God’s Knitting Project

It was morning. Quietness filled the house. I was praying for an individual and a difficult situation she was encountering. My friend had strengths and weaknesses. There were pros and cons regarding her situation. I cried out, “Lord, knit their hearts together.”1

The Lord immediately began showing me mental pictures in my spirit.  I sensed the Lord holding two balls of yarn – one in each hand.2 Each ball was unique. However, God was knitting them together. The knitting needles were the Holy Spirit. Sharp needles were piercing in truth and cutting out lies – like the two-edged sword of the Spirit.3 The colorful yarns were being knit together. A new creation was being made.4 

Sometimes there were knots in the yarn. A weakened thread in one of the yarns could have caused a knot. Or, tension between the two yarns could have created a knotty spot. The knots had to be removed before knitting could continue.  If a person tried to get a knot out with one’s fingers, it was harder to remove than if the Holy Spirit’s needles were used. The pointed end of the knitting needle was like the point of the sword of the Spirit.5 When the sharp needle was poked into the tangled yarn, the knot was removed. It certainly was easier for yarn to become entangled than to get it untangled!6 Human hands could have caused the tangles, but God was the Untangler. The knots had to be untied – set free of entanglements and bondage.7

Knitting and unknotting continued. A new creation was emerging. It was beautiful.8

My day progressed and I tucked away the images of my spiritual knitting project. Later, I heard the word “unraveled” whispered in my spiritual ear. I asked the Lord how this applied to His knitting project. To me, both knots and unraveling appeared to be hindrances to what was being made. What was the difference? God reminded me that the knots were in the individual yarns while unraveling occurred where the yarns were knitted together.

God showed me that yarn unraveled when there was a snag – when it caught on something.9 A snag could be repaired but it involved tedious work. It took time to weave the threads back together.  No new progress was made while the snag was being mended.10 However, once the snag was fixed, the Knitter continued His project.11

That evening, I was reading scripture. I do not think it was just a coincidence that I read Colossians 2:2 NLT,I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.The New International Version uses “united” rather than “knit together”. Whatever the terminology, love was a secret strand that was integral to the resolution between my friend and her situation. The Holy Spirit was knitting together, uniting, two balls of yarn that were held in God’s hands. Love was a part of the new creation.

God heard and was answering my morning prayer! Through mental images, a whispered word, and His written Word, God showed me He was at work. I have not yet seen the fulfillment of my prayer in the natural realm, but I have been encouraged. We walk by faith, not by sight, so I keep believing and lifting up this individual and her situation in prayer.12

Endnote Scriptural References:
(all scriptures are New International Version unless otherwise noted.)

1. In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. – Psalm 5:3

2. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

3. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12

4. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! – II Corinthians 5:17

5. the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God – Ephesians 6:17

6. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us fee, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. – Galatians 5:1 NKJV

7. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:36

8. He has made everything beautiful in its time. – Ecclesiastes 3:11

9. Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. – Galatians 6:1

10. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – I John 1:9

11. He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6

12. Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. – Hebrews 11:1 NLT

 

 

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Comfort of the Comforter

On a cold January morning, I cuddled under a warm comforter. The covers were cozy. The comfort of the comforter reminded me of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.

In John 14:16 KJV, Jesus gives us the promise, “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.” He goes on to say in John 14:26 KJV, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

I have quoted the King James Version of these scriptures. Other translations use Advocate, Helper and Counselor. All are interpretations of the Greek word paraclete referring to the Holy Spirit. According to Wikipedia, “Paracleteos” signifies one who consoles or comforts, one who encourages or uplifts; . . . one who intercedes on our behalf as an advocate in court.”

The term Comforter comes from the Latin word confortare. “Com” expresses intensive force and “fortis” means strong. As our Comforter, the Holy Spirit helps us by coming along side us helping us live for the Lord. Zechariah 4:6, Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.

The promise of a Comforter was prophesied in Joel 2:28, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” This prophecy was fulfilled in Acts 2:17.

Sarah Young shares about comfort in Jesus Always. Psalm 119:76 NLT says, Now let Your unfailing love comfort me.Sarah points out that the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, has a better grasp of what is happening for us than we can comprehend. So, I encourage you to grasp hold of the Comforter just as I grasped hold of my blanket or comforter.

Bill Johnson says in When Heaven Invades Earth that God gave us the Comforter because He knew His ways would occasionally make us uncomfortable. The Lord declares in Isaiah 55:8,For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways.Johnson says we may not initially recognize the Holy Spirit when He manifests His presence in ways we are not accustomed to or in a manner we do not expect. These situations may cause us to feel uncomfortable. However, the Holy Spirit desires to be our Comforter in all ways as all times.

My comforter allowed me to be comfortable on a cold morning. There are times when the Holy Spirit will make me comfortable. However, there are other times when He will make me uncomfortable. God may push me out of my comfort zone challenging to me to grow spiritually through new experiences. I had to push myself to get out of bed and leave the comfort of my comforter. Otherwise, I would not have accomplished anything the Comforter was preparing for me that day.

