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Thursday, June 26, 2014

The process of Christian growth continues

Oswald quote......"One of the greatest proofs that you are drawing on the grace of God is that you can be totally humiliated before others without displaying even the slightest trace of anything but His grace."

 As I try to live this Christian life, As I try to breathe in Jesus, and breathe out Jesus, in every situation,  I find the most difficult time to be the times when i am feeling humiliated.  Unfortunately, I often feel that way.  I put "Me and I" on the throne and take things that are said to me as personal attacks that I need to "rise up" and defend.  At that very instant I lose the grace of God because, I am coming to my own defense.

Jesus is "my one defense, my righteousness" in HIM, in HIM, in HIM is my only answer.  
Little by little, failure by failure, I will continue this process and one day when you "kick me all that will come out is the overflow of Jesus oil, all over you."  ONE DAY!  ONWARD!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Peace among the nations

Words of wisdom, through Art Katz, "We are on the verge of an explosion again (war among the nations) and it will not be solved by the United Nations or any other human agency.  There will only be peace and accord, when nations fit themselves to the plan of God for all nations, with redeemed Israel at its center and the law going forth out of Zion, and the word of the Lord out of Jerusalem.  Nations will study war no more, and will beat their swords into ploughshares."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A start in the process of fear and trembling

"it is not in trying but in trusting"
By the grace of God, through the mercy of God, a first trembling step was taken today in the process of "breathing in Jesus".
The opportunity was there for me to "rise up in the flesh" and respond to a perceived attack, a very teeny tiny attack, and I went out of the situation and 'breathed in Jesus", so that I could "breathe out Jesus."

I don't want to fight sin because of what it means for me anymore.
I want to trust in God for the grace to be alive to the beauty of Jesus, and dead to the self-life.

God "command what You desire, and grant what You command."

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Zechariah Bible Study # 17 Zechariah Chapter 12

Zechariah Bible Study #17
Zechariah Chapter 12
Israel's Final Conflict and Great Deliverance

Jerusalem to Be Attacked

12 The burden of the word of the Lord concerning Israel.
Thus declares the Lord who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him, “Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it. In that day,” declares the Lord, “I will strike every horse with bewilderment and his rider with madness. But I will watch over the house of Judah, while I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. Then the clans of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘A strong support for us are the inhabitants of Jerusalem through the Lord of hosts, their God.’
“In that day I will make the clans of Judah like a fire pot among pieces of wood and a flaming torch among sheaves, so they will consume on the right hand and on the left all the surrounding peoples, while the inhabitants of Jerusalem again dwell on their own sites in Jerusalem. The Lord also will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem will not be magnified above Judah. In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord before them. And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
10 “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. 11 In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 The land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves; 14 all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves.

The final 3 chapters 12-14 speak of “the judgment through which Israel itself is sifted and purged in the final great conflict with the nations, and transformed into the holy nation of Jehovah.” David Baron

(I must emphasize that a majority of the church would put this in the past and say it has no relevance to the future. The teaching is that God has divorced natural, physical, Israel and now only individual Jews who come to know Jesus get to be a part of the 'church' and there is no millennial reign, no promise left to be fulfilled, no prophecy that yet needs to come to pass. It is a powerful spiritual blindness, and the people that believe it, have invested their lives in “proving” that none of this matters. It is sad.)

