READ THIS FIRST

I am told that the truths that I share sometimes come across a bit too curt. Not that the truths shouldn’t be firmly held, but when I share them verbally my tone and expression and responses to the listener allow me to share the truth and the balance of grace at the same time (please listen to some of my audios for examples).

Whatever today’s topic, the full balance always involves the the following sweet coatings on the sometimes distasteful pill of truth of:

For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

1. You are not alone, Dr. Verle Bell joins you as the chief of sinners and in no position to judge your worth, dignity, security, future, or God’s ability to help you.

2. There is Hope!

3. If you are a saved child of God, you have worth, strength, and hope just because. You can’t lose it or increase it, you have them just because Jesus died for you and loves you.

4. There are no have to‘s for us but there are a lot of sure-would-be-nice‘s. These blogs are to help you grab ahold of all the sure-would-be-nice’s God has for you in the present.

5. If you never change, grow, fight the good fight, etc, You are still a winner, for we are more than conquerors- we forever remain in his love!

Stop to think, how many people have passed through this world without confessing with God that they are a sinner in need of salvation, asking for that salvation based on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Since we have, as a result we are now immortals. The rest is just icing on the cake.

Now read on to get your share of the icing!

If you ask Him nicely, He might even let you lick out of the icing bowl, just as my Mom did when I helped her in the kitchen as a boy.

LIGHTEN UP!

Feel tense at times? Her are a few scripture inspired ramblings you might read and remind yourself, as I often do, of why anxiety is just plain ludicrous considering:
Isaiah 14;14 Fear not, thou worm Verle, and all your friends; I will help you, saith the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

If what I am now doing isn’t because God wants it done THEY WHY AM I DOING IT? If he does want it done then I should do it but get up at a reasonable time, whistle while I work, and get a good nights sleep. (My version of Psalms 127) Don’t waste any tension on tomorrow not even about necessities such as food and clothing(God know I need that do I really think he’s too busy or sleeping to handle his part? ie tomorrow.) Don’t wallow in yesterday but grab all the  good God has for me today. Besides, what do I vex my spirit over? I’m just going to die and rot and only God will remember anything I’ve done, and he already likes me so much that when I was his enemy Christ died for me. Besides, if God freely gave his only begotten son for me, do I really think he won’t give me whatever else I need to avoid sin (the only thing worth worrying about) He is faithful and will with the trial you face give me the way to avoid sin. Don ‘t forget, NOTHING, can snatch me from his love, NOT EVEN MY OWN WISHYWASHYNESS. Besides God knows I’m just dust, He fashioned me, so he only expects me to do DO WHAT LITTLE  I AM ABLE to move my body part in obedience to his principles empowered by his Grace:  not to be perfect or get perfect results, and when I’ve done what I can I’m a success in his eyes through faithful obedience, no matter what result he chooses to bring from my efforts. He has overcome the world, besides if I can’t add a smidgeon to my height by worry so why worry about the big things that are God’s to take care of. Remember that however this(whatever this I’m fussing about) turns out, it can’t affect my worth or power or strength because these all come from God. Besides, look around me, how carefully God takes care of the birds and trees, I think he can handle me. Don’t forget all the toils and snares His Grace has already brought me through. Remember that you are not in this alone He is with me and my hand is in his and it is his will that I also reach out to fellow believers and walk each trial with help letting them bear my overburden. Keeping my eye on the prize remembering all the good that is and will still be there no matter how this current trial ends. Lastly nothing lasts forever and next thing I know I will be like Him for I will see Him face to face.

SPIRIT POSSESSION by God or the Devil: take your pick

The things that are most neglected by the body of Christ are probably the most important ie: fellowship, grace, prayer and mutual accountability.

THE DEVIL IS  CRAFTY He will let you focus on one area of the religious walk so that, although off balance and dysfunctional in other areas, you may believe that you are doing well. Others looking at your life will see your overstriving in one area and neglecting others. They will conclude that the religious life is impossible,(which it is apart from God, so they conclude “why wast the energy trying?”) or they will react to your pressured pushing of one aspect and reject the whole area of religion. (Which is what they want to do and are looking at you to find the excuse to do so.)

