhibit God’s peace in a fearful situation?    What if you respond to an insult with kindness?  The devil would soon slither away because he is wasting his time on you.

So, how do you get this “fruit of the Spirit”?   You don’t.   There is no way for us to achieve the evidence of God’s presence in our lives.  No amount of study, prayer, fasting or service will get you where you want to be.  What is the key?   Abiding on the vine.   Jesus gave that illustration in the book of John.  He said that He was the vine, and we are the branches on that vine.   The vinedresser, or vine tender is our Father.   Whose fruit does the branch bear?   The fruit of the vine.   Who tends to it all, making every necessary change to produce the best fruit?   The Father; it is not my responsibility to fix myself – it is God’s.   So what do I do?   Stay put.   Abide.   Draw from the vine every nourishment I need when I need it.   Let the Father’s loving hands make me fruitful and effective.

It makes the devil furious.   I love that.       Love ya,   Judy

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TESTS

Gorgeous morning!  The sun is beginning to rise, and I can see its glow coming up through the tall fir trees behind our house.

The last subject I shared was about the revelation that we, as Believers in Jesus, begin at the finish line.  When Jesus said “it is finished”, He meant that He finished every detail of victory and completed absolutely everything we will ever need to walk this walk.  Since the entire ransom has been paid, including the maintenance of our lives, we begin with full, complete, and totally finished status with God.  There is nothing more Jesus needs to do for us.  It is finished.  We are complete in Him the moment we say yes to Him and invite Him into our lives.

The Holy Spirit moves in and sin moves out.  Our old sinful nature is dead.  Really dead.  I’m not sure why, but I see people trying to resurrect it all the time.  I mean, wouldn’t it get pretty stinky after a while?  Instead of looking forward with the dreaded “crucifying the flesh” mentality, we move forward in anticipation of the good changes God will make in us.   Yes, I believe that, included in our redemption is the fact that our flesh (old nature) was crucified with Jesus, and replaced with His very righteousness.  So now our journey begins by discovering what actually has been deposited in us.  Everything God.  All we will ever need to walk in victory in this life is within us already.  It is the job of the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth.  Pretty amazing!

I love to go to the State Fair and wander through the vendors, selling their wares.  They have it down to a science, informing you why you can’t live without it.  “But wait….there’s more!” they exclaim, and we wait with eager grins to see what wonders come next.   I have a “but wait… there’s more”….. for you today.   As we begin our discovery of who God is in us, and who we are in Him, there comes times when you get to prove what He says is true.  You are invited to test the product to see if it works like it proclaims to work.  It is inevitable.

The test for me nearly always goes on in my mind.  An opportunity arises for me to test what I have learned about my identity, and a “prove it” situation comes along.   Sometimes I see from heaven’s perspective right away, sometimes it takes a little longer.   It is those times I want to address today.  After I let my enemy pound me with anti-heaven thoughts; after It begins to bother me and I get emotionally involved; after it begins to effect my day to pull me away from the peace and joy I know, then I realize what I have done.  Holding ground during a test is where the battle lays.  The good news is that it doesn’t have to last long at all.   What do I do?   Remember the cross.  The battle was won there already, and I am already walking in victory.   The process of discovery includes opportunities to prove God to be true.   It is not a bad thing – it is instead a winning strategy.  When you find yourself in the ring with the enemy, simply walk out of the ring.  This battle is over.  Jesus has already won.

I believe I will get a tattoo – a pretend one on my brain.   It will say this:   Caution:  to Satan or anything that resembles him:  before proceeding any further, defer to the cross.

I realize people are in battles that go beyond the little stuff that is merely annoying.  Some battles are for real life and death.  Remember, you have within you the essence of heaven itself.  You can bring heaven’s reality into earth’s situations.  Ask the Holy Spirit for His view, and how He wants to proceed, then follow.  The battle belongs to the Lord.  You are seated with Him right now, this very moment.

