Mary Cantell

Sealed with more than a kiss

There are many spirits in the world though only one of them is holy. When Apostle Paul spoke to the Corinthians, he made a point to encourage them that the Holy Spirit is what now unites all of the believers whether Jew or Gentile. Unfortunately, the Corinthians thought that with the benefits from the power of the Holy Spirit, they would no longer have to suffer and would have an easy ride. They did not realize that God’s promises extended far beyond the day-to-day temporal existence and would be fully realized at Christ’s second coming.

What God gives to Christians is not the immediate benefit of these promises but the guarantee, or proof, of them. That guarantee is God’s Holy Spirit, who is working in the life of every Christian.  It is by the workings of the Holy Spirit that when we suffer, we lean on the power of the Lord for comfort. Suffering is there to prove God’s mercy in that we can rely on him for all of our needs.

When we sign a check or a contract, there is often nothing immediately seen; however, the law of the transaction and payment is certain. So God’s Holy Spirit proves that a person has the benefit of what God has promised.

Apostle Paul describes the Holy Spirit’s work in four ways: It establishes believers in their relationship with Christ; anoints or covers us; seals us to mark that we belong to him; and is a guarantee of God’s promises.

Surrendering to win

In a world where the word surrender chafes the secular world view as one who’s not a winner or who lazily gives in to the enemy; in God’s economy, it means quite the opposite. Surrendering to the Lord is an act of the mind where we let go of ourselves and yield to the Almighty. It’s putting our faith and trust in Him alone and obeying what we know is right to do through his Word and the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

The world tells us we’re crazy or not using our heads when we put all of our faith into something we cannot see. While they struggle to be strong in their own flesh… we, as children of God, choose not to take over for the Lord but to let him have complete reign—of our hearts and minds as we serve out our days on earth.

The most telling example of surrender is Jesus, himself, who on the night before his crucifixion, prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane… “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:42.

The word of God tells us to worship the Lord “in spirit and in truth” – John 4:24. May our hearts and minds be surrendered as we recognize the truth about who He is and give Him the honor, glory, and devotion He deserves.

Why are we here?

The sun seeps through the edge of the curtains and we lift an eye to greet the morning.  With thanksgiving in our hearts and praise on our lips, we thank God for protection through the night and his grace in granting us another day. Sometimes, a stray question crosses our mind:  What’s my purpose for today?

Among all of the souls on this great spinning rock called Earth, many have no idea why they’re here. It’s a mystery. They set their minds on earthly pursuits and basically go about to fulfill them. Often times, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and pride of life are at the forefront of their daily goals. Before Christ or even as babes in Christ, this, too, may have been our quest. Though, in God’s word, we see our purpose for being on this planet is pretty singular. Our purpose is to honor and to make Him known.

“For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Cor. 6:20

Through God’s holy word, we learn we are created to be part of God’s family. We are established to have a relationship with the King of Kings. We are given life not to glorify ourselves or seek our own but rather to give honor to the Lord. This is a lifelong script that we follow throughout our days through our sanctification… each of us learning and growing in the Lord as we are led.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12)

Of course, the Lord doesn’t need anything from us. We don’t need to ask him what can I do for you, Lord? The answer would be nothing. There’s nothing we can do for the Lord. Our job is to be his hands and feet in sharing and teaching others about him, to love others, to seek his face in fellowship, to study his word, and to repentantly ask for strength and guidance as he gently molds us into the image of his son.

Whatever the question about our purpose on earth is, the answer can be found in Him.

Fighting the Good Fight

Where’s your battleground these days? Is it mental, physical, or emotional? Amid the tumult of political, cultural, and personal wars, it all boils down to the battle between good and evil. Wherever the storms of life toss you, there is no struggle that should overtake you as a Christian because all of them have already been won in Christ.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Apostle Paul instructed Timothy that his business was to be a soldier for the Lord by faith and to continue fighting “the good fight”—to defend the gospel and to thwart Satan and those who did not regard the gospel above the law as did the false teachers. By using the sword of the spirit and the belt of truth, we can be mighty in our pursuit to overcome the enemy, particularly when we are wearing the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, and our feet covered with the “preparation of the gospel of peace.”

Using the strength of the Lord is the only way to win a battle. Artful words can make some good points, but ultimately it’s by his spirit that hearts are changed. Those who engage in battles for the Lord are sure of victory. By his grace, the gift of the crown of life, righteousness, glory, and exultation along with the Wreath Imperishable will be ours in heaven. We will always win when we put on Christ because God already fought the ultimate battle—and won. What more victory do we need?

Rebuilding our lives

After the Babylonian exile when Nehemiah took a look at the destruction that had befallen Judah, the sight of the brokenness stirred him to action. People, too, may have figurative walls in their lives that may also need repair. That is where Jesus can come in and build up all of the brokenness. Of course, the enemy will be the first one at the door saying, like the Jews did, “but we’ve lived this way for so long now, why not just let it be? It’s impossible to restore such a sad state.”

Proverbs 25:28 says, “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”

Many lives are like a city with broken walls in major need of repair. God desperately wants to change them. As a servant of God, Nehemiah focused on what he needed to do. Our spiritual enemies have no recourse to foil our plans when we are committed to what we know to be God’s will for our lives.

