Christianity is not a practice in passivity, but rather is meant to be alive and active – an ongoing series of steps of faith, as we follow in obedience, that which God is asking. In I Timothy 6:11-12, Paul explains it this way: “But you, man (people) of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
Yes, the Holy Spirit will equip and empower us to do that which we are called to do, but we have to take action – place one foot in front of the other (either literally or figuratively) and have an active faith that gives action to what is asked.
I knew I was meant to be a teacher from a very young age. However, I allowed fear to overshadow my faith when I determined my course of study in college. Rather than pursuing education classes as I knew I ought to, I chose to hide in the art department and major in graphic design, where studio time did not require presentations nor speeches. Thankfully, God had other plans. Though it took a three-year tour around Asia with YWAM, where I had to speak in multiple schools to bring me to the place where I was willing to do as He was asking, I did at last pursue the path that He had placed before me, and applied to and was accepted into grad school, where I simultaneously earned my Master’s Degree and Teaching Certificate. The traveling was not without purpose though, as it was a season of truly learning how to flee from what is evil, to pursue what is righteous and of Him, that which is good, faithful, loving, and gentle, and how to endure. Perseverance was necessary to faithfully complete both the travels and the additional schooling, and daily, I had to take hold of that to which I had been called. That season set the standard for my life, and I am grateful for the good that He brought, even through my initial fearfulness.
pursue what’s right;
flee from evil,
stay strong and fight.
Take hold of faith,
He’s holding you;
let go of fear,
He’ll make us new.
Faith is active,
alive in us;
may it be light,
to show Jesus.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are so good. Thank You that You instruct us in the way we are meant to go, and You empower us to move as You ask. Thank You that faith is not passive, but rather is alive and active – moving, growing, and showing Your faithfulness to the world around us. Forgive us for allowing fear to keep us frozen in our tracks, or for being passive in our faith when You are calling us to action. Teach us to not only hear You clearly, but to have the courage to act faithfully as You are asking. May many come to know who You are, as we live in loving obedience to all that You ask. Let our lives be lived in active faith, ever pursuing You. Be magnified in all that we say and do. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” – (Colossians 3:15)
The peace of Christ is the sort of calm that comes in the midst of chaos, and will cover our heart and mind, reminding us that He is in control, and has a hold of our hand. It does not necessarily cause the chaos to cease around us, but His peace presents an internal ease, in spite of things.
Rule, according to my NIV footnotes, is the very same word that would be used for an umpire or referee. That being said, He is whom we are to allow to make the calls, as the internal desires and conflicts clash. When we permit our hearts to hear what Christ has to say, we can clearly distinguish between our own feelings, and that which is of Him. If we choose to trust and allow His peace to rule, we are better able to promote peace wherever we go.
Since we are members of one body, we are called to peace. Christ’s intention for the body of believers is for us to be united in purpose, and established in love. Peace shall reign, if we are completely dependent on Him. This is not His hope, but rather, it is His call for all who believe. We are to be at peace with one another, and offer peace to those around us.
And be thankful. Always.
guide our heart and mind;
may we extend peace,
and always be kind.
May we be united,
together to stand;
do as He has asked,
obey His commands.
Allow Him to rule,
as body, be one;
unite in purpose,
and honor the Son.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our peace. Thank You that as we allow You to rule and reign in our hearts, You lead us and show us how we are to unite as a body of believers, and be at peace. Thank You that You are our reason to give thanks and praise. Forgive us for not relying on You when chaos comes, or for holding onto any unforgiveness that would compromise peace in the body. Teach us how to trust You more, so that we may live and love in Your perfect peace. May many come to know You, as they feel received and offered peace by we who believe, throughout this sacred season. Be glorified in all that we say and do. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.
As we enter this season of gift exchanging, it is easy to allow thoughts of what we are going to give those we love most, to overwhelm us. It is a natural desire to want to bless those who bless us. That being said, what gift can we give to Him who has given us the greatest gifts of all – our very life, and breath, hope, and future?
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” – (Ephesians 2:8-9) His gift to us is one that is freely given, that we do not deserve. We cannot earn it, nor can we somehow repay the blessing He has provided. All that we can do is receive what we have been given, and respond with gratitude, praise and joy.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – (Ephesians 2:10) Because we are created, hand-crafted works of art, His intent is that we share ourselves with the world. Not in our own efforts, but by His grace, as He presents opportunities – we ought to be open and willing to share of the great things that He has done in us. The gifts that we give best, are those that He has created in us, that we choose to use as He intended for us all along.
to my God and King?
For He has made all,
A heart that is true,
and willing to give;
my time, my talents,
unto Him, I live.
The grace He’s given,
I will too, extend;
for without mercy,
our lives would all end.