When I was enveloped in my quilt comforter, I felt warm. I have also experienced the manifestation of the Holy Spirit as a feeling of warmth radiating through my body. Scripture describes the Holy Spirit as fire. After Jesus’ ascension, the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost. Acts 2:3 records,They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” Hebrews 12:29 says,for our God is a consuming fire.”

I was aware of the weight of my comforter when I huddled under the patchwork fabric. Similarly, I have felt a powerful weight on me when the Holy Spirit has descended. There can definitely be a weightiness to the Comforter. The Shekhinah glory is the English transliteration of a Hebrew word denoting the settling of the divine presence of God. The Comforter can settle upon us just as the comforter settled upon me, or covered me, while I was in bed. The Holy Spirit’s presence is often correlated with the glory of God. The Hebrew word for glory is kabod. And, the basic meaning of kabod is heavy or rich. II Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (my emphasis)

My comforter was an object. The Comforter is the third person of the Trinity. Jesus promises us the Comforter. He says in John 14:18 KJV, I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” Jesus also explains in John 14:26 KJV, But when the Comforter is come,… He shall testify of Me.”

Such comfort I enjoyed from a comforter. So much comfort available to us through the Comforter.

 

Are We Called to Obey or Sacrifice?

I was attending our Prayer and Share group at church. Someone said, “Scripture tells us that obedience is better than sacrifice.” The Holy Spirit whispered in my ear, “Obedience is a form of sacrifice.” Time for me to do some studying.

The first act of disobedience is recorded in Genesis 3.  Adam and Eve disobeyed God when they ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Because of their sin, God sacrificed an animal to clothe them with garments of skin. If Adam and Eve has obeyed, there would not have been a need for sacrifice. Obedience would have been better than sacrifice. Disobedience required sacrifice.

The first reference to obedience being better than sacrifice is found in I Samuel 15:22 NLT.What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.These are Samuel’s words to Saul when Saul disobeyed and God rejected him as king. Sacrifice did not mean obedience was unnecessary.

Lack of obedience led to the need for sacrifice. The Ten Commandments are recorded in Exodus 20. The Israelites did not obey all that God asked of them. This led to the need for sacrifice. Leviticus 1-7 describes all the sacrifices God would require. There were burnt offering, grain offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings and trespass offerings. So many sacrifices! All because of disobedience.

Would sacrifices continue forever? No! Hebrews10:1-18 tells how Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was made once for everyone. The law for sacrifices was only a shadow of Jesus’ sacrifice yet to come. These annual sacrifices were a reminder that the blood of animals did not take away sins. Christ set aside the animal sacrifices and made a holy sacrifice through His body once and for all. The priests had to stand while performing their religious duties because there was always a need for more sacrifices. Christ is now seated at the right hand of God. His work is completed. Verse 18 proclaims, “sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.” No sacrifice required – but obedience is required.

Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice when He died upon the cross. Romans 10:4 says, “Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in Him are made right with God.” Now we must obey God. We must believe.

Jesus was obedient to His Heavenly Father when He sacrificed His life. Now He has given us a command to obey. In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.” “Taking up our cross” sounds like sacrifice. “Follow Me” sounds like obedience. We may be asked to make some form of sacrifice. Then we must obey.

If we are asked to make a sacrifice, what might our sacrifice be? Very likely, our will. (Let us pray the words of Matthew 6:19, “Your [God’s] will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”) Possibly our desires. Maybe our reputation – what people think of us. Our time is another thing that may need to be sacrificed.

We have been thinking about sacrifice. Now let’s focus upon obedience. Jesus obeyed perfectly. Jesus says in John 5:19, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” Philippians 2:8 says, “And being found in appearance as a man, He (Jesus) humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross!”

The following are several scriptures that will help us walk in obedience.

You must love the LORD your God and obey all His requirements, decrees, regulations, and commands. – Deuteronomy 11:1
If you love Me, keep My commands.John 14:15
And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love. – II John 1:6
Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it. – Luke 11:28
This is love for God: to keep His commands.I John 5:3

Obedience and sacrifice seem to go hand in hand. Obedience may be better than sacrifice. However, obedience may require sacrifice. I encourage you to strive to sacrificially obey the Lord!

A Cup of Contentment – A Cup of Complacency

A friend and I were sharing coffee and conversation. Two cups of coffee – lattes to be specific. Two spiritual concepts – contentment and complacency.

My friend commented, “I need to learn to be more content.” She was thinking about Paul’s declaration in Philippians 4:12. “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” An admirable desire.

I responded, “Yes – content but not complacent.” Earlier in my quiet time, I had read Revelation 3:15-16. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” John’s words  had been my warning against complacency. Both my friend and I had quoted scripture. We needed a balance between contentment and complacency.

How do we learn to be content?

