Friday, November 4, 2016

Seeing Through Filters / Simplicity That Is Christ

John 8:31-32
If ye continue (remain as one) in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

We live in a world of deception. And, as that word means, we don’t know it. But we can know the Truth that sets us free. And it is only the Lord that can truly reveal to us the deception we are in.

Whether by our own natural ignorance (parable of the lost sheep), happenstance / circumstance (parable of the lost coin), or our own choosing (parable of the lost son), we exist in deception. We see life through the filters of our upbringing, surroundings, and choices. And these filters define how we see and experience the world around us, others, and even the Lord. We see the world through these filters and those filters become our judgments. Hence why the Lord asks us not to judge others. The same filter I use to judge others is the same filter I use to interpret others judgments of me.

Matthew 7:1-5
“Judge  not, that you be not judged.  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

When we rid ourself of these filters, no longer are we seeing others and accepting ourselves as this fallen-world has trained us. We get set free from any kinds of judgments because there becomes no reason to judge myself or anyone else. God our Father isn’t judging us, Christ isn’t judging us, the Holy Spirit isn’t judging us.

John 5:22
For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.

John 3:17
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn (judge) the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

John 12:47-48
And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and receives not my words, hath one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

So why are we deceived in that we judge. For me, it’s often that we are focused on the one thing that the Lord is not focused on: sin.

When we fell through Adam, we became aware of sin…”good and evil”. And because of that, I know of my own imperfections, and as such inherently self-justify my own faults through the comparing to others. I used to rate different ‘sins’ on a scale. Misuse scripture out of context and meaning to justify my reasoning. “Because I don’t commit that kind of sin, I am ‘better’ than that person.” This was my sub-conscious attitude. And I was blinded in it: deceived. But it was the Lord that set me free through knowing (accepting) His Truth that sin is not an issue, because all sins has been, was, and always is dealt with through Christ’s sacrifice to and for all people (believers and non-believers, Born-Again or not).

Romans 3:20-24
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.  But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;  Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Hebrews 10:1-4, 11-22
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices, there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord : I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then  He  adds,  “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there  is no longer an offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

“Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” This was the key to overcome the kind of judgment I was in. I had to allow the Lord to clear my evil conscience (my focus on sin due to the acknowledgment and following of the Law). When I freed myself from the Law, recognizing (knowing) that all sins of the flesh have been dealt with through Christ…not only my own sins, but that of everyone else…I became free from judging myself and judging others. I freed my conscience. When Paul freed himself from the Law, he freed his conscience. He testified to that:

Acts 23:1-3
Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?”

Acts 24:16
And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence [not having a conscience of sin] toward God, and toward men.

This man, Paul, who grew up and was the most well-versed "Pharisee of Pharisees", let go of all he knew--all he held onto having believed. All his knowledge of who He thought being righteous was, was not. He judged to death many Christians, consenting even to the stoning of Stephen. With what he came to understand about the Law, Paul was just in his own eyes to do what he did to those early Christians. Yet the Lord intervened in His life--the perfect candidate to come to understand Grace. With someone so skilled in the Law, it took someone who knew it all to come to realize, He knew nothing--that his self-righteousness was nothing but dung! Having known everything, there was nothing he missed that could've been an alternate to God's Grace and Christ's Faith.

Philippians 3:3-10
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.

And our own ability to create our own righteousness (within our own definitions or under God's definition) can never, ever, match the righteousness of God and what He requires. We do not have the ability, skill, knowledge, motivation, perseverance, or perfection to live up to God's standard. This is what He considers our self-righteousness to be in comparison to His: filthy rags [that is, a woman's menstruation cloth].

Isaiah 64:6
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

But here is where God's Grace and Christ's Faith have made it all so simple for us. Since it was impossible for anything we could do to be righteous, He made us righteous for us. Besides Adam and Jesus, we are all born from fallen-world Adam. Before we do anything in this world, we were already unrighteous. Yet, because of what Jesus Christ accomplished, we now have all been made righteous. So no longer is righteousness to do with anything we do or don't do, Righteousness is now about what Jesus Christ did. And He completed the work for us. And the best way to put this into context is what I heard Arthur Meintjes say: Jesus did all the work. We get all the reward. God gets all the Glory--His work, our reward, His Glory. It is that uncomplicated! God our Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, and Christianity as a whole is all really very simple.

