Category Archives: Christian life

Knowing the One Who Satisfies

I was frustrated with the way my life was going. At the time, if anyone had asked me to describe my state of mind in three words, they would have been “discontented,” “disappointed,” and “discouraged.” I felt I had done all the right stuff, but nothing was changing for the better. All I could think about was how things were not as they should be.

In the middle of that mess, the Lord revealed Himself to me as “the God Who Satisfies.” He asked me to focus more on my Promise Keeper than on the promises He had given me. And He highlighted several Bible verses to help me shift my attention off my frustrations and onto Him. One of them was Jeremiah 31:14: “… And my people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord.”

All of us could come up with something we’re not happy about — some of us more than others. Many Christians are frustrated and miserable, feeling there must be more to life than they are experiencing. There is a gnawing sense inside of a greater destiny, a greater purpose, but it eludes them. Maybe for you it’s not destiny, but more down-to-earth desires:

If only I had a husband (or wife). If only my marriage were better.
If only I had the job of my dreams.
If only I were doing that ministry God showed me.
If only I had children. If only my grown children paid more attention to me.

God is eager to give us many things our hearts long for. He is extremely generous. This is why He has put thousands of promises in His Word — and He wants us to have them all! Here are a few which specifically mention satisfaction:

Psalm 91:16With long life will I satisfy him….
Psalm 103:5Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 107:9For He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness.

As much as the Lord wants to give us things we desire, finding satisfaction in Him needs to come first. He knows the longings of our heart. He is keenly aware of the difficult places we are in, with no relief in sight, and He is compassionate toward us concerning them. But He wants to give us light, peace, joy — even contentment — in the middle of our situation, as we learn to know Him as the God Who Satisfies.

The apostle Paul understood this truth. He told Timothy, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). In Philippians 4:11, he said, “I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know both how to be abased and how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Notice that he had to learn it. It was a process for Paul.

It was a learning process for Abraham as well. Putting our satisfaction first in God does not come naturally to us. In Genesis 15:1, God approached him with this wonderful statement: “I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward.” Abraham didn’t even respond to that. He headed immediately into, “But, what will You give me, seeing I am childless …?” (v. 2).

Abraham did not at that point value intimate relationship with the Lord as much as he would later on. Yet, God was gracious toward his mindset and entered into a marvelous covenant with him. However, He also took Abraham through years of getting to know Him before the promised son arrived. In the meantime, Abraham matured to where God honored him by calling him “the Friend of God” (James 2:23; Isaiah 41:8). Becoming the friend — learning to be satisfied in the Lord — came before the other desire was fulfilled.

One of the highest honors we could ever hold is being thought of by God as His friend. There are varying levels of this. We can be a friend among many friends, who are loved and yet not particularly close to Him. Or, we can be the type of friend Abraham became — near to God’s heart, putting Him above our wants. This is the intimate friendship reserved for those who have learned to pursue Him as our deepest, most abiding satisfaction. When we do that, peace and joy rest inside us in the greatest measure possible. “All these things shall be added unto you” becomes the by-product rather than the goal (Matthew 6:33).

If you are feeling discontented or unfulfilled in some area of your life, I encourage you to ask the Lord to reveal Himself as the God Who Satisfies. He will not disappoint you, and you may be amazed at how much rosier life looks, even in the midst of your present circumstances.

Bible study

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
(A Bible study for adults)

 

names of God

 

 

The Names of God,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Getting to the Truth — The Holy Spirit and You (Part 1)

But when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth  — John 16:13

I love John, Chapters 14 and 16, where Jesus tells us about the Holy Spirit, Who has now come to live in the heart of every believer. In Old Testament times, the prophets experienced the indwelling of the Spirit (1 Peter 1:11), but the rest of God’s people did not. They depended on the prophets to give them the Word of the Lord. How different it is today, when every believer can hear God personally and sense His Presence within. What a blessing!

The Spirit is our ever-present friend, comforter, guide, and teacher. He continually points us to Jesus. We can come to know Him even more deeply through the Baptism in the Spirit, which is not an end in itself, but an entrance into a satisfying adventure of intimate fellowship and partnership with Him.

