How The Gospel Relates To Our Clothing

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Some of you opened my blog post just out of curiosity because my title sounded like another far-fetched claim made by religious fanatics.

Curious whether I am going to start expounding on guidelines for clothing?  Well, actually I am not.

How in the world does the Gospel relate to our clothing?

First of all, what is the Gospel?

The Gospel is the glorious redemptive power of God shown in His humbling Himself on a cross in order to free us from our own self-made prisons of sin and the ultimate complete destruction in which sin results.

The Gospel is the glory of God as seen in the “face” of Jesus.

The Gospel is a gift of such lavish love that no mere human could conceive the extent and encompassing nature of it.

The Gospel is victory!  It was Christ’s victory which translates into our victory as His recipients.

The Gospel is the “beginning” for all believers.  It’s where our new natures, our life, our relationship with God, our hope, our inheritance, our gifts, everything that matters begins!

This is why the Gospel message and what it portrays about Jesus should impact the rest of our lives.

The Gospel was not just a one-time event, but it is the framework, the foundation upon which the rest of our lives is built.

So, how does the Gospel relate to my choice of clothing?

To answer this question, let me back up to a recent blog post I wrote on walking worthy of our calling.  See https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/what-comes-first-walk-or-worth.

In my above-referenced blog post, I referred to the Bible verse that says we walk worthy of our calling (who we are in Christ).

This is how the Gospel relates to my clothing:

  • I am a daughter of the Most High God — therefore a “princess,” loved by the greatest Prince who ever lived.  My clothing should be that which portrays respect and dignity for myself.
  • My clothing shouldn’t draw undue attention to myself.  Jesus set the example of drawing people to Himself for what He had to offer them.

Philippians 2:5-8

The Humbled and Exalted Christ

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

  • I am always considerate of those whom I am serving and serving alongside.  This means I do have a responsibility towards my brothers in Christ — just as they have responsibility towards me.  It is not a one-way street, but rather a two-way street when it comes to how we as sisters and brothers interact with one another.  I am not responsible for my brothers’ actions and thoughts, but I am responsible for my own.

  • My clothing is temporal and won’t satisfy the soul longings for an eternal need for “being.”  My need for “being” is found in the God Who made me, loves me enough to sacrifice His all in order to win my all.

One simple conclusion is in the following quote, taken from the book Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson:

The only clothing that is truly holy is the robe of righteousness Jesus has given to us … Our clothing with His goodness is a clothing of the heart in humility and love for our neighbor, not in outward appearances that have absolutely no value… (Col. 2:20-23).  If we are proud of the way we dress, whether fashionably or unfashionably, we’re forgetting our true clothing.  — Give The Grace

Can I be transparent with you today?

I have struggled with this very thing. I have struggled with never feeling pretty enough.  I have struggled with envy of my beautiful friends.  I have struggled with thinking that if I just had the right makeover, right outfit, right hair stylist, right trainer, then I would achieve a standard of (impossible) perfection I set for myself.  Oh, I forgot about the plastic surgeries that would also require…  You see, I have struggled with feeling that I am never good enough, pretty enough.

From where does that come?  I believe it comes from a lack of “being” or “belonging”.  I confidently believe it comes from not fully comprehending, accepting, receiving God’s lavish love.  Perhaps, the ability to truly receive His love has been hampered by my feelings of unworthiness and rejection, based upon lies.

In fact, this lack of “being” or “belonging,” I would call a “spirit of rejection.”  It will manifest itself in an inability to receive compliments, in jealousy, and in an ultra-sensitivity in relationships that causes me to be easily offended.

The “spirit of rejection” ultimately has its root in a lack of truly understanding God’s love for me.

I John 2:15-17 — this verse teaches us that if we continually maintain a strong love of the things that make us proud, make us look good, and prove our worth, then we haven’t really known the “love of the Father.”  Why?  Because the love of the Father is so glorious, so rich and beautiful, that these paltry baubles have no power to entice us, at least not for long.   — Give Them Grace

That’s where the Gospel changes everything! 