2 Corinthians 11:3
The simplicity that is Christ.

It can't be as plain as that. Which begs the question: why do we complicate Him? Fear.
When humanity fell through Adam at the Garden of Eden, we inherited the role of taking control. But as the child the Father wants us to be, it is Him in control that He desires. Not to make robots out of us, but to nurture and guide us as a Good Loving Father. But we don't always understand what that means because we grow up in this world where honest trusts are broken, and we isolate ourselves from vulnerability, and harden our hearts to relying on others. We take control of our own little world--sometimes in extremes where we control others through manipulation, anger, violence, and the like; or in the little things of ourself that we don't always realize is control: eating, appearance, isolation, lifestyle habits, etc. Yet all this is rooted in fear.

Adam and Eve feared they didn't have it all (deceived by the serpent in thinking there was something more to be had). They were tricked into not trusting God, which is often where we find ourselves. But God is Love (Agape Love). Yet we have been deceived even in what that Love is and looks like.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love [Agape Love] casts out fear: because fear hath torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love [Agape Love].

If Love casts our fear, then does not fear, in perception, "cast out" (or more specifically camouflage) Love? It was that fear that hid God's True Love (Adam and Eve hiding in the Garden from God). And since then, we have always been longing for that (whether we consciously perceive that in our lives or not). We long to get back the perfection that was, trying to become perfect in our own life, even if by our own definition of what "perfect" is.

And this is where we complicate all that Christ truly is, and all that He, the Father, and the Holy Ghost have accomplished for us and freely gifted us. This complicated God is what is religion is: a complicated ritual of do's and don’ts created by a false hope that something we ourselves can do or conjure up will somehow (maybe) bring us in right-standing with some complicated God we have created in our own imaginations. Even the Law given through Moses was meant to bring everyone to an end to themselves (an end to seeking a form of self-righteousness). It all pointed to Jesus who was to come.

Galatians 3:22-26
The scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

And Christ did come, completing what we couldn't do ourselves. And this completion of the Law by Jesus Christ is Agape Love.

Galatians 5:14
For all the law is fulfilled in one word: Agape Love.

God's law (commandment) as demonstrated by Jesus Christ is Agape Love. And Jesus showed us what that kind of Love looks like: healing all the sick, never condemning anyone because of sin, not judging, bringing life not death, giving freely, and expressing the Kingdom of God.

Yet the type of 'love' we experience in this world is one of confusion. We are told "I love you", but with that can come parents that hit and abuse us, a dad that abandons us, a spouse that cheats on us, a co-worker that 'stabs you in the back' to promote themself, a friend that lies about us, and on and on. No wonder why we become trained by this world to not inherently trust. And hence why we don't inherently trust the Lord either.

So now we apply our definitions of 'love' towards the Lord, creating reasons, excuses, or explanations for things we don't understand though our own misunderstanding (unintentional ignorance). We create a religion to try and describe and define God in our own image through our own filters of life. We complicate the God of simplicity. He removed all the filters of our lives that hinder our view of His Truth. He removed that all through the Truth that is Jesus Christ.

John 14:6
I am the Way (direction), the Truth (nothing left unsaid nor undisclosed / nothing hidden), and the Life (a giving of eternal relationship and fellowship with the Father).

He revealed His All, His 'I AM' to us. He is no longer a mystery or a type and shadow. We have been given the full revelation of the Father and Holy Ghost through Jesus Christ. And He has made it so simple to access all of Him: to just believe on Jesus Christ.

Mark 16:16
He that believeth and is baptized [into the body of Christ] shall be saved.

Acts 8:37
And Philip said, If thou believe with all thine heart, thou may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Acts 16:30-31
What must I do to be saved? And they (Paul and Silas) said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.

To paraphrase something Tim Ross said: if someone you loved (like your child, spouse, or even pet) was lost and in danger and needed to get home to be safe, what would you do…send them 1000 different, complicated, ways to get home that had no guarantee? Or would you send them the one simplest, safest, sure way of getting home?

