Saturday, August 13, 2016

WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS

"What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer"

There was a time in my life, before I was a Christian, when I was a teenager, that I was (as most teenagers are) in turmoil over boyfriends, friends, peer pressure, battling emotions I didn't understand, etc. and I would lay on my bed and look at a picture of Jesus I had on my wall, and say, "Jesus, You're the only one who I can trust. I just want you to be my friend." I was beginning to seek Him more and more and wanted to find Him, but didn't understand that I couldn't just make Jesus my friend. That still small voice which I didn't quite understand at the time, would say to me, "I can't be your friend because your sin separates you from me." I began to be drawn to my Bible. I couldn't resist it. I had to read it and find out how I could be a friend of Jesus.

So often today I see those who want to be a friend of Jesus, but not the Jesus of the Bible. He's the only real Jesus. He is indeed very real. He's a person, not a religion. And He is indeed wanting to be your friend, and has made the way Himself so that though He is perfectly holy, without sin, and cannot tolerate sin in His presence, you can come to Him, and be made perfectly acceptable to Him. You can be a friend of the real Jesus. But rather than seek the real Jesus, people today want to make one up that is more to their liking. They want a fictional Jesus they find in a novel, or a very charismatic preacher tries to give them. They, don't want the real Jesus to judge their sin, or to tell them it must be repented of.

As I read my Bible I saw how grave my sin was. Nobody had to tell me I was a sinner. Today if someone tries to tell you that your sin separates you from God's love and friendship, they are accused of being hateful and judging. We are all sinners, and God is the One judging. A true Christian is only trying to tell you of His judgment, in order to let you know also of His remedy, His own sacrifice of blood - His own blood - for your sin, in order that you could simply come to Him in faith, accepting Who He is, what He did, and trust in Him to save you from that sure judgment. I'm so glad Jesus told me of my sin, convicted me of it, and led me to find His love.

In fact as I read God's law, I was gripped with how separated from God I was. I was gripped with my sin and its sure judgment, and so much so that I feared there was no hope for me. I thought I was beyond saving. I knew I had done things worthy of death according to His Word. I knew I was sure to end up in hell if I died. Many don't want to believe in hell. A loving God wouldn't send people to hell. But what they don't know is that a loving God did all for them, paid the ultimate price giving His own body to torture and rejection and a horrible death, completely undeserved, so that they could escape hell. It wasn't made for those He created to love. It was not intended for those He created to enjoy His glory forever. Hell is the ultimate separation from God. God is life, He is love, He is light, He is the One Who created all things for our enjoyment and pleasure, and they are not without Him. Right now the rain falls on the just and the unjust. All of life's good things, all that we see and enjoy, and even light itself, is enjoyed by those who love God as well as those who hate Him - for a time. Because of God's goodness He is giving much time for all to hear the Gospel and be saved, yet those who refuse, choose hell - eternal separation from Him. That is eternal darkness of the soul, no light, no pleasure, nothing that satisfies the passions or desires, no food, no love, nobody. All He created you for you rejected willfully. You chose rather to abuse and pervert His creation now for your own selfish passion, rather than to see that He gave it to reveal Himself and His love to you and to call you to an eternal inheritance with Him.

Well, after a couple years of terrible fear of death and condemnation in those teen years, I continued being drawn to God, seeking to find Him, asking Him to show me how, to show me the truth, and one day I was led to a church where I heard the Good news - the Gospel which means good news, and I was shown a Scripture, John 3:16, that told me I could indeed be completely forgiven and set free from my sin. This after trying to clean myself up, and to live like a Christian, which was not working at all. I kept stumbling. I kept falling into sin. I could not change my heart. But this day, I was shown something that changed me forever.

John 3:14-18
(14) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
(15) That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
(16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
(17) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
(18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

As I read those words, this woman said to me, "are you a whosoever?" I said, "yes." She then said, "then put your name in there and read those words again." So I read again, "that if Ginny believes in Him she should not perish but have eternal life." That happened in December of 1971. I had no idea that day of what would become of it, but I knew I was different. After reading those words, I put my faith in His forgiveness, and surrendered my life to Him. I invited Him into my heart, and He came in. I knew that He was there, that finally, this real Jesus, this Jesus of the Bible, this Jesus Who said these words, and spoke them clearly to me that day, was now my friend, and would be forever. What I did not know yet was just how wonderful He would be in revealing and manifesting His presence and love in my heart. I was not alone anymore. I was becoming more and more aware of this presence in me, of the fellowship I was having with Him in my soul.

John 14:23
(23) Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Jesus had come into me and made His abode in me. Though I sought Him, I now know it was He all along drawing me, knocking at the door of my heart, waiting for me to open it to let Him in.

Revelation 3:20
(20) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Now He was in my heart supping with me and me with Him. And over the years, that love and fellowship has grown. If one only has a religion or a philosophy of life, or an ideology, they can change it. But when one becomes a new creation through an act of God coming into them to dwell in their very inner being and give them a new heart, there is a life that grows and blossoms until it reaches its eternal goal, living right in the very presence and home of God, in heaven where He dwells, forever enjoying His perfection, all He is, and all the life and love He intended for His creation.