David Baron points out that Israel has had many calamitous events in the past, but God has never visibly appeared in the person of Messiah with His angelic hosts to be the Deliverer of His people and the destroyer of many nations which were gathered against them; nor was the spirit of grace and supplication ever yet poured out upon the Jewish nation. One of the keys is “that day” the day of Jehovah, which is referred to 14 times in these last three chapters. This day spoken of all through scripture is a day of displaying the majesty of God, manifesting His divine judgment and glory, destroying the enemies of Israel and saving His own people.
Verse 1 – This verse makes it very clear that we are not talking some small regional conflict that can be brushed aside as occurring some time in the past. This does indeed concern Israel, but the One expressing the concern is Almighty God! The One who made the universe, and earth, and man, all of it! And just like in chapter 11, this is a “burden” which makes it a section revolving around threatenings and divine judgments.
To eliminate us saying, “How could all this come to pass?” God gives us His resume and effectively silences all thoughts of “this is too hard for You.” Baron points out that this verse is speaking of “continuous creative formation.” Deut. 32 is the song that Moses instructed the people they should teach their children. Verses 36-43 apply to this section of scripture and give a clear picture of the end times. God's people come to the end of their strength, God takes on their enemies Himself, their enemies are His enemies.
Verse 2 – “Behold I am going to...” Wow, so in verse one, He declares the awesomeness of who He is and in verse two, He says, and this is what I am going to do. The cup of judgment, Israel gets it, Jesus took it, and the nations who reject Him will yet drink it also. Either He drinks it for you or you drink it, period! This word for “cup” is actually a word for “bowl” to symbolize that this is big enough for all the nations to drink of. The siege affects everyone, no one is spared in Israel.
Verse 3 – Everything in verse 2 gets increased here. The surrounding nations become all nations and the cup that makes powerless, now becomes something that cuts and wounds. This is the famous last great gathering of man under Satan. (Rev. 16;14, Joel 3:9-12) God fights the enemy and supernaturally empowers Israel to fight the enemy. Psalm 118:10
Verse 4 – Bewilderment, blindness, madness, are the judgments now brought upon the nations that were previously put on Israel. Deut. 28:28. Supernatural enabling for victory... after... the people have come to the end of their strength.
Verse 5 – God has chosen Jerusalem, His choice, His election, is what makes the people strong, and they only realize this when they come to the end of their strength. But when they see that His eye is turned to them again in mercy, they are no different than we are, from that “look” they are brought to repentance and a renewed strength for the battle.
Verse 6 – I have to slow down here and ask us to compare Gen. 15:17 It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces.  It strikes me that both of these verses mention a fire pot and a torch. What is the connection? One connection is the land, this was the unconditional covenant ceremony where God gave the land to Abraham. It strikes me that during the tribulation Israel will experience the fire pot of God, but in their deliverance from their enemies they will be to the nations a fire pot and torch.
Verse 7 – Saving the tents outside the walled city 'first' makes it clear that God is wanting to show His watch care over the whole nation. Those that have no wall find that He is their wall. The royalty of the nation dwelt in Jerusalem, but God is acting first on behalf of those who are ordinary. Even in this act He is striking at pride, as He always does, on all levels.
Verse 8 – Now that they have seen Jehovah act for them sovereignly, supernaturally, they are empowered to join the fight. Again in Deut. 32:30 it was put to them as a question,  “How could one chase a thousand,
And two put ten thousand to flight,
Unless their Rock had sold them,
And the Lord had given them up? Whereas, in this section of Deut. we see God acting in judgment against Israel and causing them to flee before inferior numbers, now , in this section of Zechariah, we see Him empowering them and causing them to succeed with inferior numbers.
Verse 9 – The simple and clear summation of this section. God sets about to destroy the armies that surround Jerusalem. One thing that is not clear to me is that the anti-Christ is set up in Jerusalem at the end. Daniel 11:45 He will pitch the tents of his royal pavilion between the seas and the beautiful Holy Mountain; yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him. I am not sure how this all plays out, but the Lord knows those who are His. 2 Timothy 2:19
The first section verses 1-9 comes to a close. God has physically delivered His people from their enemies, now the focus turns to the real enemy our own stony heart.

Verse 10 – “He who comes to conquer their foes comes also to subdue their hearts.” “I will pour” is an abundant pouring like Joel 2:28,29 upon all flesh. The capital, Jerusalem and the house of David, the chief family stand for the whole nation. Grace when it is poured out, enables us to cry out for more grace, = supplication. This leads to looking with a “trustful hope and longing” a look of eager faith like Israel looking upon the serpent from a desperate condition of death going throughout the camp. The idea that the great and awesome God could be pierced by His people is extraordinary, and we can certainly “forgive” the Jewish people for not seeing it. In normal reasoning or thinking it does not make sense, it required revelation knowledge granted by God. The mourning that follows this revelation is deep and intense, as for an only son. That is truth that applies to a truly converted individual also.

Verse 11 – The reference is to the national mourning for pious young king Josiah who was slain by Pharaoh Necho in the valley of Megiddon. 2 Kings 23:29,30 and 2 Chron. 35:20-27.

Verse 12 and 13 – The royal family and the priestly family are mentioned set the pace as leaders they are held responsible for the rejection of the Messiah and so feel the weight of it even more than the others.

Verse 14 – Their example is followed by the rest of the people. The mourning is national but it is also deeply personal.

Only God will be able to comfort the nation, and He will. As Joseph comforted his brothers, as Hosea comforted Gomer with an infinite, unchanging, and omnipotent love. A love which never ceases and never ends. The cross is the center of our devotion, truly coming to a place where we realize that we are the one who pierced Him. Rev. 1:7 We look to Him for salvation, we fix our gaze upon Him for sanctification.  