Yet this is what religion does; it makes the road to God impossible, or so frustrating, we give up and quit. No wonder why so many have dismissed God altogether, quit church, or desperately hold onto some kind of religion (ritual, man-made worship, or gods) because they have not heard the simplicity that is the Gospel of Love that is Christ Jesus.

It is this simplicity that often can confuse us though; because we can't think that it would be so easy to be in a personal relationship with God (the Father). But this is where we get deceived, blinded because we look for the complicated, missing what is plainly laid out in front of us. We like big complex words to try and explain or reason things we may not completely understand. This is why we believe with our heart and not our minds!

Romans 10:8-10
The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

This relationship of the heart goes beyond words and meaning, yet maintains simplicity. When we get rooted in what His Agape Love is, all other things become less complicated. We see without filters. We live without religion. We don't need to do for Him what He already has done for us. We stop trying to become something we already were made into by Jesus Christ. This is something I didn’t always realize.
I had built my relationship with the Father on a horrible foundation, and that built relationship looked like an M.C. Escher artwork where I did not know which way was up. And when it all came crashing down, the Lord could rebuild His foundation in me on understanding His Agape Love, not on some Laws or rituals, or wisdom of men.

1 Corinthians 1:21-24
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 2:1-2,4-5
And I (Paul), brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human (worldly) wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

In my ignorance, I tried to make God in my own image (not intentionally, but through my own filters in life). I was always trying to please a God I never fully understood or experienced. Yet, He patiently waited while I came to the end of myself--came to the end of religion. And there He was, standing next to me, ready to pick me up and work in conjunction with me to reveal His True self which I had worked to define without him. I needed to see Him for who He truly is, my Loving Father.

And God our Father revealed all of Himself through Christ Jesus. This I did not fully understand. I treated them as separate and different. But they are Three-In-One: i.e., they are separate individuals, yet they think, act, behave, and exist in complete unity--none acting alone, but in whole with one-another. And when I came to see my Father as I saw Jesus, I let go of fearing God.

I (we) don’t need to try and "figure Him out". He is no longer a mystery, all of who He is was demonstrated in Christ Jesus for us to understand His character, His likeness, His fullness, and His Love. God will not do what Jesus Christ didn't do; and Jesus Christ never did what God the Father didn't do. Jesus never killed anyone or made anyone sick; so why do we think God does. We can identify God our Father because of Jesus; and too, identify with ourself as Him: He in us and us in Him.

Let us remove our filters (allow the Lord to take them off) and see clearly and simply the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let's cut out the ways we try to complicate things through ways to please Him, discover Him, blame Him, or confuse who He is. And let us build and maintain His foundation of Agape Love. A good place to start this foundation is through these fundamental basics:

Hebrews 6:1-2
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

This is where I saw Him work in my life, and now continues to hold true in me--maintaining that sturdy, strong, unwavering foundation which I am relying on. And these verses from Hebrews 6:1-2 I will write on in the next posts. Until then, God Bless (as He always does).

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Grace, Faith, & Gifts

1 Corinthians 4:20
For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.

Our role is to not convince others of the Kingdom of God, His Grace, and His Righteousness, but to demonstrate it. Without the demonstration of His Power through us, we only become philosophers or self-appointed educators of the word.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

2 Corinthians 4:5-7
For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

It is God Himself that always backs up His Word! This is Him demonstrating Himself. Not of our own ability, but His. It is His Faith. It is His Grace. It is His Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 2:8-10
For by (God’s) grace are ye saved through (Christ’s) faith; and that not of yourselves: the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Galatians 2:16,20
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

When we let go of it being “my faith” and “my ability” and “my righteousness (right-standing with God)”, it then becomes His Faith, His Ability, and His Righteousness that makes it all happen. And no longer do we title ourselves as “apostle so-and-so” or “prophet so-and-so” or the like. It’s not me or about me, it’s about and all about Him! It’s never about my gifts of the Holy Spirit, it’s the Holy Spirit’s Gifts for someone through me (as just a vessel).

1 Corinthians 12:4-11
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all.  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.  For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;  To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;  To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:  But all these works that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are just that: His, and a free Gift (not earned or rewarded based on what you or me have done or are doing or want to do). They are not my Gifts He gives me to use; they are His Gifts through me as a vessel (conduit) for someone who needs it. We are always a vessel, and we must never place ourselves in any other position with the Lord! When we stop allowing ourselves to be His vessel, we shut Him off from doing as He Wills. In a sense, we shut off (bind) Heaven on earth.