"Oh what peace we often forfeit
Oh what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer"

How grieved the Lord must be at those who He reaches out to continually, still giving them life and hope to find Him, bearing with their sins and blasphemies against Him, reaching out to them through others who try to bring them His Word of life, yet they call it hate speech, they turn it away, and they turn to the most perverted evils instead to fill up their passions and lust which will never be satisfied, becoming more and more hardened against all the life He wants to give them, and the true satisfaction their heart yearns for. They don't understand that they were created with a huge vacuum that can only be filled with His own presence living in them. So they go on to justify and fill themselves with the most perverted evils, until they are hopelessly lost and can no longer be reached or persuaded with the truth.

Love, hate, judging, all these words have been perverted by the enemy of our souls in order to turn people away from their creator and redeemer, in order to pervert the truth and the love of God. But God reaches out still, to whosoever will, to come and receive freely, to drink of the fountain of life, freely, to sup with Him and learn of Him.

Matthew 11:28-30
(28) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
(29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
(30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

But who will come? Some think by turning away those who tell them of God's judgment of sin, and not listening to it they will escape it, but they don't realize they are already condemned and all they are trying to do is let you know you don't have to be! You have to understand your condition before you can understand your deliverance and salvation. It's hard to hear. It's hard to come into the light and see yourself. It's the most painful thing in the world. But it's the truth that will set your free. We're not trying to judge you, we're trying to show you the way out of His judgment.

John 3:17-21
(17) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
(18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
(19) And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
(20) For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
(21) But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Thank You Jesus, for being a true friend to me. Thank You for showing me my awful sinful selfish heart. Thank You for making me to see it even when I didn't want to see it or acknowledge it. Thank You for showing me Yourself, Your love, Your truth, and coming into my heart to abide in me forever! What a precious gift! I cannot fathom the wonderful things that are yet to come!

1 Corinthians 2:9-14 (9) But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
(10) But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
(11) For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
(12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
(13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
(14) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

If you want to know this Friend, and make Him your true Friend forever, I plead with you to go find a Bible and read it, and read it as though you were having a conversation with God, asking Him to reveal Himself to you in it, and reveal to you the truth of your own heart, seeking His heart for you.

Friday, August 5, 2016

SOLID GROUND




"On Christ the solid rock I stand

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand."

I once had a dream, a long time ago, when I was going through spiritual turmoil and confusion.  There were different doctrines being taught around me, books being passed around the church, people saying you have to listen to this person!  He has true victory for your life!  But something was strange about it.  Yet something about it seemed Biblical and drew me.  Always, in my inner being, there was a voice of warning, what many would call a "red flag."  Yet I was new in the Lord.  I didn't yet know how to discern, and I didn't yet know my Bible well enough.  I knew one thing. I loved the Lord and wanted all He had for me.  And I knew His Word gave me that, if only I understood it correctly.  I knew whatever He had for me, it had to be in line with His Word.  Somehow early on in my life, even before I became a Christian, I knew the Bible, God's Word, was the truth, and all truth was to be found in it, and anything that went against it was a lie and to be turned away. 

Matthew 7:24-27
(24) "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
(25) And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
(26) And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
(27) And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."

So back to my dream.  I was in a cloud, my feet were slipping and there was no solid ground under them. I was desperately trying to find my way through it but all I could see was the fog and darkness.  Every step I took I would fall a little further down and find nothing to put my feet on to hold me.  I cried out, "Oh Lord!  I feel like I'm falling!" Suddenly God's hands appeared to me through the fog reaching out to me.  I heard His voice saying, "Here, take my hand."  I grasped His hand and He held my hand tightly and though I still could not see through the fog, I was no longer afraid, and I felt secure.  I knew even if I could not see through the darkness and fog, that He had my hand and would lead me Himself, because He could see the way clearly.  When I woke up I immediately knew that God had spoken to me to trust Him to guide me through it all, through the subtle deceptions to what was truth and what was not.  If only I leaned on His sure Word, it was my solid place to put my feet down.  Feelings, men's teachings, what appeared right to the senses, what appeared right according to human reasoning, and even what appeared spiritually good, was all nothing but fog.  My own understanding was nothing but fog.  But God's Word, understood and trusted in, was a strong hand to lead me through the fog of this world.  I wrote a song out of that dream and experience which came from this Scripture that the Lord gave me to cling to.

Psalms 27:13-14
(13)
I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
(14) Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
 
The song was entitled "I Am Still Confident."  The chorus said, "I am still confident in this, that I will see the goodness of the Lord."  I knew if I trusted His Word, His hand, and waited on Him, I would see His goodness in the end.  And I did.  There were many temptations, struggles, and decisions I was forced to make, yet the Lord showed the way through them, and always brought me back to His Word.  There were many false teachers, prophets and deceivers whose path the Lord brought me under, yet through each one He showed me the contrast of them with His Word.  I had to choose each time.  Would I listen to them, or God's sure Word...His solid ground.  There was one sure footing through all, that brought me through all...His Word. 