The devil speaks out of both sides of his mouth and lies out of both sides. (A neat little trick of his!) First he will suggest that you are fine because you do this or that better and more accurately than others:OR he will point out your imbalance and suggest that you give up because if you are not perfect in all areas you are still a lawbreaker so why try? (Make up your mind devil, which is it?). He replies “Whichever lie gets you all bound up or smug but either way useless to God but Oh so useful to me!”.

GOD IS WISE: He says that you don’t have to DO anything to earn or maintain your worth or his love for you but that, if you would walk moment by moment with him, you will discover yourself using all of his marvelous tools and gifts. Experiencing love for the enemy, joy in loss,peace in battle, patience with the impatient, gentleness with the rough, kindness to the mean. You will find yourself using the tools of prayer, study of the word, application of the word to your moment by moment reactions,application of the word to needy people, singing in your heart and out loud for emotional balance, telling others about your experiences with boldness, asking fellow believers for feedback and accountability, living in the now and seizing the challenges with gusto and the present delights with gratitude and pleasure.

This never comes from RELIGION and doesn’t even seem to come from regular church participation or from trying hard to be good. It only comes from RELATIONSHIP with Jesus. In all your ways seek to know his nature better, to ask him what he thinks what he wants to do. Tell him your realistic pains fears worries hopes joys.

I have seen demon possessed people in India, witchdoctors and their followers and even have run into some here in this country who are possessed of demons. These people do not do anything on their own. They are owned by the spirit that possesses them and it destroys their choice and personality.

When the Holy Spirit invades he never destroys our personality,(why should he he designed it?) He never robs you of choice, (why should he your free will choice is one of his most awesome accomplishments?) However you must moment by moment STOP and ask him what he thinks and feels and wants to do and how you might yield to him. Consider the hymn by Mr. and Mrs Whittle:

Dying with Jesus, by death reckoned mine;
Living with Jesus, a new life divine;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine,
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.Moment by moment I’m kept in His love;
Moment by moment I’ve life from above;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

Never a trial that He is not there,
Never a burden that He doth not bear,
Never a sorrow that He doth not share,
Moment by moment, I’m under His care.Never a heartache, and never a groan,
Never a teardrop and never a moan;
Never a danger but there on the throne,
Moment by moment He thinks of His own.Never a weakness that He doth not feel,
Never a sickness that He cannot heal;
Moment by moment, in woe or in weal,
Jesus my Savior, abides with me still.

Luke 16:13

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

John 14:10King James Version (KJV)

10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (May we follow his blessed example and let ourselves be possessed by the Holy Spirit moment by moment)

OUR TREMENDOUS LOVER

What is the proper focus for a christian? REMAIN IN HIS LOVE

Some churches emphasize the Bible, studying it preaching it memorizing it, others emphasize singing and praise, others urge to go witnessing, others encourage a life of holiness, others the need to rest in grace. I think that all these and other things of value are wrapped up in being a good wife to my eternal lover. I’ve been re-reading HindsFeet on High Places, and my Shepherd bridegroom has been using the allegory to call me into a walk of greater love with Him.

I always seem to be relearning Basic Love 101.

Revelation 2:2

“Verle, (Put your own name in) I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.– “Thank you lord, I appreciate you noticing and being pleased with all that!”

4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because THOU HAST LEFT THY FIRST LOVE.– “OUCH!”

I always had trouble with my children getting them to realize that the purpose of doing a task or experiencing an outing together was not about the task or the outing. It was about sharing and building memories and getting to know each other better, and I especially hoped they would get to know me better.

If I came home and my wife were to keep a perfect house and cook perfect food and care for the children perfectly and do perfect handicrafts etc etc. but didn’t like to hang out with me and enjoy being with me, ALL THE REST WOULD NOT COUNT. In the love chapter of 1 corinthians 13 I usually interpreted agape love to mean that, by God’s grace, I was to love other people like that: but it also means that all those achievements would mean nothing if I have not agape for my immortal bridegroom and revel in His love for me.

