Surviving and Thriving in Enemy Territory

To get to the depth of this twenty-first chapter (one more remaining) has been a tedious task. Even as I came to this, it seemed as facing one of those brick walls we run into close to the end of a project. There is something we can’t get over, around, under, or through, on our own.

I have described this overwhelming sense in other posts as finding more than I know how to handle. It is what I imagine winning the lottery would be like, only this is a spiritual windfall every time the Lord brings me to a new chapter in my life or to finishing a book.

Proving truth by our experience seems the easiest to write but much of the time, it is His working in us what we have not yet known. It is to find the joy of His presence, as He continues to teach and prepare us for eternity with Him. The Christian life is lived in the presence and power of the Lord God Almighty who brings us to imagine what is beyond where we are.

It is a life of growth that takes us from striving to surviving and finally, thriving in the middle of the common adversities that assail all human beings. As Christians, we face the controversies that exist between believers and unbelievers as well as among God’s people.

If we have been through the first twenty chapters of this book, we know that Christianity is not a two-bit religion or one by which we hitch our wagon to a star and hope it will carry us to heaven. It is not like any other religion but one that most people seem to be happy without.

Since the beginning, when God created a man and woman, there has been an antithesis ~ Satan and his angels gathering those who are captive to him to battle against God and His plan for His creation.

The Christian life is not an easy endeavor. The more we claim the promise of eternal life in Him, the more we are ridiculed and persecuted.

As the apostle Paul expressed the life of Jesus’ disciples, “We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,” Luke 9:23

Although I have not come to the point of thriving as I desire, Jerry and I have survived ~ experiencing joy and praise through much hardship. The vision is put before us when we study the life of Christ our Lord and the apostles who were chosen to continue His ministry of proclaiming the kingdom of God.

If we never catch sight of the victory Jesus gained for us in this world, then we believe in vain.

It is a victory of faith to overcome as He rules in every area of our lives, whether personal or relational. We need His presence and power to overcome that which makes us captive to this world.

He bought us and brought us from being an enemy, to serve Him as a soldier of the cross. He gives us every weapon in His arsenal to overcome the enemies that strive against Him and His kingdom here on earth (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

To get beyond striving to surviving in this world, we begin by knowing who and where we are. In John’s first letter, he describes the difference in God’s people and the world that “lies in wickedness.”

And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” 1 John 5:19

“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” NKJV

“We know that we are from God, and the whole worldlies in the power of the evil one.” ESV

“We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” NIV

In this one verse, we see the opposing forces that have made up the antithesis since the world began.

KJV and NKJV agree that “we are of God.”

ESV states “we are from God.”

NIV says “we are children of God.”

These teach us that as disciples of Christ we belong to God, which makes us different from the world.

In the next part of this sentence, John describes those who are not children of God. Every translation describes the territory of unbelievers as “the whole world.”

KJV says “the whole world lieth in wickedness.”

NKJV says “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

ESV says, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

NIV says, “the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”

2 Corinthians 4:4 describes the evil one as “the god of this world.”

Ephesians 2:2 describes him as “the prince of the power of the air.”

 “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” 1 John 3:10

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth  in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. Psalm 1:1-2, 6

“And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.” Exodus 9:27

Satan’s Territory
During wartimes, we hear of servicemen taken captive as prisoners of war. Everyone since Adam and Eve, are born slaves into Satan’s territory. As the god of this world, he rules with power over the whole world.

A mere Christianity is not enough to survive the spiritual battles that come just by living here. A little faith will not stand against the onslaught of the enemy. Those who do not know Christ are destined to a final eternity with Satan and his angels.

Only Jesus Christ can save us from the enemy ~ the spirit of this world and his oppression.

Who gave himself for our sins,
that he might deliver us from this present evil world,
according to the will of God and our Father:”
Galatians 1:4

Christ’s disciples are born again spiritually to belong to Him ~ predestined to eternity with Him.  It is Jesus Christ who delivers us from the power of the evil one.