I’ll give You my more,
so I become less;
may You be Who’s seen,
so many are blessed.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You gave, and continue giving, not because we have earned it or deserve it somehow, but rather because You are a gracious and merciful God, who loves us with an everlasting love. Thank You that You made the way for us to enter into an eternal relationship with You, through the life, death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus. Thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of all who believe, to lead, guide and equip us to do Your will. Thank You that we are Your hand-crafted works of art, created with a purpose. Forgive us for disregarding Your power that dwells within us, when we feel that we have nothing to offer. Thank You that in You, we always have You to extend – Your grace, Your love, Your mercy, Your hope. Teach us to trust You more, and help us to hear You clearly, so that we may move confidently as we navigate this Christmas season. May many come to know the greatest gift of all this season, as they choose eternal life in You. Let our light shine brightly before all. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” This makes known the principle which is to be exercised in our approaches unto God, for, “without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). None but a genuine believer can obtain access unto God: all others are rigidly excluded. There must be the actual ex- ercise of faith in every spiritual work: “by faith Abel offered unto God” etc. (Heb. 11:4). The “full assurance of faith” does not here signify a firm knowledge of our sonship, but an implicit confidence in the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice and priesthood. Many Hebrews who had received in general the faith of the Gospel were wavering in their minds about the Person and office of Christ and the glorious things predicated of Him by the Apostle, and therefore he stresses the fact there must be a firm conviction of the reality and efficacy of the Atonement if we are to draw near unto God.
“Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” Here is the twofold preparation prescribed unto us for the right performance of this duty. In these expressions there is an obvious allusion unto the necessary preparations for Divine worship made by Israel under Judaism. As there were various ways in which the Jews became ceremonially and legally defiled, so there were various means appointed for their purification (Heb. 9:13). Those institutions the Apostle now applies spiritually: “our hearts” and “our bodies” signify the inward and the outward man. “Bodies washed with pure water” has no reference to baptism, but is to be understood of our members being preserved from evil and used for God. Rightly did John Owen say at the close of his exposition of these verses, “Universal sanctification upon our whole persons and the mortification in an especial manner of outward sins are required of us in our drawing nigh unto God.”
“Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience” has reference to an efficacious application of the blood of Christ unto sanctification or internal purification, so that the burden of guilt is removed. This is accomplished originally in the communication of regenerating grace at the new birth, and is repeated whenever the Spirit grants a fresh renewal and experience of the virtues of the Atonement. That a good conscience is an indispensable qualification for access to God is seen from, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14), where “serve” signifies communion and worship. When the conscience is unpurged, the weight of condemnation lies so heavily upon it that we are then at a loss in approaching the Holy One.
Now to sum up. It is one thing to know theoretically the legal way and right of approach unto God, but it is quite another to enjoy conscious access to Him. For that, the aid of the Spirit is imperative, but He will not perform His gracious operations within us if He be grieved. If we have spent the night in ransacking the newspapers, in worldly conversation, or in backbiting the servants and saints of God, think you that the Holy Spirit will draw out your heart unto the Father when you perform your evening devotions? Not so, unless you penitently confess those sins, and sincerely determine there shall be no repetition of them. “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8). What has been before us was strikingly foreshadowed of old in connection with the approach of Israel’s priests unto God: first the blood was applied to their persons, then the oil (emblem of the Spirit), and then they washed at the laver.
The matter of our approach into the presence of God is one of vital importance, yet it is one (like so many others these days) upon which much confusion and misconception exists. We will not now attempt to canvass the principal errors pertaining thereto, for there would be little profit for either writer or reader in prosecuting such a task. Rather do we wish to call attention unto the various aspects of the subject, for it is failure to perceive these and hold their due balance which has resulted in the fostering of false impressions in quarters which some regard as being the most orthodox sections of Christendom. If one essential aspect of this subject be ignored, or if another one be emphasized to the virtual exclusion of everything else, then the most misleading and dangerous ideas must result therefrom.
Let us begin by asking the question, Is it possible for a depraved and defiled creature to obtain access unto the thrice Holy One? If there is one thing taught more plainly in the Scriptures than another it is that sin separates the sinner and God. This fearful fact is impressively set forth in Genesis 3:24: that flaming sword was the symbol of a sin-hating God, barring approach unto the emblem of His presence. When Jehovah appeared on Sinai, amid the most solemn manifestations of His awful presence, even the favoured Hebrews were commanded under pain of death to keep their distance from Him. An Israelite who became ceremonially unclean was rigidly excluded from the Camp. Even when the tabernacle and the temple were erected, the common people were not allowed to enter the holy places. In how many different ways did God make it evident that sin obstructed any access to Himself!
But not only does God debar the sinner from access, the sinner himself has no desire to approach unto Him—rather does he wish to flee as far as possible from His presence. A sense of sin and the guilt of it upon the conscience drives the sinner from the Lord. This fact was also solemnly exemplified at the dawn of human history—just as long as our first parents remained in dutiful subjection to their Maker, walking in obedience to His commandments, they enjoyed blissful communion with Him; but as soon as they became self-willed and rebellious, all was radically altered. After they had eaten of the forbidden fruit and they heard the voice of the Lord God in the Garden, they fled in terror, seeking to hide from Him. And thus it has been ever since.
