It’s Time to Take Dominion Part I Kay Keith Peebles

Our victory or loss will be determined by where we focus our attention. The enemy tries to turn our focus in every direction except the one of victory: our past (back), our current circumstances (around us), and our inabilities/insecurities (down).

Looking Back-The Lord called Lot and his family out of Sodom and Gomorrah before He destroyed it. An angel told them not to look back. Genesis 19:17 “So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.” Lot’s wife did not heed the warning. She looked back unable to leave the past behind her and she turned into a pillar of salt. Genesis 19:26. Our past cannot help us and we must not let it haunt us.

The Israelites looked back at Egypt when Moses was up on Mt. Sinai for 40 days. They quickly discarded their deliverance the Lord had given them and began to worship the gods of Egypt. Many died in the wilderness because they could not see what the Lord was doing. Instead, they chose to look backward. Exodus 32:31-35 “Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, ‘Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.’ And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. Now therefore, go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit for punishment, I will visit punishment upon them for their sin.’ So the LORD plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made.” There is nothing in Egypt (the world) we need, nothing that can help us and nothing to desire.

Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” We cannot go back and correct our past mistakes. We cannot change the choices we made or the damage we left behind other than asking for forgiveness. Our past is unchangeable and some aspects of it will affect us the rest of our lives. When we repent to God and ask forgiveness from those we hurt, we are then free from our connection to the past. One of the most important things we can do is to also forgive ourselves for the mistakes we made. Once we do all of those things, we are in a position to pull down the devil’s reminders to us with power and authority from God. Our past does not have the power to continue to haunt us unless we allow it.

One of the most powerful scriptures we have been given is our greatest tool of warfare against our past mistakes, 2 Corinthians 5:17. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Looking Around – Our circumstances are in the earthly realm. If we stay focused upon what is going on around us, we will lose sight of what God is doing. Romans 8:5-9a “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you…”

Problems are either initiated by the devil, others or ourselves. Life in itself can create problems. When problems occur, they are evidence of something that is amiss. The “evidence” of a problem is at the surface level, but the cause of the problem is something greater that is hidden. The enemy always tries to make us set blame by looking at the “circumstantial” evidence hoping to keep us from attending to the true problem which is the root cause. Unless we cut off the root, the problem will continue to re-produce itself over and over again. Generational curses are passed down because one generation did not deal with the root causes. The majority of our problems are spiritual, not physical.

Ephesians 6:10-12 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” We will never find the answers we need by looking around at our circumstances. Defeat will always be the result when our focus is in the wrong direction.

Looking Down – Placing our focus on our inabilities, our unworthiness, or our weaknesses will keep our eyes looking down into the depths of defeat. Sometimes we think that when we focus on our inabilities we are being humble. The reality is, we are in pride. Humility is believing what God says we can do! We are also in pride when we focus on who others say we are whether good or bad. True humility is believing we are who God says we are! Psalm 8:4-6 “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower that the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.”

1 Corinthians 1:27 “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence, But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.’”

When we are self-focused, we are self-absorbed. We do not have the personal power to resolve our problems that are spiritual. We lack the wisdom to fix everything that is wrong in our lives and we remain in a cycle of defeat. When we become God focused, we are God-absorbed. A God focus is full of faith. Faith makes the impossible possible. It knows the power required is not only accessible, it’s more than enough. It believes the supply required will come in abundance. It understands that in our weakness He is strong, in our inabilities, He is more than able. Whatever help we need is found in Him. There is therefore no climate of lack in any area at any time!

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

The result of simply changing our focus transitions us from looking to ourselves to find and fix all our problems to looking up and living in Him. Acts 17:28 “for in Him we live and move and have our being.” The Lord is coming back. Our focus must be on Him, His plans and His purposes. In order to be positioned to be used by the Lord, we must remember that all we know here will soon be gone. The only thing eternal is His Kingdom and those who truly call Him Lord. We must not allow the distractions all around us to miss the event of a lifetime, of all eternity! We can only take dominion by looking up!

THE ALL-SUFFICIENT ONE Kay Keith Peebles

I grew up in an area called tornado alley. The first tornado I remember happened when I was in the eighth or ninth grade. The entire school was in the gymnasium and our choir, including me, was standing on risers singing our annual Easter program. The students were sitting on pull-out benches which rose like stairs to the height of the windows near the top of the gym. The windows were open because there was no air conditioning and it was a hot sultry day. Halfway into our program the windows began to bang violently against the metal frames. We heard a roar sounding like a huge freight train go over our building. Everyone froze where they were not knowing what was happening.
After the storm ended we lined up to go back to our classrooms. The room where I would have been was filled with mud and glass. Our projects which were left on our desks were scattered all over the floor making a huge mess. I realized we could have been seriously injured by flying glass or possibly killed, had we been in our original classrooms during the storm. We were told later that a postman was delivering the mail outside our school at the time of the tornado. He saw the funnel cloud coming. It flipped over his truck but he was not seriously injured. He had seen the tornado jump over our building doing very little damage to it. A few miles away the same funnel cloud tore off the roof of another school. The tornados we experienced in north central Texas were much more dangerous than those in Florida where we were living at the time of my next tornado story.
It all started when my husband was out of town a few days for quarterly business meetings. Our children were away in college and I was home alone. I didn’t mind having a couple of days to myself every now and then. I would usually plan a special project around the house on which to focus, in order to pass the time. During the summer months we would have rain storms blow through during the afternoon heat. Sometimes a tropical storm or hurricane would spin off tornados that were usually short lived. I was watching the news that evening and saw a weather report that storms were coming through later that night. They warned that a storm system could spawn a tornado in our area. I finished my chores, watched some TV in bed and heard the winds begin to pick up in intensity.
I was tired and ready to go to sleep. I checked the weather reports which brought no immediate cause for alarm. Before I drifted off, I decided to pray for my family and the possible storms that night. I prayed that the Lord would surround our yard with angels, I would be completely safe and that there would be no damage to our roof or our home. Our back yard had a large screen over the patio behind the house and we had a wooden fence around the entire lot. I prayed our fence would not be damaged nor the lanai screen connected to the house. I then drifted off to sleep.
The next morning while checking the news I learned that a tornado had done damage in our area. The same system hit a town 45 minutes away where it also did damage. I immediately walked around our yard to check for any problems. The only thing I saw out of order, was one large tree limb that had broken off in the wind. It had been caught by other branches which kept it from crashing into our lanai screen. It was evident the strong storm had come through but we had been completely protected. There was tornado damage around our area but it did not affect our yard. I rejoiced in the Lord’s protection of me and our home.
Six months later, I was watching an evangelist on TV who lived in our area. He was giving a testimony about his elderly mother who lived in that town 45 minutes away where the tornado had hit. He said that when the storm intensified, she prayed asking the Lord to spare her life, her rocking chair and her Bible. He was rejoicing that although her house was destroyed, the Lord had protected her life, her rocking chair and her Bible. Everything she had asked for was spared. I was rejoicing with him but I was puzzled about the difference in our outcomes. I knew that the Lord was no respecter of persons, to Him we were all equally loved and cared for. I asked why He protected all of my house and belongings and this wonderful woman of God lost her house. His answer to me was profound. He said, “I gave you each exactly what you had prayed.” Stunned, that began to motivate me to pray BIG prayers!
For years I have been studying the names of God. Each name is a glimpse into His character. One of my favorite names of God is El Shaddai – the All-Sufficient One. Scripture draws a picture of an animal nursing their young. There are enough breasts or teats to meet the need. No one would lack what they needed to survive and thrive. They would all be nurtured or sustained, and no one would be left out! It gives a portrayal of no lack, no want, more than enough, the All-Sufficient One! The name El Shaddai also means the All-Powerful One, all Sovereign One. His power transcends nature, the power of any earthly king or kingdom and all of the demonic realm.
The Lord God revealed Himself to Abraham as El Shaddai. He did so because Abraham needed to know that the God who promised a child through him and Sarah at an old age was capable of fulfilling His promise. Abraham also needed to know that the God who promised to him all the land he could see as his possession was able to deliver. He needed to believe that God was able to perform his promise that his descendants would be as great in number as the stars in the heavens or the grains of sand on the seashore. Why? Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. See Hebrews 11:1.
El Shaddai is sufficient within Himself to do anything He desires, says, promises or declares. The power of Almighty God, El Shaddai is more than enough to make every promise come to pass. He has no limitations. Many consider El Shaddai a connection to the “blessing” and “favor” of the Lord. Because He is All-Powerful and All-Sufficient, He is able to bless His people no matter their circumstances. The blessing of God does not require perfect circumstances in the natural realm. It requires faith in the One who provides the blessing and obedience to His word.
Isaac blessed Jacob as he left to find a wife. “May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you until you become a group of peoples. May He give the blessing [He gave to] Abraham to you and your descendants with you, that you may inherit the land He gave to Abraham, in which you are a sojourner.” Genesis 28:3-4.
The Lord God Himself spoke to Jacob in Genesis 35:11-12. “And God said to him, I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you and kings shall be born of your stock; the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and to your descendants after I will give the land.”
We are a part of the seed of Abraham. We share in his blessings. His provision never ran out, he never lacked anything. He believed the word of the Lord and in His power to fulfill it. “For my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19.
Psalm 91:1 declares, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].” “I have been young and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lends; and his descendants are blessed.” Psalm 37:25-26.
“And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]. As it is written, He [the benevolent person] scatters abroad; He gives to the poor, His deeds of justice and goodness and kindness and benevolence will go on and endure forever. And [God] Who provides seed for the sower and bread for eating will also provide and multiply your [resources for] sowing and increase the fruits of your righteousness [which manifests itself in active goodness, kindness and charity].” 2 Corinthians 9:8-10.
“Blessed be the Lord who daily loads us with benefits.” Psalms 68:19. “The Lord shall command the blessing upon you in your storehouse and in all that you undertake, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” Deuteronomy 28:8.
If we believe in the provision, sufficiency and power of El Shaddai, we will never fear that we will lack anything we need. When we trust in His care for His children, we will know that He is working for our good and He will never run out of supplies. God does not have to rob one of His children to take care of another. There is more than enough to go around and there will be left-overs in addition! Wherever we are lacking, we can ask for the provision of El Shaddai: spiritual, physical/healing, wisdom, and material needs.
“Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:1-5. He’s the All-Sufficient One, He is more than enough. He is El Shaddai!

