Thursday, February 22, 2018

THE ONE RELATIONSHIP TO RULE THEM ALL


The title of my previous post was The One Relationship Above Them All. This writing is The One Relationship To Rule Them All. The previous one was to convey the importance of having the relationship above all others, esteeming the connection we have with our Savior the most. This post is to encourage believers to use their relationship with Christ as an influence on all other bonds.

Two major hurdles with me in this influential effort are (1) to imagine my relationship with Christ as intimate as a marriage where I am the Bride and He is is the Groom and (2) deal with His invisibility in that relationship. I can conceive Jesus as my Best Friend who will never leave me nor forsake me. Plus, my heart, mind and spirit has no problem in reconciling Jesus as a corporate Groom for the Church. Jesus being my Groom as an individual is a challenge. 

However, all the characteristics that the marriage relationship shares is the kind of accord that I have with my Lord and Savior. His intimacy (lover of my soul), proximity (never leave me), access (boldly come before God at any time), counseling (Wonderful Counselor) and helper (our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble) traits are really magnified when I look at my relationship with Christ in this manner.

The lesson I am learning from my marriage to Christ is that all these qualities of my relationship with Jesus can and should be shared with others. Just as He is the lover of my soul, I too should have the same level of compassion for the souls of others. Just as He is always by my side, I too should be by the side of those that need me. Just as He is accessible at any time, I too should be accessible by those who need me for listening, counseling and helping like my Lord is so excellent at doing. My relationship with Christ should not only be the one I cherish above all others, my relationship with Christ, your bond with Christ should be The One Relationship To Rule Them All.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

THE ONE RELATIONSHIP ABOVE THEM ALL


Life is all about relationships. If you were the only person on earth, you still would have relationship with nature, animals and things. We could keep stripping away the different relationships until it was only yourself and then you would just have existence.

However, before Creation, God had perfect existence and perfect life by Himself. Yet, here we are in His Plan of Love, Life and Eternal Significance. All of the aforementioned is not only created by God and sustained by Him for His purposes, but they are also another name for God and found through Relationship with Him.

In 1 John 4:8 we read God is Love. John also states in the Gospel he wrote that Jesus proclaimed, "I am the way, and I am the truth, and I am the life." (John 14:6) John also tackles the Eternal Significance of life with God and life without Him. John 3:36 says, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them." Luke stated those who receive all these things do it through Relationship with God - "For in Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28) 

Notice that the living and moving and having our being is "in Him"? Sure, everyone can live, move and have their being in or through other relationships other than one with God. However, this is just delaying recognition of the One Relationship that counts for eternity. All other relationships in life pale in comparison to a relationship with Father God (Yahweh) through Jesus Christ, His Word made flesh. We either accept this relationship and feed it OR neglect and starve it.

When we are born, we are defaulted with a broken relationship with God because of a rebellious nature in our hearts, minds and spirits. Because of this God's Wrath/Judgment is upon us because He will not allow a corrupted being into His Heaven and into an eternal relationship with Himself. Therefore, He sent Christ Jesus to Redeem our relationship through Christ's death on the cross and victory through His resurrection! However, the decision is still ours to accept or reject. This is what John was saying in the verse above with consequences listed. "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them."

So, how about a relationship with the person Love? How about a relationship with Life and life more abundantly? How about a relationship with Eternal Significance? Of all the relationships you will have - involuntary (blood family) and voluntary (spouse you choose) - whether the relationships be with people, places or things - I encourage everyone, to consider a relationship with Father God through Christ Jesus - The One Relationship Above Them All.

Friday, February 16, 2018

CLOTHED IN HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS


God has secured your right-standing with Him through Christ's sacrificial death and His resurrection, so why are we instructed to wear a breastplate of righteousness or any garment connected with righteousness? (Eph. 6:14; 2 Cor. 6:7; Isa. 59:17) Because believers have not been glorified in body, mind and spirit - yet. We still have to live daily in this God-rebellious, corrupted world and its negative influences. 

In order to combat those previously mentioned things and the "devil's schemes", we are encouraged to "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes." When Paul used the word "schemes" in Ephesians 6:11, he was conveying mind games, mind tricks and/or deceptions the devil uses against us. If I was thinking like the devil and trying to combat God I would seek to kill, steal and destroy what God holds as precious - everyone. Knowing The Truth, I would seek to lie about it in order to keep those from entering the Kingdom. Then for those who believe, I would lie about The Word of God, kill The Word in them, steal The Word and their joy, then destroy their faith through doubt in His Righteousness. Do you see the need for wearing such a piece of armor daily now?

This necessity is noted as a specific piece of armor in Ephesians 6:14 that we need to have God dress us in daily by prayer, it says, "Stand firm then, ...with the breastplate of righteousness in place.". This putting on has no bearing on losing and regaining our Salvation. Our right-standing for eternity with Father God, our Redemption, was once and for all through Christ Jesus (Heb. 7:27). However, this action, this putting on of the breastplate of His Righteousness, does require consistent attention on our part to stay in right relationship or under God's favor.

