Faith… I Am Finally Getting It!

Leap of faith

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This year, the prevailing theme God has been teaching me is that of faith.  I often see how understanding (“sight”) seems to come in “layers.”  God shows me something; then, He shows me another “layer” to the truth of that thing.

God had showed me some profound truths in regards to faith a few months ago.  I wrote about it in these blog posts: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/what-we-view-as-faith-in-god-is-often-not-about-god-at-all/ and https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/.

Each of those blog posts was another “layer” to what God was showing me concerning faith.  He was showing me that faith was resting in God.  He was also showing me that God doesn’t quantify our faith; because it’s not about how much faith we have but that we have faith, period.

In my devotionals, I was reading that faith is confidence. In fact, I recently heard that the root for confidence is confideo, which means in faith.  They are directly related to each other.  Makes perfect sense when we think about the usages of both.

Yet, this amazing and profound truth just “nailed” me this morning!  It is this:

Faith is confidence in God.

So simple, right?  Yet so profound and life-changing!

I used to view faith as something that I had to do or stir up in myself.  I always wondered if I would have enough faith to get me through certain types of trials.

Now that I am finally getting it, the profound truth about faith is completely “revolutionary” to me!

Faith is confidence in God!

It’s not about me.  It’s about Him — the Object of my faith.  It’s because of Who He is that I can have complete confidence in Him — no matter my circumstances.

Wow!  Doesn’t that take the pressure off!

God has been leading me into a much deeper walk with Him, and as He does, my love for Him and personal understanding of Him has grown.  That is also why at the same time, my faith is also growing.

Faith grows parallel with a personal and accurate understanding of God.

As I am growing in my love and an accurate understanding of God personally, my faith is also growing.

How incredibly encouraging it is to know that I don’t have to worry about my ability to trust in God.  I need to look at my God and why He is so worthy of all my confidence/trust!

I just need to have confidence in Him.

That, I can do, because I know my God!

A Full Life

Sailing

(FreeImages.com/StanleyLeung)

SKI

(FreeImages.com/SheldonPickering)

I sense this restlessness, this hunger for something more…  I am seeing this among Christians too…  This hunger for something more — a recognition that something is lacking in their spiritual walk, and they aren’t quite sure what it is.  They know a lot about God, are doing all the right things, but so many times, it feels as if they are going through the motions.  They go to church.  They come home.  Life goes on…  Predictable to an extent, somewhat “safe,” fairly comfortable, but there is this sense of “shallowness.”

Then they meet someone — someone that has a “fire” in them.  There’s this undeniable passion and fervency in this person or people.  Their eyes and countenance have a glow, and when they talk about the Lord, their entire countenance “lights up.”  Suddenly, they sense that they are lacking a fervency and love for the Lord.  They feel like they have to force a feeling of love.  They know in their heads they should love God. “Afterall, Jesus died on the cross for their sins.”  Yet, the feelings of true adoration and heart-felt love seem missing.  They may attempt to “stir” up in themselves this feeling of love, but it feels forced because it is.

How do we as Christians/people experience the fullness of life?  What does “fullness” of life look like?  What does it mean to really “live” life?

When I was reading through the names of God, the name Jehovah stood out to me.  It is taken from the Hebrew word chavah, which means life.  This name of God literally means the All-existing One.  In other words, He is the Source, Essence, and Continuation of life.

As Genesis 1 tells us, God created life.  Life came from Him.  Every atom, every molecule, every means of energy and matter came from God.  Because God “breathes” life into the very structure of life, He is also its very means of continuation.

It also makes sense that because God created life and sustains life, He also defines life for us.  Within Him is the very essence of life itself.

I have lived life for 30+ years, and I have experienced what we normally define as living life: eating, breathing, working, enjoying some pleasures, doing, learning, growing, developing, procreating, and becoming a mother, etc..

I have also experienced the difference of what it means to truly live life.  Within true life is a sense of absolute wholeness, completeness, fullness.  Until you experience it, it cannot be totally understood.  This kind of fullness of life does not require any thing, any circumstance, or any emotion to sustain it.