 

Unshakable faith

In the midst of a sin-filled world where evil never rests, there’s no greater joy than knowing the Lord is on the throne. Holding onto the rock of our salvation is the only fortress against the battles. When we cling to our Lord and Savior, there is nothing else to fear for we are in capable hands. What can mere man do to remove us from the arms of Jesus?  When the storms of life hit and when we feel helpless in the onslaught, keeping our faith strong in the Lord through meditation and prayer is our only defense. Our hope remains steadfast as we dwell in Him and his word.

In the Psalms, David waits upon the Lord and places his faith solely in the Lord to be his security and trusts in God through everything, including the face of his enemies. They come in all shapes—both visible and invisible—and these enemies are helpless to fulfill their objectives when God is at the helm.  God sees all and his arms are not too short to reach down and protect us.

To be silent before God and to wait on Him… to hear his still small voice is to empty ourselves of worldly chatter and disturbance. To allow our creator to take prominence in our hearts and minds, as we silence all of the noise, is a sure balm to our souls and the opportunity to witness His grace. In a world where so many man-made cure-alls are at our disposal, the first place we should run for help is to the beckoning arms of Jesus, our prescription for life.

Happy Birthday, America!

When we consider all that went into the founding of our nation—the struggles, the battles—the historical accounts are incredible. Our nation is blessed. We are unique. We have the freedom to worship as we desire in America, while there are many nations who don’t have this opportunity. The hard won separation from a tyrannical king through the efforts of so many did not come easy. But are we truly free in America?

Yes, we have freedom in that we don’t have slaves today in the traditional sense, but man is still under the bondage of sin. If we do not have the Holy Spirit to guide us, we will ultimately be slaves to our own fallible nature.

“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” – John 8:31-32

It’s easy to be led away by our own devices and become enslaved to that which controls our flesh. Through the finished work of Jesus on the cross, we have a choice of which master we will serve.

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15

We may be free in the USA, but we are only truly free to enjoy our liberty by the saving grace of Jesus. As we remain under his care and protection while passing through the muck and mire of the world, we are blessed to have everything we need in Him.

“…where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” – 2 Cor. 3:17

 

A fount of limitless love

There are no yardsticks in Heaven. Though we cannot fathom the Lord’s mind as He is too far above us to even contemplate, His word tells us the truth: His love knows no bounds.

Unlike worldly love that ebbs and wanes at its own discretion, God’s love is an unlimited source that wells up from His true nature. God is love.

In times of fear or uncertainty, it should be comforting to know that God is right by our side. If we are abiding in Christ, there is nothing to fear because we are held in the palm of God’s hand. We are as close as marrow is to bone.

It’s a marvelous mystery how much God loves us. The unfathomable depth of His love began in the Garden with the first murder of an animal and the skin was used to clothe Adam and Eve. Why did God do that? Even outside the Garden, while his fellowship had been broken, His love remained. It continued so much that He eventually sent his son to redeem mankind from his own sin.

Now, Christ sits at the right hand of God after making the ultimate sacrifice. Those who’ve put their trust in Him should no longer have any fears, worries, or doubts about the Lord’s love for us or His plans and provisions for our lives. Whether there’s famine, peril, nakedness, or sword, there’s nothing—at all—imaginable that can come between the Lord and His redeemed.

“…nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” –  Romans 8:39

 

 

 

 

 

21st century world

While we are all looking for the next big solution and want a mere man to solve all of the world’s problems, it can’t be done by man alone. This is a broken world. What we should focus on is on the one who CAN fix this. And that is Messiah Jesus who came to restore man to the Father God. Our hope should lie above, not in this world but in the One who created us in His image.

We can bark and scream at the situations that befall a sinful world (as well as towards each other) and, frankly, our word fights aren’t going to solve anything but divide us all further. We become shrill activists claiming to be above the fray when we, too, are imperfect and don’t do anything but point fingers and lay blame.

Putting our trust in man or leaders–these are all fallen people.
Donald Trump is a flawed man just like the rest of us. With all of his warts and shortcomings, he took on this job, neglecting to take a salary, and is doing his best with the advisers he has in his council. Please give him a chance. When he fails, ask God to give him wisdom. Our hope should be in the Lord. Perhaps then, we all wouldn’t be so unsettled about things.

 

Love in a broken world

The marvelous mystery of God’s love for his creatures is beyond amazing. Even out of the Garden of Eden, when his covenant with Adam and Eve became broken, his love followed them–and to us today.

Our Lord, the infinite God and creator of the universe, is desirous to have a relationship with each of us and sent His beloved son to pave the way for that union.

Some would say that Jesus only died for a designated few and not for all. On the other hand, the Bible clearly speaks to the outward grief of Jesus as well as the Apostle Paul toward the lost and unbelieving. Through God’s grace, salvation has appeared “to all men” (Titus 2:11). Jesus is the Lamb of God who “takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2). Truly, God is not willing for “any to perish” (2 Peter 3:9).

God’s love extends to the entire world and He wants all to be saved, but He will force no one to yield to His plan. He knows not everyone will believe nor seek to accept his Son and the riches of His glory, but the invitation is open for all to receive.

Our great father in heaven is all about giving. He gave His only begotten Son, who, in turn, gave His life, in order that we may have abundant life—in Him.

In our finite minds, we attempt to comprehend the depth of an infinite God whose ways are not our ways. To fathom the depth of His love will likely take an eternity. And for all who have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus, we will have that opportunity.