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Fruit of the Spirit, as Seen Through the Cross

Start with 2 God glorifying songs, "Lord, I Need You"  and  "Lamb of God" by Twila Paris

Galatians a book about establishing the true and good foundation of the Spirit. The enemy of the Spirit led Christian life is clearly stated to be, our own works. This is not new, Isaiah said 64:For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear,
Nor has the eye seen a God besides You,
Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.
You meet him who rejoices in doing righteousness,
Who remembers You in Your ways.
Behold, You were angry, for we sinned,
We continued in them a long time;
And shall we be saved?For all of us have become like one who is unclean,And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls on Your name,
Who arouses himself to take hold of You;
For You have hidden Your face from us
And have delivered us into the power of our iniquities.

But now, O Lord, You are our Father,
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all of us are the work of Your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord,
Nor remember iniquity forever;
Behold, look now, all of us are Your people.

The plain meaning of filthy garment, in the original Hebrew language is...
so this isn't the ordinary “greasy, mechanic's rag” it is not just a dirty “washcloth”. So why do the translators hesitate to say what the words say? Is part of it a pride that refuses to believe our works are really that...repugnant?

It is not about you, most of my lack of patience, peace, kindness, self-control, come from an inward attitude that it is “about me.” So when my wife makes a comment or gives a look that indicates, “It's ON!” (not in a good way) Something rises up in me that makes this moment about me, I am being attacked, I need to kick in the “fight or flight” thing and handle this.... not so. I have another choice, a God-honoring choice, “Step back from the flesh and walk in the Spirit”, let Jesus answer.

Rom. 8:5,13, Galatians 5:16,25 We need the Spirit to walk in the Spirit. We need the fruit of the Spirit to live for God.

We have too low of a view of these words and their impossibility. Only the supernatural working of the Spirit of God in us, enables us to live this out.

Love=Hosea 14:4-6
Joy=Paul 2 Cor. 11:23-30
Peace=Job 13:15
Patience=Isaac (wells) Genesis 26:15-23
Kindness=Elisha, and the enemy troops 2 Kings 6:8-23
Goodness=slave girl, Namann 2 Kings 5:1-3
Gentleness=Joseph Genesis 45:4,5
Faithfulness=Jeremiah, Lamentations 3:21 Ruth 1:12,13
Self-control=David, when dealing with Saul, not Bathsheba, but he was a man after God's own heart, because he realized God did not want him to be better, God wanted him to recognize the mercy of God and the need of mercy, the perpetual need of mercy.

We can't love like Hosea
We can't work up joy like Paul
We would not have peace like Job
We would have never made it to the ? well, like Isaac did.
Kindness is not just putting up with people it is lavishing love on the person who came with the desire to conquer you.
Gentleness is not just “sucking it up” long enough to “get along” until they “leave” your space. Gentleness is restoring and offering forgiveness. BECAUSE God meant it for good, while you are recognizing the realness of what happened.
Self-control is only existing in you because it is fruit of His Spirit in you. Turn from God for 1 second and you will realize all the self-control that David exercised can be far, far gone.

King Alphonso of Portugal said that if God had consulted him at the creation, about the placements and motions of the planets and stars, etc.--that he would have contrived them better than they are. I suppose the poor man took the schemes and dreams of the astronomers of his day--to be an accurate representation of the solar system.
It sounds, however, like a blasphemous speech in our ears. We take it for granted that the Sun, the Moon, planets, and the stars are exactly where they should be--and move just as they ought.

But if we are content that the Lord should manage the 
heavenly bodies without our assistance--we are ready enough to advise Him how He should manage of our insignificant selves! We think we could point at twenty things in our situation which might be mended; and that we would serve Him much better than we do--if we were but at liberty to choose where and how we would be thus placed.

Thus we rightly censure 
King Alphonso's folly--without being aware that the thoughts that we sometimes indulge, are no less vain and arrogant than his! We might with as much reason, offer to assist God in the government of the universe--as in the direction of our own paltry concerns.

"All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: What have You done?" Daniel 4:35


The principle is this: Whatever we observe, study and contemplate most shapes our thinking and trains our affections. As John Piper says: We become what we behold. This is right from the Bible. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18,
We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
The more we meditate on true glory, the more true glory we will see and enjoy. The more we meditate on lesser things, the less we will see and enjoy glory. We become what we behold.