“We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” 1 John 5:18

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:4-5

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

Titus 2:12 speaks of how God’s children are to live in this present world;  

 “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:24

The Power of the Holy Spirit
The Lord promises His people the power of His Holy Spirit ~ the same power that was with Him on earth. The same Holy Spirit by which Jesus was conceived of the virgin Mary is the same Spirit by which Christ is born in us ~ the same power to overcome sin and make us holy. The same presence with Jesus as He endured the suffering and death of the cross is the same presence of the Spirit of Christ within us ~ to live sacrificially for Him (Romans 12:1-2)..

It is the same power that raised Him from the dead and made Him to sit in heavenly places to rule at the right hand of the Father (Ephesians 1:19-21; Ephesians 2:5).

It is the same power given to those in persecution: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. Hebrews 11:33

We are chosen and born into the kingdom of God, and called for battle against the god of this world. The purpose as children of God is not to take over the world. The Father’s plan is for a new heaven and a new earth. We are to be light, holding forth the word of life to those that are in our paths. We are to provide the good news of Christ so that all who will believe the gospel of Christ will be joined to His family.

We are His Church, living in the wilderness provided for our first parents when they had to leave the Garden of Eden. Their rejection of God’s laws for His creation was the reason for their ejection. Every generation since the beginning has had to live and work under the control of the evil one.

We live in the middle of the battle between God and Satan, between good and evil ~ a constant threat to Satan and his kingdom.

“But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled.” 1 Peter 3:14

Yet, if we suffer for Christ, we endure, growing closer to Him, knowing more of the joy and fullness of His Spirit ~ thriving as He brings forth His fruit in us.

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree:
he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.”
Psalm 92:12

 “He that trusteth in his riches shall fall;
but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.”
Proverbs 11:28

The Holy Spirit is the inspiration for the writing of God’s Word and the presence and power in His Word for our defense against the evil one. The power of the Holy Spirit in us uses the sword of the Spirit ~ His Holy Word ~ to bring us from striving to surviving and victoriously thriving in Satan’s hostile territory. We do well to meditate on these to know ourselves and our enemy.

In a second part, we will post this storehouse of His Word concerning the difference in God’s people and the world. We will see from these verses who are the righteous and ungodly; those of light and those of darkness, those of truth and deceit, those of life and death, of peace and oppression, of the Spirit and flesh.

It is by the power of His Spirit and His Word that brick and mortar walls fall down as He leads us on victoriously, joyfully, and fruitfully.

Dear Father in heaven, you continue to teach us and lead us onward in the power of the cross. Let your Spirit and Your Word do their work in the hearts and lives of your children throughout this world. Bring those who are striving to the reality of surviving ~ and those who are surviving to thriving so that the world may know that we are your children. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Riveted and Radical

Beyond a Mere Christianity ~ Chapter 20

R & R, an abbreviation for “rest and relaxation,” is the end to which most spend their lives. For those devoted to Christ – desiring the most from our relationship with Him in this life and for eternity – R & R means more than time out from our normal labors. Our calling and our work for His kingdom here on earth require a complete and indisputable loyalty to Him.

We know what rest and relaxation look like. Everyone works for it and welcomes it whenever possible. It requires a total giving of ourselves to nothing but ourselves.

But there is a rest beyond this world – beyond a mere Christianity – promised to the followers of Christ even before this life is finished. We are in preparation for that eternal rest while engaged in the work of the kingdom, here.

rivet (Merriam-Webster) A rivet is a fastener that holds something closed or down, and something riveting keeps you glued to your seat and grabs your attention; having the power to fix the attention; engrossing, fascinating.

To be riveted (Cambridge English Dictionary) To not be able to stop looking at something because it is so interesting or frightening.

“For the love of Christ compels us …. that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:15-17

A radical Christianity is a life no one understands except those who know Christ as Lord and Master of all life – physical and spiritual. It is a calling by the power of the Holy Spirit for us to leave our nets and other collections to follow Him. It is the Spirit of Jesus Christ that captures our attention even as He embraces our hearts, our minds, and our beings. I use the plural pronoun because I am not the only one He has chosen to leave all for Him.

“Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” 2 Corinthians 1:22 (See also Ephesians 1:13)

To engage in the profundity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is more than we are able to imagine. It is a spiritual, divine, and supernatural way of life. This means that He, by His Spirit, has turned my life from self – total denial to the world – to undenied sacrifice to Him.

“The words of the wise are as goads,
and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies,
which are given from one shepherd.”

Ecclesiastes 12:11

To be radical for Christ we must first be riveted to Him – not just riveted on Him.

“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:37

“Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” Mark 10:29-30
Notice that in addition to the good things, persecutions are promised in this life to those who are true disciples. We will consider suffering and persecution in the Christian life in the next chapter.

 When Jesus said,“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Lk. 9:23), He was using His conditional statement that begins with the word “if” – relating a difference in the ordinary and the profound – in the common and uncommon.

Even as in John 8:31-32, He was presenting the difference of a mere existence and the radical life seen in Him and His disciples. In my early Christian life, I used to pray that the Lord would “love me to death” so that He might “love me to life.” He has been doing this for over twenty years – drawing me closer and closer to Him.

 “A follower of Christ is radically oriented to a different world.”

Dr. Charley Chase wrote these words knowing the content of John 6, one of the three longest chapters in the New Testament. Reading, studying, meditation and memorization of the undiluted truth of Jesus’ teachings will either turn us away or draw us to Him forever. Those who stay riveted to Him – not just to His teaching – will be new creatures, radically following and living the true life of a Christian, not for this world, but for the next (Galatians 6:14-15).

During the three years of His earthly ministry, many followed Him for the food and the healing. But they could not stomach His preaching and teaching and were no longer interested in Him.

When these left, Jesus asked the twelve. “Do you also want to go away?

“But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also, we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:67-69

Eleven of the twelve remained and after His resurrection and ascension, continued His teachings and preaching of the gospel that we have today. We still have it, and like those few, we are few today who believe by the power of His Spirit and are riveted to Him, living a radical life in the face of adversity. Those who follow Christ live in light of the eternal life promised to those who are truly His disciples.

The religious leaders spoke of the apostles as ”These that have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

How did they do this? It was not of their own knowledge, authority or power.

“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Jeremiah 31:3

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44

 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” John 12:32

“Assemble yourselves and come; Draw near together, You who have escaped from the nations. They have no knowledge, Who carry the wood of their carved image, And pray to a god that cannot save.” Isaiah 45:20

The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.Jesus sent Paul in ministry to the Gentiles “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Acts 26:18
The same light given to Paul accompanied him wherever he went.

 Seek, See, and Set Your Mind on Him

“So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.   Psalm 63:2

“Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way. Psalm 119:37

“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:40

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3

We swim upstream — meeting and warning those on the path to destruction.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:5

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

“To the end he may stablish your hearts
unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father,
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”

1 Thessalonians 3:13

Dear Father in heaven, your greatness is unsearchable. You have made the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ more powerful that we will ever know. By your Spirit you call us, you draw us by your grace, you turn us so that we may look, gaze and wonder at your Son. You have lifted Him through death and resurrection to sit at your right hand, to rule and govern a people for yourself, to call in each generation those who will give all to live for you. As we live in obedience of the living faith you have given us, display in us the same diligence and fervency of our Lord that sets us apart from this world that it may be turned upside down. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Google

What is Jesus Doing in Your Life?

(Let me tell you!)

This is but a synopsis (though not a short post) of what I know of His presence and power in others and my own life. It is worth meditation on God’s Word to confirm our faith in what the Lord is doing in our lives.
(With this post, I will be concluding in the next two weeks the last chapters of Beyond a Mere Christianity as our next book to publish, Lord willing. I am still working on Filled with Grace and Wrapped in Glory.)

Things we will speak of here:

How Did Jesus Get into Your Life?
What is He Doing in Your Life Now?
Why is He in Your Life ~ to what end?
<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>
How Did Jesus Get into Your Life?