Perhaps the most important book in the Bible is the SONG OF SONGS after all.

Romans 7:4

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Revelation 21:9

And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.

Ephesians 5:25

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

As any healthy groom, my groom is jealous. Do you remember the difference between envy and jealousy? He will fight for our relationship against anything that would get in the way of the relationship and love between groom and bride– even all the labour and patience and fighting for the right etc.

PRAYER-“Lord and lover, thank you for knowing me and still loving me and wanting to be in me and live through me and share with me in all my thoughts and events. Help me to overcome my fears of intimacy and learn to be real with you, and thank you for your persistence and never quit drawing me to a deeper love even beyond the first love we shared at the start.”

THE HOUND OF HEAVEN
Francis Thompson

(FOR THE BRILLIANT ORIGINAL-go online)

-this is the poem made a bit more accessible by Verle Bell)

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, through the years; I fled Him, in the twisted thoughts of my own mind;

I sought to hide from Him, in tears or laughter. Up emotional highs I sped; And shot, down into gloomy fears, I ran from those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

But with un-hurrying chase, And unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic constancy, Beat on those feet, and with them a Voice beat More instant than the Feet—
(JESUS) ‘All things betray you, who betray Me’.

I plead, desperate for a place to hide (For, though I knew His love Who followed,                       Yet was I consumed with dread Lest, having Him, I must have nothing else beside.) But, if one little door for me was parted wide, The gust of His approach would clash it to: Fear’s urge to hide was weaker than Love’s urge to pursue.
Across deserts of the world I fled, And reached up to the gateway of the stars, Seeking in science, shelter from His love; I said to Dawn: Be sudden—to Eve: Be soon; Hide me in the mists of Dawn the hush of Eve from this tremendous Lover— Float your vague veil about me, lest He see! I tempted all His servants, only to find My own betrayal in their constancy, In faith to Him their fickleness to me, Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.

I sought the thrill of speed; Clung to the whistling mane of every wind. But whether I swept,The long savannas of the blue; Or, whether, I surged past danger close at hand
Still with un-hurrying chase, And unperturbed pace, Deliberate speed, majestic constancy, Came on the following Feet, And a Voice above their beat— (JESUS) ‘Nothing shelters you, who will not shelter Me.’

I sought no more for help In face of man or maid; But still within the little children’s eyes Seems something, something that replies, They at least are for me, surely for me! I turned me to them very wistfully; But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair With dawning answers there, Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.

Come then, ye other children, Nature’s—share With me’ (said I) ‘your delicate fellowship; Let me greet you lip to lip, Let me twine with you caresses,.’ So it was done: I in their delicate fellowship was one— Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies. I knew all the changing faces of skies; I knew what makes the clouds arise; I studied all that’s born or dies I tied my moods to Natures moods I laughed in the morning’s eyes. I triumphed and I saddened with all weather, In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek. For ah! we know not what each other says,

Nigh and nigh draws the chase, With unperturbed pace, Deliberate speed, majestic constancy; And past those noisèd Feet A voice comes yet more fleet— ‘Lo! nothing contents you, who does not content Me.’

Naked I wait Thy love to strike me down! Already You have knocked me to my knee; I am defenseless utterly.

I spent my youth’s passion running full of fears And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears, I stand amidst the dust of wasted years— My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap. Yet apart from you I cannot even plan Nor play the flute you place within my hand; Ah! is Thy love indeed A weed, yes a gorgeous weed, but one that lets no other flowers grow?,
Ah! must— Designer infinite!— Ah! must You burn the wood before You use it? In my despair I hear a distant trumpet sound. His name I know, who follows and what his trumpet says.