The Word of Salvation

I would add one more word of application. Even if modern medicine has wonderfully and rightly lifted much of the pain and lasting wounds of childbirth, every mother knows that sin takes its toll on every aspect of marriage, and birth, and child-rearing. Any of these may swell and threaten to swallow a woman in despair.
I believe it is a legitimate application of this text to say: God’s word to all those burdens and frustrations and miseries is No! This is not my last word to you! My word is salvation! My word, in and through every fiery trial, is to save you, rescue you, preserve you, and give you a future and a hope. All of that through faith in Jesus Christ.

Deep water that I came across as I was studying this, but I don't know it enough to teach it so I will just “share it.” There is a place that the faithfulness and mercy of God will bring a believer to, who keeps on pressing in. A place where they are no longer using God, even to obtain things that appear to glorify God. The will of God is desired above all self-interest. It is a place, where “the ruler of this world comes, but he has nothing in Me.” John 14:30
The deeds of the flesh, Gal. 5:19-21, Ingratitude definitely plays a part in this, but the majority of these works have a root in “instant gratification now.”

Hebrews 10:32 But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, 33 partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. 34 For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. 35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

Rev. 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

All that sums up God; His heart and truth, are demonstrated at the cross. Wherever there is a willing suffering to maintain obedience to God, that wisdom is being demonstrated.
To choose as our first purpose of being, to demonstrate the wisdom of God.
To choose obedience when there is absolutely no benefit that will accrue to us.
To choose to embrace the call of God with no concern for self-interest.
This is ultimately where the fruit of the Spirit is leading us. To live a life with the glory of God at the center, with the single-eyed desire of His eternal purpose.

Isaiah 9:6,7 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. Not your zeal (or we are right back to the first point) Faith is trust, quiet confidence in God that He will perform His word. How much time was invested in Elijah, before he appeared on the scene and said to Ahab, “As the Lord my God lives, it will not rain..”?
We do not know. God does not consider the cost too high, to form a man or a woman, or a couple, in such a way that they are totally pliable in His hands.

How do we get there, James? Just add, “by the power of the Spirit” to each of these statements.

Draw near to God . . .” (James 4:8). Knock— the door is closed, and your heartbeat races as you knock. “Cleanse your hands . . .” (James 4:8). Knock a bit louder— you begin to find that you are dirty. “. . . purify your hearts . . .” (James 4:8). It is becoming even more personal— you are desperate and serious now— you will do anything. “Lament . . . ” (James 4:9). Have you ever lamented, expressing your sorrow before God for the condition of your inner life? There is no thread of self-pity left, only the heart-rending difficulty and amazement which comes from seeing what kind of person you really are. “Humble yourselves . . . ” (James 4:10). It is a humbling experience to knock at God’s door— you have to knock with the crucified thief. “. . . to him who knocks it will be opened(Luke 11:10).

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

One line

Sometimes you read 300 pages of a book, just to get to a line like this.  A line with depth and clarity.

About two friends, who were aware that one was growing old and feeble, so they enjoyed their remaining days together... and then comes this line.

"They left nothing unsaid between them."  

Good stuff.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


(Letters of John Newton)

My dear friend,
I sympathize with you in all your trials. But if the Lord is pleased to make them subservient to the increase of your sanctification, to wean you more and more from this world, and to draw you nearer to Himself--you will one day see cause to be thankful for them, and to number them among your choicest mercies!
A hundred years hence--it will signify little to you, whether you were sick or well the day I wrote this letter.

I am truly and always, your affectionate friend,
John Newton
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it!" Hebrews 12:11

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Learning from the birds

Slept out in the tent with my youngest son last night.  Awakened by a bird singing his same beautiful song over an over again.  They start singing before the sun comes up.  They anticipate the faithfulness of God.  They have seen Him mercifully bring the day over and over again and so they trust that He will again.  I feel strongly God is leading me to write a book with the title, "The Cross of Jesus Christ in the Life of Kathy Steele."  The title is all He had given me, but He would not let me forget it.  I have started to collect thoughts and words and am trusting Him to put it all together.  I think part of what will come out of it, is related to the birds.  If the "night" is this fallen world with so much sin and disease and eternity is the day.  We are called to sing in the night, in anticipation of the day.  In praise of the God who has promised the day, even when the day has not appeared.  Kathy's life makes no sense without the light of eternity thrown on it.  Paul's words of "Who is sufficient for these things?" ring in my ears, but God who has placed this thought will bring it to pass.