Matthew 18:18
Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Heaven is the warehouse of every Gift. The Holy Spirit is the package-bearer of that Gift. We are the deliverer of that Gift. And the other person is the recipient of that Gift of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit says He gives Gifts as he chooses, it’s not meant that He places in me a select number of Gifts; He is saying that He Gifts to the one that needs it and the Holy Spirit selects that specific Gift for that person to receive for their need. It is the Holy Spirit that has ALL Gifts for all who need a specific Gift. If I only think that I only have “certain gifts” that the Holy Spirit wants me to use, then I limit who the Holy Spirit wants to minister to; and I have to guess or determine how I choose which person or time I am only able to “work the gifts in”. I then place myself above the Lord because it becomes MY determination, not HIS. And thus, no longer becoming a vessel and co-worker in Christ as a part of His Body.

1 Corinthians 3:9
For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.

When I position myself as that, a labourer with Him, and a vessel for the Holy Spirit, I can minister as the Father desires for me, for others. When I am part of the prayer team at church and many in the congregation come up for prayer, I don’t have to worry about not having the right Spiritual Gift for the person coming for prayer, because it’s the Holy Spirit’s that will Gift to the person what is being prayed for. I remove myself from the Spiritual equation, letting whatever the Holy Spirit wants to do or say through me. The first person in line may need supernatural healing: the Holy Spirit has that and delivers it. The second person may need a word of wisdom: the Holy Spirit has that too for that person. The third person may need a prophetic word: the Holy Spirit has that Gift for them as well. And He has that for all people, no matter how many, or what that person needs from Him. There is no lack in the Gifting, and He does not waver based on who the person is; whether a believer or non-believer, Born-Again or not. Nor even what situation or ‘sin’ the person may be in or is dealing with, because all sins have already been dealt with and forgiven at the Cross.

Acts 10:34
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter (discriminator) of persons.

Romans 2:11
or there is no respect (partiality) of persons with God.

Romans 3:21-24
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

So no matter the circumstance or situation we are in praying for someone, we have to remember that everyone has been positioned in righteous by God’s Grace through Christ. So there is no ‘sin’ we need to address in a moment of prayer & ministry to someone for the Holy Spirit to Gift them anything. This is something we can not only remind others, but remind myself.

And as a believer, we are as Jesus was when He prayed and ministered to someone. Jesus demonstrated all the workings (Gifts) of the Holy Spirit—not because He was Jesus, but because He did as the Holy Spirit in Him led Him to do. This is how we operate now. Jesus Himself was just a vessel for the Father. And we are exactly the same.

Philippians 2:5-8
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

“Robbery”? When I steal something from someone, I claim that item as my own when it truly is not. Christ saw Himself as equal to God without thinking that He is claiming something that actually isn’t His—recognizing that equality with God is actually the Truth. Just as we can think the same as being equal to Christ Jesus Himself without feeling like we are stealing an identity that doesn’t really belong to us. We can have confidence in the Truth that we are equal to Christ.

1 John 4:13-17
Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.  Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.  And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.  Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world.

And this is not because of our own merits, but because God Himself made it that way. He made it True! He Gifted that Truth to and for us because of all that Christ Jesus accomplished through His ministry, death, sacrifice, resurrection, and ascension to the Right Hand of the Father, sending to us the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Hebrews 1:1‭-‬3‬‬
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Colossians 1:15-19
[Christ Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.  For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

Colossians 2:6-7,9-10
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:  Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.  For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.

So, because we are as Him and complete in Him, we can perform as Him in confidence, knowing that when He calls us to do something, we have His Faith (Faithfulness) to know He will perform as well. Since it’s His Righteousness, His Grace, His Faith, His Gifts, His finished work through the Cross, nothing can keep His Will from happening in us and through us when we follow-through (obey) His prompting in our everyday. Let’s make His Will ours as He unifies our Spirit made Holy with His Holy Spirit. When two liquids are blended together, they no longer are two, but one. This is how we become one with Him.

