fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Leave Room for God’s Wrath

Anger Leave Room for God’s Wrath by Julie McAllen

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.  24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. (Ro 1:18-25)

God’s wrath. How is it that God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven? This thought kept going through me as I read Romans chapter one: People KNOW when they’re sinning, The Spirit does the teaching and convicting. Yet we burn with rage against those who sin against us and want to reveal our own wrath. We feel like such victims when treated so casually. We’re angered that we have to work so hard at forgiving and putting up with one another as the Bible instructs us to do. It can even make us upset with God for teaching us to “turn the other cheek” when we feel some of our wrath would work better. But Romans reminds us that God’s wrath is already being revealed. Sinners are convicted in their own time. God is all around in the creation and has made Himself known. And it is GOD, yes, GOD HIMSELF who “gives them over in the sinful desires of their hearts.” God allows us all our time of sinful rebellion. We all were once enemies of God. And yet, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Ro 5:8).

1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? (Ro 2:1-4)

It is so easy to judge the sin of others and feel our rage claiming “but they know better! Why are they so vile toward me? So rude?” We must leave it in God’s hands. His hand is upon them, why should we accuse, blame, and judge? He knows, and He is the one who “gave them over” to pursue the desires of the flesh. Did someone else’s anger, judgment or accusations bring you to your senses? More likely God called you out by His grace, love and kindness. Romans 2:1-4, then speaks to us. Therefore, you have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else.

And what does our wrath and judgment say about our attitude toward God’s grace? “Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

God’s KINDNESS led you to repentance. Do you trust HIM enough to lead others?

18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
(Ro 12:18-20)

Satan is the accuser of our brothers (Rev 12:10). We know who accuses us day and night for our own sins, and we know who gets others to join him in accusing us. Therefore, we have no place accusing others. To do so is siding with our sinful nature. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 1:9) We learn the sufferings of Christ in leaving room for God’s wrath.

Look at Our LORD! He submitted even to death on a cross. He was spat at and insulted, beaten and nailed, left to die. And he prays “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” How far from perfection we are!!! It is much easier to give in to our own wrath and side with the accuser who does not want God’s kindness to lead God’s enemies to repentance. Knowing this, Satan uses US as accusers who feel enraged at those who sin against us. Yet Jesus taught us to pray, “Father, forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Prayer is our weapon and our challenge. Prayer is Spiritual. Therefore, it is no wonder our flesh battles it and would prefer to work it out in our rage or our feelings of self-pity in being the victim. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7)!!! In humility we pray, Father, forgive those who know not what they do! Father, we are your servants. We will walk through this valley knowing you are at our side. We are willing to do so and we are able to do so in your strength. Empower us and conform us into the likeness of your Son. In the name and strength of Jesus, amen.

Pray that God will convict your enemies. Cease from your own wrath. When God’s hand is upon them, they spit at Jesus, not you. They mock Jesus, not you. Trust in God to work all things out. Meanwhile, bless His Holy Name for allowing people in your life who challenge your ability to love as He loves. ” But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matt 5:44-45) Remember how He kept Pharaoh in existence to show His own power and glory? He may be keeping this person in your life to show His power made perfect in you as He strengthens you to do His will and not your own. Let us try to live at peace with those who persecute us and leave room for God’s wrath, not our own.

In the Old Testament, the prophets did proclaim judgment and wrath was physically administered, but now the weapons of warfare are spiritual. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor 10:3-5)  In prayer, we bring every sin before Him and leave it there. And while we’re there at the cross, we bring the sins of our people knowing that Christ died forgiving them “while they were yet sinners.” He sees their sins, we pray for the Spirit’s conviction in them and we allow God to bring it about–even as they continue in their sins.

Discouragement and anger toward our neighbor is nothing new. Christian’s are not immune to these feelings. But God’s made provision for us to overcome the world and find encouragement in being united with Christ.

1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
(Phil 2:1-11)

We look to Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith and what do we see? The wrathful God pointing fingers? The victim who spent his time saying “why me?” He had both those rights to claim and yet, he humbly served, took the beatings, and while dying undeservedly PRAYED for his enemies. How far from perfection we are!!! But we live in hope and continue to pray that God conform us into the likeness of His Son. That is the whole REASON He saved us. We are a new creation, we don’t need to go back to the world’s way of accusing, repaying evil for evil, or feeling victimized. We trust in God and leave room for His wrath.