Is there, then, no access to God for the fallen creature? If there were not we should not be engaged in writing this article. Access to God is possible—possible for the chief of sinners—but only via the appointed Mediator. As the Lord Jesus so emphatically declared, “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). It is through the Lord Jesus Christ, and by Him alone—not through priest or pope, Mary or the angels, good works or tears—that we may obtain access to God. “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access” (Rom. 5:1, 2). In pointing this out we are covering ground which is thoroughly familiar to all our readers, truth which is still proclaimed in many places. Yet it is by no means the whole of the truth on this subject, though it is all that is presented thereon in certain quarters. It is those neglected aspects which we now desire to particularly stress.
Once again we would point out that unless we differentiate between things that differ there is bound to be confusion and error. So here. We must distinguish between the way of access which Christ has opened for sinners into the presence of God, the qualifications which are required from those entering that way, and the exercise of those qualifications so that the way is actually used. But the moment we mention “qualification” and the necessity for “exercising” the same, some will demur, insisting that we are thereby sounding a legalistic note and destroying the simplicity of the Gospel. Then let us ask- such objectors, Are hypocrites entitled to use that way of access which Christ has opened? Do “Christians” who exercise no faith, but simply offer cold and mechanical prayers, enter into God’s presence? If the objector answers No—as honesty compels him to do—then he has granted our contention, whether or not he agrees with us in detail.
How many professing Christians do really obtain personal access to and enjoy conscious communion with the Holy One? What percentage of real Christians are actually accustomed to do so? Alas, what multitudes have been deceived by Satan into supposing that all they have to do is get down on their knees, plead the name of Christ, and automatically they obtain audience with the Most High. Not so. It still holds good that, “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened that it cannot save, neither His ear heavy that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:1, 2). The principles of the Divine government know no alteration, and allowed and unconfessed sins act as an impassable barrier between the soul and God as truly today as they did under the Old Testament economy. No change of dispensation modifies the requirements of God’s holiness or reduces the enormity of sin.
Three things are absolutely necessary if any is to have access to God. First, he must have the legal right or title to do so. Second, he must possess the necessary moral fitness. Third, he must be spiritually and experimentally empowered. Our legal right to approach unto God is found alone in the merits of Christ: His sacrificial work and the present exercise of His Priesthood give me title to draw near unto the Throne of Grace. But does that cover the whole matter? Is nothing more than a legal title required? Ah, the real saint knows otherwise from painful experience. How often has he entered his closet, sought audience with the Divine Majesty, pleaded the blood of Christ, yet without any conscious access. So far from any conscious approach to Him, God seems far off, and all is darkness and deadness in the soul. Like the Spouse in the Canticles, he seeks his Beloved, but finds Him not.
“Behold I go forward, but He is not there: and backward, but I cannot perceive Him. On the left hand, where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him: He hideth Himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him” (Job 23:8, 9). Has that painful experience of Job’s never been duplicated in your own? Was his case altogether exceptional? Far from it, as the recorded lamentations of others of God’s children clearly show. “Why standest Thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest Thou Thyself in times of trouble?” (Psa. 10:1). Yes, even the sweet Psalmist of Israel knew what it was to feel God’s distance from him and to be denied conscious access to Him. “How long wilt Thou forget me, O LORD, forever? how long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?” (Psa. 13:1). Again and again this was his agonizing experience. And there are seasons in the history of all believers when such language is just as suitable to express their experience as Psalm 46 or Psalm 150 is suited to their cases on other occasions.
“For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph. 2:18). The words we have placed in italics present another vital aspect of our subject, showing as they do the Christian’s dependence upon the agency of the Holy Spirit. Herein each person of the blessed Trinity is accorded His own distinctive place in the economy of re- demption: access is unto the Father, it is through Christ, but it is by the Spirit. The sinful believer can no more approach unto the Father without the gracious operations of the Spirit than he could without the mediation of the Lord Jesus. One has procured for us the legal right; the Other supplies the experimental enablement. The exercise of faith, as we shall yet see, is another essential prerequisite for drawing near to God, but the actings of faith lie not within our own unaided power—He who first imparted this heavenly gift must quicken and energize it if it is to function properly.
“For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” What place is given to this part of the Truth in most sections of Christendom today? None at all. And even where the third Person of the Godhead is duly owned and honoured, how feebly do the saints apprehend their imperative need of the Spirit’s daily working within them. His operations are essential if our leaden hearts are to be raised above the things of time and sense, if our affections are to flow forth unto their rightful Object, if faith is to be duly acted upon Him, if a sense of His presence is to be communicated unto the soul. But will the Spirit perform these gracious operations if we are indifferent as to whether or not our conduct grieves Him? If a Christian has spent his evening at the card-table or the theatre, and before retiring to rest bows his knees, will the Holy Spirit, at that time, draw out the heart of such an one and grant him conscious access to the Father?