We sometimes make the mistake of thinking that we have chosen Jesus to be our Savior. When we read Jesus’ words, we understand more than what others say about inviting Jesus into our hearts. Follow through with me to find the assurance that He gives.

As I am speaking of the supernatural presence of Jesus in the human body, soul, and spirit, I must say that Jesus did not come into my life by asking Him.

God, our Father revealed Jesus to me by His Holy Spirit through the knowledge of His Word. I knew of Him before I knew Him. In His timing, I understood the meaning of Ezekiel 36:26.

A new heart also will I give you,
and a new spirit will I put within you:
and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh,
and I will give you a heart of flesh.

There were those of His own people who believed Jesus when they saw His miracles and spoke the good news of the kingdom of God, but they left after He told them more of what the kingdom was. So, we see that they did not believe in Christ ~ they did not believe all that He said. There were things He specifically instructed those who heard His message.

“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are my disciples indeed.”John 8:31

This quote begins with a condition and ends with an effect. We do not naturally gravitate to His Word in our natural state. The presence and power of the Holy Spirit draw us to His Word according to the will of the Father (John 6:44-45, 65-66; Galations 1:4). The Holy Spirit that inspired the Word interprets the truths of Jesus Christ so as to bring us to repentance and faith in Him (Romans 2:4; Luke 5:32).

Even as He draws, abiding in His Word is the work of His Spirit. We abide as He continues to lead us to read, that we may seek by the power of the Holy Spirit what He wills for us as His disciples.

The Holy Spirit reveals the Living Word (the logos, John 1) Jesus Christ, who was in the beginning: The Word was with God and was God. He was made flesh to dwell among us (John 1:14) and bring us to Him through the sacrifice of Himself ~ through His death, resurrection, and ascension.

Through God’s Word, the Holy Spirit convicts of sin~ our rebellion against God; of righteousness~ the righteousness of Christ given to us; and judgment ~ the judgment that is upon the world and for eternity for those who do not believe and follow Him. (John 16:8-11)

Jesus told His disciples He had many things to say to them but that they could not bear them while Jesus was with them.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. John 16:12-14

It is the Holy Spirit that does the supernatural work of bringing us by faith into the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We did not birth ourselves naturally into this world nor do we birth ourselves spiritually into the kingdom of heaven. Any interest in Jesus Christ and the things of God begin with the new birth (John 3:3-8).

The new birth is not by our free will but by the will of God as we spoke earlier of the new heart and spirit.

“Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13

To fully understand everything God wants for us, we must continually read His Word as the Spirit reveals more and more of Jesus, the Living Word that dwells within us.

“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive,
because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him:
but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you,
and shall be in you.” John 14:17

He has made us in Christ to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: Colossians 1:12-13
Though we were alienated from God and enemies, yet now hath he reconciled. Colossians 1:21
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Ephesians 1:7-8

What is He Doing in Your Life Now?

For it is God which worketh in you
both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13

 Jesus’ disciples were sorrowful at the news that He would be returning to the Father and sending His Holy Spirit in His stead (John 16:4-7). They were a privileged few whom Jesus personally lived among and taught ~ those who afterward recorded what He taught and spread the knowledge of Jesus, the Living Word.

The more we know of Jesus, the more we know what He is doing in us.

Continuing (abiding) in His Word convinces us that He is abiding in us, transforming our minds, and conforming us to His image.

 “I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly.”
John 10:10

I have often thought of the difference in Jesus and Superman. Superman, an imaginary character of a man’s creation, changes from a mild-mannered reporter to a super-hero. He flies down into the dire circumstances, scoops up the person in danger, returns them to their original state, and goes back to his newsroom, undetected. He has no personal relationship with those he saves.

Jesus, however, not only knows our need for salvation but reveals Himself as the Savior. He knows each of us by name. He saves us, lives with us by His Spirit and Word  ~ to love, care, and share His kingdom with us forever.

He is preparing us for eternity with Him. As we wait, we grow in grace and knowledge of Him (2 Peter 3:12-18).

