God Searches

Behold, I Seek My Own

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Living Water at the Oasis

God Searches

Behold, I Seek My Own

Welcome to Christianity Oasis Purity Publications. This E-book on how God Searches is titled Behold, I Seek My Own written by Author Patricia Backora. Christianity Oasis in association with Purity Publications proudly presents you with this Behold, I Seek My Own E-Book free of charge for your enjoyment.

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About My Collection of Prophecies

They are timely messages I received from the heart of the Lord "Who is seeking His own". They deal with issues which are of crucial importance in His sight. Some messages are predictive in nature, for the Lord has the ability to show His children things which are yet to come (Revelation 1:1). Other messages bring to light problems within the Body of Christ which can, sadly, be whitewashed or swept under the rug instead of faced. God is a Gentleman, ever loving and patient toward His own. But He is using me to say things which have needed to be said for a long time. He has refused to let me water down the sterner messages. Time is short, and God doesn't mince words.

Some topics are even presented in story fashion, as the Lord leads. It is neither unjust nor unloving for our Heavenly Father to steer His children away from error or exhort them to a higher way of life. He is our Good Shepherd. He, above all other shepherds, is faithful and vigilant over His own flock. Furthermore, He has let Me know that He does not want me to hold back anything he has given me to share with my brothers and sisters in Christ. To the best of my ability I have recorded the words of wisdom and spiritual lessons He has shared with me.

Some prophecies shine light on true incidents to serve as object lessons for the instruction of many. This is scriptural, as I Corinthians 10:11 shows. I felt led to use symbolic names for the various character types addressed by the messages. The Lord wants to vanquish problems, not people.

I pray that the wisdom of the Lord will touch your own heart just as it has mine, and that you will be inspired to believe that with God, nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37)

Part 1 - My Spirit of Love

I Am Love

John Chapter 17; Galatians 4:1-7; I John 4:16

Wherever two or more are gathered in My Name, there I am in the midst of them. You who know the fullness of My Spirit also know His sweet savor of divine love. Its unction flows through you and among you, drawing you closer to one another and uniting you in one heart and one mind; for in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed: Father, let them be one, even as You and I are one.

Jesus sent forth His disciples to proclaim the glad message of My redeeming Love. In the beginning My followers were full of My Joy. Why? They had been released from the bondage of fear. Through faith in Christ, they had been born again as My dear children. They were no longer mere servants, but sons.

All their lives they had seen Me only as a celestial Lawgiver Who made tough demands on them. Their lives had centered around observing all the ordinances of Mosaic Law, fearing lest they should break any of them and incur My disfavor. They loved Me from a distance.

I knew from the beginning that fallen man could not perfectly keep My Law. Ultimately, man is not a sinner because he sins; rather, he sins because he is a sinner by nature! My Law was given to make mankind aware of his total depravity and need for a Redeemer . I, the Living God, sent My Son to the earth to be born of the Virgin Mary, that He might live among you in human flesh and live His life in perfect obedience to His Heavenly Father.

Only Christ could qualify to redeem people from the penalty of broken Law, for he lived out His entire life without committing a single sin. He was not crucified to pay for His own sins, for there weren't any. Through the shedding of perfectly innocent Blood, he atoned for the sins of all who would accept His free offer of salvation, whether born before or after His Atonement. Otherwise, I could not have justly forgiven one single sinner.

After My Son returned to heaven, I sent My Holy Spirit to live in the hearts of My people, for they needed His strength, power and consolation. That sweet Spirit of Grace ever whispers My love to your souls, and divine joy fills your cup to overflowing. Everything I am to you, everything I give to you, everything I do for you, is an expression of My Love. All My commandments are rooted in Love, for My very essence is Love. I am perfect Love, and I cast out fear. Before the Atonement of Christ, My people were only permitted to approach Me indirectly, through the ministrations of a human priest. He wouldoffer animal sacrifices as temporary substitutes which pointed toward Christ's Perfect Offering of Himself. Once Christ had been sacrificed for your sins, I could see you as righteous in Christ, and you could come boldly into My Holy Presence. I could love you freely, with no barriers separating us. Now Christ is the only mediator between God and man, and He and I are one. I could not have given you a greater proof of My Love. It gives Me no greater joy than to fellowship with My dear ones, and to lavish My Love upon you.

I Love People, Period

Acts 10:34-35

I am Love.
I, Who created the rainbow, love people of every color.
I, Who provide even for sparrows, love the down-and-out.
I, Who was buried in a rich friend's tomb, love those who have been blessed materially.
I, Who give wisdom to the simple, love those who often stumble.
I, Who instruct the foolish, love those who are wise.
I, the Chief Shepherd, love My sheep and know each precious one by name.
I, Whose Word burns in the hearts of prophets, love those with voices of thunder.
I, Who speak in a still small voice, love gentle voices of charity.
I, Whose coming Reign is the only cure for a sick society, love political activists.
I love every one of you who want My love.
Just because loving is what I love to do best.
Love is the undergirding foundation of My entire eternal Kingdom.

I Love You as an Individual

Psalms 142:4-5John 14:2-3; I Corinthians 12:27-31; Revelation 2:17 & 3:20

This writer was once emphatically told: "God doesn't have individual Christians." Her companion was all wrong. Some of you have been wrongly taught that the more you "lose your own identities" and merge into one mass, the more pleased I am. That is a gross misunderstanding of what the Body of Christ is all about. Just as each of you has an individual personality through which I may express myself, each one of you is called to a different type of ministry. Some prophesy. Some are greatly used to minister healing to others. Some have a special calling to the mission field. I have a plan for each one of your lives. You could see it begin to unfold like a flower, if you would only walk closely with Me and listen to My Voice moment by moment. Worshipping together as a congregation is very important. You need the fellowship, strength and support of other saints. I love to see My children gather together to praise My Name, and to learn more about Me and My ways. I love those wonderful family reunions As they meet together in My Name, My saints form the expression of My Body on earth. I am glorified in this.

But I also have a very special relationship with each one of you individually. I value, love and cherish you individually, not just corporately. There are many things you are free to confide only in Me. Public prayers are necessary at times, but I especially cherish those times you go into your own room, shut the door behind you, and pour out your joys and sorrows to Me, Your Father in Heaven. I want you to hold nothing back from Me. No problem, however perplexing it might be for you, is beyond the scope of My perfect Wisdom. You matter to Me when you are alone with Me, not just in a group setting.

I have promised to supply all your needs, for you are My beloved child. There are times I love to surprise you with what you consider luxuries, for it brings delight to My heart for You to glorify Me with your prayer of thanksgiving. I am not tight-fisted. I do not spoil you till you become obsessed with material things, but I love to grant every desire of your heart which is truly good for you.

Each one of you is a unique creation. Even identical twins have individual spirits, and each of them has the responsibility to choose either life or death. There have been many cases where one twin ended up in heaven and the other in hell, based on individual acceptance or rejection of My Son. And, sadly, many people think that just because they come from a Christian home, their salvation is automatically assured. But the salvation of parents does not automatically confer eternal life upon their children. Each individual soul is accountable to Me, and must accept Christ for himself in order to enter into eternal life. I have children, but I don't have grandchildren!

Earthly parents do not expect their children to all have the same looks, personality, or tastes. It does not alarm them that each of their children is a unique person in his or her own right. In fact, it would be a cause for concern if they were all exactly the same. One of the most prevalent errors in false cults is the suppression of and gradual stripping away of individual personality. This makes the person less than what I created him to be, and makes it easier for the cult leader to deceive his victim. Avoid being ensnared by suspicious groups which try to draw you in with carefully orchestrated overtures of "love".

There are times when no one else on earth has much interest in your spiritual life. Or, you may be in a situation where you must move frequently. You will, at times, have wonderful fellowship with other believers. At other times this will be more scarce, for the presence of a church building does not automatically spell true fellowship. Moreover, the use of folding chairs instead of padded pews, and that of guitars in lieu of pipe organs, does not necessarily indicate a place of Liberty in the Spirit. Some searchers have walked out of informal settings with heavy hearts, while more than a few have felt the warmth of My Presence within the context of a so-called "High Church" service.

You need genuine love, not cold formality. A baby will either be developmentally damaged or die if it is never shown warmth or caring. If you find yourself in a place where you aren't being fed spiritually by men, does it mean that I have cast you off? A thousand times, no. Whenever people fail you, I will still be there to meet the deepest needs of your heart. I will spread a spiritual feast before you, and we two will dine together. I abide ever faithful. I cannot fail you.

How could anyone claim that individuals have little value in My sight? I have promised in My Word that I am preparing a mansion for each one of you. I want you to know that when each of you enters heaven, you will be absolutely thrilled with your new home. I even take into account the individual tastes of each believer as the plans are drawn up for construction. All the furnishings reflect the preferences of the mansion's future occupant. These homes are stunningly beautiful. I did not mass-produce regulation army barracks for warehousing saints. Individual homes have been specially crafted for each of My beloved children.

I value individuals so much that each of My faithful ones will be presented with a white stone inscribed with a new name, for the time will come when I will make all things new. The other believers will never know the new name I give you. It will be a secret shared only with Me. Now try to tell Me that individuals don't matter to Me.

The Sermon of the Daisy

Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 12: 22-32

"In conclusion," intoned the staid-looking preacher, "remember this timeworn old adage: 'God helps those who helps themselves.' So reflect on that pearl of wisdom before you visit my counselling office. Your problems are usually of your own making, and you'll get little sympathy from me. I'm an ordained minister of the Gospel, not a shoulder to cry on, and certainly not a nursemaid for 30-and-40-year-old kids in business suits who ought to grow up and bear up more gracefully under the minor vexations of life; people who ought to be applying more elbow grease to their prayers. As one grand old hymn exhorts us: 'Shall I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease, while others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?"

The young woman could hardly see to drive home, her eyes were so teary.

"What's the matter, Mommy?" her little girl asked.

"Oh, nothing," said her mother, unwilling to burden her child with the truth. "It's just one of those days."

In reality she was thinking: How dare he take his frustrations out on us. Sure he's tired of having such a heavy counselling load, but if he had to keep a schedule like mine....the office, the traffic, the grocery store, the housework, the kids' homework, their baths, the cooking, the ironing, the endless errands...she gnashed her teeth.

When the little family got out of the car, the lady unloaded her bags of after-church shopping. She tripped and dropped a big bag on the lawn. Noticing her mother was more annoyed than ever, her daughter ran over to help. In the process she noticed a cluster of daisies at their feet.

"Oh, look, Mommy!" the little girl cried. "Aren't they pretty? We learned about the flowers in Sunday School today, how God loves the green grass so much he decorates it with pretty little flowers even if busy people like us don't have time to grow our own from seeds."

It was then the sun came out for the burdened woman. At that moment she remembered the Sunday School lessons of her own childhood, and recaptured her own long-forgotten wonderment at the marvels of My creation. Smiling happily, she hugged her daughter and son. "Yes," she sang, "and God loves us too, sweetie, much more than the flowers and grass."

But that wasn't the end of the story. When she had a few minutes to herself, she got out an exhaustive Biblical concordance and searched for the scripture: "God helps those who help themselves." Had I come to earth, she wondered, just to add My own feeble bit to her ceaseless struggle to live according to My Word, or had I really come to redeem weak people like herself ? Those who had reached the utter end of her tether and had to confess: "You've got to do it all, Lord, or my life will be a failure. If your life in me fails, then I cannot overcome the difficulties of this life"?

She looked and she looked, researching the key word "help" in the big concordance. She made some very wonderful discoveries there, such as: "God is my refuge and God is my strength, a very present help in trouble".

But to her utter delight, that other "scripture" simply wasn't in there.

She simply didn't have to worry about it anymore.

Love One Another

Isaiah 53:2; 45; John 15:12,17; Luke 16:19:31; I John 4:11

When will My people learn to love one another as I have loved the Church?