Many today try to do away with that Word, saying they don't need it because they have His Spirit.  But His Spirit is the One Who leads us to that Word where we learn of Him.  His Spirit is not a subjective voice or spiritual experience that leads us to neglect or deny it.  His Spirit and His Word are one.  Jesus is the living Word, and His written Word was given to us by His Spirit.  They are all one.  To deny one is to deny all.  To neglect one is to neglect all.  To put the word of a prophet, pastor, or teacher above His written Word is idolatry. 

In today's world, which I believe is the last of the last days that we are in, deception abounds, and if we don't have something solid to anchor us then we will be deceived.  If we rely on our own ability to discern or understand, we will be deceived.  Many times I was sure I was listening to the truth, and it seemed Biblical, but when the Lord drew me to His Word, true discernment and light came, the fog cleared and He exposed the deception.  It is the most humbling experience to find out you were deceived.  At one point I even felt hurt by God.  I felt as though God Himself deceived me, as I was sincerely praying for His revival and for His power in my life.  When finally He led me out of it, I saw it for what it was, and prayed, "Lord, I was seeking you sincerely, why did You let me be deceived?"  He led me to this verse in His Word...
Deuteronomy 13:1-4
(1)
"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder,
(2) and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, 'Let us go after other gods,' which you have not known, 'and let us serve them,'
(3) you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
(4) You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.
 

There are many "prophets" and "dreamers" today, showing signs and wonders, and claiming to have a new revelation from God, that we don't need the Bible anymore because we have their word, or the subjective inner voice of God's Spirit, which they claim can replace God's written Word and is to be more relied upon.  They don't say the words, "let us go after other gods," but they say the same as they draw people away from the God of the Bible to a false made up god in their own dreams and visions, telling people to trust in them instead of going to the Word to examine their dreams and visions and holding fast to His sure written Word that proves all things true or false.  When someone with discernment from that written Word by the Holy Spirit (the true Holy Spirit) confronts their error, those who try to correct are defamed and demonized before the church, and the church is told not to listen to them, and that they are of the devil, that they are "touching God's anointed."  They may even use portions of Scripture taken out of context or twisted to do this. But the Bible tells us to discern, to judge from His Word right from wrong, to uphold His Word, and nobody is above that...not even the apostle Paul thought himself to be above that...

Galatians 1:6-10
(6)
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—
(7) not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
(8) But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
(9) As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
(10) For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Are these teachers/prophets/apostles/dreamers seeking the approval of man, or God?  If God, then they would not be afraid to stand before His Word to have their word examined and proved true or false.  They would love God's Word and hold to it and be appalled and repentant to find themselves in error, and allow themselves to be corrected, rather taking the shame than to dishonor God and His Word.  When a person truly loves God, their defenses come down, and they would rather be humiliated than fail to please God.  If God is first, then they don't care what it costs them personally, but look to glorify God at their own expense.  Yet these deceivers build up a kingdom for themselves, drawing men to themselves, selling books, making thousands on gullible people, and all the while truly living for themselves, their own indulgences and pleasures and satisfying their own egos. They are self-deceived sociopaths.  And people allow themselves to be sucked in and deceived and brainwashed. 

There is one solid ground, one anchor of the soul to stand on, one place of surety and refuge, even though many times it means standing alone.  That is God's sure Word spoken by His true prophets, as they were inspired by His Spirit, which has been proved tried and true.  It never fails.  God always upholds His Word.  He will never fail it.  Even if a man has been a trustworthy teacher of the Word, he must be held accountable to that Word, for his own sake, to keep him on the right path, for the sake of the body of Christ, so they will not be led astray, and most of all for the honor and glory of God, and not man. 
We don't realize in our day how gullible we all are really.  I hear people parroting their favorite political leaders.  I wish they could hear themselves. It's as though they had a recording placed in their brains and all they do is parrot what they have been listening to, regardless of how false the information is.  They become pawns in the hands of manipulators and unwilling participators in their evil. They don't check out facts.  They don't listen critically to check to see if their sayings are true or false.  They aren't aware of the subtle strategies these people have learned in how to manipulate a crowd.  They are experts at it.  If you listen to one-sided propaganda, not comparing to what is actual facts, not looking at history, or records, but only their spin on what the other side is saying, you will not have the ability to discern or reason.  You are only allowing yourself to be brainwashed into a one-sided worldview. You are being convinced of a lie, and inoculated against any argument of facts or truth that will refute it.  You've been taught not to discern, but to let yourself be led.