I have experienced this kind of life when I am in close fellowship with the Lord.  This fellowship is not produced by more programs, more preaching, more acts of service, more doing, more knowledge.  It is a result of simply being in the Presence of God.  Sure, attending church services and spending time in God’s Word are some of the very things that can bring us into direct fellowship with the Lord, and they are “needful.”

BUT…!  Nothing can substitute for actual time spent, listening, worshiping, and abiding in His Presence.  Words that come to mind are: observe, absorb, reflect, and ponder.

The problem is so much of the time, as Christians, we think that knowing about God or doing for God is the same as knowing God, and it isn’t!  You can know a lot about God, without really knowing God personally and intimately.

Don’t tell us what you know about God.  Tell us Who He is to you?  What does it mean that God is loving and loves you?  How does that change who you are?

This morning as I was reflecting on the Parable of the Good Samaritan, I wrote the following notes:

We try to keep everything “safe” and predictable and then wonder why life sometimes seems so “shallow.”  Why?  Because faith requires taking risks.  It involves personal involvement, which means vulnerability, humility, and sacrifice.

If we want to experience the fullness of the life God has for us, we have to be willing to be “all in” for Him — that means surrendering ourselves, laying down our fears, our pride, our goals, and letting God use us in ways that will challenge us, grow us, and cause us to “risk” (take a risk).  What we risk is far surpassed by what we gain: His fullness — the fullness of the All Existing-One!

In a devotional I am reading, Wonder Struck, it says the following:

Sometimes we have to take risks, …to be wonder-struck by the love of God.

If we are honest, one of the main reasons why we hesitate to surrender or give ourselves fully to the will and “life purpose” God has for us is because of fear.  Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of death, and fear of suffering will cause us to erect barriers around our hearts, souls, and very lives.  We think we are protecting ourselves by not fully investing ourselves or being willing to be “raw” and vulnerable, but the reality is we are hurting ourselves by not.  Our “barriers” keep people at a distance, and then we wonder why we don’t have close friends or no one wants to include us.  We will miss out on the blessings God intends for us.  We will miss out on experiencing the full life God has planned for us.

If you want to experience the fullness of life — the life God has planned for you — you need to be “all in.”  You need to trust God fully with your life, and that may mean facing some lies you have believed about God.  You need to be willing to be transparent, vulnerable, “sacrificial,” and humble.

I recently heard it said, “Humility is trusting in God.”  I wrote a past blog about the connection between pride and fear, and I must fully agree with the quote I just mentioned.  Humility requires letting go of our own desire to control the people and circumstances around us, to keep everything predictable.  It requires surrendering our wills, our lives, our futures to God.  How do we do this?

We do this by knowing Who God is.  When I finally experienced God’s love personally for me, I was able to surrender myself to God.

God has been working on my heart to surrender more to Him.  He is calling me into a deeper walk with Him.  He has stirred up a “hunger” to know Him more personally, to be more aware of His Presence, and yes, to be “wonder struck” with the reality of Who God is.  I want every second of my day to be lived in the fullest measure of life — this incredible abundant, overflowing awareness of God and His goodness!  I have never known life to be sweeter than it is when lived within this full “awakening” or awareness of God!

Yes, Lord!  I want You!

Captivated!

waterfalls

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sunny mountain

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Mountains & Valley

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Monument Valley

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Snowy valley

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Grand Canyon Point Royal

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Antelope Canyon 4

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Flower

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insect

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sleeping baby

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Beauty surrounds us everywhere!  There is beauty in the creation we see — from the tiniest insect, to vibrant flowers, to rainbows, to mountains, to valleys, and to the innocence of a baby.  So often, I go through life unaware of the beauty that surrounds me and to the greater purpose of what that beauty reveals.

This morning I read the following quote from the new study I am beginning, called Wonderstruck:

God extends uncounted invitations to encounter Him; yet, too often I sleep straight through.  Unconscious of the life God desires for me, I slumber in the presence of the sacred and snore in the company of the divine.