Restoration Kay Keith Peebles


The transformation was amazing. I loved refinishing antique furniture. My husband’s uncle taught us how to refinish furniture when we were newly married. He had made a business of furniture restoration and wanted to pass his knowledge on to us. We learned how to turn tired or damaged furniture into beautiful new treasures. I was able to find many wonderful pieces for pennies on the dollar at garage sales, and restore them into beautiful treasures for our home and for others.
One of my projects was a solid wood golden oak pedestal dining table from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. It was round, seating 4-6 people but had two extensions which enabled it to seat eight to ten people. It was shrouded in 5 layers of paint varying from grey, white and tan to bright green. I bought it for $10 at a neighbor’s garage sale. I knew what was beneath the ugly exterior and offered additional money for the table but she refused to charge more than $10. Many people may have overlooked that table unable to see its true beauty and lasting value. The golden oak, which is a hard wood, will last for centuries if cared for properly.
Restoration was a four stage process which began with a caustic paint stripper. The liquid stripper would cut through multiple layers of old paint or varnish. Thick gloves were needed to protect the hands while goggles protected the eyes from splatters. Accidental encounters with the skin would cause intense burning and require a trip to the sink to wash off the fiery goo. The paint stripper would seep into cracks and crevices of the carved detailed areas which made removing it easier and more effective. It was exciting to see the beautiful grains and the color of the pure wood reappear before my eyes.
The second stage was sanding. A good sanding ensured a smooth finished surface upon which the stain would be applied. Some pieces required a rough sanding at first, to level out chipped or scarred places causing them to almost disappear. Fine sandpaper was used to smooth and polish the top layer. The ugly nicks became beautiful. Stage three was staining. The purpose of restoration was to bring the broken or damaged furniture back to its original state. Staining made the wood grain pop with color and restored its beauty. The furniture piece came back to life! There was some oil in the stain which would penetrate below the surface reviving the dry neglected wood. The fourth and final step was hand rubbing tung oil over the entire piece for a smooth semi-gloss or satin finish. The hand rubbing would generate heat which caused the oil to penetrate into the wood grain. Several coats were applied for healing and protection of the wood. It would then harden to shield the furniture from damage and give it a deep sheen. Once restored, the furniture was worthy of being displayed in a prominent place. We used that table for many years and eventually sold it for much more that I had paid when I purchased it.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s commandment forbidding them to eat the fruit of the Tree of Life, they caused destruction in the earth, the plant and animal kingdoms, and everything living. Satan, who had deceived them, was given the right to have the dominion over the earth which God had given to Adam and Eve. The curses of sin and death were activated and have since had a terrible effect on every living thing. The nature and heart of mankind became sinful and as a result, every human being that has lived on earth became broken or damaged and in need of restoration. Jesus came to restore everything back to its original state as God created it. Restoration began with His ministry on earth and has continued as mankind repented of their sins and believed in the power of His death and resurrection. Believers have been set free from the laws of sin and death and God’s restoration is available to all who will seek Him. When the Lord returns at the end of the age, He will restore everything completely.

Physical and emotional abuse, sickness and disease, immorality, fear and depression are a few of the consequences the choices of sinful man have caused. God’s love found a way to restore all who would come to Him and allow Him to heal their wounds. Isaiah Chapter 61 explains the plan of God to send the Restorer Jesus to His people. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me to bring good news to the humble and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted, and to proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives and freedom to prisoners, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance and retribution of our God, to comfort all who mourn…(to give) the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit…” Isaiah 61:1-3. (See entire Chapter). Emphasis mine.
How does the Lord heal and restore us and what is our responsibility in the process? Once we are born again into the Kingdom of God through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, the restoration process begins. Those who earnestly seek the Lord’s presence and willingly submit to the Lord’s discipline and cleansing process will experience the Fire of God. This Holy heat is what the Apostles experienced on the day of Pentecost. “And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each of them.” Acts 2:3. Jesus charged them to wait there and pray until the Holy Spirit came. Like the piece of furniture that was restored, we can do nothing but seek Him and surrender, allowing the Holy Spirit to come and transform our lives into the likeness of Christ.
The men and women in the Upper Room were totally changed, transformed by the fire of God. Fire burns off the useless, damaged surface debris while it cleanses and purifies from decay and bacteria. The Fire of God has the same effect on the heart and mind of man. It exposes and burns off our sin while giving us the desire and the empowerment to be holy. The Lord first appeared to Moses as a burning bush, and to the Israelites as a mountain of fire. (See Deuteronomy 4:9-13). “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined and will test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will hear and answer them. I will say, The Lord is my God.” Zechariah 13:9. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the priests, the sons of Levi, and refine them like gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord offerings of righteousness.” Malachi 3:2-3. The fire of God is connected to His holiness. Fire at its hottest point burns a blue-white flame and purifies everything in its path. We must not be afraid of the fire of God. His fire comes to purify our hearts and make us more like Him. We need to run to His fire and ask Him to purify our hearts. What isn’t purified will be judged, but those who allow the Lord to cleanse and purify them will have pure hearts. It is the pure in heart that will see God. (See Matthew 5:8).
The Lord places us in the church, which is the body of Christ, where we can be sanded and smoothed by “rubbing against” our brothers and sisters in the Lord. “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show rage or worthy purpose].” Proverbs 27:17. We need each other. Our brother or sister in the Lord may be the very one the Lord uses to bring us our breakthrough! We need the correction of the body of Christ and we need the intercession of our fellow believers to make it through. We also need their encouragement when we become weary and tired of the journey. “Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it].” Galatians 6:2. The Lord uses our fellow believers to “sand off” our rough edges making us smooth.
When we are in the transformation process, the Lord put’s His “mark” on us figuratively and literally. “Mark the blameless man and behold the upright, for there is a happy end for the man of peace.” Psalms 37:37. This “mark” means to observe or take notice of the man who is blameless. There is something observable about his actions and attitudes that indicate His love and obedience to the Lord. “And the Lord said to him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in the midst of it…but do not touch or go near anyone on whom is the mark. Begin at My sanctuary…” Ezekiel 9:4, 6. The Lord puts His mark or impression of Himself upon those who seek Him and uphold His righteousness. We not only become like Him, we become one with Him. (See John 17). The stain applied to the piece of furniture causes one to notice the beauty within. The mark of God on the righteous causes others to see the beauty of the presence of the Lord in those who love and obey Him.
The oil of the Holy Spirit restores and protects the believer from the attacks of the enemy. It penetrates below the surface sealing and bonding to the faithful of God. It makes them resilient to attack and strong enough to persevere through the challenges of life. It ensures victory. Everyone who is broken can come to the Restorer and be made whole again. Every ugly sin and the scars it leaves can be healed and made beautiful. The Lord has promised beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for the Spirit of heaviness and a double portion for all that was lost. There is no need to fear His restoration process because His goal is to make us new again. Restoration is an act of love and mercy. Restoration is vital to the body of Christ. We become made new in the likeness of His image. Wholeness comes through Restoration.

MY PASSPORT Kay K. Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

The warning was stern, “Don’t let anyone take your passport out of your presence!”  We were preparing for our first mission trip to Kenya and our pastor was counselling us on do’s and don’ts regarding travel to other countries.  He emphatically explained to us that we must never let any official take our passport and leave the room without us.  We came very close to that scenario happening to us in Lagos, Nigeria on a lay-over from Nairobi to Atlanta.  We had to run to keep up with the airport authority who had taken our passports and began to move to another location.  Since then, I have made a practice of carrying extra copies of my passport before embarking on an out of the country trip, in the event mine was ever lost or stolen.

My passport is a document that identifies who I am and where I abide.  The U.S. Government records all my personal identification information and guarantees my citizenship in the U.S.  My citizenship in the United States of America is assured to foreign governments by the seal our government has imprinted on my passport.  My picture is on my passport thus anyone examining my credentials can clearly see it belongs to me.  Each nation I attempt to enter will first confirm my identity and then stamp their seal on my passport when they accept my entrance.  I am also required to fill out a form that acknowledges the dates I arrive and my departure as well as where I will be temporarily residing while in their nation.  My passport subsequently becomes a record of my travels.  One can get a good idea where I have been and what I have been doing during my life by looking at the stamps on my passport. It guarantees my entrance back into the United States upon my return from travels.  It is a proven document that affirms the nation or “kingdom” in which I habitually dwell.