The Gospel is a “mirror” that reflects the true heart of the Heavenly Father.  It doesn’t display a vindictive, arrogant, superficial,  altruistic, exclusive God.  Rather, it reveals a depth of love so extensive that our hearts cannot contain the whole of it.

The Gospel leaves me secure and complete in His love.

Comprehending the depth of His love for me and receiving it secures me from the need to prove my own worth and frees me from the distractions of comparisons.

Wow!  Just wow!

The reality of this truth has absolutely revolutionized my life!

Now, that I truly believe and have experienced God’s love for me personally, when I do revert back to some old patterns of thinking in regards to my appearance, I know that the solution is simple:

I ask the Lord to make me aware in that moment of His love for me — to speak it to my heart.

There is no end of God’s love for me, and there’s no end of it for you as well.

May this truth transform your life as it has mine!

(Thanks, Lysa Terkeurst, of Provers 31 Ministries, for the beautiful quotes!)

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Savor The Season

Christmas was always my favorite time of year.

As a child, it was “magical” as I would gaze in awe at all of the twinkling lights and would anticipate the simple but delightful gifts I was given.  I loved sitting with my family while Mom read Christmas stories to us.  I loved the tasty food, curling up on the sofa with a good book, the days off from school, and enjoying my new gifts.

I remember my first Christmas as a new wife.  My husband and I drove to this simple “tree” farm, and we found one of the cheapest and scrawniest trees in those woods.  My husband cut it down, and I carried it back to the car on my shoulders.  It was that small.  My husband and I joked about our “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree, but it was our first tree, and we loved it.

I remember hanging our chiffon, white pew bows from our wedding on that tree and decorating the tree with beautiful, Victorian ornaments that my husband had bought for a good price.  I remember the cranberries and popcorn we strung.  I remember the excitement I felt to celebrate our first Christmas as a married couple in our first home!

Then, there was another new home to which we moved and the addition of babes.  Christmas was so special, seen through the eyes of our little ones!

Somehow along the way, I began to feel sad about recent Christmases.  …and I wondered why?  What had changed for me?

I realized that perhaps it was that my focus all along had been off and thus not satisfying.  I had focused on making my home beautiful for Christmas.

I still love decorating, but budgets limit our abilities.

…and…

Christmas is not about the decorations.

Christmas is about love, expectation, worship, and adulation.  It’s about sacrificial and welcoming love.  It’s about treasuring things that truly matter — like family and God, most of all.

This Christmas, I find that even though my house is decorated, it’s the simple things that matter most to me — having a deeper appreciation for Christ’s love for me and sharing in that love with family.

This season, let’s savor the things that really matter and offer our homes and most of all our hearts to those that really matter.

What Comes First — Walk Or Worth?

 

(Thank you, Ann Voskamp, for such a powerful quote!)

I just read the verse Ephesians 4:1 yesterday, and I pondered the significance of the wording of that verse.

Ephesians 4:1

Walk in Unity

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,

I kept thinking about the “walk” part.  I hear two very separate camps of thought on the “walk” part when it comes to a lot of churches.

One side seems to place a lot of emphasis on “walking” right.  They focus on the “shoulds” and “should nots”.

The other side focuses on a concept of “love” and “grace” that seems to promote an idea that love and grace means there is no “wrong” only “right”.

In other words, you can’t be against anything unless it’s to be against those who are against something.

Back to the verse in Ephesians though.  If there are verses that tell us how to walk, then I knew that there is a place for considering the Christian “walk.”

I have seen the negatives of religion, where emphasis is placed more on actions rather than the heart.  In those circles, it seems that Ephesians 4:1 is being interpreted to mean, how I walk equals my worth — my spiritual worth.

The power behind this verse is reading clearly what it says.  It says “walk worthy of the calling…”  This verse is saying we walk in a way that fits our calling and worth.

It seems like we need to start first with our worth and calling before we can understand how to walk.