The confidence, boldness and assurance believers have in our righteousness through Christ is being attacked and held captive by the world system, humanity and the devil. However, not only does the Breastplate of Righteousness act as a defensive mechanism but it is an offensive weapon as well.

When Roman soldiers would march or just walk around in their breastplate, the individual plates would cause much more of a luster than if the soldier were stationary. So, when he went into battle or was attacked out of the blue, the light from the Breastplate blinded his enemies. This is how Christ can operate in our lives - the light that gets noticed for drawing others to Him and the blinding light to our enemies or challenges of life.

As you can imagine, our understanding, accepting and wearing of His Righteousness will thoroughly affect your prayer-life. However, His Righteousness should get us excited about the many possibilities God can use us to reach and help the world. Mr. Rick Renner supports this by saying, "When you have been positively influenced by an understanding of righteousness, it gives you the assurance you need to step out and boldly do the work of God." (p.305, Dressed To Kill) But for those believers who forget or neglect to pray for The Breastplate of Righteousness on a daily basis - there is the other side of the coin. Mr. Renner helps me out here also - "You must have your breastplate of righteousness firmly fixed in place when you begin your confrontation with the adversary, or he will do everything within his power to remove your victory and eliminate your godly influence in other people's lives!" (p.307, Dressed To Kill)

IF Christians truly grasped the protected right-standing we have through faith in Christ's sacrifice and victory, then the world would be an even better place to live. Why? Because we would treasure it more, use it more against our challenges and share it more with those that do not have His Righteousness in their lives. Christians really need to own their belief in their right-standing with Father God through Christ Jesus! The by-product of this in our lives is not arrogance, but the aforementioned confidence, assurance and the overcoming attitude for challenges.

1 John 5:14-15 says, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him."

Notice that the confidence or assurance is "that if we ask anything according to his will He hears us". The other side of the coin is that if we don't, He won't. If we ask something that is not of His will, God is not listening! This screams for a "therefore". Therefore, be in right-standing with God so that you are asking according to His will, then - when He hears us - "whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of Him."

The Breastplate of Righteousness puts fear in its proper place - nowhere near you! The world, humanity and the devil are all powerless. Their authority is removed when we realize, accept and Own His Righteousness over our lives. Christians need to be prepared every day, not just sure of their Salvation, but walking with the Breastplate of Righteousness upon them; walking in right standing with God; walking Clothed In His Righteousness.

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor. 5:21)

"Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, ..." (Eph. 6:14)

Friday, February 9, 2018

GROW AND GROW

I hope and pray that believers in Christ as a corporate body and as individuals will understand growth comes from The Lord. As a church or individual, the size of the body grows over time and both do not necessarily mature at the same speed or completely in their life.

Sure we have people who come into our lives and deposit a positive word. Then we have those that come along not to far behind The Planter and encourage us in that positive word. But even after the word is planted and watered (encouraged), the growth is initiated and managed by God. Paul said in his first letter to the believers in Corinth - "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow." (1 Cor. 3:6)

Sometimes I bump God out of His growing position and try to do that on my own. If my physical, mental and/or spiritual growth goes anywhere afterward, it does not go far or contain nearly the same amount of blessings if God was The Grower or The Developer. I need, we all need to keep from being stagnant in our growth.

An individual or corporate body can grow in size, but that does not mean maturity or development will follow. We must include and trust God for all our growth. This message is for those who have trusted Christ Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. We should keep the mindset that we are always a work in progress and always desire improvements. Paul charged us in this vein when he stated, "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." (Philippians 2:12-13)

So, to you I leave the encouraging and challenging words of Peter - "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good." (1 Peter 2:1-3)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

THE CORE OF THE BELIEVER'S IDENTITY

Your identity is not only who you are but whose you are. We all have outside and inside influences that contribute to who we are. The outside effects may be things like a job, wealth, possessions and so forth. The inside impact may be things like our talents, skills, attitudes, our personality and so on. We are constantly attempting to find a good and healthy marriage or niche for both of these factors to play nicely in the development of our identity. 

Unfortunately, some people will not live to make a positive difference but will take up space, air and resources and then die. In fact, some people are bent on making the lives of others miserable. I know that may sound cold and disheartening, but these statements are still truth. So, it falls to those that are positive, difference-makers in life to be trying to sway at least the indifferent individuals. 

For those that just don't care perhaps we can encourage them to stand for something (hopefully positive) or you will fall for anything. There are those out there that are soul-searching or looking for their "true self". They are in limbo with their identity so they latch onto attractive, worldly/societal offerings. These items are not bad to have in and of themselves. The only problem in finding their identity in these is that they are not eternal. 

