Monthly Archives: September 2018

Growth

This morning I found myself wondering “what’s next.”   I’ve been reading various Scripture passages and resources for days hoping for the Spirit to give me a hint for this post.  I wish I’d hoped for something more but maybe learning to praise God for his Son and his Spirit even when I don’t know what’s next is “what God planned all along.”  It’s called Growth.

I need to re-read my own words about Spiritual Curiousity from 7/26/17
I Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Stories of what God has taught others are good but they are only meant to be a small cell the Holy Spirit plants in you with the possibility what “they” understood might become something more for you…spiritual curiosity. That’s spiritual conception.

It’s the work of the Holy Spirit that leads you to something more over a period of time. Spiritual curiosity develops the desire to “search and find” spiritual answers. That’s the period of your spiritual gestational development.

Finally curiosity, conceived and developed, gives birth to your own praise to “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” knowing with complete certainty that “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” the Holy Spirit has personally taught you spiritual truths you’d never known before.

I Corinthians 2:10-13 The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along.[MSG]

Thoughts

NASB Romans 8:5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,

You’ve probably heard these ideas before: the mind is the battleground of our life of faith; or every sin begins with an idea.  I know you’ve heard of the helmet of salvation.  It’s an interesting thing to ponder.  Only humans, of all creation are made in God’s image and have been given His unique mindset and dominion over all the earth. Dominion includes the extraordinary responsibility to think and evaluate, categorize and store information based on that image and that mindset.  No wonder we need a protective helmet.  “Whatever gets your mind gets you.” [author Rick Warren]. 

“For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”

The Real Purpose

NASB Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8 is one of the most meaningful chapters of the Word of God for me.  It’s the ultimate message of just how loud the love of Jesus is.  It all starts with verse 1: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  I have joked that I was raised to be in charge of peace in the entire free world.  That exaggerated sense of what I should be able to control and my inability to manage that responsibility has been the source of personal condemnation for me more than any unacceptable personal behavior.  Maybe you’re there too.  Let me comfort you with this truth.

Jesus would never, NEVER use condemnation to correct you.  Period!  The one who has placed his own Spirit inside you has invested himself completely in changing your mind about the real purpose of his life in you.  “By entering into the intimacy of our innermost self he [Jesus] offers us the opportunity to enter into his own intimacy with God.ª”  

That’s the assurance of the correction that will change your mind about the reality of what loving God, Jesus and, yes, even yourself looks like. 

ªHenri Nouwen – Spiritual Formation.

Short and Sweet

MSG Ephesians 5:1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

Jesus view on life: live discreetly, love loudly
The world’s view: live loudly, love discreetly

Juxtaposition is the placement of two or more things side by side, often in order to bring out their differences. Get it?

Fearless Inspiration

NRSV Ephesians 2:10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

• God has created you in the likeness of perfection to insure you will be of value and succeed.
• He’s trusted you with abilities and talents unique to you.
• Your whole way of life is the inspired field of operation God has prepared for your good works.

Do you believe that?

Maybe it’s just me but doesn’t it sometimes seem the entirety of life from birth to death is graded on some sort of curve that eats away at the joy of “doing” because of the aspiration to be of value and succeed?  There are certainly times when that aspiration has negatively dictated my choice of whether to proceed in what I was doing.  I’m still learning the reality of good works and doing everything “heartily as unto the Lord.”  Sometimes you succeed beyond your wildest dreams…and that’s a blessing.  But, sometimes you fail so “heartily” you’ll never be asked to do that again…and that’s a blessing too. 😍. 

Artist: Gail Stanghelle

I’ve owned this piece of art for many years now but I’m still touched by the words “Do not be afraid to use what talents you possess…” I move it time to time from one prominent spot to another so that my eyes are reminded not to miss it’s inspiration.  It’s good to aspire to be of value and succeed but that’s not a required part of “good works. ” Fearless inspiration  is.

This is the fearless inspiration that transforms our aspirations into good works: NLT 2:13 But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.