So what is our worth and calling?

Ephesians 1:18

18 the eyes of your understanding[a] being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

Ephesians 1:14

14 who[a] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Galatians 3:26

Sons and Heirs

26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

James 2:5

Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

So what is our worth and calling?  It’s that we are sons and daughters of the Most High God!!!  It means we are beloved sons and daughters!!!!  It means we are heirs of the heavenly kingdom.  It means we bring glory to God.  And that is just a very small tip of the iceberg.

Some of us are still stuck back at the walk and worthy part.  Somehow, we still think that we have to be worthy of something, and that’s what the “worthy” part means.  So, we “walk” as best as we can, and our life is one big struggle with staying upright, walking, walking efficiently, walking elegantly, walking boldly.  We have manuals about how to “walk”.  We have become so obsessed with the walking part that we judge ourselves and everyone else’s worth by the way we walk.

We have falsely equated walk to equal worth.

I understand that I have great worth in God because of who I am, based on Whose I am — Who He is.  Knowing Who God is and what He is like should affect me.

My life should be lived out, according to the worth I have in Christ.  Because I have great worth in Him, I live in a way that says, “I am a beloved daughter of the Most High God!”

An analogy might be seeing a princess live like she is a beggar when she can have whatever she wants.  In other words, why choose to live in “spiritual poverty” when you have been given a rich inheritance in Christ, as His sons and daughters?

The “fruits” part of our spiritual life is the manifestation of our relationship — not the equivalent of it.

When we love someone, we will want to do things that honors that person.  We will sometimes yield our own preferences to honor their preferences in order to please that person.  Why?  Because we love them, and love always desires relationship.

Grace does not keep us imprisoned to our sins.  It frees us from them.

Jesus did not just die to make us a better image of what we were.  He died to transform us into an image like Himself.  That’s the power of the cross!  It’s His life, His character produced within us.

I believe our “walk” part is very similar to a dance.  God invites us to participate in this amazing and fulfilling dance of life.  God takes the lead, sets the rhythm, and choreographs the steps.  We then are given the opportunity to surrender to His lead and follow His steps or to stumble across the dance floor on our own, trying to get our steps and rhythm right, when we don’t even know the dance.

The choice we have is whether we will surrender to Him and glide across the dance floor of life in the arms of the One Who sweetly whispers in our ear, “Beloved.”

Today, let’s glide…

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What The Wise Men Teach Us About Worship

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I have read and heard on numerous occasions the story of the Magi bringing their gifts to the young Jesus.  The wonder of these rich and wise men traveling for miles and following a mysterious star has produced many a good story.  Yet in our familiarity of it, we often miss its impact.

This past Sunday, a brother in Christ shared during our worship meeting some of the significance of the gifts of the Magi and how they displayed a greater meaning.

The life work of these Magi was to study the stars and their meanings.  They understood that God had written His story in all of creation so that for the one with spiritual understanding or faith, their own story could and can be understood in His story.

You see, our story is found in His story — in the One who made us and ultimately knows the purpose for which we were created.

As I listened to this brother share, I immediately realized something significant I hadn’t seen in the story before.  It is the fact that these gifts represent a key part to what constitutes worship or what worship looks like.

First, the Magi saw Jesus.

Worship first starts with actually seeing Jesus.  This is more than physical sight but involves a spiritual awareness or recognition of Who Jesus is.

Faith is the “door” to our spiritual sight.  God shines His truth into our hearts, and we must respond by faith to it.

Seeing happens when the hearing of the gospel is made effective by the Spirit.  — John Piper in Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ

Then the Magi gave the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The Christian brother shared how gold was a gift for royalty and represented the wise men’s understanding of the importance of this child to which the star led them.

  • Gold was used for gifts for royalty.  The Magi’s gift of gold symbolized their recognition of Jesus’ divinity and royalty as the “heir” to David’s throne and Son of God.

Worship recognizes the “kingship”and divinity of Jesus.