I so appreciate knowing Him as the Spirit of Truth. I frequently pray that He will expose portions of my thinking which are not in alignment with truth. I pray this often for my loved ones as well — especially if I see areas of their thinking, speaking, or actions which don’t line up with God’s heart.

It could be a self image issue which needs to change — because, unfortunately, we tend to believe negative things about ourselves due to past hurts, unkind words which have been spoken to us, or lies that spirits of darkness have injected into our minds. It could be a perception of God’s nature which needs to change (again because people say wrong things which take root, or because the devil whispers slanderous thoughts to us about the Lord). Often, deception enters in through all the stuff we encounter in everyday life in a sinful, God-opposed world.

Sometimes the Spirit needs to correct doctrinal error in us — teachings which are generally believed and taken for granted within our particular church circles. We have a habit of passing around various ideas which become accepted over time because we hear them so often. If a prominent pastor or teacher says something, pretty soon other pastors and teachers are also saying the same thing. After we hear the same idea from several different sources, we start believing it as gospel truth. Sometimes it isn’t, and it takes the Holy Spirit ministering His truth to us to reveal that and reorder our thinking.

Generally, He guides us away from error and into truth by making a particular Bible verse stand out to us. Suddenly, the light bulb goes on that the Bible doesn’t really say what we were told for so many years that it said!

He may also use a solid Bible teacher to point out truths we had never seen in the Word before — but it is up to us to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11. They received the apostles’ teaching eagerly, but also searched the Scriptures to make sure what they were being told was really so!

The Spirit also guides us into truth by prompting us in our spirit that some idea we’ve been harboring isn’t quite right. He may cause us to feel uneasy about something we hear said. We must listen to these subtle warnings and not dismiss them just because our rational minds can’t identify any problem. The Spirit knows what we cannot discern through our natural senses.

The Holy Spirit’s work of bringing us into truth is a lifelong process. We rise to ever-greater truth as we fellowship with Him in prayer and the Scriptures, until that day when we are with the Lord and all darkness is purged from us. The Spirit is continually cleaning up error in us and enlightening us to real truth. Deception comes off in layers. Sometimes we inadvertently allow new layers of it to become attached to us, so He patiently removes those as well.

I believe one of the best ways we can accelerate the work of truth in our lives is by actively inviting the Spirit of Truth to guide us into all truth. James 4:2 tells us, “You have not, because you ask not” — so let’s ask! Then we stay open-hearted to Him and let Him do what we’ve invited Him to do.

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). All thanks and praise to Him for sending the precious Holy Spirit to us, so that we can experience the reality of this promise!

Do you have thoughts or a testimony on how the Spirit is guiding you into all truth? Perhaps you would like to share by leaving a comment.

understanding Holy Spirit

 

For more on the work of the Holy Spirit, see Lee Ann’s book, Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God.

 

Becoming the Ark of His Covenant

Ark of the Covenant replicaRecently I spent some time meditating on the Ark of the Covenant and its significance to New Testament believers. It is also referred to as the Ark of Promise, the Ark of Agreement, the Ark of His Presence, and the Ark of Testimony.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the Ark, it was the symbol and manifestation of God’s Presence among His people Israel in Old Testament times. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies to apply blood from an animal sacrifice to the mercy seat which covered the Ark, thereby covering the sins of the people from God’s sight by that blood for another year (Exodus 25:10-22 and Leviticus 16).

The tabernacle (later, the temple) and the Ark of the Covenant within it were earthly patterns of a temple which exists in heaven. Hebrews 9:1-10:22 tells us that Jesus, the High Priest of the New Covenant, entered the Holy of Holies in the heavenly temple and sprinkled His own blood upon the mercy seat there, so that our sins are forever atoned for and never need another sacrifice made for them.

Today, we who believe on Jesus are living temples of His Presence, fully washed in Jesus’ blood, with the Holy Spirit continually abiding in us, as God’s Presence once abode, via the Ark, in the physical tabernacle / temple of old.