Continuing through His Word, we read how He enables us to live in the world, separate and sanctified for His use and to be a light to others of His saving grace.

God the Father has given us His Word through His Son.
The following is only part of Jesus’ high-priestly prayer for His people which we do well to know and meditate on what He purposes to do for us and in us.
He speaks of those who have believed that the Father sent Him (vs. 8) for them~ not for the world (vs. 9).
Believers belong to Him and the Father; Jesus is glorified in them (vs. 10).
His joy would be fulfilled in them (vs.13), He gave them the Father’s word and the world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
We are kept from the evil, sanctified through His Word; His Word is truth(vs.15-17)
I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. (15)
Jesus sanctified Himself that they also might be sanctified through the truth. John 17:19
Jesus did not pray for them alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; (vs.20).
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me (vs. 21).
And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them (26).

Paul described the work of Jesus on our behalf.

Who gave himself for our sins,
that he might deliver us from this present evil world,
according to the will of God and our Father:
Galatians 1:4

To be Filled and Fruitful
Paul spoke to the Philippians of being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:11

“Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:” Colossians 1:6

Paul prayed for the Colossian church that they might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Colossians 1:9-11

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:32

 To Be Strengthened and Rooted and Grounded in Love

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 passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19

To Be Transformed and Conformed to His Image

We are being transformed from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 12:1-2) and conformed to His image (Romans 8:28-29)

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:32

 Why is He in Your Life ~ to What End?

“That he might sanctify and cleanse it (the church ~ His people) with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:26-27

To present us holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: Colossians 1:22

 He is working in us what is well-pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:29-21).

“to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,” Jude 24

“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:” Ephesians 1:10

“Being confident of this very thing,
that he which hath begun a good work in you
will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” 
Philippians 1:6

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly
above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us,”
Ephesians 3:20

We can never in one chapter of a book present a full answer to the questions we have asked. As we pray and continue in His Word, He will reveal more, bringing us closer to Him, beyond anything we have known (Jeremiah 33:3).

Gracious Father in heaven, we do not deserve the life you have given us in Christ. We thank you and praise you for your Word and for sending your Holy Spirit to draw us to Christ. Fill us with your fullness that we may bear the fruit of righteousness for your kingdom and your glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Pixabay

 

 

Abiding in Light and Truth

This post could fit as a chapter in Beyond a Mere Christianity or in Filled with Grace and Wrapped in Glory, still in progress

Light and Truth are the walls of the Christian faith that house the Life that is ours in the Lord Jesus Christ. Without them, any structure in which we live will fall and crumble (Matthew 7:24-25). Christ is the sure foundation of a living and indestructable faith.

Light and truth are the work of the Holy Spirit in us and the spiritual encompassing of our heavenly Father.

Light enables us to see physically and spiritually.

In the beginning, God, in the middle of darkness, said, “Let there be light.”

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,
hath shined in our hearts, to give the light
of the knowledge of the glory of God
in the face of Jesus Christ.”
2 Corinthians 4:6

Who has done what?

God shined THE LIGHT in our hearts

 Of the knowledge

Of His glory

In Jesus Christ

What is in THE LIGHT?

Knowledge

Knowledge of what?

The glory of God

Where is the glory of God revealed? In whom is this light given?

In His Son, Jesus Christ

What is the purpose of light and truth?

In Him was life; and his life was the light of men.”
1 John 1:4

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying,
I
 am the light of the world:
he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness,
but shall have the light of life.”
John 8:12

“he that hath seen me hath seen the Father;”  (John 14:9).

If we have this light and knowledge in us, we see Him and the Father.

THE LIGHT draws us to Christ and keeps us in Him.
If we live in THE LIGHT, we live in Christ.

THE LIGHT reveals THE TRUTH that is in Christ.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:4

Jesus was speaking of eternal life, the LIFE that He came to give.
THE WAY of eternal LIFE is revealed in Christ

He is THE WAY to eternal TRUTH that leads to true LIFE.