Now comes that voice Surrounds me like a bursting sea:

(JESUS) “Lo, all things fly you, who fly from Me!” ‘Strange, piteous, futile thing! Why should anyone save their love for you? Since only I can make something out of nothing’ (He said), ‘And human love must be earned: What have you earned or yet hope to earn?— You of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot? Alas, you little realize, How little worthy of any love you are! Who will you find to love ignoble you, Save Me, save only Me? All which I took from you I did but take, Not for your harm, But just that you might seek it in My arms. All which your child’s mistake Fancies as lost, I have stored for you at home: Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’

He halts beside me and I think Is my gloom, after all, just the Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?

(JESUS) ‘Ah, you my love, though blind and weak, I am He for whom you seek! You drove love from you, who fled from Me.’

ANONYMOUS

What would you do if no one had any idea who you were and there was no chance of them finding out?

I’ve always been told that this would be the test of who you really are and what you really want. It used to be that we grew up in the same town we worked in, went to church in, and married in. Everyone you ran into knew who you were. We complained about the nosiness and control. However, it did make it a lot easier to behave. Now we can go online and pretend to be anyone. We can watch inappropriate things in our own basements. We shop and no one knows who we are. We travel far from home and are even more anonymous.

When the Lord gives a command in the New Testament, it is always in the plural. He says,”y’all” you and your supports, you and your accountability, do the following.

We go to church and are too proud to pray or read the Bible out loud for fear someone might judge the quality of our performance. We strain at a gnat and swallow a camel, because we really should be sharing our deeper struggles and being real with each other:and not fussing with what they think of our praying.

I know it is scary to be real because fellow Christians do judge. I was sharing with some folks at church, who were too shy to pray, that I was far shyer than they. (It is true, but God has helped me not act in the inner shyness and fear that I still feel) Instead of being encouraged to let God help them with their shyness, they concluded that I was flat out lying or just being sarcastic. I’m going to share anyways because what they think of me is irrelevant. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:15 “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.”

So as you go through this week, consider asking for accountability and letting someone know a little of your “heart” the inner you that God is so desirous of knowing and healing, the part of you he loves the most.

HEALTHY DOUBTS AND STRUGGLES

Reader comment:”Something else that I think about is this continual struggle is proof of salvation! People who struggle with “am I saved?? What if I’m not?” … look at this flesh vs spirit struggle; do you have this struggle? Does it drive you crazy? That’s evidence of authentic salvation (because it’s evidence of the Spirit living in you). If you did NOT have this struggle (or any desire to pursue Christ); then you would have a good reason to question. What are your thoughts on this?”

I led a support group that had three people who worried that they had committed the “Unpardonable Sin”. Sometimes I felt that they wanted to believe this because it got them out of the struggle of WORKS, of trying to be good. I assured them that ALL right dividers of the Word of God have agreed that “If you wish you hadn’t committed the unpardonable sin–Then you haven’t!” As the comment above noted-the struggle proves the work of the Holy Spirit and the battle for your mind and heart. The devil can not steal your Grace but he can lead you to doubt.

Remember what I consider to be the “grain of mustard seed faith” That is to remind ourselves when in doubt to hang on to the Lord and his ways and to keep walking because: THERE IS NO OTHER NAME GIVEN AMONG MEN THAT CAN SAVE US–WHERE ELSE CAN I GO TO FIND THE WORDS OF LIFE.

The best natural witnesser I’ve known was a missionary we called brother Oper. Towards the end of his life he became suicidally depressed thinking that his life didn’t count. Then the Lord brought a letter of appreciation at just the right time and pulled him out.

My own father felt depressed for about four years in his late 60’s then the Lord helped him get back on track.

Charles Spurgeon struggled with depression and the Lord led him to the psalms and he started to write a commentary and then the depression lifted. (Probably his best work)

John the baptist went from “behold the lamb of God” to “check and see if he is really the one”

Yes, I struggle. In every case when I feel depressed or wonder if my life counts or did I really get saved, (A common struggle with people who get saved young and can’t remember the exact moment) I find that I have crossed the line from yielding my body members servants to obey God and instead am trying to do God’s work for him.

