New Music in the Making Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Daniel 2:22

"He reveals deep and hidden things. He knows what is in the darkness, and light resides with him."

I wanted to take a minute to write a personal note to you on my blog. When I first began this blogging journey, I did not want anyone to know my name. Hidden away with hurt and shame, I longed for healing and to help others who suffered as I did. By crying out to God myself for understanding, I wanted to serve you, my readers, with hope in the midst, and actually helped provide healing I so desperately needed, too. Sometimes it is in the darkest moments where there seems to be no hope, that we can really see. Sometimes an end is actually a beginning and death has to happen before new life can.

Trauma never makes sense and the timing of said trauma is never convenient. But then that is perhaps what makes it so traumatic – it was not what we expected and not at that time. The lessons learned in the severe flames or our deepest trials are burned into our souls for the rest of our days. The fruit of our pain can be a beautiful offering to those who might not have tasted of the same bitterness, or to those who know the surroundings well.

This is the purpose of this ministry – to see the deeper meaning of life's sorrows through God's word – through this blog and through music. Thank you very much for encouraging my heart by coming by to fellowship with me on this blog. If you have enjoyed this blog, then the music will I believe be an encouragement to you, as well. Stepping out to record music again after a 7-year break, I invite you to come visit my page at PledgeMusic and consider purchasing the music in advance to help fund the recording. To find out more, you can visit the Pledge Music tab on this blog website or visit this link:

Seeing deeper is a choice we make – to not be complacent and not dumb down our pain and instead cry out to God for meaning in the midst of our pain. May He encourage you today that he does still hold all the answers to our every doubt, sorrows and wonderings.

God Bless You –

All for Jesus,


posted by Denise Pass on 02/22/2015

The Real Golden Rule Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Psalm 111:7-10

His acts are characterized by faithfulness and justice; all his precepts are reliable. 8 they are forever firm, and should be faithfully and properly carried out. 9 He delivered His people; He ordained that His covenant be observed forever. His name is Holy and Awesome. 10 To obey the LORD is the fundamental principle for wise living; all who carry out His precepts acquire good moral insight. He will receive praise forever.

Our society has many anecdotes for how we ought to live. We are told that the golden rule - treating another person as you want him to treat you - is the main principle to live by. It is a fine principle, but not entirely biblical, in that the focus is on self and how you want to be treated. Biblically, we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves - the focus is on them. But here in the Psalms we see a very simple rule, given by God: obey Him!

So simple, and yet difficult to carry out. The constant battle with the flesh can make us want to give up, to become deceived that this principle of always walking in wisdom is impossible. It is in the obedience of God's precepts, however, that our eyes become opened and we can see. Herein is the mystery: we cannot gain this insight by just merely assenting or believing in God's precepts - we understand by doing it.

And what are we choosing to obey? Not principles or fads that change depending on what we feel, or upon humanistic ideals, no - it is on the reliable precepts of God Almighty. It is based upon the One Who has never failed - never sinned - the Perfect One, Who truly knows the best path we should take. He is trustworthy and faithful and His principles last forever. We can know this by His past deeds, by His Word and His promises for the future!

Go with God today. Go with His revealed Word and obey what He has revealed to you. Continue to seek Him and discover what other principles He has set for His people - not to confine you - but to establish healthy boundaries that will set you free and be a blessing to you. Walking in wisdom with our God is truly the most joyful life one can have.

Lord, I love You! How wise and Holy and awesome You are! Your precepts are life and I thank You for them! Help us to live for You and to walk in wisdom to bring You glory and to reach this lost world!

posted by Denise Pass - on 10/22/2014

The Fruit of an Apt Reply Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Luke 12:12, 17, 34, 37

12 Now they wanted to arrest him (but they feared the crowd), because they realized that he told this parable against them. So they left him and went away. 17 Then Jesus said to them, "Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were utterly amazed at him. 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered thoughtfully, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." Then no one dared any longer to question him. 37 If David himself calls him 'Lord,' how can he be his son?" And the large crowd was listening to him with delight.

2 Timothy 4:2

Preach the message, be ready whether it is convenient or not, reprove, rebuke, exhort with complete patience and instruction.

Proverbs 2:10

For wisdom will enter your heart, and moral knowledge will be attractive to you.

Our response when we hear truth, even when it hurts, shows the condition of our hearts. We can choose to ignore it and run away, we can stand in amazement or listen with delight, or be humbled and silent. I love the feeling I get when truth in God's word pierces my soul – it is a cleansing, a revealing that sets me free. It is not condemnation, but a sweet conviction or affirmation that heals my soul.

But what if no one had ever been willing to share truths with me that might hurt initially, but ultimately would liberate my soul? I thank God for people who loved me enough to share a fitting word, whether it was for my edification or instructional, which bore fruit and brought glory to God. We are called to follow Christ's example and to speak the truth in love. Of course Jesus is perfect and His answer will always be perfect, holy and fitting. We can get off track and forget why we have to be prepared at all times to share God's word. Paying it forward, some call it – Scripture says that just as we have received, so we should give. Not just material belongings, but the deep spiritual truths that we have been entrusted with. It is not just a defense of the Gospel for knowledge sake, no, it is a fervent desire to share God's love with another and set them free from the bondage of sin.

If I have this deposit from God contained in this clay vessel and forget the mission I am on, I can get puffed up with this knowledge which was given to change me to be more like Him and to serve and help heal others. We desperately need truth – we need our eyes to be opened to the constant deceit satan is dispensing. We do not need enablers who will flatter, nor do we need condescending judgmentalism. We need to be prepared at all times and sensitive to God's leading to share God's message to one another.

The greatest commandment – to love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength – propels us to fulfill the second greatest commandment – to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Sometimes that love takes action by providing for a need, and other times by speaking an apt word to another soul loved by God. May we be ready to do both.

Lord, help us too be led by You in our busy lives, to study Your word and share it with a dying world.

posted by Denise Pass - on 10/21/2014

Doing Life Together Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

1 Thessalonians 1:4-10

4 We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 in that our gospel did not come to you merely in words, but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction (surely you recall the character we displayed when we came among you to help you). 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, when you received the message with joy that comes from the Holy Spirit, despite great affliction. 7 As a result you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For from you the message of the Lord has echoed forth not just in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place reports of your faith in God have spread, so that we do not need to say anything. 9 For people everywhere report how you welcomed us and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath.

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

12 And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we do for you, 13 so that your hearts are strengthened in holiness to be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

These Scriptures make my heart ache for simpler times when humankind seemed less busy and fellowship more common. We stare numbly at our devices that keep us moving – and I speak to myself here, too. Sure, we attend church weekly, and maybe another church event or two, but hanging out together? Not as often as I used to in the past. Does anyone identify with me on this? People are too busy to get together, citing "ministry" as the cause. The man who isolates himself loses all sound judgment, according to Proverbs 18:1, but we do not think that applies to us, surrounded by "to do's" and passing people by day in and day out, we are not alone – or are we? But somewhere in the quiet, a still small voice is a call to simplicity again.

A time when our agendas were not our idols or taskmasters. A time when we did not have multiple things scheduled simultaneously. A time when we could get together with another family and not have to feel entertained – just the company was enough – ok, and maybe a Scrabble board game.

I am struck by the clear message of the impact of discipleship in the verses above. It is "doing life together" that sharpens one another – even when we disagree – and makes us more like Christ. It is not finding someone who is identical to you, who will be a "yes man" who will grow you in Christ as much as it is someone who loves you enough to call out sin in your life and walk beside you while you together obtain the victory in Christ.

We all fall short of the glory of God, and need to resist the formation of "cliques" that exclude other believers and breed a sense of self righteousness. We are all sinners, saved by grace, and desperately need one another, lest we lose sight of the vision Christ has given us. This world desperately needs to see believers, assured of their calling, working together and loving one another. United, there is no greater witness on this earth. Divided, there is no worse witness on this earth.

Lord, help us to seek You together and to care for one another sincerely. Help us to manage the time you have given well – for Your glory and Your purposes. To us who are feeling isolated, bring friends into our lives who are willing to walk through life together. To us too busy to notice – draw us back to a simple faith in You, surrounded by fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

posted by Denise Pass - on 10/20/2014

Thoughtful Thursday: Appropriate Ire Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Proverbs 29:11, 22, 33

"A fool lets fly with all his temper, but a wise person keeps it back. 22 An angry person stirs up dissension, and a wrathful person is abounding in transgression. 33 For as churning of milk produces butter and as touching the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife."

Proverbs 19:11

"A person's wisdom makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense."

Proverbs 14: 16, 17

"A wise person is cautious and turns from evil, but a fool throws off restraint and is overconfident. A person who has a quick temper does foolish things, and a person with crafty schemes is hated."

Proverbs 14:29

"Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly."

James 1:19-20

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. For human anger does not accomplish God's righteousness."

Ephesians 4:26

"Be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on the cause of your anger."

Anger is one of many emotions God has given us and can have a fitting place in the life of a believer. Christ's turning over the tables when He saw the sin within the church was godly and appropriate. He, the Righteous Judge, is the One Who had the authority to judge the church. We can be angry at the devastation of sin in a person's life, but that does not mean we are permitted to sin in our display of anger and we do not have the authority to give full vent to our anger. We, as ambassadors for Christ, need to exemplify lives free from ungodly anger, tempered by the humility that the fault we are irritated by in another we are also just as capable of exhibiting.

So when is it appropriate to become angry and how do we navigate through anger in a way that pleases God? Just as God is angered by our sin, as a parent, I am angry when one of my children rebels. Angry at the affect of sin and wanting to prevent them from the harm that sin can produce in their lives. Angry that they chose to disobey, but my response in those moments is what can produce righteousness in their lives versus condemnation and shame. None of us are perfect in our moments of disappointment or anger, but there is a way out when you are tempted to give in to that ire. By directing passion biblically, we can ask for wisdom in the heat of the moment. This is hard to do, but praying and asking God to help us refrain from ungodly words helps us to not be reactionary. If correction is in order, contemplating our own weaknesses should provide ample reason for humility in our response.

The passion often associated with anger and the thoughts we choose to dwell on in a moment of anger are what need to be guided. Rage unchecked is not godly and not permitted scripturally, but apathy and placating wrong is not a correct response, either. What causes anger? Is it something outside of yourself, or inherent? Is a catalyst, such as a person or a circumstance, really the cause of anger? The inability to control, not getting our way, fear, lack of trust and pride can all be contributors to an outburst of anger, but we cannot blame something or someone externally for our anger. Flying off the handle will not help produce righteousness in those we are angry with, either.

Ultimately, anger should not be a dominant emotion in the life of a believer and should truly only be something that propels us to prayer for the person or situation, rather than judgment and bitterness. If the fruit of our anger is ugly; i.e., resentment, vindictiveness or condemnation, that should be a check in our spirit that our anger is not righteous and we need to get rid of all anger and bitterness. While expectations unmet can be discouraging, God understands more than we ever could about people letting us down. May we give our anger to Him, the only Righteous Judge Who forgave us when we were guilty.

Lord, help us to glorify You with our anger and all of our emotions. When we are hurt by others, help us to remember that it is all about You and not us.

posted by Denise Pass - on 10/16/2014

Worshipful Wednesday: Determined Praise Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Psalm 108:1

"I am determined, O God! I will sing and praise You with my whole heart."

2 Timothy 1:12

"Because of this, in fact, I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, because I know the one in whom my faith is set and I am convinced that he is able to protect what has been entrusted to me until that day."

Determination. The mere word sparks images of situations which required a decision in the face of fear or apathy. A child learning to ride a bike decides that they will take off the training wheels and plunges headlong on a two-wheeled vehicle, despite every part of their being that cries out against it. In that moment, determination overcomes every argument that attempts to intervene. How? The costs are weighed; the benefits of triumphing over fear and riding in freedom instead of being constrained by training wheels wins. The achievement is worth it, even if a couple of scraped knees happened along the way.

Being determined when learning something new is challenging, but perhaps not as challenging as ruling the heart when tempted to fear, doubt, or become pessimistic or bitter in the midst of life's harrowing challenges. It is a decision made, a setting of the will to choose to not focus on the outward seemingly impossibilities and to set our hope on God's ability and promises. This kind of determination cannot be half-hearted. It cannot be void of passion. It requires all of our heart and our being. Our members might try to sway us from a determined stance due to fatigue or discouragement; but giving in to fleeting emotions will not grant us the sweet victory that sticking firmly with a belief or conviction will.

Knowing the One our faith is set upon is the source of all our determination. Our hope is not futile, it is grounded on the Rock, our LORD Jesus, Whose faithfulness convinces our souls. Our enemy and our flesh will seek to pick away at believing in God above all things, but we must remember in those moments to ask God to strengthen our feeble knees and to grant us faith. The Nike slogan, "Just Do It" can be helpful to inspire athletes to pursue health goals, but it does not have the power to motivate long-term a consistent determination like the power of the Holy Spirit that believers can call upon. Here lies before us today a decision: will we trust God or be tossed to and fro? Be determined, my friends. Choose to praise God in all seasons and experience the joy and fruit that determined praise brings.

Lord, I praise You! I believe You are in complete control over everything and choose to trust in You! I praise You with all my heart and pray that You will awaken Your bride to be determined to praise You and reach this world with Your love.

posted by Denise Pass - on 10/15/2014

Doing it His Way Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Leviticus 10:1-3

"Then Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took his fire pan and put fire in it, set incense on it, and presented strange fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them to do. 2 So fire went out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them so that they died before the Lord. 10:3 Moses then said to Aaron, "This is what the Lord spoke: 'Among the ones close to me I will show myself holy, and in the presence of all the people I will be honored.'" So Aaron kept silent."

I am a rule follower by nature. I do not want to knowingly do something that is against God's Word. But sometimes it can be difficult to discern His will when a situation is not spelled out. Or we can rationalize in certain "gray areas" and make our own rules as we go along and change them according to what seems fitting at the time. It is interesting that the Scripture above says that God "had not commanded them to do". God had not told them that they could not offer strange fire, but He had given them directions to follow. Aaron's boys took liberties with God's instructions and served the LORD their way. Just because God did not explicitly say "do not offer strange fire" does not mean that Aaron's sons are not culpable.

Where Scripture has not clearly spoken, it can be difficult to determine what is acceptable. Topics such as celebrating cultural holidays, whether or not immersion is the correct way to baptize or what the church's stance is on a homosexual lifestyle can become controversial and divisive. Some of the above topics are clearly delineated in Scripture, while others can be found in principles that God has given to us. It is viewed as intolerant or legalistic if one has a conviction that makes others uncomfortable, but fear of man is a snare and God is Holy. What we need today more than ever is to accept the fact that God does have an absolute standard of holiness. He has spoken clearly and given us everything we need to live godly lives. When it is not clear what to do, He has also given us principles to follow and promises to give us wisdom if we ask.

Lord, help us to be still and listen to You. Help us to seek You and follow the convictions You have placed in our hearts, and not the latest fad our culturally accepted sin. Help us to serve You in accordance with Your will.

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posted by Denise Pass - on 10/14/2014

Keep On Keepin' On Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Colossians 3:1-5, 8-10, 12, 15

1 "Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is,seated at the right hand of God. 2 Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth, 3 for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ (who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him. 5 So put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth: sexual immorality, impurity, shameful passion, evil desire, and greed which is idolatry. 8 But now, put off all such things as anger, rage, malice, slander, abusive language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with its practices 10 and have been clothed with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it. 12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 15 Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace), and be thankful."

Putting off the old man is not so easy as it seems. Most of us do not partake of the "big" sins once we have accepted the free gift of salvation, but what about the "little" ones? They are included in the lists of wickedness, too, whether it be slander, anger or greed – and are just as significant as the sins most consider as worthy of condemnation. Is God expecting perfection? He knows we are flesh, but His payment for our sins was not so we could continue in sin. We are told to be holy as He is holy, which can only be done through our obedience, which is only through His grace.

It is not just the removal of the old, though – it is imperative that we also don our new garb in Christ. If we inherited our righteousness because of Christ, how do we put on this righteousness, if it has already been done for us? The Scripture above gives us some clues. We are never to think we have gotten to a place where we can be stagnant, for the automatic default is to be ungodly and our walk with God requires constant maintenance. Sounds tiring, I know, but the flesh is insatiable and must always be in check. Our natural impulse is to stray. Once redeemed, we can now see this war of the flesh. But seeing is not enough – action must follow.

