Archive for spiritual

Mirrors

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , on September 5, 2017 by Stephen Hare

Transcendent Life without end

sent to free us from our sin

that those beneath might live above

with Him who offers boundless love

 

Salvation’s Light in darkness shined

that those who “see” might be made blind

The blind thereby receive their sight

native-born now to the Light

 

Light of truth broke chains that held

by lies enslaved; in darkness dwelled

now image bearers of the Son;

now mirrors of the Risen One

 

Stephen Hare © 12-9-2012

 

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The Sunshine of His Love

Posted in Devotional Corner with tags , , , on July 8, 2014 by Stephen Hare

This morning I woke with the early 70’s song, “Sunshine of Your Love” by Eric Clapton playing in my head.Really strange since I can’t remember the last time I heard the song. Of course, it was a great song when I was caught up in the “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll” scene during my misspent and wayward youth, but the song really doesn’t hold any present value for me musically or in any other respect – nor do I want it playing in my head.

Fortunately, there is a redemptive “note” to this. It has caused me to reflect on what it might mean to be “in the sunshine of His love”, or in the “light of His (God’s) countenance.” As I consider the amazing grace, kindness and favor that was extended to me to draw me to Himself and that has been bestowed upon me, my thoughts are presently silenced, and my heart is full of praise and gratitude for the love of God toward me in Christ.

Further, what does it mean to be the “sunshine of His love”?

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

2 Cor 2:14-15 says this, “Now thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” So then, we are “the sunshine of His love”, His “felt” presence in every place.

Prayer:

Lord, please allow me to be so connected with you and in-step with Your Holy Spirit, that I will truly be to You a fragrance of Christ, diffusing the knowledge of Your presence in every place.

Help me to live in the sunshine of Your amazing love forever. Amen.

Wash Over Me

Posted in Lyrics with tags , , , , on April 7, 2014 by Stephen Hare

I would know You, I will seek You

I would hear Lord, as You speak

I am thirsty, I would drink Lord

fill my cup, wash over me

fill my cup – wash over me

I am longing for the greater

things that You’ve prepared for me

but in the longing, there You meet me

what greater thing, Lord, could there be?

What greater thing, Lord, could there be?

Lord break away the chains

of all my yesterdays

Oh give me grace to walk in all Your ways

Make me purer than before, Lord;

my light’s not so bright, that much I can see

make me holy in Your sight, Lord

so that Your Spirit can live in me

so that Your Spirit can live in me!

Lord wash away the stains

of all my yesterdays

Lord, give me grace

to walk in all Your ways

I would know You

I will seek You

I would hear Lord, as You speak

I am thirsty; I would drink Lord

Fill my cup, wash over me

fill my cup – wash over me!

Lyrics and music by Stephen Hare © 2004

To Whom Are We Obliged?

Posted in Devotional Corner with tags , , , on March 4, 2014 by Stephen Hare

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors – not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.”  Romans 8: 12-13

This passage makes it clear that we don’t owe our flesh anything. 

We are not under any obligation to perform the deeds that were characteristic of our way of life before we came into relationship with God; to conform ourselves to the former passions that once ruled our minds and our bodies – as when we were entirely ignorant of God and His ways.

“As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance, but as the one who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written; “Be holy, for I am Holy.” 1st Peter 1: 14-16

The NIV has it this way;    As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.

As Paul said in so many ways throughout his letters, (and specifically in Romans 8)once we have once we have received the Spirit, we are no longer obligated to the flesh to live according to its demands.

However, once we have received the Holy Spirit, we do have an obligation to God to live according to the Spirit that He has given us. In other words, if we have received grace from God to walk in obedience, then we have an obligation to walk in obedience according to the grace that we have received from Him.

Conversely, if we have receive nothing from God, then we are obliged to live according to the flesh, and the result will be spiritual (and physical) death; and not necessarily in that order.

Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?

Actual mortification (the sanctification by death to the flesh that works its way into our reality experientially, and without which no one will see the Lord) requires us to invite Jesus ( the Holy Spirit) into all of our thought processes continually; not just once in a while, but always at all times “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (who was obedient to the point of death) and bringing all things that some would consider hidden, to the light, where “all things are laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.”

Before God, nothing created is hidden, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account. Hebrews 4:3 (CJB)

Being obligated to the flesh is a losing proposition, and leads only to death. But being obligated to God because of the grace He has provided is a marvelous gift that leads to life everlasting.

Prayer: Lord, grant us the wisdom to act according to the grace you have so lavishly supplied in the person of Your Son, Jesus Christ, to whom belongs all glory and dominion, forever and ever. Amen

Return to Innocence

Posted in Devotional Corner with tags , , , on July 29, 2013 by Stephen Hare

“For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.” Romans 16:19

Are we innocent with regard to what is evil? God’s word tells us that we can be blameless and innocent children of God in the midst of a “crooked and perverse generation; among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Phillipians 2:15

Now, certainly we all know what we have come from. We know the depths of the corruption of the human heart and the atrocities it is capable of. But where do we stand today?