There is our anchor, our solid ground, even with what is being said, politically, and that is God's Word.  It is how we test all things, with what is pleasing to Him or what is not.  Satan's tactics are to deceive by twisting truth, turning it backwards, calling good evil and evil good.  If we don't have a solid foundation for what we believe, we will be made to believe anything.  How do we know what is good?  In God's Word He tells us, clearly.  In His whole Word, not portions twisted to make them fit with humanistic goals. If we don't learn to systematically study His Word, understand it as a whole and with our hearts yielded to Him, we will be deceived in this age of deception.  Humanism is simply man's own worship of himself in rebellion to God.  Humanistic teachings sound reasonable to people who rebel against God, and live for their own selfisms.  These selfisms are even taught in the church, as the "gospel" of psychology, which is replacing the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and is opposed to it. When they are blended together, they turn the Gospel into a false gospel that is no gospel at all, but in fact annuls it.
Learn to recognize tactics and phrases that are often used over and over.  Teach yourselves to be alert to common arguments and analyze them carefully. Is the basis of their argument legitimate, or are they setting up a straw man argument?  Check out their premiss.

Check out these Scriptures in this regard.  We must understand and learn to recognize the wiles of the devil in order to not be deceived by them.
Ephesians 4:14, Mark 13:22; 2 Corinthians 2:11, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 2 Corinthians 11:3, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11; 1 Peter 5:8; 2 Peter 2:1-3;

Jesus Himself, used the Word to rebuke the devil when He was tempted in the wilderness.  Though the devil tried to use the Word himself to tempt Jesus, he used it wrongly, as he always does, twisting its meaning to try to get Jesus to bow down to him and worship Him.  But Jesus knew the Word and its true meaning and used it rightly to discern and rebuke the enemy.  We must do the same, whether that false word is coming to us in our own minds or through men or women.  We must first discern the Word rightly in order to discern their false words and send them away. 
John 10:4-5
(4) When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
(5) A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.


If we are not in His Word, familiar with it, understanding it, submitting to it, we will not recognize His voice, and we will end up following a stranger, whose voice may sound similar in our minds, yet it is not our Shepherd's voice at all. In fact it is the voice of the thief, disguised as the Shepherd.

John 10:10-11
(10) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly
(11) I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Father, draw us to Your Word, Your true and living Word, that gives life, that glorifies You, that reveals Your heart, Your will, Your promises, Your hope and salvation!  Convict those who have strayed from it, and open their eyes to Your truth.  I ask for a revival of love for Your Word, dear Lord.  I ask for it in Jesus name, amen. 


 

Monday, July 25, 2016

THE IMMEASURABLE POWER THAT WORKS IN US






Reading: Ephesians 1-2:10

Have you ever just meditated on all that the Bible says we have and are "in Christ?"  This morning as I do that I find it's more than this fleshly body can even contain!  The joy, the life, the love that we have in Him is unfathomable to our minds. Yes, we find it "immeasurable."  We cannot even contain it.  We find it a "joy unspeakable and full of glory."  Oh how much we need to lift ourselves, our eyes, our hearts, and our minds to those things, because they are every bit as tangible as the darkness, the depression, the sicknesses, the problems and trials that we face here in this world.  In fact they are more real, more lasting, and more certain than anything, IF we are in Christ Jesus.  Are you "in Christ?"  Can you say you have an assurance that you are, that He is in you?  If not, I have good news for you.  You can be sure. His Word gives us that assurance. We don't have to hope for it not knowing.  We don't have to look to ourselves and our goodness hoping it somehow outweighs our sins on that day.  We don't have to try to overlook or excuse our sins away as though if we hide them from ourselves or others, God will not see them either.  No, we can face our sins, our weaknesses, and our shortcomings head on, with humility, admitting them to this holy God, Who we know judges those sins.  In fear we face them, we come humbly before His cross.  We see them in contrast to His pure holiness and love, and righteous demands, and see that in no way we can measure up. In no way can we save ourselves.  Our own works are as filthy rags.  Then we look up to His cross.  We see that He took all our sin, it's ugliness and its penalty, on Himself (He Who knew no sin became sin for us), and then He imputed to us, all His perfect righteousness and goodness and holiness (that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ), 2 Corinthians 5:21. Yes, it is "too good to be true" except it IS TRUE!  All that is required is that we humble ourselves before Him when we see our sin, confess (agree with God) it to Him, taking His side, turning from sin and self to Him, in faith receiving in our hearts what He has done for us, through His blood, forgiving our sins, and trust Him to give us His Spirit to make us a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).  It is His work.  When we once become His child, as soon as we believe on Him, we have entered into a whole new realm.

Ephesians 1 and 2 tells us of this new realm, this new creation, what we have in Christ, as His own child now.  It tells us of the assurance we have of that salvation.  It tells us the power and completeness of it, in such detail that it cannot be denied.  It tells us the eternality of it.  It is a hope that is so wonderful that it "blows the mind."  It cannot be fully grasped, I don't think, by our finite minds, yet it can be believed and received and as we walk this life below, He makes it more and more real and manifested in us and to us, as we abide in Him in faith.  He created it, and He works it in us, and He finishes it.  We find relief in knowing it is not up to us to save ourselves, and we find all our power for living is in this hope that is a sure hope, this certainty that He will fulfill all.  Our hearts are filled with love and joy in Him then which gives us the power to walk through anything He calls us to.