There have been instances when people have attempted to deceive a nation by using a counterfeit passport.  They may have gained entrance into a foreign country if they had access to a good forgery, but it would never work for someone trying to enter the gates of heaven.  All true believers have a “passport” record in heaven which is called the Book of Life.  The Lord keeps an on-going record of those who have put their faith in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus pledging their citizenship in the Kingdom of God.  The first mention of this book which records the generations of the faithful is in Genesis 5:1.  “This is the book (the written record, the history) of the generations of the offspring of Adam.  When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.”

The Bible mentions the Book of Moses, the Book of the Law and the Book of Life to name a few.  It was important to the Lord to have a book (record) of the generations that have lived on the earth.  Exodus 32:31-33 explains, “So Moses returned to the Lord, and said, Oh, these people have sinned a great sin and have made themselves gods of gold!  Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—and if not, blot me, I pray You, out of Your book which You have written!  But the Lord said to Moses, Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him [not you] out of My book.”  AMPV.

Daniel saw the vision of the last days.  He wrote, “At that time Michael (Archangel) will arise–the great Prince, defender of your people.  That will be a time of great distress, unparalleled since nations first came into existence.  When that time comes, your own people will be spared—all those whose names are found written in the Book (of Life).”  Daniel 12:1.  NJB.  (Emphasis mine.)  This Book of Life (our passport to heaven) is mentioned several times in the New Testament.  Paul writes to the Philippian church, “And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the Book of Life.”  Philippians 4:3.  NKJV.

I personally believe the Book of Acts is still being written through our lives.  The Bible could not contain all the testimonies the original Apostles accomplished in their generation.  Since then, others have followed in their footsteps continuing to preach and teach the Gospel of the Kingdom.  It is of utmost importance for the present-day church to preach the same Gospel of the Kingdom that Christ taught.  The Biblical truths from Genesis to Revelation are imperative teachings in order for the church to be the authentic Church that represents the Lord and His Kingdom.  Otherwise, those believing in a false form of Christianity are simply a counterfeit and no counterfeits will gain entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.  (See also Revelation 20:12-15.)

The Apostle John was invited to heaven to see the end of the age, in order to warn the succeeding generations of the importance of persevering to the end.  He saw the Lord in His resurrected form and wrote down the Lord’s instructions for the church.  Revelation 3:2-6 expounds upon our need to hold tightly to the truth of the Gospel.  It urges us to persevere through the onslaught of deception, immorality and complacency which constantly attacks a believer’s faith in the Lord.

“Rouse yourselves and keep awake, and strengthen and invigorate what remains and is on the point of dying; for I have not found a thing that you have done [any work of yours] meeting the requirement of My God or perfect in His sight.  So call to mind the lessons you received and heard; continually lay them to heart and obey them, and repent.  In case you will not rouse yourselves and keep awake and watch, I will come upon you like a thief, and you will not know or suspect at what hour I will come.  Yet you still have a few [persons’] names in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes, and they are worthy and deserving.  Thus shall he who conquers (is victorious) be clad in white garments, and I will not erase or blot out his name from the Book of Life; I will acknowledge him [as Mine] and I will confess his name openly before My Father and before His angels.  He who is able to hear, let him listen to and heed what the [Holy] Spirit says to the assemblies (churches).”  AMPV.  (See also Psalm 69:28, Revelation 21:25-27).

The Lord charged His church with a very sobering statement!  He declared that God has established a standard to which our “works” must conform and we have the obligation to “obey” the lessons He taught about the Kingdom.  If not, our name can be blotted out of the Book of Life.  He also said, however, that there are those who have kept the faith and are worthy and deserving.  He promised them He would openly confess them before His Father and His angels in heaven.  What about grace?  Aren’t we saved by grace?  Yes we are, but His grace is not a license to keep on sinning as the world sins.  If the deeds of the church are the same as the world and continue unchanged, then the church has believed a false gospel.  God’s grace is given to all who repent of their sins and confess Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Grace, however, is not only our covering of righteousness, it is also the empowerment by the Holy Spirit to obtain victory over our sins.  His grace enables us to consecrate our lives completely to the Lord.  He expects us to become holy as He is holy.  “[Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel], But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living.  For it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy (Leviticus 11:44-45)…You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from [your] forefathers, not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold, but [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ.”  1 Peter 1:14-19.  Emphasis mine.  AMPV.

John 10:28 says no one can “snatch” us out of the Lord’s hand but it does not mean that we can’t choose to neglect the Gospel teaching and live the way we desire.  When one rejects Gospel truths, they reject the Lord Himself.  Esau surrendered his birthright to Jacob for a pot of stew.  (See Genesis 25:29-34, Hebrews 12:16.)  Verse 34 declares, “Thus Esau scorned his birthright as beneath his notice.”  Hebrews 12:17 declares, “For you understand that later on, when he wanted [to regain title to] his inheritance of the blessing, he was rejected (disqualified and set aside), for he could find no opportunity to repair by repentance [what he had done, no chance to recall the choice he had made], although he sought for it carefully with [bitter] tears.”  See Genesis 37:30-40.  AMPV.  We could never earn our salvation but we do have the ability to forfeit our inheritance in the Kingdom.

Our “work” is to surrender our will, our very lives to Him, allowing Him to work in us and through us whatever He desires.  “Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord.  Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace…”  Hebrews 12:14-17.  (See entire chapter).  AMPV.  When our works of surrender cause us to completely consecrate ourselves to the Lord, we will bear the fruit of righteousness and our name will be permanently etched in the Book of Life.  John 17:22-24 is part of Jesus’ prayer to His Father just before His death on the cross.  “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me…”.

I close with Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church.  “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.”  Ephesians 1:18-21.  NKJV.     Our salvation is not achieved by our works but His grace does not cover our negligence in regard to the Gospel.  The only place of safety is to live in Him, and He in us.  Our passion must be to know Him and to be known by Him.  Our “passport” to glory will be secured by our dwelling in Him.

THIRTY FEET BELOW PART II Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

I was so nauseated I did not know whether to get on my next flight or go home.  It was my first mission trip.  A few months earlier my cousin from Texas had called and invited me to join their family and church group on a mission trip to Honduras.  My heart leapt inside me as I thought about going with them.  I was not sure my husband would approve of my going out of the country, and there was the cost of the trip.  I laid those issues before the Lord and the answer was yes!  (Please read Thirty Feet Below Part I in the archives if you have not already done so, to understand the reference to it in this writing.)

Packing the last articles in my bags, I felt an excitement inside me.  It seemed as if I was on the edge of destiny.  The apprehension of traveling overseas, to an unknown country, was swallowed up in the joy I felt about participating in the Lord’s Great commission, in Mark Chapter 16.  The first leg of my trip originated in Tampa with a change of planes in Miami.  I was to continue from Miami to Houston where I would meet with the team.  We would then fly on to San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Soon after my flight to Miami took off, I began to feel very nauseated and sickly.  The flight attendant gave me a cloth napkin with some ice to cool my forehead.  I started to pray.  I knew it could not be fear or anxiety because I was thrilled to go.  I wondered if the symptoms were from a virus and I was concerned about the possibility of infecting the team.  The plane finally landed and I had to decide whether to go home or continue on.  I felt the Lord was compelling me to go so in faith, I stepped onto the plane to Houston, found my seat and continued icing my forehead.  The moment that plane took off, the nausea instantly left!  I realized it was the enemy (devil) trying to keep me from my destiny.  It was then I understood he could put false symptoms on people to prevent them from fulfilling God’s will in their lives.  I then felt a strong sense of God’s blessing and protection which stayed with me the entire trip.

The week in Honduras was filled with many memorable events, but the most impactful for me personally, was going to a Honduran prison.  The prison ministry excursion was voluntary.  Nine from our team of fifteen chose to go.  The group included five women and four men.  Our leader drove us an hour and forty-five minutes out of San Pedro Sula.  We travelled from the busy city to outlying highways, then onto dirt roads, passing farmlands with acres of pineapple plantations.  The air was pleasant as the sweet aroma of fresh pineapple enticed our sense of smell.  

We created a dust cloud behind our bus as we journeyed down a road that appeared to go nowhere.  The road finally ended at the base of a small mountain, next to a dated one-story cement block building in need of paint.  It was surrounded by a tall metal fence which was wrapped in razor wire at the top.  A large rusty wrought iron gate stood to deter visitors from going forward.  The scene was menacing and foreboding.  Several guards standing by the fence held long rifles as if they were prepared to use them. They stared at us with serious and intimidating facial expressions.  Their shirts were unbuttoned because of the oppressive heat adding to our discomfort, and planting a seed of doubt in our reason for coming.  The climate was thick, having a temperature in the mid 90’s and the humidity was extremely high due to its coastal location.  The mountain blocked any breeze from cooling the prison complex and the lack of shade trees emphasized the unrelenting heat.  My mind momentarily recalled an old western movie I had seen years before, which made me chuckle at the similarity of this scenario.  I quickly returned to a sobering thought which caused me to question my judgement in coming, but it only lasted for a brief moment.