Have we understood that we have been thoroughly washed and cleansed by the blood of the Lamb – that we are no longer what we once were?

“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, thieves, greedy people, drunks, slanderers, and robbers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (my italic) 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

I believe that all of us can pick some sinful way of life from the above list that would accurately describe the way we lived (what we practiced) before we were made clean, but have we continued to walk in our innocence, or have we become guilty before God again?

“I will set nothing wicked before my eyes. I hate the work of those who fall away. It shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall depart from me. I will not know wickedness.” Psalm 101:2-4

“I will not know wickedness.” This is a decision of the will. Whatever it is; that is, whatever form wickedness may take, I will not know it, because I will avoid it at any cost. I will not have any intimate knowledge of it.

Similarly, “I will know God”because I will shun, I will avoid even the appearance of evil and will behave wisely in a perfect way. I will become intimately acquainted with the God who hates evil, and because of my relationship with Him, will learn to hate evil as He does.

“Oh when will you come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.”

“A perverse heart shall depart from me.” How can David declare this with such confidence?

Because a perverse heart is in conflict with the heart that is set on pleasing God. Jesus said, “A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things.”Luke 6:45

We hear much talk among believers today about the heart being “deceitful and wicked above all things”, but we don’t hear near as much about the heart of the new creation, even though in Colossians 3:10 we are instructed to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

But really, what does it mean to “put on” the new self? Is is as easy as putting on a shirt or a pair of pants?

Is it not humbling our fleshly minds and hearts before the word of God, and believing in faith that what His word says of us is the truth?

Is it not casting ourselves on His infinite mercy that we might be born anew?

Can we really proclaim in faith that His sacrifice wasn’t enough to change us from within? “…having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the word of God that lives and abides forever.” 1 Pet 1:23

If God says that I am holy – then I am! We must agree with God not only about our sin, but about our transformation; “He died for all that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again.” 2 Corinthians 5:15

How are we to make the shift from living for ourselves and our own selfish desires?

There is a principle set forth from God which none of us can get around or “side-step”, and that is this; “God is not mocked; whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7 “If we sow seeds to the flesh, we will of the flesh reap corruption, but if we sow seeds to the Spirit, we will of the Spirit reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:8

I don’t currently know of anyone who hasn’t sinned since having become a believer in Christ. But God has clearly called us back to a position of innocence before Him, because He has removed our guilt and shame by what He did for us on the cross.

That being said, He now empowers us to live holy and godly before Him by the power of the Holy Spirit who now lives in us. He does not provide us with a ticket or license to continue in the sinful lifestyles that characterized our lives before we knew Him.

Will you return to innocence?

“For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light.” Ephesians 5:8

Now go tell others what you once were, and what you have now become because of the grace of God.

Have You Turned From Your Wicked Way?

Posted in Devotional Corner with tags , , on July 8, 2013 by Stephen Hare

“Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and you have strengthened the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life.” Ezekiel 13:22″

It is clear from the above verse, that “the wicked”, whoever they might be, must “turn from his wicked way to save his life.”

Now, most of us really don’t think of ourselves as wicked, right? The bible even says “All a man’s ways are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord tests the motives.” Proverbs 16:2

So, what we need is a proper context in which to rightly view ourselves, because if we measure according to our own standards that we have set for ourselves, we’ll always come up looking pretty good.

However, if we look at ourselves in the light of God’s standards, then we all come up way short.

Proverbs 30:12 says this; “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet are not washed from their own filthiness.” (ASV)

As much as we might like to think so, none of us can make ourselves clean or approach God by our own merit. If He does not cleanse us, then we are not cleansed. Salvation is only from the God, and then only by the way that He has determined, and that is by His only Son.

He is the author and finisher of salvation, but we still have the responsibility to choose to accept or reject the salvation He offers.

If I’m about to go over a waterfall and some offers me a life-preserver attached to a rope, I’d be extremely foolish to choose to hold on to the piece of wood I’m clinging to… but it is my choice.

It is absurd to suggest that our choosing is “works”, when it is actually simple wisdom by which we make the right choices with regard to life and eternity, and that is of itself a gift from God.

Ezekiel 14:13 refers to sinning “by persistent unfaithfulness.”

“Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it.”

~ “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes…” ~

Does this sound anything like our country today? Notice in the verse above, that God does not name a specific land, but “a land”, meaning “any” or “every” land that sins against Him in a persistently unfaithful way will at some time experience His judgments.

When you make an honest assessment of your life, what would you say is true? Have you by your actions and words turned people away from their sinful lifestyles, or have you encouraged them in it and even joined them?