As I thought on these things, I prayed, “Lord, make me an ark of Your covenant, an ark of Your Presence. Let the covenant provisions, which I have with You through Jesus’ blood, be visible to others, so that I am also an ark of testimony to Your goodness.”

I realized that when we petition God for healing or any other provision of our covenant with Him, it’s not about getting Him to agree with us for it. No, we are to agree with HIM for what He has already said He will do for us.

The shift in how we pray and believe is tremendous. When we feel we must get Him to agree with us, we try to twist His arm to do what we want, and we’re never quite sure we’ll succeed in persuading Him. But when we say, “Lord, I agree with You for the healing (or other provision) You have already promised to me in Your covenant,” we are coming into unity with Him. We don’t have to convince Him; He’s already there waiting for us to ask.

What has God given us as part of our New Testament covenant with Him? Any promise God made in His Word is included. Salvation, deliverance, healing, protection, financial provision, peace, joy, and wisdom are just a few. It’s time we inform ourselves of what is in the contract! Partaking of the covenant provisions is honoring to the Lord. When they become our daily reality, we are a living testimony of His goodness to the unsaved people around us.

So Lord, give me ever-increasing understanding of how to live as an ark of Your covenant. Make me an ark of agreement with You, a living ark of Your Presence, and an ark of testimony to the world around me, so that they will be drawn to You.

Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman's Guide to the Nature of God

 

Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Strange Alliances

While in prayer recently, I received a warning for the Church:

Beware of strange alliances.

Typically, this is how strange alliances play out:

You become disgruntled about something happening in your local church — perhaps a policy the leadership puts in place. Suddenly, people whom you never quite liked or trusted before start looking pretty good. It’s not because you have developed a new, Christ-like love for them or they have dramatically changed. No, it’s because they are unhappy about the same things you are. You start to form friendships with them, based upon your common ground of disagreement with church leadership. The qualms you had about them are suddenly wiped away, but for the wrong reason: you have become allied in division.

I am not talking about disagreement over core doctrines. It’s usually about procedures, preferences, or approaches. To the person not caught up in the controversy, the concern over the issue seems trivial or illogical; yet it seems entirely logical and vastly important to those falling into the trap. It is the stuff of which church splits are made.

If someone mentions a gripe they have about how things are done, and it is the same thing troubling you, do not be deceived into believing it is “confirmation.” Whether the complaint is valid or not, it is the devil’s snare — the spirit of division attempting to draw you into an unholy alliance in order to tear apart what God desires to hold together.

What should we do if we are tempted with such a situation?

1.) If people start approaching you to confide their unhappiness about whoever and whatever is already your own area of discontent, run! The devil deliberately brings people across our paths to ensnare us into taking part in dividing the Body of Christ. Don’t fall for it.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Now I implore you, brethren, take notice of those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them” (Romans 16:17). While Paul was speaking particularly of doctrinal divisions, it’s a good principle to apply on lesser issues as well. Proverbs 6:12-19 speaks of behavior which God hates. Twice, those verses mention sowing discord as one such abomination.

2.) If you have a gripe, don’t talk about it with others. Do not be the enemy’s instrument of division. Proverbs 26:20 observes, “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out: so, where there is no talebearer, the strife ceases.”

3.) Instead, take the matter to God and pray it through until the circumstances you are concerned about change (if they even need to), or until you change. If you harbor little love for the ones you disagree with, the most important change which needs to happen is in you.

It goes beyond the church.

Forming unholy alliances is not limited to the local church, of course. Intrigues and power plays go on in all circles of life, large and small, from the workplace or family right up to national and international alliances. As believers, we must avoid them wherever they arise.

Joining with nonbelievers in social justice causes is one area to be wary of. While some seem noble on the surface, they can end up being perverted due to the flawed motives or beliefs of those involved.