Behold, I have created diversity in nature, for I love variety in My handiwork. But many believers cannot tolerate diversity in the personality or appearance of one another. The hypocrite views with distaste anyone who hails from a different cultural or economic background from his own. Or he feels contempt for the person whose personal theology in all things great and small does not exactly mirror his own.

The hypocrite harbors prejudices against that humble person I love. The one who is "too fat" or "too unpolished" to sing or minister publicly. Often the hair or dress style, jewelry or some other trivial aspect of that person draws fire. For example, if you refuse to befriend a Muslim woman until she removes her head covering and dons Western attire, what sort of witness is that to the Love of Christ? How shallow your "love" is when you show an interest only in people whose culture is exactly the same as yours. Such a "love" is not My love, so it is really not even worth sharing!

If a heavyset individual shares My Word, his size is all-important to the hypocrite, who thinks: If this person truly were Jesus' disciple, he or she would fight the Good Fight of Faith the Battle of the Bulge. His or her lack of spiritual qualifications could easily be overlooked, but not those extra pounds which prevent that person from being fashionably thin and glamorous.

I see so many of My children self-obsessed, looking about them, wondering if others are sizing them up in the wrong way. One woman sucks in her cheeks and restrains her smile for fear people will think her face is too fat. Her tight belt is cutting off her circulation, but at least it's still fastened in the last notch. A man stands stiffly, sucking in his stomach and hoping no one notices the weight he's put on since Thanksgiving. His friend worries about his receding hairline.

My Son did not come to earth to win a beauty pageant or popularity contest, but to win back souls enslaved to satan. In the book of Isaiah it is written that there was no beauty that anyone should desire Him. When He was bloodied and bruised, He hardly looked glorious to the natural eye!

The worth and integrity of the low-income saint are questioned. Speculations on him or her abound. Could it be that he harbors secret sin in his life, and is under God's judgment? Is he being lazy, or is he just too stupid to know how to attain to earthly prosperity? So why waste time on him anyway?

People look askance at the lonely saint who attends church unaccompanied by friends or family. He just don't fit into their neat little scheme of a cozy "family-oriented" fellowship. He doesn't make a good advertisement for picture-perfect conservative values.

The hypocrite is often willing to travel to the far ends of the earth to convert the man of a different culture and color. Gladly would he immerse himself in the study of a strange tongue and adapt himself to alien, and often unhealthy living conditions. Sometimes it's just to gratify his adventurelust. Yet there is a mission field in church which is being neglected. When the hypocrite does befriend a lonely saint, it is more often than not with the ulterior motive of converting that person to her own mindset on all things important or trivial. The saint is viewed only as raw material to fashion something else from! And if that individual persists in being what I made her to be, she is dropped like a hot potato. I would have My worshippers to lift up their hands and voices in the sanctuary, not their noses.

Will it take persecution from the world to knit My people together in love? When will all these petty, childish, unloving attitudes be forsaken, and the love of My Son be allowed to manifest itself instead? He associated with harlots, thieves, and tax collectors. Yet the hypocrite shuns the man in the paisley shirt or the obese woman with blemishes on her face. Don't lukewarm saints realize that I consider impurities of the soul far worse flaws than these?

I have been forced to take too many precious, deeply spiritual saints home prematurely, simply because no one on earth would love them. They had no place of rest on earth, and from the depths of their being they cried out to Me in their unmet need. So I finally took them home to Paradise, where all things are rooted and grounded in love, and where there is no hypocrisy.

Many have been driven out and scattered like lost sheep back into the world because they found no love in their churches. And when they finally leave, no one truly cares or misses them except Me. Some take refuge in false cults, which eagerly offer acceptance to souls rejected by cold congregations.

Remember the story of Lazarus and the rich man. No one cared much about this penniless, diseased beggar wasting away with hunger on the steps of the well-fed, complacent rich man's house. No one offered him friendship, and scarcely a scrap of bread. Only dogs were his companions.

I was Lazarus' only hope. He had no other help, not even from My people. Only after he was borne by angels to the Paradise of the Righteous did he find fellowship and comfort among the Redeemed. For even Father Abraham did receive him in love.

Do not force your brothers and sisters to wait till after death to enjoy the life they should be participating in right now. Each and every one of My children is extremely precious in My sight. Do not despise your brethren whom I have purchased with My own shed blood. Do not exalt yourselves over one another with haughtiness of mind, or I shall be forced to allow negative circumstances into your life to abase you.

I tell you solemnly that whatever coldness or cruelty is inflicted upon your less glamorous brother is inflicted also upon Me. When you try one another's patience by looking for ways to vex or criticize, you are sinning against My Body and My chastisement must swiftly follow, if you are not careful to judge yourself and repent.

Do not seek to amputate the weaker or less comely members of My Body, for they are necessary. When you inflict pain or rejection upon My son or daughter, you touch the apple of My eye and will by no means be held innocent.

I warn you sternly but lovingly: I have reached the point where I will shortly remove My Power, Protection, Presence, and Glory from churches and individuals who knowingly and deliberately turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to My commandment to love one another. All of My commandments have their roots in the kind of love that induced Me to give up My very Life on the Cross for your sake. If you reject the root, you reject the entire tree.

You can toil slavishly to gain the praise of men, or even to gain position or rewards in the world to come, but I will burn up as chaff all works which were not motivated by My perfect Love. All these vain works shall be destroyed before My Judgment Seat.

Love is not an option. It is a commandment! And if you refuse My Love to the least of these My brethren, you might as well quit following Me right now. You can progress no further in the life of faith until you are obedient in this area.

The time is extremely short. I am about to appear in the heavens to gather My jewels to Myself. What you would do to show forth the love of God, do it now. For after the Rapture takes place, it will be too late to relive your sojourn on earth and remedy the harm done by your reluctance to love one another.

A Weighty Matter

Nehemiah 8:10; Matt. 5:28; Luke 16:15; 22:28-30; Romans 14:3-4; II Cor. 4:7; Galatians 4:8-9; I Timothy 4:3-5

When will My people learn that to keep their priorities in line with what I specifically put My Church into this world to do, and stop wasting My time trying to get Me to hallow the twisted cultural values of this world? My House is meant to be a refuge from the oppressions of the world, not a promoter of them.

When will My people realize that I did not create everyone to look the same? There are differences in height, bone structure, skin tone, and musculature, even within the same racial groupings. And_are you surprised_ I did not design all women to be tall and willowy! Those who break this cultural beauty edict are not suffering from some demonic affliction which needs to be cast out by prayer and fasting!

Satan has taken a perfectly sound concept_healthy eating habits_and overblown it to employ as a weapon against the female sex in particular. He has convinced worldly women that the heavier they are, the less they're worth. Hollywood actresses are setting the trend, defying even death to make themselves ever thinner; just so their popularity will not die. Good health is far less important to these vain women than being able to count their ribs. Although it is natural that women's forms mature out of early childhood, society pressures them to defy nature itself and strive to reverse their own maturation. Satan wants women to look like starving boys!

Satan's original lie: Eat from the forbidden tree, and you'll gain in prestige. His current lie: DON'T eat, and others will respect you more. His aim is to distort the image of womanhood in revenge for the verdict and judgment of the Garden of Eden, which cost HIM status. He hates to see women robust and feminine-looking, as I intended for them to be. He knows people can't focus on more than one issue at a time, so he drives the worldly woman to worry so much about her "fat" that she never spares a thought for her eternal fate. The devil keeps her fixated on her body image and other people's opinions of it. Above all, he is delighted with the current attitudes of vainglory and self-obsession which motivate the trend-setters of this wicked end-time culture. It is bad enough that the beautiful, the popular and the wealthy have grabbed all the best things of the earth for themselves and shoved aside the humbler souls, saying: Make way for us that we may walk over you to get what we want. But it is not to be so in My church. People might have been renowned for their outward comeliness in the Old Testament, but in this dispensation I take pleasure in working through humble vessels full of the Glory of the Lord, that the excellency may be of Me and not of the flesh.

A strange new doctrine is taking shape in My Church, one I never ordained through the mouths of prophets or apostles: Girls, get skinny for Jesus! Its principal tenet: In order for a female saint to qualify as an overcomer, she must first subdue her flesh; that is, eliminate as much of it as possible. These misguided women interpret My Word to mean that the more meat they banish from their bones, the more acceptable they are to Me. Thus, a woman's body is seen to be her greatest spiritual foe, something to vanquish via dieting. No corresponding sacrifice is demanded of the male believer. I didn't write one set of rules for women, and another for men. Where in My Word does it stipulate that men are saved by grace alone, but My daughters grow closer to Me by starving themselves to resemble pre-teen girls; or worse, the current trend, which is to look like a stick topped by an overlarge head?

I set a precedent when I drove out the money-changers and merchants from the Temple. These carnal men were using My House to carry on with the commerce of this world. Likewise, the diet industry is plying women of the Western World with pressure to think they need their products, telling even normal-weight women that they need to slim down till they're gaunt. When a woman finishes a plate of food, it is seen as greed. If she were ladylike, people think, she would only just nibble at her plate. Eating is now perceived as an act of guilt and shame, even by My own people who have been hoodwinked into adopting and sanctifying the devil's values. While corrective measures may be necessary when people's health is at risk, the quest for an elusive body shape can become an idolatrous obsession!

The last thing a wounded woman needs is to have the hang-ups of this world thrust upon her again once she enters the church door. If there is a diet club in church and she is not rail-thin, of course its members will approach her and invite her to join up. They aren't trying to insult her by doing this, but trying to help the newcomer to fit in. They just want her to "join in the life of the church". This puts the woman in a quandary. Maybe she feels comfortable with the size she is, and isn't particularly keen on starving herself to gain praise from others. And were she to tell the others she doesn't perceive herself as too heavy, some outspoken woman might disagree with her, creating an even stickier scenario. She knows that if she turns these ladies down, she will be seen as antisocial, and rejecting their vision of what it means to be a disciple. Perhaps she even gets so uncomfortable with the situation she just leaves. After all, worshipping Me at home would not be nearly as prickly.

If you must have your diet clubs, don't bring them into My sanctuary. Dieting for Jesus is NOT to be made a requirement of women's discipleship! Weight loss is NOT to be used as a yardstick to measure gains in spiritual growth! And thinness is NOT to be made the measure of spirituality!

My Church is meant to be a place where souls damaged by the lies of the devil are mended. Many new converts come to Me with a lot of baggage heaped on them by society. They see themselves as ugly rejects who failed to make a nice niche for themselves in this perverted world. Ofttimes, a person will not come to Me at all until he is thoroughly fed up with the status quo.

Millions of My children all over the world are have to depend on Me to keep daily food on their tables. My main concern is to meet the needs of people who call upon Me in faith, that the Father might receive Glory. I am busy about the work of saving lost souls and seeking out My lost sheep. I find it preposterous that multitudes are perishing for want of natural and spiritual food, while image-obsessed, affluent women are pleading with Me to help them not to eat the superabundant food they can afford that same sumptuous cuisine their own husbands so readily indulge in. And no, I don't excuse carnal husbands for staring lustfully at skinny girls on the street just because their wives are having a hard time shedding a few pounds after pregnancy. I count that lustful look as adultery, regardless of the excuses men make for it. Sadly, even some of My daughters diet not for health, but to make men lust after them.

I loathe the vanity of women who boast of the many days of fasting they've endured to gain a gaunt figure which supposedly is "a good testimony for Jesus", and brag about the heavenly reward they expect to get for their self-denial. This is a pointed dig at their sisters who eat normally and are not so thin. In My eyes, it is a far greater sin to indulge in self-exaltation than to polish off a whole box of chocolates in one sitting!

Next time your big sister comes over for a hug don't say anything to make her feel small.

