Friday, November 30, 2012

Gifted, Powered, Released!

"Put on therefore, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as the Lord forgave you, so you also do." Colossians 3:12-13 NHEB
In our last post, we considered these verses, through the compassion part. It might be wise to re-read that post to remember what was written. Now I want us to look at the person we have become in Jesus. We will learn to live in the attitude of heart described here, but in the meantime in the process of our learning, the real work is already accomplished in us in Christ. So we are just called here to become on the outside, what He has already accomplished in our new image on the inside. 

So to be a person of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility and perseverance is to be a person like Christ. But just what is that like - really. Well, it is not a worm. Let's understand that right off the bat. The ideas of feeling sympathy and empathy for others, being "lowly," kind, etc... is not being a door mat for others to use and abuse. It is the exact opposite of that. To be kind and lowly just means we do whatever in Jesus our hands find to do. No one is above anyone else. We all are servants, regardless of our "position," or title. Those things are important only along authority lines, when it comes to doing what needs to be done - we are all to participate. No one is to high to bend, no one is to low to include - all are to be servants of one another.

The difference between a door-mat and a servant is huge. A door-mat simply lays there and takes the dirt other put on it and then, in human terms, complains about it. The servant, however, bends down with a basin of water, removes the dirt and then pours the dirt out with the water. Nothing sticks and it is total joy. I think this is awesome. We are free to serve one another in Jesus with the Spirit. Then release it all. He has thought of everything.

As to forgiveness, that is our total nature in Jesus. We can become in our hearts the ones who instantly say when wronged,"Father, forgive them. They do not understand." Again, we learn to be people who do not let anything "stick." choosing not to forgive is just not an option. It interferes with everything the new person in us desires and needs to flow in the life we have been given. It is nice when someone knows they need to ask forgiveness, but our forgiveness given to them, is really not for them. It is for us to stay free (again, allowing nothing to "stick" that will interfere with the life of Spirit fullness).

So since we are like that, we can begin to feel and move in those directions. Believing that new person is already us is the first and most important part of the process. Living in these matters becomes our faith's participation in His already accomplished work. Gifted, empowered, released! WOW - this is marvelous.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Moving Into Life

"Put on therefore, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as the Lord forgave you, so you also do." Colossians 3:12-13 NHEB
Now that we have received the fullness and the goodness of the Lord Jesus; now that we have begun to understand that our old ways of behavior and behavior modification are not the way of the Spirit; now we can turn our hearts to the positive side of our lives. We can now begin to receive and emphasize in our lives the ways of behavior the Spirit desires to teach us in grace - from the inside out. 

So many of us (individuals as well as church systems) never get beyond the sin part. We keep calling everyone to repent all the time instead of teaching them what is in and available to them about how the new creation is to be imaged. We are called to emphasize, not the negative sin nature, but the overcoming person that has been birthed in Jesus. That is not to say our behavior in the natural will automatically cease to be. Not at all. But our body does what we tell it to do. The emphasis of our minds will determine where our sympathy lies. When we busy ourselves emphasizing our sinful humanity, then we stay stuck there. The scriptures turn our minds and have us follow what we are becoming - not what we have been. 

So now, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul, turns our hearts and minds into the nature of the image of the one being created in us - the image of God Himself through Christ. How does that person live? Because we are His chosen ones, holy and deeply beloved, we accept (put on) an interior of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and steadfastness. We allow faithfulness to the Lord's heart to be cultivated in us and we began to be taught in His heart the fullness of life. Our old ways were and are death. But this new creation in His image has life expressions that are life to us and life to all around us. 

The Lord, as He moved on our earth prior to His death, burial, resurrection and ascension, was many times moved regarding the plight of those around Him and the scripture often says, He was moved with compassion. Compassion is the ability to be deeply sensitive to human needs and a sincere desire to help. It is an innate ability to see deeply inside the needs and wounds and then to answer them with a divine move. Webster says it is  
"sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." This is grown within us - even the most hardened of individuals, as we chose to spend time with the Holy Spirit in presence, Word, prayer, everyday moments. It is developed as a part of our heritage. 

The Lord has put within those who have received Him, the ability to be Him in every circumstance and placement. 
1 John 4:16-17 "So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world." ESV 
So the instructions to us are to actively accept  ("put on") this heart of compassion and expect from our Lord the ability to flow in divine answers. Awesome!
 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Equally Important

"...and have put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge after the image of his Creator, where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondservant, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all." Colossians 3:10-11 NHEB
When we accept our Lord Jesus and enter into His life through faith, we are accepted and placed in a relationship within the heart and family of Jesus that has no favoritism, partiality, prejudice, racial identity, other citizenship, economic status nor status within a social order.  The family (kingdom) is like this because that is the nature of our Creator. Our Father and Lord recognize no such differences in the people. 

We are so accustomed to our different categories of people and our placement within them, that we think He is like that too. Nothing could be further from His nature. In fact, in Deuteronomy 10:17 we are told, "For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe." He simply does not count our "status" in our world either a plus nor a minus. It just is not an element in the family. There is one "first-born" and we are all in Him and all have the same rights and privileges as a member of this family. 

So here as in other places as well, we are urged to be like our Father in these ways. The importance of this is often overlooked. We live in a variety of "societies," the neighborhood, the church, the work place, the school, etc.... But our empowering is to be Him in all these society structures and not to be a people of special groups leaving others on the outside. Such things, while maybe making us feel comfortable in our flesh, are a large hindrance to the love of Jesus. All must be received, welcomed and embraced equally. 