2 Timothy 1:6
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God (the Holy Spirit), which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

And when we become one, we lose the distinction between me and Him. And in doing so, it becomes harder to discern based on a “feeling” when it’s Him working or myself.
This was a difficult change in me and the relationship that began with the Holy Spirit. I first started to see Him working in my life as separate from my own. I could easily tell when it was Him working as I became aware of His presence in me. But as Christ burnt up the inquiries in my life and started unifying me with Himself, that conflict of—let’s say, “personalities”—disappeared. This left me thinking I lost something in the relationship with Him. But where I thought I ”lost” His presence, in reality, I lost my own old self. The renewing of the mind. The dying of the old man.

Ephesians 4:22-24
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Now I had to rethink what a relationship with the Lord (Father) looked and behaved like. I had to stop seeing two, and start seeing One. I am One with Him. You are One with Him. No longer a “feeling”, but an existence. A reality. A fulfilled Promise. I am a Holy Temple (a personal Ark of the Covenant). He dwells fully in me. All Spiritual blessings are in me in Him. I am His, and He is mine.

1 Corinthians 3:16‭-‬17‬‬
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  If any man defile the temple of God, [this defilement] shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Ephesians 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.

Jesus embodied that Truth and is our example of that Reality. When we look and see and read about and experience Jesus, we must see ourself in and of Him. As looking in a mirror!

Romans 8:28‭-‬30‬‬
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate and conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

So how can we then fail at anything He calls us out to do. The only hindrance is that we believe there is any. Let’s not limit Him when in reality we don’t. We are not called to have our own faith or “more faith” as a gauge or ability. We are only told to believe.

John 14:12
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

Mark 16:16‭-‬18‬‬
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.  And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;  They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

We received Christ by believing; this is all we need to continue to do.

Colossians 2:6
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.

We continue walking in the Lord through believing in Him. And when we believe, we do all that Jesus did and more. Our response to that belief is what our faith is (our trust in what He says). Faith is not a belief or a “force”, faith is just a response to believing—this is what faith looks like for us. Our response (our faith) is not a power or a generator or type of electrical transformer that determines God’s power. We aren’t conjuring up God’s ability in that He looks upon our faith as a prerequisite or type of level (an amount) that determines how much He moves. He remains constant, and it is because of Christ’s already-completed response to believing the Father (Christ’s Faith) that determines His outpouring. Our term “stepping out in faith” is just us reacting to His Truth. Our faith does not compel God to move, our response releases what the Lord already has done (God’s Grace through Christ’s Faith).

When we detach our faith as a measure for God’s power, we allow God’s power to manifest through the Faith of Christ Jesus. This gives Him the glory, not us. If it were to do with my faith as a standard measure, it would become works and no longer His Gift…we’d get the glory, not Him.

We live by the Faith of Christ Jesus, not by having faith in Him. We believe in Him, and we react to Him in faith. That faith response to believing is often one where we react to the Lord’s Word or calling before we see the manifestation of what we believe (or are believing for).

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance (foundation, resolute confidence) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

We can have that resolute confidence in the Lord because we know He is a good and Loving Father who only wants the best for us and has made that all a possibility.  He is not making us sick, creating children born with disabilities, punishing or killing people, or even judging people. We truly have a Father that we can trust and can see fully demonstrated by Jesus Christ. Jesus never killed anyone or made them sick…He raised the dead and healed all who were sick. God the Father is the same!

So we can be confident of what His True Love is for us. We can be confident in what Christ already has accomplished for us. We can be confident that we are Righteous in His eyes. And we can thus be confident that the Holy Spirit works through us the same as He did through Jesus. And since we believe, and that we can be confident in that, we can respond in believing (that is our faith).

Acts 4:29‭-‬31‬
And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,  By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.  And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

Ephesians 3:7‭-‬21‬
Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.  Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;  And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:  In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.  Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.  For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;  And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,  Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Unified & Identified With Christ - His Emotions Too

Romans 10:13
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Paul quotes a scripture (Joel 2:32) that talks about our salvation. The words "call upon" speak of making our identity as His (Christ's). The Greek is epikaleomai which translates as:
          1.  to put a name upon, to surname
a.       to permit one's self to be surnamed
          2.  to be named after someone

When we come to Him (believe in Christ), who we are changes. We become Born-Again as new creations; one where we can identify ourselves as children of our Father in Heaven. Just as a child shares the surname of a parent as belonging to (identifying to) the parent, so do we now become adopted by our Father as His child. So now, when we look at ourself, what we see should no longer be who we were before, but as a new Born-Again creation--one in which we are identical to Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

1 John 4:15-17
Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he (Christ) is, so are we in this world.

And this identity we become Born-Again into has no regard to who we once were, nor where our current state of being is at the time. The Lord is "no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). And Jesus demonstrated that in His earthly ministry when here--bringing people to the Kingdom: whether male or female, slave or free, soldier or servant, Jew or Gentile.

