Who Exactly are the Children of God?

 So, I’m sitting in a Bible study the other day with a bunch of people that I don’t know all that well, yet. And one woman declared, “We are all children of God. Every person has been created by Him.” Is she correct, or not? Who are the children of God?

It’s absolutely true that every person who’s ever lived was created in the image of God. We’re told that very thing in the first chapter of the Bible (Genesis 1:27 in case you’re interested). But does that mean that all eight or so billion of us (plus all those who’ve gone before) are children of God?

That’s certainly what the world would have us think. After all, God is a loving God, Jesus loved and accepted all people. Of course we’re all children of God! It doesn’t matter how you get to Him – and there are many different ways, many different religions, many different understandings – He’ll accept you just the way you are, no matter how you believe. That’s the world’s take on a loving God. But what’s His take?

John 1:11,12 Jesus came to the world that was his own. And his own people did not accept him. But some people did accept him. They believed in him, and he gave them the right to become children of God.

It’s a sharp contrast, isn’t it, between those who rejected Jesus and those who believed in Him? I imagine that Jesus back there in the first century, the radical, subversive Jesus who upset the religious hierarchy, wasn’t all that easy to believe in.

So far as I can see, that’s still the case. He calls us to go against the flow in this world. But to those who believe in Him, He gives the right to become children of God.

So the question for each one of us is this: am I a child of God?

That’s His Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Berni Dymet

The Deepest Recesses of Your Soul

 When things go wrong in our lives, I mean badly wrong, one of our most common reactions is to blame others. It’s everybody else’s fault, perhaps even God’s, certainly not mine!


Perhaps we chuckle at that, but only because we know it’s true. Only because we’ve been in that place, time and time again. If we looked at our circumstances in the cold, hard light of day, if we examined the factors that contributed to something going badly wrong in a forensic, objective fashion, more often than not we’d have to conclude that we ourselves contributed, at least in part, to whatever it was that went wrong.

But we don’t do that. We prefer not to own up. We’d rather blame the rest of the world than take responsibility for ourselves. And the more we do that, the more we live in that darkness, the more our souls succumb to being a victim, rather than living life in victory, no matter what the world throws at us. Enter Jesus:

John 1:4,5 In him there was life, and that life was a light for the people of the world. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not defeated it.

When we’re living in the darkness of self-delusion (let’s call it for what it is) what we need is someone to shine a light into that place. What we need when our vision is clouded by a life mired in sin, is the freedom that comes from seeing things clearly, just as they are.

That’s why Jesus came, not just to shine light into the darkness out there, but to shine His light into the darkest recesses of our soul with one purpose and one purpose alone. To give us life, His life, in all its abundance.

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Berni Dymet

There’s More Going on than Meets the Eye

 Can I ask you today to think about the last time that evil raised its ugly head in your life? Perhaps it was something that you did to someone else or the other way around. Some conflict, some injustice, some betrayal. Have you ever stood back and asked yourself, what was actually going on there?

We sometimes do things, bad things, that after the event, we’re at a complete loss to explain. What was I thinking? Why did I do that? Or you experience a gross injustice or perhaps see it perpetrated on others, and you’re left wondering … Really? Did that just happen? How in the blazes…? And the reason for that inability to explain the evil that we or others perpetrate, is that there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye, because …

Ephesians 6:12 Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places.

In other words, there’s a spiritual dimension to evil that we ignore at our own peril. It’s why Jesus taught His disciples to pray: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:13)

That prayer for God’s protection against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places is one of the most powerful prayers that we can ever pray; one that you and I need to be praying a whole lot more.

And when others perpetrate evil against us, remember it’s exactly the same deal. Our battle isn’t against those people, but against the spiritual forces of evil that sit behind their actions.

Look, I’m not one of these people who goes looking for demons under every bed and sofa. But at the same time, you and I need to see evil for what it is, and pray powerfully against it.

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Berni Dymet

What A Blessing

 


This Season






May this season be one of great attention to the things of God.
 
May this season hold the miraculous where you aren't expecting to see it.
 
May you encounter bits of heaven hiding all over the earth.
 
May you feel the love of God surrounding you in all you do.
HB

Free from the Power of Darkness

 As darkness creeps across the globe, as this shroud of abject evil covers the hearts of men and women, even children, in a way that it’s never done before many of God’s own people are being lured by it, seduced by it in a terrible way.