 Abiding in Light and Truth is living in Christ and Christ in us by the power of His Holy Spirit. This is a spiritual truth known only to God’s children, children of the heavenly Father. It is a heavenly, spiritual, divine reality beyond any earthly knowledge. Light and truth do their work reflecting His grace and glory in us.

It is the truth in Christ by which we are sanctified (John 17:19), transformed (Romans 12:2) and conformed to His image (Romans 8:28-29). God’s written Word reveals Christ as the living Word.

In the beginning was the Word….with God,
and the Word was God
.” John 1:1

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us
……full of mercy and truth.   |
……grace and truth came by Jesus Christ
.”
John 1:14, 17

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
John 17:17

 “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you,
ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

John 15:7

He that abideth in me, and I in him,
the same bringeth forth much fruit:
for without me ye can do nothing
.”
John 15:5

Holy and Righteous Father, again I am in awe of the knowledge of your glory that is revealed in Jesus Christ. We thank you for your Holy Spirit who continually shines this light into our hearts. We praise you that nothing and no one can keep your light from us. Keep us abiding in Christ and your Word. Shine your light and truth through us into the darkness of this world. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

(To discern both physical and spiritual things wisely, we need the proper lightWhat the Holy Bible says About LIGHT.)

Focus, Love, and Rejoice

The words focus, love, and rejoice came clearly from time in prayer, meditation in God’s Word, and in my circumstances. The first word, focus, is included in the title of a book I started a few years ago. Focus, Balance, and Order came during a time when things were difficult to sort through. Still working on this book, my hope is to finish it soon as the Lord continues to show me these three facets of the Christian life. In the meantime, the Lord placed Focus, Love and Rejoice in my heart to experience the outcome of our focus on God our Father, the balance of life through our Lord, Jesus Christ and the order of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

It is the work of a triune God that produces the focus, love, and joy in us as His children. Briefly, let us look at this fruit that shows His work in and through us.

Concentration has never been my nature. The Lord knows my weakness and blesses me to know my need for Him — to seek His presence to accomplish in me what He desires. I would venture to say that we all are distracted by the physical world, with difficulties in training our minds to look to and keep our eyes upward, looking to Him for all things. Focus is not within from birth. Some may say that we are all focused on something.

We, as earthlings, are prone to switch from image to image looking for something new, something different every day. We are easily entertained by whatever comes in view of our senses.

The focus we speak of here is a steady, non-altering gaze that is immovable from its one object.

In the book Focus, Balance, and Order, we survey that on which we focus, the object of our focus. Of course, we will ascertain that it is the Lord God, our heavenly Father who is our focus and why it is must be Him alone on which we set our sight, our desires, our hopes, and our faith. There, the word focus is a noun as is balance and order. Here, focus is a verb, just as love and rejoice. I hope this post will encourage and excite you to pray for me and to look forward to how He will develop this project through me
In the meantime, let’s think of what He wants to work in us as a result of His focus, balance, and order in our lives.

If ye then be risen with Christ,
seek those things which are above,
where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Colossians 3:1

Focus
He wants us to focus — to continually keep our eyes — upon Him. We can love and rejoice as we receive His Words by a direct concentration and meditation on Him and His Word. We receive from Him with open hearts and minds. Imagine a thirsty man holding a cup to receive water without focusing on the source. The stream of water is the life of Christ given to us from our heavenly Father by His Holy Spirit. In prayer and through His Word, we direct our hearts and minds to receive the life He gives. But our eyes are on the Father, the giver of all life. Jesus directs us to the Father in His prayer on the mount.

Love and Rejoice
When He says, focus, love, and rejoice, He teaches us that love is the fruit, the life of Christ poured in and through us as we receive it from Him. Both love and joy are His character traits shared with His children. He gives us His love and His joy— the fruit of His Spirit within us. We, therefore, love as He loves, unselfishly. His joy causes us to rejoice.

Most will say they cannot keep such a focus. None of us can. Like humility and all that He requires of His children, He teaches what He wants to do in us. He gives us the desire of His heart until it becomes our heart’s desire. We pray and wait for Him to do His work in us. As Andrew Murray says in Waiting on God — we can afford to wait. These are parts of our inheritance given to enjoy here on this earth and preparation for eternity with Him.