Oh how the enemy tries to rob us of this power and take away our hope, filling us with doubts and fears, getting our eyes on ourselves and away from Him and all He is to us and in us.  He tries to get us ever doubting our salvation and looking inward striving harder and only producing a self-righteousness, rather than living in and rejoicing in the perfect completed salvation He has given us with assurance.

If you are in Christ, a child of God, through faith in Him, take a look at Ephesians 1 and 2 and ponder all that He has given you.  Jamieson, Faucett, and Brown commentary does a wonderful job of summarizing this...
Ephesians 1:3

The doxologies in almost all the Epistles imply the real sense of grace experienced by the writers and their readers (1 Peter 1:3). Ephesians 1:3-14 sets forth summarily the Gospel of the grace of God: the FATHER’S work of love, Ephesians 1:3 (choosing us to holiness, Ephesians 1:4  to sonship, Ephesians 1:5 to acceptance, Ephesians 1:6): the SON’S, Ephesians 1:7 (redemption, Ephesians 1:7; knowledge of the mystery of His will, Ephesians 1:9 an inheritance, Ephesians 1:11 the HOLY SPIRIT’S, Ephesians 1:13 (sealing, Ephesians 1:13 giving an earnest of the inheritance, Ephesians 1:14).

He goes on after describing what we have in Christ, our blessings, our inheritance, our guarantee, to pray that we would be made to truly see, by revelation, and grasp the power of this life in us, as though he were at a loss for words to really describe it fully, knowing only God can truly give that revelation in the heart of those who love Him, in verses 17-23.  That same power, that resurrection power, that raised Christ from the dead now permanently lives in us, and raises us up also with Christ to actually be seated with Him in the Heavenlies (Eph. 2: 4-6).  Yes, it is past tense... not future, although it is assured to be our future, it is also present... we are even now "seated with Him in the Heavenly places in Christ Jesus."  He has placed us there already.  It is our position in Him.  It is a done deal, once He has made us His child and given us His Spirit.  He, Who is outside of all time, sees us there in Christ, and will never again see us outside of Christ.  He sees the imputed righteousness of His Son in us, and us in His Son, and all is accomplished.  We only now wait for our final redemption, the redemption of our bodies, when this "corruption shall put on incorruption" (1 Corinthian 15:50-54), and our bodies will be made like His, and we will be with Him forever, freed from sin and evil forever more. 

This blessed assurance and guarantee is the power of our Christian life.  It is the joy that we rejoice in always, even as we go through trials beyond what we think we can endure.  It is our endurance, our strength, our life, our joy, and our hope that never fails.  No wonder in Ephesians 6:10-18, he tells us to "be strong in the strength of His might," and to "put on the whole armor of God," which truly is a visual of all Ephesians 1-2 tells us... the assurance and hope of all we are and have in Christ.  In this alone can we stand, and walk, and overcome the enemy.  In this alone can we quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  In this alone can we pray and intercede for others.  In Him we live, and in Him we stand.

What an immeasurably great salvation He has given to us! What immeasurable power!  It is His power of resurrection!  There is nothing in this world or in ourselves that can hold it down!  Our humble thanks is not even enough dear Heavenly Father!  May our lives each day be pleasing to You as we look on this great love and salvation, yielding ourselves to You that Your glory may be manifested in us.

 
 

 

 

Friday, July 1, 2016

IT'S NO LONGER I WHO LIVE




For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:19-21)

 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)

Our works - what are they? What do we see as works acceptable to God?  What works are in vain? What works were "prepared beforehand for us to do?" (Eph. 2:10).  We can heartily "serve the Lord" full of zeal, but all be works of flesh that count for nothing, and perhaps even be harmful to truly reaching people for Christ.  Many organizations have been started in the name of Jesus that are nothing but men's organizations and contrary to God's true Word.  None of us as Christians who love the Lord want that!  None of us wants to be an offense to the Gospel, even while we think we are sharing the Gospel.  Yet it happens.  While well-meaning, we can even drive someone further away from Christ.  We can misrepresent Him, as Peter did in the Garden of Gethsemane, acting of his own accord, when he struck a soldier with the sword, cutting off his ear, thinking to defend His Lord and thinking to serve Him.  We can be used by the devil, thinking we are speaking for God, as Peter did when he rebuked Jesus for saying He must die.  Shortly before, the Lord commended Him by saying the Father had revealed truth to him, when He proclaimed Jesus was the Son of God.  Now Jesus said, "Get behind me satan!" and stated that Peter did not have in mind the things of God but the things of man. 

Until we learn the meaning of what it is to be "in Christ" and "Christ in me" we also will not learn the works that are acceptable to God in our daily lives.  In fact what we perceive as works are not always the "works" He is looking for.  What we miss and don't necessarily call works, is His working in and through us in our normal daily lives, sometimes without us being aware.  How we respond to someone, how we reach out to someone, how we go about our chores in what frame of mind, faith, acceptance, disposition, these all are works that we don't think of as important, or even as "works."  Until He has worked in us the nature of Christ in the little things, how can we truly please Him in the big things?  If we grumble over the small tasks and the irritations of a normal day, forgetting to "put on Christ" how can we in Christ walk out as His representatives a true witness to those around us.  If we are not loving our families and the body of Christ how can we represent Christ?  We can zealously serve others all the while neglecting our relationships. All we do then, is wood, hay, and stubble, and lost.