Wow!  In the study I am reading it is all about being aware and in awe of God’s Presence.  This study reminds me that you and I have been created to worship God.  That is our purpose.

To a selfish culture, the idea of being created just to worship God can sound very boring, or worse, we fear it.  We fear that we will lose ourselves and that we have no significance in such a purpose; so, we strive for autonomy at the cost of our own highest fulfillment.

An object that is created for a purpose will only function best when it fulfills its intended purpose.  You can try to use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail and may achieve limited success, but the screwdriver will suffer from greater wear than for which it was designed.  The user will suffer greater frustration for forcing an object to be something it wasn’t intended to be.

The same is true with us.

We fear that in surrendering control to the superior Being of God that we will lose ourselves – our uniqueness and our significance.  The truth is the opposite.

Matthew 16:25

25 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Matthew 16:25 is saying that when we surrender control of our lives and yield to our greater purpose, we actually then “find our life.”  That is when we truly live life to the fullest.

We actually don’t reach our full potential and find our greatest fulfillment and satisfaction until we become who we were created to be.

So if we were created to worship God, why does it often seem so elusive and challenging to be in a constant or even regular state of worship?  Shouldn’t it be easy to worship God?!!!

I was studying what it means to worship or wonder.

Three words came to mind when I considered the word wonder.  They are awe, inspiring, and captivating.

The thought came to me that in order to be in awe of something, we have to be aware of it.  Two people can be driving by a beautiful scenic mountain.  The one person is dozing and misses the entire view.  The other person is awake and is mesmerized by the scene.  Two people in the same location have two very different experiences.

The same can be true with our spiritual lives.

Some of us are too busy trying to “win” our way to God in order to experience Him.  The problem with that is that God’s love for us was never based upon our ability to be “worthy” of it.  We can’t experience God by trying to work our way to Him.

God, as the Giver, gave us, as the receivers, our worth.

Heaven paid its highest price in order for us to be reconciled to God!  We have inherent worth because God was willing to pay the ultimate price for us.  He wants our fellowship and a relationship with us that much!

Some of us are too distracted by inconsequential things to focus on the more important.  We miss the “vistas” because we don’t want to get out of the comforts of our cars or leave the predictability of our homes.

To experience the presence of God does not require we have to necessarily leave our normal routines.  It does require us to be in a place of receptivity and awareness.  We can’t receive from God if we are unwilling through pride and/or fear to be vulnerable and receptive.

In order to be aware means we need to be less self-aware and more God-aware.  We can be so caught up in ourselves that we miss the greater wonder surrounding us.

I wrote a list this morning of a few wonders that I take for granted:

  1. His Word — bored or read it from a sense of duty rather than desire sometimes.
  2. Prayer — instead of being amazed at the opportunity to partner with God, I am distracted and/or doubtful at times.
  3. His creation!  I often don’t stop and savor the magnificence of creation.
  4. His Presence and communication with me.  I can be distracted, lazy, anxious, or selfish — instead of resting, “entering” into His rest, abiding in His Presence, and listening and waiting on Him.

This morning, I was challenged to pause, consider, savor, absorb, and be inspired by the God of the Universe.

The more I consider the magnificence of God, the more humbled I am by the significance He gave me by desiring a relationship with me!  It is overwhelming and amazing to consider that He cherishes and desires my worship!

One simple refrain repeats itself upon my lips: “Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you, Jesus! Jesus.”

What We View As Faith In God Is Often Not About God At All

Faith

(FreeImages.com/CatherineReymond)

As my sleepy body was awaking this morning, I began to contemplate faith again…

This topic is weighing heavily on my mind and probably because it is something that I, myself, have still much in which to grow.

As I was pondering faith, the thought came, “What we think is faith is often not about God at all but about us.”  Let me explain…

Often when we think about faith, we think in terms of how much faith we have or in our ability to trust.  In other words, we look at ourselves — our ability to trust or have faith.

The truth is faith isn’t about you or about me.  It’s about God.