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

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August 29, 2009 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , | 2 Comments

Getting Back on Course

1Kings 18:20-34

42-15850153Picture the scene: Wicked King Ahab sends for the false prophets of Baal (a false god) and God’s prophet Elijah to Mount Carmel for a competition. The contenders were 450 prophets of Baal and the one prophet (Elijah) of the true God. The challenge was to see which god was greater. Elijah knows this contest is a joke and cries out to the people of Israel to stop hesitating between Baal and Yahweh (the God of Israel). By this time, Jezebel, the queen, had already killed off the other prophets of the true God; Elijah was the last one remaining. The people can’t make up their minds; they hadn’t totally rejected Yahweh, but they were trying to combine Him with the worship of Baal. Ugh!

So Elijah said to the 450 prophets to cut up an ox and place it on an alter to sacrifice and then ask Baal to put fire under it. Verses 26-29 are quite amusing. The 450 prophets call out to Baal from morning until noon. No fire. Elijah then tells them to call LOUDLY because Baal might be sleeping, is on a journey or preoccupied…hilarious! Finally, the prophets cut themselves up to the point of bleeding profusely and by the evening time, they give up. No fire. No Baal.

It’s Elijah’s turn. He puts the ox (cut up) on 12 stones, representing the twelve tribes of Israel and made a gutter around the alter. He filled the gutter with water – in fact, he overflowed it with water; then Elijah prays “O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel, today let it be known that I am your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again” (Vs 36-38). No sooner that Elijah was finished praying fire consumed the burnt offering, the wood and stones and even dried up the water! What sweet victory Elijah tasted as a prophet; it was his best victory ever!

Surprisingly, Elijah decides to run away to Beersheba. Why?? Apparently, Queen Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah that she was going to have him killed because of what he did at Mount Carmel and he got scared. Not only did Elijah get scared, but he also got discouraged. What made Elijah so discouraged? Brokenness is what Elijah felt; he felt broken by her threats – after all, she did kill off all the other prophets of the true God. He also felt broken by her unrepentant attitude – he expected her to surrender and acknowledge the greatness of Yahweh, but she didn’t. All of these were enough to send him running for his life.

I know what you’re thinking; I thought the same thing, too. How can Elijah allow Jezebel to discourage and shatter his faith in God after all that he accomplished through Him? How could Elijah forget the sweet victory (and so quickly)? The sad part is that we do the same. No sooner that God delivers us from challenges…no sooner that God leads us to victory, do we forget when we’re faced with another test of faith. I’m guilty of that charge, too. The enemy throws us off (the victorious) course by throwing stumbling stones in our path – discouragement, fear, confusion, etc… It’s so easy to be thrown off course, even after we just experienced God’s saving grace. However, God never tires out from bringing us out of trials, even if it’s self-inflicted discouragement. In fact, he willingly does so with love.

How did Elijah regain his confidence in the Lord? 1Kings 19:9-14 tells us that God went to the cave where Elijah was hiding and sought him. How loving and merciful on God’s part. “What are you doing here?” asked the Lord (as if). Then after Elijah told God why he was afraid, Elijah waited for His reply and instruction. A strong wind came and Elijah thought God was in the wind, but He wasn’t. Then there was an earthquake and Elijah thought he would hear from God during the earthquake, but he didn’t. Then Elijah witnessed fire and surely thought God would reveal Himself to him there, but He didn’t. Finally, the Lord’s revelation came to Elijah in a faint, whispering voice. The lesson here was that God was quietly doing His work all along.

When we’re waiting for an answer from God, are we still and quiet so that we can hear Him? Sometimes we feel God is not acting on our behalf because we’re not seeing the “winds, earthquakes and fire” – the obvious. But Almighty God is still working – He never stops working for our good. In time He will reveal Himself and it may be in a whispering voice. So when we find ourselves off the victorious course, be still and listen for His voice to help bring us back on course.  God Bless. (Linda A.)

