Here’s Your Hat!

Are you ready??  As prepared as you can be for whatever is coming in these days?  My part here is not to tell you what is coming, but rather to encourage you to be ready, especially spiritually, for whatever may come. Unless you have been living under a rock, or on the moon, you can clearly tell that we are living in a season that is different from any we’ve lived through before.  Darkness and evil abound, and God’s messengers are sounding the alarm.  Here at untilthedaybreak.com we are discussing how to be ready when Jesus comes again.

We’ve talked about making sure we have an abundance of oil. (the Holy Spirit) Enough to last should He tarry.  We’ve seen how important it is to wake up. To rise and shine!  We’ve learned how to worship in spirit and in truth. And we’ve learned some of the Biblical patterns of praise.  and now we are embarking on a building project!  To build a habitation for the Lord in our lives.

So we are gearing up!  Clothing ourselves with the things God has provided for us, and commanded us to put on!   Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Faith…beginning to sound like a super hero costume, isn’t it? Yet, this outfit is very real.   And now…ta-dah… The Helmet of Salvation!  “and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”   Ephesians 6: 17

A helmet, of course, is used to protect the head from injury.  As the breastplate protects the heart, so the helmet safety-helmet-295057_640protects the brain, or the mind.  The mind is the place of our greatest battles. I find it worth noting that the Greek word used here for salvation: “soterion,”  also can be translated “defence.”   Paul is telling us here that we must take care to defend our minds.  We have to put on our “hard hat” every day because there are dangers about.

Salvation, of course, means that we have received the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as payment for our sins and misdeeds. It means we can look forward to eternity without fear. It means heaven in the afterlife.  It is a free gift of the grace of God, which comes through faith in Christ. And it means that we have invited Him to come live in us, to be Lord of our lives and of who we are.  But, there is much left for us to “work out” in our salvation as we walk on this earth. (Phil. 2:12)    And one of those things is to be aware that our minds can be defiled if we don’t take care by keeping Jesus in the forefront.  The best defence is to remember, moment by moment, who you are in Christ and Who He is in you! That is the Salvation Helmet!

Phil.2:5-7  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus  …who made himself of no reputation.

I Cor.2:16  But we have the mind of Christ

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.

2 Cor.10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

The mind is where we can be assailed with doubts, fears, anger, disappointments, offenses, confusions, & irritations.

We do battle against the world, our own flesh, and the enemy of our souls. We need to be able to recognize the source of our temptations.  Preparing ourselves daily in the Word and in prayer helps us to grow in discernment, and to be on guard when temptations come.  When Paul talks about the Mind of Christ in Philippians 2, he stresses the mindset of humility that is in Jesus.  Keeping our minds humble, teachable, and ready to obey  is essential as we prepare our habitations for His presence.

Let’s pray:  Holy Father, help us to be so conformed to Christ Jesus, that we think like Him, act like Him, and love like Him.  How we need the Mind of Christ as we walk this earth.  Help us to bring our imaginations under the control of the Holy Spirit.  Help us to steer away from thoughts, teachings, and entertainments that are contrary to the knowledge and holiness of  Jesus. Sanctify and wash us in your Word.  In Jesus’ name.

Amen

 

 

Shine Your Shield

Just got back from a little driving trip to see the grands! Happy Grammy here! Except for the driving part! There is eternal road construction in Florida. Road warnings are everywhere; barrels, cones, flags, flashing lights, and the ever-present “men at work” signs. Aggravating, but oh, so necessary! Those triangular shaped “shields” keep those workers safe! So, as we build our habitations for the Presence of God, I think we had better set our shields up, too.  Our “shield of faith!”  Ephesians 6:16 – ” Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”

Now faith is a very big subject!  There are literally hundreds of  books on the subject (and Bible verses, for that matter!) and since I am not a doctor of theology, or a master of divinity, or any such thing, I will simply share withgod-at-work-sign1 you what I have learned on the subject in my time walking with the Lord.   Faith is believing, of course, but more
than that it is choosing.  Choosing whom you will believe. Choosing whom you will serve. Choosing whom you will trust.  Faith is a gift from God.  (Romans 12:3) ” …according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.”  (Ephesians 2:8 & 9) “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.   and Jesus is the “Author and Finisher of our faith!” (Hebrews 12:2) That is why our shield here says “God at Work” not “Men at Work.”

We never want to fall into the pride of thinking that our faith originates within our selves!  I wish I had understood this truth a few years ago as I sat by my grandbaby’s sick bed and tried so hard to pray him a healing!  We prayed; we cried out; we anointed him with oil; took him to every healing ministry; we quoted scriptures; we rebuked the devil; we  covered him in healing cloths.  We held on to hope and the promises of God as we watched him suffer a hundred seizures a day in our little NICU at home.  And on the day he died, 2 days after his 2nd birthday party. We wept, but we said, “The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” We chose to praise God. No matter what, “God is good!”