The words "keep seeking" and "keep thinking" stood out to me as I read this morning. Our flesh gets tired and weary – we want to rest, yet we dare not. The greek word "zeteite" is translated "keep seeking". This seeking is not a casual approach, but one that diligently seeks through thinking, meditating, reasoning, seeking after and striving after. It is a craving, a demand to know more of God. It is difficult to have this kind of fervency as we are cloaked in flesh living in a fallen world, for sure. But Scripture does not suggest this type of allegiance – it commands it. Forgive me this silly analogy, but it is one I can relate to: Our Christian walks can be likened to a situation in which a chocolate lover is placed in a chocolate factory and told to abstain. (My temptation, lol). The aroma tantalizes, the desire betrays the soul, but still, indulging is not permitted. Though surrounded in a sea of chocolate, we must choose to think on higher things and put to death the desires which war against our soul. While this analogy seems silly, the reality is that we are all surrounded with things in this world which tempt us away from a pure devotion to Christ. Maybe you are tempted severely right now and think you cannot choose. God would not put the words "keep seeking", and "keep thinking" in His word if it was not possible. Do not believe satan's lie that you are too weak to choose. We have the power of the Almighty God on your side. We get to choose! We have to recognize this truth and choose to walk in our new nature. God knows we need to constantly be saturating our minds and hearts with His Word and His promises to be able to be faithful and impact this world for His glory. So, how do we think on things above when surrounded? And what are the things above?

Sometimes we forget that we died. This reality seems strange when we are obviously still breathing, yet this truth is more than symbolism, it is a spiritual reality. Just as Christ went before us, died and rose again, we, too, must recognize that our flesh was crucified and we no longer live for self. It is this reckoning that helps us to recognize the reality of our lives in Christ. We are not alive to sin any longer. We live to please God now. Choosing to indulge in sinful lifestyle should be foreign to us now. That is the battle. The things of this world lose their appeal when we see them for what they really are – there is no comparison a cheap world substitute can have with the things of God.

But sometimes it is hard for us to understand what it means to think on things above. Is it clouds and harps that will give us the conviction to stay faithful? Hardly. Heaven has often been pictured as a bunch of clouds and cherubic beings (eating chocolate – my version). Is that what we are to think on to give us strength? No, something far greater – knowing and seeing God. No more pain, no more tears, no more sin! The absence of temptation. Let that sink in. No more battles. No more fears. Just finally in the presence of the One Who made us, knows us completely and loves us more than anyone ever could. That is our hope realized. Whatever Heaven promises, the greatest is finally being with the One Who made our souls to worship Him – where we belong. Until then, think on His truths, set our minds on His kingdom, on His Word. We might be plunged into difficult surroundings, but we still have a choice to think on what our soul really longs for – God.

Lord, help us to think on You. Be our life, be our joy, be our all in all. Help us to keep on – pressing on to know You more until we finally are in Your presence. May we be faithful and accomplish Your purposes here on earth.

posted by Denise Pass - on 10/13/2014

Thoughtful Thursday: What is Your Vision? Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Proverbs 29:18

"Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but the one who keeps the law, blessed is he!"

Hebrews 4:12

"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart."

Habakkuk 2:3

"For the message is a witness to what is decreed; it gives reliable testimony about how matters will turn out. Even if the message is not fulfilled right away, wait patiently; for it will certainly come to pass--it will not arrive late."

2 Peter 1:3

"I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence."

As the curtain closed on the Old Testament, we are told that approximately four hundred years followed with silence before the time of Christ. No divine communication with God's prophets - but was God really silent? I have wondered about this silence and what genuine believers did during this time. I can identify with seasons in my own life where it seemed God was silent and there was no perceived new revelation. The scriptures all began to sound familiar to me and I wondered if there was anything new God could show me. The thought of nothing new being revealed in God's word sounds incredibly foolish to me now, but I was being tested. Would I dig in and seek Him, even if there was no low-hanging fruit? If the chips were down and it seemed as though I was forsaken or forgotten, would I worship Him fervently then, too?

Some believe today that there are no more prophesies - the canon is complete. Others believe God is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow and still speaks to His people - not adding or subtracting from God's Word, but speaking through visions, dreams, His people and His word. Whatever you believe concerning the gifts and their possible cessation, we all can agree that God's Word is living. Active. He speaks through His Rhema word to those who will listen. When I do not feel like I can hear God, I need to be still and read His Word and pray. It might be that nothing will be revealed to me - can I still trust in Him and His wisdom that He has given me everything I need to walk faithfully in Him? When I am tempted to doubt that God will draw near to me, or teach me a new treasure about Himself, a still small voice reminds me of Who really is my vision, after all.

So then, rather than seeking a vision, or the latest inspiration or Christian fad to follow, I cannot settle for any counterfeit or good looking substitute. Being near to Him is vastly more amazing than being religious ever could be. Even though in my desire to know Him more, I can sometimes get side-tracked in the knowledge itself, He is my vision. While I love contemporary worship, hymns still have a way of piercing my soul and bringing me to His throne room. One of my favorite hymns is "Be Thou My Vision". It is such a sweet reminder of the simplicity of worshiping Christ alone - not methods of worshiping Him or the devotions themselves, but Christ alone. If my life is hidden in Him, not trying to be established in our society's concept of a vision, that is bliss, indeed.

I leave you today with the original translation of "Be Thou My Vision", circa the 6th or 8th century. Just as powerful today as it was then. See if you can hear the servant's cry after God's own heart. May it be our cry, too.

English translation by Mary Byrne, 1905, originally written by Dallαn Forgaill, an Irish poet in the 6th century:

Be thou my vision O Lord of my heart

None other is aught but the King of the seven heavens.

Be thou my meditation by day and night.

May it be thou that I behold even in my sleep.

Be thou my speech, be thou my understanding.

Be thou with me, be I with thee

Be thou my father, be I thy son.

Mayst thou be mine, may I be thine.

Be thou my battle-shield, be thou my sword.

Be thou my dignity, be thou my delight.

Be thou my shelter, be thou my stronghold.

Mayst thou raise me up to the company of the angels.

Be thou every good to my body and soul.

Be thou my kingdom in heaven and on earth.

Be thou solely chief love of my heart.

Let there be none other, O high King of Heaven.

Till I am able to pass into thy hands,

My treasure, my beloved through the greatness of thy love

Be thou alone my noble and wondrous estate.

I seek not men nor lifeless wealth.

Be thou the constant guardian of every possession and every life.

For our corrupt desires are dead at the mere sight of thee.

Thy love in my soul and in my heart --

Grant this to me, O King of the seven heavens.

O King of the seven heavens grant me this --

Thy love to be in my heart and in my soul.

With the King of all, with him after victory won by piety,

May I be in the kingdom of heaven O brightness of the son.

Beloved Father, hear, hear my lamentations.

Timely is the cry of woe of this miserable wretch.

O heart of my heart, whatever befall me,

O ruler of all, be thou my vision.

Lord, may nothing hinder us from coming and having fellowship with You! Remove any obstacles and help us to worship You with pure hearts. Be our Vision, sweet Lord!

posted by Denise Pass - on 10/09/2014

Worshipful Wednesday: The Prodigal's Father Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Psalm 107:1, 8, 17, 28

"Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, and His loyal love endures. 8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His loyal love, and for the amazing things He has done for His people. 17 They acted like fools in their rebellious ways, and suffered because of their sins. 28 They cried out to the LORD in their distress; He delivered them from their troubles."

The image of the prodigal son's father anticipating his son's return with open arms is such a picture of God's heart toward His children. But what is often missed is that the rebellious child must return. Parents can long for their children to return, but if the child is still rebellious, then it would not be a complete picture of sweet repentance and restoration. Instead, it would become a dysfunctional relationship of enablement and abuse.

God is loyally loving His children when he permits consequences for their rebellious actions, but the child does not often recognize such love. Discipline is viewed as unloving, when it is actually a kindness to not allow sin to go unchecked. Blame is cast on the parent who was unreasonable to expect basic obedience, whether it be having to do chores, the expectation of telling the truth or not permitting the child to stay out all night. But when the child comes to his senses, as in the case of the prodigal son, it is a wonderful picture of repentance and the story of the Gospel - how God is willing to forgive all wayward children. Forgiveness hinges on that moment of confessing sins, though, and cannot be dished out just because the prodigal believes he or she deserves it.

The generation today has revolted against authority and is embittered at the suggestion that they should be accountable to anyone. It is not just this generation that has bred prodigals, though - we are all prodigals in our own right. Forgiveness and acceptance are much more pleasurable than living in sin, so what hinders the prodigal from returning? Deception, pride and loving our victim status. Bearing the outward attitude of rejection, despite leaving being our choice, we receive attention and pity. The original deception becomes truth if we feed on the praises of the enablers surrounding and flattering us. The only way out? Cry out to God for understanding and admit our wrongdoings. Don't seek sympathy for something we deserve. Take responsibility for our actions - only then can the mind of Christ illuminate and reveal our true condition. Lastly, if we could for a moment contemplate how our actions have hurt our loving father, instead of how our actions have hurt ourselves, we would begin to walk in freedom.

Let us give thanks that God shows us our rebellious ways and punishes us - though He does not give us what our sins deserve. Loyal love is a love that keeps the unconditional love "on", but does not permit an abuse of that love. For a child to accuse a parent because of consequences they must bear due to their own behavior is folly. God does not fall for it, either. But He does offer the sweetest peace, joy and love for those who have truly repented and not made excuses for their sin.

Lord, thank you for Your loyal love, which endures forever! You did not leave us in our sins, but made a way out, praise Your Name! Help all of us prodigals to wake up and see we are blessed beyond measure because of Your faithful love!

posted by Denise Pass - on 10/08/2014

You Can't Hide From God Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

1 Kings 14:2-6

2 Jeroboam told his wife, "Disguise yourself so that people cannot recognize you are Jeroboam's wife. Then go to Shiloh; Ahijah the prophet, who told me I would rule over this nation, lives there. 3 Take ten loaves of bread, some small cakes, and a container of honey and visit him. He will tell you what will happen to the boy."

4 Jeroboam's wife did as she was told. She went to Shiloh and visited Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see; he had lost his eyesight in his old age. 5 But the Lord had told Ahijah, "Look, Jeroboam's wife is coming to find out from you what will happen to her son, for he is sick. Tell her so-and-so. When she comes, she will be in a disguise." 6 When Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps as she came through the door, he said, "Come on in, wife of Jeroboam! Why are you pretending to be someone else? I have been commissioned to give you bad news.

Imagine trying to play hide and seek with God. There's no winning there. Adam and Eve tried to do it in the garden. Now here it is again – a wife led astray by her husband who coached her in how to deceive – busted. Insult to injury – in front of an essentially blind prophet, too. This story is reminiscent of Jacob's deceit (with momma's coaxing), as he donned some fur and went into essentially blind Issac's presence, presumably as Esau. In the New Testament we see Annanias and Saphira together choosing to deceive – not just men, but the Holy Spirit. Scary stuff. Foolish choices, that are laughable to us today.

What is hidden from God's eyes? Nothing! Why even attempt to deceive God or one of God's mouthpieces? It is folly, and yet attempted because deep down they knew of their sin. They knew they could not curry the favor of God while condoning their sin. So they manipulated and deceived instead. Sounds like our ancient enemy, coming as a serpent making promises that were insidiously deceitful. That's his manner and language, after all. Ultimately the enemy is behind our attempts to deceive, to. If that doesn't work, he uses shame to make us hide from God. Will we listen to him, or to the One Who we will give an account?

So, if we know that God sees all and knows all, why would anyone ever be ignorant enough to try and trick God? Really? It is futile! Perhaps because God appeared so much more overtly active at different times in the Bible. Fire from Heaven in response to a prayer is much more tangible to man than a nudging of the Holy Spirit in our hearts today. We have seen though, that God's people quickly turned away in the Old Testament, too, despite massive encounters with the living God. But perhaps we are not as bold to step out in faith and see God be as palpable today as He was in the Old Testament. Today, yes even today, many countries witness the powerful movement of God through missionaries whose hearts are completely His. People are healed dramatically, miracles still happen today – large and small – for God's glory alone.

I love the story of Elijah, the one lone prophet remaining against 450 prophets of Baal. He boldly affirmed that God was the One true God, in the face of 450 prophets all slashing themselves and screaming at the top of their lungs for God to answer. Elijah stood firmly and KNEW His God would deliver. An amazing sign of God's power followed. Have you ever had moments like that in your life? Not where you ask God for signs which demonstrate your faith to bring you glory, but where you have nothing left and cry out to God and stand on His promises and see Him glorified by activity in your life.

By the grace of God, I have seen God move strongly in my life, but I have also had prolonged periods of silence. It is the times of God's miracles that I cherish and hold onto when I feel forgotten. It is His character and the knowledge of how awesome God is that keeps me motivated to walk before Him, knowing He is good all the time. Who would want to hide from a God like that? One who has been deceived into believing falsely about God's character. One who has been tricked into thinking that he can achieve favor through another means. Stop the madness. Submit to the Father of our Spirits and live!

Lord, when we are aware of how we fall short and are tempted to hide from You, please open our eyes to see You and help us to run to You, instead.

posted by Denise Pass - on 10/07/2014

The Truth About Maturity Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Colossians 1:28-29

"We proclaim him by instructing and teaching all people with all wisdom so that we may present every person mature in Christ. 29 Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me."

1 Corinthians 14:20

"Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking. Instead, be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature."

Words like "adult" and "mature" in our culture evoke wicked images of older individuals finally reaching the age where they can indulge their flesh with things that are not for a younger person who cannot "handle" them. That is not the definition of maturity according to God's word. I do not want to watch something or have anything on my computer that anyone, especially my children could not walk up and see. According to scripture, old and young alike are supposed to be infants in evil, but in our thinking be pure and mature.

A beautiful peach, perfectly ripened tantalizes our taste buds in a way that no under-ripened peach could ever do. In the same manner, a moldy banana is not appealing, either. Maturity has its pros and cons. Somehow there is an allure in our culture to not grow up. To stay forever young. While this might sound appealing at first, perhaps footloose and fancy free – the thought of an individual growing up on the outside but acting like a kid instead is really not very appealing at all. Neither is an old grumpy fogy a great image to aspire to. Beauty is the hallmark of maturity, though, a reality missed by many.

There is something innately delightful in the cuteness of a toddler, but the charm is quickly lost if a teenager were to behave in such a manner. Getting older was never something younger folk thought of as a great thing if you were referring to the outward appearance. But if you were talking about the freedoms an adult had, well that was another matter. Freedom to indulge, but maybe not freedom to work hard. The responsibilities of bills and maintaining order out of chaos can not be balanced well if one does not set aside immaturity and choose to bear the cloak of maturity.

So it is in Christ. We long to arrive but will not fully arrive here on this earth. We cannot settle for the grace that was ours five years ago – we must daily bask in God's grace and stretch toward the next mark of grace in our lives; bringing God glory by not remaining unchanged, but by daily being made more into the image of God. Ever seeking to know God more – not just to know a lot of facts and become stiffly legalistic, no, to know Him and be more alive!

Maturity does not mean a lack of joy – in fact, it is the opposite! What a joy it is to learn more about my insufficiency and to ask God to grow me in those areas. There is hope in seeing where I still lack in maturity because God will complete the work in us. How beautiful is understanding and the ability to see truth more clearly. So then, maturity is not just for the old, but can be had by one who is young, too. Maturity is not an end, but a constant course toward freedom in which we put others before ourselves and release the small-minded worries about what others think of us.

While we are on this earth, we are like a plant that is always growing, blossoming with Christ's character. We dare not shrink back or settle for a lesser maturity. We dare not shrivel up or stop growing. We dare not accept this world's definition of maturity. Maturing can be difficult and painful, but in Christ, it is our destiny.

posted by Denise Pass - on 10/06/2014

True Righteousness Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Philippians 3:8-9

"More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my LORD, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things – indeed, I regard them as dung! – that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ's faithfulness – a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ's righteousness."

Isaiah 64:6

"We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight. We all wither like a leaf; our sins carry us away like the wind."

Under house arrest, Paul was free to pen this precious book of the Bible. Sometimes I wonder if house arrest is what it takes for us to accomplish God's will – our busy lives have to be paused so we can really focus on what God has called us to. Certainly times of illness or breaks in schedule give us an occasion to pause and contemplate. Paul wrote this book as a "safeguard" (3:1) to his brothers and sisters. What was he trying to protect them from? False righteousness.

Full of zeal, few compared to the righteousness by the law that Paul had achieved. Yet he recognized that what was formerly viewed in his eyes and others as righteous was now disgusting to him and not true righteousness at all. Paradoxically, he saw that his loss of that perceived position of righteousness was truly a gain. Though we are in the new covenant, we have the same systems of righteousness today, seemingly unnoticed.