When we learn to focus upon Him, it will not matter what may be our circumstances. Focus enables us to keep steadfast in the life of Christ, not changing our actions based on what is happening around us. The world cannot change our character when we know who we are in Christ. We continue to love the unlovable and rejoice through the most difficult times of this life when we set our affections on Him and the things above.

Dear Father in heaven, we are most blessed when we keep our eyes heavenward, knowing you lead us through the most difficult places by your Spirit of love and joy. Bring us to desire with all our hearts to focus upon you. Make us a channel of your love and joy, we pray, In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Fran

Images: Google

Living Sacrifices

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,
that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable unto God,
which is your reasonable service.”
Romans 12:1-2

These verses in Romans 12 cannot be taken out of context but in relation to the whole letter to the Roman Church. Paul gives the means and the reason for His beseeching. Presenting our body (our whole being) is our response to the mercies of God. Afterward, we see the results of the presentation and the commitment of ourselves to Him.

The Reason
Here, Paul brings the believer to consider the truths he has presented in the previous eleven chapters. The key words in this verse are by the mercies of God. Before we do can anything with or for God, there has to be a revelation of Him and the work of His mercy for us.

In Romans 11:29-36 we find the capsule of God’s mercies opened–the door–therefore–for Paul’s beseeching the reader to consider and respond. He calls us as brethren–believers and followers of Christ–to bring to God the Father, the gift of His mercies in earthen vessels for His use. When, by His mercies, He gives us new hearts (Ezekiel 36:26) and lives in Christ, our only reasonable response is to bring ourselves in dedication and commitment to His service and worship

Peter speaks of God’s abundant mercy that has given us new life in Christ.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which according to his abundant mercy
hath begotten us again unto a lively hope
by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 
1 Peter 1:3

A Covenant Relationship
We are made holy and acceptable unto God through Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

Before the foundation of the world, the covenant of redemption was planned between the Father and the Son. In the power of His Holy Spirit, through the knowledge of His Word, this covenant–the covenant of grace as we know it–is revealed as God’s plan to win us to Christ, His Son.

We are betrothed to Him through His sacrifice for us.
Paul’s teaching in Romans 12:1-2  show how we are to accept and enter into this covenant with Him. As a wife submits to her husband in the covenant of marriage, we submit to His covenant for life here and for eternity.

It is our agreement with Him that we are His temple, His building, His people, His children.

This is His means to accomplish all He desires in and through us.

“For ye are bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body,
and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
1 Corinthians 6:20

Paul’s purpose of ministry to the Gentiles was that they might glorify God for his mercy (Romans 15:9).

In Romans 10:3 Paul speaks of those who have not submitted themselves unto Him.

We must be humbled to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. The proud cannot present themselves; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5-6).

“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin:
but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead,
and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
Romans 6:13

Living Sacrifices for a Living God
Paul speaks to the Thessalonians of how they turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 1 Thessalonians 1:9

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:14

For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him. Luke 20:38

Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 2 Corintians 3:3

But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, Hebrews 12:22

 But if I tarry long, that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:15

The Results

“And be not conformed to this world:
but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that ye may prove what is that good,
and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” 
Romans 12:2

When we read all of Romans 12, we find the results of the whole body of Christ living sacrificially for His glory. Except for the offering of ourselves to Him, the remainder of the chapter would mean nothing to us.

When we understand the love and mercy in the sacrifice of our Lord, we willingly bring all to Him to do what He wills in and through us. He died, sacrificing all in His death for our salvation. We sacrifice all to Him to live and prove His perfect will in us. He performs His covenant in our lives when we enter into His covenant with Him, agreeing to His working to conform us to His image (Romans 8:29).