Eventually, though, the devil came with his fiery darts and flung condemnation at us for a lack of faith to obtain the healing we  so desperately needed. “Oh, ye of little faith.” he said.  “Healing is the children’s bread, and even dogs get the crumbs from under the table. You must not be a good child, or even a dog.”  Yes! The devil will use God’s Words against you, just like he did in Eden.  If you are a child of God, you don’t have to give in to condemnation. This is when we have to use the shield of faith….to quench the fiery darts of the devil.

Faith is a valuable commodity in the Kingdom of God.  Read Hebrews 11, the Hall of Faith.   (see the link below.)”By faith (some) subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises…..waxed valiant in fight….received their dead raised to life…”  and yet others did not receive the promises  “were tortured….endured bonds and imprisonment,….stoned, sawn in sunder, …were tempted, ….destitute, afflicted, tormented;…..and these all, having received a good report through faith, received not the promise…..”  (Hebrews 11: 33-40)                             https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews+11&version=KJV

I once heard a man say that he could measure the faith of a church by looking at what kind of cars were in the parking lot. Fancy cars….great faith!  Clunkers….little faith!   Seriously?  Our shields of faith are to be used to defend against the enemy’s fiery darts, not heap stuff to ourselves.   In the last days, our faith must be focused on Jesus, and who we are in Him!  I doubt the recent martyrs in the Middle East had Cadillacs in their garages, but they had a faith that was counted worthy to suffer for Jesus.

Faith, like salvation, is a gift from God through His grace.  (Romans 10:17) “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”  You can build your faith in the Word of God!  Don’t neglect reading the word everyday…you never know when the devil will fling his fiery dart at you…be ready with your shield!

Hebrews 10:22-23 tells us to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.”  and “hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering.”   What is this profession of faith?  What is it we are to have full assurance about?  1John 5: 4& 5 tells us, and no matter what else happens in our lives, good things or bad, this is what we must profess:    “For whosoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world: even our faith.  Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God.”

It’s all about Jesus, folks!  Our Belt of Truth: the truth of you being in Christ and Christ being in you.  The Breastplate of Righteousness: you have on the Righteousness of Christ (not your own!)  The Preparation of the Gospel of Peace:  the Good news that you are “at one” with Jesus.  The Shield of Faith:  your firm belief that Jesus is the Son of God.

Let’s Pray:  Author and Finisher of our faith,  we do believe, and we say with the father of the sick child in Mark 9,” Help thou our unbelief!”  Open our eyes that we might see the truth of who you are….the Beloved Son of God. In your precious, holy name,

Amen!

 

These Boots Are Made For Building!

I am a Florida girl so you can usually find me in bare feet or flipflops most any day.  But not when I went to work. I had to have nice sturdy shoes for the classroom where I was on my feet most of the time.   And that hardworking man of mine wore these:   (I took a picture of them on the last day of work before retirement.

IMG_0809This is what happens to a pair of boots that are used every day by someone who is faithful to show up and do what needs to be done to get the job done!

In the same way, God has told us to have our “feet shod in the preparation of the Gospel of Peace.”  This is another part of our daily work uniform!  So far we have our “tool belt” of truth, our “safety vest” (breastplate) of righteousness, and now we are going to put on our “work boots” of the preparation of the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15)

This is a blog about being prepared, right?  And right now I want to sound the alarm; ring the school bell; hit the siren; jump up and down and wave my arms!!!   WAKE UP!!  GET READY!! WATCH OUT!!  HEADS UP!!  PREPARE!!

police18

 

I can’t say it loud enough! Or urgently enough! It is time to evaluate our readiness for whatever may be coming in this day and age. Don’t put it off a day longer. The time to start your devotional plan; to get your prayer life going again; to start that daily Bible reading, is not tomorrow or next week.  It is today! Right now!  There is an enemy that knows his time is short and he wants to take as many of us as he can down with him.  We must be sure of our place in Christ, for in the last days there will be many deceivers and false prophets that will try to fool even those that are strong in the Lord.  (Matthew 24:24)

We don’t have to fear.  We just have to be prepared!  And bless the Lord, Jesus has told us what we need to do. We have to put on the “preparation of the gospel of peace.”   Everyday!!  We have to strive to make it a priority because of all the distractions that call noisily to us.  And because, frankly, it isn’t always easy to understand what we are reading, or to see what it has to do with our life today.

Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of this phrase; “the preparation of the gospel of peace.”  “Preparation” means just what it says. We are to have what we need at the ready! Like a good Boy Scout! We’ve talked about this previously. Do we have oil in our lamps? Do we know the truth of who we are in Christ? Do we know where our righteousness comes from?  and now…do we know what the Word of God says? Jesus overcame temptation in the wilderness by throwing the Word at the devil! Are you prepared to do that?  We all need more of God’s Word in our hearts and minds!  By the way, that word for “shod” means to “bind on!”  We must bind the word on to ourselves. Make it snug and sure!  I used to shake my head at the way my husband laced and tied those boots in the picture.  But if he didn’t get them just so, they could rub and make sore places. And they wouldn’t be good for climbing telephone poles.  He took a lot of care binding on his boots. And we should take a lot of care to bind on the Word of God!

