He is I AM

Jesus said to His disciples, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” (John 8:58)

I’m sure you’ve heard someone, at some point, refer to a Scripture as having leapt off the page while they were reading. This is one of those verses for me. There I was, reading along, when suddenly I SAW Jesus say, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”

I’ve heard this verse used to support Jesus’ divinity, as it hearkens back to God’s declaration to Moses, but the revelation I gained in that moment was entirely different.

Picture me sitting there, stunned expression on my face, realizing that He’s saying “I AM before Abraham,” that even though He was standing there talking to them He was also, at the same time, before Abraham was born!

The revelation hit me in a moment, but it took my brain weeks to process it. Throughout my days, I kept going back to the thought the way you keep returning to a pot that’s simmering on the stove. I even pulled out my concordance and sought out similar times when God made such references to Himself.

You see, I’d always heard it taught that God was saying, “I am _________ (insert your need in the blank,” meaning He is whatever you need.
I am your Savior.
I am your deliverer.
I am your healer.
I am your provider.

This is all true, and lines up with the very names of God. The challenge is that Scripture isn’t two-dimensional. You can look at it one way today and see that it means one thing, and realize tomorrow that it means that and much more. The challenge is to keep from getting locked into only one view.

As I meditated on Jesus’ declaration, God lifted another verse from the page. “Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10) It was as if He were writing me a personal message.

Be still and know that I AM
~God

It’s a fact: Time is meaningless to God. Yes, we find it hard to comprehend this truth, because it’s almost everything to us, but I’m convinced that its only use to God is that it helps us keep our own lives in order. Well, perhaps that’s an oversimplification, but you get my point.

Through the weeks, I slowly gained an understanding that GOD IS, that even as God IS with me as I type this, He IS also with Moses in the desert and Adam in the garden. At first, it was almost like a mental exercise. I’d been given a new piece of information and was slowly grasping what it meant, what its significance would be in my life. Like watching the sun slowly creep up over mountains, I knew something was coming. And I was actively watching for it.

And then the day dawned.

We’d been dealing with CPS (Child Protective Services). The report was completely bogus but, like everyone else who has ever been accused, we had been doing our part to prove wrong the accusations made against us. On “that” day, I walked out my front door, heading to the mailbox, and I suddenly GOT IT. Even as I took those steps, I prayed something along the lines of, “Daddy, you’re in all times at once, so I ask that you do whatever you have to do three days ago for there to be a letter in the mailbox today saying, ‘We’re so sorry. We’ve found nothing wrong. We’re dropping the whole thing.’”

The letter was there. It didn’t say, “We’re so sorry,” but I really didn’t care. That was the day my prayer life radically changed, the day I realized that what I call retroactive prayers are a thing.

Have you ever received a prayer request at noon for a surgery that was taking place at seven, and felt terrible because the surgery was surely over and all you could pray for was a swift healing? But you can still pray in such situations! God, who is with you when you get the request, is – at that same moment – with the person before they go into surgery, in surgery, and as they come out. Truly, since God isn’t bound by time, there’s almost no such thing as “too late” for Him. (Almost. There are definite spots in Scripture where God declares to man that time is up.) I mean that literally.

We’ve heard it said that when a man is dead he’s dead, that you might as well stop praying for him. As a Protestant who doesn’t believe in Purgatory, I understand where that teaching comes from, but I don’t entirely agree. Not anymore.

The fact is that the same God who is with me now is – even now – with a specific young lady I’m thinking of who died in a car wreck, and He is capable of reaching out to her in those last few moments and saving her soul. Yes, I asked Him to as I learned about her. It is true that, even at the end, she might have resisted Him, but I still have the ability, the right, to ask Him to try. He told me so Himself.

Be still and know that I AM.
~God

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

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The One Year Bible for Women


I’ve shared before about the great value I find in reading through the Bible, and I’m currently reading it through again. This time God had me pull out The One Year Bible for Women in the New Living Translation.

I’ve never even considered reading this format before. I felt it would make for too choppy a read, that it would interrupt the flow of the text to such an extent that I would get little out of it. I was mistaken.

This Bible offers itself up in daily readings that include passages from the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. I’ve discovered that this works quite well as no one section is so long that it gets boring, and having Psalms and Proverbs broken up into such small bites really gives them the attention they deserve.