The local missionary Paul, who sponsored our team, handed one of the officers at the gate a piece of paper which confirmed our invitation to enter the prison and do a worship service.  The head prison guard was summoned for final approval.  He quickly nodded and ordered the gate to be opened.  We entered the building which housed a few small offices and quickly passed through the entrance to the prison yard.  Grey unpainted cinder block cubicles were surrounded by a latrine which ran through the entire property, wafting a pungent odor that was as oppressive as the heat.  Sidewalks led us to the rooms that were no more than 8X10 feet in size.  Each room had a set of metal bunk beds with a thin mattress and a sink.  There were no doors or bars on the rooms.  The prisoners congregated all over the grounds as we walked through but we had an armed escort, and armed guards were stationed throughout the complex. 

Our escort led us to a large rectangular room that was walled on three sides, with a large opening on one of the long walls.  The walls inside the room were a dingy grey and there was the obvious absence of pictures or decorations.  It was filled with at least fifty men, young and old, making it difficult to navigate to the other side.  A handful were Americans; all were imprisoned for various reasons.  It was clear they were paying an exorbitant price for their crimes.  The heat was almost unbearable and their sunken eyes were filled with hopelessness.  It felt as if we had stepped into the bowels of hell.  We had to weave our way through the crowd and it was then I sensed fear and vulnerability.  The Lord quickly gave me a peace that we would be alright.  Our team of nine lined up at the back wall and all 50 prisoners were standing between us and the exit.  That day I personally experienced God’s peace surpassing all understanding. 

I had been asked to share something that morning.   I wondered what I, a middle aged American white woman, would share that could possibly relate to their situation.  The Lord quickly told me they needed hope and I had several testimonies of the Lord intervening in hopeless situations in my life.  My sharing was brief but as I looked into their eyes, I felt my testimony had made a connection with many of the men.  The Gospel transcends time and space, gender and culture.  Others shared and then our leader began to preach a powerful word from the Lord.  He gave several altar calls that morning, one for salvation, another for backsliders and a third to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The power of God came into that room and most of those hopeless, forgotten men had encountered their forgiving, gracious and loving Lord.  Many were speaking in their new heavenly language with hands raised and we were urged to wander through the crowd praying and laying hands on them as we left the room.  It was an honor to pray for those men, forgotten and seemingly lost, but remembered by our loving Lord.

God moved in that place of darkness and hopelessness.  He protected all of us in a dangerous setting so that we could bring hope and encouragement to them.  We were honored and respected by them for coming, and God honored our faith and obedience by touching those men.  It is a memory forever carved on my heart.

Since that incredible mission trip I have discovered that fear is the greatest enemy of our destiny.  Fear can manifest in many ways.  Insecurity, fear of the unknown, concerns for safety, and inadequacy are several fears that can squelch the call of God in our lives.  When the voice of fear is greater than our faith in God’s protection, we can be stopped in our tracks, unable to move forward.  I was afraid to talk about the Lord with people and had a fear of flying for many years.  I felt so insecure and inadequate that I did not believe the Lord would use me to touch others.  Over the years, He has delivered me from those fears and proven Himself to me.  The Lord specifically chooses us because we are inadequate so that He will be all sufficient!  He doesn’t use those who are secure in their own abilities; He picks those who depend upon Him.  It doesn’t matter when we are called to do something, or go somewhere that is unknown to us, because He has already gone before us to make the way.

It is not about us having our own faith or strength, it is totally about our having faith in Him and trusting in His power to flow through us.  We don’t have to speak eloquently, we only need to deliver the word He gives us.  When we realize we are simply a conduit through which His Spirit flows, then we remove ourselves from the consideration and merely let Him work through us to touch others.  Our works become simply hearing and obeying.

How do we get to the place of simply hearing and obeying?  We make knowing Him our priority, and pursuing Him our reality.  He reveals Himself through His Word:  both the Old and New Testaments.  He also reveals Himself through His Holy Spirit, who is our paraclete-the one who walks beside us teaching us about Him and His ways.  Learning to flow in the Holy Spirit is as easy as prayer.  The Bible says we can pray in the natural and pray by the Holy Spirit of God.  Ephesians 6:18 instructs us, “With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.”

The Holy Spirit’s role in everything we do is critical.  The promises of God are centered on our motivations and actions being in agreement with the Lord’s will.  If we are not Spirit-led, then we are not led by God at all.  He sent us His Holy Spirit to teach us, guide us and to pray through us.  Everything we do for His Kingdom is based upon the Holy Spirit’s direction and guidance.  Our success is based solely upon how surrendered we become to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  The Lord speaks to all His children, but only those who hear His voice are able to walk in obedience.  His voice can be as subtle as a gentle breeze but those who are attentive to His quietness will hear His instruction and obey even without questioning.  When we live and move in Him, and when we have our being in Him, He becomes such a part of us there is no longer a separation.  We become infused or enmeshed in what He is doing and flow effortlessly with His leading.

His heart becomes our heart.  What is on His mind is on ours.  Those for whom He is concerned, become our concern.  We are no longer pulled by the world and its many distractions.  Instead, our focus becomes what He is directing us to do.  Our comfort is not the center of His will.  Our willingness to go beyond our place of comfort, to stretch beyond our safety and convenience is what He is calling us to do.  One of my favorite songs is Oceans by Hillsong United.  It cries out to the Lord to take the believer into the deep waters where their safety is only in Him.  It beckons the Lord to stretch one’s faith to walk on unknown paths and to trust in Him in unsafe waters.

 “You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown, where feet may fail, and there I find you in the mystery, in oceans deep, my faith will stand.  I will call upon Your name and keep my eyes above the waves.  When oceans rise my soul will rest in Your embrace for I am Yours and You are mine.  Spirit lead me where my faith is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you may call me.  Take me deeper than my feet have ever wandered, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”

Those who are willing to dive in the oceans of the Lord to go “Thirty Feet Below” to reach those whom the Lord desires to touch and heal, will find complete satisfaction and fulfillment.  We will never experience the thrill of truly entering into our Father’s joy without taking risks and reaching beyond what we know, to delve into the unknown with Him.  The Bible proclaims, “Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  If you want to know what the Lord is doing in the earth today, allow Him to take you thirty feet below!

 

THIRTY FEET BELOW Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

They were eating, drinking and partying, totally oblivious to what was thirty feet below them.  We were in San Salvador helping a ministry that feeds the homeless.  It houses drug addicted teens, nursing them to wholeness, and rescues victims of sex trafficking.  The ignored and forgotten are healed by the love of God.  The hopeless are liberated and restored to life in Jesus’ name.

Thursday morning several of us painted two rooms at the ministry while others in our group installed a clean water filtration system in their kitchen.  Local volunteers made beautiful greeting cards with bright colored paper strips they coiled and formed into flowers, leaves, stems, hearts and many other decorative shapes.  After lunch three of us prepped vegetables to accompany the evening meal while others of our team received the fifty clients that would be served that evening.  Showers were available as well as free haircuts.  Games like dominoes, checkers, puzzles and cards were scattered among the tables for visitors to entertain themselves while waiting for the devotional and hot meal.  Our team played games with them, prayed for them or simply conversed with them.  The mission statement of Mission to El Salvador is to treat all with Respect, Honor and Dignity.

The clients were fed by 4:30 p.m. and we had cleaned up by 5 p.m. and headed to our quarters to have our own dinner.  We were again picked up at 8 p.m. to return back to the inner city ministry to pack meals for the homeless living on the streets.  Unaware of what was to come, our team piled into the bed of a truck which was lined with benches for seating.  There was a thick metal railing attached above the edge of the truck bed that gave us something to grip to steady the ride.  Cases of orange and grape beverages were placed beneath the benches behind our legs for easy access.  The center of the truck bed held a large white cooler.  It was filled with three hundred and fifty foil packages each containing three pieces of Canadian bacon or pepperoni pizza which had been donated by a local restaurant.  It would probably be the only meal those people would have that day unless they found a trash receptacle behind a restaurant in which they could scavenge.

We had packed meals until the sunlight faded into darkness, which veiled a lonely subculture that was almost invisible.   We could not have found the people of the streets in the daytime.  They only come out in the dark of night because it obscures their existence.  Our leader gave a shout as the truck came to a stop.  The lights of the truck, which makes its rounds every Thursday night, summoned them to come out.  It also illuminated those otherwise hidden.  Men, women, children and even babies slept concealed in crevices between buildings, in delivery docking areas or underneath overhangs which protect the cement sidewalks from rain.  Some had blankets worn thin by long nights exposed to rough cement beds and evening storms.  Others had confiscated cardboard boxes to pad the unforgiving surfaces where they slept.  We drove by parks, stadiums, beautiful public buildings and churches to find them.  Every few blocks the truck would stop, the call came forth alerting them food had come, and clusters of people would step into the light and line up behind the truck so that we could hand them their only meal that day.

The ministry leader called many of them by name, asked them how they were doing and invited them to come to the ministry for help.  It was only six blocks away.  The streets of the city looked like nothing we had seen in the states.  Walls were trashed with gang graffiti, sidewalks filled with trash and temporary barricades lined the streets.  Worn paint exposed the depressed and hopeless culture while majestic public buildings stood like citadels contrasting the devastation of everyday life.  It looked like a war zone and it was.  Good and evil, haves and have nots, rich and poor were separated by only a few feet.