What has just been raised brings us to still another aspect of our subject—there must be a moral fitness if the suppliant is to obtain access to God. Alas, that so little is heard about this in the ministry of the day. Yet the reason for this omission is not far to seek: where the dominant object is the pleasing of the hearer, little will be said in condemnation of a carnal walk, and still less of the serious consequences thereof. But though the pulpit has become so unfaithful, God abides faithful, and He will not wink at evil doing. No, not in His own children, nor will He allow the sacred name of Christ to be used as a passport into His presence by the workers of iniquity. Is it not written, “With the pure Thou wilt show Thyself pure; and with the obstinate Thou wilt show Thyself obstinate” (Psa. 18:26); that means what it says, and says what it means.
Loose walking severs communion with God, and then will He act distantly toward us. An earthly parent (who is prudent) will not conduct himself with the same familiarity and cordiality toward a disobedient child as he will unto a dutiful one. Our folly must be repented of and humbly acknowledged before fellowship can be restored with God. Yea, even if our fault be only against a fellow-creature it must be righted before God will accept our worship: “If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matt. 5:23, 24)—how many are unable to obtain conscious access to God through failure at this very point! “Turn ye unto Me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you” (Zech. 1:3): if we would have God turn unto us in mercy we must turn unto Him in obedience.
“Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace” (Rom. 5:1, 2). This brings before us still another aspect of our subject: the necessity for the exercise of faith in order to approach God. The same truth is presented again in, “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him” (Eph. 3:12). Faith is the appointed means of access, for it is the hand which receives every blessing from God. Faith in God’s willingness to grant us an audience, faith in the sufficiency of Christ’s atoning sacrifice to provide us with the title of approach: faith in the Divine promises that if we contritely confess our sins He will cleanse us therefrom. At first a small degree of faith enables the Christian to approach unto God, but as he advances in the knowledge of his own heart and of God’s hatred of sin, stronger faith needs to be exercised if we are to draw near the heavenly Throne with confidence. Yet we must be very careful not to mistake blatant presumption for holy assurance.
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us through the veil (that is to say, His flesh); and having a High Priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:19-22). This is what may be termed the classic passage on our present theme, gathering up as it does into one comprehensive statement the essential features thereof. But what a solemn example it affords of the lack of proportion which now so generally prevails: we are probably safe in saying that for every once verse 22 is quoted, verse 19 is cited 20 times. It is this disproportion which has distorted the Truth and led to the error mentioned by us in the earlier paragraphs. Let us now carefully examine these verses.
The passage opens by announcing that Christians have “liberty” (margin) or a “freedom with confidence” to approach unto God, this language presenting a designed contrast from the case of national Israel under the old economy. This liberty to draw near unto the heavenly Mercy-seat is “by the blood of Jesus.” The foundation of all confidence in our access to God and the title to approach unto Him lies in the infinitely meritorious sacrifice which Christ offered unto God on our behalf, and this we must ever plead before Him. Our encouragement so to do lies in the office which our Saviour now exercises on behalf of His people, namely, “High Priest over the house of God.” This is most blessedly brought before us in, “for we have not a High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin: let us therefore come boldly (freely) unto the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15, 16).
In what next follows in our passage we are shown the way or manner in which we are to make use of the unspeakable privilege described in verses 19-21. In other words, we are required to meet the terms of verse 22 if we are to enjoy conscious access unto the thrice holy God. First, let us draw near with “a true heart.” This is the principal qualification. A “true heart” is one that beats true unto God. It denotes sincerity in contrast from hypocrisy. It is not the reverent posture of the body or the language of the lips with which God is chiefly concerned, but rather with the heart—the seat of our affections. They who worship Him, “must worship Him in spirit and in truth,” or their performance is utterly futile. The mere outward performance of religious duties, no matter how scrupulously undertaken, is not sufficient—it is with the sincerity of our hearts God has chief regard to in all our approaches unto Him. God will bear with infirmities, but not with hypocrisy.
Always the decisive conflict in religion will be where important concepts are joined in opposition, concepts so vital that they are capable of saving or wrecking the Christian faith in any given generation. At this critical juncture in church history, the real conflict is between those who hold to an objective Christianity capable of being grasped in its entirety by the human intellect and those who believe that there are far-in areas of religious experience so highly spiritual, so removed from and exalted above mere reason, that it takes a special anointing of the Holy Spirit to make them understood by the human heart. The difference is not academic merely. Should the advocates of religious intellectualism succeed in setting the direction for the church in this generation, the next generation of Christians will become helpless victims of dead orthodoxy.