I still believe it’s vitally important to read through the Bible chronologically at least once, preferably two or three times, but I had to come confess that I find this to be an exceptionally good reading plan as well.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

In the Word

 

I once read that Smith Wigglesworth, who had a phenomenal ministry, never read any books other than the Bible.

On the one hand, this is hard to conceive. The amount of material that was available to the avid reader, even in his day, is staggering. Could one really turn aside from all of it? On the other hand, the Word is so rich, so full, that I often feel like the time I spend in it is too short, that my morning alarm going off is a rude interruption.

And I have seen evidence, in me, of what Wigglesworth talked about. He contended that faith is based on knowledge of Who God is, and that we gain this knowledge as we are in His Word. In fact, he said, “if you see imperfect faith – full of doubt, a wavering condition – it always comes of imperfect knowledge.”

That makes so much sense! My faith is stronger today than it has ever been. Yes, it grows as it is tried and strengthened, much like a muscle grows under the same conditions, but it grows as it does because it is rooted in my ever-increasing knowledge of Who God is.

Staying in the Word really is a necessity for the one who wants ever-increasing faith.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Meditations: Psalm 84:10a

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

Psalm 84:10a
AMP

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand [anywhere else]
Psalm 84:10a (AMP)

 

I’m over fifty, and I turned my life over to God when I was twelve. I’ve had some truly joyous days in those years, and I’ve had days so devastating that I would never wish them on my worst human enemy. (The devil is a different story!) One thing I can say from experience is that Psalm 84:10 speaks truth…great truth.

In earlier years, church attendance was an act of discipline. I made myself get up on Sunday mornings and forced myself to ignore weariness on Wednesday evenings. Eventually, though I began to see a pattern.

Any time I truly entered into a service, taking an active part in it rather than merely letting it happen around me, I came away energized – no matter how tired I’d been when I arrived. Any time I’ve gone to church and consciously set aside my worries, fears, or pain, spending time focusing on God instead of me and my issues, I have come away with more peace, clearer vision, and often even supernatural release from even crippling pain.

I speak of emotional pain, but the same applies to physical pain. For years, I suffered from three-day, hormone-induced migraines that hit every fourteen days. Day one I usually spent in bed, sure I was going to die. On day two, I knew I was going to live, but wanted to die. By day three, the pain was still devastating, but so much lessened in comparison that I could push through it. During this time, I was first in the band and then in the choir, yet I missed very few services.

By then, I truly understood the importance of, and many of the reasons for, God’s command to assemble together (Hebrews 10:25) and simply (though not always easily) refused to let my body dictate my actions. And God honored my choices.

In the band, I played small percussion. Percussion and migraines obviously don’t mix; neither do singing and migraines. Even so, almost without fail, as soon as praise and worship began I would be totally pain free and I would stay free from pain until I stepped down and sat in my pew. Sometimes the pain stayed away and sometimes, usually, it only eased up, but continually God reminded me that He had called me to serve in the music ministry and as long as I stayed right with Him He would make me able.

So… Today there is no “I don’t feel like going to church.” Or, perhaps I should rephrase. There are days when my body would rather not go to church. I, though, have realized that I always benefit from being in service. I want to be there on the good days, when all is right with my world, but I especially want to be there – desperately want to be there – when fear, doubt, pain, or heartache are hounding me, because it is there that I find solace and strength. It IS better to spend one day in His house than a thousand anywhere else!

And as strongly as I feel this now, oh how I look forward to Heaven!

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Meditations: Revelation 3:20

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

Revelation 3:20
NKJV

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

 

It astounds me when I consider that these words were written to a church – to Christians. Specifically, they were written to the Laodiceans, the ones God rebuked for being lukewarm. Still, they were written to a church and He refers to Himself as being outside the door! He is saying to these Christians, “I stand at your doors and knock. If any one of you hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to you and dine with you and you with Me.” Why does He say this? Why is He standing outside the door?

Who can underestimate the rewards of letting Christ live in us? How many times has a Christian said, “Oh, I would love to step back in time for just a little while, to sit down to dinner with Jesus and really spend time with Him”? But we don’t have to step back in time; He offers us this option right now, today! Yet…

How many of us, complacently thinking ourselves right with God, go to church every Sunday, sing our songs, perhaps even tithe on our income…but leave Jesus standing outside the door? How many of us have refused to hear the knock, to open our selves up to Him and let Him come in? Admittedly, it can be a frightening thing, to consider allowing the Most Holy One to truly maintain residence within us. For Christ to be present flesh must be absent – must die – and flesh has a serious problem with being put to death. It seems far easier to ignore Jesus until that fateful moment when we wake up and realize what we have done – that He is on the outside, begging to be let in, and we are locked up within walls…all alone.