There is a danger today of ascribing holiness externally – what we wear, what we eat, how we serve the church. And while these outward signs done in accordance with God's Word are evidence of fruit born in the lives of faithful followers of Christ, they are not our righteousness. This does not mean we cast off the wisdom in approaching decisions of dress, food and service as insignificant because they do not make us righteous. Rather, our hope is not in them and there is no pride we can have for making the supposedly "right" decisions.

The graphic image of righteous acts being likened to a menstrual rag is crude. The LORD does not mince words with us – He knows how futile the pursuit of righteousness apart from Him is and makes it plain that it does not come close to what He says is righteous. The price of blood for sins is also repulsive to us – the requirement seems so unnecessary and disgusting – slaughtering an animal for our iniquity. Until we catch a glimpse of the holiness of God. Sin is death. False righteousness is death, not life. It leads us away from a close relationship with God and instead into a dead religion.

Our lips can say the write words, we can outwardly manifest all of the "religiously correct" standards according to some, but still not understand what it means to be truly righteous. Until it is etched into our hearts that we truly do not contain any righteousness on our own, we are indeed far from righteousness. Maintaining that understanding is so very difficult, for we begin to see God working in us and can be deceived that it is actually us being righteous. In God's economy, His righteousness would be imputed to the unholy. Completely undeserved, blemished lambs covered in His Holy blood. I am undone. Praise His Name.

Oh God – we kneel before you poor, destitute, having no righteousness of our own. We come before You recognizing that only You are truly righteous! Please help us to be like Paul – always cognizant that we are chief of sinners – and to live sold out for Your glory alone.

posted by Denise Pass on 09/29/2014

God Notices When Yoi're Stuck in the Mud Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Jeremiah 37:2 "Neither he nor the officials who served him nor the people of Judah paid any attention to what the LORD said through the prophet Jeremiah. 16 So Jeremiah was put in prison in a cell in the dungeon in Jonathan's house. He was kept there a long time.

Jeremiah 38:6 "So the officials took Jeremiah and put him in the cistern . . . there was no water in the cistern, only mud. So when they lowered Jeremiah into the cistern with ropes he sank into the mud.

Jeremiah 38:9 "Your Royal Majesty, those men have been very wicked in all they have done to the prophet Jeremiah. They have thrown him into a cistern and he is sure to die of starvation there because there is no food left in the city.

Jeremiah 39:12 "Find Jeremiah and look out for him."

Jeremiah 40:4 "But now, Jeremiah, today I will set you free from the chains on your wrists. If you would like to come to Babylon with me, come along and I will take care of you . . . go wherever you choose. 5 Then the captain of the guard gave Jeremiah some food and a present and let him go."

Life has many twists and turns, most of them unforeseen. In the middle of chaos, we can begin to wonder if God is aware, but once we are on the other side of turmoil, the treasure gained from the ordeal far surpasses any temporary hardship. Of course if the trial is severe, one shudders at the thought of having to journey that path ever again. The doubt of God's enablement prior to hardship, though, has been changed forever in the presence of a Sovereign God Who was truly sufficient to meet our every need.

The story of an individual who was noticed, rescued and provided for by the King evokes respect and a sense of awe. But when one contemplates what came before the honor, I wonder if anyone would want to go through all they have to in order to receive the blessing on the other side. We cannot see in the future, though, which is where faith comes in.

Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet, and after reading once again from the book of Jeremiah, I can surely understand why. Imagine hearing from God and being His mouthpiece, only to be rejected for your obedience and thrust into imprisonment continually and a deep pit of mud. Was that a part of God's plan? He allowed it in – but why? How could He receive glory for the torture of His chosen servant?

We have seen this before by those chosen to serve God. Joseph saw a vision and ended up being sold into slavery – God kept him from being murdered and eventually elevated him to second in command of the land. Wow. Even though we delight in the end of the story, we often do not understand the middle of the story, but God does. I love how the Lord ensures that someone was looking out for Jeremiah. Imagine getting the mud cleaned off and then going before the king and the Captain of the Guard, who gives you a present and more importantly, your freedom. Israel was under siege and all the Israelites were being captured or murdered. But Jeremiah was set free.

God knows our suffering and all of the inner workings of our lives have a very specific end which He already knows completely. When we read all of the accounts of faithful followers of God and see how God always kept His covenant promises, we should never be given to doubt. But life's pain creates a raw sense of reality that causes us in our flesh to wonder if we have been a fool to trust in the One who would permit such atrocities.

Just like the individual who was late on 9/11 and whose life was spared, I have to wonder if Jeremiah's life was spared as he sat in the mud and wondered. Israel was under attack – Jeremiah had foretold it and even told the king how he could avoid Babylon's punishment. It might have seemed like God was not in control when His servant was dying in mud. Not so. Not exactly a glorious picture of how one would want to die, though, and I am sure fear gripped his heart. Kind of reminds me of a story I heard of someone who suffered a humiliating death when they were hit by a potato chip truck. Tragic. We don't want to see such an end for a man of God. Not suffocating in mud. Not Jeremiah.

Are you in the mud of life right now? Feeling forgotten and beginning to wonder if your Deliverer will ever come? He hears. He sees. He is weaving something beautiful out of that pain. He promises.

Lord, when we do not understand, help us to place our faith in you. In our fragile humanity, help us to rise above our circumstances and abide in You.

posted by Denise Pass on 09/26/2014

Thoughtful Thursday: Flattery's Fool Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Proverbs 26:24 "The one who hates others disguises it with his lips, but he stores deceit within him."

Proverbs 26:28 "A lying tongue hates those crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin."

Proverbs 27:4 "Wrath is cruel and anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?"

James 3:14 – "But if you have bitter jealousy and selfishness in your hearts, do not boast and tell lies against the truth."

James 3:16 – "For where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is disorder and every evil practice."

Romans 12:9 "Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good."

Whenever someone is praising me, I am given to pause. I acknowledge in my heart that anything good in me is only Christ and remind myself that nothing good dwells in me apart from God. Compliments and flattery feel good. If flattery works ruin,though, I do not want to embrace it nor accept it. On the other hand, encouragement is beneficial, necessary and a biblical mandate, so how can we differentiate between encouragement and flattery? At first blush I would rather have flattery than blatant hatred, until I consider the insidious nature of flattery.

There are haters everywhere today, but some of them might be even within your closest circles. They might not even believe it themselves if they were confronted with the hate they are concealing. Sometimes they want your approval, sometimes they pretend to be your biggest fan, but you get this feeling that betrays their outward praise. What causes this deceitful tongue? Jealousy, which is ultimately hatred of the one envied. Jealousy is discontentment with what God provided and the wrong belief that we deserve what the other person has. The object of jealousy reveals the motivation of the heart. Is it the outward appearance that is praised? Then vanity could be the root cause of envy. Is it talents that are praised? Jealousy of ability might be to blame. Or perhaps it is because you do not give that person something they want from you, which they can really only get from God. They wrongfully expect something from you that you are not led to give, so they hate you for it.

The scriptures above reveal a wicked heart that would seek your destruction and yet couch it in kindness. Wow – what a scary picture. Our enemy is crafty and ever seeking our demise, but we can naively think his tactics would be obviously evil. Even a Christian can be used by the enemy if envy and anger are left unchecked in his heart. No one likes to be the recipient of another person's disdain of themselves, yet I am certain everyone reading this blog has also had moments themselves in which they were a tool of the enemy in this regard. So, while I am shocked when I see people harming me with insincere flattery then gossiping about me behind my back, I realize I am just as guilty or as capable of the same sin. So, how do we combat this evil? Giving that sin the worst name, realizing what I am really doing and praying for deliverance from it.

What strikes my heart the most when I am tempted to hate another human, is that this precious life was made in the image of God. Flawed, yet beautiful to Christ. They might have injected harm and pain into my life and be a thorn in my flesh, but they are loved by God. They might not even understand why they do it themselves. I do not have to become best buddies with them, but I can pray for them and ask God for wisdom in what a relationship with them looks like. Mental health is a big part of victory in this area of our lives, too. Recognizing that I cannot stop or control someone from envying or hating me, but I can put on love and place them in God's hands, instead, is crucial. Love must be sincere. I do not have to pretend I am someone's closest confidant or be manipulated to do what someone is demanding in order to be godly. In fact, that would be inappropriate and harmful. No, instead, I can die to my desire for man's praise and worshiping at the altar of acceptance, when it is fleeting. I can rise above the small-mindedness and dwell on God and His word. Let's not be flattery's fool when we realize any crown of praise or flattery we would receive should just be laid down at His feet, anyway.

Thank You, God, for revealing our hearts and setting us free. Help us to not get caught up in the quagmire of sin often found in superficial relationships that can entrap us. Help us to love sincerely from our heart and forgive one another, all for Your glory!

posted by Denise Pass on 09/25/2014

Maintaining Integrity Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Psalm 101:2-5

NIV "I will be careful to lead a blameless life– when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart. NET 3 I will not even consider doing evil; I will have no part of it. 4 I will have nothing to do with a perverse person; I will not permit evil. 5 I will destroy anyone who slanders his neighbor in secret. I will not tolerate anyone who has a haughty demeanor and an arrogant attitude."

1 Kings 9:4

"You must serve me with integrity and sincerity, just as your father David did. Do everything I commanded and obey my rules and regulations."

Job 2:9

"Then his wife said to him, 'Are you still holding firmly to your integrity? Curse God, and die!'"

1 Corinthians 9:27

"Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified."

1 Corinthians 10:12

"So let the one who thinks he is standing be careful that he does not fall."

Proverbs 10:9

"The one who conducts himself in integrity will live securely, but the one who behaves perversely will be found out."

Hebrews 13:18

"Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to conduct ourselves rightly in every respect."

1 Chronicles 29:17

"I know, my God, that you examine thoughts and are pleased with integrity. With pure motives I contribute all this; and now I look with joy as your people who have gathered here contribute to you."

Psalm 51:6

"Look, you desire integrity in the inner man; you want me to possess wisdom."

Psalm 101 was one of the first verses that captivated my heart. There is something so pleasant about choosing, by God's grace, to walk in integrity in every corner of your life. I recall those early days of my salvation when my heart was quickened to not do things I had done before – things I did when I walked in darkness. Suddenly I was excited to throw out music that did not honor God, which just moments before I could not live without. In a moment I no longer wanted to just celebrate the holidays the culture around me embraced. I wanted to live thoughtfully and walk in obedience to what the Holy Spirit convicted me of. What a miracle salvation is!

Eyes opened to God's requirements and my falling short, there was an eagerness to walk uprightly and still is. Walking with others who also desired to live godly lives, I surrounded myself in this culture of integrity. Sounds wonderful – I thought I would never have to worry about fading. The problem is, in that Christian culture we can be deceived and go into autopilot. We can begin to place confidence in past shining moments of our salvation and not recognize the natural slow drift that slowly pulls us away with compromise, the devil's language. We can forget that the very ability to walk in integrity is dependent on continuing to walk closely with God, not a once-and-done character change.

Sanctification means that our salvation is still being worked out. We never walk in the dangerous path of thinking we have arrived. We dare not accept every opinion around us just because it was spoken by a godly person. We dare not think we are ever above accountability and transparency in every aspect of our walk. No, we have to maintain our integrity and constantly filter our hearts and minds through the lens of God's Word. Grace applied liberally, some will try to tempt us to let go of our integrity, denouncing us as legalistic or too vigilant. A legalistic approach begins to make walking in integrity another good work, which man will praise you for. Whatever man's view, God requires integrity – in the innermost parts of our soul, not just an external behavior.

Devastation can set in when you recognize a lack of integrity in your own life. Don't permit condemnation hurled at you by the enemy, but instead acknowledge the sin that is revealed and submit to God to change you. Be grateful that you can see and don't placate or make excuses for the rising conviction in your soul. We are all humbled at the recognition that none of us is always full of integrity – but we can continually seek to be. Lastly, the only comparison to be made with ourselves is to Jesus – the only truly Righteous One. Comparing to others to elevate our own integrity proves we still lack it. That age-old definition of integrity – you are who you are when no one else is around, is still a good barometer, but even greater is not just an outward performance, where we glory momentarily at doing what we are supposed to, rather an inward circumcision daily of the heart.

Lord, test my heart and reveal my inner motives that are hidden from me. Help me to never grow weary of seeking to walk blamelessly in every aspect of this life that You have given. Thank You for Your faithful mercy and forgiveness. Awaken the bride of Christ to continue to walk in integrity.

posted by Denise Pass on 09/24/2014

Find Joy Again Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Exodus 35:21, 26, 31, 34

"Everyone whose heart stirred him to action and everyone whose spirit was willing came and brought the offering for the LORD for the work of the tent of meeting, for its service and for the holy garments. 26 And all the women whose heart stirred them to action and who were skilled spun goat's hair. 31 He has filled with the Spirit of God – with skill, with understanding, with knowledge, and in all kinds of work. 34 And he put in his heart to teach."

Exodus 36:2

"Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person in whom the LORD had put skill – everyone whose heart stirred him to volunteer to do the work."
Romans 12:11
"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."

So often, Christian workers get burned out and lose their passion. I've been there – have you? I love this snapshot of God's people, filled with passion, calling and skills by God, joyfully bringing their capabilities and serving God. They recognized that their talents were from God and wholeheartedly offered their skills to Him. It reminds me of when I was first saved. The people joyfully served, the worship was vibrant and everyone was excited to be alive in Christ. I have often wished that my life would be characterized by those beginning days and years in Christ. I daresay that the same feeling I recall at that time has waned . . . tempered with harsh realities encountered in this life and the reality of the church not being perfect as was once naively believed. But my faith has also deepened, along with my understanding and love for the LORD.

I deeply love the LORD and weep each day when I write these blogs and consider how great and good God is, but admittedly something is different. The deliverance we experienced was supposed to mean everything would always work out as we expected, right? How do we get that passion reignited? Human nature has a tendency to be excited about anything new. But when time passes and we are numbed by the presence of sin and its affect on people around us as well as ourselves – broken lives and a diminished utopia, we can become disillusioned and lose our joy. Once disillusionment sets in, the once rose-tinted glasses can easily become a pessimistic view – or not. Depending on what our focus is – abundant life in Christ or a comfortable life without troubles in America – will determine whether we truly experience and comprehend the definition of happiness in Christ.

Examining God's people in Exodus, it is apparent that gratitude, expectations and motivation each played a big role in their passion. It does not mention that they had an expectation or motivation to ascribe toward higher positions within the church, just thankfulness and contentment exuded by their manner in which they served. Notice that these people had a calling on their heart – they were not necessarily there every time the church door opened, or serving in every capacity, but knew instinctively what God has called them to and did it with joy. Sometimes we forget the simplicity of the Gospel and our salvation and lose sight of what really matters.

But perhaps the view that was darkened by life's reality can actually see clearly, after all. Maybe joy looks different and feels different than an initial shallow joy untested by life's challenges. Thinking that life should be perfect after coming to Christ sets us up for disaster, but joy looks different to a mature believer who has drawn nigh to the living God. Continuing in that joy is the key. Knowing God's enablement and strength when life tries your very soul is the greatest peace and joy on earth. Remembering our initial joy in Christ is a great catalyst to reignite our fervor, but focusing on the hope we have in Christ can help us rise above present circumstances into our reality in Christ.

The One Who finished the work will complete it in us, but sometimes when hard times crash in and distract you, it can be hard to see past the valleys. This earth is temporary – may we not waste our life away regretting or thinking things should feel or look differently. Looking to the example of those early Christians and asking God to restore the joy of our salvation back to us reminds us that our initial joy was never dependent on earthly happiness.

Lord, forgive when we take for granted Your salvation and grow lukewarm or forget how amazing You are. Ignite us with a passion for You and Your people all for Your glory. Help us to know our calling and to obediently serve You in a manner worthy of You.

posted by Denise Pass on 09/23/2014

The Baton of Righteousness Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Jeremiah 32:17-19

17 'Oh, Lord God, you did indeed make heaven and earth by your mighty power and great strength. Nothing is too hard for you! 18 You show unfailing love to thousands. But you also punish children for the sins of their parents. You are the great and powerful God who is known as the Lord who rules over all. 19 You plan great things and you do mighty deeds. You see everything people do. You reward each of them for the way they live and for the things they do.'

Jeremiah 34: 14b-15a, 18a

'But your ancestors did not obey me or pay any attention to me. 15 Recently, however, you yourselves showed a change of heart and did what is pleasing to me.' 18 I will punish those people who have violated their covenant with me.'

Ezekiel 18:20

'The person who sins is the one who will die. A son will not suffer for his father's iniquity, and a father will not suffer for his son's iniquity; the righteous person will be judged according to his righteousness, and the wicked person according to his wickedness.'