We rounded a corner and the sound of music grabbed my attention.  It was emanating from the roof of a three-story building.  I saw a large restaurant on the top floor, with open air tables.  It was decorated with strings of bright lights and the tables were filled with people eating, drinking and partying.  The music was up-beat and the atmosphere was filled with laughter.  They seemed totally oblivious to what existed thirty feet below them.  The truck stopped directly beneath them on the right side of the road and children were the first to line up behind the truck.  Boys 8, 10 and 12 years old stretched out their arms, smiled as they received their meal and thanked us for coming.  Women with young children, fathers, laborers and drunks came forward and then recessed back into their dark world.  Some had matted hair and stared with glazed eyes delirious from drug abuse.  Still others seemed even joyful that someone cared and acknowledged their need.  At one stop, three or four women in stiletto heels and thick make-up approached the truck for food.  Their living was made on the streets but they were not condemned or judged, they were told “God bless you”.  Two men hurried to pick up an old man unable to walk by himself.  They carried him to the back of the truck so that he could also eat that night.

Immediately, I was gripped by the contrast of those reveling above and these destitute, hungry and hopeless below.  It was an “in your face” moment exposing the clash of classes that exists.  They were partying and seemed unaware and unconcerned of what lay thirty feet below.  A scripture came to mind and haunted me the rest of the night.  Matthew 24:37-44 “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  For just as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, [men] marrying and [women] being given in marriage, until the [very] day when Noah went into the ark, and they did not know or understand until the flood came and swept them all away—so will be the coming of the Son of Man…Watch therefore [give strict attention, be cautious and active], for you do not know in what kind of a day [whether a near or remote one] your Lord is coming…You also must be ready therefore, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

Suddenly, much too quickly, hands reached into the cooler and came up empty.  They reached down again swiping the insides of the cooler hoping to find another meal or two but there was nothing left in the cooler.  Three hundred and fifty meals had been handed out but there were still people in line and more around the next corner.  A sadness gripped each of us as we realized the need was greater than the food we had at the time.  Stunned, tearful and silent we drove back to the ministry and then home to our quarters to contemplate what we had experienced.

It didn’t have to be San Salvador.  It could have been Calcutta or Nairobi, Buenos Aires or Cape Town, Tokyo or Jakarta or any major city in the U.S.  Injustice can be found in every nation and every city.  The most vulnerable are the least safe.  Whether it’s threatening young boys with death if they don’t join the gangs or abducting the young girls as sex slaves or drug kingpin wives, the innocent live in constant danger.  There is no amount of money that will solve the problem and no laws will prevent it from happening.  Governments are totally ineffective and simply meeting the needs of hunger and shelter are not the full answer.  It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that saves, heals and delivers.  It is a change of direction, a shift of mindset, an eternal hope in the intervention of God Almighty that transforms lives.

Jesus commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.  The Kingdom of God is not poverty and lack, it is abundance.  The Kingdom of God is not sickness and disease, it is health and healing.  The Kingdom of God is not addiction and fear, it is deliverance and freedom.  The Kingdom of God is not immorality and perversion, it is wholeness and hope.  Jesus commanded His disciples to begin preaching the Gospel in Jerusalem, then Judea and the uttermost parts of the earth.  One might say, “But I can’t preach”.  We can all be witnesses to what the Lord has done in our lives.  We may not be able to go overseas but we can send someone who can.  We may not have the strength to serve those in need but we can pray!  What we cannot do is sit back and expect others to do for us what God has called us to do.  We cannot be those people eating, drinking and partying above the problem, oblivious to the needs in their own neighborhood.  We cannot say because we do not see what’s happening it is not our responsibility to get involved.  We cannot continue to let the innocent be victimized and destroyed by our inaction.  Everyone can do something.

James, the half-brother of Jesus made it very clear when he wrote, faith without works is dead.  James 2:17-20 declares, “So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead).  But someone will say [to you then], You [say you] have [good] works.  Now you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can], and I by [good works of obedience] will show your my faith…faith apart from [good] works is inactive and ineffective and worthless.”

We have a friend who is an Apostle that goes to the nations and raises up churches.  He planted his family in Costa Rica and preached there until the church was established and the people continued the work.  He then moved on to the Amazon region, Cuba and so on.  He once said to me, “Find a need and meet it.  That is the ministry of Christ.”  The world is in desperate need of the Gospel of the Kingdom.  People everywhere need hope, consolation, forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

My challenge in this word is to encourage all to discover their mission field.  We must pray for the Holy Spirit to show us where we can be effective in changing people’s lives eternally.  Simply giving donations of clothing or money to ministries does not involve risk or personal involvement.  The Lord is calling us to get personally involved in the lives of others.  There are opportunities right now in our “Jerusalem”.  There are needs on the streets of our city.  There are hopeless people crying out for help in neighborhoods around us all.  The question is, will we help those who are meeting those needs?  Will we pray regularly for those living in darkness that they might see the light?  Are we willing to love the unlovable, help the needy, and get involved by going down where the people are, thirty feet below?

NO PLACE TO LIGHT PART II Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

Imagine a Massai warrior standing an arm’s length from the mouth of a lion!  On our first mission trip to Kenya, the regional Bishop took our team of five under his wing and introduced us to the precious Kenyan people and their amazing culture.  We were all engrossed in his story as we drove through the rice fields, sugar cane, coffee and tea plantations.  We had been ministering two services a day for almost a week at different churches throughout the region.  Heading back to our hotel, Bishop decided to take us the long way home so that we could see the prolific produce in the Mt. Kenya area.  Bishop was teaching us the culture of the Massai people although Mt. Kenya is predominantly populated by the Kikuyu and Swahili people.

The Massai tribes live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.  Their home is on the Serengeti where they herd their cattle and goats among the lions and other predators.  Some have called their tribe the “lion killers” because of their on-going necessity to protect their herds.  They live together with extended family for protection.  Their large compound is constructed with an open area in the center encircled by a tall thorny fence of thickly compressed acacia tree branches.  The cattle pen has one opening which is barricaded at night.  They often designate one warrior to sleep in the pen with the herd for protection.  

The perimeter of the compound is surrounded by Bomas, which are small straw huts built with thin tree branches overlaid with a strong mortar of clay and cow dung.  Their roof is made of thatch and cow dung making it waterproof and sturdy.  The mixture adheres to the materials providing a tough structure that also insulates against weather.   

During the daytime the cattle are driven by Massai on the Serengeti but at night they are steered into the center of the compound for protection.  The thorny fence is their only fortification from lions on the prowl for a meal.  A lion that breeches the wall will meet a formidable challenge from Massai warriors in the camp.  When a young Massai comes of age, his rite of manhood is proven by his ability to kill a lion.

The Massai clothing is very colorful.  The men wear a shuka, which is a red robe with striped, plaid or checkered patterns often with bright red and royal blue.  They believe the color red scares the lions.  The Bishop told us it is apparent that lions purposefully try to avoid the Massai because they must connect their shuka with those who are lion killers.  (My pictures are from a mission trip to Tanzania in 2010).  

The men drape their large beautiful robe around their body for covering but it has versatile functions.  The women wear long, one and two piece dresses that are colorful, and wrap a cape around their shoulders.  They have beautiful vibrant beaded necklaces and earrings for their jewelry.    Their shoes are sandals made of leather or more currently, old rubber tires.  A warrior will carry a spear and a large knife (sword) at all times.  Herding cattle can be dangerous both day and night but the Massai warrior is fearless and well equipped to oppose a lion.

Bishop continued his story about the Massai warrior.  When he is attacked by a lion, the Massai removes his robe and wraps it around one forearm.  His sword is in the opposite hand.  He moves into close range and when the lion charges and opens his mouth, the warrior thrusts the forearm into his mouth grabbing his tongue in a death grip rendering him helpless and unable to bite.  He then thrusts his sword into the lion killing him with one swift blow!  The Massai are courageous and they are able to guard their families and cattle by disabling the tongue of the lion!

The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:8, “Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.  Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined]…”  Peter is directing the church to be prepared to withstand any persecution or suffering required because of the Gospel.  He counsels believers to walk in humility submitting to those the Lord has placed in the church to encourage, guide and direct them in the ways of the Lord.  He also warns them of the devil who is constantly seeking for an opening to bring destruction in their lives.  He charges us to withstand the devil being firm in our faith in God.  Hosea 4:8 explains, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge [of my law, where I reveal My will].  Because you [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge…”

James, the brother of Jesus encouraged the church, “So be subject to God, Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.”  James 4:7.  Notice, the scriptures do not say God will remove the devil from us.  Instead, it says we are to withstand the devil’s attacks.  We are called to be lion killers!  James 4:6 explains, “But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully).  That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it).”  Our strength comes from the Holy Spirit and our faith in God.  He gives us the strength to withstand temptations when they come whether to sin against the Lord or to doubt or fear his ability to save us from trouble.

Now, let’s examine the Massai warrior with spiritual eyes.  The Massai warrior trains to become a lion killer.  It does not happen accidentally nor does his strength come by simply being born a Massai.  It comes through study and practice.  A young Massai is trained by the elders who teach him the authority he has over the lion.  There is a process they use when they approach the lion or the lion approaches them.  James gave us a spiritual process for defeating the devil:  1) submit to God, 2) resist the devil and he will flee.

Isaiah 54:17 proclaims, “But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong (condemn).  This [peace, righteousness security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification says the Lord.”  (Emphasis mine).

