fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Keep Yourself In God’s Love

Keep Yourself In God’s Love by Julie McAllen

It’s become my signature at the end of every article I write and letter I send. Some friends have asked why.  The passage is from Jude 21, “keep yourself in God’s love.” And this is my explanation.

When I was still in the darkness of my religion, the book of Jude was very difficult to read. After all, I had been condemned by the leaders of that religion and tended to chaff at the warnings in Jude wondering if they were directed at me. But I was seeking God. I had told my elders I could no longer serve because I was trying to build my own relationship with God at the time, and they said I was selfish. After 7 years of dedicated service, my life was falling apart and I was feeling weak and vulnerable, grasping for God, asking for prayer, and now they were calling me selfish? So God validated my efforts to pursue Him in Jude 20-21.

20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

I noticed the SELFISH language of it. It is all about keeping YOURSELF in God’s love and building YOURSELVES up in YOUR most holy faith. It wasn’t up to any man to build up my relationship with God, it was up to me. Seeking Him is a selfish endeavor He respects. I had grasped the first step in personalizing my faith outside of the constructs of religion. There is grace indeed, it was pouring out all over me, but God put upon me a responsibility for our relationship and continues to remind me of it even as I enjoy fellowship now within the church. And by my signature, I remind others to do this as well. We must do something to keep our relationship with God strong, like any other relationship. What does it say? Wait for something to happen? Expect the pastor or fellow Christian to always build us up? No, we, yes, WE ourselves must build ourselves up in the faith.

But what about serving others? Isn’t the Christian life about loving our neighbors? Isn’t it about serving others? When we “selfishly” keep ourselves in God’s love, He then fills us up to overflowing and we can not help but spill out somewhere. Filled to be spilled. This is how He enables us to love our neighbors as ourselves. In this we learn it is HE who prays, writes, ministers, heals and speaks to others through us. We can not love others with HIS LOVE unless we do our part first which is to “keep ourselves in God’s love.” So the goal of our Christian life is not service and obedience, it is to stay in love with God. For Jesus said service and obedience would be the natural RESULT of loving Him, not the other way around.

If you love me, you will obey what I command. (John 14:15)

Staying in love is a much more pleasant goal wouldn’t you agree? And though faith is a gift from God and fruit of His Spirit, it is up to us to nurture it. There is a lot of self-directed language in the latter part of Jude which serves as a guide to us as Christians on how to value and nurture what we’ve received by faith.

17But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
20But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
22Be merciful to those who doubt; 23snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. 24To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 21:17-25)

* Continually go back to the foundation of Christ and the apostles (v. 17)

* Pay no attention to latter-day scoffers not built upon that foundation (v.18)

* Be on guard against religion of flesh not Spirit, it will divide you (v. 19)

* It is up to us to build ourselves up in faith (v. 20)

* Pray in the Holy Spirit (v. 20)

* Meditate on God’s love (v. 21)

* Wait on the mercy of Jesus (v. 21)

* Meditate on the eternal life (v. 21)

* Show mercy to the wayward (v. 22)

* Actively expose error with their salvation in view (v. 23)

* Hate the sin, not the sinner (v. 23)

* Know that any faith and standing you have is a gift (v. 24)

* Give all glory to the One who is making you stand and enabling you to minister to others (v. 24, 25)

Amen.

Now go ye forth and selfishly indulge thyself! ~Book of additions 3:16

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

June 29, 2012 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Keep Yourself In God’s Love

Recognizing God’s Will

Have you ever ran into someone who you recognize, but couldn’t remember their name or who they were? That’s happened to me a couple of times. Being the shy person that I am (yes, I’m shy), I normally wouldn’t say anything until I knew for sure who they were. But to help jolt the memory, I would usually have to clear my mind of everything I was thinking of so I can focus on that person. Sometimes all it really takes is hearing their voice and I can remember everything about them in an instant!

I believe that knowing the will of God is much the same process. When we’re at a loss with our lives, we pray for God to reveal his plan for us but often times don’t see God answering our prayer. Little do we realize that God has already revealed it to us, but we failed to “recognize” it much like we do a long-lost acquaintance.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2. In this verse, we are reminded to “renew our minds” so that we will be able to recognize the will of God for us when He places it in front of us. I don’t believe God plays mind games with us, particularly those seeking to live according to His will – and He wouldn’t hold out on faithful servants who ask in humble prayer. I believe that if God’s word says He imparts wisdom to those who ask, He does. So why don’t we see His will for us when we ask for discernment? Mainly it’s because we don’t recognize it and there may be different reasons why we don’t. For one, we may not agree with His plan for our life, so we choose not to see it and keep asking Him to show us what He already has! Or perhaps our minds are clouded with so many things that are preventing us to see God’s will. In my personal experience, I don’t recognize God’s will when I’m not paying attention. For me, paying attention would require me to be still and wait quietly – only then do I become aware of Him and His will for my life. More than often, God has revealed His plan for me through His word, through a friend, a church sermon and sometimes even through music! Sometimes I can feel God tugging at my heart to notice Him. And even then, I sometimes miss the obvious and find myself on bended knee asking for what He has already revealed. Crazy, isn’t it??