Bible glasses

The word gospel means glad tidings and good news!  This should be motivation enough for us to spend time in it! We are inundated with bad news every day and it seems to be getting worse & worse.  Let’s be like the woman at the well who said “give me to drink of this living water!”  -and then run to get our friends and family so that they can have some, too.

“Peace” here is the word “eirene” (i-ray-nay). It means “quietness; rest; to set at one again.”  I love that!  When we have Christ, we are set “at one” with Him.  If you ever lose your peace…and you probably will…the gospel is the place where you will get “set at one” with Christ again.  Your mind will be re-focused on the glad tidings; the good news.   The Word of God, the gospel, will prepare you and keep you “at one” with Jesus.  Why, oh,why do we neglect it?

It just occurred to me that sometimes I would  put off my Bible reading because taking a quiet time for myself seems like an indulgence. Something I do just for myself when there are so many other things I must do for my family or work. …hmmmmm… I wonder where that little tidbit came from?  The truth is,   those times are over for us if we wish to be of use in these dark days.  There are people dying out there who need the Word of life, and we must be ready to rescue them with it.

Let’s Pray:  Prince of Peace, Word of Life, we come today asking for you to make us ever aware of the times in which we live. Help us to see our need of being prepared. Thank you for providing these “Gospel Boots” to keep us “at one” with you. Remind us each and every day to prepare ourselves to serve you.  In Jesus name, 

Amen

My friend Christin Ditchfield has some great tips on getting the most out of your Bible reading.  Here is a helpful link:  http://www.christinditchfield.com/2013/06/five-simple-ways-to-focus-on-the-words-you-read/ 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Safe!

Got your tool belt of truth on today?? I hope you do. Making sure that you have “put on the new man” is the first order of every day. There’s more to your outfit than a tool belt, though.  The next piece of equipment the Word tells us we need is the safety vest!  (The breastplate of righteousness)  Ephesians 6:14 “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” 

vest

If you look up the word used in the original Greek you will recognize it!  “Thorax.”  It means “chest; corslet; breastplate.”  The chest, of course, is where the heart resides. Do you realize that you have a new heart?     Ezekiel 36:26  “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away your stoney heart…and will give you an heart of flesh.”   That is what Jesus did for us on the cross.  He exchanged His righteousness for our sin.  When we stand before the throne of God, He will see the righteousness of Jesus, instead of our sin.  Amazing!  Right? He took our stoney heart of sin, and gave us a soft pliable, responsive heart. One that can be guided by His Spirit.

The problem is, we are still living out our earthly lives dealing with two natures.  Some people call this the “Romans 7 Syndrome.”  The conflict of the new inner man with our outward old man.  The Apostle Paul describes his tendency to sin. He even says, “…the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”

But, don’t stop reading!  Romans 8:1 & 2 has the answer!  “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death.”  Oh! Go read the whole chapter and be blessed!

Now, this doesn’t mean that we can just go on our merry way, continuing in our sin. No! Heaven forbid!  We are “in Christ!” So we are to walk in Him, not after the old way of the flesh, but “after the Spirit.” We would never want to continue in the very things that crucified Him.  The good news is that He has provided  everything we need to stop sinning and have a new life in Him.  Gear up! Prepare! Walk in the Spirit! Stand!

The vest of righteousness is a safety vest! It is a warning to our enemy that says “Uh-uh! This one is wearing Jesus. Steer clear!”  Our righteousness is Jesus Himself! And He has already defeated our enemy. And He has given us His Spirit to lead us in righteousness.

What is righteousness, anyway?   It means justification; right standing with God .  Webster’s says: “upright; virtuous; acting in accordance with the dictates of morality; agreeing with right; just.”

So, if we are upright, (in Christ, not in our own selves); if we are in right standing with God, and He has asked us to “withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  Where exactly are we standing?  Right!  I heard that!  “On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand!” Recognize it every day!

You get up every day and get dressed. You might even  take lots of time to pick out your clothes.  Or even change outfits a couple of times until you look just right!  Well, stop worrying so much about what you are putting on the outside, and give at least that much attention to putting on your spiritual gear!  Make sure you are girded with that (tool)belt of truth! Equipped with the Word and Love! (Jesus loves me & gave Himself for me! I am in Him & He is in me!)  See yourself & your heart covered in the safety vest (breastplate) of His righteousness!