Paul instructed the Ephesian church to daily put on their armor in order to be prepared for battle.  “Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].”  Ephesians 6:13.  The entire passage continues to list the armor we have been given by the Lord:  belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  Our belt of truth protects our innermost being.  It is the knowledge of the truth that sets us free.  God’s truth is the Rock of our foundation upon which we stand.  The breastplate of righteousness covers our heart.  Out of our heart flow the issues of life.  We are righteous because of our repentance of sin and trust in the redeeming work of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Our righteousness gives us the ability to stand in the authority of Christ daily.  When we trust in the Lord completely, we will be shod with peace and walk in peace wherever we go.  His peace guards our heart and ensures we are in His will.  Faith is a gift from the Lord.  The shield of faith is developed by hearing the Word of God.  It could come from a message preached, Bible study/reading or the inner voice of the Holy Spirit.  The helmet of salvation represents the Mind of Christ Jesus.  It is the mind of the Spirit and not of the flesh.  The sword of the spirit is the Word of God.  Our authority comes by using the Word of God in faith.  When we submit to the Lord’s will, speak His Word to the problem (storms, trouble) standing in faith, he must flee.  We must KNOW that God will back up His Word!

The Massai warrior places his robe (of righteousness representing the authority of Christ) upon his arm so that he might grab the tongue of the lion without suffering injury.  He then thrusts the sword (Word of God) into his heart to disable and destroy his ability to kill.  The tongue of the lion represents the accusations, lies and fears the enemy uses to cause us to doubt God.  The result is our being surrounded by confusion, fear and defeat.  He is the “accuser” of the brethren.  Once our past has been confessed and buried in the waters of baptism, we are clothed in the Righteousness of Christ Jesus.  The enemy no longer has the right to accuse us unless we allow him by not closing his mouth.  The devil is always trying to speak lies, fearful scenarios of disaster and accusations to draw our attention from the Lord which in turn gives him more power.

We must grab hold of the devil’s tongue with a death grip to silence all the attacks.  We do that by “throwing the Book at him”!  The Bible is the Word of God and it is filled with truth.  There are scriptures for every need we could possibly have in life and they are powerful at pulling down strongholds the enemy has erected in our lives.  There are 365 scriptures in the Bible regarding fear where the Lord encourages us to fear not.  We could read a different one every day of the year.  There are also scriptures regarding healing, finances, relationships, marriage and so on.  When the devil tries to take us down in circumstances, thoughts or by others all we need to do is get in our prayer closet and speak the word of God to each one.  We also need to remind him and ourselves who we are in Christ.

When Jesus was raised from the dead and preparing to ascend into heaven, he left his disciples with one powerful declaration.  “All authority (all power and rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20.

Paul taught that we are now seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus.  “And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).”  The scepter of authority has been given to us.  The devil has no jurisdiction over us unless we grant it to him.  Wherever we find ourselves under his rule (or torment) we have been given the responsibility with the authority from heaven, to shut the mouth of the lion by thrusting the Word of God into his heart.

The Word of God is a lethal weapon against the enemy and when used in faith, our victory is sure.  Knowing God’s Word and using it properly enables us to defeat every giant we face.  God’s Word is the rock David used and faith in God is the sling that hurls the rock into the head of the enemy.  Our strength comes when we walk humbly before our God submitting to His will and His Word.  We are then able to stand and resist the devil and he MUST flee!  It is then we will give him “No Place to Light”!

NO PLACE TO LIGHT Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

Vultures are pesky creatures.  Our home sits at 1,800 feet elevation with a southern view of mountains behind, a valley below and a long-range mountain view to the east.  It seemed to be the perfect vantage point for vultures to perch and watch for prey.  Their favorite roost was our chimney cap on top of the house.  They would make rustling noises constantly and drop nasty fur balls on the back porch.  It was rather disgusting.  They are the ugliest birds ever created and that’s probably due to the road-kill diet they consume.  At our age it is quite disconcerting to see a row of vultures waiting on top of the house every time we returned home!  My husband and I began discussing how to get rid of the scoundrels while we were sweeping their fur balls off the porch one day.  I did some research on vultures and to my shock, I discovered they have a very special purpose.  Their bodies were created to clean up all the toxic waste from dying and decaying animals without being harmed themselves.  Because of their intrinsic value to our ecology, they are a protected species with heavy fines and jail time.

I continued to research to see if there was any way to prevent them from roosting on our home.  I found a company that attaches a row of 3-4” metal spikes to the top of roofs and chimneys which eliminates any comfortable perching spaces.  Within a couple of weeks our house was sending a message to our pesky vultures, “No place to light”!  It has been over a year now and we are still vulture free.  It feels good and right.  We have peace inside and out.

The devil is like the vulture.  Jesus defined the purpose of the Devil.  “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”  John 10:10.  Satan tries to steal our joy, faith, health, prosperity, well-being and peace.  His plan is to kill us and destroy our witness of Jesus, our destiny in Christ, and our purpose in the world and the church.  We must give him no place to light!

The devil perches himself, much like the vulture, in high (heavenly) places watching for those who are broken, weak and seemingly helpless.  The word of God encourages believers, “Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times.  That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone].”  1 Peter 5:8-9.  Peter gives us clues to victory in this scripture.  We are not helpless or hopeless although, our enemy is ruthless, cunning and a vigilant predator who seeks to destroy.

The animal world is well aware of the predator/prey syndrome.  The typical mode of operation of a predator is to find the weakest animal, one who is separated from the group, and attack it.  The predator will only attack a mature elephant, water buffalo or zebra if there is no other alternative, but they usually do so in groups.  Predators lie in wait trying to outsmart their prey by using the element of surprise.  They are cunning stalkers who calculate their every move.  Animals, fully aware of their prey status, are always on alert.  They have warning systems in their herd and the mature will surround the weak to protect them from being devoured.

 

One of the ways the devil is effective among believers is through his lies.  The devil is a liar and therefore uses lies as a way into our mind and heart.  If he can dispel a truth of God creating doubt as he did in Adam and Eve, he has a place to light.  From that perch, he can continue badgering the mind, will and resolve of the believer.  If there is no strong resistance, he can create a stronghold of unbelief.  Jesus rebuked the Jewish leaders for their unbelief and called them children of the devil.  “You are of your father the devil, and it is your will to practice the desires [which are characteristic] of your father.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks whatever is natural to him, for he is a liar and the father of lies and half-truths.”  John 8:44.

Believers who do not truly know the word of God through continual Bible reading and study are easy pray for the devil.  He twists scriptures, and uses emotional pleas of reasoning which are contradictions of the truth.  The Word of God illuminated by the Holy Spirit teaches us the will and ways of God.  It demonstrates the Kingdom of God through the life of Christ intertwined in both the Old and New Testaments.  It teaches morality, the consecrated life, and the power of God working through miracles, signs and wonders.

The Lord God created Adam and placed him in the Garden of Eden.  He then instructed him to cultivate it and have dominion over every living thing.  God showed him what he could eat and then instructed Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  “So the LORD God took the man [He had made] and settled him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it.  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may freely (unconditionally) eat [the fruit] from every tree of the garden; but [only] from the tree of the knowledge (recognition) of good and evil you shall not eat, otherwise on the day that you eat from it, you shall most certainly die [because of your disobedience].’”  According to scripture, God gave Adam His instructions before He created Eve.  We do not know from the Bible account if Eve received her instruction from the Lord or Adam, whom the Lord made the keeper of the garden.

We do know the serpent approached Eve with his cunning temptation and it appears that Adam was not with her at the time.  “Now the serpent was more crafty (subtle, skilled in deceit) than any living creature of the field which the LORD God had made.  And the serpent (Satan) said to the woman, ‘Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?’  And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees of the garden, except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden.  God said, ‘You shall not eat from it nor touch it, otherwise you will die.’  But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You certainly will not die!’  ‘For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened [that is, you will have greater awareness], and you will be like God, knowing [the difference between] good and evil.’”

The lying serpent enticed Eve by making the fruit appealing to her.  Satan told her that the fruit supplied not only food to be enjoyed but it also contained wisdom only God possessed. He convinced her she would not die but she would become wise like God.  After she ate the fruit, Eve gave some to Adam and seeing she hadn’t died (immediately), he ate it also.  The Jewish tradition from their Talmud explains that Adam was not with Eve during the temptation of the serpent.  That explains why he did not contest the serpent’s statements.  The Lord held Adam responsible for the fall because Jesus is referred to the second Adam in Scripture.  “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, so death spread to all people [no one being able to stop it or escape its power], because they all sinned…For by the trespass of the one (Adam), death reigned through the one (Adam)…Romans 5:12-17.   “So it is written [in Scripture]; ‘The first MAN, Adam, became a living soul (an individual);’ the last Adam (Christ) became a life-giving spirit [restoring the dead to life].”  1 Corinthians 15:45.