When considering whether to invest our energies in working side by side in these causes with those who do not know Jesus, it is wise to keep in mind the apostle Paul’s warning in 2 Corinthians 6:14, 15: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship does righteousness have with unrighteousness? And what communion does light have with darkness? And what agreement does Christ have with Belial [the spirit of rebelliousness and lawlessness]? Or what part has he who believes with an infidel?”

While this does not mean that we can never work together with secular-minded people for a common good, it does mean we should proceed with caution, our spiritual ears sensitive to warnings from the Holy Spirit.

In summary, any alliances which would produce discord and strife, or would compromise our agreement with God and His principles, should be avoided. Such alliances raise red flags by how unlikely they would normally be, if we were to examine them objectively. Whether in our church relationships or in other arenas of life, we must stay spiritually attuned to the Holy Spirit, so that we can discern the tug of these attractions quickly and flee from them.

 

 

Yes, You CAN Be an Intercessor! (CD or mp3 set),
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

 

Growing in the Prophetic (CD or mp3 set),
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

The Merciful Discerner

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. — Matthew 5:7

For those of us who are keen in discernment, there is a weakness we particularly struggle with: criticalness. Show me a person who is gifted in discernment, and I’ll show you a person prone to being critical.

Why is this the case? Criticalness is the soulish side of discernment. When God made mankind in His own image (Genesis 1:26), He made us perfect, like unto His nature. Each human being since Adam and Eve has been uniquely crafted by the Lord, with particular personality and ability strengths which reflect a small piece of Who He is. And what a wonderful variety we are, all intended to complement and balance each other.

But, due to man’s fall into sin back in the Garden of Eden, the image of God in each of us was marred. The good news for believers is, through Jesus our Redeemer, God is progressively bringing us back into His own image. Still, in the process, sometimes we exhibit the old marred nature, and thus it is with criticalness and discernment.

The difference between discernment and criticalness does not rest in what we see: it’s in what we do with it. We must learn to divide between being aware of the faults of others (which is not wrong in itself) and where our minds go with that information. A critical person tends to be frequently suspicious of the motives of others, thinking that he or she is receiving discernment from the Lord. Criticalness makes unholy assumptions and judgments, often based on one’s own faults or inner hurts.

One of the areas where criticalness often rears its head is in the realm of doctrinal beliefs. Those who are well-grounded in the Bible are the most prone to this. We may feel very solid in our understanding of certain theological points, and when we come into contact with people who have a different viewpoint, or a blind spot, we then think poorly of them, perhaps writing them off entirely.

Most of the time, what is such an important issue to us is not a core doctrine of the faith. It’s just a small piece of how we’re working out our Christian walk — but we make it into a very big deal. For instance, my husband and I have encountered a few people who had such narrow views of how healing ministry should be done that they would no longer fellowship with people who did not believe exactly as they did or who were not as strong in their faith.

The apostle Paul talked about criticalness over minor theological matters in Romans 14:1-4. He was speaking into a controversy about whether to eat meat or not, because there was a possibility it had been sacrificed to false gods before showing up in the public meat market. But the principle can be applied broadly by us today:

Accept him who is weak in the faith, but not to arguing over opinions. For one believes that he may eat all things. Another, who is weak, eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat. And he who does not eat should not judge him who eats, for God has received him. Who are you to judge another man’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Yes, he shall be held up: for God is able to make him stand.

Can we trust God to work maturity in our brothers and sisters, and let Him decide when and how to work on their foibles — even their beliefs which don’t line up with ours to a tee? “Yes, he shall be held up: for God is able to make him stand.”

As we mature in the things of the Spirit, we should find that our discernment is increasingly coupled with compassion, mercy, and patience. That is the heart of God evidencing in us. We must guard ourselves against pride, for Paul warned, “Knowledge puffs up, but charitable love builds up. And if any man thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Corinthians 8:2). He also said, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…” (Romans 12:3).

We’ve all got a long journey ahead of us before we reach perfection. Let’s give each other a break.

I’ve written another article on criticalness versus discernment, which contains a list of questions to help us determine whether we are operating in discernment from the Spirit or merely criticalness of the soul. I hope you will find that post helpful.