Yet He is a God of mercy. Even to those who have lost the fire, the ones He says are neither hot nor cold, the ones He threatens to vomit out of His mouth, He offers hope. Though He has been pushed to the wrong side of the door of their hearts and had that door closed in His face, He waits. In His loving mercy He knocks, trying to attract their attention. He even calls out to them, for He says, “If anyone hears My voice…” He is a gentleman. He will never force His way into a place where He is unwanted, not even into a church or a so-called Christian’s heart, but He will stand, wait, knock and call for an astoundingly long time…far longer than any of us would stand outside someone’s door.

And to the one who has shown Him the wrong side of the door, He makes a promise. If that one hears His voice and opens the door, He will come in to them and dine with them, and they will dine with Him. Rather than holding in contempt the one who has pushed Him outside, He will forgive them for all the wrong they’ve done Him and honor them with His presence as if they’d never wronged Him at all. What a love this is!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Meditations: II Peter 2:5-9

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

II Peter 2:5-9
AMP

5  For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises],
employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence),
6  And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control, and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety),
7  And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love.
8  For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
9  For whoever lacks these qualities is blind, [spiritually] shortsighted, seeing only what is near to him, and has become oblivious [to the fact] that he was cleansed from his old sins.

 

For this very reason

Verse 4 of this chapter discusses that God has given us precious and exceedingly great promises so that we can “escape from the moral decay of the world” and “become sharers of the divine nature.” It is for this reason that we do all that the following verses call for us to do.

 

adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort

Yes, we have the divine promises and they were given to us for a reason, but they are like tools—to accomplish what they were made to do, they require our efforts. And God isn’t just calling for a little effort here, but for us to employ “every effort.” The King James Version says, “giving all diligence.”

Half-hearted participants need not apply!

 

in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy)

So we employ every effort in exercising our faith. Ministers often compare faith to a muscle and it seems God surely uses it in this way here. Faith is something that we must exercise continually if it is to become stronger. Most think of exercising their faith for things—cars, jobs, etc.—but God says clearly that there is one thing so important that we are to put forth every effort to exercise our faith to develop it…and that is virtue—excellence, resolution, Christian energy. One might ask why it takes faith to develop such virtue, but most probably wouldn’t question once they’d really thought about it. It does take a definite effort in exercising my faith for me to develop this virtue, this excellence, this resolution, this Christian energy, this (according to the New Living Translation) moral excellence. In my head, it see it as a simple decision, but in practice, when faced with certain choices, it takes an active effort of faith to take the step in the right direction instead of the wrong one.

 

and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence),

So virtue is like a muscle too, in that to develop properly it must be exercised, and as we exercise it we develop knowledge.

Since this selection is specifically leading us into avoiding the moral decay of the world and becoming sharers of the divine nature, we can be pretty sure the knowledge referred to here has nothing to do with worldly knowledge, but rather with spiritual knowledge. In fact, the New Living Translation says, “A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better.”

So as we exercise virtue, living lives of moral excellence, we come to know God better. Now there is a motivator!

 

And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control,

So one of the natural results of growing in the knowledge of God or, perhaps more accurately, one of the first things we see we must develop as we come to know God better, is self-control.

Self-control is a big issue among Christians today. We all seem to be continually working on self-control in one area or another, be it eating too much, cursing, losing our temper, judging others…whatever. Many who have little self-control despise their own weakness, but do not know how to combat it. Here God gives the answer.

Exercise your faith to develop moral excellence (virtue), exercise this moral excellence and get to know God better, and develop/exercise this knowledge of God.

Consider how a man, though he seems to have little control of his tongue, actively tries to limit his cursing when in the presence of a dear friend who is offended by his bad habit. The more time he spends with this friend, exercising his knowledge of the friend, the less he curses. So do we also, as we actively seek to grow in the knowledge of God, spending time with Him (an absolute necessity if we are to know Him), find it easier to control ourselves. As the New Living Translation puts it, “Knowing God leads to self-control.”

So, since one thing leads to another, where does self-control lead?

 

and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance),

According to the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the literal meaning of the original word is “cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy.”

This rocks!