I believe the Lord held Adam accountable because God had told him directly not to eat from the tree and had placed Adam with the full responsibility and authority to keep (guard) the garden and everything in it.  While Eve received second hand revelation from Adam, he received the revelation first-hand from the LORD God Himself, but Adam still ate the fruit.  Why does this make a difference to us?  Biblical truths must be experienced first-hand by the individual, otherwise they are simply someone else’s faith or “opinion”.  We cannot survive by standing on someone else’s beliefs.  We will be accountable for our own.  When true faith is born in us, we can stand against the attacks of the devil.  When the Word of God is revelation to our souls, we will not succumb to the lie or the manipulation of half-truths which make people deceived.   The Scriptures are clear that it is not the Truth that sets us free, it is the Knowledge of the Truth that sets us free (and keeps us free).  “And you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32.

The moral and ethical dilemmas facing us in the world today are continually challenging our Christian beliefs.  If our faith is not based on revelation we have received directly from the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, we cannot stand for truth.  The result is obvious, we will compromise the Word of God and cower to the pressure of others.  If we do not truly KNOW God and His Word first hand, we will believe anything.

The Apostle Paul explains the Christian walk in Ephesians, Chapter 4.  He admonishes believers to allow God to transform their lives through total consecration and surrender to His will and purpose for us.  He lists many areas where our old sin nature must be changed to one of righteous and holy living which can only come by the Holy Spirit’s work in us.  Paul uses the Word of God as a tool to instruct us and reveal Biblical truth to us.  Paul also teaches by showing us how to deal with the attacks of the devil.  “And do not give the devil an opportunity [to lead you into sin by holding a grudge, or nurturing anger, or harboring resentment, or cultivating bitterness]…And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [but seek to please Him], by whom you were sealed and marked for the day of redemption…let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with every kind of malice…” Ephesians 4:27-32.  Every fleshly emotion that is unbridled by the Holy Spirit is a perch upon which the enemy can light.   Paul confirms that “the knowledge of the truth leads to godliness” in Titus 1:1.

Victors resist the attacks of the enemy, they stand firm in their faith in God, abide in His word and His presence becoming rooted, established in faith and unshakable.  They are well aware of the predator/prey syndrome and remain sober by being cautious, self-disciplined and well-balanced in their faith.  They know their God and the authority He has given them in heavenly places.  They are firmly rooted in a church family which surrounds them, strengthens and encourages them.  They are not loners but have become an active part of the body of believers who stand together to defend one another.

We who are believers have been brought out of darkness and placed in the light of Christ Jesus.  Living wholly and completely in Christ Jesus places a barrier between us and the enemy.  It is in that place we will not be moved and the devil has no place to light!

 

I AM YOUR KEEPER Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

I approached the front door and as my hand reached for the handle, the Holy Spirit said, “Don’t open that door”!  I dropped my hand to my side and looked through the beveled glass to see a young man in a white T-shirt and jeans on the other side.  I asked him what he needed and he told me he was looking for a friend and gave a name.  I knew all my neighbors and the name he gave me was not someone who lived on our cul-de-sac.  I told him he had the wrong street.  He left immediately and as I walked away from the door, the Holy Spirit said, “Call security and let them know about this”.

My daughter was away at college and my husband and son were out of town on a church men’s retreat.  I would be alone in the house until around midnight.  It was 6 pm.  Our neighborhood was open to the public but we had a security service that drove through the streets to lend some watchful eyes on our behalf.  When I called, security asked several questions about the young man.   I hung up the phone and ate my supper.  The doorbell rang an hour later.  It was the security guard so I opened the door and he asked me more questions.  He told me the police were looking for three young men.  They had stolen a van and abandoned it in my neighborhood.  He said the young man at my door fit the description of one of them and the other two were probably out of view and ready to force their way into my house had I opened the door.  I could have been in serious danger or even killed if the Holy Spirit not spoken to me.  All evening I could hear helicopters flying overhead and police cars with lights flashing were driving through the area.   I spent the rest of the night in perfect peace because I knew my Lord had kept me safe and would continue to be my keeper.  My husband and son returned home around 11:30 pm and asked what was taking place in our neighborhood.  They said there were police everywhere.  I told them what the Lord had done for me.  What would they have found when they arrived at home had the Lord not warned me?

David learned that God was his keeper when he was a youth tending his father’s sheep.  He slept out in the pasture many nights and defended the sheep from predators such as a lion and a bear.  He knew the Lord was not only with him but was his source of strength.  The Lord kept David safe when he stood against the Philistine’s greatest warrior Goliath.  Goliath towered over David, but he was struck dead by one smooth stone which David hurled from his sling shot.  The rock was sent forth by the power of God and imbedded into the forehead of the giant warrior.  The entire armies of Israelites and Philistines looked on with unanticipated amazement.  David knew who his Keeper was.  “I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence shall my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.  He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved; He Who keeps you will not slumber.  Behold, He Who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.  The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life.  The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”  Psalm 121.

The Hebrew word for keep is Shamar.  It means:  to keep, guard, to keep safe, preserve, to protect, to watch (as a watchman of cattle or sheep), and to hedge around something (as if with thorns).   (Key Word Study Bible).  David kept his father’s sheep safe from predators who would devour them.  It was his responsibility to not only nurture them, but to care for them.  He also meditated upon the Lord Who was guarding and keeping him from danger.  “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4. (See entire Psalm).

The Lord also kept David during the eleven years he spent hiding from King Saul.  The Prophet Samuel had anointed David to be King Saul’s successor after Saul had sinned against the Lord’s commandment.  God enabled David to stay one step ahead of the king and his warriors who wanted to kill him.  He guided him and led him out of the path of danger.  He even gave him warriors who stood with him and helped him as he journeyed through those tough times.  David wrote in gratitude to the Lord, “O Lord, You have brought my life up from Sheol (the place of the dead); You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit (the grave).”  Psalm 30:3.

“Bless our God, O peoples, give Him grateful thanks and make the voice of His praise be heard.  Who put and kept us among the living, and has not allowed our feet to slip.”  Psalm 66:8-9.

I am one who has had a history of being anxious or worried since childhood.  The Lord showed me He had protected me that night He told me not to open the door.  It was over 20 years ago, but I am just now understanding Him as my full-time Keeper.  There is a difference between having a head knowledge of something and it becoming faith that is unshakeable.  Head knowledge is more like a “wish” than faith.  I can say I believe something God has promised but when I’m in the trenches of testing, I find out whether it is faith from true belief or a wish I hoped would come to pass.  Lately the world stage has given us many opportunities to become fearful or worried.  Now more than ever we (the church) must begin to function in genuine faith from KNOWING the Lord keeps his promises.

Psalm 91 has always intrigued me.  I have framed it, given it to a soldier in Iraq, and to people dealing with fear or physical illness.  I have read it to a parent preparing to meet the Lord and used it to encourage the body of Christ.  I can’t say that I have had true faith in all its promises when I think of scenarios where I might apply it.  Last week when the Lord spoke to me, “I AM your Keeper”, something congealed inside my heart.  His promise has become heavier, more substantial than ever before.  This promise however, is not just for me, it is for us all!  There are times coming which many of us will go through before the Lord returns.  The world will begin to become more dangerous and scary as the Bible foretells us, but the children of God need not fear.  When persecution comes, the glory of God will surround us.  He will lead us and guide us, as the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night protected and led the Israelites when they came out of slavery in Egypt.  We will not simply survive, we will thrive with the knowledge that God is our Keeper!  This revelation will be as important to us in life as when we one day face death.

God’s promise is for those “who dwell in the shelter of the Most High.”  He assures them they “will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].”  He declares they “will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!”  The result of our standing in faith assures “He will save you from the trap of the fowler, and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover you and completely protect you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a wall.  You will not be afraid of the terror of night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noon.  A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but danger will not come near you”…Why?  “Because you have made the LORD, your refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, (daily intimacy through thanksgiving, prayer, worship and the Word with God).  No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will command His angels in regard to you, to protect and defend and guard you in all your ways [of obedience and service]”…The Lord explains why, “Because he set his love on Me, therefore I will save him; I will set him [securely] on high, because he knows My name [he confidently trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never abandon him, no, never].”  He again promises “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.  With a long life I will satisfy him and I will let him see My salvation.” (Emphasis mine).

Jacob knew God as his keeper.  Isaac and Rebekah sent him away after he received Esau’s birthright and blessing through cunning and deceit.  Jacob obeyed his father and his mother but Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please Isaac so he went to Ishmael and took more heathen wives.  (See Genesis 28:7-9).  Esau despised his birthright.  (See Genesis 25:29-34).  Jacob treasured and honored the birthright.  God had prophesied to Rebekah the elder son would serve the younger one. The Bible says after Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew, “Esau scorned his birthright as beneath his notice.”  Esau rejected the God of Abraham and Isaac while Jacob embraced the Lord.  When Jacob left his father and mother at their instruction because Esau vowed to kill him, he had an encounter with the Lord.  The Lord appeared to Jacob in a dream and gave him many promises including His protection.  “And behold, I am with you and will keep (watch over you with care, take notice of) you wherever you may go, and I will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done all of which I have told you.”  Genesis 28:15.  Every promise of God was fulfilled and the Lord brought healing between Jacob and Esau.

Isaiah knew the keeping power of the Lord.  “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”  Isaiah 26:3

I am learning to keep my mind occupied with the goodness of the Lord, the promises of God and his faithfulness to fulfill His Word, instead of worrying about my problems.  Playing scenarios in my head causes fear, worry and anxiety which kill faith.  We must put all our trust in the Lord because we cannot protect ourselves.  God’s protection doesn’t mean we won’t see or experience some difficult situations, it means He will keep us in spite of those things!