Faith is recognizing God for who He is, and it’s staking your mind on the promises of God — regardless of your present circumstances or feelings of “faith.” 

Faith is deciding to live the truth of God’s Word.  It’s anchoring your soul to its truth — no matter what is going on around you.

Faith is what keeps the enemy’s lies from “hitting their mark” and causing us great harm.  (See: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/putting-on-our-primary-defense-weapons/)

We are often so unprepared for the battle because we revert back to looking to ourselves — our abilities to fight the battle.  We forget that the battle is the Lord’s, and that it can only be fought in His strength and by using His “weapons.” 

Yes, we have our part to play in the battle.  We have to resist the enemy, and we have to put on our armor.  In doing so, let’s not become confused and think it’s a matter of our own faith that will keep us. 

In looking at our own abilities to have faith, we begin to take our eyes off Jesus, and we will begin to “sink,” as Peter did.  Instead, we need to keep our eyes on our God — on His greatness, His power, His victory, His forgiveness, His grace, His righteousness, His love, His truth.  It is then not difficult at all to trust in so great a God!

What We Fear Reveals Truth About Ourselves

Sunset

(FreeImages.com/Tatyana Khramtsova)

As I was studying God’s Word today, spending time in prayer, and journaling what God was teaching me, God began once again to convict me and to show me some truths concerning a present battle I am facing.

I am facing the battle of fear concerning a particular situation.  Without relaying more details, let’s just say that this situation has been discouraging.  In fact, in referring to the situation, I have used hopeless terms to describe it.

This morning, God began to speak to me concerning this battle.  He began to reveal to me that the battle I am called to fight requires a long-term commitment and perseverance.  It’s not a battle that is going to be won with a few “skirmishes.”  Another way of putting it is that it’s not a “sprint” that I am called to run but a “marathon.”

God was reminding me that so often when God’s timing differs from mine, I begin to look to others, try to “help” God out by “fixing” the problem by my own methods or means, or begin to accept failure and mentally “check” the situation off as being a losing one and then try to find something else that appears to possibly be more successful.

God was speaking to my heart that the reason why I am not having victory is because I have written “failure” across the situation.  I have assumed the battle is lost or losing so I begin to “back pedal,” compromising my belief in God and His promises and as a result, compromising my actions.  Before long, what I fear comes to pass.

I believe God was prompting me to look at the significance of what I fear.

The question is, “What are we fearing today?”

What you and I fear will reveal the true condition of our heart and beliefs.  They will also be a good indicator of where we are headed.

If our faith in God is solid, we will be able to see past the temporary discouraging distractions of our present situations to the eternal or “bigger picture” of God’s purposes and plans.

Faith is the “key” that unlocks our “spiritual eyes.” 

We can know the truth, but until we believe/embrace it, we’ll never recognize or experience the reality of it personally.

Our relationship with God consists not in what we know about God but in Who He is to us.  What is He to you?

You may say and know that God is gracious, just, righteous, compassionate, etc…, but is He your grace, your righteousness, your compassion today?

Who is He to you?

Dear Atheist

Religious Atheist or Agnostic on checkmark royalty-free stock photo

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Dear Atheist,

We had a discussion this week that I found to be an incredible experience.  I loved how it gave me the opportunity to dialogue with you and to get to know you on a more personal level.

First of all, I want to say that I respect the intelligence you have and also the tone of our discussion.  Your respectful consideration was noted and appreciated.

At the closure of our discussion, you challenged me to be open to other view-points.  You felt I had limited my thinking.

I respectfully must respond to you by asking you a question, “If you have seen the sun, which I assume you have, but someone else has never seen it and denies its existence, would you change your view to satisfy their denials?”  What if that person lives in Alaska too and rarely ever feels the warmth of the sun so they deny the existence of the heat of the sun?  What if you try to tell them that there are those who live who do see the sun, such as yourself?  What if you tell them that when it gets warmer in the “summer” and “spring” months that it’s because of the sun?  What if they then tell you that the warmth could be explained away by other means of energy?  If that person is unwilling to consider the possibility that there might be a sun, then it does not matter how many times you try to tell them the proofs (heat, seasons, gravity, etc…).  They’ll come up with another reason or theory to support the lack of its existence.