Know this, God has a plan for everyone, including you and me. Jeremiah 29:11, 12 “For I know the plans that I have for you declares the Lord. Plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you.” He is a God of PURPOSE and everything He does is for His Glory. He is a God of divine order and not of confusion. Just look at our universe and how orderly it is! He makes no mistakes in planning out the happenings of each and every day. He orchestrates every aspect of our lives and when you think about it, that’s a very good thing. Personally, I’d rather he plans out my every minute of the day because I’ve been known to make a mess of things!

They say there are two things for sure: death and taxes, but I beg to differ. I say there are three, and the third surety is that God has a plan for everything that is under His creation. So rather than ask the Lord to reveal His will for you, ask Him to help you recognize the will and plan He has already set in place in your life. When He does, obedience must follow your humble request; you must be prepared to be obedient to follow the path He has willed for you; with discernment, He will provide you with the resources to live out His plan for your life. With Him in control, you will never go wrong!

May you continue to abide in God’s Grace, Linda.

(photograph courtesy of Marcene)

October 9, 2011 Posted by | Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Place of Silence

I received an endearing email from my “spiritual soul” sister.   The message I received from Sue was in line with the passages in Isaiah I covered earlier, mainly that the people of Judah needed to find their strength in “quiet confidence” in God (Isa 30:15). This is an amazing testimony of one who was blessed to experience being in the presence of God. With Sue’s permission, I have published her message that she sent me so that others may also be encouraged and be moved to finding their “quietness”with God. 

Linda, I just have to share with you something that happened to me this morning. I needed some “be still time” myself (yes, I remind  even myself of that quite often …not just you! LOL) and I felt led to go to a prayer chapel that my friend showed me. It seems like lately I have felt so much like I am constantly going to God in prayer for things that we need and in prayer about all of the things that are troubling me right now both personally, for others, and for our Country.  So I just felt this overwhelming feeling of wanting to be alone with God for a while.

The Cathedral is absolutely beautiful and really the closest thing to the big cathedrals that I saw in Manhattan when we were there.  The chapel is located directly behind the huge sanctuary and you have to walk down the side of it to get to the chapel in the back.  The organist was playing beautiful music in the cathedral and no one else was around the church at all. At that moment in time I almost felt like all of that was there just for me alone.  As I walked in to the doors to the little chapel there is a sign that greeted me that says. “This is a place of silence. Please maintain silence at all times.”  So I sat down in the pew and did just that. I was silent.  Not just in my voice, but in my mind.  I didn’t feel like talking or thinking or feeling anything. And what was on that sign was my lesson for the day.

I didn’t do anything except just sit there in the quiet stillness of that beautiful place but before long an overwhelming sense of Gods presence came over me.  I knew that “I knew that I knew” that God was right there with me. There were three other people in the prayer chapel and they too just sat there in silence. I wondered if they felt what I was feeling.  It was as if the rest of the world while still out there was closed off from us.  We were on Holy Ground and we had been drawn there by a loving Father that wanted to just spend time with us.   And it was amazing that all of the desire to seek answers to the things I have been praying about was gone.  I didn’t feel that I had to say a word.  I felt like all that God wanted from me was my presence. And He was thrilled that I was there.  I could honestly feel His joy.  And the most wonderful part to me was that all that I wanted of Him was His presence. And being there gave me such joy too!

My thoughts turned to those of a loving parent who’s children have grown and gotten busy with their own lives.  It seems like they only call or stop by when they want or need something.  And I could almost feel how much that parent would love it if they just came by to spend some time with them without wanting a thing. How much joy it would bring if the children would come by just to be present to the parent and not seeking anything and needing any help.  I wanted to do that with my Heavenly Father this morning.  I felt like I was actually giving God something very special.  And the amazing part was that it was a gift of…..me!  I can not tell you how much joy came over me when I came to realize that God loves me so much that He really desires to spend time with me.  It is as if I have always known this in my head, but today it got through to my heart.  And as I gave Him that gift, He gave me the gift of His presence in a very real way right back to me.  He only wanted to be with me and not ask anything of me or need anything from me.  He literally lifted all my cares on to his shoulders without me saying a word.  I didn’t have to even ask. I didn’t even realize that He had done it. But I could feel that He understood every care and I have such a compete trust that He is taking care of it all and doesn’t need my help.  “Cast all of your cares upon me, for I care for you!”  What a blessing!  He actually took my cares without my having to even “cast” them His way.  What a simple lesson.  “This is a place of silence.  Please maintain silence at all times.”    I have such an awareness of God’s love for me that I know now that all I need to do is truly….”Be still and KNOW that I am God.”  Come into His presence.  I get it now in a deeper way then I have ever before.  He created us for His own pleasure.  We only have to open ourselves to being present to Him.  I want to learn how to do that every day all day long.  Surely it is not just something He wants from us every now and then?  There must be more to learn about this Linda. I just feel it.