To be in Christ is the theme of all of the apostle Paul's teaching.  All begins there.  We were crucified with Christ, to law, to sin, to ourselves and our self-pursuits, to this world, and to the devil's reach.  We were risen with Christ to Heavenly places where He is, where our true life is hidden.  It is past tense.  It is not something future, it is now as we were placed "in Christ."  If we don't walk and work in faith in this life, in the reality of it, and the power of it, and the life of Christ Himself in us, our works are dead works.  They are only flesh trying to please God.  Religious flesh cannot please God anymore than non-religious flesh. 

Only the works of Christ are acceptable to God.  Only HIS works are "good" works.  Only HIS righteousness is acceptable to God.  So only as it is His life working in us and through us to do His good will, can we be pleasing to God.  Only what is of faith can be pleasing to Him.  Our faith in Him through difficulties, learning to stand dressed in His full armor, learning to overcome by believing and embracing His promises, these are works empowered by the Holy Spirit in us.  When these are happening in us as a result of our abiding in Him, then true outward works are the natural fruit that will please Him and glorify Him to others.  Only He glorifies Himself, we cannot glorify Him with OUR works, but His through us.

Every day we are to be a "living sacrifice unto Him" - I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

We present ourselves to God in faith, knowing He alone is the power in us, as we go about our day, that we would see ourselves as His vessel, that He is able to work through in every part of our daily life, not just when we are doing some "Christian service."  As I clean my house, I present myself to Him, to do it for His glory.  As I have conversations with those I encounter, I present myself to Him, that He can use as He will in those conversations, keeping me from saying anything that would not glorify Him or benefit another.  As I have free time, I present myself to Him, and make myself available to what He wants me to do with it.  I present my mind, my eyes, my ears, etc. to what is pleasing to Him.  Our works is everything that flows from us in thought, word, and deed, unto Christ out of our faith in Him.  Only as it is "Christ Who lives in me, and the life I now live I live by faith in Him" can I be pleasing to Him. 

We cannot work to sanctify ourselves.  By faith, rather, we work out in our daily lives that which He has worked in us.  "Sanctification is the imparting to us of God Himself by the Holy Spirit in the soul." - Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary on 1 Peter 1:4.  Our sanctification is His life in us, and through us, and our working it out even as He works in us to "will and to do,"  by faith. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

We cannot work to keep ourselves, it is His power that keeps us through faith in His finished work alone, which is given by the presence of His Spirit in us through regeneration.  It is not a faith in our faith to keep us, but in His work in us and His power…a rest in the eternal life He has given to us and the power of His life in us. We walk in that faith in which His works flow, and respond to the Spirit He has given us as He works in us.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

We cannot work to justify ourselves before God.  Nor can we be perfected by or works.  O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Galatians 3:1-3)

It is Christ alone and His work, embraced through faith (a complete reliance in Him, all He is, and all He has done), that we are saved, that we are kept, that we are perfected.  His works were completed and accepted in Heaven.  We have been raised up with Him, in Him, and His work of righteousness becomes imputed to us, as we embrace and rely on all He is and has done, abiding in Him.   Only the fruit of His Spirit in us then is acceptable in Heaven.  Abiding in Him, is what enables us to bear fruit unto Him.  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (John 15:4-8)

Father, enable us to see and grasp the life of Christ in us, the reality of our being "seated in Heavenly places with Christ" and abide in You daily, that our works will not be burned up but well pleasing to You, on that day when we stand before You, and You are glorified in us! In Jesus name may it be so.  Amen.

 

Monday, June 13, 2016

PSALM 91

A little encouragement today in light of recent happenings in the news. It's so easy to become downhearted by it all, especially when good is called evil and evil good, and it seems lies prevail and truth is squashed and people believe the lies. Thank God we have a refuge and a fortress, a very present help in times of trouble. We can take shelter under His wings, and dwell in His secret place.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

RENEWING OUR STRENGTH

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

This verse has probably impacted me more than many throughout my Christian experience, yet, I'm still asking the Lord, "How do I rise up on those eagle's wings today?" I'm learning, as my body grows weaker, what it means to "mount up," and to "run and not be weary," and to "walk and not faint." All through life we face the world, the flesh, and the devil in some way, and sometimes all 3 at once. This is the Christian life. It is not a life of ease and happiness in this world. It is as Paul put it "the good fight of faith." Sometimes we grow weak. But each time we learn to "put on Christ" and renew our strength. We see many metaphors in God's Word that shows us this same principle. Putting on Christ, putting on the whole armor of God, waiting on the Lord, and looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
(9) But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
(10) For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I have a problem with physical weakness and fatigue. Many times I've prayed for physical strength and sought ways to try to find health and strength, and I find myself many days unable anyway, to do much other than just give into it and lay down. I can't "mount up" physically, anyway. But I'm learning in those times to mount up on the inside, in my soul, by looking unto Jesus, surrendering my body to Him and giving myself up to Him for His glory, whether in strength or weakness of body. My nature is to wine and moan under it and complain that my life is good for nothing. But when I look to Him, and put on Christ, waiting on Him in prayer and embracing His promises and encouragement and strength of His Word I find inside my hidden life in Christ mounts up and overcomes and I can fly above it with wings of eagles. I can soar above the things of this world troubling me, oppressing me, weighing me down, and I can rise up into the heavenly places where my new life is with Christ.