A Ponderous Point

Book of Ruth; Proverbs 31:10-31; Matthew 11:19

Sometimes Scriptures (such as the Song of Solomon) are even used to impose worldly glamor standards on female saints. Biblical days (and people) are often unduly romanticized like a Hollywood fantasy. But typical day-to-day life in ancient Israel was far from glamorous for the vast majority of people.

Ruth wasn't worried about taking in excess calories. It was a time of famine. Her immediate concern was the survival of herself and her mother-in-law Naomi. She was beginning to get too thin, although the world now says that is impossible. But her hunger was making her feel ill, and she needed food to stay alive. She went out to the fields to pick grain; not to burn off calories from this hard stoop-labor, but to get something to eat.

Boaz, the landowner, wasn't looking for a self-obsessed waif. He wanted a wife. He married Ruth because of her beauty of character. Only in today's high-tech Western world do womenfeel they have the option of choosing to starve the muscle and strength from their bodies. In ancient Israel, only wealthy women felt free to dismiss bodily strength as unnecessary and spend all their time fretting over their appearance.

Among the populace, it was customary for fathers to arrange marriages for their sons when they came of age. They generally sought out young women who appeared healthy and energetic as well as comely. A prospective father-in-law's foremost concern was not: "Is she skinny enough?", but: "Does she appear healthy enough to live reasonably long?" Average human life expectancy was considerably shorter than it is today. He also pondered: "Is her character above reproach? Can she cook well? Is she a good seamstress? Does she appear robust enough to survive several childbirths? Does she appear strong enough to rise early and pound grain into flour to knead and bake into daily bread, draw and carry home great quantities of water from the well, and perform all other housewifely duties? If a young girl appeared too frail to qualify, she could not command a high dowry, and would, most likely, remain unmarried. In that culture, flower-like fragility was more a liability than an asset.

If anyone insists on using Scripture to shame women out of deriving proper enjoyment from meals, I would remind you that even eating can be done to My glory. There are times to forego earthly pleasures, but the joyful partaking of My provision is to be the norm. I Myself was accused by ascetic Pharisees of being a winebibber and a glutton, just because I genuinely enjoyed whatever was set before Me in homes I visited. I promised My faithful disciples that they would eat and drink at My table in My Kingdom. I also remember the day a company of returning Jewish exiles had just received a new revelation of My Law. They were exhorted to lay aside their sorrows, and rejoice before Me by eating choice foods and drinking sweet beverages.

Cultural Oppression

I consider obsession with glamor selfish and vain. Many a man presents these complaints to My Throne of Grace just after his wife has given birth: that his needs as a normal man aren't being met, and oh, please, would I give him the grace to be patient just a little longer. Such a man is more a baby than his newborn child! He'll ask Me to please help his wife hurry and get just as skinny as she was before her pregnancy, and help her stick rigidly to her strict diet. Rather, he should thank Me that she survived the arduous birth ordeal, and that she and the baby are both well.

I say to such selfish men: Stop oppressing my daughters over dieting and slimness, or you'll reap what you sow and be bullied yourselves in some area of your life!

Remember, I died to set My loved ones free. Never use My Holy Name to whitewash worldly perversions I detest. I am not a patron of the diet and fashion industries. Furthermore, I don't pledge allegiance to any political party, or wrap Myself in the flag of any nation! I don't traffic with this world at all. Those things highly esteemed by the world are an abomination in My sight. Don't you dare foist the hang-ups of this present evil age back onto My people.

First Seek Christ's Beauty

Ecclesiastes 3:11; Proverbs 31:30; Galatians 3:26-29

This new gospel so popular with earthly-minded saints centers around outward glories, which by their very nature, will fade away. Many are using Me to obtain things which could augment their status in society or make their lives more luxurious, rather than seeking after the eternal riches of My Kingdom.

In Old Testament Tabernacle worship, there was an outer court ministry as well as an inner court course of service. Both were necessary, but the Inner Place of My Presence where I meet with you is so much more glorious. Many are content to linger only on the outer perimeter of fellowship with Me, deriving whatever transitory benefits they can from their materialistic faith.

Much more emphasis was placed on external form in the Old Testament Scriptures, for the outer glory was but a picture of spiritual realities to come. There were numerous places where a person is described as being comely in appearance, in conjunction with desirable inner qualities. David was handsome, as well as courageous and pious. Abigail was beautiful, as well as sensible and wise. Absalom was the handsomest man in Israel, but he nursed ugly hatred in his heart toward his own father, David, and plotted to kill him. He did not possess the beauty of spirit David manifested toward Me.

Today, many value only exterior attributes in themselves and others. Thus, New Testament believers are measured by Old Testament standards. In the New Testament, individual characters move into the background and give the glory to Christ the Lord. He alone is to receive exaltation for His inherent virtues. Nothing thrills My Father-heart more than to see one of My children developing more and more into His likeness. That should be the goal of every Spirit-filled believer, for there is no higher calling.

I don't sanction even "Christian" beauty pageants. Such contests are immodest, self-glorifying vanity. In the Old Testament, there were times when physical beauty was a prerequisite for fulfilling one's purpose in life, as when Esther was selected as Queen of Persia. In My providence, this put her in a position to help save My people Israel from total massacre. The wives of the Patriarchs were selected largely on the basis of natural comeliness. One exception was Leah, the first wife of Jacob. Jacob looked only on her outward appearance, and would not have married her, had he not been tricked into doing so. Yet it was she who was the matriarch of the Royal tribe of Judah, from which I originated. It was prophesied of Judah that he would be the one praised by his brethren. It is the beauty of the Rose of Sharon which constitutes the true comeliness of a believer.

Many a godly, Spirit-anointed woman has been discouraged from active ministry because she was not deemed attractive enough to represent Me! But nowhere in the New Testament is an individual saint commended or rewarded for being outwardly beautiful. The ground in front of the Cross is level, and all My children are accepted by Me on equal terms. My Son is seeking out a people who are willing to receive of His beauty and reflect it daily in their lives. He has comely people, plain people, short and tall, old and young, rich and poor, great and small, who delight in Him. He sees no difference, for all are joined to Him in one Spirit. It is only carnal-minded saints who insist on creating a difference and rebuilding old barriers which I have torn down.

The Little Toes

Matthew 25:40; I Corinthians 12: 12-26

There once lived a woman who slavishly followed whatever fashion fad came along. One season pointed shoes were in style. She just had to wear them "like everybody else", lest she lose face before her friends.

But her feet were a bit too wide to conform to the latest trend. "Oh, those stupid little toes," she grumbled. "If only my feet were dainty and slender like everyone else's! Well, I know who can remedy this problem."

Her doctor tried in vain to dissuade the adamant woman. After all, God must have had a good reason for giving her ten toes instead of eight. If she were to have the unfashionable toes amputated, it would throw the remaining ones off balance whenever she stood or walked for extended periods.

"I don't care," the foolish woman snapped back. "I detest those ugly toes, and if you aren't willing to be reasonable, doctor, there's plenty of other skilled surgeons in town who would appreciate my business."

Knowing that she would have it done anyway, he consented to perform the mutilation. Against his professional ethics he amputated two healthy members of her body which she had rejected as ugly.

During the woman's month-long recuperation, she happily ignored the twinges in her bandaged feet. "One must suffer to be beautiful," she sighed. "At last, I'm rid of those ungainly toes! Perhaps I'll have my lower ribs removed also, to give myself a nice wasp waist! Won't I be the envy of all my friends!"

Once her feet had sufficiently healed, she set off to her favorite shoe shop, even managing a little spring in her step. "I've paid the price," she sang to herself, "to make my feet look nice!"

What were those shoes displayed in the broad store window, though? There were comfortable loafers and moccasins and brogans, but the woman was undaunted. "Oh, those are only the casual styles," she murmured. "The dressiest ones would be on racks inside."

In vain she anxiously scrutinized each rack, searching for the coveted narrow-toed pumps she'd seen earlier. Finally a young sales clerk approached her. "May I help you find something, Ma'am?"

"Oh yes, please," replied the lady. "Young man, where are the narrow-toed pumps which were on display just a few weeks ago?"

"Oh, those went on clearance sale two weeks back," he replied. "To make way for our latest styles." Eagerly he gestured toward a huge display rack full of sensibly designed ladies' shoes. "Here, Madam, these appear to be in your size range. Why don't you have a look, and I'll measure you for a proper fitting?"

She felt absolutely sick. Although the shoes were very smart-looking, every last one of the styles were broad-toed. Now she would feel so foolish to have the young man measure her mutilated feet.

"They're the latest fashion," said the clerk. "If you want to stay in step, Ma'am, why not purchase a pair or two?"

She hobbled on home, crying for that part of herself she'd rejected.

Looking For Love in All the Wrong Places

Instant friendship is one hallmark of a cult, many say. True. But coldness is also a sure sign of deadness in a church. People would rather find instant love than wait all their lives for grudgingly given, conditional love.

I am present in church services all over the world. But I listen more intently to the private thoughts of the parishioners than the somnolent preaching or polished choir performance.

Here is a summary of some poignant thoughts I gleaned from one alienated man:

I'd better stop singing so joyfully.
Those gloomy mummies are staring at me.
Whywon't anyone sit near me?
Do I have cooties?
Why won't anyone talk to me?
What makes them act so snooty?

Theycame to church just to show off
Smug little smiles, noses aloft
I'm tempted to go hang out at the bar
With people whom life has likewise scarred.

How embarrassing, my vast, empty pew
How everyone turns to stare at you.
I'd better sit closer to the rear.
Why do I even waste my gas coming here?

What a stale sermon, what deadpan faces.
They're hardly sitting in Heavenly places.
This place reminds me of a morgue.
Are they staging this show to honor the Lord?

Pastor's barred me from church committees
Till I learn to live responsibly.
Those proverbs he picked stung like a bee
Preaching on sloth, he stared holes through me.

Hard on its heels came a sermon on tithing
He hollered real hard and had me a-writhing.
The only time I see him excited
Is when it's time to feather his nest.

He thinks it's my fault I've been laid off
And life is so unrelentingly rough.
I'm doing my best to be patient, though.
I'm not so sure where else I could go.

I haven't found a single friend.
I'll never seek Pastor's prayers again.
He had that "oh, no" look on his face.
That wasn't a very sincere handshake.

I might as well just head on home.
I feel so stupid, standing here alone
Unneeded, ignored, unable to mix
With everyone else in their close-knit cliques.

They're snug as a bug in their cozy cocoon
Hoping Christ won't rapture them soon
Away from their toys to realms above
To ask them how they invested His Love.

Far less risky to worship at home
I'll flick my remote for my weekly dose.
I'll get my religion from TV Land
With propped up feet and a beer in my hand.

Who can blame me for thinking it's better
Than cooling my heels in in a refrigerator?
I just don't belong in God's elite corps
I'd rather go elsewhere to serve the Lord.

If Jesus was the same as them,
I wouldn't want much to do with Him.
It's been six long months now, and what have I gained
From going to church again and again?

I should be taking this nap in my bed
Wish I had a pillow for my nodding head.
That sermon sounds so very refined
Christ redefined for churchified minds.

I feel like a martyr for enduring this church
I'd better resume my endless search.
Where on earth will my long search cease?
The Moonies?

Kindergarten Kids

I often feel like I'm presiding over one big kindergarten class, the way My children interact with one another. People dutifully pray that I'll increase the size of their congregation. But when I do, newcomers find that the church is already divided up into its little play groups and they're not really all that welcome.

Misusing Love

Matt. 18:21-22; Romans 6:1; Gal. 5:26;

My people are called to be patient with one another in their efforts to grow into My likeness, and this doesn't happen overnight but over a long period of time. Throughout that period you are to pray for My love and patience as you need it, so the unity and harmony of My Body is maintained in a spirit of peace. But there are times My people irritate one another with a callous attitude of indifference, just because I have asked you to forbear with one another and to forgive each other. Grace-testing brothers and sisters want to see if they can try someone else's patience seventy times seven and still get by with it. On the part of the rebellious saint there is no effort to grow into My likeness, or to overcome their human flaws. All that backslider cares about is receiving My gifts and My favor for his own gratification.