Let’s face it, the days that we live in are surely  evil.  The devil is not going to leave us alone. He will always try to tempt you, lie to you, and lead you astray. But Jesus has given us the wherewithal to stand against the evil. There is a lot more to our gear!  And we will look at all the amazing gifts that God has given us  to keep us safe. In the meantime, spend a lot of time pondering the new creation of you!  Think about who you are in Jesus. Put on His Truth and Righteousness every day!  Hide yourself in Him moment by moment, and let Him lead you, guide you, and fight your battles. Your job is “dead reckoning!”  Reckon the old nature that wants to sin…dead!  Read the Word of God regularly; and sing yourself that children’s song: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so!”

Let’s pray:  Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us with immeasurable love. A love that laid down the life of the perfect Lamb of God, to buy us back to Yourself.  We know that You didn’t go to such lengths just to leave us to flounder on our own for the rest of our life on earth. You sent the Spirit of Life to help us to overcome.  Keep us in this evil day that we may honor you before all men, giving You glory with the words of our testimony.  In Jesus name,

Amen!

 

Get Your Tools

Hi!  I’m so glad to see that you came back!  Counting the cost is a lot harder than checking your bank balance online, isn’t it?  We must remember  2Peter 1:3   “… his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”  What a relief!  He who has called us will equip us and make us able to do His will.

He has also provided us with the tools of the trade!  🙂    Gotta’ get our toolbelt, our safety vest, our work boots, our “men-at-work” sign (or women-at-work, as the case may be.) Oh! Don’t forget your hard hat!!  If you want to be safe you need a helmet, right?  I’ll bet you can see where I am going with this, huh?  Here’s the link to today’s scripture: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+6%3A13+-18&version=KJV
Toolbelt-with hard hat

We’ve already talked about how difficult times may become as we follow Jesus.  He has equipped us with what we need to stand in the “evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  The first thing we need to put on is the belt of truth.  

Jesus said that He is “the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)  You must have that settled in your mind, once and for all!  The world tells us that there are many paths to God. If that were true, why would the great sacrifice of God’s Beloved Son have had to be necessary?  Jesus knew that the world would attack this truth. Listen to what He says later in that chapter! In verse 17, Jesus says He is sending the “the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him:  but ye know Him for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”   

Then, in John 17:17-19, Jesus is praying for His followers  (you!) He asks the Father to “sanctify them through the truth, Thy word is truth. …(19) for their sakes, I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”

How did Jesus sanctify (consecrate) Himself?  He went to the cross of Calvary. He became the payment for our sin.  It is this truth that makes us free! We are now consecrated through His payment. Are you in Christ? Yes! Is Christ in you? Yes!  We must take up this truth and bind it around ourselves everyday! Put it on! Like a belt!  You are sanctified; consecrated; set apart; holy; righteous; in right standing with God! Your heart is clean! You are accepted in the Beloved! (Eph.1:6)

I have always had a hard time thinking of myself as “sanctified or holy.”  The enemy and our own knowledge of our “old”selves, yammers in our ears with the lie that we aren’t good enough. Of course, our old selves were not good enough! But, we are a new creation through the work of our Savior on the cross! The TRUTH is that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. (2Cor. 5:21)  He made that sure with His blood! What an incredible price He paid for us to be righteous!  We need to hang on to that. Don’t let any enemy steal that truth!  We must never trust in our own goodness!  It is Christ in us who is good. And He is so ready to live out His goodness in us if we will just pay attention!

There are tools in this “tool belt!”  Two of the most important are the Word of God and Love.  These are essential for laying our foundation and building our beautiful dwelling.  They are essential for the work Jesus is giving us to do in the world, too.  We must know the Word, and be able to share it with sincere, genuine love.  It is His desire that “…we all come to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, into a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.  ….speaking the truth in love, …(and)  grow up into Him in all things.”  (from Eph. 4:13-16)

Bible love

Jesus is the Word of God made flesh to walk the earth, so that He could do the redeeming work of love.  He is the Word of Truth. He is the Love of God sent to call us back to Himself.   It is all Jesus, my friends!  These are the days that He wants to reach the lost! Through us!  We must immerse ourselves in the truth of the Word of God, and in His love.  It will be impossible to impact lost souls without the love of Jesus in our hearts.  We must renew our hearts in Him daily.  If we don’t, we run the risk of missing the opportunities He will be bringing our way.

Strap on your tool belt, and get ready. There is work to be done! In our hearts and in the world!

Let’s Pray: Oh, Word of Truth, you have consecrated us to yourself because of your great love!  Open our eyes to the truth of who we are in YOU!  Help us to put on the belt of truth every morning.  Plant your Truth and your Love in our hearts that we might become all that you intend for us to be, a reflection of the fulness of Christ. In Jesus Name,

Amen.