The Christian brother shared that frankincense often represents the prayers of the saints and that our prayers and lives are to be a sweet savor of worshipful service before God.

There are several possible different meanings to the Magi’s gift of frankincense, but perhaps one of the best meanings is that of Jesus’ life and ministry on earth and His position as the Great High Priest.

  • Frankincense relates to worship and the service of the High Priests that was a continual worship before the Lord in the temple and tabernacle.  The Magi’s gift of frankincense acknowledged Jesus’ position as the Great High Priest who would offer his life once and for all of mankind.

Worship recognizes the holiness of Jesus, as God the Son.

Our lives are to be a service of continual worship before God.  That’s what true ministry is: the results of being in fellowship with God produces a work within us that is His work.

The Christian brother shared that myrrh represents suffering and was used to embalm the dead.  It was prized for its scent and preservation qualities.

  • Myrrh represents the suffering.  The Magi’s gift of myrrh represented the priceless value that Jesus’ death on the cross means to all of mankind.  He offered His life, and His offering was not only accepted and cherished by God the Father, but it is also a sweetness to those of us who believe.  It is of priceless and matchless worth!

Worship recognizes the glorious work that Christ did on the cross on our behalf.

Christ gave His all so that we might have His all!  Our inheritance is matchless!

Worship recognizes the gift of lavish love that Jesus is to a hopeless, suffering, sinful world.

His glory is displayed through our joy in it.  …we were made to experience full and lasting happiness from seeing and savoring the glory of God. — Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ

The cross is the place where we first see Jesus — where we recognize the glories of Christ in the light of the Gospel.

This Christmas, may we truly see Jesus, and may our worship “spring forth” from that glory.

Why Admitting Weaknesses Is Winning

I am going to be transparent with you all because I think that sharing my own life struggles and victories can help others.

Monday night, I confess that I was feeling very irritable.  Really stressed with all the activities and expectations of the season; annoyed with immature, sinful childish behavior…  just plain irritable.

My poor husband suffered the brunt of my nastiness.

We were trying to discuss the only healthcare options available for me at present.  The combination of frustration over the ridiculous costs of healthcare and the pressing need to make a decision to replace my expiring existing policy were not a good combination with my already disgruntled state.

And I took it out on my husband.

It was when I saw the look on his face that I realized I had allowed my stubborn, selfish pride to hurt the one closest to me.

I couldn’t take back what had been expressed, and I felt the burden of guilt.

I was wrong.

A little later, the emotions subsided, and I was able to listen to the voice of conviction (God’s voice).

Apologies were made, but I couldn’t easily dismiss what I had done that had wounded my man.

The next morning, I still felt the weight.  I knew the truth is that I am forgiven, but I was struggling with forgiving myself.

I have been shown so much love by God that I knew I had no reason to show anything less than love to those with whom I interact.  My heart grieved that I had let God down, that I had strayed from the love He has showered upon me and so quickly.

Then God, in His mercy, reminded me of a truth He had given me to share with a son a few months ago.

This son had allowed his anger to control him, and he had hurt others in the process.  Later, he was convicted but still feeling badly about what he had done.  The Lord prompted me to tell him, “Son, you won the battle.  When you are convicted of your sin and repent, you win.”

In the past, I required perfection of myself and of course could never live up to it so I was forever carrying guilt and frustration.  I believed that if I sinned I was a failure.  Therefore, I didn’t want to admit sin, especially the “subtle” sins of the heart: pride, selfishness, anger…

God reminded me that life is like a race.  Until we finish the race, it’s not over.  Even when we fall, so long as we get back up again, we can still finish the race.

Eric Liddell is a favorite historical character in our family.  During one of the famous races he won, he fell.  Falling didn’t just cost him precious seconds but costly ?minutes in an already tight race.  Spectators were positive Eric Liddell had lost the race, but then he got back up and began to run again.  In fact, he ran with such determination that he didn’t just complete the race, but he actually took first place!

Life is full of many “falls” — some worse than others.  After the fall, we can be left feeling so bruised and disheartened that it appears to all watching that it’s “over” for us.