What if you tried to tell them that the reason why they are alive is because the sun gives warmth?  What if they then replied that it could be explained by some other means of energy and so they come up with theories and mathematical equations to equal their “expected” result?  To that person, you might appear as very irrational, with a “Lack of Imagination,” and with great “bias.”

The point, my dear friend, that I am trying to make is that it is impossible for me to prove God’s existence to you because you are unable or unwilling to consider its plausibility.

I have experienced and seen the God of the Bible, and I cannot deny His existence just because you do.  You can accuse me of being psychotic and imagining all of this in my head, but that does not concern me.  I am willing to base my life on the undeniable reality that there is a God who created life, who holds the universe together, and who loves me personally and unconditionally.

You challenged me to see other viewpoints, and I recognize that there are challenges to proving God’s existence.  It is a challenge to prove His existence and Biblical record to those who have excluded the factor of His force (influence) upon all mathematical equations in the scientific realm.

Perhaps, I should challenge you instead to see a different viewpoint.  What if instead of looking at the world with the assumption that God doesn’t exist, that instead you view the world with the assumption that He does?  Assume there was a huge flood that covered the entire world.  Assume that the earth is “young,” but that the trees, rocks, mountains, etc… were created in a mature state with an unknown amount of carbon.  Assume that God divided the continents for His purposes, as He states in the Bible, and that it wasn’t a Continental Drift but a God-division.  Assume that the stars were created the way they were — whether as a Supernova or a “new” star.  Assume that God created the species just as He said He did.  The list goes on…  Assume the Bible is correct.  Look for archeological evidence to support many Biblical records.  Consider how fossils are formed — not over millions of years — but over a catastrophic event like a flood.  Consider how we see floods that do cut away at cliffs and plunge houses into ravines as a result.  (See California floods.)  Consider why there are fossilized wave patterns that are visible in Colorado.

Perhaps, the scientific community is not as open-minded as they think.  They base all of their findings on their assumptions that there is no God; thus, their equations have much room for error.

Perhaps, I should ask how many times you have personally experienced or seen the Big Bang Theory?  Maybe, then I could accept your rationale.

There are many renowned scientists that believed the inerrancy of the Word of God and His Biblical record for mankind.  (See Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, Kelvin, Boyle, Dalton, Ramsay, Ray, Linnaeus, Mendel, Pasteur, Virchow, Agassiz, Steno, Woodward, Brewster, Buckland, Cuvier, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Herschel, Maunder, Pascal, Leibnitz, and Euler. These men were renowned in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, geology, astronomy, and mathematics.)

With all due respect, I cannot deny the reality of the God of the universe because I have “encountered” Him.  I see evidence of Him in my daily life, the world around me, in the very existence of life, and in the God-initiated Christian “Law of love.”  Call me “narrow-minded,” but I am unapologetic for what I know to be true.

You see, my belief in God isn’t only based on the historical record of the Bible but also in the confirmation of my own personal experiences with the God of the Bible.

 

 

Science Is Based Upon Many Abstracts Just Like Our Faith…

Abstract Motion

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I find it fascinating how God reflects His story and existence within every part of His creation.

It is amusing to me that so many atheists are proclaimed scientists, who wish to base all their beliefs on scientific reasoning and formulas.  Yet, science itself is based upon many abstract concepts that cannot be proven by all five senses.

My son and I are studying the chapter on “Energy & Motion” in his science book.  In this chapter, we are studying how forces are necessary for motion.  Without forces, life wouldn’t exist nor continue.

I loved this one quote from the science book:

Forces themselves are invisible.  They cannot be smelled or tasted.  Forces can only be felt. — Investigating God’s World

So much of our physical world functions on invisible forces.  We acknowledge these invisible forces because of their results or effects upon tangible objects.