Exodus 20:5-6 (also Dt. 5:9)

'I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.'

Deuteronomy 24:16

'Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin.'

Ezekiel 18:20

'The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.'

Generational sin. Like a prison cell you are confined in and cannot escape – or can you? A child is born into a household in which the father is abusive. Is the child at fault? Will he suffer for his father's sins? Will he be just like his dad? It breaks my heart when children are told that it is seemingly impossible for them to escape the sin handed down in their families, as if they were destined for them by a wicked legacy they cannot escape. The righteous requirements of God's law require that God punish evil. When evil is unpunished, it begins to grow and thrive. But what is meant by the Scripture which says children are punished for the sins of their parents?

Taking all Scripture together and knowing God's character that has been revealed to us, we know God would not be so unjust as to punish one who is innocent of sin. But what is meant by the Scripture above which says God "punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me"? Certainly if one is born into an ungodly environment it will affect him adversely. He will also bear consequences if he does not recognize the sin all around him and chooses to live a similar lifestyle. We have possibly all witnessed the effects of sin in a family which continue generation after generation, whether for righteousness or evil. But is a child at fault if that is all he knew?

I was once in darkness, until one day when God opened my eyes. The Holy Spirit revealed sin in my heart and my need for salvation. No matter what had happened to me or what I was surrounded by, God in His justice and mercy convicted me of my sin nature. The Holy Spirit convicts all of sin and righteousness (John 16:8). We are all without excuse. Innately we all have different struggles in the flesh that we must master, before sin masters us. We cannot blame our predecessors for our weakness, but admittedly the influence of sin can have a profound affect on us.

No words exist to adequately convey the gratitude I have that the LORD revealed the sins of my family and in my own heart. Apart from this revelation, I could easily have continued in the sins before me and would not been saved. The blame for our own sins lies within each one of us. We are also not culpable for other people's sin, but if we cause someone to sin, we will bear judgment from God (Matthew 18:6). But what a difference choosing to walk in obedience to God can make for your life, your children's lives and their children's lives. To a thousand generations. Wow. Notice that the judgment from God is only a few generations for those who hate God. But a thousand generations for those who love God and keep His commandments. God is merciful. He is kind. He reaches down into the individual steeped in sin and offers forgiveness and enlightenment to live a different way. Your past does not define you, nor your upbringing! You can CHOOSE this day whom you will serve. Amen!

Thank You, God, that you are just, kind, merciful and forgiving! Praise You that You reveal our sins to us. Help us to walk blamelessly before you that we might pass on a legacy of righteousness and hope to those who come behind us. May we be found faithful, testifying to Your great salvation.

posted by Denise Pass on 09/19/2014

The Progressive Slippery Slope in a Vaccuum Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

The Progressive Slippery Slope in a Vaccuum
September 17, 2014 seeingdeep1 Leave a comment Edit

Exodus 24:3

"Moses came and told the people all the LORD's words and all the decisions. All the people answered together, 'We are willing to do all the words that the LORD has said.'"

Exodus 24:9-11

"Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear like the sky itself. But he did not lay a hand on the leaders of the Israelites, so they saw God, and they ate and drank."

Exodus 32:1

"When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, 'Get up, make us gods that will go before us. As for this fellow Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him!"

Exodus 32:4

So Aaron "accepted the gold from them, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molten calf. They they said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.'"

Forty days. The number forty is a common duration for a time of testing many times in the bible. Forty days of rain on the ark, forty years wandering in the desert, Jesus was tempted fourty days in the desert and Moses was on the mountain forty days, two separate times, hearing the commandments of God, to name a few. Forty days goes by in a flash in our home. Months come and go, years fly by. But I guess to the Israelites, it seemed never-ending. Certainly if one was suffering significantly, time would drag on. But to God's people at the bottom of the mountain, one would think there was great anticipation. One would think that the meal with God that Aaron witnessed, coupled with thundering on top of the mountain would serve as vivid reminders that Almighty God was very near, indeed.

But somehow in that vacuum, in that moment of dearth, not hearing from God, the people of God longed to fill that void with something. They wanted to worship, but impatiently accepted a counterfeit. I wonder if there was a plethora of rationalizing going on – how did they ever arrive at it being acceptable to worship a golden calf in such a short amount of time? Particularly troubling to me is that Aaron suggested the people donate golden objects and made the calf himself. He had just encountered the living God. How could he so quickly be deceived? Was it peer pressure? The sheep pressing in on him and he feared them more than God at that moment? And the sheep – they had just stated that they were willing to do all the words that God had said.

This hypocrisy and seemingly blatant rebellion seems odd until I contemplate my own walk. Evidence of lukewarmedness and blindness to our own faults can be seen if we are willing to let down our guard of self righteousness and self-protection. I well recall the early days of my salvation, standing and sharing the gospel to a small crowd at the University of Maryland, being persecuted in class for being a Christian. I recall many moments of victory in the past twenty-six years through various trials, where God grew my faith exponentially. Candidly, I also recall being tested severely and beginning to lose my way, save the grace of God. I started strong – though I was crushed, I would run to His word. But in the lengthiness of the trial, I began to get confused and wondered when God was going to deliver me. I began to compromise and look for a counterfeit to relieve my pain. I am no better than the Israelites. My trial was seven years of hardship, pressed on every side, not forty days, but I emphathize with the Israelites. They wanted to follow God, but quickly chose an alternative god to appease their spiritual paucity. In their moment of being deceived, they could not see clearly and needed a leader to guide them. Their leader failed.

Humbling to us leaders, it is terrifying to think that we bear the responsibility of leading someone astray. Shockingly, Aaron lied when confronted with his waywardness. Somehow a golden calf popped out of the fire. Wow, really? As hard as it is to admit that we, too, have gone off the path, it is far better to confess and renounce our shortcomings and move forward in the new humility gained from our failure. The former pride at imperceived righteousness that was our own, has been replaced with the knowledge of our own failure, which reminds us that it has never been our own righteousness, after all.

If you are a leader or a believer who has fallen short, you stand in a great cloud of witnesses who have also gone before us and failed. David, too, a man after God's own heart, murdered and committed adultery, yet later he would cry out to God in Psalm 51, for God to "restore unto me the joy of my salvation and renew a right spirit within me". It is easy to get lost in the vacuum or in severe trials and forget our mission and purpose in Christ. But those mistakes, those blemishes we wish could be removed from our record are actually a means of grace to humble us and can make us more useful for the kingdom of God. Thank God for second chances and His grace.

Maybe you have not yet endured a severe time of testing. If not, count yourself blessed, but be ready. Times of dryness, of not hearing from God can be around the next corner – will you cave in to comfort around you, or wait as long as it takes until you encounter the living God? We might not have a warning sign cautioning us that the potential to slip is ahead, but we do have the Holy Spirit guiding us, if we listen.

Lord, I want to be near to You always. I never want to drift away and walk in a manner that displeases you. Please grant us grace to be aware of spiritual dangers that lie ahead and to walk humbly before you. Help us to remember all You have done and to not forget when the heat is turned up or You seem far away.

posted by Denise Pass on 09/17/2014

The Context of Promises Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Jeremiah 29:10-11 "For the Lord says, 'Only when the seventy years of Babylonian rule are over will I again take up consideration for you. Then I will fulfill my gracious promise to you and restore your homeland. 11 For I know what I have planned for you, says the LORD. I have pans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope..'"

Jeremiah 30:10 "So I, the LORD, tell you not to be afraid, you descendants of Jacob, my servants. Do not be terrified, people of Israel. For I will rescue you and your descendants form a faraway land where you are captives. The descendants of Jacob will return to their land and enjoy peace. They will be secure and no one will terrify them. 11 For I, the LORD, affirm that I will be with you and will rescue you. I will completely destroy all the nations where I scattered you. But I will not completely destroy you. I will indeed discipline you, but only in due measure. I will not allow you to go entirely unpunished."

We all fondly cherish God's promises, in particular the very popular verse found in Jeremiah 29:11. We all want to believe, especially in dire times, that God does have a future and a hope for us. Yet we often ignore the context of such promises. Just before the wonderful promise of Jeremiah 29:11, God is letting Israel know that they are about to get a big spanking (ok, that is greatly minimizing being made eunuchs and taken into captivity 70 years). In that moment of promised retribution, He also injected encouragement and a promise of good things to follow the hardship about to visit His chosen people.

This reminds me of how much I detested punishing my children when they were young, but the folly bound in their hearts had to be purged, in order to get to the blessings in store for a child who would walk in wisdom. My heart deeply desires blessings for my children, but sometimes the road to blessing is paved with discipline. The one who disciplines is often viewed in a harsh light. Why can't sin just be overlooked and we still get our reward? Because God knows that treasuring sin will ultimately destroy us. If we excuse sin, we allow it to live in our members and grow. Dealing with sin as it should be dealt with is actually a kindness and brings life.

Discipline is never meant to be rejection, but rather restoration of our relationship to God. Living in the moment, we can neglect to see the larger picture of God's activity in the lives of His people. Perspective of hardship is altered when we recognize it is but one piece of fabric in the large quilt of our lives. Herein lies a bittersweet truth: We cannot claim the promises of God without claiming what precedes and follows them. Will we be a sunshine Christian, only praising God when blessings come, or a faithful follower, during blessings and hardships? Trusting His character, we can have eyes to see that what He permits is truly always for our good and achieving something far greater than what we see on the surface.

This morning, I was contemplating the fourth poor soul awaiting execution by ISIS, displayed for the world to see. Wanting to cling to God's promises through this crisis, I asked my children to pray with me for this man and for God to show Himself strong in this situation. I asked that God would strike the executioner dead and inject a fear of God in this vile enemy. My daughter then injected a prayer of her own – "can we pray that they would be saved, too?" I was at once humbled. Could I pray that? Is it possible that even this wicked organization could be saved? God knows. But while we wait for God's deliverance, we have to trust that even these difficult times serve a purpose – God will not waste this suffering. On the other side of every atrocity in history, there is a plan of redemption all for God's glory. That is where I place my hope this morning – in the context of God's promises.

Oh Lord, just as You were sovereign and Almighty when Paul was murdering Christians, You are the same All-powerful, All-seeing, All-knowing God who can convert a murderer into a man of God used by You to save many. Lord, I want to see You glorified in these times. Help us to understand and endure all hardship as discipline from a loving father. Please defend your people all for Your magnificent glory!!

posted by Denise Pass on 09/16/2014

Not Our Home Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Ephesians 4:1

"I, therefore, the prisoner for the LORD, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 22 You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires. 23 To be renewed in the spirit of your mind. 24 And to put on the new man who has been created in God's image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth. Therefore, having laid aside falsehood, each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 27 Do not give the devil an opportunity."

Ephesians 5:11, 15-17

"Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 15 Therefore be very careful how you live – not as unwise but as wise. 16 Taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the LORD's will is.

Imagine walking out your door in the morning to find everyone speaking a language you don't understand. As you go about your day, you notice you do not have much in common with all those around you. You have a choice to make: will you try to be like them, or choose to be different? Such was a similar scene in the sci-fi thriller, "The Bodysnatchers" which terrified me as a child. Every person's souls were snatched away, one by one, replaced by look-alikes who had no soul, no god. The panic was tangible – being the only one still with a soul, running into friends who were no longer who you thought they were. So it is today.

The native tongue today is lies. Flattery and white lies are uttered throughout the land. Even more bold, outright falsehood and slander permeate our society. If you speak the truth, it is not perceived or understood. Blinded by political correctness and dressed-up "truth", we each swallow the daily dose and march to the drum we are told to march to – or not. When I was first saved, my eyes were opened that I had been "bodysnatched" before, not really living at all. Once I knew God and His truth, suddenly the world around me seemed odd. Walking into a grocery store, I had never before been bothered by magazines with ungodly images, but now my heart felt differently. I was a citizen here in the United States, but also simultaneously a citizen of Heaven.

Such talk might sound strange to the unredeemed, but to those who have tasted and seen that the LORD is good, there is nothing this world has to offer that could ever come close to what God has given. Striving for self glorification is replaced with dying to self, serving others and glorifying God. Talking about others is substituted with praying for others. Former desires, which were once carnal and worldly, are now saturated with a desire to please God.

Oh, but if we could just stay there. I fear that the bodysnatchers have returned to deceive the elect – if that were possible. Once saved, we can begin to grow comfortable in our new culture and begin to adapt to a new blend – Christian hallmarks, with a touch of the world to be "relevant". Once we have been redeemed, we can't forget the cost for that redemption. We need to be vigilant to place reminders all around us, lest we grow lukewarm. God help us to not acquiesce to the culture around us, slowly being numbed to the evil all around, which is sometimes dressed up to look righteous.

Lord, no one is good, no not one. We all stumble in so many ways and each of us has gone astray. Strengthen your bride, LORD. Please help us to not compromise in this day and age and boldly live for You, no matter what the cost. Our cost could never compare to Yours, LORD. Thank You for paying the ultimate price for our salvation – may we cherish that sacrifice and live worthy of that payment!

posted by Denise Pass on 09/15/2014

Thoughtful Thursday: The Undeserved Reward Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)


Proverbs 22:4 "The reward for humility and fearing the LORD is riches and honor and life."

Hebrews 11:6 "Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."

2 Corinthians 4:17 "For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison."

Growing up, I recall being struck by a song Billy Joel wrote, "Only the Good Die Young". At the time, I was an unbeliever, not really aware I was an unbeliever. I thought everyone was a Christian. The lyrics affected me – my view of Christianity was that it was religious and boring. You know, the required attendance in church a couple of times a year that you yawn your way through. I believe this false message about Christianity is prolific and espoused not just by the world, but by Christians themselves who do not even recognize they have been duped.

Satan is cunning – if he can steal our joy by introducing hardship or sin into our lives, maybe, just maybe, he can convince us that walking with God is not worth it. Maybe He can twist our understanding of God enough that we perceive Him as too hard to please and remain far off. But the truth about God I daresay surprises many Christians, as well. God is not a joy killer. In fact, He delights to reward the very ones who were once His enemies. The problem with us is we want immediate praise or award and often are met with more trials. Hardly seems like thanks for what we perceive as good behavior in our walk with God. Unless our perspective is changed and we see the spiritual reality of God's promises. But those trials, perceived as unkind by a God who perhaps has forgotten us (injected lie from the enemy), serve to test and grow our faith, demonstrate His kindness, enablement and provision during those trials and our willingness to wait upon Him. His timing is perfect and His reward is worth the wait.

The most impactful sermon I have ever heard on this subject was by John Piper and it still affects me today. He challenged us to contemplate the superior pleasure of the rewards God has for us, versus the temporary gain we think we have from the world. Through some of the greatest seasons of adversity in my life, I have had the sweetest joy in my walk with God. One verse that still makes me weep to think upon it is from Psalm 27:13: "Where would I be if I did not believe I would experience the LORD's favor in the land of the living?" His goodness, His peace, far exceeds any joy this world offers. There is no comparison. Focusing on future rewards God promises that I cannot fully comprehend, I am blown away that such mercy and kindness should be given to man. God chooses to reward the violator, when He paid for the violation.

But sometimes it can be difficult to be so positive about the future when the present is so very painful. That is when fellowship with God is so very precious and our eternal lenses help us to gain perspective that this life truly is temporary. The world does not understand why we praise God in the midst of our pain. Suffering will end – what a glorious day! Every tear will be wiped dry! Our mindset is changed when we begin to understand that God is our reward. We can still delight when we think of the future glory we will have in Him – no more tears, no more pain, walking by the crystal lake on the way to our mansions in heaven – wow. Ironically, If it had not been for the pain in this life, I daresay our deliverance and reward would be as precious to us. Achieving for us a glory that far outweighs any inconvenience or sorrow this world offers, it will be worth it when we see God face to face in that day – the greatest joy ever.

In that day, when crowns are given to those who have been faithful, instead of delighting in that crown, we will cast them at His feet – the only Worthy One! What a moment that will be!

Oh Lord, we do not deserve Your kindness, to be rewarded, when we have been so ungrateful at times, hands stained red by our sins. Thank You for the immeasurable joy we have in You and for Your future promises. Help us to keep Your perspective when temporary calamity visits us. You are worth it and we worship You!

posted by Denise Pass on 09/11/2014

He Sees All Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Psalm 94:7-10 "They say, 'The LORD does not see this; the God of Jacob does not take notice of it.' 8 Take notice of this, you ignorant people! You fools, when will you understand? 9 Does the One who makes the human ear not hear? Does the one who forms the human eye not see? 10 He is the One Who imparts knowledge to human beings!