BEGIN AT THE FINISH LINE

Don’t you love new adventures with God?   There is always something wonderful He has to teach us that is life changing and destiny-fulfilling.    For some time my prayer has been to better understand what Jesus meant when he said “it is finished”.   I know the basics regarding our redemption and the sacrifice He made for me, but I think that there is so much more hidden in those words.  He often gives us pieces of the answer like pieces of a puzzle, and pretty soon we begin to see the picture.

I was thinking about my Christian journey, and what I have learned the past 60 years.  I decided that basically, I have learned a lot since I knew it all.  I would say the Holy Spirit rearranged the way I think about many things; some things needed a little tweaking, some needed a total overhaul.  Many times the revelation He gives me has a domino effect.   One thought leads to another, then another, and what I thought this was going to be in the beginning has become something entirely different.

I used to believe that the Christian experience began with being forgiven, but very incomplete.  You spent the rest of your life on the “incomplete” part.    I have a great “what if” question for you….  What if you began at the finish line?   What if Jesus so completely finished the work of making you righteous, redeemed, holy, sanctified on the cross?   What if there is nothing left for Him to pay for?  What if it is all paid in full, right now, this moment?   2 Cor. 5:21 says that God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in Christ.   It does not say that we have the righteousness of God.  It says we are the righteousness of God.   Redemption and all it entails is not about what we get, it is all about who we are in Christ.

Well, if we are the righteousness of God, what part of that needs fixing?    We begin at the finish line.  We begin complete in Christ.   We begin whole, righteous, and sanctified completely.    It is finished.  Jesus doesn’t have to do a do-over.     Well, those are the questions I brought to the Holy Spirit, because, I want to know the truth of the good news of the gospel.   If I am complete in Christ,   (Col. 2:9-10)   what does the journey consist of?   Is there a process involved?

Yes, indeed there is!   A grand journey.   The process used to be working hard at making myself presentable to God;  getting rid of stuff that does not please Him, and trying with everything in me to make Him happy.   I’m beginning to see the process differently.   I’m beginning to see God differently, too.    If, in His limitless mercy and grace, He has already finished me in Christ, the process becomes……..are you ready?……….a process of discovering what is already there.   Wow.

I have discovered I went from striving to rest.  From fear and worry to peace.   From judgment and condemnation to grace.   From trying to deal with sin to finding freedom.  From focusing on me to being completely abandoned to His grace.

I know this is the beginning of more discoveries, and it will have a domino effect, one revelation will be built on another.    Makes you think?   Yea, I know.      Judy

RIGHTEOUSNESS

Good morning!   My mind is spinning (even more that usual) at His Word to me.   Does the Holy Spirit ever give you a powerful word, then lets you chew on it for a while, processing it in your mind, and working it out in your life?   Happens to me a lot.  There have been a couple of those events lately, and I’d like to share one of them with you today.

For several hours last night the scripture in 2nd Corinthians 5:21 kept going over and over in my mind.  I finally got up to dig into it a little.  Some of it I have already worked through, but I found some interesting things I had not thought of yet.    As I read those verses, they spoke of Jesus’ death representing us all.   My mind went to the story of David and Goliath.  Remember Goliath was paraded before the army of Israel, challenging them to send just one person to fight him.  Whoever won between the two of them won the entire battle.  When the fight was finished between the two of them, the fight was finished between them all.  Moral of the story:  we won.   The battle is finished; the war is over.  Time to go home.