Counting the Cost

There is a lot of buzz right now in our shaky economy about where to invest your money. So many voices crying so many words of advice! “Get out of the market! Take your dollars out of the bank! No, have faith for the long haul! Invest in real estate!  Buy gold!  No, buy silver!” …. “What’s in your safe?”  I tell ya’, it can make your head spin!  No way am I a financial adviser. My husband and I do have one of those, though. Anyone with a retirement fund should.  And most of what he tells me goes in one ear and leaks out the other by the next day.  So, the advice I offer here has not much to do with your bank book.  At least not primarily. I think we should consult the Wonderful Counselor on all of it!

coins

So let’s go back to the bluepint and find out what our building project is going to cost!   Yep! It’s in there!  Get ready!

Luke 14: 26 – 35  Please get your Bible and read it all….It is a lot to retype here, but it is what Jesus is saying to His church right NOW! These are the words of Jesus:

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.  And  whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.   For which of you, intending ot build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?  …..(vs.33) so likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”

The Greek word for “hate” here is “miseo;” which means to detest; and by extension, to love less; sometimes used as persecute.  (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible..Greek Dictionary)

So, if we are counting the cost, Jesus says we must ask ourselves this:  Can we love Him more than anyone else in our lives?   Can we love the Invisible One more than the ones we embrace here on earth?  Are we willing to be like those in Rev.12:11: “And they loved not their lives unto death.”  He said that we must take up our cross, and come after Him.  What was His destination as He carried His cross?  My friends, it was death on Calvary.

I used to read these verses thinking that He meant a spiritual dying to self. A denying of the flesh & desires.  (And I think that it does mean that, too.)  But, that was in a time when crucifixion and martyrdom seemed far in the past.  Never whould I have dreamed that Christians would be martyred, even crucified and beheaded, as is happening across the world, in this day and age.  May we be counted faithful to face whatever may come, for His glory and honor, for it may cost us more than we ever imagined.

Our hearts must be prepared! Our flames must be hot!  The heat of the blaze is our only hope.  If our hearts cool off to lukewarm, like the people in Laodicea, we are in danger of being “spewed out” by the Lord.  Revelation 3: 14-18 Jesus told them:  “I counsel thee to buy gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.     Then he says, As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent.”

Thank goodness for His chastening!  It means He loves us, and wants us to be prepared. He wants our hearts to be ablaze with love for Him because that is how He feels about us!   He is not waiting with a big club to drive us out of heaven. He is reaching out, with serious warnings, to draw us back from danger.

Friends, run to your Bibles and read Matthew chapter 10!  Jesus has strong words about the cost for those who want to follow Him.  Gone are the days when we could push these words to the backs of our minds and think that He meant them for them, not us.  Or that He meant these words for those in some future generation.  These are His words for us, now!   Here is a link to the verses I am referencing:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+10%3A+19-42&version=KJV

Are we ready to count the cost of following Jesus?  What if our family hates us for it? What if we are taken to court? What if  we are protested?  What if we are attacked by those who don’t like what we stand for? What if we lose everything we own? Jesus said, “Fear not!” (vs.28)   All of these things happened to Him. And He said the servant is not better than the master.  If these thoughts make you tremble in your boots, you are not alone.

This is the hardest post I have written yet, because, truth be told, I can only pray that I would be found faithful in the face of such great oppostition as is described in these verses. I do know that, as I look around at the tumult in the world, and the thousands of martyrs that are taken everyday,  I must run to the “Rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2)  I’d better make sure that I am close to Him. This is where we must “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12)   Salvation is free, you know, but Jesus said to count the cost of following Him.  “What’s in your safe (heart)?”

Let’s pray: Dear Jesus, Pearl of Great Price, You who have called to us to follow, we want to buy gold tried in the fire. We want to be clothed in white linen to honor your name.  Anoint our eyes with the eyesalve of love, so that we can see with Your eyes, as we touch the lives of those around us. Fill us anew with Your Holy Spirit.  We present our hearts to You, Lord, to refine us to do Your will.  In Jesus’ name,

Amen

 

Preparing for Praise

Since this is a blog about preparations, I thought we should take a little time to talk about preparing to praise. We are building a habitation for the Lord, right?  Well, think about that for a minute.  If you were going to build a house, wouldn’t you have to get ready for construction?  You would have to get out your blueprint;  prepare the ground or site for your building; buy materials; get your tools together; gather your workers; and put in the time to construct!   Why would preparing a spiritual house for the Lord be any different?  Let’s roll up our sleeves and get busy!

The Blueprint:   We’ve just spent some time these last weeks looking at our blueprint for worship.  We’ve learned a lot about what Jesus wants us to know about Biblical praise. Oh, the subject is much deeper, but we have made      a good start.   We are ready to begin building a habitation, a home, for the Lord in our very lives.  Bible glasses

Preparing your ground:   How’s your heart?  Are you ready to make some choices and changes?  Your heart is the ground on which your habitation for the Lord is built.  If you have invited Him in by confessing your sin, asking forgiveness,  and receiving the sacrifice that Jesus made for you upon the cross of Calvary, then you are ready to begin your building program.  You are redeemed!  You belong to the King, while still living on this earth! And He has sent you His precious Holy Spirit to help you build your new life.  And, oh, how we need Him to help us!  We need Him to show us how to clear our ground!