The truth is with God, there is no such thing as defeat.

When sin is revealed in my life, I can either cave to sin’s defeat, or I can be convicted and repent, turning towards the victory I have in Christ.

Pride will take a necessary beating when we are convicted of sin, but the beauty of this is that it brings us back into sweet humble surrender to the Lord, recognizing that the ability to overcome has never been in ourselves in the first place.

So often when we have been living victoriously for awhile, it’s easy to begin to subtly take credit for it ourselves, thinking the power is in us.  In reality, we have power, but the power is in Christ.  Our position and power is in Him.

You were created, saved, and are being sanctified to win.  It’s not over ’til it’s over.

And the Lord led me to this song this morning.  It brought tears to my eyes to be reminded of how much He loves me — enough to remind me of this truth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKyY8zfjBMQ — Jason Gray’s song, Remind Me Who I Am.

The Lie That A Lack Of Eternal Security Reveals

A lack of eternal security is one of the biggest lies with which Satan tries to defeat us.

If our trust isn’t kept in the finished, complete, eternal work of Christ, then we are also relying on our own abilities to keep us.

Jesus’ death and resurrection on the cross was His work alone, and our salvation is His work alone.  Our only participation is to receive it.  This receptivity or acceptance on our part establishes our trust or belief in His work on the cross.

Our salvation has always been Christ’s work.

A lack of eternal security is saying Christ’s work plus my work is required to preserve me.  It’s saying Christ initially won my salvation, but I have to keep my salvation. How do we think this is possible if it was never possible in the first place?  How do we think this is possible if we still daily battle the flesh within?

God’s Spirit within us is what empowers us to obey the Lord.

Our salvation was never won by ourselves.  We were incapable of producing it, and we are incapable of keeping/securing it.

Jesus sealed our salvation and then imparted His Spirit within us to begin the transformation or sanctification process of our souls and bodies.

Our salvation was never based upon our performance, and it never will be. 

Our sanctification was also never based upon our own abilities but rather upon the power of Christ at work in our lives.

Another way to put it is, our sanctification isn’t based upon our performance but is based upon our yielding to Christ’s working and to the conviction of the Holy Spirit within us.

Trying to keep our salvation is still self-reliance.  It’s legalism and work- or performance-based.  It’s an attempt at self-glorification.  (See a previous blog, in regards to this: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/the-flesh-test.)

In reality, it’s when we let go of our own attempts (the flesh) and surrender ourselves to God — to trust and obey His authority in our lives — we will be sanctified.

A lack of eternal security reveals there is still an issue with trusting fully in God.  There is a lie about God we are still believing.

Those that lack eternal security may be relying more on their own feelings rather than on the truth in God’s Word.  (See verses following, concerning eternal security.)

Feelings come from the soul.  If our souls are not under the control of the Spirit of God, our thinking, emotions, and desires will be under the influence and deception of Satan. 

This is why we need to allow the truth of God’s Word to transform our minds, emotions, and desires.

It is the Spirit of God that accurately applies the truth of God to our lives.

The following passages contain verses that explain why we can rely on the finished work of Christ.  He is perfect, and everything He does, He does perfectly! 

Rest secure in His perfection, and with trust, yield yourselves to His authority in your life.

Hebrews 10:10

10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Hebrews 10:12

12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,

Hebrews 10:14

14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

1 Peter 1:18-19

18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

John 10:28-29

28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 2My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.

John 8:36

36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Hebrews 6:19

19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,

John 6:37

37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

John 6:39

39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.

John 6:40

40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Ephesians 1:13-14

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who[a] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

The Flesh Test

On Facebook news-feeds, I often see links to tests — tests regarding your IQ, personality, the popularity of your name, who your best friends are, your vision, people who like you, etc…  A lot of people are curious about the results of the “tests” and wonder if the tests might reveal something different to themselves.