Galatians 3:26-28
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

So what does it really mean, and how is it demonstrated in our lives, that we are not seen as those distinctions the world tries to designate us as? Its about unity. Let's take the male and female aspect of it:

Before the Fall, Adam and Eve were just Adam. The word Adam is plural; they were both represented as one. Both sharing an identity with each other and back to the Lord. They were both in His image--representing His identity. Male and female and the Lord as one. Just as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost exist as unified in one Identity (yet individuals). This is how the Lord wants us to be with Him and with each other.

Genesis 5:2
Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

Adam is a plural name. Both "Adam" and "Eve" were called Adam before the fall. Males were Adam and Females were "from Adam", but still Adam. Referencing Unity! That Unity was broken in the Fall (Unity between Mankind - Male and Female Adam and the LORD; but also between Male and Female Adams). Thus marriage was necessary to bring Male and Female back together again in a way that God had originally created them together as one.

But it is through Christ that we (either male or female) become made whole into unity. The Fall created a distinct separation in the soul that forms the differences we often see from person-to-person or male-to-female. We often characterize these differences in gender, whether in emotional state or "character type". But this is not how the Lord wants us. He wants us to exist as a person made whole without difference between us. And this is what Jesus demonstrated on earth…He represents to us a unified male and female: the second Adam.

Romans 5:19
For as by one man's disobedience (Adam) many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one (Jesus Christ) shall many be made righteous.

1 Corinthians 15:21-22
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

1 Corinthians 15:45-47
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man (Adam) is of the earth, earthy: the second man (Adam / Christ Jesus) is the Lord from heaven.

And because Jesus Christ is our image and our representation of who we are in Him, we know He represents both male and female--for there is no distinction. So whether you are male or female, slave or free, Jew or Gentile, Christ is our representation and identity.

Jesus embodied the fullness of emotions and feelings (the soul) of a human born from the Father without the curse of separate identities that were created in us at the Fall.
As a male, I have been nurtured (raised up in this world) under the guise of the fallen male Adam. With that comes the training of what it means to be a "man". For me, one of these was to typically think logical (none of those 'silly' emotions). But is that how the Lord originally designed me? Is that how the Lord wants me now? Let's look at Jesus in His ministry here on earth and see how He was.

Each of the four Gospels for me (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) show the different soul characteristics that make up Jesus as a whole, and are a representation to us of that wholeness we ourselves are created as (being Born-Again). When I read the Book of John, I really see the emotional and feelings side of Jesus: frustration, anger, sadness, longing, sorrow, hurt, trust, empathy, vulnerability, tiredness, fear, and His fight against His flesh.

His frustration can be felt reading John 8:12-59. During this whole chapter, Jesus is explaining to the people and the Pharisees are denying what He says about Himself as the Christ sent by the Father. Jesus even gets to a point to where He tells them flat-out, "Why do you not understand my speech?" (John 8:43).

How frustrating must it have been for Jesus to not only speak about who He was, but to also demonstrate it through signs and miracles and still they wouldn't believe. Having told them in different ways who He was, He finally even said through all His frustration that He was the I AM…"verily, verily I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM". At which they wanted to stone Him.

Think of how frustrated we get with someone who doesn't believe what we are telling them, or can't understand what we are trying to say (so we have to repeat ourself over and over again and in different ways). Jesus hadn't he greatest news to share, and yet they would not believe Him. And yet, even knowing that not all would or do believe Him, He still died for us to bring us in relationship to the Father!

His anger, not just frustration, was seen twice when on two separate occasions Jesus drove out the money-changers in the Temple. The first was recorded in John 2:13-25. And the second is recorded in Luke 19:45-48.