The world, our own inclinations, and the enemy of our hearts, have left a trail of debris across the ground of our hearts.  Fear & anxiety; loss & grief; wrong choices & regret;  harsh treatment & hurt…all leave their marks on hearts.  We each have our own crop of stumbling stones; even boulders, as the case may be. Perhaps there might be an enormous crater or two, big enough to swallow a bus!  Fear not!  The faithful Holy Spirit has been sent to help smooth these out.fallow ground

Right now there are a couple of construction sites near my house.  One is for a shopping complex.  (Hobby Lobby! Yay!)  The other is to re-route a street.  The heavy equipment has been rumbling, shoveling and bull-dozing along, clearing off the land and making it smooth for building!  So much debris being loaded up and hauled away!  And soon there were dozens of workers scurrying around laying out the footprints from the plans! Now the other site is a different story.  They are filling in a huge drainage reservoir, a man-made crater that had been built to accomodate water run-off.  They are making the ground level for the new road.

I can’t help but think of Isaiah 40: 4 & 5:  Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

This is the work of the Lord!   It is very tempting to look at our hearts and the work that needs doing and get discouraged about how we will fix it.  “Without me,” Jesus said.  “You can do nothing.”  (John 15:5)  Don’t you know that His desire is toward you, and HE wants your heart to be like a watered garden, a place for you to walk with Him in sweet fellowship. He wants the rough places to be smooth.  Our job is to bring our hearts before Him; ask Him to show us what is hindering our fellowship; and allow Him to deal with it.  He will do it! And when He is done, His glory shall be revealed!  His presence shall inhabit the place!

I have mentioned before that I have recently come out of a long valley.  My heart felt like a boulder in my chest for many months.  I cried out to Jesus to restore me to the joy of my salvation.  He didn’t snap His fingers and fix it. He gave me a friend who wrote a book that helped to plow up fallow ground and expose it to the “son” and the rain of the Spirit.  It was step by step; day by day; here a little, there a little; until He restored my soul and my joy, and my confidence in who I am in Him.  The book was, “What Women Should Know About: Letting it Go”  by Christin Ditchfield.  (See my Great Resources page) And by the way,  this one is great for men, too!

Another book that happened across my path was “Waking the Dead” by John Eldredge of Ransomed Heart Ministries. (Resource page)  This one spoke to my hunger to be loved and accepted by God, regardless of my performance.  My point here, is that our Lord is ever-ready to provide exactly what we need. I think our main task is to humble our hearts and offer them to Him for the fixing. He is the “Abba” (daddy) Father, who takes us as His children into His lap; holds us close; and does the work that needs doing.

Once we have sincerely asked for help for our hearts, it is so important to watch for His help and listen for His answers. He uses anything and everything to answer that prayer.   One day I was lazily surfing channels on the TV when I “happened” upon a particular preacher who was preaching a bulldozer of a Word that blasted away a boulder of a lie that the enemy had planted in my heart. It had been keeping me from praying!  Just like that!  Boom!  The anointing broke that yoke of oppression, and condemnation was hurled into the dumptruck and hauled away!  So, be ready! God may just “sneak up on you” with an answer, and change your life forever! He is so faithful!

“…Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people.  For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is holy; I dwell in the high and holy place with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”    Isaiah 57: 14 & 15

Let’s pray:  Abba Father,  Thank you for loving us so very much.  Not only have you delivered us from sin, but you have “given us everything that pertains to life and godliness.”  Everything we need to build our lives for Your presence.  Help us to cast away the stumblingblocks that hinder us from full fellowship with You.  We want our hearts to be ready for You when you come.   In Jesus’ name,

Amen!

                                                                                                                                                    

My Strength and My Song!

“The Lord is my strength and my song, and is become my salvation.”  (Psalm 118:14)   Think about that one for a minute!   Now try this on for size:  “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also is my salvation.”  (Isaiah 12:2)

If you are joining us for the first time, we have learned six ways, so far,  that the Bible calls on us to praise the Lord. And now we come to the seventh word on our list: “zamar” (zaw-mar’): to strike with the fingers: to touch the strings or parts of a musical instrument; to make music accompanied by voice, hence to celebrate in song and music; sing forth praises.