It is tremendous to realize that exercising self-control actually leads to developing cheerful or hopeful endurance, to developing constancy. I love that it is not endurance alone, which can be a miserable thing, but is endurance that is cheerful or hopeful – both of which, by the way, are characteristics of God. So as we come to know God better, He rubs off on us, yes?

And constancy! Someone who is constant is the same at all times, unwavering. This reminds me of Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Constancy is definitely an attribute of God.

 

and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety),

Ah…now we are getting truly close to being genuine partakers in the nature of God. Surely knowing that we can reach this place is sufficient motivation to encourage one to exercise faith to develop virtue. It is easy to see that as we grow in this process, this absolutely necessary process, the moral decay of the world becomes less and less appealing. It is easy to escape a trap when you are headed swiftly away from it.

 

And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection,

Brotherly love is love for other Christians and it saddens me to see it so far down on this list. It does not surprise me, however, for the God kind of love cannot really operate where there is no virtue, knowledge of God, self-control, or constancy.

Indeed, the low level of brotherly love found in some churches is a sure sign that at least part of the body of Christ is not working their way through this process of growth. All too many don’t know God as well as they likely think they do. Far too many exhibit the symptoms listed later, in verse 9.

 

and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love.

And here it is…perhaps the hardest of all. If we are to be sharers of the divine nature of God, who is love, we must love. If we love, truly love, those who surround us—ALL those whom God loves—we must be willing to lay down our selves and share HIM with them.

On the surface, this is obvious. In practice, how often do I do it? I must confess that I don’t do it nearly as often as I should.

Jesus, motivated by love, laid down His life for all of us, from the best to the worst. Who are we to claim the right to do less? If we are afraid to witness we don’t love enough, because perfect love casts out fear. That is a humbling thought.

 

For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

I also like the New Living Translation here. “The more you grow like this, the more you will become productive and useful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I want to be productive and useful. I don’t want God to refer to me as being idle or unfruitful! He paid an unimaginable price for my salvation; even if there were no promise attached, I would owe it to Him to use what He has given me.

 

For whoever lacks these qualities is blind,

I have known Christians like this, people who could not recognize a spiritual truth if you put it in front of their noses. Obviously, according to this passage, the only cure for this spiritual blindness is to start making every effort to exercise their faith to develop divine virtue.

 

[spiritually] shortsighted, seeing only what is near to him,

Spiritually speaking, this is exceedingly dangerous. God can show us many things ahead of time if we have the eyes to see them. The shortsighted person does not have this benefit.

 

and has become oblivious [to the fact] that he was cleansed from his old sins.

And he who is oblivious to the fact that he was cleansed from his old sin is far too likely to return to it. Down that path lies the moral decay of the world and a complete inability to be a sharer in the divine nature. This should never be the condition of one who has been called out as a child of God, but for too many, for those who refuse to make the efforts God calls for us to make, it is inevitable. He says so.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Meditations: James 4:6-7

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

James 4:6-7
KJV

6But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith,
God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

     Pride has no place in God’s kingdom. “God resisteth the proud,” we are warned, and if we are wise we heed the warning. The word “pride” does not only apply to that person who stands off from others with his nose in the air. It applies when we grow prideful of our accomplishments and forgetful of the fact that we attain nothing without Him. It applies when we look at others and pridefully assume that we have traveled further down the road of righteousness. It applies when we determine that our offering is better, our position of ministry more worthy, etc. The word applies much too often, I’m afraid.

Oh, but when we humble ourselves…then He gives us grace. And how can we not humble ourselves when we consider Him? In Him we have all things, can do all things and can be all things, but only IN HIM. Step outside of Him and we are nothing – no better than the sin-filled scum we were before He saved us. When one meditates on this, can one not be humbled? Being so humbled by the reality of all He is compared to all we are not without Him, the next reasonable step is to submit one’s self to Him.

The one who can say they are God’s bond-servant – one who has willingly turned himself completely over to God – receives the fullness of God’s grace. This one also receives something else – a promise.

 

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

The one who has fully submitted himself to God can resist the devil; indeed, this one is commanded to resist him! And when this one resists, the devil will flee; it is inevitable. Why?

I tend to visualize things, and I have this picture of me standing sure and proud against the devil as a child of God who has been given the authority. But this is not all. Behind me, towering over me and radiating ultimate authority, is my heavenly Father. Only a complete idiot challenges Him.

Only when I’ve put down pride, humbled myself, and submitted to Him, do I have that authority; only then does He stand behind me so.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C