Today, I don’t want us to evaluate ourselves based upon a Facebook page.  What I do want to do is to have a more honest look at our lives, our hearts, and the role that our “flesh” has in our lives.

We first need to understand what the flesh is and how it manifests itself.

  • The flesh is our human/sinful nature.  It is in direct opposition to God.
  • The flesh is in cohorts with our arch enemy, Satan.  It answers to the enemy of our soul.

The flesh is always motivated by self-glorification, self-preservation, and self-sufficiency (independence).  The “glorification”, “preservation”, and “sufficiency” is all a lie since it’s under Satan’s control.

When we think we are taking control of our lives and “strong”, we allow self to rule.  Self will always rule to our destruction; for, it is under the influence of Satan and in direct opposition to God, Who is our Source of Life.

Satan will use our fleshly desires to destroy  us in the very areas we think we are controlling.  He will use our fleshly independence to put us in bondage to the very things we think will empower us but instead imprison us.

In trying to experience glory, we’ll be left with no honor that lasts.

In trying to establish security, we’ll “protect” ourselves from anything that makes us vulnerable.  As a result, we’ll cut ourselves off from truly meaningful relationships and help, from allowing the wounds to heal, from experiencing a richer life, and from opening our hearts fully even to God.  Our hearts will be brittle and “locked up” against God and everyone else out of fear.  We will lack receptivity in all areas — including sexual relationships with our spouses, acknowledging weaknesses in ourselves, and being willing to trust.  Trust will be lacking in our lives — a sure sign of the lie of “self-preservation”.

Self-sufficiency is very similar.  We’ll take pride in our independence and “strength” without realizing that relying on ourselves makes us extremely vulnerable.  Independence from God always results in sin.

We need to also understand that Satan never desires our good.  We were created in the image of God, and therefore Satan hates us.  He hates God and wishes to destroy anything or anyone that is a reminder of God. 

Our enemy will try to get us to believe lies about God and therefore ourselves; so that in our vulnerability, we are easily manipulated to help bring about our own destruction.

Our enemies are the world, the flesh, and the devil.  The world is under the dominion of Satan.

Satan is the father of lies, which means what the world teaches, promotes, values, and lives is a lie.  What it “promises” is actually the opposite of what it produces.

Ephesians 2:1-3

By Grace Through Faith

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

How do we keep the world from pressing us into its mold?  Do we “keep” anything?

If our natural selves are controlled by the flesh, then can the flesh fight the flesh?  Will it not twist truth and light in order to serve its own purposes?

Galatians 5:16-17

Walking in the Spirit

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

For the individual whose spirit has been saved by the Spirit of God, he/she is given a supernatural ability and “tools” (weapons) to fight within the spiritual realm.  We call this the armor of God, which is under the power of God and therefore has all the resources and abilities of God.

Plain and simple, the power is of God and through God.

When we are saved, each of us becomes a member of Christ’s body, forged with resurrection power and seated with Him in the heavenly places above all rule, power, and authority.  Nothing can alter our position.  … position is one thing; living accordingly is another.  — Kay Arthur

Grace is the triumph of the cross in our daily lives.

It is as a result of God’s grace, that salvation was brought to us, and as a result of that eternal and perfect grace, we are given the daily and minute-by-minute ability to live within the triumph of the cross — rather than under the domain and defeat of the flesh.

Romans 12:2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Galatians 5:1

Christian Liberty

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free,[a] and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

What or who is controlling you today?  Your fears?  Your pride?  Your lusts?  Your flesh.

We can be saved by the power of God and yet still be living outside the power of God within our daily lives.  If you are having a hard time living victoriously in your Christian walk, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate, to ask yourselves the pointed questions.  Why are you not submitting to God?  What lie(s) are you believing about God that is(are) preventing you from responding in surrender to His power in your life?

How Do We “See” Jesus?

My oldest son and I are doing a Bible study by John Piper on “Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ.”  When I first saw this study series, I was immediately drawn to it.

The past few years, my heart has really been opened more to the Lord Jesus.  I have come to see Him in a deeper and richer way and have come to love Him so much more.