The section from vs. 14-21 has to do with reconciliation.   So I looked it up.   It means to bring two parties together in agreement.   Making one out of two.  That is exactly what Jesus did on the cross.  He became sin.  That alone is beyond comprehension.   He became sin for a reason; to make us God’s righteousness.  That, on the other hand, is totally an original God thought, because there is no one who would think those thoughts about me, except the one who loves me without condition.   For me, it wasn’t always easy to simply believe it and move ahead.   I had to argue with the Holy Spirit for several months to allow Him to rid me of bad theology.   I grew up believing that the Christian life was a constant battle with the evilness inside that fights against the goodness inside.   Yes, I was saved, spirit filled and on my way to heaven, but the “on my way” part was filled with struggling and wrestling down the “old nature”.   I have one thing to say about that.   Baloney.   If, as this word says, we are the righteousness of God in Christ, it is a matter of identity.   And identity goes clear to the core of who you are.  Identity is not a surface issue – it deals with every aspect of life, what you do and why you do it.  The word says my identity is righteous.   Not my righteousness.   God’s righteousness.   Okay, here’s my question:   what part of God’s righteousness (that is my identity in Christ), needs to be fixed?   I think I’ll leave that alone for now.

I think it’s time to start believing the gospel.  For those of you who can feel your blood pressure begin to rise, let me assure you that this is not arrogance.  It is the exact opposite.  It is for me, as a matter of fact, the understanding that I have no confidence in the flesh to fix anything.   I abandon myself to His work on my behalf.   And I leave myself there.  If there is any good work, it is the Holy Spirit working in me, loving through me.  I cannot live the Christian life.   Jesus must live it through me.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

That is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us:  we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ.”    2 Cor. 5:17-21

Absolutely amazing!    Judy

WILL THE REAL CHURCH PLEASE STAND UP?

Greetings!    I trust this day brings you into a new sense of excitement about what God is doing in the church.    Like listening to a train approaching from a long distance, I can hear the beginnings of rumbling.  Something is coming to God’s church.   Something big.   Something revolutionary.   Something never experienced before.  Can you hear it?   Can you feel it in you soul?   I don’t know exactly what it will look like, or how it will affect my life, but I know it will be almost indescribable.  How do I know that?  Because I can barely find words for what I am sensing now about what the Holy Spirit has done already in my life.

Has this ever happened to you:    someone finds out you are a believer, and the very first words out of their mouth is, “where do you go to church?”      It may be simple curiosity, but I have a feeling that question carries deep prejudices and judgments.    We all have certain doctrines and beliefs that we have been taught, and have decided that outside of our circle, people do not know the truth.   That attitude may be unspoken, but it is there, and it is real, and it is not from God.

Come with me on an imaginary journey back about two millennium or so.   A few of you are gathered at the market, discussing the day, the upcoming events, the school system, politics, ….whatever.    You are approached by a stranger who tells you they heard you are part of the people who believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah.    You answer affirmatively, and introduce your friends all around.  After a few introductions and warm up comments, the stranger asks you where you go to church.   The first thought that comes to you mind is; what kind of question is that?   What is he talking about?    So you politely explain you didn’t understand the question, and would they repeat it please.  “What church do you go to?”    You look at your friends, who seem just as perplexed as you, and reply again, “I’m sorry, but your question is confusing.”   About then you wonder where Peter or John is.   Never around when you need them.

Some brave soul in your group confesses they must be a little slow in the uptake today –
“please ask one more time.”    “You are believers, right?”    “Yes, that is right.”   “Okay,   Where…..do…..you…..go……..to…….church?”  You speak up by saying,” well, I don’t know what to tell you.   I am the church.   Mary here is the church.   So are Peggy and Pat, and Ruth here.  We are the church.    We don’t go to church; the church goes wherever we are….. Because we are the church.

“Hmmm,” the stranger replies.   “Well then, I assume you gather together.    Where does that happen?”   “Well, last night I was at Peggy’s house.  Tomorrow I think Peter and John will be sharing in the garden.   It changes, sometimes spontaneously, and we take the church wherever we are. …because….that’s who we are.    Why do you ask?   Does it matter?”

Your new friend seems confused,  and is getting a little agitated. Although you cannot for the life of you understand why.  Continuing to try to answer the question, you tell him to look around.  “See over there in front of the fish market?  The church is there – I see Hannah and Beverly.  They must be buying dinner for their families.”