August 25, 2009 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Armor of God

j0178865Each day we’re caught in the middle of an ongoing spiritual warfare – whether we know it or not. Satan and his demons manifest themselves in one way or another. We can’t see them and we don’t know how, but they are there – delighting in helping make wrong choices. They strive to help us to disobedience and rebellion. This is ongoing – everyday…the “norm” for the enemy. Eph 6:10-12 – “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers and against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” 

 The apostle Paul spoke about a spiritual armor we must put on so that we can be prepared to fight back. Just as we wake up in the morning, brush our teeth and get dressed, our morning routine should also include gearing up with the spiritual armor. In fact, gearing up for the day is an act of obedience. Just as a loving parent orders her child to wear a warm jacket before going out to play or school, God also directs us to put on the armor for protection. Eph 6:13 – “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm”.

God’s Spiritual Armor – Ephesians 6:14-17 – “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the work of God.” 

The first three pieces of armor (girdle, breastplate, footwear) were worn continually on the battle field. The last three (shield, helmet, sword) were kept ready to use for when fighting began.

 “Girded with Truth” (Verse 14) – girding involved pulling up the loose material as preparation for the battle. The tunic (underneath the armor) the soldiers wore was loose and a potential danger if hanging material was not girded. Imagine a soldier being tripped by loose material hanging? This armor symbolizes truthfulness; how many times have we “tripped” in our walk with God for not girding ourselves with truthfulness?

Breastplate of Righteousness” (Verse 14) – the breastplate was made of heavy leather or other heavy material that covers the full torso, thus protecting the heart and vital organs. Righteousness is synonymous with holiness; God is Holy (Rev 4:8). Holiness is a chief protection against the enemy because unrighteousness and righteousness cannot co-exist.  John 3:20 – “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that he deeds will be exposed.”

Shod with Gospel of Peace” (Verse 15) – soldiers’ boots had nails on the bottom of the sole to grip the ground while in combat. The gospel of peace pertains to the good news that, through Jesus, believers are reconciled or at peace with God. When we’re at peace with God, we feel an assurance of being in union with Him. This assurance, in itself, is cause for joy and contentment. It in this assurance that we can stand firm with our feet anchored in the ground, knowing God is on our side.  It is through this gospel that we also draw unbelievers to God’s message of salvation. 1Peter 3:15, 16

 “Shield of Faith” (Verse 16) – a size of a shoulder’s was about 2 ½ by 4 ½ feet, which covered the entire body. Heb. 11:1 defines faith as, “the assured expectation of things hoped for though not yet beheld.” This piece of the armor refers to complete trust in God, his word and his promises. It’s through trust in God that we choose obedience over temptation to sin. Part of fighting a spiritual war means that we battle with things that are unseen; when the obvious doesn’t appear before us, do we fight with “an expectation of things hoped for?” Trusting in God means that we surrender all control to Him, knowing He will lead us to victory in all circumstances.

 “Helmet of Salvation” (Verse 17) – the helmet protected the head, which was a major target for the enemy. Opponents know that one blow to the head can cause a soldier his life. This verse is not talking about attaining, but rather having the assurance of salvation that has already been achieved through grace.  The enemy wants nothing more to discourage or cause doubt our own salvation. A believer’s feelings about his salvation may be damaged by doubt, confusion or discouragement (satan’s weapons). Having the assurance of salvation is an essential part of the spiritual armor one must wear daily because blows of doubt and discouragement to the head may be fatal.

 “Sword of the Spirit” (Verse 17) – Heb 4:12 “The word is alive and exerts power and is sharper than a two edged sword). The sword is the only weapon a soldier actually uses in combat, all the other parts of the armor are only used for protection. It is with the sword that a soldier can pierce through the enemy and stop the conflict. All conflicts, hostilities, battles and confrontations can be put to an end with such a weapon as God’s Word. God’s word also helps in the offense to overcome strategies that promote untruth, confusion and separation from God.  Jesus himself demonstrated how important it is to know scripture in Matthew Chapter 4.

 Our assailant is going to take advantage of all opportunities to attack; sometimes he doesn’t wait for an opportunity, but creates ones. In obedience, let us put on the spiritual armor before we go to carry on our daily lives. Praise the Lord, who equips us with all we need to come out victorious.  May your spiritual armor daily include Truthfulness, Righteousness, Gospel of Peace, Faith, Assurance of salvation, God’s word.

August 10, 2009 Posted by | According to Scripture | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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