My love is not some ratty throw rug used to disguise a smelly dog's mess. My love covers a multitude of sins confessed and turned away from; faults which are striven against; not evil contrariness which is perpetrated by grace-testers who abuse the love of My other children over and over again.

Unless these brats repent I shall have to get out My chastening rod and discipline them in tough love.

Be On Guard

Psalms 146:3; John 2:24-25; Galatians 5:13-15; James 1:26

Not all commonly accepted maxims are supported by My Word. It is often said: Trust is an integral part of love. Not so. I said in My Word: Owe no one anything, except to love one another. Therefore, you owe it to your brother and sister in Christ to have love and compassion toward them. But you do not automatically owe them trust! My own son knew when it was safe to confide in others, or to be around certain individuals. He did not freely trust all men, not even those who claimed to love Me. Once, he miraculously escaped the clutches of an angry mob which were intent on hurling him over a cliff. When he did finally face death, He made no effort to protect Himself, because He had come into the world for the express purpose of being sacrificed on the cross for man's redemption.

It is neither unjust nor unloving to allow Me to caution you about potentially dangerous attitudes in others.

Love is patient and kind, but: LOVE DOES NOT LIE TO ITSELF!

I'm not going to mince words. If My Love is totally absent from a person or his home,then satan is still ruling him, and he is wide open to demonic control! This applies not only to a hardhearted Christian who clings to the ways of this world, but the self-righteous ultra-religious individual who spouts all the right cliches and keeps the customs of the group he belongs to, while refusing to love his neighbor. Nothing on earth gives rise to more meanness than loveless religion. The religious blindness of the Scribes and Pharisees put Me on the Cross!

Suppressing My Nature

Romans 12:2; I John 2:15

A certain woman had a spiteful, sarcastic nature. She was a professing believer who clung to the ways of the world even while going through the motions of being a devout churchgoer. She despised those who were meek and gentle in temperament. She was spiteful and insulting toward weaker souls and didn't care whose feelings she unjustly hurt. She questioned the masculinity of any man with a tender-hearted nature. She drove away faithful friends who tried to bear patiently with her rudeness. She despised those who were growing in the meekness and gentleness of my Son, whether men or women.

Such a false believer more highly esteems people who are rude, aggressive and quick to defend their own rights. Indeed, many carnal saints use I Corinthians 9:19-22 as an excuse to adapt to the un-Christlike ways of others, in order to secure the approval of worldly people. Paul did say: When I am with the Greeks, I become like the Greeks; When I am with the Gentiles, I become like the Gentiles. Paul's aim was to be able to gain the trust of, and converse with with all sorts of people, in order that he might be able to win some of them to Christ. But he did NOT suppress the Fruits of the Holy Spirit in his life in order to placate the sinners around him. He never acted like he was ashamed to be holy.

Beware that you do not unintentionally try to excise from your soul character traits of My Son which I am establishing in your life! That is just as tragic as a hospital patient ripping open a gaping chest wound just because the sutures irritate his flesh a little. Only when you are in heaven will you fully realize just how hard I had to work to undo the damage done to the human soul by the Fall of Adam and Eve. Trying to rid yourself of elements of My perfect nature just because My ways are at odds with the world is much more dangerous than resisting the ministrations of an earthly physician. You must never be so eager to "get ahead in the world" that you kowtow to the ways of ungodly people or backsliders and begin to find My lovely, guileless nature an embarrassment. The world despises meekness as weakness, and disparages gentle souls as wimps. That is nothing new. It was the prevailing philosophy in the days of Noah, just before the Flood came and erased most of mankind from the earth.

If any believer rejects My true nature and reinvents Christ to suit himself, he also cuts himself off from access to My Life!

Being Wary is Not Unloving

Numbers Chapter 16; Psalms 146:3; Proverbs 4:23; 22:3; Ezek. 44:10-16; Matthew 10: 16; 25:34-45; Ephesians 5:15; Hebrews 6:10; Jude 11

My child, I have given you eyes to see and a heart to understand. I never expect you to place blind trust in others, although you are commanded to share My Love even with those people whom it is difficult to like.

If any believer insists on remaining a spiritual toddler, I cannot force him to grow up. But that one will not enjoy the same privileges as those who are willing to go on to perfection into the likeness of Christ. If a person has repeatedly and consistently displayed un-Christlike behavior toward you, never, ever bare your soul to that one, even when he makes friendly overtures to try to regain your confidence. Which one of you, having a new computer or a fine set of crystal, will let a two-year-old toddler have free access to those things? No one who had spent a great sum of money on his dearest treasures would stand idly by and let the child wreck those costly possessions, just because he isn't mature enough to know better. There are instances in Scripture where I took privileges or honors away from people who had abused My good gifts. Does this mean I was being unloving toward them?

The Kohathites, a division of the tribe of Levi, lost privileges of drawing near to Me by betraying My trust. They were barred forever from ministering in My immediate Presence as priests under the Old Covenant. Why? Because Korah rebelled against Moses in the desert. Against Moses' explicit orders Korah and his supporters took up censors to offer up incense to prove they they were the ones I'd chosen for the priesthood. Such presumptuousness and arrogance. Trying to drum up support among the populace. Jostling for prestige and position. Bickering and backstabbing. Putting one another down to appear better than somebody else, instead of serving one another in love and counting that as the highest privilege! I feel the pain of this in My Body the Church. What a sin against My love!

So the sons of Korah were relegated to serving their brethren in the congregation instead of appearing as priests in My immediate Presence. But under the New Covenant, I make servanthood a position of honor: When you serve one another you also serve Me, for I am one spirit with My people. It is the sons of Zadok who consistently remained true to My revealed will, and it is they who will officiate as Levitical priests throughout My future Millennial Reign, when literal memorial sacrifices pointing back to the Cross will be offered up to remind My people of what I have done for them in redeeming them. I have My own reasons for reinstituting limited animal sacrifice in a literal Jewish Temple during that dispensation of time. This in no way detracts from My own final Sacrifice of Myself, and it does not affect the priesthood of the New Covenant believer who is a living stone in the Temple of My own Body indwelt by My Holy Spirit. This unspeakable privilege you receive through grace and being born again by faith in My Blood, not through being physically born into a certain bloodline.

I highly value a heart indwelt by My Spirit, one which is centered upon Me and the things of My Kingdom. It is of infinitely more value than a new car or computer. I said in My Word that you are to carefully guard this treasure of yours, and to beware of the influences which come to bear upon it.

Truly it is those who are willingly blind who are in greatest peril of stumbling and falling headlong into a pit of captivity to satan. Those who will not heed My cautions are in greatest peril.

I command all those who have harbored an unloving attitude toward My other children to repent now. Not a grudging, superficial apology to that one you have hurt, but a deep, unfeigned repentance. it must be directed not only toward the offended one but especially toward Me, the Head of the Body.

You who are spiritual will be able to tell when repentance is God-directed and deep. I tell you with great sorrow that some who profess My Name look back wistfully upon the world and all its perverse artifices. They bristle, chafe and rankle under My gentle Yoke of Love, half-wishing they had never committed their lives to Me to begin with! They wonder if the Door of Salvation is a swinging door which they can exit and reenter at their convenience. They would far rather be free to deal with others in a mean, petty, selfish, sarcastic manner, as they did before they ever heard the Gospel. All they're hanging onto Me for is the excellent fire insurance policy I afford them. These souls fail to realize that being transformed into My spiritual image is the very essence of My Salvation, and a necessary prerequisite for being fit for heaven! Their hardness of heart is a grief to Me. They have forgotten their first Love, and do not consider this: Love for Jesus is as Love for Jesus does!

All those who are truly repentant will rejoice in My grace, and communicate with others of My unspeakable goodness in working in their lives. They will even manifest godly humility toward those whom they've alienated in times past, and of whom they've received forgiveness.

Hearts knit together in My Love and walking joyfully together in My Spirit constitute true Christian fellowship. Where My Love is absent, I also am absent!

Love one another freely, in deed as well as in word. Remember, though, only I am worthy of unconditional trust. No one has the right to wipe their dirty feet all over your heart!

Reconciliation in Heaven

Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-38; John 21:18

It's time for my quarrelling kids to bury the hatchet and learn to love and forgive one another. Some of you were hurt years ago and your last memories of the other person are terribly painful. Perhaps you never again made any type of contact with people who hurt you, and deliberately neglected to keep track of them over the years. Or you moved far away in an effort to leave a miserable past behind and make a fresh start in life.

I recall more than one Christian couple whose marriage fell apart, with a major geographical move being made by one of the spouses to forget the other person after an acrimonious divorce. But more often than not, the relocation would do little to ease the pain of betrayal or other damage done to the relationship, and it would take My supernatural power to help the innocent spouse begin to heal.

There are many Christian spouses who divorced and remarried other believers, often leaving heartbroken children and a lot of bitterness in their wake. How that grieves My heart. But repentance for wrongdoing would often follow, and I would readily forgive the ones at fault. In such cases the people concerned would elect to remain in their present marriages, so as not to make a tragic situation worse.

Many an alienated saint has wondered: "What if the other person repents and I encounter him (or her) one day again in heaven? Won't there be an awkwardness between us?

Definitely no. Even in this imperfect, disorderly world I never let one of My saints undergo an experience unless I am certain he or she is ready for it. Learning and personal progress will continue even in heaven, and even in the absence of the sin nature! I have ordained a time for all things in My plan for this present life you live, and also for the life which is to come.

In this world, people come and go at will. That was true of Simon Peter, who as a young man, would get dressed and go socialize with any person he pleased, whenever he pleased. As a believer, it is always wise to spend a brief time seeking My approval before making a journey or going to visit a particular person. How much more do My saints in heaven acknowledge My Lordship over their own comings and goings, and great happiness results. Heaven is a happy Paradise because there, people always live in complete harmony with their Heavenly Father's will. So My saints always enjoy the benefits of My perfect wisdom.

In the case of believers who were at odds with each other on earth, there is a time of waiting until I decide they are ready to meet again. But at no time do they harbor evil thoughts or rancor in their hearts, for that would be sin, and sin does not exist here.

There have been many tearful reunions, but My children always were glad to see each other again! Forgiveness takes place here, as well as on earth. As for repentant ex-spouses reconciling in heaven, marriage does not exist in this blessed realm in the sense you know it on earth. My saints comprise one big happy family of brothers and sisters in Christ. Relationships in the Body of Christ reach a level of holy perfection here in heaven which is unattainable in a sinful world.

Reconciliation is at the supreme theme of My great work of redemption. When I set out to destroy all the works of satan, I was not caught off guard by the ugly mess He would make of relationships in future times. I am the Healer of Hearts, and I do all things perfectly well.

A Time to Draw Apart

Ecclesiastes 3:5; Hosea Chapter 3

So many of you come under feelings of condemnation because you cannot feel warm and effusive toward everyone in your church, especially toward those who have repeatedly hurt you and proven themselves untrustworthy as brethren in Christ. You think that forgiving someone means that you must immediately take up the relationship where it left off before the offense was committed.

That is impossible, especially when the offender is a reckless personality, immature and willfully inconsiderate of others. When a building is demolished by an earthquake, it takes much time to rebuild it. Sometimes the damage extends even to the foundations of the structure, and it must be relaid with fresh cement. Only I am able to cement My Body together in Love.

I have seen close Christian friendships break up because I was not Lord of that friendship, and there were major blockages to the flow of My Love. A sharp-tongued, manipulative type would subtly bully his or her gentle-natured friend until the damage was so extensive the abuse could no longer be tolerated. They would then part company, often acrimoniously. If both parties continued going to the same church, the air around them would be supercharged with tension. The two hostile saints could not partake together at the Communion Table with a clear conscience.