“Okay, okay!”  Your new friends suggests putting it another way.   Thank God for small favors!    “What if one person believes one way and another believes another way, and another believes something different?   Where do they go to church?”

Sensing you need divine intervention here, you suggest, “Do you mind if we pray together?”  All the while praying the Holy Spirit will give someone an answer.   Maybe deliverance.

Am I suggesting we abandon our churches, our traditions and beliefs?   Not at all.  What I do pray for is an infusion of the Holy Spirit into our churches to see who God sees us to be.  As in my little imaginary circumstance, we are the church.   What does that mean?   It means we are what Jesus said when he told people that the Kingdom of Heaven is near.  We carry His Kingdom wherever we go, and have the potential by the Spirit of God to change the atmosphere by simply being the church God designed us to be.

I believe God is tearing down walls, and binding us together.   I believe we will sacrifice some sacred cows that may look good and sound good, but have no eternal value.  A revolution is coming.  It is coming from God Himself, so don’t wonder about it’s origin when you begin to see new things begin to happen.  We are on the threshold of the biggest “God Thing” we have ever seen.

Be prepared to be radically changed.     Judy

HOME

It is wonderful how the Holy Spirit knows exactly how to speak to us, our ups and downs, our individual idiosyncrasies, even our own quirky little languages.  I’m so thankful that He doesn’t speak to me in King James Version.   I’m sure I would get it eventually, but it wouldn’t have the same impact.   We are on a unique journey, He and I.   It never ceases to amaze me.    Allow me to share something that has begun in me; and I say that because I am sure there is much to come.

For quite a few years I have heard in my mind these words:   I just want to go home.   Sometimes it is a quiet voice, and sometimes it comes from the depths of my soul.   I have tried to make sense of them, but never have.   I know “going home” in my case doesn’t mean going to heaven, not yet anyway.  It doesn’t mean a roof over my head, either, because I hear those words wherever I go.  It isn’t a longing for better relationships, because that is very satisfying to me.  I just plain don’t understand what those words meant.    Please, I just want to go home.  

Recently I heard them again.  This time is was in anguish – from the depths of my soul.  I could literally feel the longing, but did not understand it.  It was enough to bring me to tears.  As I was crying out to the Lord, I asked again, what is this?   What is it all about?   I don’t understand.    It must have been the perfect time for the answer, because His response nearly dropped me to the floor.   It wasn’t audible, but it might have been, so strong were the words.   This is what He said;   “Those words are not coming from your heart, they are coming from Mine.   It is the cry of My heart to find a home (in this case a heart) that is willing to not only house me, but contain all that I am and all that I can give.  I want to abide in you in a way you have never known.   Deeper.   Fuller.   Complete.  Please, I want to go home.”

Needless to say, I was dumbfounded; speechless; trying to understand what I just heard.  All I could do way cry.  The implications were overwhelming.  And they are still growing.   When I finally gained my composure, I told the Holy Spirit that my house is a mess.   (Speaking of my body and all its issues, to say nothing about the ongoing process of renewing my mind.   To put it clearly, I wasn’t sure my house was ready for this.)    Another response created tears of joy.     “You say your house is a mess?   Not from where I am.   It is perfect.   It is holy and righteous.  It is great fun, and I love it here.   Don’t worry too much about changing stuff for me.   Believe me, if there are changes needed, I’ll let you know.  Besides, you guys make everything too complicated anyway.   Let’s just abide and enjoy.   It will be a wonderful experience.  For both of us.”

That’s how God talks to me.   He gives me a “power word”, and then teaches me how to walk it out.    He shows me ways to live out this fresh revelation.   They are beginning already.   Jesus said to abide in Him, and He in us.   Do I understand it completely?   No, but I don’t have to.    All I have to do is abide in this relationship.   He does the rest.   That’s the way He likes it.  

More amazing than words can describe.    Blessings,   Judy