Jesus says in Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Contentment is not worrying. Contentment is trusting God.

Paul assures us in Philippians 4:19, And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” We must differentiate between our wants and our needs. God promises to meet our needs. However, this does not mean we will always get all we want. By trusting Christ, our attitudes and appetites change from wanting everything to accepting His provision and power. This is contentment.

Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” A footnote in the Life Application gives the following advice. “Strive to live with less rather than desiring more; give away out of your abundance rather than accumulating more; relish what you have rather than resent what you are missing. See God’s love expressed in what He has provided and remember that money and possessions will all pass away.” Wonderful guidelines for contentment!

I Timothy 6:6-7 says, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.

Contentment is good. But what about the risk of allowing contentment to become complacency?

In Hosea 4:6 God says, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” Lack of knowledge refers to a lack of intimate fellowship with the Lord. This sounds like complacency. It will be better for us to follow Isaiah 32:9. “You women who are so complacent, rise up and listen to Me; you daughters who feel secure, hear what I have to say!

Jesus says in Matthew 7:26, “But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” Hearing but not fulfilling God’s Word can be another demonstration of complacency.

In a devotional “Disturb Us, Lord!” Daniel Kolenda writes, “Complacency is one of the most dangerous enemies of the believer because it is so easy to fall into and, like a vivid dream, it is very difficult to detect in our own lives before we are rudely awakened. God is so good and faithful to us in His mercy. But it is easy to take His faithfulness for granted in the good times and confuse presumption for faith.”

Kolenda also refers to someone who once said, “Complacency is a blight that saps energy, dulls attitudes, and causes a drain on the brain. The first symptom is satisfaction with things as they are.”

The writer of Hebrews encourages believers to not be satisfied with the elementary truths of God’s Word. He exhorts all to be diligent regarding our growth in the Lord. Hebrews 6:12 NLTThen you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.” If we remain content spiritually, we can become complacent about our relationship with God.

Did my friend and I come to any conclusions about contentment and complacency? We decided we wanted to be content in the natural realm while avoiding complacency in the supernatural realm. We will strive to be content – not to seek MORE, MORE, MORE materialistic stuff. We will also endeavor to not be complacent – to desire MORE, MORE, MORE spiritual insight.

Grab Your Paint Brush for 2019

Yesterday was the beginning of 2019. A new calendar year started with 12 months containing 365 days ready to be filled. I challenge you to think of the new year as a blank canvas that God offers to you. It is your privilege and responsibility to create a new scene. You are the artist.

God places the paint brush in your hand. You create. However, God does not remove His hand. Isaiah 41:13 says, “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Imagine each stroke of your brush’s bristles representing a word you speak, a thought you think or an action you do during 2019.

You have a pallet of paints. The primary pigments are yellow, blue and red. The variations are unlimited. Red and yellow produce orange. Yellow and blue result in green. Red and blue become purple. Then there are light and dark shades of every combination.

You will dip your brush into diverse colors as the days and months progress. Some days will begin with a splash of bright yellow portraying the Son of God shining brightly upon you. Jesus says in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” I love Sonshine! Then Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Your painting will most likely include many hues of blue. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands” This verse depicts a sense of serenity. However, blue can also portray a more boisterous scene. Mark 4:39 says, “He (Jesus) got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”

Next, you may reach for red. Red can be a vivid, vibrant color displaying a vital promise. Red reminds me of the blood of Jesus. Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Maybe your painting will portray some red flowers bursting into bloom that look like droplets of Jesus’ blood. Each flower might symbolize an outpouring of God’s grace.

Your masterpiece will reflect light and dark shadings. There will always be contrasts in one’s life as well as in a painting. Isaiah 45:7 says, “I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the LORD, am the one who does these things.There will be times when your paint brush is submerged in darker colors but lighter colors will also emerge. Isaiah 60:1-2 says, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the LORD will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you.”

How about some fruit trees in your 2019 scene? Galatians 5:22-23the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” What a beautiful tree you will paint with these colorful characteristics. Colossians 1:10 NLT says, “Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.”

Some days you will create clusters of clouds in the sky. Remember Psalm 104:3, “He makes the clouds His chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.” Clouds are also mentioned when Jesus ascended into heaven. Acts 1:11 says, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” The clouds you paint will give you a beautiful promise even though things may appear a bit cloudy at the moment.

Neither your painting’s landscape, nor your life’s landscape, will be level. Hills and mountains will arise. Psalm 121:1-2 declares, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” Then, valleys will dip low. Psalm 23:4 is a good reminder, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Both scriptures are valuable verses for your various encounters throughout the year.

Each of us is beginning to create our own personal painting. Throughout the year, the scenes of our lives and paintings will depict diverse landscapes and seascapes. The hills and valleys will appear in different locations. Our waters will vary in depth. All will be different. God created each of us uniquely. Philippians 1:6 says, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” God will help you from the start to the finish with your 2019 masterpiece. What will it look like on December 31?