As the devil becomes ever more emboldened in these last days, as evil becomes more and more the norm, the easiest thing for us to do is to give in to the creeping darkness, to acquiesce, even to become part of it.

After all, when the cause seems lost, you know what they say, if you can’t beat them, join them. But as Jesus was praying in Gethsemane just before His arrest, He said to His Father in Heaven about the likes of thee and me:

John 17:15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world. But I am asking that you keep them safe from the Evil One.

And with a Jesus-prayer like that over your life and mine, the truth is that however dark today’s darkness may appear, all is not lost. And here, on the other side of that Cross and the empty tomb from when He prayed that prayer, we know this:

Colossians 3:13,14 God made us free from the power of darkness. And he brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son. The Son paid the price to make us free. In him we have forgiveness of our sins.

So, though we are in the world, we are not of the world. Though we are immersed in this creeping darkness that threatens to overcome the world, you, me, anyone else who believes in Jesus, we are free from the power of darkness because Jesus died and rose again, for us.

Don’t acquiesce. Don’t become, once more, part of the darkness. You are free.

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Berni Dymet

Do The Next Thing

 


The Times When Darkness Rules

 There’s simply no doubt that we live in a world of creeping darkness. More and more, abject evil seems to be enveloping this world. It’s a reality that leaves many of God’s people shocked, despondent even. What the blazes, God, is going on here?

Where I live, the government recently enacted legislation to allow the abortion of an unborn child up to birth. And the thing that truly rocked me to the core was not just that this monstrous act is allowed in a civilised, democratic country, but that the genocide of unborn children has been applauded and celebrated as a fundamental human right.

God, how can you let this happen? Why didn’t you stop them?

And yet the worst thing I can ever do as a Christ-follower, the worst thing you can do if you’re one too, is to descend into despondency. Had we been amongst the disciples with Jesus in Gethsemane when He was arrested, that same sense of hopelessness may have set in. But listen to what HE had to say:

Luke 22:52,53 “Why did you come out here with swords and clubs? Do you think I am a criminal? I was with you every day in the Temple area. Why didn’t you try to arrest me there? But this is your time—the time when darkness rules.”

There was indeed a time for God’s own Son to be betrayed and crucified. There was a time for darkness to rule. But out of that great darkness, came a great light, for Christ is risen and the doors of heaven are flung open to all who believe.

Yes, we live in a time where darkness rules. But Jesus is coming. In fact, by His Spirit in you and through you, He is already here. So let your light shine amidst the darkness, for the darkness will never overcome it. 

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Berni Dymet

When You Do Trust in God

 It’s possible to believe that Jesus died and rose again for us, but not trust in God amidst the cut and thrust of life. So how do you trust in God when you’re between a rock and a hard place?

Yesterday we saw what happens to those who trust in human strength rather than God during life’s difficult times. And the picture ain’t pretty:

Jeremiah 7:6 They are like a bush in a desert where no one lives. It is in a hot and dry land. It is in bad soil. That bush does not know about the good things that God can give.

That’s not a place that any of us wants to be.

Jeremiah 7:7,8 But those who trust in the LORD will be blessed. They know that the LORD will do what he says. They will be strong like trees planted near a stream that send out roots to the water. They have nothing to fear when the days get hot. Their leaves are always green. They never worry, even in a year that has no rain. They always produce fruit.

Who doesn’t want to be like that tree planted by streams of living water, always fresh and green and producing fruit, even during a drought?

But being told to trust in the Lord, well, we’ve all been told that! But when the rains fail the real question is – how do you trust in Him? Well, the answer’s right there in verse seven: know that the LORD will do what he says.

Fact: we live in a fallen world, we all get sick and unless the Lord returns first we’re all going to die. But God is not a liar. You can be confident that He will always do what He says.

That’s why those who trust in the Lord will be blessed!

That’s His Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Berni Dymet

Truly Happy

 


Be A Blessing~

 


November 5~ National Redhead Day

 


What Are Idols of the Heart?

Ezekiel 13 & 14:

The Idols Behind their Idolatry

During Ezekiel’s time, the worship of false gods and goddesses was taking place at the highest levels, even inside the temple itself (Ezek. 8.3-17). What would cause God’s chosen people to cast aside the worship of the one true God for the worship of idols?

Let’s take a look at the first few verses of chapter 14:

Then some elders of Israel came to me and sat down before me. And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all?

Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols, in order to lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel who are estranged from Me through all their idols.”’

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations” (14.1-6 NASB)

God told the prophet to warn the people that they had “idols in their hearts.” When we think of idolatry, we usually think of some false god or statue to which we bow down. Why did God address the idols of the heart instead of their outward idolatry?

Out of the Heart

In Matthew 15.19, Jesus said:

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

And Proverbs 4.23 says:

Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.

Like everything else, idolatry doesn’t start with outward actions, there are things going on in the heart long before. James explained it this way:

But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death (Jas. 1.14-15).

What might have enticed the Israelites into idolatry? What desires gave birth to sin?

The Appeal of Idolatry

On the Gospel Coalition website, Kevin DeYoung lists nine reasons why idolatry was so appealing to the ancient Israelites. Among them was the fact that it required little of them:

Sure, you need to show up and offer your sacrifice, but ancient religion demanded little in the way of ethical standards or personal sacrifice. To be a good Canaanite, you didn’t have to follow an elaborate moral code. You just had to put the meat on the altar.

It offered a party atmosphere:

Meat was a relative rarity in the ancient world. Not everyone had herds that they could sacrifice, so meat was often eaten only as a part of ritual worship. You would offer your meal, and in some cases your drink, to the god and then enjoy the feast yourself. As a result, worship took on a party atmosphere, filled with gluttony and drunkenness.

It offered sexual pleasure:

During ritual worship it was believed that if worshipers took the parts of Baal and Asherah (for example) and had sex, it would stimulate the deities in heaven to have sex. And when the gods and goddesses had sex, it meant procreation, which meant earthly blessings like fertility, rain, health, and good harvests. This is why prostitution became common at religious sites and why God rebuked Israel for adopting the same practice with both heterosexual and homosexual temple prostitutes.

In contrast, what God required was not easy. The God of the Bible required them and us to obey His moral laws, to be holy as He is holy.

Our Own Idols of the Heart

An idol can be anything we want more than God Himself. It can be something that consumes our lives and pushes God out of His rightful place (a job, a goal, a hobby, a desire). It’s what we trust in to bring us pleasure, satisfaction, rescue, or escape (food, alcohol, drugs, sex). It’s anything we want more than pleasing God with our lives (a spouse, a nice home, a new car, money in the bank).

Even a good thing, like having a godly husband or obedient children, can become an idol. If we’re willing to sin to get it (nagging, criticizing …) or sin because we don’t have it (withholding affection …), that thing—whether good or bad—has become an idol (Jas. 4.1-4).

The underlying idols of the heart that drive us may be a desire for pleasure, ease, escape, control, power, respect, or accomplishment, among other things. And each of them may play out in many different ways.

When we’re harsh and unloving, we may crave power, respect, control or accomplishment. If we have sex outside of marriage, we may be worshiping pleasure, power, or control. When we walk away from a marriage, we may want ease, escape, respect or something else. Whatever it is, it’s more important than pleasing God.

Blinded by Our Idols

Ezekiel 14.3 says they had “put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity.” They were blinded by their own idols. When something is right in front of your face—you can’t see anything else.

What controls your thinking and behavior? What are you living for? What do you think is the one thing that will make you happy? What are your “if only’s” (a husband, a better job …) or “I must’s” (I must have obedient children, respect, control in my life …)? What are the things you think about constantly or want that others have? What blinds you to the truth and the blessings you have?

If you never get that thing you want, would you still love, worship and serve God and trust in His goodness?

If you realize there’s something you have been wanting too much, something that has become an idol in your heart, the answer is still the same; verse 6b says, “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Repent, turn away from your idols …’” and put your faith in Christ alone. He is enough!

If you’d like to read more about idols of the heart, you might enjoy Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone.



More and More Hope

 These times in which we live are turbulent times – on a global scale, across society and indeed at a personal level too. And no matter how you look at it, in turbulent times, “hope” is a commodity that’s invariably in short supply.

Back when the Apostle Paul was writing to the church in Rome, there was a lot of tension between Jewish and Gentile Christians. Add to that the brutality of Caesar’s reign and these were indeed turbulent.

Romans 15:13 I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace as you trust in him. Then you will have more and more hope, and it will flow out of you by the power of the Holy Spirit.