Last week as I began writing this article, the Lord proved His word to me again.  My husband and I love to hike for exercise.  The spring rains have brought a prolific growth of plants in the forest this year.  Our hiking paths have become very narrow with the over-growth of ferns, ground cover, leafy trees and shrubs.  Living in a forestry and mountainous area we can encounter deer, bear and poisonous snakes.  We make precautions for such encounters including deciding when and where we hike.  We chose to avoid the narrow paths with the arrival of warm weather because the overgrowth supplied ample hiding places for the copperheads and rattlesnakes.  We elected to hike the jeep trail near our home, which was wide and open.  Except for a few rocks here and there, the road was clear.  We were a good mile into our hike and were enjoying our conversation as we walked together.  My husband was a couple steps ahead of me and several feet to my right.  I lifted my left foot to take a step and “happened” to look down at the road.  To my shock, I saw that I was about to step on a copperhead which is a poisonous snake.  His coloring was much like the road.  He was lying completely straight like a stick, with his head slightly raised.  He lay deathly still as if hoping to catch prey that inadvertently passed his way.  I shrieked and stepped backward several feet.  My husband had already passed by him without noticing him.  Fortunately, he was walking several feet to the right, just out of his reach.  My heart was racing, but at that moment I knew the Lord had kept us both safe!

The goodness of God caused me to look down and distinguish that snake from the ground keeping me from danger.  Understanding that truth made my heart rejoice.  He really is my Keeper!  We’ve been in many near miss tragedies and have been well aware that God’s grace had kept us safe, but this took His keeping power to another level.  We need not fear or worry.  We do not have to spend another moment concerned for things we cannot control.  He is our Keeper.  We simply need to put our whole trust and faith in Him.  I would like to close with one of my favorite scripture verses.  Jude 24-25, “Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight)—To the one only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory (splendor), majesty, might and dominion, and power and authority, before all time and now and forever (unto all the ages of eternity).  Amen.”  The Lord is truly watching over all who make Him their dwelling place.  His promise is sure:  “I AM your Keeper!”

 

LIVING STONES Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

My elementary and high school years were from 1955-67.  My generation was post World War II and it was during the time of Hollywood’s “greatest” years.  It was a season of epic movies that became events to entertain and excite.  Many of those movies like Ben Hur and The Alamo were three hours long.  They began with several minutes of prelude music, had a ten to fifteen minute musical intermission and also ended with postlude music.  Before television was widely accessible, movies were a large part of American lives and remain so today.   The original plan of movie moguls was to simply entertain the audience, but their amazing popularity ultimately triggered a conscious agenda to push the envelope in every faction of life.  Many factors have contributed to the slow dissolution of the church’s influence on our nation over the last 75 years, but I believe the entertainment industry has carried the lion’s share.  The movie industry has made a formidable negative impact not only upon American religious beliefs, but also on our social image.

The church unwittingly allowed its love for entertainment to melt its resolve for the pursuit of holiness while the entertainment industry helped sway its lifestyles, clothing, home life and sadly, its Biblical faith.  Teenagers in the 1950’s and 60’s tried to conform to the image of their favorite movie star’s fashion, hairstyle or “look” and today it is no different.  The music industry also helped thrust the agenda of the world upon an unsuspecting and unguarded generation.  The two waged a formidable attack on the faith of believers unaware of the slow dulling of their Godly conscience and Biblical standards.  Limited by the influence of feelings and rational thinking, unbelievers are emotionally driven while the church is supposed to be led by the Holy Spirit.  Presently, most movie themes express language, show explicit scenes and violent behaviors in direct opposition to the holiness God expects.  Current social trends not only defy morality, they mock those leaders who represent the churches holding on to Biblical moral and ethical standards.

Immorality and unfaithfulness to God invaded the church as evidenced by the divorce rate which reports say has reached 60%.  Alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes in the movies added a “sophistication” to the lives of their characters while the quest for wealth and materialism began to erode our trust in God.  The church soon looked no different from the world and as a result, our God-given image and influence was exchanged for that of the world.  We who were once Living Stones became stumbling stones to those seeking authentic Christianity.  Many American churches lost their effectiveness as they settled into a form of religion minus the power and life of God.

The underlying result is the alarming fact that America is no longer a Christian nation.  It has become a secular society where Godly beliefs and standards have begun to be persecuted within the last several years through changing federal and state laws, IRS targeting, and negative public opinion.  The worship of God was exchanged for the worship of creation and many have become deceived and have fallen away from the faith.  There would be no Christian church today except for the Lord’s intervention!

The Lord had a plan for the image of mankind at the beginning of creation and He is in the process of restoring that image to all who will believe.  Genesis 1:26 states, “God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind (male and female) in Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth.”  (Emphasis mine).

Jesus Christ did not suffer the agony of the cross simply to pay the penalty for our sins so that we might go free.  His resurrection has given us the power to become the sons of God!  Resurrection Life is granted to all who truly believe and provides the grace and power to be transformed into the image of Christ Jesus.  The Apostle Peter proclaimed, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you were unpitied, but now you are pitied and have received mercy.”  1 Peter 1:9-10.

Peter continued to strongly charge all believers to press steadfastly into their calling from God.   “Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers and exiles [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges (the evil desires, the passions of the flesh, your lower nature) that wage war against the soul.  Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles (unbelievers), so that, although they may slander you as evildoers, [yet] they may by witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God in the day of inspection [when God shall look upon you wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock].”

My husband spent 35 years in the home building industry.  He ran a local division of a nationwide home building company.  He learned every aspect of the homebuilding business from land acquisition and development to construction, sales and closings.  Twenty-three years of his career were spent in the state of Florida.  The homes in Florida had cinder block construction on their outer walls because of the threat of hurricanes in the state.  Local wind construction laws varied because of the propensity of a direct hit from a hurricane.  Miami’s Dade County had wind construction regulations for 165-185 mile per hour winds.  This process required steel rebar to be imbedded in the foundation of the home every several feet to connect the foundation to the outer walls.  Blocks of cement with two open chambers were placed over the rebar and as the walls were raised, more rebar was added for solid connections all the way to and including the roof.  Cement was then poured inside the blocks with rebar to establish a solid hold that would withstand hurricane strength winds.  The steel rebar and straps were eventually attached to the roof to make a secure structure from top to bottom.  The outer frame of the building was interconnected so that each block held its own place while additionally helping to support the other blocks.  The principles are Biblical.

The Bible declares Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone.  “This is the gate of the Lord; the [uncompromisingly] righteous shall enter through it.  I will confess, praise, and give thanks to You for You have heard and answered me; and You have become my Salvation and Deliverer.  The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.  This is from the Lord and is His doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”  Psalm 118:22-23.  Jesus also mentioned this prophecy in Matthew 21:42-44 and challenged the Jewish people and leadership, “I tell you, for this reason the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce the fruits of itAnd whoever falls on this Stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom It falls will be crushed to powder [and It will winnow him, scattering him like dust].”  (See Isaiah 8:14 and Daniel 2:34-35).   (Emphasis mine).

We were not given the invitation to become citizens of God’s kingdom simply to be forgiven of our sins and live our lives as we see fit!  We were called to a purpose.  We were called by God to become Living Stones with Him as our Cornerstone, our example, our image.  Ephesians 2:19-22 charges us, “And He came and preached the glad tidings of peace to you who were afar off and [peace] to those who were near.  For it is through Him that we both [whether far off or near] now have an introduction (access) by one [Holy] Spirit to the Father [so that we are able to approach Him].  Therefore you are no longer outsiders, (exiles, migrants, and aliens, excluded from the rights of citizens), but you now share citizenship with the saints (God’s own people, consecrated and set apart for Himself); and you belong to God’s [own] household.  You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself the chief Cornerstone.  In Him the whole structure is joined (bound, welded) together harmoniously, and it continues to rise (grow, increase) into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, consecrated, and sacred to the presence of the Lord].  In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you yourselves also are being built up [into this structure] with the rest, to form a fixed abode (dwelling place) of God in (by, through) the Spirit.”  (Emphasis mine).

The Lord is building His church with living stones.  These stones He is preparing are alive, strong and filled with passion for their first love, Jesus.  They have the Word of God written upon their hearts and they are His witnesses in the earth.  They abide continually secured to the Vine, attached with spiritual rebar to their Cornerstone, and they bear fruit of righteousness, the works of a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.  They pray with authority from heaven and they speak the Words of the Lord their God.  They are emboldened with His love to be the salt and light to the world.  They refuse to be hidden and silent.  They press on with birth pangs to be transformed into His image and they reflect His nature and His character.  They are filled with and moved by His Holy Spirit and they are fountains that disperse His Living Water to a broken and fearful world.

The Lord is calling us, His church, to come out from among the world.  He has invited us to His banquet table where He has provided all the supplies we need to be filled with His love, power and strength to withstand the attacks of the enemy who would try to thwart the church in making disciples.  When our hearts become fully consecrated to Him we will be emboldened to trust in Him completely and miracles, signs and wonders will follow all who believe.

We must choose to lay down the image of the world and rise up to the image and stature of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is looking for those who will die to the world and choose to believe in Him, walk in His ways, live in peace and be peacemakers who reconcile the lost to God.  They will thrive through resurrection life and as Living Stones, they will be called the sons of God!