Even looking inward to find our identity we need help.  We improve, we decline, and we change over time. Tim Tebow believes in a firm foundation, an unshaken identity. Tim has stated that staying grounded means being accountable with his life, calling and talent(s) to God which God has loaned him. I agree, not only because God is watching, but other potential Christians are also. As the owner of the casino in Oceans 11 said, "Somebody is always watching." Plus, what better identity is there to pursue than one in Christ Jesus.

God, through Christ Jesus and His Holy Spirit must be the tie-breaker in the battle over our identity. Why find your identity in Christ? The number one reason is that we can rest in His Righteousness or Right-standing with Father God which He purchased through His life's blood. Another reason is because of all the benefits - one of which is the valleys of life are raised so they are not so deep any more. 

We also must rest and operate in His Holiness. This is not an I'm better than you because I am a Christian mentality or attitude. Being Holy is a lifestyle of difference, a positive option for others to consider choosing because they can see and sense The Source (God) in you. God is the believer's Holiness. 

"Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says, 'I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.'” - Hebrews 2:11-12


Being Holy, separate and sacred because of Jesus, in front of everyone else is the essence of the believer's identity in Christ. It is not easy, but it is The Core Of The Believer's Identity. "Be Holy, because I am Holy." - 1 Peter 1:15-16

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

FROM BECOMING DOGS AND PIGS


A huge danger about sin or rebellion against the things of God is that our character turns dog-like and/or pig-like. In 2 Peter 2:22, Peter is quoting from Proverbs 26:11 and says, “A dog returns to its vomit and a sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”

When the chains of depression or the follow-through of temptation start a cycle of indulging in unholy things we become like dogs or pigs. Our spiritual nature degrades so badly and rapidly that we are numbered with these animals who are noted as creatures who enjoy returning to their own filth/vomit. Peter goes a step further than the original Proverb and states many of us are like pigs that even after being cleaned by a washing will return to the mud or sin to wallow. 

What is needed is your recognition of the situation and a personal Revelation from God. Whether it be an analogy of that sin as a hot stove not to ever be touched again or God severing a cord between you and a habit or you and God smashing some chains/temptations in your life - God must be in the picture helping you. The switch of one's nature is incredibly difficult to return from on your own.

The Good News is that believers in Christ serve a Savior who also goes by the qualities and names of Faithful and True. Revelation 19:11 says, "I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True." Because we still live in these un-glorified minds and bodies, we as believers will still commit mistakes against the King. However, because we are in His Kingdom, His Family, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

This does not give us the right to maintain our cycle of stupidity, just because we can ask for forgiveness. Every time we transform to animals and return to our vomit or sin, that action places Christ on trial again in our lives. I encourage all of us to recognize the slippery slopes and strongholds in our lives, ask God for help and stay away From Becoming Dogs And Pigs. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

OUR FAITH IS NOT A GAMBLE


Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). This means Faith is NOT Chance or Luck. Faith deals in confidence and assurance while Chance is in the realm of the absence of any cause of events that can be predicted, understood, or controlled.

The believer in Christ is NOT to treat his/her Faith as luck, chance or a charm. Faith in the person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth for our Salvation should not be seen as a Gamble. When we accept the sacrifice at the Cross and the victory of the Resurrection we are not gambling by sliding all our chips on Lucky Number 7 nor gambling by placing all of our eggs in one of many baskets. 

Jesus Christ is still a decision but the only smart choice for anyone to build their faith upon. All other beliefs are a gamble that is destined to lose. So, how does the believer have confidence in what they hope for and assurance about what they do not see? 

First, The Word of God came in flesh, Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us, and purchased our Redemption and Eternity with Him by His life-blood. 

Second, Christ Jesus left no doubt about who He is, He said, "I am the way and I am the truth and I am the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) 

Thirdly, Matthew 7:24 pictures The Rock as Jesus, the firm foundation upon which we can place our confidence, remain assured and build our faith-based life. 

Finally, He promises to come again. With all the prophesies of Christ's first visitation being fulfilled, our confidence and assurance should soar about His Rapture of the Saints.

While Jesus did require His disciples to drop everything and come follow Him, I don't consider it a gamble. You might say, "Well, you can say that now, hindsight being perfect vision." However, Jesus had a powerful reputation by the time He approached those He was calling out. Plus, there must have been something about Jesus because on numerous instances the Scripture records the individual "immediately" followed Christ. So, following Him is not a gamble and I believe His life was structured in proving that daily. 

We have the luxury of hindsight and the blessing of Godly favor in our lives now to testify about the authenticity of Faith in Christ. If you have had the perception of your faith or faith in general as a gamble - that perception has got to be left at the door when coming into The Kingdom of Christ Jesus. He is The Rock of All Ages. He is The Sure Foundation. He is The Cornerstone. Again, He is the reason we believe - Our Faith Is Not A Gamble.