Ps.21:13…so we shall sing and praise (zamar) thy power.                                                                                                       Ps.57:7   My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. (zamar)                                               Ps.138:1   I will sing praise (zamar) unto thee.

moses-redsea-tamborine-pano

I have to confess right here that it is one of the regrets of my life that I have never become proficient on a musical instrument.  Oh, I can play a little piano. (but don’t ask me to play in public) I can strum a few chords on the guitar. I can even play a little on the recorder, (a necessity for teaching elementary music classes.) But, hey! I am really good with a tambourine, and great with a maraca, shaky egg, or cow bell!  (sigh)  Ok, so let’s go back to the first part of the definition of “zamar.”  To strike with the fingers!  Say, I have ten of those and I can strike them together really loudly! 🙂   Funny, yes? But on the serious side, clapping your hands in praise is investing yourself in another way in the praise song, in the same way that someone else is investing in praise by playing on an instrument.  It is a way of entering in to the song of praise.(zamar)

It is so important to participate in it, because, as we have already learned here,”God inhabits the praises of His people.”  In fact, in the two verses I quoted in the opening paragraph,  a form of the word “zamar,” (zimrith) is translated “song.”  God is my song. There is a supernatural element to entering in to praise; to being engaged in the act of praising with more than just mindless singing.  It is here that God Himself manifests His presence to us.  If you play, even a little, on a musical instrument, I encourage you to get it out, and spend some time playing praise (zamar) to the Lord. He wants to be your song!

The picture above is a rendition of the celebration of Israel when they miraculously arrived on the far side of the Red Sea, after God parted the waters for them.  This is the Song of Moses. It is mentioned throughout the Bible, and will be sung in heaven. Many people think that some of the language parallels the language in Revelation, and therefore it may be a prophetic “end times” song.   The whole song can be found in Exodus 15. Talk about a faith builder!          I encourage you to go back and read the whole thing, but I want to point out verse 2, for our purposes here.

“The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation: He is my God, and I will prepare Him an habitation; my Father’s God and I will exalt Him.”

We are talking, again, about a habitation for the Lord!  Yes, He inhabits the praises of His people. ( Ps. 22:3 ) In the here and now; and in eternity!  ( Rev. 21:3)   “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.”

There was a time, long ago when God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve, in the cool of the evening.  It has been His heart’s cry to dwell with man ever since He created him.  Sin separated us from that fellowship.  But, we serve a God who loves us so much that He had a plan to restore us to fellowship with Himself.  He sent Jesus, to obliterate the sin that separates us and, until that day when we stand before Him in heaven, He manifests His presence to us by the power of the Holy Spirit. He literally lives in us. Now we are building a habitation for Him in our very lives.  Investing our selves (voices, hands, feet, knees, thoughts, words, hearts) in worship, brings us into fellowship with the God of the universe.  How amazing is that?

Consider this:  What are you doing to make this habitation fit for the King? Are you creating a garden of praise in which the King can walk with you?   It is time to obey the call to worship.   Psalm 66:1 & 2:

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Sing forth the honor of His name: make His praise glorious.”

Let’s pray:  Father in Heaven; Father in us,  We are so amazed that You want to fellowship with us; to live in us.  Help us to build an habitation for You in our lives, and in Your body here on earth. Teach us what it means for You to be our strength and song.  As the days grow darker, draw us in to the refuge of Your presence.  We want to offer our praises in all of the ways we now know to be the Biblical way.  In Jesus’ name,

Amen!

Here’s a little Hebrew style music.  Go get your tambourine!   🙂  “Great is He in the midst of thee!”

Shout unto God!!

“O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph!”  (Psalm 47:1) Whether you whisper, or whether you shout; whether you speak quietly in your own mind, or yell at the top of your lungs, God will hear you.  In fact He hears you before you even call!  (Isaiah 65: 24)

Word number six in our study of the 7 words for praise in the Old Testament is “shabach.” (shaw-bakh’)  It means to address in a loud tone; speak loudly; commend; glory; triumph. “Shabach” has with it the connotation of lifting up the voice; declaring in a triumphant way, with strong confidence; victoriously.

I grew up in a very quiet denominational church. Oh, we sang with gusto, but that was where demonstration of praise ended. We didn’t lift hands, say, “Amen,” shout hallelujah, or express joy in any way.  We did sometimes file to the alter in a very orderly way to kneel and pray. (Sunday evening service, only.)  When I discovered Biblical praise years later, I knew I had discovered the key to finding what was missing in my life.  You see, I had always had a heart for God; had prayed a sinner’s prayer; even did some Bible study; but I had no one to show me  how to pursue Him.  Then, at 30 years old, I walked into a tiny church in Homestead, Florida, where the Spirit of God was present in the people and the atmosphere.  It was a shock! Like someone splashing water on you to wake you up!  I’d never seen people excited about Jesus before. Their faces glowed; they sang like heaven had come down; they talked about Jesus like He was their best friend; they lifted their hands; they shouted; they danced; and after I got over the first surprise of it all, I felt like I had come home!  ….and I wanted more!

Here’s the thing:  if you want more of Jesus, He’s gonna give you more of Himself!  And, wonder of wonders!  You will find your self shouting with the voice of triumph! Praising Him in the manner of Daniel when God revealed to him the meaning of the king’s dream:   (Daniel 2:23)  Daniel and the dream

I thank thee, and praise (shabach) thee, O thou God of my fathers, who has given me wisdom and might, and has made known to me now what we desired of thee; for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter.