Such a scenario feels much like a marital split. This is also true when a believer gives up trying to fit into the life of a particular church and severs ties with it for good because he feels like an unloved, unneeded appendage. He feels like he's divorced an entire fellowship!

Remember the example of Hosea the Prophet, who extended supernatural forgiveness towardhis adulterous wife Gomer. Her track record was one of repeated betrayal toward her husband. Hosea had solid grounds for divorce. But part of my plan for his life was that he demonstrate the kind of forgiveness I repeatedly showed toward Idolatrous Israel.

But even in showing forgiveness, Hosea exercised wisdom. He could not immediately be just as close to Gomer as he'd been before her sin. Before their relationship could be restored to its former intimacy, a new foundation of trust had to be built between them. Hosea needed space and time to heal inside. They were no longer estranged, but a necessary distance was kept between them "for many days" before they became close again.

When someone deliberately sins against a fellow believer, fellowship between them is broken. I must impart a fresh supply of love to the heart of the offended one, or the damage done to their relationship will be permanent. My Agape Love must be restored immediately. The trust and warm feelings happen later.

Living in Harmony

Amos 3:3; II Cor. 6:14-18; Eph. 5:7, 11; I Tim. 5:22; II John 10

I understand the pressure so many of My poorer children are under, with the skyrocketing price of housing, how it eats up their meager paychecks until they feel driven to find a solution...any solution.

I see the chaos caused when some Christian young person ends up sharing a house with roommates who don't know Me as Lord. The worst case scenario is when unconverted roommates engage in acts of immorality under the same roof as the believer, so that he feels like he's in a no-win situation. His roommates exchange foul jokes, get drunk and spread their evil influence in the kitchen and living room. The atmosphere is so tainted with spirits of lust and blasphemy that such a house cannot receive My blessing. Even when the Christian shuts his or her own bedroom door to pray, that one draws the ostracism and criticism of the others for setting himself apart as different, and for being antisocial.

The same principle applies to putting up people who give every evidence of being hostile toward My standards of basic decency. If they won't respect your right as a Christian host to protect the atmosphere of your home, keep them out. Every dog, however cute and cuddly, brings his fleas in with him. Unrepentant sinners would only contaminate your consecrated home with demonic influences which might be hard to remedy and cast out after your guests leave. You need to be wise, especially if you have a family to consider. You would not want your child to mimic the words and ways of a foul-mouthed drunk. Hospitality toward the unholy is one sticky type of situation where satan can make darkness appear as light. Always seek My approval before making a tricky decision of any kind. Once you are sure of it, My guidance must always be final. Even if outsiders think you are being uncharitable in a decision, remember, I alone am Lord.

If you must share living space with others because of lean finances, first pray about it and ask Me to lead you to My perfect solution before you rush into a disastrous situation. I would bring together young Christian men to live together to edify and encourage one another in the faith, as well as to share living costs. I would also bring my daughters together for the same purpose, so that after they leave their parents' home they might form friendships and lend support to each other to give one another strength to go out and face an unedifying working environment each day.

I send you out into the world to minister My Word and My Life, but I would not have you to bring the world and its wickedness into the peaceful sanctuary of your home.

Justified by Jesus' Blood, Not by Legalism

Deut. 14:26; Judges 9:13; Psalms 104:15; Jeremiah 35:1-10, 18-19; Amos 9:13-14; Matt. 26:29; Luke 7:34-35; John 2:1-11; Romans 14: 3,13-23; I Corinthians 8:8-13; 10:23-33; Ephesians 2:8-9; I Thes. 5:22; I Tim. 4:3-5; 5:23; Hebrews 4:16; and 10:19

Oh, how wearisome to My people, all the man-made legalism they encounter in church. Things like clothesline Christianity. One group puts you down if you don't appear prosperous; another teaches you can earn My favor by keeping an austere set of rules: no jewelry or make-up, no haircuts for women. Some people have even been warned that taking an occasional glass of wine is a one-way ticket to hell. Legalists are always tongue-tied when they're reminded that Jesus' first miracle was to turn water into wine, and indeed wine was considered an essential part of a Jewish wedding. Christ also promised His disciples that He would one day drink of the fruit of the vine with them again in His Kingdom. I detest excess which leads to drunkenness, but I would have every believer to grow mature enough to be led by Me as to where exactly to set his or her own boundaries in earthly matters. An adolescent or adult cannot depend on his parents to dictate all his actions. A pastor should not seek to control every aspect of his people's lives, but should guide them in the principles of godly wisdom. There are those whom I have commanded to totally abstain from strong beverages of every sort, for these weak souls would be overpowered by even a sip of wine.

To those who enforce a blanket prohibition of all wine consumption upon My congregation because Paul was willing to give it up if it caused offense, remember this: Paul also was willing to give up meat, which in the context of that ancient society was suspect because of possible contamination by idols. Does this mean that all My children should be vegetarians as well? Remember also Paul's advice to Timothy to use wine as a tonic for his stomach ailments. Among the many blessings I promised ancient Israel was a bountiful vintage of wine grapes, along with a bumper crop of wheat for bread-making.

Some justify imposing a total ban on congregational wine-drinking by citing the example set by the Rechabites. These people were commanded by Jonadab, son of Rechab, never to drink wine or even to plant vineyards. This would preclude them even from eating table grapes. They were also commanded not to possess any real estate in the land, nor to sow seed or build houses. They were to remain tent-dwelling nomads. Jonadab's descendants set a godly example of obedience to the wise counsel of their ancestor. In this way they did not come under bondage to the perils of covetousness and making the acquisition of possessions their goal in life. In a world where so few honored their parents in a spirit of obedience, Jeremiah the prophet spoke My words of approval upon them and promised them great blessing for their obedience. But if you claim to be followers of Jonadab, you must be consistent, My people. Don't plant farmland. Don't even own the farmland. Don't build yourself a house. Dwell in a tent instead. Don't even eat grapes, because then you would be eating a product Jonadab forbade His own children to plant, and it would mean someone else had to "sin" by planting the source of the grapes you ate, the forbidden vineyard. Always exercise godly wisdom and sanctified common sense in how you apply My Word.

Always walk in the higher law of My Love and be guided by My Spirit of Love. Do nothing to provoke another believer who honestly believes the thing you enjoy is sin. I have called you to liberty and will withhold no legitimate enjoyment from you, but remember how highly I esteem your brother's soul. If he joins you in partaking of something he THINKS is sinful, to him it IS sinful! These are perilous times, beloved, and appearing drunk can damage your testimony. Hard liquor in particular has acquired a bad reputation as devil's brew, since much crime, family breakup and domestic violence has sprung from its consumption. The problem of discernment arises when weak souls are just as offended by mild wines and beer as strong whiskey. It would be far better to just have soft drinks at a party than to stir up needless contention by boasting that you have no qualms about indulging in beer or wine. My Spirit imparts such peace and joy to you, that you do not really need the transitory euphoria provided by alcoholic beverages.

Be sensitive to the needs of others. Remember to avoid all apearance of evil. Avoid slippery traps of the enemy. What kind of testimony is it when a Christian believer dresses seductively, then goes to a bar to join cursing, swearing sinners in their rowdy behavior? Is that edifying to the Christ within you? Keep in mind that it's your responsibility to set a godly example for the young people of your fellowship. You will be held accountable for how diligent you were to make personal decisions in the light of Christ's Love.

What really grieves Me is that so many think that their abstinence from harmless amusements like ball games or sports, or from certain adornments, foods and mild beverages makes it more likely that they will beat you to the gates of heaven. That is robbing Me of My Glory. It is only through the Blood of the Lamb sprinkled on the Mercy Seat in heaven that anyone can freely approach My Presence in Prayer. It is CHRIST Who makes you acceptable to Me, not legalistic dietary habits or plain dress.

Put on Christ

Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 1:21

How natural for people of the world to want to put on masks to camouflage the inadequacies and imperfections they behold in themselves. And indeed, they are quite adept at doing this. In the world, it is often the cleverest game-player who is most highly esteemed, the one who puts on the best show to impress others, and is most skilled in the art of fabrication.

The world is all caught up in staging productions, in living out real life soap operas. People desperately want to project themselves as winners who always come out on top; as glamorous heroes who felled the giant with one good shot and escaped without ruffling a hair. Marred by the Fall of Adam, the carnal mind is forever looking for ways to patch up that gnawing sense of inadequacy caused by the Fall. Above all things, a self-obsessed individual wants to persuade others that he is worthy of esteem and love.

This should not be the mindset of the believer. At salvation, a person faces the fact that he, by nature IS depraved and undone. He acknowledges that My love is bestowed by grace alone, not because of any sensational attributes or achievements he can boast of. There is only one thing he can do about his inadequacy: allow Me to remove the dirty rags of his old nature, and clothe him in Christ, his new Life.

Bridle Your Tongue

Matthew 12:34-37; James 3: 1-12

No other member of the body is potentially more lethal than the tongue. I have seen saints who were only too eager to "share a word from the Lord" with a brother or sister whom they judged to be deficient in one or more areas of their lives. Invariably such a smug attitude only serves to finely hone a tongue in the art of cutting another down to size.

I detest the way some believers coyly smile even as they say such things as: "Are you SURE that's all your husband's been up to?" Or: "Don't you think there's a DEEPER reason you've had all this trouble in your life? Listen, brother, I'm saying this out of love. If God healed you or bailed you out of this mess, you would only get all puffed up with pride like Paul was tempted to be, so God is really doing you a favor by leaving you sick and poor."

Such people would be elated to find that their suspicions had been well-founded, for they consider you beneath them spiritually and socially and worthy only of a sound thrashing from Me. But those hypocrites are the ones who should fear, lest My humbling hand fall upon them to correct their bad attitudes!

A carelessly spoken word clings to the soul like burning napalm. Even if an apology is offered, the offense is remembered. Only through My miraculous grace is true forgiveness possible, and the hurt taken away. Unless prayer is offered for My miraculous power to weed out the bad seen sown in that person's life, he might inadvertently turn around and abuse others in the same way, just passing the strife on in a ripple effect which can quickly rage out of control like a forest fire.

Manifest Christ

Mark 9:50; John 12:32; and 13:34-35

It breaks My Father-Heart to receive daily reports from My angels about the sniping and bickering and contention going on among the saints. When one Christian meets another Christian for the first time, He or she should be able to discern in the Spirit that the other is walking in harmony with Me, and to accept him on that basis. In a prosperity-oriented congregation, critical eyes rake up and down the other form, wondering just how much that one spent on his apparel, and thus, how wealthy he is. Or, a legalistic Christian will scan the other person to make sure he is free of expensive jewelry or cosmetics. Even if the other person passes that initial test by looking plain enough, there are other hurdles she must clear before she earns acceptance. Only if the new arrival seems to conform sufficiently to the exacting standards of the group will tentative friendliness be shown.

People find it great fun to keep each other ever on edge, to play the game of parry and thrust, to keep each other walking on a tightrope and sitting on eggs. If the pastor is a reserved, serious type, he "lacks charisma". How unlike Jesus, critics think, for Jesus was popular and outgoing. If the pastor laughs too loudly or too often, he is "being carnal". After all, nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus ever laughed or even cracked a smile If the pastor's wife wears bright clothing, she is "too worldly". If she looks too plain, she "isn't a good complement to his ministry".

There always seem to be far more excuses NOT to accept your brother and sister in Christ than reasons to love them unconditionally. Some souls have no one they can confide in about the pressing issues of life except Me. I, the Head, must buoy up these dear ones with supernatural strength to bear up under rejection and other pressures, lest they faint in the day of adversity, for no one else cares much about them.