As a Christian, I believe in God’s existence because I see the effects of His influence and “force” upon life itself, in my own personal experience, in the experiences of others, in the tangible Bible, and in the concepts of love and goodness.

I believe that so many scientific concepts have their parallel in spiritual concepts.  Take gravity, for instance.

Gravity is the force of attraction that exists between any pair of objects.

Investigating God’s World

My faith in God exists because of the “force of attraction” or love that God has shown to me, which has caused me to respond to Him.

There are also forces that work against each other in the physical world.  Friction is the force that resists motion.  There are positives and negatives to friction.  Friction is necessary for the function of many objects.  In fact, friction can impede the performance of some forces of motion, but it can also enable other forces of motion.

For example, you cannot drive a car or write with a pencil without friction.

This might be a stretch and certainly there are more and better analogies to this concept, but I believe that the diversity of God’s character works the same way.  His mercy and justice, His grace and truth, and His holiness and love are all “forces” that work in perfect harmony and contrast to make our very existence possible and to bring us into the fullest measure of “functionality” within His purposes.

We may not be able to physically touch God, but we can see His effects.  His existence can be felt!

The Simplicty About Sin…

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This past Saturday, I was pondering some truths I had read in Scripture, dialoguing with the Lord, and then He gave me this thought…

It was so “simple” and yet so profound in its impact…

Anything independent from God is sin. 

That means any time our wills are not aligned with God’s or simply put, submitted to God, we are in sin.

Understanding this simple truth is changing the way I pray and is changing the way I view my own sin.

It “emblazons” my sin before my eyes so that I no longer can justify or minimize it.

When I understand that I am sinning when I am not aligned with God’s will in ALL AREAS, I realize that I have a decision to make: I either respond to God’s conviction with contrition/repentance, or I rebel and reject His ways and reap the consequences of my own actions.

Thinking about this simple truth means I have been doing a lot of confessing lately — not prompted by fear or pride — but prompted from my own desire to walk in freedom and for greater communication in my relationship with the Lord. 

I don’t want hindered communication in my relationship with the Lord.

Sin hinders communication.  It produces “soul noise” that “drowns out” the voice of God.

Repentance reopens those channels, “unplugs” my ears, and removes the “blockades” in my spiritual life.

True repentance produces unprecedented peace and joy. 

Understanding the profound truth that my will needs to be aligned with God’s will in order to walk in truth, life, freedom, and righteousness means that I now pray the following prayer:

Lord, may your will be done in such and such a situation…”

“Lord, change my will to be yours in such and such a matter…”

So simple and yet so life-changing!

It does not matter that I want certain things.  Unless what I want is in alignment with what God wants for me at that time or in that way, to proceed ahead would be sin.

Yes!  I have been praying a lot of prayers, asking God to change my will in many matters and asking His will to be accomplished in many situations.  It is so exciting and amazing to be a part of His work in the lives of others and to be receptive and responsive to His leading!

May 2016 be a year of amazing revival in my life, my home, my family, and yours as well!

From Where Did Evil Come?

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I am not a philosopher neither do I have all the answers.  There are some questions though that are important enough to find the answers.

I recently had a discussion with a friend that prompted me to ask some deep questions.

Her question was, “From where did evil come?”

God reminded me that He knows all the answers so I asked Him the question.

I believe this is the answer He gave me.

He made the angels, including Lucifer, as highly intelligent beings with special abilities.  See Scripture for definitions.

Matthew 24:31

31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Psalm 91:11

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;

2 Thessalonians 1:7

and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.

Hebrews 1:7New International Version (NIV)

In speaking of the angels he says,

“He makes his angels spirits,
    and his servants flames of fire.”[a]

Hebrews 1:14

14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

2 Peter 2:4

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,[a] putting them in chains of darkness[b] to be held for judgment;

Jude 6

And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.

The angels appear to have been given a measure of “free will”, in other words the ability to choose to obey or rebel.  In II Pet. 2:4, it says God did not spare the angels because they sinned.  Sin is willful disobedience, meaning there’s a will involved.