In conversation with one of the better-known devotees of neo-intellectualism in evangelical circles, I asked the question bluntly, “Do you actually believe that everything essential in the Christian faith may be grasped by the human intellect?” The answer was immediate–”If I did not, I would be on my way toward agnosticism.” I did not say, but might properly have said, “And if you do, you are on your way toward rationalism.” For such indeed is the truth.
Having as the High Priest of our profession the incarnation of all divine wisdom and having as our source book of religious knowledge the holy Scriptures, the soundest and saltiest work ever written, why do we tend so easily to become confused about things spiritual? I believe the causes are four, and I propose to state them in this and the next chapters.
The first cause of religious confusion is our failure to understand that the truth as it is in Christ Jesus is a moral and spiritual thing and not something intellectual merely. Let a man approach the burning bush of divine truth with the desire to grasp it in his hand and the intensity of the fire will blind his eyes and cauterize his hands and face to the point of insensibility. Before the awesome vision of revealed truth, the human intellect should kneel and hide its face in trembling adoration. Because Moses was afraid to look upon God, the Lord could speak to him face to face as a man speaks to his friend; but God hides His face from the man who does not instinctively hide his own.
Intellectual pride, then, with its corollary, irreverence, is one cause of religious confusion. Satan’s original doctrine, “You will be like God, knowing . . .” (Genesis 3:5) has been accepted by millions of religious persons through the centuries and commands a big following today even among professedly orthodox Christians. In spite of all Christ said while among men and all His inspired apostles wrote after His ascension, we seem never to learn that the inner essence of truth cannot be apprehended by the mental faculties. We still come at the awesome supernatural reality headfirst.
At the heart of salvation is the notion of loving God with all our heart, mind and soul, and as Jesus said, to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is impossible to pass this test and break any of the commandments. We can visualize the latter concept as a package of virtue, consisting mostly of love, acceptance & forgiveness. I cannot imagine being like Christ, while lacking one of these traits.
I would like to introduce you to my grandson, Dylan. He is also one of my best friends. He calls me Papa. He is a model of acceptance for me, because he never rejects me, is always happy to see me, and lets me know this with a greeting and a big hug. He is impressive. He embodies the meaning of the Apostle Peter, where he says,
“Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.” 1 Peter 4:11 [MSG].
[Picture above: Love doesn’t begrudge one an extra glass of milk at Denny’s!]
Love is essential to relationships, in order for them to endure. People tend to shun relationships that have no payback. Acceptance is also important to all of us. We fold to peer pressure because we are looking for acceptance, but Dylan is pure in his love and acceptance. He doesn’t put any conditions on it; like the love and acceptance we get from Jesus – unconditional! It’s too bad that some others are not as loving and accepting of Dylan. They are missing out on a terrific relationship.
As you can tell from his picture, Dylan has Down ’s syndrome; thus he has not been blessed with a totally ideal life. He has faced challenges from birth. Despite this, he has great compassion for others.
Some time ago, I had some minor surgery on my leg. Dylan saw the bandage near my knee and demanded to see beneath it. ”Poor Papa,” he exclaimed, asking if it hurt. He insisted on monitoring the progress of the “scar” every time we were together, until you could hardly notice it any more. This is a level of caring that you do not see in others that often.
I Corinthians, chapter 13 describes love in certain ways, some of which are particularly characteristic of Dylan.
- Cares more for others than for self.
- Trusts God always,
- Never looks back, but keeps going to the end.
Dylan has learned to operate in this world in a way that illustrates clearly to all who know him, that the nature of Christ is transcendent to all of us, if we dare to embrace it. Love and acceptance needs to be cherished and celebrated, because it is rather rare. I am very fortunate to receive these gifts from Dylan.
It costs nothing to experience the love and acceptance of Jesus. He did it all! But I would like to be a disciple of Jesus. Stopping at (free) salvation and an eternity in Heaven is OK for some, but I want to be like Jesus. Part of the cost of discipleship is to give the gift of love and acceptance to others, like Dylan, thus emulating Jesus, who gave so freely to us!
Pray for me, I have a long way to go. It’s hard to love and accept some people, but I am trying to let The Holy Spirit work through me to accomplish things in my heart that I could never do!
Forgiveness also seems inherent to some of us.
It has been several weeks since I wrote about the remarkable capacity for love and acceptance demonstrated by my grandson (and best friend) Dylan. A lot has happened since. Unbeknownst to me at the time I first wrote the article, there was a controversy at Dylan’s school concerning a teacher that he used to have. He had been in her class about 2 1/2 years, but not currently. [Dylan attends a public school and takes special needs classes.]
This teacher and Dylan were in the same school district for over ten years, as Dylan took pre-K classes there. That is where Dylan met her. It came to the parents’ attention that all was not right in her current classroom. Reportedly, loud voices could be heard whenever approaching the classroom. A student with Down’s syndrome was found wandering alone out in the school parking lot. Someone inside the classroom stated that the teacher was upset with an autism student, because he would not join the group at a table; She reportedly went to him and yanked him out of the chair, where he fell to the floor. Accordingly, she kicked him several times.