His prayer was that God’s hope would fill them with an abundance of joy and peace. And not just that, but more and more hope, so much hope that they wouldn’t be able to contain it. So much hope that it would overflow out of them by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The hope that Paul’s talking about here, is the sort that comes directly from God as a joyful and confident expectation in the Holy Spirit, not the flaky and uncertain “I hope things getter better soon” kind of hope that we sometimes try to conjure up out of nothing through positive thinking.

Would you like that sort of hope too, in these turbulent times? Why don’t you go to God today and ask Him for that sort of hope. Ask Him, according to His Word and by the power of the Holy Spirit to give you so much hope, to fill you with so much joy and peace, that you simply won’t be able to contain it. Ask Him.

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Berni Dymet

The Power to Save Your Soul

 To be sure, some of the things that God has to say are at the very least inconvenient and often downright offensive to our worldly sensibilities. So when you run into one of those passages in the Bible, how do you respond?

If only God would just let us toddle along on our own merry way, following our whims and desires and when needed, step in to give us a helping hand. If the truth be known, that’s often how we think. Perhaps not out loud, but certainly deep down. And then you run into a passage like this one:

James 1:21Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (NRSV)

He’s not mincing words with us here. Another way to read that would be moral filth and superabundant depravity. We all have that dark, sinful nature tucked away inside. And every now and then, when we’re put under pressure, it raises its ugly head and we’re left wondering, where did that come from?

Maybe you find that it happens again and again, almost as though you don’t have any control over it. Great! God’s telling me to put away all that filthiness and rampant wickedness, but how? Well, the “how” comes in the second part of the verse: receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your soul.

A powerful, transformative, life-changing transaction takes place when we receive the Word of God with an open, humble heart. Did you catch it? It saves our souls. It sets us free. It restores us back into the image of God in which we were created.

Those difficult, inconvenient, even offensive passages of Scripture have been put there by God to save your soul. Receive them in meekness.

That’s His Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Berni Dymet

Journey

 


Which Jesus Are You Following?

 Back when Jesus was walking the dusty roads of Israel, there were many others claiming to be the Messiah, sent by God to save Israel.

The question for the Jews, who were desperately waiting for the Messiah promised in the Scriptures was, which one to believe; which one to follow.

And in many respects, the same is true still today. Jesus had a lot of difficult things to say. Unpopular things. In John 6:66 we’re told that because of that, many stopped following Him.

These days those difficult things yes, sometimes elicit violent objections to the notion that Jesus is the One. Just ask any atheist, and there are plenty to ask. But that’s to be expected. What many of us don’t expect is that within God’s own family, there are those who’ve morphed Jesus into a far more … acceptable character.

As one commentator wrote, Even professing Christians sometimes reduce God to much less than he is. For many, Christ has become a pop Jesus who lies back with his headphones on, reading ‘Sports Illustrated’.

But even that is nothing new. Writes Paul to the 1st Century church …

2 Corinthians 11:3,4 But I am afraid that your minds will be led away from your true and pure following of Christ. This could happen just as Eve was tricked by that snake with his clever lies. You seem to be quite patient with anyone who comes to you and tells you about a Jesus that is different from the Jesus we told you about. You seem very willing to accept a spirit or a message that is different from the Spirit and message that you received from us.

So, which Jesus do you believe in? Which Jesus are you following?

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Berni Dymet

Our Wounds, Our Offering

by Marnie Hammar

by  | Oct 28, 2021 | The Love Offering Guest Blog Series

 It was on an out-and-about kind of day, filled with errands and meetings and school pickups, that the splinter wedged itself into my index finger. I couldn’t stop to dig it out, so I spent the day rebuking it. You, Mr. Evil Splinter, are not supposed to be here. 

This splinter isn’t unlike the deeper soul wounds I carry. This year has been an unwelcome parade of both physical and emotional wounds. Like the splinter, hurts are trying to insert themselves in places they don’t belong, casting shadows in my heart and mind, and threatening to seep into my words and drip from my actions. Hurt does unexpected things, doesn’t it? It confuses, numbs, paralyzes, angers. It crowds my capacity to love anyone well, including myself. I can’t love well from broken places. 

I think on that annoying splinter. Loving well asks more of me than simply acknowledging the splinter. I can’t heal by just knowing the wound is there. And these deeper wounds — these places where I don’t feel seen or heard, these places where I’ve been accused and rejected — require more than I am able to do. I can’t dig them out alone. 