Jeremiah 23:23-24 "'Do you people think that I am some local deity and not the transcendent God?' the Lord asks. 'Do you really think anyone can hide himself where I cannot see him?' the LORD asks. 'Do you not know that I am everywhere?' the LORD asks."

Psalm 14:2 The LORD looks down from heaven at the human race, to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks God.

Psalm 33:14 "From his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth."

Romans 1:18-20 "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness. 19 Because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made, so people are without excuse."

The riveting and terrifying scene from Lord of the Rings in which Frodo and Sam are walking through Mordor trying to end their quest to destroy the ring and its pervasive evil is heightened by the presence of "the eye" who is able to see all. Yet, when the protagonist ducks, somehow he escapes the notice of this supposedly all-knowing, all-seeing god, which is representative of Satan. Not so with God.

Extremely grateful that God saw, noticed and saved me, I am simultaneously humbled that He does indeed see all. He is not how those who do not know Him perceive Him – looking for an opportunity to crush us, or the opposite, liberal grace, winking his eye, saying it is okay to rationalize and live for the flesh. He is ever watchful, seeing if any might come to repentance. What patience, what longsuffering, what goodness and holiness is the character of our living God! When we did not meet His righteous requirements, He met them for us. When we continued in our rebellion, He punished us in love, hoping to open our eyes. Still, we often choose not to see that He sees all.

The other day, one of my children said to me that he wished God would be as tangible to us today as He was in the Old Testament. God appeared in miraculous ways – a burning bush, a voice, sat and dined with Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu (Exodus 24:9), and countless other interactions with Israel's leaders and prophets. Why does God choose to be seemingly invisible today? The passage in Romans 1 makes it clear that God is very evident today, but He chose today to reveal Himself to us now through the Holy Spirit. It is by faith that the righteous shall live (Romans 1:17), yet God reveals Himself to those who will draw near. In this is a mystery – He is ever-present, and yet we need to seek Him to find Him. His ways are not our ways.

Our perception is that a Ruler would make His presence known. Israel was looking for a king to set things straight and rule. But our King instead chooses to die for His subjects and rule in our hearts, not a worldly throne. He has us as His feet and hands and grants us free will to choose how we ought to live. We might wish that God would demonstrate His presence bodily and eradicate all evil in this world, but we would be part of that eradication, too. Oh, the wisdom and mercy of our living God. He knows that none could ever be made righteous apart from Him, and although He truly sees all and appears disinterested with inaction, He is moving in mighty ways we cannot see in the spiritual realm. Do not be mistaken – God does not tolerate evil. The existence of evil is not condoned by God, and He will bring everything to account, but He will also have the precious blood of the Lamb covering those Who accept His free gift of atonement.

May the truth of God's ability to see and know all convict us to repent and live in a manner that is pleasing to Him. There is no fear in God's love – perfect love casts out fear – but there is incredible grace and beauty in the knowledge of His accountability and a standard of holiness. When we know we will be called to account, we stop quieting the convicting voice and start putting to death the misdeeds of the body. He is watching you. Will you draw near?

Oh, God, I am so amazed at You! Thank You for Your mercy! Your ways are so high above our ways. Grant us understanding so we might live fruitful lives here in the fear of the LORD. Help us to be Your voice in this generation and to open the eyes of all we encounter to You, wonderful You!

posted by Denise Pass on 09/10/2014

Wisdom is Humble Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

1 Kings 3:5-14

"One night in Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream. God said, 'Tell me what I should give you.' 6 Solomon replied, 'You demonstrated great loyalty to your servant, my father David, as he served you faithfully, properly, and sincerely. You have maintained this great loyalty to this day by allowing his son to sit on his throne. 7 Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in my father David's place, even though I am only a young man and am inexperienced. 8 Your servant stands among your chosen people; they are a great nation that is too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning mind so he can make judicial decisions for your people and distinguish right from wrong. Otherwise no one is able to make judicial decisions for this great nation of yours.' 10 The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request. God said to him, "Because you asked for the ability to make wise judicial decisions, and not for long life, or riches, or vengeance on your enemies, I grant your request, and give you a wise and discerning mind superior to that of anyone who has preceded or will succeed you. 13 Furthermore, I am giving you what you did not request – riches and honor so that you will be the greatest king of your generation. 14 If you follow my instructions by obeying my rules and regulations, just as your father David did, then I will grant you long life.'

Decisions. Difficult to make, especially when the heat and pressure is on. It was shortly after Solomon was endowed with wisdom that he had to choose between two women whose baby was whose. Just today I had to make a tough decision – many, actually. And the day has just begin. Thank God that He promises wisdom to all who ask Him. But what impresses me about this story of Solomon was his heart.

We all marvel that Solomon was not greedy and made a selfless decision. But upon further examination, I am amazed at the disposition of Solomon. True humility cannot be faked. On the spot, He is overwhelmed that God would ask him to choose at all. His first response was to praise God for His past kindness shown to his father, David, then for God's loyalty and godly character. He then states how amazed he is that God would choose him at all and professes his own weakness. I am blown away that he recognizes his lack of capacity to lead God's people and blatantly states that he cannot do it without God's help. Solomon had the most important thing settled in his soul: his kingdom was not his, the people he governed were God's. He needed wisdom from God to be able to judge in a way that pleased God. Wow.

I'd like to think we would all choose so wisely, but confess I can look over my life and see times where I saw God's grace to judiciously choose and times where I did not. What impeded walking in wisdom in those times? Perhaps, if we take inventory of our lives, we might see where we strayed more clearly. Were we leaning on God, or man's understanding in those times? I guess we could all say that Solomon also had moments like that, too. He was not perfect. (700 wives and 300 concubines, probably not so smart in this aspect of his life). But his heart saw his true, sincere need for God, and at the most critical moment at the beginning of His kingdom, He knew his foundation had to be laid in God.

Maybe some people reading this blog look over their lives and see wreckage. Regrets over past decisions which have impacted your life leave you wondering if there is any hope for recovery at all. The same invitation from God for Solomon is extended to you – ask God for wisdom, like Solomon did. Consequences might still remain, but in Christ they will serve to purify us and glorify Him. Maybe you are at a crossroads right now and need to make a decision which will potentially impact your life. Maybe you do not recognize that it will impact your life and just "go with the flow". Hopefully not.

Solomon lived a peaceful life. God had promised this before he was even a king, but God also knew what Solomon would ask for. Making wise decisions can bring peace, but sometimes unwise choices are made that affect your life, too, which you had no say in. Either way, we daily feel the impact of walking in wisdom and numbering our days aright, or not. Right now, we can choose to recognize our need of God and His wisdom. Really recognize it – not just give mental assent to it because it is what we are supposed to say. We can see our utter moral poverty before a Holy God and give Him our lives, which are His, after all.

In our quest to be wise, we can surround ourselves with people who are wise. We may know many people we consider wise, but possessing true wisdom is vastly different than one who is puffed up with knowledge. Who surrounds you in your daily life? Walking with fools can wreck your life and impact you, too. He who walks with the wise becomes wise.

Lord, help us to choose wisdom and to walk in a manner that pleases You. Help us to see our need of you and to have the humility to ask for Your wisdom and not rely or lean on our own understanding.

posted by Denise Pass on 09/09/2014

Fear Not! Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)
Psalm 91:1-9

"As for you, the one who lives in the shelter of the sovereign one, and resides in the protective shadow of the mighty King – 2 I say this about the LORD, my shelter and my stronghold, my God in Whom I trust – 3 He will certainly rescue you from the snare of the hunter and from the destructive plague. 4 He will shelter you with His wings; you will find safety under His wings. His faithfulness is like a shield or a protective wall. 5 You need not fear the terrors of the night, the arrow that flies by day, 6 the plague that comes in the darkness, or the disease that comes at noon. 7 though a thousand may fall beside you, or a multitude on your right side, it will not reach you. 8 Certainly you will see it with your very own eyes – you will see the wicked paid back. 9 For you have taken refuge in the LORD, my shelter, the Sovereign One."

Fear is in the air . . . especially if you get your daily dose of the terrorist propaganda or news of the spread of the dreaded Ebola. You can even watch a poor soul being beheaded to terrify you, though I have not done so and would not recommend condoning such savagery by viewing it. The pictures are enough to make us wonder if this evil force will succeed in their purposes, but somewhere in the quietness of our souls we know there is a Hero who has already won the war. Though we might suffer temporarily, we know God has a good purpose in it and that ultimately He will deliver. Praise His Name!

I cherish the promises in the Scriptures above. The casual observer might wonder what it means to be sheltered in His wings – He is not a winged being, but it is an illustration of His covering. Hidden in Him, He is our Protector. I had to laugh at the disease arriving at noon – that's how life is, isn't it? One moment, all is well, then the next you have a diagnosis or some crisis. But we do not need to fear what comes next or borrow troubles that might not ever visit us. Even when hardship or problems come our way, God never removes His love from us. No, He even uses that necessary evil to make us more like Him – a treasure far more valuable than temporary suffering.

Fear speaks of a lack of trust, uncertainty. Our times might be uncertain, but our God isn't. He is from everlasting to everlasting, the Eternal God. He already knows the end completely and it is His faithfulness and His character we can rest in. Evil will come and go and the temptation to fear will be tangible. It is at that moment that we need to CHOOSE to place our trust in God – our fear in Him, not in things which are destined to be destroyed. He is Our Defender and wants to show Himself strong on our behalf – we activate that defense by confidently trusting in Him by faith. Don't worry if you do not have sufficient faith – He can help you with that, too.

To everyone in these troubled times, God is in control. He is not surprised by the turmoil and evil around us, He's seen it before. The rise and fall of wicked men is a cyclic pattern, ultimately all for God's glory. Yes even evil will bring Him glory, because He is the only One, true, Holy God and He is the One Who is All-Powerful and able to conquer any foe. In Him I place my confidence, not our military or our leader, who the LORD put in the position of leadership, but in God alone. I hope this inoculation of the real "reality" of God's strength will help us to all realize the weakness in the enemy's armor – he is not a god, he is not all-powerful. He is a tool of the devil, destined to hell.

Lord, help us to trust in You – when we can't see You, when we are prone to doubt, increase our faith and help us to rely solely on You. Thank You, God, that You are always faithful! You know we are dust and You long to protect and defend us.

posted by Denise Pass on 09/03/2014

The Choice of Consequences Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

2 Samuel 24:10-15, 17

"David felt guilty after he had numbered the army. David said to the LORD, 'I have sinned greatly by doing this! Now, O LORD, please remove the guilt of your servant for I have acted foolishly.' 11 When David got up the next morning, the LORD has already spoken to Gad the prophet, David's seer. 12 'Go, tell David, this is what the LORD says: I am offering you three forms of judgment, Pick one of them and I will carry it against you.' 13 Gad went to David and told him, 'Shall seven years of famine come upon your land? Or shall you flee for three months from your enemy with him in hot pursuit? Or shall there be three days of plague in your land? Now decide what I should tell the one who sent me.' 14 David said to Gad, 'I am very upset! I prefer that we be attacked by the LORD, for His mercy is great; I do not want to be attacked by men.' 15 So the LORD sent a plague through Israel from the morning until the completion of the appointed time. Seventy thousand men died from Dan to Beer Sheba. 17 When he saw the angel who was destroying the people, David said to the LORD, "Look, it is I who have sinned and done this evil thing! As for these sheep – what have they done? Attack me and my family.'"

Sin. Free will. Our choices impacting others often with devastating results. David was a man after God's own heart, yet when he had sinned, there was going to be a consequence. I cannot imagine being given a choice for the punishment I was about to receive. The guilt that David wanted to be released from resulted in seventy thousand men dying. Seventy thousand. Not sure my guilt would be allayed after such a tragic loss from my own sin. David had already tasted of the option of fleeing for 15 years while his enemy was in hot pursuit, the thought of that must have been too painful to consider, all though he knew the terrain well. I guess seven years of famine was not his favorite, either. Three days was a shorter time of suffering and meted out by the hand of God, not man – surely it would be easier?

The cause for this turmoil? Counting his men. Today, the gravity of such a decision surely falls flat. Wow – counting an army is sin, much less, worth the loss of 70,000 men? Why? What or who prompted David to do such a thing, knowing it would not be pleasing to the LORD? The Bible says the Lord moved David to count. Uh oh. Trouble here – God is Holy and righteous – He never tempts us with evil – but this is looking a little tricky. Until we understand that God moment by moment keeps us from sin, but on this occasion, He perhaps removed that hedge and allowed Satan to tempt David, we cannot comprehend how often He prevents us from the same. Oh how I want God to keep me from sinning – yet we often do not see each day the miracles around us that keep us in Christ. David could have been motivated by pride, wanting to know how mighty his army was, or it could have been any myriad of motives – perhaps not trusting God – as if counting the army would assure victory? Either way, he decided in that moment of temptation, that it was worth it, perhaps not thinking through the consequences of disobedience.

Have you ever felt the consequence of your sin? How about the consequences of another's sin? It's a bummer for sure, when someone else has made a choice that rocks your world, but then perhaps we have not thought about how our sin might have impacted others, too. I remember crying out to God over the pain my children and I were enduring because of another person's sin against us. We were dragged to court relentlessly while the person who committed the wrong placated their guilt by proclaiming their own victim status. I wept before the Lord and asked, "Why, God, must we suffer and have consequences for his sin?" In that place of agony, shock and horror, God whispered to my heart, "I wasn't angry with you when I bore your sin."

End of pity party for this girl. Did God care that my children and I was suffering? He did. He also cared for the one who transgressed and caused the turmoil. But He modeled perfect love in bearing all of our sins. I realized in that moment that I had to let go of anger – I was just as guilty of sin, not the same sin – but that there were still going to be consequences. I wonder what it was like for David after all those people died? I am sure humility would reign the rest of his days. I wonder if people persecuted him or were like, I don't want to make him sin – we will all suffer, lol.

Today if you are reminded of a sin that you have committed which has hurt others, lay it at Christ's feet, repent, make amends as God leads and forgive yourself. A guilty conscience is not pleasing to God. Live as one freed from prison on a mission to free others, too.

Lord, help us to live in holy fear and to consider our actions carefully, that we might not sin against you. May we not sin against another and live thoughtfully a life of forgiveness and mercy, all for Your magnificent glory!

posted by Denise Pass on 09/02/2014

Rest in the Midst of the Daily Grind Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)


Matthew 11:28: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Mt:14:23: "And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone."

Mk:1:35: "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed."

Lk:5:16: "And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed"

Lk:6:12: "And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God."

Lk:22:41: "And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed."

Lk:22:44: "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."

Surrounded by a throng of people, all demanding His time and what He could do for them, Jesus knew all too well how difficult it was to find a place of rest in the midst of a demanding, busy schedule. Still, He knew to put his big rock in – He knew He needed time with God the Father, to be able to minister to all those around Him. Jesus modeled dependency on His Father and the need for it. He, being fully God, showed us in His humanity that He recognized He could not carry out His mission without God's enablement and strength.

I recently had the blessing of getting away for a weekend with my husband. The aches and pains I feel every day began to vanish – it made me realize that I am not cognizant of the stress my daily life places on me. The daily grind can be harmful if we let it be. I get away with God in devotion time in the morning before the household is astir, but my tank is quickly depleted and I find I am needful of many bursts of solitude with God. How to achieve this with 5 precious children, a darling husband, and multiple jobs? I confess I do not know the answer yet, but I am on the hunt for it. Perhaps prayer walks where I force myself out to get a breath of fresh air, coupled with hopping in the bath tub with no noise, no agenda on my mind are great starts. Getting away for a day, if possible, also help us regain perspective that is quickly lost in the mind-numbing routine we are slaves to.

Sometimes I can be a workaholic and forget that busyness does not necessarily mean I accomplish a lot. God does not want us burnt out – diligent and purposeful, but also resting in Him. If you find yourself burdened or stressed, right in that place Christ can come and give you rest. Sometimes, though, we need to step away. Christ did, too. You are worth it and you need it. Or maybe God is calling you to create that space in someone else's life – someone else who is buried in responsibility and over-burdened. May we not forget the importance of rest and prioritize its place in our lives. The seemingly mundane constant force of "to do's" may never end, but the wisdom to know how to rightly handle it can make all the difference in the world. Perhaps even some items in our daily grind need to get crossed off, pruned even. God can reveal those things in time with Him.

Lord, we are so needful of You and Your power for everyday life. Help us to not get so caught up in the daily grind that we forget to look up to You. Help us to have a firm perspective on this gift of life and not forget the mission we are called to in the sea of never-ending responsibilities. You are our life – help us to live our lives out for Your glory, no matter what encompasses us about.

posted by Denise Pass on 09/01/2014

A Test for the Heart Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Proverbs 17:3 – "The crucible is for refining silver and the furnace is for gold, likewise the LORD tests the hearts."