Even more was to come to light, as it turns out that there was a poorly documented history of incidents with this teacher. It is suspected that the pattern went back to the time Dylan attended her class. Dylan has not said anything about any incident. One wonders what he possibly went through. This is a hard thing for parents/grandparents to forgive. I believe it is a test for us to see if we can walk the walk we have been talking! Can we separate the “sin” from the “sinner?” I am proud of my daughter-in-law, who went to the public meetings, concentrated on change, not punitive measures and helped point others that way also. This was hard for her, because the authorities moved this teacher around and did not fix the problem while it recurred, over and over.
At one of several meetings held to remedy the matter, when it was time for Dylan’s mother to speak, focusing on the heart of the issue, she took 1 1/2 of her three minutes at the podium in total silence. She explained, “That is all my child could do while witnessing events such as this.”
It is part of the prophet Isaiah’s message to help the helpless (loose translation). What should the role of the Parent/Grandparent/Concerned Citizen be in a situation such as this? Good Question…it will not be totally answered on this blog. But I would like to point out what I do know, so that we can at least head in the same general direction in unity. The Lord’s Prayer has us ask God to forgive us, “as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Ouch! I want to be forgiven, because I am certainly in need of that, but when someone else (deliberately?) wrongs me, I want justice. No world can be equitable, where certain people are always judged with mercy, and others always face the sword of justice. I’ve chosen to err on the side of mercy and let God balance it out. I trust Him more than the courts, anyway.
Then there is the account of Christ on the cross as recorded in Luke 23:34 (NKJV) Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” I do not know the mind of Dylan’s teacher, but I suspect she did not know the impact of her continued disrespect for her students. And as much as it goes against the grain, I have to fall on the side of Jesus’ guideline; from the cross where he was dying He encourages us to forgive the offenders. How powerful is that?
While I do not have all the answers, I know that the path of forgiveness is the answer for me. I am earnestly following that path, because there are some obstacles in the path of true forgiveness. I will face them honestly and adjust my attitude to meet God’s expectations. As for Dylan, just like his love and acceptance, he is a whole-hearted forgiver. And although he has not mentioned anything about abuse, if it happened or even if he witnessed abuse of others, Dylan is passed it. He is much more advanced in the fine art of forgiveness than many of us.
Finally, I am not saying that all of this should go unpunished. But if God takes care of it, any judgment will be appropriate and those of us who refrain from judging will not be destroyed in the process.
My prayer for you today, is that those of you who are seeking forgiveness will find it and that every one of us will be as liberal with our forgiveness as Jesus is with us!
P.S. The Brentwood Unified School District subsequently announced that the teacher in question has had her credentials revoked. The superintendent was placed on administrative leave and three other employees were fired. I take no special joy in this except to note that the battle was The Lord’s all along. He took care of it, so I didn’t have to worry about it. And that, my friends, is known as grace! Amen!
I loathe public speaking. My palms sweat, my hands shake, my voice wavers, and I imagine my face is covered in every shade of crimson, when I am asked to do so. That being said, I find myself in a season of stretching, in which each time I have been asked, I have known the nudging was to say “yes“, despite my personal disdain. It seems no matter how I pray, I do not become queen of confidence when it is my turn to speak. His grace gets me through it, but I physically feel shaken.
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – (2 Corinthians 12:9) Though we know not what Paul’s “weakness” was, it was something that tormented him and made what he did, more difficult. Despite the rejection of his request for it’s removal, he chose to rely on Christ and what He had given – power in his weakness. I have found this to be a great encouragement, as I have asked many times to not be so fearful when it comes to public speaking. Though the physical reaction has not been removed, His grace has been present each time I have trusted Him to meet me in this place, and people have made a point to let me know that they received something from what I had to share. If that isn’t His power present in my weakness, I don’t know what is.
whatever You ask;
regardless of size,
or mountainous task.
For I know You’ll be,
wherever I am;
so I need not fear,
on You, I depend.
Use Lord, my weakness,
to show Your great strength;
equip me to move,
and go to great lengths.
May I boast in You,
of Your mighty grace;
Your goodness and love,
and faithful embrace.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your grace is sufficient. Thank You that You are more than enough. Thank You that in You, Your power may be made known in our weaknesses. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, and for our disdain for our own weaknesses. Help us to see our weaknesses as opportunities for Your strength to be shown, and allow us to embrace the power that You place in us to do as You ask. Lead us to love as You love us, and may many come to know You as their perfect place of peace, as they choose to invest in a lasting relationship in You. May You be made evident, even in our weaknesses. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.