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. Romans 7:4 

 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Jude 21

Dear Father in heaven, Only you, by your Holy Spirit, can draw us to Christ. Only through your Holy Word, do we know who you are and your purpose for us. Do your holy, acceptable and perfect will in our lives for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran
Image and Song
Related Article: Radical Mercy

God’s Utmost for My Highest

 “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians,
and how I bare you on eagles’ wings
,
and brought you unto myself
.”Exodus 19:4

When I add my comments to a familiar work, it is not to belittle the beloved author. Such was the case when I began the series Beyond a Mere Christianity in reference to C.S. Lewis’ book.

I cut my spiritual eye-teeth on My Utmost for His Highest. The thought I intend here with Oswald Chambers’ popular devotional is to share what the Lord has continued to show me through the years. With Chamber’s devotional and my studying all the books that were attributed to his lectures, there has been much more from God’s Word to lead me in my understanding of the difference in what is required of me and what God does, Himself. As I continued in my desire to serve the Lord, Andrew Murray taught me how to walk. Paul taught me to run with Christ. Christ still teaches me how to be still, to wait, to depend on Him for He is my life.

Oswald Chambers died at the age of 43 after complications from appendicitis. Learning this from his biography, I realized even as astute as he was in the Scriptures, he was still a student as we all are in this life. His books were written and published from the notes of his wife who attended his lectures. Again, I am not putting his work down but hopefully, sharing a “greater than” what I learned from him.

Man’s Inability for Total Salvation
Teachings that turn man from trusting God for total salvation to giving part of that work into the hands of man are my point. Growing up with this kind of thinking always left me needful and frustrated with my inability to perform the spiritual work that is required for this salvation. I loved the teachings of Chambers, whose mother was a follower of Charles Spurgeon, and I continued to desire my utmost for  God. However, the more I studied the Scriptures, the more I learned of my sinful nature, my depravity, and my inability to produce anything that was worthy to bring to Him. My utmost always paled in comparison to what I wanted to do and what I knew He expected. It fell even further below the standard when I began to learn what God promises to do for, in, and through me.

The Lord God is my strength,
and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet,
and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.
Habahhuk 3:19

The Superior Work of the Holy Spirit
When the Holy Spirit did a supernatural work in my life, apart from anything I had tried to do, ask, think, or believe, I was a new creature, with a new heart and spirit, able to understand His Word, His will, and His way, apart from anything I knew I could ever do. Man is not able to do the spiritual work required for salvation; only the power of God’s Spirit within man can do what is needful for reconciliation and renewal in our relationship with Him. A dead person cannot will himself to faith and obedience. Only the power of His Holy Spirit can birth a person into His kingdom. Only as I am led, walk, and live by His Spirit, can I live separated from the world, humble and holy before Him and the world. Only a total salvation can deliver from a total depravity.

God’s Utmost for Me
God planned His utmost for me before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-6; Titus 3:5) through the covenant of redemption made with His Son, Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:9). He sent Jesus at the time of His choosing (Galatians  4:3-9) as an utmost sacrifice (Hebrews 9:26) to be a propitiation for my sins (1 John 4:9). Even my faith in His working of mercy and love (Ephesians 2:4-10) is His gift of grace. He convicts me of sin (John 16:8) and by His goodness brings me to repentance (Romans 2:4). Every day He proves His utmost for my keeping by His power alone (1 Peter 1:1-5). As sanctified and the sanctifier, Jesus is bringing many sons unto glory (Hebrews 2:10-11) by His redemptive work alone.

“But this man, after he had offered
one sacrifice for sins for ever,
sat down on the right hand of God;”
Hebrews 10:12

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost
that come unto God by him,

seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
Hebrews 7:25

And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me,
that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing,
but should raise it up again at the last day.”
John 6:29

Dear Father in heaven, we are humbled that you quicken us from the dead in our trespasses and sin and accomplish your holy will in the lives of your children. Make us aware of our weakness and your power for all things pertaining to life and godliness. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran
The Lord Shall Renew Their Strength Isaiah 40:31 Music
[audiom4a=”https://godsgracegodsglory.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/they-that-wait-upon-the-lord.m4a”%5D%5B/audio%5D

Image 1
Image 2: Google