Jeremiah 17:10 – "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve."

1 Chronicles 29:17a – "I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.

Deuteronomy 8:2 – "And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not."

Test day – usually a day of apprehension, even if you have prepared thoroughly. Will your preparation be enough? What if you do not pass? What is the purpose of testing? As a homeschool mom, it has been an amazing adventure to watch my children grow from exposure to various curricula to mastery of many subjects. Sometimes it seems futile – "why learn all of these facts we will never use in real life?" is the repeated cry within our walls, but the application of many subjects becomes evident in time. But testing the heart cannot be done by hooking up to a heart monitor, no, the Word of God and trials are able to shed light on the true condition of our hearts.

Sometimes a student can fantasize about supposed sinister motives of professors, seeking to entrap students and trip them up, but I love contemplating the LORD's motives for testing us – He wants to reward us. He is not seeking to expose our evil for exposition's sake – He wants to rid of us our evil and then encourage us in the things that are pleasing in His sight. What a good God! He wants to remove the burden of sin and set us free. Testing us reveals the inner motives that need to be purged and removes the dross from our lives.

While God allows in testing, He does not tempt anyone, nor is He tempted with evil, but when we triumph over those evil things that are permitted into our lives, He is pleased and truly glorified. We and others see that our faith is genuine – deeply rooted in a vibrant relationship with our living God. Rather than despising the testing, submitting to God and seeking His purpose within and responding in humility and surrender can cause the testing to be fruitful. Resenting the testing will likely bring more tests your way and not be fun.

So what should be our response? Delight hardly seems plausible or genuine, but perhaps our view of delight is skewed. I remember making a deal with the LORD when I was a new Christian. I would serve Him if I never had a miscarriage and never had any children with severe allergies. Laugh out loud. Embarrassing to admit, but true. When I lost my second child due to a miscarriage, God warned me ahead of time and the trust and peace I had in Him when it happened amazed me. "In His faithfulness, He afflicts those He loves." Of course I was sad and did not want to suffer such a loss, but I never felt more loved by my God. Make sense to the world? Probably not, but I had learned in that trial to trust God's hand and purposes even in suffering. I would later find that my firstborn was afflicted with Celiac Disease – far worse than allergies. What a merciful God to reveal the disease, that we might help heal her. Perspective.

If everything was easy and we never sought to challenge ourselves, how would we grow? And character growth is a beautiful sight to behold, indeed. Testing produces good fruit for those engage in the process. Pop quizzes are not fun at all – they seem unfair in that one did not have sufficient time to prepare. Likewise, perhaps the next trial to come will take you by surprise, but it doesn't surprise God – He already knows it completely and knows the end. Let the peace of Christ fall on us in that promise. Preparation for whatever the future holds is now. Seize the day and invest your life in God. The word you memorize today might be the grace you need tomorrow.

Lord, help us to recognize our need for growth and to yield to You in the process of trials that come our way. Thank You that Your purposes are always good in them and that we will come out of the trial refined like silver for Your glory!

posted by Denise Pass on 08/28/2014

Children of the Promise Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Galatians 4:22, 23, 28-31

For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 But one, the son by the slave woman, was born by natural descent, while the other, the son by the free woman, was born through the promise. 28 But you, brothers and sisters, are children of the promise like Isaac. 29 But just as at that time the one born by natural descent persecuted the one born according to the Spirit, so it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? "Throw out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the son" of the free woman. 31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman but of the free woman.

Sibling rivalry. Nonsensical and yet so commonplace. It was present in the first two brothers in all creation, Cain and Abel. It is present now, played out on the world stage in the Middle East. Envy was at the root then and it is now. As a parent, I seek to stamp it out, but it is hard to convince our flesh that it is ok when one is seemingly blessed more than another. Man shakes his fist accusingly at God when he thinks that he has been unfairly treated, and yet what does it mean for us to be fairly treated? Why would any of us ever deserve favor from God? But I digress.

Each day as I open God's word, I see evidences of God's favor and the resulting envy on the part of those not a part of His promise. I see it on the evening news. People perceiving that they are owed something. People blaming another people group pretty much for existing. What is difficult for man to accept is that God chose a people – His people – to be the apple of His eye. It is His prerogative to choose – He is the Creator, after all. He chose to grant Abraham and Sarah a son, Isaac. They took matters into their own hands and had Ishmael. But God was not going to bless the action done outside of His will. He knew from the beginning what His plan was and His plans have never gone unfulfilled.

The amazing thing these other people groups neglect to see is that all people groups can be a part of the promise. It was through Israel that all nations would be blessed. I am a part of the promise, though I am not Jewish. Grafted in, adopted as one of His own – I will never understand why such undeserved mercy was granted to me. While the favor God granted to the Israelites might appear unfair – we all want to be chosen as the captain of the team – God knew Abraham's heart – He is omniscient and His purposes are so far above ours.

The spirit behind the envy is the same spirit as the ancient enemy of our souls – he was jealous of God's place and wanted to be like the Most High. So the enemies of God's people foolishly think they can take the place of God's chosen. Their plot is evil and will end up with the same result as the devil – forever cursed to hell. May God open their eyes to see that the One they are persecuting is God Himself.

Lord, help us to shine Your light and love to all peoples. Anyone Who calls on the Name of the Lord may be saved. The days are evil, but You are still calling people to Yourself. Please use even this evil circumstance to draw even more to Yourself. You are good, God, all the time!

posted by Denise Pass on 08/27/2014

The Strength of Weakness Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Galatians 4:13

"But you know it was because of a physical illness that I first proclaimed the gospel to you, and though my physical condition put you to the test, you did not despise or reject me."

Weakness. Despised by our culture and not something to be proud of. Yet it was physical infirmity that first propelled Paul to share the Gospel with the Galatians. Paul's weakness is not known – perhaps the recent stoning he was subjected to, or a sickness of some sort. Either way, it was an uncomfortable distraction that God used. God had chosen to use weak vessels before. He even came as an infant Himself – the most fragile state of humanity, in a crude rustic dwelling. Why? It does not make sense to our sophisticated culture or ways that God, Who is Almighty God and Creator, would allow Himself to be taken care of by weak humans.

But the wisdom of God confounds our supposed insight and ways. It seems to me that Paul could have done even more for the kingdom of God if he were physically well, but then sometimes when we operate in our own strength we do not see our need of God and take for granted the health we do have. Sickness humbles you and that is a gift in disguise. Oh, I know, I sound so pious saying it is a gift – surely I cannot mean it. But it is, in fact, in the midst of some of the most humbling health challenges that I have felt the closest to God. Now that makes it all worth it. Add to that being able to help another soul struggling along because you have been there – incomparable to having a perfect pain-free life.

Oh, sure, it hurts, and sometimes I wonder why. But the struggle is part of living – the highs and lows, the joys, triumphs and sorrows. Where would I know the comfort of God if it were not for those precious moments of deep pain? Oh, I could wish that I would not have to feel the throbbing sting of impertinent diseases, but I trust my Savior's hand, and I know that I know He will never let a trial or a pain go unused for my good and His glory. I find myself in a similar situation as Paul. God still births songs and devotions in my heart to share with people, and simultaneously I am battling physical battles, as well. I am not sure if autoimmune diseases were around in Paul's time, but whatever affliction Paul had, it was significant and it affected him. His illness made sharing the Gospel harder, but it was also a catalyst for his mission and the growth of the church in Galatia.

Why does God allow in sickness, hardship, things which are a stigma in our culture? The rain falls on the good and the bad. Now, I am not calling myself good – God calls righteous those who are covered by the blood of His Son. If unbelievers see the rain falling on Christians, who turn around and praise God while it is raining, doesn't that provide a beautiful display of God's grace in the fire? So it's raining right now, and I am choosing to sing in the rain. My body hurts and it makes it harder to do normal things, but I will praise His Name and look for His deliverance! If you feel like you cannot keep going on, lean harder on Jesus and know that He is able to grant you strength beyond what you could ever imagine. You never know, you might even find yourself doing something crazy like thanking Him for the very thing you despised.

Jehovah Rapha, I thank You that You are my Healer. You have healed me before and I look to You again as my Healer – spiritually and physically. I thank you for this thorn in my flesh and pray that You are honored and glorified in it. Please help those who are hurting and doubting Your goodness when life is challenging. Give them Your hope and joy.

posted by Denise Pass on 08/25/2014

Forgiveness Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)
Proverbs 17:9

"The one who forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever repeats a matter separates close friends."

Proverbs 17:9

"The one who loves a quarrel loves transgression; whoever builds his gate high seeks destruction."

Proverb 18:18

"A toss of a coin ends disputes, and settles the issue between strong opponents.:

Proverbs 18:19

"A relative offended is harder to reach than a strong city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a fortified citadel."

Driving to court once again in a vicious court battle, I heard the same song I heard every time I was headed to court, protecting my children: "Forgiveness" by Matthew West. My children and I had been wronged, then we were dragged to court, but what God wanted most from me was to let go of any bitterness and to forgive. Right smack dab in the middle of being the recipient of more false accusations and the agony of court, God wanted me to let the hurt, anger and bitterness go. I did. Even more difficult to let go of was wishing the other side would apologize for the drama they put us through. But seeking satisfaction by wanting someone else to say you are right can be self-worship and narcissistic. The dispute really is not what it appears on the surface.

Solomon reports on the folly of quarrels and reveals the hidden motives and attitudes. If we love to quarrel, we love sin? Wow. But sometimes, despite the fact that you have communicated forgiveness, a relative can remain offended. (Side note – isn't it funny that it is a relative? It can also, of course, be a stranger or a friend). Or sometimes boundaries have to be in place to protect you from further offense. What then? In one breath I wish we could do as verse 18 says and flip a coin. Wouldn't that be nice? Heads – the matter is resolved in your favor. But would that satisfy our inner desire to be right? Would that stop all harmful behavior? What if the coin toss was not in our favor? The lot is cast and its every decision is from the LORD – could we accept that? Probably not. Even winning in court does not resolve the matter.

We want justification, we want disagreements fairly resolved. But perhaps our sense of justice is not just? If we repeat a matter over and over again seeking justification, perhaps we are trying to not just prove it to ourselves but garner and groom an audience for our glory? Yuck. Being right is not as beautiful as it once seemed. Assuredly, there are times when a disagreement was truly more one person's fault than the other, but the liberation that comes from laying down an unresolved dispute is sweet. Give it over to the only perfectly wise, all-knowing God. Let go of pursuing vindication in anyone's eyes but His.

So the end of the matter? Crucify the flesh and give up the right to be right. Lay it down at the Master's feet and forgive. Do what you can to promote unity, but have boundaries. Sometimes the relationship just isn't healthy and no amount of coin tossing or extensive conversations could ever resolve the matter. Simply put, everyone is not going to like you. Every disagreement does not end happily. People can choose to remove you from their lives, or you have to remove them from your life if it is a toxic relationship. Get over it and focus on what is really important – living to please God and loving those God has placed in your life. Move on from harboring resentment and focus on the positive things in your life. Instead of turning thoughts and discussions over in your mind, dwell on Scriptures. After some time and distance has transpired since the situation, go afresh to God and see if there was any wrong you committed. Confess it and forgive yourself. We can communicate love and forgiveness, but sometimes the person who has chosen to hate you or hold a grudge against you prefers their assumed victim status, or maybe, just maybe, we were the problem, after all. Ultimately, a clear conscience is far more rewarding than living a fantasy full of bitterness.

Lord, help us to surrender our desire to be proved right. You are the only One Righteous One. May we forgive others as You have so freely forgiven us.

posted by Denise Pass on 08/21/2014

The Worthy One Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Psalm 86:10, 15

"For You are great and do amazing things. You alone are God. 15 But You, O LORD, are a compassionate and merciful God. You are patient and demonstrate great loyal love and faithfulness."

Buried in a mountain of paperwork all day, I had to emerge with the intent of my heart this morning of blogging what I discovered with the Psalmist today, on this wonderful "Worshipful Wednesday". As I was reflecting on what it means to worship God – really worship Him, I was reminded of the definition of worship. The first definition that popped up on Google was interesting – "the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity". Wow. In today's society we worship many things – comfort, food, clothing, fashion, materialism, but this definition got it mostly right – only a deity – rather, THE one true Deity, God Almighty, is worthy of worship and the rightful recipient of worship.

God is worthy of our worship, but I daresay we miss the privilege of reflecting on that worth often as we barely tarry long enough in His presence. So what is worship? For me it is my eyes filled with tears daily as I write these devotionals, as I marvel at how good God is. It is an inner joy and delight when I think of Him. It is gratitude filling my soul to the brim. It is contentment when sorrow is overwhelming. It is simply thinking on Him and His word and proclaiming in my spirit and out loud truths about how worthy of praise God is. It is choosing to worship Him when my soul is burdened. He is too much for me to fully contemplate or comprehend. Why, oh why, did He choose to have mercy on me? I am undone.

Words are casually used today. People proclaim that objects, people or circumstances are "amazing" or "awesome". We can quickly apply such terms to God, but if it is not sincere, it become an overused term lacking passion, zeal and the love that God deserves. Pause and take time to read the verse above. Really read it. What great and amazing things has God done in, for and through you? Have we recognized His amazing acts or have they gone unnoticed? Do we take for granted the goodness of God? Our gardens should grow, our cars should work, our bank accounts should be full . . . but when things things do not come to pass, do we still worship Him? Or are we sunshine Christians who worship halfheartedly or only when things are blessed in our eyes?

Oh, savor His compassion and mercy, that He did not destroy us. His patience, forbearance, loyalty and faithfulness that are so much more than we deserve.

Oh God, I worship You alone! I proclaim Your worth, Your magnificent Holiness! Draw us near to You that we may worship You in spirit and in truth!

posted by Denise Pass on 08/20/2014

He is Enough Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Exodus 16:12 "I have heard the murmurings of the Israelites. Tell them, 'During the evening you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be satisfied with bread, so that you may know that I am the LORD your God.' 19 "Moses said to them, 'no one is to keep any of it until morning.' 20 But they did not listen to Moses; some kept part of it until morning, and it was full of worms and began to stink, and Moses was angry with them."

Philippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."

Enough. What is enough? Who determines what is enough? I can relate to the Israelites here – our tendency is to judge them for not trusting and trying to gather more – kind of gluttonous – but I daresay we all do the same thing. With a miracle like bread coming from the sky and God promising to give them just what they need, one could rest secure, right? Yet with similar provision from God that might appear less miraculous, we also can resist dependence on God and place our confidence in our own ability to make enough preparations.

Don't get me wrong – preparation is not a bad thing. Boy Scouts everywhere boast of the necessity of being prepared. (o: In fact, lack of preparation is being slack and not a good character quality at all. But what I am talking about is more a motive of the heart than diligence. God permitted the Israelites to gather twice the amount before the Sabbath so they could rest – and the worms did not come, nor did the stench reminiscent of gathering too much on previous days. God had them work to gather food, but He was the source of that food. He wanted to be their Provider in relationship with His creation.

Perhaps it is not about trusting whether or not God will provide, but whether or not His provision will line up with what we think we need. Trusting His goodness, wisdom and sovereignty to see our need and meet it. When my husband was laid off in 2012, we had no savings. Poor planning, you might say, but difficult circumstances had acquired any extra income and now we were facing an uncertain time. Would God provide? Oh yes! Just days later, we would receive income sufficient for the time God had placed on my heart – 8 months with no steady income. Random checks in the mail, a booming garden, and miraculous gifts of food that were exactly what my heart desired, proved to me that God cared about the little details. Friends could not have known that I missed feta cheese and coconut oil, for I had only told the LORD that – but I received those two items from several friends who felt "led" to give them to me. We had so much in the garden that I was able to bless people back who had blessed us.

I look back at that time with gratitude and joy. Uncertain times, but a peace and faith that God granted in the midst. The Israelites had just experienced God's amazing deliverance by His parting of the sea. Now God was testing their hearts – He wanted them to know that He was the Lord their God. If the trials and testings never came, we would not value the provision that God sends. We would not be satisfied if we never knew want. The element of trusting in God and His promises for provision is the core message. We all do not like to be uncomfortable and our flesh can quickly accuse God when He allows in discomfort, until we recognize it is His loving hand and a heart that desires to have fellowship with us.

One last thing – when someone makes a promise to provide, one usually would want to know for certain that they have the ability to provide. A borrower wants to be assured that the lender is able to supply his request. To doubt the capability of the living God to provide – Creator of all and the owner of all on this planet – is lunacy. He has more than enough and is able to do far beyond what we ever could imagine. To doubt His goodness to provide is also insanity. Goodness does not equal giving us everything we want. We might not be able to go see a movie or go out to eat whenever we want, but that pales in comparison to true needs. Don't despise the moments of needing to lean on God more. Recognizing our need of Him is the greatest gift of all.