My original intent was to so fill My people with My love that there would be a mighty overflow and lost sinners would be drawn to Me, attracted by My goodness. But My sweet graces are at odds with the cultural norms of this sinful world. The benefits of My Kingdom have been so suppressed that I am now hard-pressed to keep the sheep I already have from going back to the world and perishing with it.

The Apostle of Love

I Corinthians 13:1; I John 5

All of My original Apostles (except Judas) were found faithful at the end of their earthly sojourn, and, after their decease, received a glorious welcome into My Heavenly City. They had all left behind an enduring testimony. Your own conversion was made possible because of the fruitfulness of these first followers of Christ, and the written record they left behind.

The apostle John, especially, caught the vision of the centrality of My Love to all things pertaining to the Christian life. His disciples often asked him: "Brother John, what are you going to minister on today?"

His reply was invariably: "The Love of God in Christ Jesus."

When visiting his congregations, he would often ask them: "Little children, are you still walking in His love?"

At that moment, they would be compelled to examine their own hearts to see if it were so. They would feel greatly ashamed if they could not reply "Yes, Brother John." And it would do no good to try to mislead this aged saint who had walked so closely with his Lord. He was so full of My Spirit that nobody could fool him.

He would do all in his power to recover My straying sheep. If his under-shepherds were lax in this area, he would gently reprove them; for he remembered what Jesus had said about seeking and saving that sheep which was lost.

The day came when John had to go off on a missionary journey. There was a young convert in the Church of Ephesus whom John had entrusted to the oversight of a friend of his. But it wasn't long before the lad fell in with a bad bunch. Rather than influencing them for good, the new convert was enticed to renounce his new faith and join his roguish pals in their life of brigandry.

After a lengthy absence, John returned to check on the spiritual progress of the young man. "How is the soul whom the Lord has entrusted to your oversight?" John asked his under-shepherd.

"He has gone away from us," replied his friend sheepishly. "Trouble not yourself over him, Master. He is hopeless anyway. I can no longer be burdened with him. I have more profitable things to do for the Lord."

John reminded him that the Chief Shepherd of souls values His one wandering sheep so much that He leaves all the faithful ones and seeks him out.

John backed up his words with action. He personally undertook an arduous search for this man. On his journey, he was waylaid on the road by a gang of highwaymen, who threatened to kill him if he did not hand over his valuables. John recognized the leader as the man who had run away from his flock. "Why would you harm your own aged father?" he asked. "I have come to recover your soul from death."

The heart of the brigand was moved by the Spirit of Grace, for no one is able to repent unless My Holy Spirit imparts that ability to him. The man knelt, weeping, at the feet of the apostle. John took him back home. He fasted and prayed with the penitent, admonishing him with tears, until peace came back to the young man's soul and the defilement of his former life was washed away. There are times when spiritual warfare must be waged to expel spirits of darkness which have crept into the life of a believer. They can be very stubborn about releasing their grip once they've secured a foothold.

Because John was willing to go the extra mile to help a fallen brother instead of writing him off as hopeless, this young man eventually became a bishop in the Church. There is great power in My love.

Many believers of that time thought that John was too preoccupied with the subject of "love". But John knew by divine revelation that love is the very essence of My nature, and if this vital truth is ignored, the proclamation of the Gospel loses its power. Love is the very mortar which holds together My Building of Living Stones, the Church. John could foresee that the effectiveness of My Church would wane if that most central of truths was ignored. No other motivation for serving Me is acceptable.

Rekindling Dying Coals

Isaiah 32:15; 42:3; Matt.3:11

It's easy to write off a backslider as hopeless and say I might as well not bother with him anymore. But consider a pile of dead-looking coals. They look white and inactive, but if they are stirred and blown upon, it's just possible they could be rekindled.

Many non-religious people who were saved as children have been revived back to an intimate knowledge of Christ when the refreshing breath of My Spirit of Life blew upon them.

I Direct Your Comings and Goings

Psalms 32:8; Proverbs 3:5-6; John 4:7-30

Jesus' disciples were surprised to find Him talking to a Samaritan woman when they returned from town with a supply of provisions. In that day, no respectable Jewish male would dare chat with a woman in public, especially a heathen one. But Jesus knew His encounter with her was divinely appointed. It was an opportunity to reap a rich harvest field which just happened to be off the beaten track.

There are times when your plans for the day must give place to to My own, but I always know best.

Frozen Out

John 10:11-14

I speak to that dear one who made an effort to get his or her pastor to take a personal interest in their deep trials, yet drew an aloof response and walked away disillusioned.

When he casually asked you: "How are you?", he was taken aback by your detailed, truthful reply. You let him know in your own way that you were weary of burdens or cares which you were ill-equipped to bear, and longed for the peace of heaven.

He prided himself on being an excellent expositor of My Word. It warmed his heart to be able to boast that his pews were populous, or his folding chairs filled up. But it reached the point where he began to retreat from you whenever you walked up to greet him after the service. All you wanted to do was go tell him personally what his message meant to you. You had somehow accepted that he had no time to get to know you or empathize with you as an individual. After all, it's just too much work to take an in-depth interest in one individual or his family, even if the congregation is small . It's so time-inefficient to do for one what can be done en masse from the pulpit.

Just because you were lonely and cast adrift in your troubles, and weren't strong enough to totally conceal the fact, he was leery of you. He didn't have to say one word as he gave you that look. He thought you were quite odd for expecting him to play the part of the Good Shepherd.

Know what I think? It was HIS deficiency, not yours!

The Arm of Flesh Fails

Deuteronomy 33:27a; Psalms 146:3; Proverbs 25:19; Jeremiah 17:5-8; John 14:27

You plead with Me to be patient with you, and to understand the reasons behind your difficulties.

Yet many of you fall into the snare of believing the worst about your brethren who have been wounded in this present warfare against satan. If a perplexing problem besets your brother's life, judgmental believers think it must be My chastening Hand heavily smiting him for some glaring fault or some secret imperfection. The self-righteous fancy themselves to be the favored few who are dwelling securely in Beulah Land, warmed by the balmy sun of prosperity.

Woe be unto those who indiscriminately confide their troubles to seemingly religious folk, without first consulting Me about it. If the situation is superficial, or not outside the scope of human wisdom, then human consolation might come to the troubled one.

But when the trouble endured seemingly has no precedent, misunderstandings arise. In these last days, satan is busy hurling heavy artillery against certain ones whom he especially hates. There are situations in individual lives which are freak innovations of the devil's age-old tactics. This phenomena is similar to the way new strains of disease pathogens mutate from older ones in order to resist antibiotics.

A nasty, knotty problem can defy established wisdom because darkness often masquerades as light, and it can be seem as uncharitable to resist certain evil situations in life. Life does not always fall into predictable, orderly patterns, and this is not always the fault of the troubled one. Real life can get complex and messy. The devil knows My redeemed ones are often well-trained in handling run-of-the-mill, commonly faced problems. But there are situations endured which would have confounded the wise King Solomon himself.

If a perplexed saint confides his trouble to another believer who has not sought Me for an anointing of wisdom, further hurts may be inflicted upon that tormented soul. He or she is suspected of being un-Christlike in their response to the trial. Or, he is accused of being selfish or slothful when just the opposite is true.

Other times little rapport exists between the tried person and the ministry of his church.The problem might be so sordid in its nature, so perverted and offensive to sanctified ears that the counsellor recoils in horror and refuses to listen anymore. The tranquil waters of this placid pool must never be disturbed, for his mind is on the mountaintop, far removed from the brutal warfare being waged in the valley below.

So with partial hearing and scanty comprehension comes contempt and hasty judgment: You're getting just what you deserve, the counselee sees in the barbed smile of his cold counsellor, who dispenses a little acerbic advice and dismisses his listener with a polished "prayer", before returning to the serene sanctuary of his own cozy home.

Let not such a complacent counselor delude himself into thinking that he would fare better in such a trial, or that the day of testing will never darken his own life. No other army on earth is less circumspect or knowledgeable of their enemy's tactics than My own.

Let those who are deeply troubled lean upon Me. Yes, rest upon My everlasting Arms. They will never collapse beneath you; for I, in My loving faithfulness, will never fail you nor forsake you.

Tit for Tat

Luke 6:36

Oh, how it can smart when a well-meaning saint upbraids you for a fault in your life. So many saints fear that I am slacking off in my duty as a divine disciplinarian. So they gladly assume the role themselves , thinking they are helping Me out and I would be lost without their expertise in that area. They are loose canons in the congregation of the saints.

So many young saints feel they are continually held under a microscope, and every facet of their life is under the scrutiny of more seasoned saints. If they laugh too much, they're starting to skate on thin ice, so they are exhorted to sobriety. If they share a funny anecdote, they are backsliding, even if the story is inoffensive. If they take offense at insults, they need to be crucified, and who better to do it than the older saint who has been "in the way" for much longer than they?

I have seen many saints, both old and young, begin to sour on the Christian life, simply because they feel they continually have to defend themselves from unwarranted criticism. Not from Me, but from My self-appointed representatives. It really does grieve Me when the tables are turned, and the younger saint stays on the lookout for any sign that his elder critic's halo is tarnishing. If a swear word escapes the lips of the self-righteous individual, or problems arise within his marriage, the other person feels like he's evened the score. He's elated because now he doesn't feel so sinful anymore.

It's bad enough the world is full of sick people games, and sinners are always preying on each other. Must My people also prey on one another, rather than pray for each other?

Be Ye Merciful

Matthew 5:7, and 18:33; I Peter 3:8

So many of My children plead, "O Lord, please see me only through the Blood of Jesus. Look not upon my fleshly faults, but let them be hidden from Your sight through the imputed righteousness of Christ Jesus. Please see your Son as You look upon me."

Truly I accept My people as righteous because of the unspeakably wonderful atonement of My own precious Son. Because of His perfectly sinless and obedient life, which was offered up for your salvation, I can accept all those who believe on Him as righteous and fit to enter My very Presence in prayer. He is the Bread of Life, and all who partake of Him shall live forever. My little children, Christ is your mediator. He ever lives to make intercession for you before My Throne in heaven. He is your covering. Rejoice because of what He has done for you, and because of this great Love of Mine which He shall never cease to manifest to you.

Sadly, there are many who eagerly grasp My tender mercy and lovingkindness and yet are stingy in the way they dispense these things to others, even their own brothers and sisters in Christ. These double-minded backsliders refuse to see Christ in the faces seated across the aisle from them. In fact, this thought often crosses their mind: What does Jesus see in THAT person anyway? When these souls are assailed by the fiery darts of the devil, the hypocrite shows no kindness or compassion toward them. Rather, there is more than a hint of blame toward the besieged saint, as though that dear one had chosen to be a sitting duck for satan and deliberately placed his own soul in harm's way! The real truth is this: The devil would have far fewer opportunities to make mincemeat out of a vulnerable soul if My people were united in love and purpose, like a good solid family should be. Even the animal kingdom shows more sense, the way members of herds stand shoulder to shoulder to shield their vulnerable members, particularly their young, from attack by predators.

"Greet one another with a holy kiss," I said in My Word. Yet some think they are too good to bestow a wisp of a smile, though it costs them nothing. And these stony hearts take it upon themselves to finish off those wounded in the fray, giving them an unholy kick, rather than a holy kiss. They are like vultures, the way they make a meal out of someone who has lost his spiritual footing and fallen into a pit. Gossip disguised as "prayer requests" spreads like wildfire, and "spiritual giants" serve up a heaping helping of their self-ordained "Ministry of Rebuke" to one whose heart is already crushed with humiliation.

The tongue has the power to bless and minister words of healing. Yet many employ it as a sharp sword to complete the devil's objective to kill and destroy.

Let all those who have fallen into these snares make a full repentance before Me, for when you wound a member of My Body, you also wound Me.

The Runaway

There was a youth whose father frequently administered chastisement in the form of vigorous whippings and strident rebukes. One day, after a particularly bad beating, the lad fled his home for good, preferring to take his chances out in the cold, cruel world.