Every morning is an adventure for my boys and me, and yesterday was no exception. We needed to make a quick stop at the grocery store for stamps on the way to school. As we pulled into the lot to several empty spaces in front, I prepared to turn, only to catch a pedestrian weaving randomly before me, so I braked and waited for him to safely arrive onto the curb. I skipped a space and turned into the next, leaving an open spot for the vehicle behind me. The boys and I piled out of the car, only to be greeted by an angry male voice, yelling at me about my parking. Baffled by his outrage, I gave him a perplexed look and continued into the store. Adventurous and Cautious were ready to defend my honor, but I quickly let them know that it would not be necessary.
Waiting for the stamps and our Starbucks, I replayed the scene that had just unfolded, again in my mind. Why was that man so heated? What could I have possibly done that made him feel it necessary to yell at me in front of my boys? First, I felt angry. Then, with nearly the next breath, calm. His sweet Spirit simply reminded me that I am to be love and light before my boys, regardless of what others choose to do. When we returned to the car, I told them that we needed to forgive the man, and to pray for him. Perhaps his morning had began horribly, or he was fighting a battle bigger than we could imagine – either way, clearly he could use our prayer.
“We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.” – (2 Corinthians 6:3) Every waking minute of most of my days, is witnessed by someone. Daily, I am seen by many young and impressionable minds. What I do in both triumph and trial, matters. My choices are modeling a life with Christ for my children, and whether they know it or not, to everyone else around me. Each word and deed must be seasoned with the love and light of our Savior. No, I have not arrived. It is a daily decision to trust Him, and I must make amends quickly when I choose poorly. I am so very grateful for His unending grace, and His patient persistence to remain with me as He continues to refine, so that I might more clearly reflect Him.
how shall I reply?
Will I fight to be right,
my Savior deny?
How might they respond,
if I act in love?
If I give them kindness,
rather than a shove?
Every eye watching,
to see what we’ll do;
testify of His grace,
so He’s seen in You.
Speak not only with words,
but with actions true;
give all unto others,
as He’s done for You.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You gave us not only the perfect example of how we are to live, through Your Son, Jesus, but You have equipped each of us with the power to follow His lead, through the power of Your Spirit living in the heart of each of us who believes. Teach us how to be a living testimony of Your faithfulness and goodness and grace, and keep us from being a stumbling block to anyone. Forgive us for places where we have faltered and fallen short, and help us to keep short accounts before You and one another, so that we do not discredit the light and love that You long to display through us. May we live and love in such a way, that all who are around us will recognize there is something different in us that they desire. Lead them unto You, Lord. Thank You that You are willing to use us, despite our flaws and shortcomings, to share the hope that is held in eternity with You. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.
Luke 3:16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
Smith Wigglesworth said:
“The fire fell and burned in me till the Holy Spirit clearly revealed absolute purity before God. At this point she (the Sister who laid hands upon him) was called out of the room, and during her absence a marvellous revelation took place, my body became fill1 of light and Holy Presence, and in the revelation I saw an empty Cross and at the same time the Jesus I loved and adored crowned in the Glory in a Reigning Position. The glorious remembrance of these moments is beyond my expression to give-when I could not find words to express, then an irresistible Power filled me and moved my being till I found to my glorious astonishment I was speaking in other tongues clearly. After this a burning love for everybody filled my soul. I am overjoyed in giving my testimony, praying for those that fight this truth, but I am clearly given to understand that I must come out of every unbelieving element. I am already witness of signs following. Praise Him.” SMITH WIGGLESWORTH
“My heart was not in the work of begging,” he said. “I could not appeal. I was crying all the time that God would fill me with His Spirit. Well, one day, in the city of New York — oh, what a day! — I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world — it would be as the small dust of the balance.”
Luke 4:1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
Luke 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
Jesus had the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and He said that if we ask it will be given: Luke 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Jesus said in Luke 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
If this is not happening in our churches should we ask the relevant question? Are they really believers? Or are they teaching something that they don’t truly believe or have never experienced? Because if you are filled with the Holy Spirit, it is not something that you will doubt. The power of the Holy Spirit affects people in different ways, some just cry because they can do nothing else, it is simply overpowering. Others speak in tongues and while many don’t believe and even go so far as to say that it damages Christians position in the world. I really wonder what is so great to have a powerful face in the world. Are we not instructed to be humble? It seems that the more prosperous that a church or church leader becomes, they start worrying in how the world perceives them.
R.A. Torrey said “ It has brought a joy into my soul that I never dreamed of before; a liberty in preaching that makes preaching an unspeakable delight where before it was a matter of dread;”
C. H. Spurgeon said “Let the preacher always confess before he preaches that he relies upon the Holy Spirit. Let him burn his manuscript and depend upon the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit does not come to help him, let him be still and let the people go home and pray that the Spirit will help him next Sunday.”
Were all these men of old mistaken? Is it not necessary to be filled with the Holy Spirit? If the Holy Spirit fills you with the ability to speak in tongues, is this something that is unacceptable today? Who decides that it is unacceptable? The one who hasn’t been filled or the one who has?