How "Christian" would I be considered if I went into a church and drove out crooked people that were taking advantage of the congregation--overturning tables and chasing out the religion with a whip (weapon). People would think I was crazy. Yet, that's what Jesus did, and it wasn't a sin to do so.

We see people get taken advantage of by religion, yet we wrongfully look away instead of interceding for the Lord in a person's life. We let people stay in sickness, or let the church force tithe on people, or deny the Holy Spirit and the operating of Gifts and Tongues because we feel it's not our place to say anything or jump into the mix to stir things up. Jesus stirred things up! He had righteous indignation. And so should we. We are instructed to get angry. Let's get angry; but be careful, we are also instructed not to sin in our anger (Ephesians 4:26). This is a discerning of the spirit that is needed in times we have to; being led by the Holy Spirit as what to say and do, and the timing of such.

His longing, sadness, and sorrow is seen in His desire for all of Jerusalem to come to Him as He wanted to "gather them as a hen does" (Luke 13:34). This is what we would consider a 'motherly' instinct or nurturing. He nurtured His disciples, even though He often got agitated and frustrated with them and their slowness to accept the Kingdom ways He demonstrated.

His tiredness was seen when He went to the well. Yet, even though in His state of exhaustion, He obeyed the prompting of the Holy Ghost and ministered to the woman at the well (John 4:1-43). And in that moment, the Holy Spirit gave Him the strength (the food needed for the task) to be able to minister to her. And in doing so, a whole town was transformed.

How often do we face the same situations in life. We may be tired or just want to go home, yet the Holy Spirit has something else for us. And when we obey, as Jesus did, it truly becomes Him in and through us that makes it happen--not our ability or our strength, but His!

And this happened to me one night in the States at about 2am. I was headed home, but saw I needed to put petrol in my car. I debated in my mind to just find a way to do it in the morning; but as I passed a petrol station, the Holy Spirit said to do so now. So I turned around and went. Yet, as I was going, I was still upset and arguing having to do it knowing there were typically homeless people there asking for money (sometimes rudely or interactively). So as I pulled in to fill up my tank, there was a homeless person at a distance trying to get my attention (not even walking up to me, but hollering to me). Now I was angry. I did not want to deal with this. I was tired and just wanted to go home.

But yet, the Holy Ghost had His plans for me. And boy, did I grumble at the Holy Spirit. I fought, but He persevered. Knowing that I didn't want to just give the homeless man money, I went into the petrol store and purchase a drink and some pizza for him. So coming out, I turned to him (who was near the entrance) and started to speak to him and offered him the food and drink I just bought. And he rejected it from me--saying that he could not eat pizza because of having diabetes, but instead just wanted cash from me to go to McDonald's to buy food. Now I knew something was up (another "story" from a homeless person). Now I was really upset with the Holy Spirit as I'm now angry with the man for not taking free food!

But we continued to talk. And this man had just been Born-Again the week before. This the Holy Spirit conformed in me as I looked into his eyes. This man was really hungry for the Lord without knowing it, and the Holy Spirit wanted to gift him with Spiritual food more. So we talked more and I ended up ministering to him and praying for him, laying my hand upon his heart and commanding the diabetes to be gone in the authority of Jesus.

He was healed that day. I gave him the food I bought that he said he could give to another homeless man. And then, with the Spirit's approval, gave hi, some cash as well to eat anything he wanted--and why not, he was healed!

This was overcoming my tiredness that wanted me to quit in a sense. And these feelings of quitting that we get in life, this is often a fight of the flesh against us as led by the Spirit. Jesus felt the same.

His fight against the flesh started at His water baptism. His life leading up to that moment was Him building Himself up to the point of committing Himself to the purpose of His Father. At this moment, He set aside the desires of His flesh to no longer live for Himself, but to live for the Father to complete the task laid out before Him (from before the foundations of this earth). And this role He placed Himself into by free-will was tested immediately in the temptations in the desert. And was culminated in the extreme in the garden before His arrest (as recounted by Luke).

Luke 22:41-44
And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 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.