Is there anything that distinguishes your life from theirs?

Have you personally made decisions against sinful practices in your life that have resulted in a different lifestyle and different associations that would encourage others to turn to God and “save their life” (By choosing the salvation that is being offered to them by God)?

Is your life characterized by consistent faithfulness to God, or persistent unfaithfulness?

If you’ve never been in a church, read a bible, or been raised in a Christian or even a “religious” environment, then some of the ideas presented here in these brief few paragraphs may be entirely foreign to you.

But know this – there is surely a God in heaven who cares for your soul. He is absolutely holy, pure, righteous and just; and therefore He must judge sin.

There is not one human being who ever lived apart from sin, for “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”, and that is why God sent His own Son to be born of a virgin, in the likeness of sinful flesh, but utterly without sin. He lived a sinless life and suffered God’s punishment for your sin on a Roman cross over 2,000 years ago and was raised from the dead by the power of God.

All this so that you might believe in Him, and that in believing can place your faith and hope in God who raises the dead, and receive the forgiveness for your sin that was purchased by the blood of His Son, Jesus the Messiah.

If you believe this, and ask God to forgive your sin and cleanse you of all unrighteousness, you will be saved from the wrath to come according to the promise of God who does not and cannot lie. (ref 1 John 1:9).

If you do not yet believe (that fact will not change the reality of the truth), but would like to see if these things are so, I encourage you to get a bible and read the book of John and find out for yourself. Ask God yourself to tell you if these things are so.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. May the God who created all things be with you in all your seeking, that in all your seeking that you will find Him who is true.

The Call To Live

Posted in Devotional Corner with tags , , , , on June 27, 2013 by Stephen Hare

You have forsaken Me, the Fountain of living waters, and hewn out for yourselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Jer 2

You search the scriptures daily, because in them you think that you have life; but you will not come to me that you might have life.

He that has the Son has life, but he that does not have the Son does not have life. I John

Any branch in me that bears no fruit is cut off, gathered into bundles and thrown into the furnace to be burned. John:15

For when the ground soaks up rain that falls often on it, and continues producing vegetation useful to those for whom it is cultivated, it receives a blessing from God

However, if it continues to produce thorns and thistles, it is worthless and in danger of being cursed, and in the end will be burned. Heb 6:7-8

Unless a person abides in me, he is thrown away like a pruned branch and dries up. People gather such branches, throw them into a fire, and they are burned up. John 15:6

If we stumble over words from God that appear to us as harsh, we fail to see the God behind the words.

“Repent!”

Does that sound harsh or unloving to you? If you were driving the wrong way down a one-way street, and someone strongly urged you to stop and go the other way, would you consider that offensive, or unloving?

Have you ev er thought of the word “repent” as a call to live?

Many of us have heard definitions for repentance, the primary being to change your mind. It is to turn from our present course of action and to go the opposite direction; to whole-heartedly amend our ways.

As we search throughout the word of God, what we find consistently is a God who cares for His creation; all that He has made for His glory. We see unending mercy, kindness, and faithfulness in the face of indifference, and even rebellion.

As we begin to understand His character, it is only then that we can rightly interpret His judgments, realizing that His kindness and mercy would be meaningless if He was not to judge evil.

Does God want us dead? Does He not care about our condition on planet earth?

He calls us to live in His presence continually where He is! He calls us to live!

God desires that we will come to Him that we might in Him find true life, and that in abundance! If we can only comprehend that the God who created the very universe in which we live desires to connect with us! The thoughts of God are truly unfathomable!

All of life finds its center in God, or it does not find its center at all. “All things were made by Him, and without Him was not made anything that was made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men…”. What a glorious truth! But can we see it?

“There is a way that seems right to man, but the end thereof is death.”

We suppose that we know what is best for us, and we tend to think that if God doesn’t supply whatever that is, that He doesn’t care about us, or that our situation in life isn’t worthy of His consideration.

The problem is that WE are way off-center. We vainly imagine that all of life is about us – our dreams, aspirations, and ambitions – which may or may not have anything at all to do with God’s sovereign design for our life; the life that He has ordained for our ultimate good, and His ultimate purpose.

The sooner we apprehend this, the further down the road we will be to understanding His divine will and purpose for our lives.

“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”

I am sitting on my driveway with my wife just now, at 11:32 pm on a beautiful moonlit night in Kansas City, Mo, listening to the sound of crickets and an amazing breeze rustling through our maple trees. It is about 80 degrees, and my 27-year-old daughter is spending time on our roof with the Lord in the moonlight – and I have to ask myself…can life get any better than this?

I am presently amazed at the goodness of the Lord in recognition of all His wondrous deeds! He has been so incredibly good to me, and has never rewarded me as my iniquity deserves.

So very thankful to the Lord this day for all His faithfulness to me and my family!

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

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