There are many church refugees who simply couldn't take the emotional and spiritual abuse anymore, and went elsewhere to search for their Good Shepherd.

The Good Samaritan

Luke 10: 29-37; James 2:14:17

When the Good Samaritan ministered to the Jew who had been waylaid by highwaymen, he didn't rub salt in his wounds to make them hurt even more. He applied wine and oil to them. Both of these things symbolize restoring influences of the Holy Spirit. The wine served as a disinfectant, counteracting further destructive influences, even as His ministry restrains the destructive activity of satan. The oil soothed the man's damaged tissues; the Holy Spirit is indeed the Great Comforter. My wounded saints need comfort when they have been trounced by the devil, not salty criticism.

The Good Samaritan did not pause to ask the man lying wounded on the road if if he'd started the fight and brought the injuries on himself. He did not take a gun and finish the job for the ones who'd beaten him up.

I have many warriors in My army who have fought valiantly against the devil, yet have fallen wounded and are bleeding inside. When more "spiritual" people shrink away from them, I must directly minister to them Myself. I bestow upon these dear saints a special sense of My Presence, and pour in the Wine and Oil of the Spirit, to heal wounds no other person is qualified to treat.

God's Warning to Loveless Landlords

Behold, saith the Lord, the day is at hand when I shall bring to remembrance all the cruelty of loveless landlords who turned individuals and families out in the cold and the rain, and took no pity on them in their day of humiliation and ruin. When these pompous sinners appeal to me to cover them in My Blood and shelter them from the firestorm of judgment to come I will turn a deaf ear to them just as they turned a deaf ear to their neighbor in need and showed no pity.

Those who ground the faces of the poor in the dirt because they could not afford the high price of existing in their overpriced property will hear from Me: "You are weighed in the balance and found wanting. You have not sufficient credits laid up in heaven to enter into My Kingdom. Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting darkness prepared for the devil and his angels."

Many religious landlords will, in desperation, appeal with the then-vain protestation: "Lord, did you not pay the price for every man's salvation? Is not Your own righteousness sufficient for my salvation? Why, then, do you find me weighed in the balance and found wanting, and thus unworthy to enter into Your Kingdom? Why are You casting me out?"

It is then I shall say: "Because you refused to see My face in the faces of the poor you despised and threw out as rubbish. You heard the Gospel in your lifetime, sinner. You knew the truth, but you went to church only to keep up a respectable front before the community. Yet you were ashamed to own Me as Lord before all the men of eminence you wished to impress. You never acknowledged Me as Lord in the business of day-to-day living. You withheld mercy from My poor brethren during your vain lifetime, so now mercy is being withheld from you. Go away. You refused to store up the riches that endure by showing mercy to those in need, so you are much to poor to inhabit these mansions of light with the company of the redeemed."

If I shall deal harshly with unmerciful religious hypocrites who oppressed the poor, why should the rest of the wicked expect any mercy from Me when the Day of My Wrath consumes the earth?

Don't Be A "Job's Comforter"

Job 16:1-2; Habakkuk 3:17-18; Romans 12:15; I Corinthians 12:26

God helps those who help themselves. Where is this time-worn maxim found in My Word? The self-satisfied saint says to the brother trapped in miserable circumstances: "Serves you right. If only you weren't so slothful, you could prosper just like me." Or, "You're holding back something (usually he means money!) from the Lord, and He can't AFFORD to prosper you!"

I can do whatever I please. Job's so-called friends also tried to proscribe the limits within I was permitted to bless My children, or keep them from adversity. IF you keep all the rules, they told this afflicted saint, God MUST let all your circumstances be favorable ones. "Look at US", they really meant. "WE must be pleasing in God's sight. WE'RE well, WE'RE happy. WE aren't destitute, sitting in a heap of ashes and moaning in pain. But God singled YOU out to put all these nasty things on. Come on now, Job. 'Fess up! What did YOU do to make God so mad He'd want to punish YOU like this? Tell us the whole sordid story of YOUR sins!"

Job's smug accusers were utterly ignorant of the true nature of My Holiness. For as I said in MY Word, there is not one person on earth who can stand before Me as righteous on his own merits. Only through faith in the Blessed Redeemer can My perfect righteousness be imputed to those who love Me. And, all have sinned and come short of My glory. Furthermore, My Word says: Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Job's friends sought only to humiliate and outwit this poor man. They were expert at the game of long-winded debate, but they did not possess the tender-hearted compassion of My Son. To them, material prosperity and health were the ONLY sure signs of My approval and favor. They thought that only wickedness lay in Job's heart, rather than steadfast faith in his Redeemer. And they ignored the fact that the wicked, who concern themselves ONLY with their own comfort and ease, often prosper materially in this present world.

Fair Weather Faith

Habakkuk 3:17-19; II Corinthians 6:10

My, how the "faith" teachers love to rake poor Job over the coals. But it takes much stronger faith to trust Me in adversity than in material prosperity.

What if a promoter of the Prosperity Gospel were to suddenly lose all the trappings of a "King's Kid"? What if he became a victim of "corporate downsizing", got knocked clean off the corporate ladder, and ended up working at a far humbler job? Chances are, he'd be bounced back down the "social ladder" as well, for carnal people confine themselves to their own cliques. What if the bank repossessed his car because he could no longer keep up the payments, and his peer-pressured children were ashamed to be seen riding in an old clunker he replaced his fancy car with? What if he had to spend months seeking a new job, and his children were ashamed of him?

Could he still praise Me even if the bank foreclosed on his fine home, and he had to pay rent on a run-down dump instead? What if he were had to cut up his credit cards and he could no longer afford to treat his friends to dinner at fine restaurants? Would his affluent friends quickly tire of treating him? What if he even lost his own health? Could he weather such severe storms, especially if they came in rapid-fire succession, like Job's trials struck?

Most likely not. Those who have been wrongly taught to set their affections on earthly things would crumble and feel that they had somehow failed Me; for according to Prosperity Theology, the perks of the Christian life are the fruit of faith. The poor guy's fellow church members would, most likely, shy away from him so as not to be contaminated by his "negative confession".

Job suffered trials every bit as traumatic as these. Yet in spite of all his setbacks, he never turned his back on Me or renounced his own faith. Could his smug, self-righteous critics have retained their trust in Me if tried to the same degree? What do YOU think?

Lord, Help Me

Psalms 34:4-7, 15, and 17; Hebrews 4:16

Sometimes your sorrows are so overwhelming, you fear you'll lose the peace I've imparted to you. Satan is quick to seize upon such stressful moments and use them to his dark advantage. He'll whisper the vilest lies in your ear, using all his cunning to undermine your faith in My faithfulness and love. From that point it's easy to slide into a deep vortex of self-pity, lamenting that you don't have this or that prayer answered, that no one cares about you, even asking yourself why I ever created you in the first place. All it takes sometimes is a small cruelty or unkind word from another person to trigger off these seismic reactions which shatter your soul. All devastating earthquakes begin with mild foreshocks.

Recognize the potential for one trial giving rise to another, deeper hurt, through the lies of the devil. The moment some irritation happens or someone says or does something to get you all upset; the moment you are tempted to engage in the slightest sin, call upon Me for help in time of need.

Many make the mistake of thinking: I'm big enough to handle this hurt or this temptation. I'm mature enough to rise above this petty aggravation. I'm too busy to compose a prayer now, anyway. That's the problem. People feel better about themselves when their prayers are eloquent and "worth offering up." But your goal should not be to merit a higher opinion of yourself by being eloquent in My Presence. You are facing a crisis which has the potential to blow up into a much bigger battle, one that you alone are unable to fight. You must come humbly to Me for help that I alone can give. All I ask is that you live continually in the awareness that you have access to Me through the High Priestly ministry of My sinless Son, your Redeemer the Lord Jesus Christ. This faith alone is sufficient to impart the proper humility to you.

I am not at all impressed by the cleverly contrived public invocations of pompous religious folk. Oftentimes, these utterances are not true prayers at all, but mere displays of fleshly pride. I do not even listen to such dribble. All I want is for you to pour out your heart to me. If you are too stressed to add anything else to your petition, just come to Me through Christ and say: " Lord, help me."

I am not confined to time, for I am a Being of eternity. I will already have dispatched angels to your aid even before your prayer is formed in your heart! If I waited till you were fully aware of the looming crisis, much damage would already have been done by the enemy.

If you feel you are in danger of any kind, whether from natural perils, or demonic attacks oppressing your soul or circumstances, cry out to Me and say: "Lord, help Me." You will feel the oppression leave your soul, like a great weight being lifted from it. The joy and peace of faith will replace the awful fear and despondency the devil had tried to chain you to. Moreover, I will destroy the seeds of destruction sown into the field of your life by the enemy, and restore all he has stolen from you. It takes the power of My Spirit to fight off these attacks of satan. And mighty angels, My unseen secret service agents, are there to rescue you, and to drive off the forces of darkness.

You incur much needless suffering when you fail to call upon Me in time of distress.

Unless the Lord Builds the House

Psalms 127:1

A certain woman brought together eggs, flour, sugar, baking powder, milk and salt on a table. Being a novice cook she stared down at them and said, "That's all I can do. I can't go any further."

Her cooking teacher came along and said: "Why are you standing there staring down at those ingredients and what were you trying to make?"

"Pie crust," said the first woman. "But I don't feel right combining them. Something's wrong."

"You're correct about that," said the seasoned cook. "Eggs don't belong in that recipe. Nor do baking powder, sugar and milk. And one ingredient is missing: the shortening to make it flaky and tender."

A lot of pastors are trying to build a church out of the wrong ingredients--vain traditions of men. Right doctrine quickened by My Spirit is essential for founding a church and it is My happy task to knit the right people together in the Love of the Spirit. Else "church" is little more than a club meeting that leaves people just as hungry as when they walked in the door.

Just for Looks

There was a lonely little boy who wanted a dog. Someone to lick his face, play catch with and curl up against on cold winter nights. Someone to share all of life with.

But his mother was so concerned with keeping the house tidy she resisted the idea. A dog would shed hairs on the floor and might be too difficult to housebreak. It might even attract fleas.

One day she called the child into the living room. "I have s surprise for you," she said. "Look over there, under the tree."

To his dismay it was a large stuffed toy. It was a fine work of art, with shiny brown "eyes" and glossy fur. A big red ribbon was tied around its neck.

"There's the perfect pet dog," the mother said. "You can cuddle up to him anytime you like, and my, how he'll brighten up your room. Best of all, he won't make messes for me to clean up."

"But can he play ball with me, Mother?" asked the small boy.

"No, son, he can't. I'm afraid he's dead."

A lot of churches brighten up the landscape, but they're just for looks.

They're dead.

Don't Lose Your Luster

Song of Solomon 2:15; Daniel 12:3; Matthew 13:43 ; Revelation 2:4

Nothing is more beautiful and precious in My sight than to see the love of Christ reflected in the countenance of one of My dear children. Joy unspeakable fills the heart of a person at the moment of his conversion. There is a freshness and wonder about being alive which hadn't been there before. The reason is this: Before being born again, you're only physically alive, for you are dead spiritually until My Spirit quickens your spirit to newness of life.

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit makes you feel even more complete, for through this unspeakable blessing, you are endowed with additional power to live as a believer, and there is an even more wonderful sense of My abiding Presence. A sense of sparkling cleanliness and an anointing of divine love rest upon one who has received these favors from Me.

The Spirit-led believer finds he has much more of an appetite to learn of eternal truths than he did before. The Spirit imparts a much greater aptitude for grasping the truths of the Kingdom, and motivates a believer to earnestly desire to serve Me. There are godly desires, whereas before, there had been many sinful ones. A believer who is full of My Spirit feels a great responsibility to learn My ways, do My will, and grow in My love.