 What if, when I feel least able to love well, my wounds can become a love offering?

 I’m finally learning that to love well, I have to let God love me deeper — and that means letting Him into all the places, including the most broken ones. He is teaching me that offering Him my deepest wounds is a foundation for loving well. May these three truths encourage you that, yes, opening our hands to present Him our wounds is, indeed, an offering. How does this work, to be broken, but still called to love well? 

 When we offer Him our broken places: 

 1 | He will meet the hurt.

 “I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed,” (Psalm 34:4-5, ESV).

 When we go to Him, we can say the hard things and ask the raw questions. He already knows. He already sees tucked in our hearts. Then we can pray that He reveals the lies and replaces them with His truth. The most healing step in offering Him the hurt is to pause, to listen and wait for Him to answer. Wait for Him to speak over it with His loving kindness. He sees the hurt. He feels it with us. He validates and soothes and calms and quiets with His whispers of truth.

 2 | He will restore our hearts.

 “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you,” (1 Peter 5:10, ESV).

 As we make the choice to lay down the hurts, we make space for new, good things. He, Himself, will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish our hearts, our souls, our minds. With hearts emptied of pain, there’s room for healing. We have the capacity to grasp His freedom. When we trust the Spirit to fill those places, we can show up in other places differently — more whole, more full, able to love better.

 3 | He will turn our wounds to love.

 “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him,” (1 John 4:16 ESV).

 Repeated over and over in scripture is the command to love Him with all our heart and soul and mind. He’s asked us — called us — to love Him. But I can only love Him if I abide in Him, because only God IS love. 

 God is the how. 

 He is how we love Him, even in our broken. He is how we love others, even when we hurt. He is how we love. 

 Friend, even when we feel least able to love well, we always have something to offer Him. When hurt inserts itself into places it doesn’t belong, and we’re struggling to love, He can transform our wounds into His perfect love.

Don’t Forget Who You Are

 I don’t know about you, but one of the things that I’ve noticed is that if we’re not careful, it’s incredibly easy to forget who we are. To, in effect, forget that when you believe in Jesus your identity brings you a world of blessing.

Recently my daughter, now in her early thirties, woke up with an incredibly sore back. She could barely move which, as the mother of a baby, was more than mildly problematic. No pain killers, nothing made a difference.

So I gave her the number of my chiropractor, but new patients often have to wait weeks for an appointment. So I told her, “Don’t forget to tell him who you are.” In other words, that you’re my daughter.

She had an appointment within hours. Her identity as my child made all the difference. It gave her access to a blessing that she simply wouldn’t have had without it. And the same is true of our identity – your identity – in Christ.

John 1:11-13 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. (NRSV)

I know that living your life for Christ is tough some days. I know how easy it is to wander off, to forget who you are and so, miss out on the blessings that come with your identity in Christ.

Listen up. If you have believed in His name, the name of Jesus who came to save you, then you are a child of the living God. You have a new identity that opens the door to untold blessings.

Never, ever forget who you are.

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Berni Dymet

How to Grow in Your Blessings

 Do you feel some days that your faith is under pressure? That people want to silence you, belittle you, tell you that a simple faith in Jesus is patently ridiculous? Well today, I have some good news for you.

It’s true. These days everyone seems intent on shutting us down, on telling us that the idea of humbly following Jesus has no place in a secular society. And so, many a Christ follower, is doing just that. Shutting down.

But let’s stop for a moment and just remember the incredible blessings that we have in Christ. Forgiveness of all our sins, reconciliation with God, a new life here on this earth, eternal life in His Presence. And …

2 Peter 1:5-8 Because you have these blessings, do all you can to add to your life these things: to your faith add goodness; to your goodness add knowledge; to your knowledge add self-control; to your self-control add patience; to your patience add devotion to God; to your devotion add kindness toward your brothers and sisters in Christ, and to this kindness add love. If all these things are in you and growing, you will never fail to be useful to God. You will produce the kind of fruit that should come from your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In other words, we’re meant to grow in our blessings in Christ, to be transformed from glory to glory, to bear fruit that’ll bless others.

Remember the incredible blessings that you have in Christ each and every day. Grow in them in the most incredible way. And let your response to this world that wants to shut you down, be a life transformed in Christ.

Don’t let the world shut you down. Pour His love out on them instead.

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Berni Dymet