And it didn't just stop there once arrested. He had to continue to put aside (silence) those feelings of the flesh to quit and save Himself (that is to save His flesh). When questioned during His arrest, He remained silent. He only spoke what the Father relayed to Him through the Holy Spirit, but there was nothing to say during this time as if He had wanted to speak, it would have been from the flesh to save Himself. He said this was possible as well, being able to call His angels to rescue Him. But He didn't. He resisted the flesh, and moreso than anyone could bear or imagine--one that leaded to Him bearing all sickness, disease, and sin upon Himself with the agony of the crucifixion on top of that. It was more than just being crucified, it was knowing what the literal sacrifice meant in what He bore for us, and the moment that He became separated from the Father for the first and only time in eternity. That was the worst to have felt.

We struggle with those feelings of not wanting to do something the Holy Spirit is leading us to do. We feel the struggle within us as the flesh and the Spirit present themselves: whether it is as simple as spending time reading the bible, or the challenge of praying for a stranger and laying hands on the sick, or to leave everything behind and go where the Lord calls (which could be another town, or another country).

And when He does call, He is trusting us openly. Knowing our faults and limitations, He still places that call on our life. And we must maintain an open trust and vulnerability back to Him, but also an open trust and vulnerability for those around us.
Jesus trusted all His disciples. He openly made Himself vulnerable in their presence with that open trust. Jesus knew one of the twelve would betray Him, but didn't know until the Last Supper that it was Judah Iscarot when the Holy Spirit revealed that to Him dipping the bread into the bowl of oil (Matthew 26:23). He gave the same amount of trust to each of them, despite their faults: pride, jealousy, and stealing from the money bag.

This is why it hurt Jesus so deeply. Jesus gave full trust and openness (His whole heart) to each of them. And then to be betrayed the night Jesus was already emotionally overwhelmed that He would be arrested and crucified. That's deep hurt, yet Jesus did not "guard" His heart from that pain as we tend to think to do. But to guard one’s heart in that matter is not protecting it, but hardening it. And this is not of the Lord to do.
When we harden our hearts because of past hurts or bad experiences, we can deaden the calling of the Holy Spirit in us as we would tend to shy away from what He needs done out of self-protection. But this is sadly a pride approach for us. We put the security of our heart over the calling of the Lord.

We, like Jesus and the Father, need to keep an open heart, trust freely (even though it can mean getting hurt), and maintain vulnerability in our lives. And we can do so for all of them with knowing our identity in Him. Because, when we do, it becomes only His acknowledgement that matters and holds true in our life. We stand firm in His accolades for us without the need for the approval of others. This is how Jesus kept His strength in His ministry: His confidence was in who He knew who He was in the Father. Just as we can have that same confidence knowing we are as Christ Jesus, the children of our Loving Father.

This is how we can relate to Him, and know that He relates to us. We share His Identity. And as we have seen, He has feelings and emotions just as we do. And it doesn't matter if you are male or female, slave or free, Jew or Gentile, we all share the same capacity for feelings and emotions. They are not "of the devil", they are His design. We aren't to "control" them out of our own ability (they can't be). Nor are we supposed to "level them out" to some flat-line existence. No! We need to embrace their reality and discern the reasons they are there, and filter out the deceptions that feelings and emotions can tell us or lead us down. Embrace the roller-coaster of emotions, for they are the Lord's. And I must know that whatever I may feeling or experiencing emotionally, the Holy Spirit is my discerner and counselor to strengthen me, feel with me, and explain to me. Yet through it all, I look to Him and can thank Him both for those wonderful highs, and praise Him in our lows.

Let's look for His emotions when we read scripture. Look for the what we would call highs and lows. Embrace what He embraced. And look for the complete picture as who Christ represents, the unification of what was broken at the Fall creating separate curses of the soul that defined the differences between male and female. But Christ took upon himself every curse. And since He did, we can stop seeing ourselves as limited or separate in our soul, behaviours, or "personalities". He wants to unify us back as His Body. 

Ephesians 4:11-13
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect [complete] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ

Christ represents the complete man (human). And since we have been Born-Again as Him, we have that same fullness / completeness. But to accept and manifest this, we must renew our minds from how we were brought up, or how the world views or presents this to us. And when we allow ourselves to be set free from the strongholds that limit our soul, outshines His fullness of a soul. Bringing us into a position where we can face all the physical and emotional challenges that we go through. We become as strong and capable as Christ, for He is our Identity.