But as for Me

Psalm 109:19 Now may those curses return and cling to him like his clothing or his belt. 20 This is the Lord’s punishment upon my enemies who tell lies about me and threaten me with death.  21 But as for me, O Lord, deal with me as your child, as one who bears your name! Because you are so kind, O Lord, deliver me.  22-23 I am slipping down the hill to death; I am shaken off from life as easily as a man brushes a grasshopper from his arm. 24 My knees are weak from fasting, and I am skin and bones. 25 I am a symbol of failure to all mankind; when they see me they shake their heads. 26 Help me, O Lord my God! Save me because you are loving and kind…29 Make them fail in everything they do. Clothe them with disgrace. 30 But I will give repeated thanks to the Lord, praising him to everyone. 31 For he stands beside the poor and hungry to save them from their enemies.

I began this journey through these Imprecatory Psalms because of my frustration about being unable to pray about ugly circumstances beyond my control because the only words I could come up with were ugly too. It was a faithful pastor and friend that pointed me to these Psalms with the caveat they were not easy but they might help me understand my own situation. I’m certain that’s exactly how the Bible works and why it’s still such an important book.  So today I’m going to quote words of my own lessons from this series of posts.

“I want my heart to be so certain of God’s Sovereign reliability that I am not afraid of the effect my hostile and harsh thoughts and words against his enemies and injustice will have on God’s opinion of me.”

“God ultimately chose to intervene in his global creation through the life of Jesus and with the Holy Spirit for one specific reason: to make that same kind of freedom, personal relationship and aggressive faith with the all powerful, all knowing, ever present God available to each of us.” 

“Here’s the thing the giant slayer came to understand: Life is just another giant you can’t fight alone.  That’s the reality of Sovereign reliability.” 

“The  power of God was revealed  “for Heaven’s sake” in the imperfections of this king BECAUSE he knew exactly what to do with the ugly stuff!”  

“God’s justice IS going to defend the righteous but just as surely it’s “still” HIS righteousness that’s our right reward to enjoy, not the judgment of others.”  

“Life is our power struggle in which we constantly have to choose whether we’ll give the power to circumstances or to our intimacy with God to effect our response.”   

“Circumstances won’t always change but perspective can make all the difference in our response.  “The humble shall see their God at work for them. No wonder they will be so glad!” 

This week life has dished out some physical pain for me.  I read these harsh words from this man with a direct line to God’s heart with my own pain reminding me of the powerful challenge circumstance and perspective have on life, even in our intimacy with God.  Then I realized David’s prayer can be mine too.  “But as for me, O Lord, deal with me as your child, as one who bears your name! Because you are so kind, O Lord, deliver me.”

Perspective

Psalm 69:5 O God, you know so well how stupid I am, and you know all my sins. 6 O Lord God of the armies of heaven, don’t let me be a stumbling block to those who trust in you. O God of Israel, don’t let me cause them to be confused,…13 But I keep right on praying to you, Lord. For now is the time—you are bending down to hear! You are ready with a plentiful supply of love and kindness. Now answer my prayer and rescue me as you promised… 30 Then I will praise God with my singing! My thanks will be his praise— 31 that will please him more than sacrificing a bullock or an ox. 32 The humble shall see their God at work for them. No wonder they will be so glad! All who seek for God shall live in joy.  TLB

Circumstance and personal struggle have sapped all David’s energy.  He’s exhausted from his constant need to protect himself but something new has happened to him in the midst of his distress.  He’s seeing his circumstances from a new perspective.  He’s seeing and praying beyond himself to the impact his struggle may have on others who trust in God’s reputation.  

It’s that perspective, not his circumstances, that has changed everything.  “Don’t let me be a stumbling block to those who trust in you. O God of Israel, don’t let me cause them to be confused… I keep right on praying to you, Lord. For now is the time—you are bending down to hear!”  That’s his  source of comfort and praise…and now that’s my inspiration. 

Circumstances won’t always change but perspective can make all the difference in our response.  “The humble shall see their God at work for them. No wonder they will be so glad!”