To find peace again:I remind myself that all other paths involve works of which I am incapable so Jesus is my only hope. I then thank God for the struggle since I am told to be grateful always for everything. Finally, I then review the elements of salvation and realize they are still present and have been all along since I was saved at age 5.

  1. I have admitted myself to be a sinner and powerless to pay for my sins.
  2. I have asked God the father to forgive me, cleanse me and accept me on the basis of Jesus’ finished work. Then I get busy serving Him and others, as that is what the devil is after- causing doubt to get in the way of the Lord using you to bless others.

SEE there’s another way I’,m messed up. How cool is that?

In Romans 7 Paul laments that he keeps doing what he knows he shouldn’t and doesn’t really want to do and doesn’t get around to doing what he knows he should and really wants to but the sin in him keeps bossing him around. Can you relate to this  condition? We have a polite term for this in psychiatry, “Cognitive dissonance”. Sounds almost genteel right? Paul calls it “Oh wretched man that I am, who shall  deliver me from this body of death.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I was all set for the answer, but all I get in the passage is  Romans 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

I was raised in a holiness church where people claimed to have had a second work of Grace that rendered them unable to sin or at least capable of never sinning. They didn’t seem all that holy to me. I think they were just tire of pursuing holiness in their own strength and declared themselves perfect.

I think that freedom from “cognitive dissonance” or the struggle with old programming is a state that we will all find ourselves in until we are free from the presence of sin, as my dad is for the last 3 weeks since he went to heaven. I am tempted to say ” lucky him” and when that day comes it will be wonderful. But, right now I say “lucky me” The Lord is teaching me not to resent the struggle with old programming or temptation, it is evidence that I am in the middle of the battle, it teaches me to hate sin and hunger for righteousness, to stay in the word and near to fellow believers, to be constant in prayer etc. The Lord promises power to not give in to temptation not deliverance from the struggle.

John 17:15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
If your mind says that it would be healthy to lose weight and right now there is the opportunity to eat something unhealthy—then it is good to have “cognitive dissonance” or we call it our conscience speak up. Your mind reminds you to read the word or pray but your body is tired and weak. Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. You see a chance to witness and the flesh says it would make you seem irritating and go nowhere so wait for a better time.
I am suggesting that we should watch for these uncomfortable arguments in our heads and learn to value them and to push us to run to the Lord for power to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh.

YOU’RE SCREWED UP? RUN TO JESUS NOT FROM HIM

Do your recall the arrogant religious men who dragged the lady caught in adultery before the Lord? So where was the man caught in adultery? It’s hard to do that sin alone. Then when the Holy Spirit convicted them all from the oldest to the youngest THEY ALL SLUNK OFF!

What can I learn from this? The more that I notice how messed up those around me are–the more I am just trying to avoid looking at my own sin by pointing out theirs. They were angry at Jesus because he pointed out their sin. Am I angry at Jesus when I am finding fault with other? Like Martha am I saying by my attitude, “What’s wrong with you Jesus, that you haven’t sent Mary back to help me as you should have?” Do I find more fault with those who are not just like I am, people from the other group such as this woman?

Do I think that I must pay for my own sins by slinking off when convicted. IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO BE CONVICTED, YOU MUST RUN TO JESUS AND FALL AT HIS FEET! One by one they should have fallen in the dirt and cried out, ” Have mercy on me I am the one who should be stoned!” Do we just feel bad about ourselves when we see that we are indeed the chief of sinners; or do we seek and accept the gift of forgiveness he was prepared to grant both the men and the woman. She was the only  one that walked away forgiven.

When the 10 lepers were healed only one returned. The others must have seen him go, why did they not run to Jesus. He was the only one both healed and forgiven. Did they think that, as Jews they deserved healing but this Samaritan should be grateful for he deserved nothing?

The rich young ruler followed all the commandments but walked away from Jesus without the treasure of eternal life being offered and the chance to become one of the disciples.

Do we allow conviction,beg for healing, ask for eternal life and lose out by not letting our needs drive us to Jesus?

This week let your needs and trials and sins and failures and rejections and losses and and and ALL THE ABOVE drive you to Jesus!