But that believer also possesses a childlike aspect which is precious to Me. The joy of the Lord literally shines in his eyes, and imparts a joyous effervescence to his voice. His handshake or hug is real, and when he asks how you are doing he genuinely cares. Heaven seems far more real and glorious to him. He stops to admire a flower or a brilliant sunset. Praise and singing well up in the heart of a Spirit-baptized saint, for he is deeply in love with his King. He finds it a joy to share My overflowing love with those around him. He unashamedly tells others that all of Creation was made by his loving Heavenly Father, and that nothing is impossible for Me. Childlike joy and humility go hand-in-hand with the wisdom imparted by the Spirit of God.

Whenever such a believer's experience begins to lose its luster, it is because of the little foxes sneaking into the vineyard I have so carefully cultivated. I have seen more than one radiant Christian youth grow colder as he grew older. Many lose, by degrees, the vitality of their relationship with Me. Beset by temptations and the increasing pressures of adulthood, the young Christian may feel that his life is no longer so glorious as it used to be. This gritty world can take its toll on a person's emotions and thought processes, if daily help is not sought from Me. That joy which once shone so brilliantly fades until it barely glimmers, although the person still performs Christian duties and lives an upright life among his peers.

I have known many a believer who once was an example of childlike simplicity in letting Me live My Love through him or her. These people enjoyed giving so much that they hardly noticed any cost or inconvenience to themselves. One person was so well-acquainted with Me that others with whom she interacted would comment that it felt like being around Jesus Himself. Selfless deeds of love and words of encouragement would spring forth from the life of this believer. Truly her words would fill the hearer with a joyous hope. Wherever you saw her, you also encountered the Christ within her. She refreshed the souls of many, for she was overflowing with Springs of Living Water.

What happened to a great many of these young people who were once so full of My unfettered Love? They married or developed other close soul-ties with people whose lights weren't shining so brightly. One radiant girl who spread My joy all around married a cynical man with a barbed tongue. A man who had a ministry of cheerful giving married a parsimonious woman who pinches pennies. There was a poor woman who joyfully shared what little she had and saw the riches of the Eternal City through the eyes of faith. She married a hypocrite who made a comfortable living by defrauding others in his business dealings. Gradual, subtle changes took place in the dispositions and attitudes of all these saints.

It really does take My power to set a good example for your closest loved ones, rather than adapting yourself to them by "toning down" the outshining of My Life within you. This is no light matter with Me. If you long to have your First Love rekindled within your heart, call unto Me in repentance and faith. I am eager to bestow upon you a fresh new anointing of My Spirit. Never seek to please other people rather than Me. I will never settle for second place in anyone's life.

Only Empty Hands Can Receive

Philippians 3:4-9

Here was a man who'd climbed the ladder and reached the top. He boasted the equivalent of a post-doctorate degree in theology. He could speak several languages fluently. He was a truly brilliant man. He excelled all others in his field, so his word carried great weight with the religious establishment of his day. He literally held the power of life and death over people who didn't share his views, so it was very dangerous to differ with him. His future looked very bright indeed.

But when he saw a much greater Brightness, he had to throw all his old toys away so he would have room to receive My riches. Saul the Persecutor died and Paul the Apostle was born.

Just another Job

Revelation 2:4

So many times it is I Who actually feel like the "odd man out" in church services. I feel like just another task to get out of the way on people's weekly schedules. I see how people file into the sanctuary, chitchatting with one another over the weather, sports, fashion, and making small talk about trivial things and mutual acquaintances. Sometimes it is a real task for that one overworked and under-appreciated member of my Body, the pastor, to restore order and get the congregation in the mood for praise choruses to warm them up for the more reflective worship songs. And once the benediction is prayed, "church" is over and the gossip fest immediately takes up where it left off.

I read the minds of many saints whose minds are far, far away as they sing. One woman worries about her roast simmering in the oven. Will it be all dried out because she left it in too long? I see a man hoping his favorite sports team will win the big game of the season. A young girl frets over whether some young man likes her or not, and she passes notes to her friend sitting next to her, as if it couldn't wait till the short service is over!. And, most heartrending of all, a man or woman so deeply burdened by bills or a family breakup in the making, they find it nearly impossible to sing out of their heavy-laden hearts.

The biggest misconception about the word "church" is that it is something you go to, like the theater or a ball game, rather than something you are, a family of brothers and sisters united in the Spirit of the Love of Christ. Church-going is not to be viewed as a duty you must carry out at intervals, like going to a job or PTA meeting. The fellowship of the Body of Christ is there to benefit you and build you up; and you, in turn, can supply that measure of the ministry of Christ lacking in other people's lives.

When you gather together, let it be a love tryst between you and Christ, your Beloved Bridegroom.

Church: Ritual or Relationship?

John 15:12,17; Mark 7:9; Col.2:2-3; Eph.4:12-16

When people enter a dead congregation it is truly a whited sepulchre which seems to have a form of godliness but is full of decaying traditions of men which never could impart life eternal. Are visitors to blame for not finding reality in dead form? Where in My Word do I ever enjoin empty ritual upon My church? Even the haughty Pharisees prided themselves on the observance of their own manmade traditions.

Sunday after Sunday people salve their conscience by "going to church" to get their weekly dose. But much of the time they either come out of the building unchanged or even worse off than they were before because still more unscriptural error has been drilled into them. At such places their hearts grow heavier as their pocketbooks grow lighter. The appearance of religiosity is there in the fancy fixtures and empty rituals but the reality of life in Christ Jesus is missing.

Where you have a bunch of cold dead entities you have a desperate mob who are not being fed the Bread of Life that they might be renewed unto life. But wherever two or three or more are gathered in My Name to hear the Voice of their shepherd I am there. I am in your midst, O My people, as the Good Shepherd to feed My flock the milk and the meat of My Word. I am with you to equip you to be able to minister that portion of anointing I breathe into each and every one of you, that ye might strengthen and encourage one another and care one for another, and be able to reach a lost and dying world with My message of redeeming love. For truly, says the Lord, as the various members of My Body are knit together, giving and receiving the life-giving sap of My love through the anointing of the Spirit to become as one and work together as one, that is the true meaning of church. I reject the false ecumenical unity being promoted by a cunning deceitful devil to get men's eyes off the true Christ of the Bible. But I will have a Bride knit together in My Love before My appearing.

You can carry out all the elaborate, expensive rituals and programs you want, but without Me ye can do nothing. Only what I accomplish through you and among you will count for eternity.

Your Praises Bring Me Glory

Habakkuk 3:17-18; John 16:24; Romans 8:19-21

I love to see the smiles on the faces of My children when I do something special to meet their need. It brings you great joy to see daily evidences of My love and concern for every facet of your life. It brings great glory and honor to My Son for you to praise the Father and thank Me for My timely provision.

Indeed, you will begin to see answers come to prayers you prayed long ago and were tempted to give up on as hopeless causes. You who are filled with MY Spirit are also filled with My Glory, and you are drawing nearer to the Age of Glory when even nature itself shall be set free to praise Me perfectly.

The Mighty Wind of the Spirit

Ezek. 37:4-5; Mark 7:6-9; Acts 2:1-4

Truly it is far better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. But how can you keep a candle burning in an airless room? It takes the breath of My Spirit to keep My love alive in the hearts of my loved ones. Pray for Me to send a great move of the Mighty Wind of the Spirit so that stuffy, loveless congregations will be infused with a fresh anointing of My Life.

Some claim they don't need it. Why? There is plenty of religion in the world, and that's good enough for them. That's the crux of the problem. Sunday after Sunday My still small Voice is being drowned out by programs of men. Refreshing from on high is not sought for to revive weary hearts. Saints are drowsing in the aisles from the staleness in the air. Let the Breath of God inspire you to love as Jesus loved, and to walk as He walked.

Let Your Light So Shine

Daniel 12:3; Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:15

Manycarnal-minded believers are like shooting stars. A shooting star only appears to be a star, but it is just a meteor. Its brightness appears for a brief time, reaches a zenith, and begins to curve downward, descending until it is seen no more. Why? Because of the fleeting, flawed nature of human goodness. It endures but for a time. It is as insubstantial as cotton candy. Soon it runs out of steam, for it is dependent on the whimsical nature of the flesh. It fades like a fair flower, then dries up and dies, for the comeliness of the flesh nature is destined to pass away.

Many begin to take Me for granted. It is dangerous to think that My loving nature is something you can achieve by human effort. It isn't. As soon as you begin to tire of people you don't consider " fun to be around", you begin to grow chilly toward them in hopes of brushing them off. It really does take daily refreshing in My Presence to renew your capacity to love people of all personality types. Enmity is a by-product of the Fall of Adam. First he was estranged from Me, because he was no longer without sin and could not abide My Holy Presence. Then, his relationship with Eve was ruined because she had wheedled him into partaking of the forbidden fruit, so as to oblige him to share her exile from the Garden. Hostilities broke out among some of Adam's children. Throughout the ages, tensions have existed between diverse ethnic groups and even between church denominations, because fallen human nature is utterly vile and incapable of My Love. My nature must be imparted to you through My grace. It is a gift, not a byproduct of human will-power!

Abide in Me. Allow Me to daily mortify that abominable Adamic nature which is contrary to My Love; that rebellious bent which is so loathsome in My sight. Let My Light shine forever through you. I have even ignited your candle with Holy Fire from My own. Allow it to burn; don't snuff it out. My saints are to shine as lights in this world, that they may show lost humanity that I alone am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Abide in My Love

Dan. 12:3; Matt. 5:16; 25:1-13; John 15:4-10

Those who will not abide in My Love are like shooting stars. Their brightness appears for a brief time, reaches a zenith, and gradually curves downward, until their light is seen no more. Why? Human goodness endures but for a short time. It soon runs out of its own steam, and little by little it is depleted like the oil going out in the lamps of the five foolish virgins. These girls missed the wedding because their heart wasn't fully set on the Bridegroom and they were all wrapped up in their own self-centeredness.

Abide in Me. Let My light shine forever through you. You are not its source. I alone am the light of the World, and I delight in sharing My brightness with you as you continually seek to be refilled with My Spirit of Love and grace.

A Wall of Fire

Eccl.10:8; Song 2:15; Zech.2:5; Heb.12:29; I Pet.1:22

The enemy counts on your human imperfections and mistakes, saith the Lord, to make a hole in your life whereby he may gain entrance to oppress you with a multitude of vexations. A hedge of protection is needed against satan, and all too often, there are places where the enemy can penetrate. Ye must band together in the Spirit, saith the Lord, to resist the devil, whether he focuses his attack on one or two of you, or concentrates on hurting the whole assembly of the saints.

Never lose sight of your vital need for one another, as members of My dear family united in My Love. A wall of stones which are loosely packed together is marred by tiny cracks and crevices which are no problem for a snake to slither through. All too often the Lively Stones of My Body drift apart from each other, because the fruits of the Spirit are not carefully cultivated with diligence. Fervent love in the Spirit dries up and cracks in Christian relationships form because the weak, dying flesh nature comes to the forefront. It asserts dominance over and quenches My Spirit. Wherever such problems are found in church congregations, the enemy has a wide entrance to sow seeds of division and to let in the little foxes to spoil the tender vines.

Far better than a flawed stone wall is a wall of Fire round about you. Even as I shall in future days be a Wall of Fire round about Jerusalem to defend her from enemies, so would I be a Wall of Fire round about you, O My people, a barrier of impenetrable power and might. The fire of My fierce anger against your unseen foe is so hot that the Serpent fears to approach near unto it, much less try to bore holes through it to wriggle through it. Pray earnestly in the Spirit that ye might even be surrounded by that Holy Fire of the Spirit which will be a Comfort and a Light unto you, even as it is a terror unto the enemy. Seek Me that I might anoint you afresh with a heaven-sent anointing that imparts divine power and protection, not just upon your individual lives, but upon your corporate life as a congregation united in My Love.

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