Linda, I so wanted to share all of this with you.  I hope that it will encourage you.  I so want you to feel how much God really loves us in the same way that I felt it today. I feel that my lesson on being in God’s presence is not over yet.  There is more to it.  But in God’s time He will open my eyes and my heart to it.  I have a feeling I will return to that prayer chapel very soon.  I love you.  Sue

March 22, 2009 Posted by | Expressions | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Here I Am. Send Me!

Today’s lesson was inspiring, for lack of better words. Sandy out did herself today in presenting the material. To review, I’ve outlined the notes from today’s lesson:

Isaiah’s 7 Visions That Will Transform Your Life  – Isaiah 6:1-13 (By Sandy M.)

  1. Isaiah’s vision of God and his holiness (Vs 1-4)
  2. Isaiah’s vision of his sinful self (Vs 5a)
  3. Isaiah’s vision of sins of the people around him (Vs 5b )
  4. Isaiah’s vision of God’s redemptive power (Vs 6-7)
  5. Isaiah’s vision of his life purpose (Vs 8 )
  6. Isaiah’s vision to be faithful regardless of results (Vs 9-11)
  7. Isaiah’s vision: in spite of circumstances God promises hope and future restoration for His people (Vs 13)

 The throne in verses 1-4 emphasizes the Lord as the true king (since the nation of Israel was morning the death of an earthly king (Uzziah). The temple emphasizes that God is always on his throne. Isaiah was privileged to see these truths because the people were missing out on them. Isaiah felt unworthy of being in God’s presence because he saw his sinfulness and the sinfulness of the people. However, Isaiah also saw God’s redemptive power and it wasn’t until he was cleansed of his sins that God commissioned him.

 

Today’s lesson helped me to appreciate that God will commission us when we come forth and ask him to be used for his purpose. We may have had a different purpose in mind that we want to carry out, but it is God who calls us to service. I like the way Sandy put it, “Our #1 calling is to bring glory to God, but we have spiritual gifts that He uses to fulfill his purpose for us.

 

Isaiah was sent on a difficult assignment – he had to preach God’s judgment to unresponsive people. It’s no wonder that he asked God how long he will have to carry out the work. God lovingly provided an answer; Isaiah was to preach until the desolation of his people and the land they lived in. (I wonder how much time that actually was. I’m going to have to research it and get back to you. If anybody knows, please feel free to post a comment). Many of us are carrying out our assignments and also asking God how much longer we will have to endure. It’s comforting to know that He will bring a finishing point in His due time – He always does. In the meantime, He embraces us with the strength and power to continue our assignments. Amen to that.

 

On a side note, wouldn’t you agree that the message in today’s worship service about Mary and being a “bondslave of the Lord” (Luke 1:38), was in line with today’s lesson in class? Looks like we were blessed with the same empowering message twice in one day! “Here I am, Send Me! (Isaiah 6:8)

March 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 5 Comments

first post!

friendsFinally! After several months of trying to figure out how to blog and learn WordPress, I think I’m getting the hang of this. I still have to figure out little details such as setting the right time or learning how to get creative with the weblog, but at least we can begin to explore this new venture in cyberspace!

Personally, this weblog is long overdue.  I’ve been trying to find a way to bring together spiritually minded friends to share thoughts, prayer and encouragement. I have been blessed to have in my life brothers and sisters in Christ who have made an impact in my life.  The encouragement I receive from these beloved friends is sometimes overwhelming – I am so thankful to God for bringing these individuals into my life. As I continue in my walk with the Lord, I’m amazed at how much He reveals to me day by day. Recently, I have met new friends through the Women with a Purpose lifegroup and The Significant Woman class and I look forward to sharing expressions of faith with them as well. 

In bible times, the nation of Isreal was God’ chosen people. To identify them, the Isrealites had to wear a fringe on the bottom of their clothing. The fringes identified them as belonging to the chosen nation. However, Jesus said that his disciples would be identified by the love among themselves (John 13:35). We no longer need the fringes – our love for one another characterizes us as Christ’s diciples; it is this (unconditional) love that compels me to bring this journal of experiences, knowledge, thoughts and support.  God bless!

March 7, 2009 Posted by | Expressions | , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

%d bloggers like this: