Monday, April 23, 2012

The Fruit of Love

"Love is the root; obedience is the fruit."  Matthew Henry

Our society bucks against obedience.  Children push against it.  Our flesh struggles with it.  Why?

Because we want to be in control.  And we believe well placed and spoken lies of the enemy.  It is as simple as that.

"We fool ourselves if we think our love for God and our obedience to Him are separate issues.  They are two sides of the same coin.  The belief that love and obedience are not related is epidemic among christians.  We have become so paranoid of having theology of "righteousness = works" that we have ignored obedience altogether as though it does not matter to God.  Jesus is clear that it does.  Obedience is not our means to righteousness; it is the clearest expression of our devotion to Jesus.  It is meaningful worship.  When we are disobedient, we are saying God's word does not matter to us.  That isn't love."  At His Feet, Chris Tiegreen

Jesus makes it clear, numerous times, in John 14 that loves equals obedience.  Love is not a feeling.  It is a verb.  It requires choice and action.  The word of God is truth and where we find truth.  It is what all truth is based on.  It is where we find the definition of love... God's definition of love.  Love = Obedience.

"The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. (10)  If you love Me, keep My commandments. (15)  He who has My commandments and keeps them is he who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by the Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." (21)  If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and my Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me. (23, 24)  John 14~

For me, my desire to be obedient came from thankfulness.  As God drew me closer to Him and revealed Himself to me more and more, my desire to please Him became greater than my desire for comfort, ease, fitting in, getting by, or doing things the same way I had always done them.  I know I can not earn my salvation.  I can not be good enough, holy enough, obedient enough, sinless enough, or pleasing enough.  God looks at me and sees Christ in me.  Oh Praise Him for such a gift and for such love.

But verse 21 is my favorite reason of why I long to obey.  Obedience is an expression of my love for Him that God accepts.  And it is one that God blesses.  Many people do things for the LORD as an offering of "love" or in an attempt to love but He may not be pleased with it or accept it.  We do not love the Father by doing things we "think" are love to Him... we love the Father by doing what He says is love to Him.  There is a big difference.  And in this verse, Jesus lets us know what happens in return for our love of God... our obedience; "He who has My commandments and keeps them is he who loves me.  AND HE WHO LOVES ME WILL BE LOVED BY THE FATHER, AND I WILL LOVE HIM AND MANIFEST MYSELF TO HIM."  John 14:21

There it is.  Jesus says you will be loved (verb) by the Father AND by JESUS and that Jesus will MANIFEST HIMSELF to you when you obey.  And I have seen it over and over again.  I have posted about if before and I will say it again, the biggest area I have seen this happen is in my marriage.  I once wanted to leave my marriage.  And it was not for the one reason Jesus gives as a reason to leave your marriage.  So I chose to be obedient even though I was not FEELING it.  And Jesus has blessed that obedience greater than I ever could have imagined or hoped for.  TO HIM AND HIS WORD BE ALL THE GLORY.  The second way He has blessed me is by manifesting Himself to me, also in ways that I never imagined or even knew if I believed.  And I will post more about that later.  It is the encounter with Him that has changed my spiritual life from comfortable and content to hunger and transformation.

I long to be obedient as part of my worship... as part of my offering... as part of my dying to self, growing, and maturing in my faith.  I long to be obedient because I love the LORD.  I love JESUS.  And I love the HOLY SPIRIT.  It is not because I am trying to get to heaven.  I am saved by my faith in Jesus Christ as God's Son through God's grace alone lest I should boast and think I have done or can do anything to earn it!

God has given us boundaries, rules, commands, insight for a reason and that reason is exactly why we have rules with our children.  Because we love them, know a little more than they do, want to protect them, want a positive relationship with them, and want to teach them values/behaviors/beliefs that will bless them and their relationships later in life.  And because by learning to obey us, they will learn to obey God.

God is our Father.  And He can do something we can't do with our kids.  He knows every day of our lives.  He sees the day we will die and why.  He sees the challenges that lies ahead... and the blessings.  Every single one of them.  And He longs for us to be in a healthy, active, obedient relationship with Him so He can guide us through it.  So we can get closer to Him, see Him, feel Him, experience Him, and glorify Him through it.

I love what David writes about God's commands in Psalm 119.  It may be the longest Psalm and it speaks very highly of the wisdom, safety, love, protection, and blessings from God's law, testimonies, promises, commands.
"When I look into all your commandments, I will praise You with uprightness of heart, When I learn your righteous judgments. (6)  Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from your law.  I am a stranger in the earth; Do not hide Your commandments from me.  My soul breaks with longing for Your judgments at all times. (18-20)  Forever, O LORD, your word is settled in heaven.  Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth and it abides.  They continue this day according to Your ordinances, For all are Your servants. (89-91)  Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, more than fine gold!  Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way." (127, 128)  

Oh to be so hungry for the word of God.  Oh to be longing for His truth and willing to be obedient.  Oh to be so in tune with the Father's love for us, for His heart for all mankind.  It would transform you.  It would change you.

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable, and perfect"  Romans 12:2~

How have christians conformed to this world?  What is the renewing of your mind? How do you discern?  What is good, acceptable, and perfect to God?  Next...

Much love, Dawn

Monday, April 16, 2012


There are several things pressing on my heart right now.  Most of the time, when things press and press like this... I feel very prompted to share them here and then peace comes.  I wait for confirmation that it is time to share... then I do so.  I am so thankful for this avenue to share my heart as well as the way God continues to work in our lives, stretch us, refine us, reveal to us, and transform us.

Our family has made several changes in our life over the past few years that are in contrast to our culture.  The love for the LORD and our desire to please Him has made these changes pretty easy and have already blessed us more than I could have imagined.

We understand and very much accept that people may not agree with what we have done and will continue to do.  While we are saddened at many people's response, it does not change our hearts, mind, or desire in any way.  We extend to them the very grace that God extends to us daily. 

But there is one thing that I can not stand and that is "grace" being misused to condone the modern christian climate.  NOWHERE in scripture do you see Jesus, God, Moses, Paul, or any disciple saying, "Do what you want... don't worry about it... you got grace!"  I am infuriated at how the very precious and most sacred gift of "grace" has been exploited to fit into people's lives.  I am also saddened to the core at how OVER "graced" our churches are today and how little anything else is taught.  THIS is the very reason why the churches today are full of people who look just like the unbeliever they live beside.  THIS is the very reason why the churches today are full of people who sound like the unbelievers they work with.  THIS is the very reason why the churches today are full of people who act just like the unbelievers they walk beside.  They are taught it is ALL about grace and that is it.  THIS, too, is the very reason so many "christians" fall away from the LORD and their faith because nothing in their life ever changed and they no longer see the need to "try" or go to church or believe. And they certainly don't see any need to obey... because grace trumps all.  It is one of the largest crimes of the modern day Christian church and the enemy could not be happier.

Grace is almost indescribable.  It is bigger than big.  Deeper than deep.  More beautiful than beautiful.  Fuller than full.  Yet it is not the only part of a Christians life.  It is the most saving part.  It is the most undeserved part.  It is one of the most beautiful parts.  BUT IT IS ONLY THE BEGINNING.

"For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates HIS OWN LOVE TOWARD US, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been JUSTIFIED BY HIS BLOOD, WE SHALL BE SAVED FROM WRATH THROUGH HIM."  Romans 5:6-9~

"For if by one man's offense many died (death that came to man after Adam sinned in the garden) much more THE GRACE of God AND THE GIFT BY THE GRACE of the One man, Jesus Christ, abound to many.  And THE GIFT is not like that which came through the one who sinned. (Adam)  For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.  For if by one man's offense death reigned through the one (after Adam's sin...death reigned until Christ came), much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ."  Romans 5:15-17~

It is by the grace (undeserved favor) of God that Jesus was sacrificed for OUR sin so that we could receive the GIFT of GRACE... righteousness.  We can NOT obtain righteousness.  There is only ONE who is RIGHTEOUS and that is Jesus Christ.  When we believe (in our hearts) in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, confess this belief with our mouths, and are baptized into His name, we die with Christ (on the cross) and are buried with Him (in our baptism) and are resurrected with Him (coming up out of our baptism) into NEW LIFE.  (Romans 6)  We become new creatures.  Christ comes to live inside us and we begin to be transformed.  Because Christ comes to dwell inside us, when God looks upon us, He sees the righteousness of Christ since we have been covered by His blood.  We receive the promise of salvation that we receive by faith.  THAT IS NOT ALL.  THAT IS NOT ALL THAT IS WRITTEN OR SAID ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN... A NEW CREATURE... A CARRIER OF CHRIST AND THE HOLY SPIRIT.

If we die to ourselves and the life we were living, (on our own power, with our own thinking, in our own will, in our own ways, with our own ideas, in our own understanding, with our own rationalizations, with our own customs and traditions) won't the NEW LIFE we walk in look somewhat different than our old one if it is being led by the HOLY SPIRIT and Christ who resides inside us?  If all we had to do was grab grace and keep running, why in the world would we have to die?  If nothing needs to change after becoming a believer, then why in the world does Paul write letter after letter after letter to churches who are already getting it wrong, falling back into old habits/rituals, and sinning like crazy?  Paul is still among them.  Jesus has only been gone a short while... not hundreds of years and they are already falling away from their faith and their walk.  And Paul (and God) obviously has a problem with it.  In the book of Revelation, God sends letters to the churches in the end times and it is a clear signal/sign/warning that God is not pleased with just anything.  It is not what we think about something or what it means to us!  It is all about what God thinks about something and what it means to HIM!

"What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not!  How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?  Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also SHOULD WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE.  For if WE HAVE BEEN UNITED TOGETHER in the likeness of His death, CERTAINLY WE ALSO SHALL BE IN THE LIKENESS OF HIS RESURRECTION, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.... (12) Therefore DO NOT LET SIN REIGN in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.  And DO NOT PRESENT YOUR MEMBERS AS INSTRUMENTS OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS TO SIN... (16) Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death or of OBEDIENCE leading to righteousness."  Romans 6~

It is clear, here, and many other places, that being saved and "covered by grace" does not mean we can disregard God's commands, what pleases Him, and what doesn't please Him.

"If you love Me, keep my commandments.  And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-- the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him for He dwells with you and will be in you. (the Holy Spirit)" John 14:15~

"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well.  This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands.  THIS IS LOVE FOR GOD: TO OBEY HIS COMMANDS. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God."  1 John 5:1-5~

Believing in Christ is what saves you... by your faith and by God's grace.  BUT THERE IS SO MUCH MORE.  It's like getting married.  You make a vow.  You promise to stay together in that vow.  Through the good times and the bad times.  Through rich times and poor times.  Now, what kind of marriage is a couple going to have if they say.. "Yep, we are married, we are bound, that's it."  That is a no brainer.  The marriage may be a "marriage" and they may be married but there won't be a relationship, there won't be many blessings, there won't be much power, there won't be much love, and there won't be many people looking at them and saying, "I want that."  Actually... what you will have is pretty much what we have... a divorce rate that is saddening the LORD and the soul.  Destroyed families, broken people, and wounds that affect generations.

That is pretty much what has happened to the Christian life.  Grace.  Accept and roll in grace.  And that's it.  Oh... some actually ask you to tell others about it.  And that's it.  And what do you have?  People wondering what in the world this whole "christian thing" is about and living their lives just like they did before... bound in Satan's lies, schemes, tricks, and traps.  Broken families, broken marriages, empty and wounded lives and people yearning for more.  And no power.

The lie is that grace is all you need.  It may save you from hell... but that doctrine robs you of the fullness of life Christ says He came to give you... NOW.  It robs you of the power of the Holy Spirit given to you in the name of Jesus and by His death and resurrection.  It robs you of a transformed life.  It robs you of blessings!  Frankly, the promise of salvation is not enough for me.  I want the FULLNESS.  I want the INTIMACY.  I want the relationship.  I want the power.  I want the Spirit.  I want the joy.  I want the peace.  I want to please the LORD... not to try and earn my salvation... but because I adore Him and am on my face in thankfulness for what He has done and continues to do for me daily!

And of course, because I have tasted more, I have tasted the fullness, I have witnessed the power and been used as a vessel, I want that for my friends and family.  Of course, I want to run around and scream... there is more, there is more, there is more!!!!  And it is good and sweet and beautiful!  It's like the door being opened in the "Wizard of Oz."  The Christian life can be lived in color!  It is right there for the taking.  And yes, to flow in those blessings, to be in that deep intimate relationship, and to see His glory NOW... it may mean walking away from some things in your life that do not please the LORD.  And it TOTALLY TAKES fully surrendering to Him, seeking Him with all your heart, communicating with HIM daily, and being in His word... it takes trust and obedience.  AND IT IS SO SO SO worth it!  Of course I want to share that.  Not because I am trying to convince anyone of anything.  Not because I am judging others or think I am holier than they are, or better than they are... BUT BECAUSE IT TOTALLY ROCKS!  God is awesome.  And a relationship with the living God is sweeter than anything on earth.

THAT is the intent behind the next few posts.  Sharing because it totally rocks... because the FULLNESS of God is right here for the taking and He is waiting... so ready to unleash Himself upon you and transform your life! 
"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by it's deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."  Ephesians 4:22,23~

What does it mean to put off your old self?  What does it mean to be made new in the attitude of the mind?  What does it mean to put on a new self?  What does it mean to die with Christ?  What does it mean to obey?  How does that fit in with grace?   

I'll share about that next.
Much, much love, Dawn

Friday, April 06, 2012

Passover Remembered.


Exodus 12:6-  The date of the 14th of Nisan given for Passover.  Sunset on April 6, 2012
Exodus 12:13, 14- God commands it be an everlasting ordinance.
Luke 22:7- Christ commands disciples to go prepare Passover so He can partake of it with them.  This would of course have been on the 14th of Nisan.
Luke 22:14 Christ shares Passover meal with disciples the evening before He is crucified. (our April 7th)
Luke 22:19,20- Christ reveals Himself as the Passover... the bread and the wine... the body and blood.
Luke 22:39- Christ shows the very depth of His "man" in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Sorrowful scriptures.
1 Corinthians 5:7- Christ, OUR Passover lamb.
John 3:16- All because He loves us THAT much.  "God so loved the world..."

Oh HOLY Night.  How blessed we are to have the WORD of God to give us such insight and personal connection with our Creator and Savior.  How blessed we are to know the very days of such Sacred and Holy events that changed the universe.

Oh to really, really, really grasp and understand THAT LOVE!

"... that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."  Ephesians 3:17-19~  


Praise Him!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Holy Ground

We are walking through the Holiest week of the all time... and that week comes around once a year.  It is the final week before the greatest sacrifice was ever made and the largest and most loving gift given.
I am somewhat saddened that I have not been as mindful as I had hoped.  Last year, as we celebrated Passover and taught our children how the Passover of the Old Testament mirrors Christ as our Passover Lamb to every infinite detail, I had high hopes to be more prepared this year and walk each day with purpose and reflection.  And here it is, the day before the Passover, and days have slipped by filled with our normal.

And this week is anything but "normal".  It defies "normal".  It offers "normal" something real, deep, transforming, and everlasting.  It offers "normal" Jesus.

 But isn't every day of our walk supposed to be outside "normal".   Isn't it supposed to be more loving, deeper, clearer, holier, cleaner, purposeful, more Christ like?  Yes.  Yes it is.  Every single day we are to die.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."  Galatians 2:20~

We are to welcome our death and allow Him to live... fully... fully... fully.  Not just on Sundays.  Not just on a holiday.  Not just when people are looking.  Not when we feel like it.  But fully... totally and fully.  Daily.

According to the biblical calendar, tomorrow, at sunset, starts Passover.  Friday night is the night that Christ sat with his disciples and revealed Himself as the bread and the cup.  It is the night He cried so deeply in the Garden of Gethsemane that the ground itself had to weep with Him as His creation held it's breath and prepared for the unthinkable.  The spotless lamb, the perfect and sinless Christ was about to enter the ultimate darkness and separation from God for three days and three nights.  Demons danced and Judas fulfilled scripture and betrayed Him.  Darkness drew in it's breath in joy and delight as they prepared to receive what they perceived to be victory.

Saturday is the day Christ endures what every one of us deserves.  Saturday is the day man mocked the very one dying to save him.  Saturday is the day nails were driven into the only perfect hands and feet every to walk this earth.  Saturday is the day when hell had a party... a celebration... and the soul of creation wept.  Saturday is the day when God could not take it anymore... and the very earth trembled and the veil was torn apart.

I pray you and your family are saturated this weekend with the LOVE that saves us.  I pray you are saturated in the Presence of the One who loves you that much... that very much... to die that way... for you.  And for me.

Much love...

P.S.  I was reading one of my favorite blogs ever, and Ann communicated far more beautifully than I ever could have, in her grace filled way.  How I adore this woman, this sister with her burning desire to be saturated in Him.  You can read her words here...

 *For those interested: Passover begins on the 14th of Nissan which is at sundown on Friday, April 6th.  Christ was sacrificed on Passover (during daylight hours as their day starts at night) which would be the day of Saturday, April 7th.  He was in the tomb for three days and three nights.  He was placed in the tomb before sundown on the Passover day on which He died.  Don't really know if the hours before sundown were counted as day one.  But at sundown, the next "day" began although it was His first night in the tomb. Saturday night (1) Sunday night (2) and Monday night (3)  This makes His resurrection on Tuesday, April 10th.  Monday night from sundown to Tuesday night sundown is the 17th of Nissan.  So Resurrection Day, this year, as it changes every year according to the New Moon, (as the Bible commands) is Tuesday (before sundown) the 17th of Nissan.  A calendar will show you that April 10 is the 18th of Nissan... since that starts at sundown. Can be confusing. :0)