This is where we really are, if indeed, we are "in Christ." We are here in this earth in these bodies yet we are "seated in the Heavenlies with Christ."

Ephesians 2:4-6
(4) But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
(5) even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
(6) and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

It is hard to fathom, yet it is true. It is our reality. He doesn't say He "will" seat us, but that He "has." And when we learn to embrace it, and to trust it as fact, we learn also to live there in that heavenly place with Him where our real life is, even as we walk this weary pilgrim path below in these frail bodies subject to pain and weakness.

Colossians 3:1-3
(1) If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
(2) Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
(3) For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

It is a done deal. It is finished. It is His work. When we learn to believe it, embrace it, and count on it, it renews our spiritual energy and fills us with joy. His joy is our strength. With that assurance and joy we can face anything, we can overcome anything. Without it, we are weak and vulnerable to the enemy. We are miserable Christians crippled in our walk, unable to stand, but always faltering. Without that assurance, our eyes are always on ourselves and this life here, as though that alone were our life in Christ. But He has already raised us up with Himself in the heavenly places. How is that so? He dwells in eternity, where there is no time. He has spiritually made it so for us through His finished work, and declared us His forever, given us His Spirit as a down payment, and our life now, in the Spirit, is with Him there where He is. All the spiritual blessings we need to walk here, are there with Him, and available to us as we walk in faith in our heavenly position and calling.

We are to ask God for a revelation of this blessed salvation and power for life. As we do He reveals it to us more and more in our lives and teaches us to apply it.

Ephesians 1:15-20
(15) For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints,
(16) I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
(17) that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,
(18) having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
(19) and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might
(20) that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

Waiting on the Lord is simply taking the time to seek His face, to embrace His promises, to learn from Him through His Word and prayer and relying on His Spirit, as we each day, depend on Him to live His life in us and through us. It takes time to wait on Him. It takes effort. Sometimes it takes sitting before Him asking Him to examine our hearts, to reveal our flesh and weakness and failures to us, to lead us to His Word of instruction, encouragement, promises, and admonition. It takes laying our lives at His feet, at the foot of His cross, and surrendering to Him, trusting Him to raise us up with the power of His life in us, to a newness of life to Him. It takes time to wait on the Lord. Many times we don't want to take that time. So the Lord, in His faithfulness takes us aside, where our life's activity is put on hold, and we have to stop and seek His face, and renew our spiritual strength, waiting on Him, until He lifts us up again. If you find yourself in a humbled position, acknowledge God's hand in it, and rather than fight it, submit yourself under His mighty hand until He Himself lifts you up.

1 Peter 5:6-10
(6) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
(7) casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
(8) Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
(9) Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
(10) And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

We cannot rise up with wings of eagles unless we first humble ourselves under His mighty hand submitting to His working in our hearts and waiting on Him. He alone is our "eagle's wings." Faith in His finished work raises us up.

As I grow older and my body weaker, I realize I can still rise up in the strength of the Lord, even if not doing so physically. Even as I lay on my couch some days exhausted and weak, I am able to find my spirit can rise up into the heavenly places where I find the fellowship of my Lord, where I can pray for others, where I can be encouraged and strengthened on, until that day when this body is fully redeemed even as my soul is fully redeemed now. Yet even now, as I dwell in this body, my real life is risen with Him. Nothing on earth can touch me there. This body can have pain. This body can have trouble. This body can be weak. It can suffer persecution or evil. But none of those things can touch my real life, which is hidden in Christ, raised up with Him in heavenly places, seated with Him there, as long as I learn to realize and walk in this life, and wait on Him to enable me to embrace it and fully trust it.

What promises we have in this Christian life! What riches He has given us that we too often do not partake of! We must wait on the Lord to receive all that He has for us now, for His glory on us, in us, and through us, and His life manifested to us empowering us. There is no short cuts in the Christian life. There is no spiritual experience or anointing that somehow makes you super Christian overnight. There is no secret imparting by some spiritual person that will get you through the Christian life and give you super spirituality. There is only Christ, His life, received, submitted to, believed, and lived, day by day, waiting on Him, trusting Him, and surrendering all to Him. May the Lord grant us eyes to see, ears to hear, and a revelation of His great love to us, as we wait on Him, renewing our strength daily.