Jesus said “John 14:17-19 King James Version (KJV)
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
There is only one caveat with this, it must be something that we ask for, something that we are willing to receive. How many who have not experienced it are not truly willing to receive it? How many are so afraid of losing control that they forget to truly know God, you have give yourself away. How can the Holy Spirit filled you with God’s grace if you are already full of yourself? That is not to say that those who don’t speak in tongues have not been baptized in the Holy Spirit, it is just that they haven’t quite reached the point where they have given in and given God the opportunity to fill that space with something besides their own knowledge and beliefs. Something that truly transcends what we normally feel.
Take any vessel that you can think of, if you mix water into what ever is already in the vessel, what you have is no longer water, instead it is a diluted version of what was already there. And yet if you totally empty the vessel and fill it with pure water, then that is what you will have. So many times we are not allowing ourselves to be emptied to the fullest, we hold a portion back, for what ever reason, and therefore, we are not filled with what God wants to give us, but instead a weaker portion of what we already are.
We are told that we must put off the old before we can become the new, and yet we have this tendency to hold on to parts of the old. Whether it is from fear or change, or just because we are not quite ready, it is different with different people. Another way that we are told the same thing is the parable of the wineskins:
“And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.”—Luke 5:36-39, KJV
A.W. Tozer said:
But how can a Christian know the fullness of the Spirit unless he has known the experience of being filled?
It would, however, be useless to tell anyone how to be filled with the Spirit unless he first believes that he can be. No one can hope for something he is not convinced is the will of God for him and within the bounds of scriptual provision.
Before the question ‘How can I be filled?’ has any validity the seeker after God [i]must be sure that the experience of being filled is actually possible[/i]. The man who is not sure can have no ground of expectation. Where there is no expectation there can be no faith, and where there is no faith the inquiry is meaningless.
The Doctrine of the Spirit as it relates to the believer has over the last half century [written in 1957] been shrouded in a mist such as lies upon a mountain in stormy weather. A world of confusion has surrounded this truth. The children of God have been taught contrary doctrines from the same texts, warned, threatened and intimidated until they instinctively recoil from every mention of the Bible teaching concerning the Holy Spirit.
This confusion has not come by accident. An enemy has done this. Satan knows that Spiritless evangelicalism is as deadly as Modernism or heresy, and he has done everything in his power to prevent us from enjoying our true Christian heritage.
A church without the Spirit is as helpless as Israel might have been in the wilderness if the fiery cloud had deserted them. The Holy Spirit is our cloud by day and our fire by night. Without him we only wander aimlessly about the desert.
That is what we today are surely doing. We have divided ourselves into little ragged groups, each one running after a will-o’-the-wisp or firefly in the mistaken notion that we are following the Shekinah. It is not only desirable thatr the cloudy pillar should begin to glow again. It is imperative.
The Church can have light only as it is full of the Spirit, and it can be full only as the members who compose it are filled individually. Furthermore, no one can be filled until he is convinced that being filled is a part of the total plan of God in redemption; that it is nothing added or extra, nothing strange or queer, but a proper and spiritual operation of God, based upon and growing out of the work of Christ in atonement.
The inquirer must be sure to the point of conviction. He must believe that the whole thing is normal and right. He must believe that it is God’s will that he be anointed with a horn of fresh oil beyond and in addition to all the ten thousand blessings he may already have received from the good hand of God.
Until he is so convinced I recommend that he take time out to fast and pray and meditate upon the Scriptures. Faith comes from the Word of God. Suggestion, exhortation or the psychological effect of the testimony of others who have been filled will not suffice.
Unles he is persuaded from the Scriptures he should not press the matter nor allow himself to fall victim to the emotional manipulators intent upon forcing the issue. God is wonderfully patient and understanding and will wait for the slow heart to catch up with the truth. In the meantime, the seeker should be calm and confident.”
There are those that claim that baptism in the Holy Spirit is an absolute essential to being a Christian, and others who say that it comes upon you when you accept Jesus as your Savior. Perhaps they are both right, perhaps, it is simply in varying degrees due to our own ability to accept it, and to what we can handle. I know that myself at times it is different in it’s appearance. Sometimes it is just an overwhelming sense of peace, a peace that I sometimes crave to experience everyday. Other times it is indescribable joy, and love that I long to have forever. I have witnessed the speaking of tongues, I have witnessed and been part of miracles.
The greatest experience that we can have on this earth is to be filled with the grace of God. That is something that I desire continually. I would never tell any person that being filled with the Holy Spirit is something that they have to experience but I would tell them that it is a wonderful experience. Neither would I tell them that being filled with the Holy Ghost and speaking in tongues does not look well in the eyes of the world. It is not the world that I strive to please and if He desires that I speak in tongues or that others do, it is Him that I listen to.
It is by His grace that I live, and it is by His grace and the Holy Spirit that I will continue to spread the word of the Living God. Jesus is my Savior and I have given my life to serving Him. To Him is the glory and I give thanks every day that He gave His life for me. God bless!