The more I find out about Him, the more I want to know Him.

So often as Christians, we know a lot about God.  There is a difference though between knowing about God and knowing God.

Getting to know Him personally and intimately has become my life’s quest.

What does it mean though to “see” Jesus?  That’s what some people asked the disciples back when Jesus physically walked this earth…

Jesus answered their questions, and His answer is something over which I have been mulling.

(He knows the answers to all of our questions — even the questions we didn’t know we had or should have.)

John 12:20-26

The Fruitful Grain of Wheat

20 Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. 21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

22 Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

There are three points being made by Jesus:

  • Jesus will be glorified — He was referring to His impending crucifixion and resurrection and the glory it revealed concerning Himself.
  • We must personally “die”.  This is referring to the death of our old sin natures and the new life He produces in us as a result.
  • We are to follow Him.

John Piper’s study, Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ, gives some insight into this passage.  He says the following quotes:

Pardon precedes and enables the pattern.  We cannot follow the pattern of Jesus’ suffering without being freed from guilt and fear…  We are freed from these not by His pattern but by His pardon.  Not by His being our example but by His being our substitute.  — John Piper

This is pivotal!  We so often like the idea of doing good things.  Why?  Because it allows us to pretend to live independently from Him, to be “self-sufficient”.

Yet, Jesus says He is the One to be glorified.  He says we are to “die” to self in order to truly live in Him.  It is then that we are able to serve and follow Him.

I have always loved the verse John 3:30 that says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  The order is significant here.  As we focus on Jesus, He “increases” in our hearts and lives, and we will as a result “decrease.”

For some, this doesn’t sound appealing.  It sounds like another of those religions where they call for self-denial and self-inflicted suffering.

God though never asks us to try to do the decreasing.  In fact, the more we try in our own efforts to punish the flesh or get rid of it, the more it will dominate us.

The antidote to our problem of self is not more of self trying to deal with self.  It’s more of Christ who transforms us more into His own image.

Jesus didn’t die to reproduce a nicer picture of what we already were.  He came to reproduce a more specific image and purpose of Himself in us.

It is when we “lose” ourselves that we actually find our “true” selves — the person whom we were created to be.  It is then we find completeness and wholeness.

There must be salvation by Jesus before there can be imitation of Jesus. — John Piper

So how do we see Jesus?  We first must understand His work on the cross and how it relates to us.  Jesus’ death and resurrection is the foundation for our relationship with Him.

As a result of Christ’s work on the cross, justice has been wrought, our redemption has been obtained, our salvation has been secured, our sanctification has begun.

As a result of Christ’s work on the cross, all that Christ is, we now have in Him.  All that was previously impossible and unattainable is now not just available but guaranteed to all who accept it as their own.

Christ’s work on the cross is the foundation, but there are so many that are still living independently of this reality.  Why?  Because just like the following verse says, we can see the physical realm with our physical eyes, but the spiritual realm can only be seen with spiritual eyes.

Matthew 13:13-16

13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should[a] heal them.’[b]

16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear;

Our spiritual sight is not just a rational belief but a spiritual awareness of God’s glory, power, and character. 

Ephesians 1:15-19

Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom

15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding[a] being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.

Faith opens our spiritual eyes to behold the spiritual reality of the spiritual realm around us.  Faith is the key.

If you want to be able to recognize God more intimately, then you must first learn to trust Him.

So often we have trouble trusting God because we don’t trust Him.

Our view of God is crucial to our ability to trust Him.  If we don’t trust Him, it is because we are believing lies concerning Him.

When we do trust Him and begin to recognize the truth of Who He is, our spiritual eyes begin to awaken, and we learn to recognize His Presence in our lives and His Presence in His Word.  The result is an overflowing awareness of His glory, and it changes us.

Today, will you make the decision to trust the One Who secured your salvation on the cross?  Will you trust the One Who gave His all so that you could have all that He is?

2 Corinthians 3:18

18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.