Daniel had the victory!  The wise counselors would be spared from execution!  This was no muttered tribute…this was a shout of triumph!

Lifting up the voice in praise (shabach) to the Mighty Lord of Hosts is not just a faith-building exercise, it is an act of spiritual warfare. The enemy would like to keep you tied up in doubt and fear, but you can use the praises (shabach) of God to help break the chains!  So do not be afraid to lift up your voice and declare the victory Jesus has given you.  “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence.” (Proverbs 14:26)

The point of addressing your praise in a loud voice is not for God’s benefit!  We’ve already seen that He hears us even before we speak!  The point is for your voice to be heard: 1. by your own ears. 2. by those around you 3. by the enemy of your soul.  Remember the lesson on worshipping in spirit and in truth?   We are declaring outwardly what we believe in our spirits. We are making it evident!  Perhaps by your shout you are edifying yourself; building your own faith; making it sure. Or perhaps you are edifying someone else.Encouraging them to believe or to let their praise show forth.  Very certainly, you are letting the enemy know that he is defeated.  You are gaining ground in the spiritual realm.  And God is honored by your offering of praise.  He delights in it.

Let’s pray: O Lord of Hosts, Almighty Father, help us to grow into confident worshippers .  We want to stand in the congregation and declare Your works and Your goodness, lifting up the voice of triumph. We want to shout it in the streets, and in our homes. Let us never be ashamed or unsure of who we are in you, and who YOU are in US!

In Jesus’ name

Amen!

Here’s a little encouragement for practicing your praise!  (shabach)

 

I Surrender!!!

Welcome back to untilthedaybreak.com! There’s a lot going on out there in the world right now, isn’t there?   Well, in this little corner of the world we are coming aside from the clamor and craziness to learn a little about walking in the light, while living in a darkened world. About being transformed by having our minds renewed in worship, in the Word of God, in prayer, and in fellowship.   We have been exploring some Bible principles about praise and worship.

In the preceding posts we have learned several ways in which praise is expressed in the Hebrew language. I have my own special ways to remember them.

“yadah” – to aim my praise at the Lord by throwing out my hand to Him!                                                                  “tehillah” – to sing my song to Him with my whole heart; the song of the Lord!                                                          “todah”  –  to lift my hands with the congregation; bringing my sacrifice of praise!                                                    “halal” –   my hallelujah!  to rave! to be clamorously foolish!

And so, we come to number five on our list of 7 different words in the Old Testament that are Kneel in worshiptranslated as “praise.”  The word is “barak.” (baw-rahk’): to kneel; to bless God (as an act adoration);  The word brings with it the connotation of surrender;    of placing ones self in submission to   God.  And brings to mind Philippians 2:10-11:  “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth: and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The word “barak” is found in Judges 5:2 “Praise (barak) ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel,…when the people willingly offered themselves.”

We have learned that we should come to the Lord offering our praise, which is often shown by throwing out or lifting our hands. (yadah)  We have learned to offer Him our song. (tehillah). We have studied the offering of our “sacrifice of praise,” (todah) and the glorious, intense, even raving hallelujah! (halal)….but now He is asking for something more: to worship on bended knee!   To submit our very selves to Him.  To surrender to Him!  (barak)  As a slave to his Lord; as a subject to his King.  And just like Jesus:  “Not my will, but Thine, be done.” As the Beloved Son, to His Father!

In Psalm 72:15, a psalm about the Messiah, it says: “….and daily shall He be praised.” (barak)   Surrendering must be a lifestyle, not a one time thing.  We must bow our knees and, by extention,  our wills to Him, every day!  I don’tknow about you, but I know that I am very strong willed.  I have had a lot of practice thinking that I know best.  (In fact the Lord once spoke a word over me that I was “a strong boned donkey,” able to carry a big burden!  …That  is a story for another day. 🙂  )  A mom,  a teacher, a worship leader, and choir director, I have gotten used to telling others what to do.  Mother knows best, you know.  There comes a time, however, if you want a true, close relationship with Jesus, that you have to bow your knee to Him, and let Him be the parent, the teacher, the leader, the director.  He has a plan for your life! And it is so much better than anything you can dream of for yourself.  Wave the flag of surrender! Bow your knee to your King and Lord! Lay it all down at the foot of the cross and leave it there!  Then  put your hand in His, and go His way!

kneeling in prayer

Let’s Pray: (Today’s prayer is from Bible teacher Francis Frangipane:—In Christ’s Image Training)

 Holy Spirit, lead me into the presence of Jesus. Lead me to where I hear His voice. Guide me to where I am sitting at His feet, where He can calm my anxious thoughts and, in His love, heal me.     In Jesus’ name.

Amen

 I hope you will worship along with William McDowell and the singers.  It says, in song, what we have learned here today.  With “Here I Am to Worship.”