Lucifer and the other angels (demons) who followed him were created just like the good angels.  Then the day came when they disobeyed.  Scripture makes it clear that it was Lucifer’s pride that caused him to rebel against God.  It was the sin of pride and rebellion that led to his demise.

Isaiah 14:11 All your pomp has been brought down to the grave,
along with the noise of your harps;
maggots are spread out beneath you
and worms cover you.
12 How you have fallen from heaven,
O morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!13 You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. [c]14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”

15 But you are brought down to the grave,
to the depths of the pit.

Luke 10: 18He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

In the beginning when God created Adam & Eve, God called it good.  It is obvious that they were made in a “perfect” or sinless state.  They had the ability to sin as time revealed, but their original created state was sinless in the sense that it was a “perfect slate” or untested state.  They were “innocent.”
It is obvious that Adam and Eve were also given a free will as they had the ability to make choices — both good and bad.  God punished or rewarded them according to their choices.

God placed Adam and Eve in a perfect environment.  The angels were also in a perfect environment.

The question then is, “How did they sin if there was no original sin and if they were in a perfect environment?”  Where’s the source of that sin?

Here’s the profound truth!

The answer to this question really stems from understanding from where good and evil come.  In other words, it’s not our environments that determine who we are or the choices we will make.

The only one who is truly good and perfect and “wills” independently to be that way from His very nature is God.

We only are sanctified through God/in Him — in His Son.

It’s our “new man” which is redeemed/created in Christ Jesus that is truly good and wills to obey God.

In other words, Adam and Eve and the angels prior to the Fall didn’t have Jesus’ nature within.  They were simply humans and angels with an untested nature that was only “clean” because they hadn’t been tested yet.

“Free will” gave opportunity not only to respond to God’s gift of salvation, to be remade into new creations — into the very nature of Jesus — but also gave us the opportunity to rebel.

Love always gives a choice so God gave us a choice.  That’s why Scripture says, “Choose you this day…  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ… To as many as received Him…  Accept…”  Each of those words describe a choice.

It’s interesting too that our very souls are composed of a mind, will, and emotions.  A will means we have a choice — we “willingly” make choices.

Pride is the ultimate rebellion against God, and Satan did just that.

It’s our pride that leads us so often into sin, into distrusting God and relying on ourselves.

It was pride that caused Lucifer to rebel, and it was pride that caused Eve to desire to have the fruit from the one tree that she was told she could not have.  The implication was that she thought she deserved that fruit.

The most profound truth in this discussion though perhaps is to understand that our environments do not keep us from sinning.

It wasn’t the perfect earth and “clean slates” that would keep Adam and Eve and Lucifer from sinning.  It was only God Himself.  It was only complete reliance on Him that would keep sin at “bay.”

God, Himself, is the only answer/antidote to sin — not an innocent state, not a perfect environment.  Sin, therefore, is anything apart from God — independent from Him.

Some individuals have tried to argue that God created some people to sin, to reject Him.  This though is contrary to Scripture when we see many verses that tell us God is not the Source of evil.  God is righteous and holy, which means there is no sin within Him.   This means evil comes apart from Him.

Sin came with a free will.  A “free will” implies the freedom to make a willful choice.  This means we can choose to submit to God, in response to His initiation and direction.  It also means we can reject His voice of truth.

Sin, itself, is one of the best proofs that there is such a thing as “free will.”

Romans 12:1

A Living Sacrifice

12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

2 Corinthians 6:6

in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;

James 1:13-14

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 1but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.

1 Peter 4:2

As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

2 Peter 3:3

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.

We all have the capacity within us to respond to God’s call.  He has initiated by “sewing the seed of truth” to us all.  The question is, “How will we respond to Him?”  He planted the seed; what will the “soil” of your soul do with it?

Harmony In The Dichotomy

Three gears in action. Shallow dof, focus in the theeth that make contact. Metaphorical illustration of Industrial workforce, business worflow, teamwork cooperation, energy, transmition,  motor

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=4169713&searchId=f5d7e2532cc9ad16bc2a41222d76f269&npos=6)

When we study the character of God, the complexity of it can be overwhelming.  In its complexity, we can assume that it is contradictory and therefore choose to ignore parts we don’t understand nor appreciate.