If you want to know more about this salvation and are not sure you are going to Heaven, you can know. His Word assures us how we can know. Click here to read more.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

CALLED TO HIS OWN GLORY AND EXCELLENCE

2 Peter 1:3-4
(3) His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,
(4) by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

Romans 8:29-31
(29) For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
(30) And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
(31) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

"It is not by godliness that we obtain life, but by life, godliness." -J, F, & B

It is through our knowledge of Christ alone, knowing Him, that we are called to His own glory and excellence! Imagine for a few minutes what that means. Are you, am I, living life to that calling? Think on what His own glory and excellence are. Think of what life will be like with Him very shortly, when this life is over. What a gift of life and time we have right now to be daily more and more prepared for that excellence! That glory! All of life takes on a new perspective when we give up our own "glory" for His excellence and glory. We are even now, in His eyes, seated with Him in the Heavenlies (Ephesians 2:4-10), lifted up above this world where no evil can separates us from Him, even as we live out that here below, that He has given to us - His own glory and excellence. We realize it more and more as we walk in faith abiding in His Word, learning to know Him more and more.

"Glory” here is the manifestation of the Divine Character in Christ." -Robertson's Word Pictures

His own "virtue" or "excellence" is the glory of His divine nature. His perfection. His qualities. His excellence. All of these are beyond our abilities really to fathom. Yet He tells us here that He has given us "all we need" to partake of that, to live it out in this life, and to escape the corruptions that come to those who do not know Him and that are slaves of sin, which is what causes those corruptions.

We see more and more moral corruption in our society and in the world, all the more that the world rejects and hardens itself toward God. The restraining force of godliness is being removed and moral depravity is swarming the world. Even in those who were not born again but only had an outward form of Christianity, at least were under the restraining force of godliness because of His Word. Yet now openly, boldly, and blatantly, people are outright rejecting the authority of His Word, and the knowledge of Him, and so are unable to even reason what is good or bad, what is evil or not. They are being consumed by corruption of sin and don't even know it. But those who surrender in faith to the One true God, and Jesus Christ Whom He has sent (John 17:3), can know Him, and can escape this corruption, and can walk in greater and greater excellence and virtue, all the while having the hope of being perfected in that as we at last are called to our heavenly home. It is as we learn to know Him that we can become partakers of His divine nature.

It is never our nature improved on that we are called to. It is never our works enabling us to become better persons. Even an unbeliever can become a better person. Yet, they are not able to partake of His divine nature, that nature which is true godliness and virtue and excellence. They are only able to find ways to somehow manage their own impulses and passions the best they can, as they see their own benefit in doing so, to suppress their natural tendencies, at least outwardly. But the Christian, the one who is "born again of incorruptible seed" (1 Peter 1:3-4), is able to partake of that which God has given Him, learn of Him, and grow in his walking out and working out that life of Christ in his daily life.

J, F, & B commentary: the divine nature — not God’s essence, but His holiness, including His “glory” and “virtue,”( 2 Peter 1:3); the opposite to “corruption through lust.” Sanctification is the imparting to us of God Himself by the Holy Spirit in the soul. We by faith partake also of the material nature of Jesus (Ephesians 5:30). The “divine power” enables us to be partakers of “the divine nature.”

What is this human nature in us that settles for so less? What is it in us that thinks we have so much more if we satisfy our flesh right now, and if we find some temporal happiness in this world? Yet we do settle for so much less for ourselves than what God would have for us. It may require suffering now, ridicule, rejection, loss of friends, jobs, even freedom, yet we must look beyond it all and see what the glory and excellence that He calls us to, and that the more we see of His glory, and live for His glory, the more we are partakers of it and enjoy Him. This is where true life is. This is what will give us a rich entrance into His eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior knowing His joy and delight, rather than being ashamed (2 Peter 1:5-11). This is what will keep us from falling and enable us to stand when the world and the enemy comes against us.

As Oswald Chambers wrote about, I want to give my "utmost for His highest" when I think on His glory, Who He is, and the wonders of His love and His salvation and the calling He has called me to. As Paul said,
Philippians 3:8-14
(8) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
(9) and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
(10) that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
(11) that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
(12) Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
(13) Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
(14) I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

No looking back, but only forward to the excellence of His high calling! To the glory of Christ! Whatever difficulties, whatever weaknesses, whatever trials or temptations, this is the way to walk above them, to get through them, to overcome.
Hebrews 12:2-3
(2) looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(3) Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

I am tempted many times to grow weary and fainthearted with this life and with this world. But I am called to something more excellent. So the Holy Spirit in me gives me power and faith to press on, revealing to me the glory of Christ and the rich reward that He brings. He energizes me with His love as I fellowship with Him in His Word partaking of that life. I'm lifted up again. I'm encouraged. I'm nourished. I'm fully dressed and prepared once again in the full armor of God.

1 Peter 1:13
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 John 3:1-3
(1) See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
(2) Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
(3) And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

If you want to know more about this salvation and are not sure you are going to Heaven, you can know. His Word assures us how we can know. Click here to read more.