Dear Lord, please grant us perspective to see Your purposes and not just the surface we are experiencing. Thank You that You provided Your Son when we were yet Your enemies. Thank You for Your steadfast love and care.

posted by Denise Pass on 08/19/2014

The Gift of Law Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)
Galatians 3:19, 22, 24 "Why then was the law given? It was added because of transgressions, until the arrival of the descendant to whom the promise has been made. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything and everyone under sin that the promise could be given – because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ – to those who believe. 24 Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith.

Psalm 119:97-98 "O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For they are ever mine....".

The wise Psalmist realized it was a blessing to have God's law. Paul saw the gift of the law, leading us to the Promise of God. Kenneth Starr proclaimed those same words, "I love the law" during the Clinton impeachment hearings/investigation. Persecuted because he would not acquiesce to the political correctness or the dumbed-down lines of what is right or wrong, he stood firmly on the side of truth. But not everyone feels the same about the law.

Our natural flesh recoils at the word "law". Images of children defying the boundaries laid out for them because they do not want their spirit to be ruled are similar to the very real rebellion we have today. Seeking freedom from control, our society is ironically controlled by our lack of control – enslaved by the very chains we were trying to break. Seemingly confining, the law is an enigmatic blessing; it imposes a righteous standard, exposes our sinfulness and need of a Savior. Without the law I would not know what is right or be able to see my sin. Lawlessness would rule and violations would escalate.

With boundaries comes freedom. Monetarily, if I stay within my budget and have leftovers, I am free to use that money toward ends not defined. Conversely, if I resent a budget and go into debt thinking I deserve that freedom, I become enslaved to the lender. Teenagers are loved when a parent tries to impede sin, but sadly, sometimes they deem that covering as a burden and remove the umbrella of protection God intended, electing a harsher road.

So it is with our souls. We want to be free, but do not understand what freedom is. In Psalms 16:6, David said, "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." David was hiding from Saul when he penned this Psalm, fearing for his very life. He was grateful that God spared him once again. He did not get angry with God that He permitted such circumstances, but was praising God for His Deliverance in the midst of dire times. Humility and gratitude for what good God allowed...not resentment for the pain and troubles God also allowed. God in His infinite wisdom knows what good we can reap even from the hideous things that seem of no value at all.

The law creates a vacuum – all pronounced guilty, we look to the hope that somewhere we can be excused from our guilt. The discomfort is increased when violations begin to stack up. We self-righteously try to find incidences in which we actually obeyed the law – surely there is a commandment of God's we have not broken! We compare ourselves to a worse transgressor than ourselves, thinking that will give us the relief we long for. Or perhaps we attempt to redefine the boundaries with our new, higher wisdom, which is no different than the same tricks mankind played centuries and a millennia ago.

Cease striving, friend. God loves You and knows you could never meet His righteous requirements. I thank God for His sweet law. I thank God that He is Holy and Good. I thank God for the day when I realized I was a sinner. I used to mock the term "born again" until God found me. My spirit did not enjoy seeing how vile a creature I was, but in that moment of pain there was the greatest liberation of my soul. God did not leave me there in condemnation; while He could not excuse my sin, He convicted me and then pronounced a sentence of "not guilty"! He alone is my Righteousness. I do not deserve that grace, but it is FREE. He made the law and He fulfilled it – hallelujah! If you have not accepted this provision for your sin, friend, please do. He can set you free today!

Oh God, thank You for Your law. Thank You that You never change. Thank You that You set standards because You want to free us from sin and death – because You love us. You are so good and I worship You! Help our country to see the law as a blessing and to return to the foundation which was laid for it. Help the citizens of our country to bow their knee to Your law and be saved.

posted by Denise Pass on 08/18/2014

Fear and Illusive Safety Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Proverbs 16:17

"The highway of the upright is to turn from evil; the one who guards his way safeguards his life."

Proverbs 3:24
"When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet."

Proverbs 18:10
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe."

Job 5:22
"You shall laugh at destruction and famine, And you shall not be afraid of the beasts of the earth."

Psalms 112:7
"He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord."

Psalms 91:9,10
"Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;"

Isaiah 43:1,2
"...Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you."

In an uncertain world, it is amazing anyone of us feels safe. Just yesterday I heard of a friend who was making funnel cakes in a tent when all of a sudden a tree fell out of nowhere upon him and he was hospitalized. Crazy. It was not even raining outside. Evil villains slaughter innocent children and blame their radical so-called faith for their actions, people loot stores and threaten violence because of a perceived injustice; yes friends, fear is still a tool used by the enemy daily, seeking to rob us of security. Even if it is not crazed people terrorizing the general public, earthquakes, hurricanes, natural disasters and accidents happen daily. So what is a Christian to do? Be afraid? Maybe. Give in to fear? Never.

Fear of flying can keep you from venturing through the sky, fear of water can keep you from exploring the sea, fear of criminals can keep you in at night, fear of well almost anything can steal your joy and make you feel unsafe. But isn't it so wonderful that as Christians we do not need to fear ANYTHING except for only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). You may say, "bad things happen to Christians, too". Yes, the rain falls on the good and the bad, but perfect love casts out fear.

What is this perfect love? Amazing grace to uphold you when the fire is hot and the waters are deep. Strength beyond what you ever thought you were capable of when you felt weak. The will to endure when trials are long and arduous. And more . . . much more. Until you have walked through the pain and sting of real fear and threats, one cannot contemplate how very real the presence of God is in those moments. His promise to be with us during those moments is the singular most significant difference we have when compared with unbelievers walking through the same trials.

My hope is that in this very difficult time with so much tumult throughout the world, that whoever reads this blog will find comfort in the midst. He is our refuge, our dwelling place, our strong tower. We are safe when we run to Him. Shadrach and his pals saw God's amazing intervention and deliverance from the fire; Daniel did, too, in the lion's Den. The Israelites saw God part the Red Sea then swallow up their enemies. God can do that for you, too. But even if He in His perfect sovereignty does not choose to deliver you FROM the fear or hardship, He very well might deliver you THROUGH it.

Fear not – rely on God and His mighty arm today! He is able to strengthen us and will accomplish His purposes all for His glory and our good. What an amazing God.

Lord, help us to trust in You and that You will not give us more than we can bear, but will grant us strength to bear through it. You are good, Lord, and we want to shine genuine faith to a world that suffers alongside us. Thank you for being our refuge and very real ever-present help in times of trouble.

posted by Denise Pass on 08/15/2014

Which Way is Right? Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Proverbs 16:2

"All a person's ways seem right in his own opinion, but the LORD evaluates the motives."

Psalm 81:12

"I gave them over to their stubborn desires; they did what seemed right to them."

Here we are again on Thoughtful Thursday. I am so grateful for the wisdom God gives us in His Word. Reading the book of Proverbs is like drinking refreshing water for the soul. Today I was struck by the verses above, one from Proverbs and one from the Psalms. Evaluating truth has become very complex today - determining what is right is almost considered being judgmental - in truth, we stumble over its simplicity.

Who is right today? So many differing political and religious opinions - how can we know truth? It is an age old question that Pilate asked Jesus in John 18:28, "What is truth?" Pressed by all those who were claiming many falsehoods about Christ, Pilate knew that Christ embodied the truth - He was truth personified - and yet Pilate caved and acquiesced to the voices that were louder. The people wanted an insurrectionist, a murderer, a terrorist, if you will, released - Barabbas - not God. Not truth, but a lie. Claiming innocence, he still did not lead according to truth, but according to peer pressure. Sound familiar?

Left to our own devices, we are easily led astray, too - that is the natural drift. We think so many thoughts in a day, I cannot fathom counting them all, yet God knows each and every one. Amazing. God can reveal our inner heart if we ask Him to help us recognize our hidden motives. Running our thoughts through the filter of God's Word and through prayer helps us to discern whether our thinking is godly and right. Only He can evaluate our thoughts accurately and justly - we lack the objectiveness and sincerity. Top that off with the reality that our own hearts within us are deceitful. Bummer. But laying down our agendas again and again, surrendering our way to His Word is a great start and lifestyle.

We have all heard the WWJD phrase, and I believe it was helpful, at first. But complacency and rationalization often keep me lulled into a sense of "I'm ok", and excusing myself based on my intentions rather than my actions. I can whitewash any motive and sanctify it with nice religious sounding terms, but the Holy Spirit nudges me - do I listen? Sometimes I just want to rest. I want to feel like I have arrived. But we dare not look back from the plow and cease our laboring in Christ - it will be worth it all.

God does grant us rest in Him, but we must saturate our minds in His Word to ascribe toward the mind of Christ. Our flesh is always ready to offer an easier road, but it is a deceitful one. Cling to God and His Word today. Read when you don't want to. Do hard things and run hard after God. God promises to give us wisdom if we cry out - He alone can reveal if the path we are on is right. Unlike Pilate, let us not be sidetracked by the multitude of opinions or political correctness. Like Pilate, let us recognize that only Christ was truth and the source of discerning truth. He still is today. Recognizing Christ as LORD and truth is not the same as living that truth out in relationship. Keep living the truth and put truth out there - lest any goodness remaining in this world become engulfed with lies.

Lord, please open up our eyes to see Your truth. Help us to boldly proclaim your truth and not cave in to the fear of man. God help us and have mercy on us!

posted by Denise Pass on 08/14/2014

A Fight Against God Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Psalm 83:1-5
"O God, do not be silent! Do not ignore us! Do not be inactive, O God! 2 For look, your enemies are making a commotion; those who hate You are hostile. 3 They carefully plot against Your people, and make plans to harm the ones you cherish. 4 They say, "Come on, let's annihilate them so they are no longer a nation! Then the name of Israel will be remembered no more. Yes, they devise a unified strategy; they form an alliance against you."

My heart is grieved at the horror and atrocities being committed now by the hands of wicked men who slaughter innocent children. And why? Because they believe in Jesus. Simultaneously, Israelites are murdered with a hope of completely wiping them off the face of the earth. And why? Because they believe in One God. Such hatred – who is behind it all? The same enemy of our souls from the very beginning does his bidding through these men who claim to be radical Islamic Sunnis doing god's holy calling. Really? Who are they really hating? God Himself.

This is nothing new underneath the sun. Mankind has been subjugating and persecuting one another since the beginning. From the first offspring – Cain who killed his own flesh and blood over jealousy – to nations trying to kill Israel and Christians for thousands of years. We have come so far, or so we thought we had. A holocaust could not happen again, could it? Symbols painted on doors sounds familiar. Witnesses of the Holocaust in WWII had hoped we learned a lesson from that time and that we would not repeat history, but these things are destined to occur.

Scripture is replete with prophesies – it is going to get worse, not better. So what are we to do? Cry out! Who knows if we might have yet another revival? Who knows if God will grant victory? God is sovereign and already knows the end, but we who are here at this place and time are here for a reason – not just to be bystanders shaking our heads, but to pray on the behalf of those who are being killed and persecuted ruthlessly. We cannot stand by and be idle. We cannot bury our head in the sand. We must stand with our persecuted brethren. God forbid that such atrocities should visit the USA, but I fear that time is imminent. For such a time as this, may we be faithful and fervent. For such a time as this may we boldly proclaim Christ and not shrink back. For such a time as this may we pray continually. El Roi – God sees. All.

Although it is hard as a human being to not think or ourselves, ultimately this hate is all toward God, and we are His representatives. They hated Him, they hate us. They might win a battle, but God has already won the war.

Oh God, most Holy, Sovereign Lord – You know all, and You see the crimes committed against Your children – the apple of Your eye. You see their tears and count each one. You are not far off, but are ever-present, enabling those who are suffering. Please help them, God! Hide them in the cleft of the rock – place a hedge of protection around them and show Yourself as their strong Deliverer. Act on the behalf of Christians and Jews and defeat our enemies – all for Your glory!

posted by Denise Pass on 08/13/2014

Tolerance? Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

2 Corinthians 11:3-4; 14-15
"But I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treachery, your minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, or a different Gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will correspond to their actions."

Today is marked by an atmosphere of tolerance. We are not politically or religiously correct if we dare to believe that there is truly one way. Now I am not speaking about different denominations, as people can have varying convictions, and there are certainly differing freedoms we can have in Christ, as well. But there is one faith that is truly acceptable by God, and that, the Christian faith.

Yes, today the knees are bowed to tolerance and the irony is that if you are a Christian or believe firmly in the One true God, you are deemed intolerant and not tolerated, either. Who originated this message? I don't know, but it has been widely accepted. But somewhere a simple voice of reason cuts through the madness if we listen. If we are attentive, we can hear wisdom's call to earlier times where we are reminded of honest days in which people were not told their belief system had to be sanitized with the religious system of the day. In fact, our very nation was founded on the principle that the church should be separated from the state – not so the church could not affect the government, but so the government could not force a particular religion. But time marches on and intentions are forgotten.

Do we enjoy one ice cream flavor more than another? Intolerant. Do we prefer one subject in school more than another? Intolerant. I am speaking foolishly here, but it is acceptable to have preferences when it comes to seemingly unimportant things. But ought it not to be significantly more important to have preferences over eternally important matters? Do we believe that there can be an absolute truth? Intolerant and not relevant. Perhaps we do not understand the definition of tolerance. God help us.

So what do we do about all these other religions in the world? Many have been around for a long time – God exposed them in the Bible. We are told that we should accept all religions. Tolerating one's belief system is one thing, but promoting or endorsing it is another thing. Having an absolute belief is labeled "judgmental" often in today's society, too, like we cannot have a firm belief in one religion. Sad. Where is the wisdom in that? Abraham was the first to put aside the polytheistic faith of his predecessors. People probably thought he was judgmental, too, but Abraham was the beginning of the formation of the apple of God's eye – Israel, and ultimately the salvation of all mankind. I'll follow that God.

We must be discerning today and students of God's Word on the watch for faulty beliefs that can take us captive. The enemy is cunning, but if we know God's word we can refute lies and walk in truth. We need to embrace our faith and love this world – not judge it – only God is the Righteous Judge. But we must put forth God's truth out there – Christ died for that and gave us this never-ending task to do. May our mouths not be shut because people are uncomfortable with truth, but may we share God's truth in a way that shows people their need of this truly amazing grace that God has brought to all people. The world is counting on us – may the church wake up from her stupor and open her doors to shed God's light.

Lord, the world is in turmoil and needs you more now than ever. So many faith alternatives beckon people away from you and to no real hope. Please have mercy on us and open people's eyes to see You – the One true God. Help us to be faithful and true to You and Your Word, Lord. May we not lose our reward and forget that we are on a mission here – all for Your glory!

posted by Denise Pass on 08/11/2014

Don't Just Talk About It Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Jeremiah 12:2b-3a
"They always talk about You, but they really care nothing about you. But You, O Lord, know all about me. You watch me and test my devotion to you . . ."

Ouch – I know this post might sting a little bit, but I love to be challenged with verses like this. This morning, it stood out so clearly to me, that as much as we never would want to perceive of ourselves as merely talking about God, sadly, it is the natural drift that occurs in our walk with God – UNLESS we are vigilant and watchful.

Jeremiah is speaking of the wicked, so surely, it is not us, right? These verses from Jeremiah are reminiscent of David in Psalm 73, when he was disillusioned momentarily, noticing the perceived blessing of those who do not follow God and the affliction of those who do. I know I have had the occasion of contemplating similar thoughts . . . until I encountered God in His Word and prayer.

Much like David and Jeremiah, I wondered why God did not judge those who sinned boldly. Until I saw that it was in His mercy and long-suffering that He is wanting them to come to the same saving knowledge of Him that He gave to me. I was once a vile enemy of the LORD, too. Why did He have such amazing mercy on me? We have such a wonderful opportunity when the rain falls on us, when we notice that we suffer alongside unbelievers. A glorious moment to shine for Jesus and not complain or allow bitterness to steal our joy. An eternal moment of displaying just how awesome God is at enabling His children to walk through the fire and come out purified!

Now that I have been walking with the LORD for 26 years, I see how easy it is to grow complacent and lukewarm. If you see that in yourself, too, praise God! Fight it with everything you have! There is nothing sweeter than knowing God and having fellowship with Him – may God help us to never accept a counterfeit of comfort, religiosity, or country club Christianity. God is watching and He is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him. May our devotion to Him never fall flat – we are worshiping the GREAT I AM!

LORD, please help me to not just talk about you, but to make You palpable to all you set in my path. May I know you more and more and may You be glorified!

posted by Denise Pass on 08/08/2014

Thoughtful Thursday: Weighing Motives of the Heart Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

August 7, 2014

Proverbs 16:1,2
The intentions of the heart belong to a man, but the answer of the tongue comes from the LORD. All a person's ways seem right in his own opinion, but the LORD evaluates the motives.

I love the book of Proverbs and read from this book or another book of Wisdom from the Bible each Thursday, so I decided that Thursdays should be dubbed "Thoughtful Thursdays". Has a nice ring to it. Today as I was reading, I realize that we will never be done in this life with examining our motives. Sigh. We never arrive, and our hearts are deceitful beyond cure, according to Jeremiah. But there is hope in this work of the heart: The Holy Spirit, prayer, and the Word of God are able to set us free daily and illuminate our motives which do not bring God glory.

Much like daily habits we develop, whether it is brushing our teeth (I hope!), washing our face, bathing, getting dressed, cleaning, cooking, teaching . . . the habit of heart examination is a daily habit that we dare not slack off in. Just like our teeth would rot (sorry for that thought!), our home would go into disrepair, our body would suffer due to lack of care, so inattentiveness to the state of our heart can lead to spiritual malnutrition and fleshly living that has an affect on eternity.

I can grow prideful when I see victories in my life, if I forget where the source of that victory was. I can grow weary and tired,too, if I strive in the flesh for a perfection that will never be attained on this earth. What then is my goal? I dare not rest. Doing nothing is doing something – slowly giving in to the flesh and living a life that is not productive. A goal of having my heart tender to the Lord, of asking Him to help me recognize when I have selfish ambition or motives that bring me glory is a start.

God has us cornered, though. If we do not face the condition of our heart by our own study in His Word, prayer, or the Holy Spirit, He will bring an awareness to us through other means – how wise He is – through relationships. Relationships can be the most fulfilling and the most challenging aspect of our lives, and they can be the crucible the Lord uses to convey our heart's intent. It is this inner wrestling, though, that at first we despise, which ultimately brings us the greatest joy and peace. Not condemnation or discouragement at our failings, but gratitude that God is showing us our sin and then enabling us to overcome it again and again.

So I will close with a little more fodder to encourage self reflection today from the book of Timothy. May God help us to recognize haughty thoughts or any thought which esteems ourselves rather than the Giver of all wisdom. Examine our hearts, oh God! Help us to put no confidence in our flesh and make us more like You, all for Your magnificent glory!

1 Timothy 1:5
But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

posted by Denise Pass on 08/07/2014

Surrender to God in the Rain Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

2 Samuel 15:10, 25, 26, 16:12
:10 Then Absalom sent spies through all the tribes of Israel who said, "When you hear the sound of the horn, you may assume that Absalom rules in hebron.
:25"Then the king said to Zadok, "Take the ark of God back to the city. If I find favor in the LORD's sight he will bring me back and enable me to see both it and his dwelling place again."
:26 However, if he should say, I do not take pleasure in you", then He will deal with me in a way that he considers appropriate."
2 Samuel 16:12
"Perhaps the LORD will notice my affliction and this day grant me good in place of his (Shimei's) curse."

When it rains, it pours. Have you ever been slandered and attacked by someone? Relentless in their pursuit, you feel like there is no way you can overcome their lies or abusive behavior. Even worse, they win over all the people around you, grooming them against you. Where is God in that? David knew where God was – sovereign and aware, caring for him.

It was his very own son who was rebelling against him – talk about teenage rebellion of the most severest kind – seeking his father's life and to reign in his place. (Okay, Absalom was around 29 years old in about 979 BC, but it was still a rebellious son, if not a teenager). Absalom had already killed one sibling previously to gain revenge for that sibling's sinful behavior, so all bets were on that he would probably follow through, even against his own Dad. I am sure Absalom played the victim card well with smooth words that won over the hearts of most of all Israel. Maybe it was that somehow he was mistreated, maybe it was that he just wanted power. Either way, the undiscerning people were convinced and followed him.

David's response causes me to sit back in awe of God and the man of God that David was. Humility and surrender. He knew God was in control and would do what He considered was appropriate – but he did not stop there. Weeping and crying out to God, he also set in motion a defense for himself through spies of his own, but then left the results up to God.

Pelted along the way with stones by Shimei during his escape from Absalom, even that curse David accepted, knowing that God saw the affliction. He trusted in His Shepherd's care of Him, even when it meant walking through dark valleys. Later on, God would restore all Israel to David and Absalom would get his lovely hair caught in a tree, easy prey for David's men. David still had mercy on his son and was grieved that his life was taken, but parents cannot wipe out consequences for their children's sins. Just when we think David can breathe again, another insurrection is mounted by Sheba, but God defends David again.

I can relate to this story of King David so much, it hurts. Sometimes you just want to catch a break, and then something else happens. Where is our security, if not in Christ alone? Problems and difficulties are assured, jealous people will envy, and loved ones will betray us, but Christ is everpresent and He is the God who sees.

Why do people have to be a thorn in your life? I don't know, but I know Christ chose to wear a crown of thorns. He let it happen. He gave His life for those Who hated Him. Oh God, help us to live in such a way – not worried about our popularity or being liked, but desiring to please You.

Lord, I am overwhelmed when I see the grace you gave to David – available to us all! Please help us to surrender our lives completely over to you, knowing full well that you will never forsake us and you never cease loving us. Grant us Your perspective and enable us to walk full of joy before you, even when the rain is coming down.

posted by Denise Pass on 08/05/2014

What is Your Egypt: The Sovereignty of God Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Exodus 2:24-25
"God heard their groaning, God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the Israelites and God understood."

Exodus 3:9
"And now indeed, the cry of the Israelites has come to me, and I have also seen how severely the Egyptians oppress them."

Why did the Israelites have to be held captive in Egypt? God knew the Israelites would starve had it not been for sending Joseph to Egypt, and that a difficult calling. Blessed in the land of Egypt, later they found themselves resident in a land that discriminated against them and persecuted them viciously. Was this what God intended?

What I love about the story of the Israelites is God's amazing sovereignty throughout. He brought the Israelites to Egypt because He knew a famine was coming. He chose Moses from a Levitical tribe. He had Pharaoh's daughter find Moses, which preserved his life, then provided his sister, Miriam, to find his mother as a nursemaid. Later, God would have Moses find Jethro, who would become his father-in-law, and then lead Moses to deliver His people from Egypt to the promised land.

Perhaps you are in Egypt now – not the literal Egypt, of course, but a time of suffering and testing, holding you captive. Have you believed the lie that you will never be set free? Assuredly we cannot escape Egypt unscathed or scarred by the painful memories of that experience, but we can see those oppressive moments redeemed and used for good in our life and in the lives of others. Reflecting on how God provided for the Israelites and always knew the end can give courage to our souls that this same God will not abandon us. He knows. He sees. He understands.

Sometimes surviving in and even recovering from Egypt can take awhile, but knowing that even in those moments of sorrow, God has intentions far beyond what we could imagine. Nothing is wasted in God's kingdom. Seemingly forgotten in your Egypt, God knew all along how He was going to fashion the fabric of your life with material that was deemed ugly combined with what He deemed beautiful. By the way, God still hears the cries of His children...cry out to Him today, not just for yourself but for others, too, who need some encouragement during their stay in Egypt.

Lord, thank You that You are sovereign! Nothing is hidden from You and You are faithful to weave our difficulties with moments of triumph, all for your magnificent glory!

posted by Denise Pass on 08/04/2014

Pray for Israel and Christians in the MIddle East! Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Jeremiah 8:11
"They offer only superficial help for the hurt my dear people have suffered. They say, 'Everything will be all right!' But everything is not all right."

In my devotion time this morning, the Lord burdened my heart with the plight of the Israelites and Christians in the Middle East. While this is not a political blog, I write from my time with the Lord and this morning it coincided with current events. Jeremiah cried out to His people – this morning I cry out for God's people.

Right now Christians are being beheaded all over the Middle East for not denying their Lord and Israelites killed for defending themselves and the inheritance God gave to them. Somehow in the religion of tolerance, every religion or sin is to be tolerated or praised, except Christians and Jews. We must not be apathetic in praying for Israel and Christians in the Middle East. We must not think it does not affect us and not care. We must not ascribe to political assumptions and neglect the obvious moral implications present in permitting such atrocities to continue. Their lives depend on it.

I was overjoyed this morning to hear that the pregnant Sudanese Christian who was imprisoned for supposedly converting to Christianity from Islam made it here to the United States. I posted about her condition and prayed for her. It seemed impossible, but she is free – praise God! But we must do more. Being silent while evil threatens to extinguish all Christians and Jews in the Middle East does not safeguard us, but instead ensures the spread of evil one day to our doors.

God promises blessing to those who pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May we not fall short of crying out to God on their behalf and on the behalf of our Christian brothers and sisters who perish for not denying Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Let's rise together and stand for those who need us to bridge the gap for them and see what God does. Even recently, Hamas terrorists were complaining about God changing the direction of rockets in mid-air. Let's storm the gates of Heaven for God to show Himself strong as Israel's Defender. Let's ask God to defeat the ones who are killing His innocent children. Let us not offer superficial help, as Jeremiah says.

Oh God, we cry out for your people in the Middle East. Show Yourself as their Defender and defeat their enemies! Comfort those who suffer and deliver Your children. Forgive our trespasses and help us to always be fervent, never ceasing in prayer. To You be all the glory!

Genesis 12:3 "And I will bless them that bless thee and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all nations of the earth be blessed."

Psalm 122:6 "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love thee."

posted by Denise Pass on 08/01/2014

The Fear of the LORD Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Proverbs 14:26-27

"In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and it will be a refuge for his children. The fear of the LORD is like a life-giving fountain, to turn people from deadly snares."

Several years ago, a friend asked me to write a letter for her daughter, who was turning 13. The letter was to be about what I felt had been the most important thing in my life. I was humbled by the request and daunted at the task. What could I possibly have to say? At once it was overwhelming and obvious. The Holy Spirit guided me as I wrote page after page - the most significant, biggest blessing in my life has been the fear of the LORD. I thank God for it! If He had not revealed Himself and shown me that He alone is Holy and He alone could fulfill His righteous requirements, I would still be in darkness.

Rewind to when I was a child. I had, I believe, a prophetic dream when I was a young girl that impacted me greatly. In middle school, I knew of God and feared him. This kept me from engaging in gang activity, doing drugs, drinking, smoking, and premarital sex. I just did not want to hurt God and knew in my heart of hearts that those things were wrong - which was completely God's mercy and grace in my life - that a reverence or fear of Him would keep me from sin, even while I was not yet saved.

When I came to know God at age 19, I was struck again with how Holy and awesome (an overused word today, truly reserved for God alone), God is. Knowing God as my personal Savior helped me to understand what the fear of the LORD looked like. It was not trepidation and separation - it was completely being overwhelmed in His presence but being able to draw near and be close with my Creator through the blood of Jesus. What a gift.

As an adult, I have had people ask me about this fear of the LORD. People have jeered and not understood. Some have pictured God to be a Santa Claus type figure in Heaven Who is petting lambs all the time - fearing Him seemed errant to them. One of my life verses is my e-mail address - Proverbs 1:7 - "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction". I have it there as a reminder to me, when I am tempted to treat God's sacrifice casually and to acquiesce toward sin and disobedience.

There are more than 200 verses in all of the Bible regarding the fear of the LORD. It is important to God. God knows we need it to be able to walk faithfully with Him. The fear of the Lord is an understanding of Who God is and that there are objective standards He has set. He is the Ruler, Creator, the One Righteous Judge to Whom all mankind will answer. No one else. Solomon, who was the wisest man, said it well in Ecclesiastes when he said, "Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man".

Fearing God is not the same as fearing a wicked leader - God is completely good - there is nothing vile in Him. Living in reverent fear means we walk soberly - not as a foolish man who does not take life seriously. It helps to make our lives productive and worthwhile - not wasted. Life is a gift and we were meant to have fellowship with our God. The Scriptures are replete with promises from God to those who fear Him. Fear Him, today - draw near and taste and see how good the Lord is!

Lord, help us to understand more of You and to fear Your Holy Name! Give us understanding and open our eyes to see! You alone are worthy of all our praise!

Psalm 34:9 "Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!"

Proverbs 19:23 "The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm."

Acts 10:35 "But in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him."

Psalm 145:19 "He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them."

posted by Denise Pass on 07/31/2014

Breaking the Chains Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Psalm 78:5b-8
"He commanded our ancestors to make his deeds known to their descendants, so that the next generation, children yet to be born, might know about them. They will grow up and tell their descendants about them. Then they will place their confidence in God. They will not forget the works of God, and they will obey His commands. Then they will not be like their ancestors, who were a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that was not committed and faithful to God."

Day by day, year by year, link by link, mankind passes down one of two inheritances: blessing or curse, obedience or rebellion, faithful or unfaithful. Each link is added when one person in your line chooses, willingly or unknowingly, to be trapped by that familiar sin that former generations all bowed their knee to . . . or not.

Yielding to that generational sin or family pattern seems so natural – it is all around you – you scarcely recognize it, save the grace of God. We can feel compelled to stay stuck in the box around us, or ask God to help us recognize what it is that is impeding us. Chances are, most of us do not even see that we are still in chains of some sort!

But breaking free from those chains is difficult. It seems impossible – at least the deceiver tries to convince our souls of that. It is, in fact, hard. But not impossible. God chose Abraham because He was desiring godly offspring. (Genesis 18:19). Abraham was raised in a polytheistic home, worshiping many gods, but Abraham was the first to worship the one true God. Abraham had his faults, too, but God knew he would pass down a heritage of life and faithfulness to those who followed him.

So, who bears the responsibility for our chains? Parents can be diligent to remove former chains and impress God's word into their children's lives, but the children also must carry the torch and choose to walk in the freedom that God provides. We break the chains when we ask God to help us see our chains and then resist following the pattern. When we apply the word of God to our lives and purposefully raise our children to love and know God.

Chains form easily – we must be on the watch, for worldliness creeps in subtly. We each bear different chains – some were placed upon us by others and some we made all on our own – shame, guilt, sin, rejection, hurt, depression, inferiority, insecurity, pride, the list goes on. What is binding you today? Jesus not only paid for every link in those chains, He severed them and set us free! Walk in the liberty of Christ – lay down the chains at His feet and He will grant you the strength to rise victorious! He who the Son sets free is free indeed!

Lord, You came and paid the highest price to set us free, and yet we often remain chained and enslaved. Deliver us, God, and enable us to help deliver others, also! Thank you for loving us and setting us free!

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posted by Denise Pass on 07/30/2014

The Plumb Line - July 28, 2014 Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

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2 Corinthians 10:12, 18
"For we would not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who recommend themselves. But when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. :18 "For it is not the person who commends himself who is approved, but the person the LORD commends."

Comparing ourselves to others, both those considered greater and lesser than ourselves, is at once folly and wisdom. If the purpose is to think better of ourselves by demeaning another, the end result is false pride. If the purpose is to be more like Christ and looking to be like what we value as excellent or praiseworthy, the result can be something beautiful.

Defining the standard in a relativistic age is the challenge. The plumb line, the only standard, is the Perfect One, Christ. When we compare ourselves to God alone, we see that we will always fall far short. What is the purpose of it, then? In humility we recognize our dependency on God and our need to keep growing in Christ. With the standard set before us at the highest level, it keeps us on the right path. Accepting a lower standard so it will be easier or more comfortable will bear fruit similar to what you are ascribing to. We dare not accept man's own opinion of himself or accept a standard that God condemns.

In examination of myself, it is only God and His Word Who can illuminate my sinfulness. I cannot examine myself – I lack the objectiveness to do so. Another person also cannot correctly examine me – they might do so out of bias from what another person told them, by their own perception, or by actions they witnessed in me which might or might not be consistent with my character. But that does not mean that another person should not speak into our lives – we need one another. It just means that we should not solely take one man's opinion, but should run that counsel through the filter of God's word and additional counsel.

In the end, we have an accuser, actually several of them. Our enemy, the devil, our own flesh, and others who just plain don't like us. But accusations do not have to destroy us or define us. We can choose to rise above them and place our focus off of ourselves. We can choose to not accuse others, too, but to pray for them. Now that would be a beautiful way to bring God glory and get the enemy running! God help us to do so.

Lord, You alone are the Perfect One. You alone are worthy of praise. Anything good in us is because of You, not us. Help us to seek Your opinion of us before all else. Help us to cease comparing to others and instead to saturate our minds in your truth and build one another up.

posted by Denise Pass on 07/28/2014 Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

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posted by Denise Pass on 07/19/2014