Yet, as we study the character of God, we do not find dichotomy that leads to division and chaos. Rather, we see a contrast of character that within the complexity of its dichotomy blends into a beautiful harmony.

There is harmony within the dichotomy of the nature of God.

The following quote speaks of some of this:

The Lion of Judah conquered because He was willing to act the part of a lamb.  He came into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday like a king on the way to a throne, and he went out of Jerusalem on Good Friday like a lamb on the way to the slaughter.  He drove out the robbers from the Temple like a lion devouring his prey. And then at the end of the week, He gave His majestic neck to the knife, and they slaughtered the Lion of Judah like a sacrificial lamb…

So Christ is a lamb-like Lion and a lion-like Lamb. That is His glory — “an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies.”  — John Piper in Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ

And another quote from Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ:

We admire him for his glory, but even more because his glory is mingled with humility.

We admire him for his transcendence, but even more because his transcendence is accompanied by condescension.

We admire him for his uncompromising justice but even more because it is tempered with mercy.

We admire him for his majesty, but even more because it is a majesty of meekness.

We admire him because of his equality with his God, but even more because as God’s equal he nevertheless has a deep reverence for God.

We admire him because of how worthy he was of all good, but even more because this was accompanied by an amazing patience to suffer evil.

We admire him because of his sovereign dominion over the world, but even more because this dominion was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission.

We love the way he stumped the proud scribes with his wisdom, and we love it even more because he could be simple enough to like children and spend time with them.

And we admire him because he could still the storm, but even more because he refused to use that power to strike the Samaritan with lightning (Luke 9:54-55), and he refused to use it to get himself down from the cross.

It is the contrasts and unity of these qualities that lend itself to a greater beauty and more complete picture of the wonder of our God!

This is Who God is!  He is both the Lion and the Lamb.  He is conqueror, and He is healer.  He is grace, and He is truth.  He is just, and He is merciful!  He is holy, and He is also forgiving.  That’s my God!

Knowing that there is greater strength, beauty, and glory within the contrast, how does that give us hope and joy in our weakness?

It means that where we lack in all that is good, true, and noble, God is more than abundant.  It means that God meets us in our “lack” and fills the need so that the combination of God in us makes for a superior picture of excellence.

It is when we surrender our brokenness to God and ask Him to fill it with His wholeness, a beautiful “picture” of glorious redemption is portrayed.  Perhaps, it reveals a distinct quality of God otherwise unseen.

This glorious conjunction shines all the brighter because it corresponds perfectly with our personal weariness…  Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.”  (Matt. 11:28-29).  The lamb-like gentleness and humility of this Lion woos us in our weariness.  And we love him for it.  — Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ

We recognize the glory of God’s work and Presence within our lives.  Yet, the glory doesn’t end with recognition and wonder.  It is “fulfilled” when we respond to this “revelation” of His character with a life that is surrendered and filled with His Presence — this is the essence of true worship.

True worship leads to surrendered and triumphant living.

One more quote that can “set our hearts on fire” with the glory of our God and the life He has given to us:

But this quality of meekness alone would not be glorious.  The gentleness and humility of the lamb-like Lion become brilliant alongside the limitless and everlasting authority of the lion-like Lamb.  Only this fits our longing for greatness. Yes, we are weak and weary and heavy-laden.  But there burns in every heart, at least some of the time, a dream that our lives will count for something great.  To this dream, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)

The lion-like Lamb calls us to take heart from his absolute authority over all reality.  And he reminds us that, in all authority, he will be with us to the end of the age.  This is what we long for — a champion, an invincible leader.  We mere mortals are not simple either.  We are pitiful, yet we have mighty passions.  We are weak, yet we dream of doing wonders.  We are transient, but eternity is written on our hearts.  The glory of Christ shines all the brighter because the conjunction of his diverse excellencies corresponds perfectly to our complexity.Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