This does not mean everyone has the same authority, just that everyone has the same rank in the family. No one is more important that you and you are not more important that someone else. This is true of the God-head. All have the same rank, but all are not equal in authority. The Father gives to the Son, the Son to the Holy Spirit and then the Holy Spirit to us. Likewise when we pray we are urged to pray in the Spirit in the name of Jesus unto the Father. That is just stating the line of authority of all things. The four year old who has Jesus in his heart is as important in this Kingdom-Family as the Pastor over many churches, but he clearly does not have the same authority nor responsibility. So the rank is the same, but not the placement of authority. 

There are many such understandings hidden in this marvelous Word of our Lord's. But for now this is sufficient to encourage us to dig a bit deeper. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Exploding in Praise!

Today, in the USA, it is national Thanksgiving Day. I love this holiday for it gives us time to be thankful together. Many of us associate it with family and food, and that is certainly appropriate in our land of plenty, but there is a true Thanksgiving that rises out of my heart that far supersedes any material blessing. It is the possession of the love and care of our Heavenly Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If we choose, we possess His love and revelations of His goodness that take our breath away. So today, I am choosing to blog Psalm 145 from The Passion Translation. As we celebrate His goodness, may we be bathed in His splendor and majesty! Blessed Thanksgiving to all.
Psalm 145
"My heart explodes with praise to You!
Now and forever my heart bows in worship
To You, my King and my God!
Everyday I lift up my praise to Your name
With praises that will last throughout eternity!
Lord You are great, and worthy of the highest praise!
For there is no end to the discovery of 
Greatness surrounding You!
Generation after generation will declare more of Your greatness,
And discover more of Your glory!
Your magnificent splendor
And the miracles of Your majesty
Are my constant meditation!
Your awe-imspiring acts of power have everyone talking!
And I'm telling people everywhere about Your excellent greatness!
Our hearts bubble over as we celebrate the fame
Of Your marvelous beauty; bringing bliss to our hearts!
We shout with ecstatic joy over Your breakthrough for us!
You're so kind and tender-hearted to those who don't deserve it;
And so very patient with people who fail You!
Your love is like a flooding river and overflowing its banks with kindness.
God, everyone sees Your goodness,
For Your tender love is blended into everything You do!
And all Your godly lovers will be found bowing before You!
They will tell the world of the lavish splendor of Your kingdom
And preach of Your limitless power.
They will demonstrate for all to see Your miracles of might,
And reveal the glorious majesty of Your kingdom!
Lord, You reign over your never-ending kingdom,
Through all the ages of time and eternity!
You are faithful to fulfill every promise You've made.
You manifest Yourself as kindness in all You do!
Weak and feeble ones, You will sustain.
Those bent over with burdens of shame, You will lift up.
You have captured our attention, and the eyes of all look to You.
You give what they hunger for, at just the right time!
When You open Your generous hand, it's full of blessings,
Satisfying the longings of every living thing!
You are right in everything You do;
And Your love is wrapped into all Your works.
You draw near to those who call out to You,
Listening ever closely--
Especially when their hearts are true.
Every one of Your godly lovers receives
Even more than what they ask for!
For You hear what their hearts really long for
And You bring them Your saving strength!
God, You watch carefully over all Your lovers,
Like a bodyguard;
But You will distroy the ungodly.
I will praise You Lord!
Let everyone everywhere join me in praising
The beautiful Lord of Holiness
From now through eternity!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Imaged in Him

"Because of these, the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. You also once walked in those, when you lived in them; but now you also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and shameful speaking out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his doings, and have put on the new man who is being renewed in knowledge after the image of his Creator, where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Sythian, bondservant freeman; but Christ is all, and in all." Colossians 3:6-11NHEB
The emphasis in this passage is not the sinful behavior, even though we all are intimately acquainted with each thing listed. The emphasis here is on our new position which does not include this type of behavior toward others. "...Seeing that you have put off the old man with his doings, and have put on the new man who is being renewed in knowledge after the image of his Creator..." The key to our behavior is a true concept of our identity in Christ.

So often, we attempt to correct our behavior (and the behavior of others) with some form of behavior modification. This only works for a period of time. That period of time is useful if during it, much more than behavior modification is happening. The actions are never the real problem. The "being" is. We behave out of our internal person. We act lovingly or unlovingly to others because that's how we are inside. In this passage, the Holy Spirit is underlining for us that we have (past tense) purposely "put off" or turned away from, these types of behaviors, because we "have put on," literally we have purposely rejected and laid aside the motivations of these behaviors and have in Christ accepted the new person in us (done when we accepted Him into our beings). Now our life expression is motivated and controlled by a mind that is being renewed in the knowledge like the one who has Created us in Christ.

Now our personal and spiritual identity has changed; our DNA in our internal person is being made into the image of God Himself. In this family, all worldly differences in status or circumstance are gone. All is in Christ.

How do we allow our thinking to be renewed so our life expressions will be one of love and compassion toward others - who like us, struggle with the "old" way too much? Our answer is time with our Lord in and through the Word; accepting what He has said as our truth. When we begin to meditate on what He has clearly done for us and who He has clearly created us to be, then we become empowered to express our life in Him. Oh it is decisively our life expression - just in Him. So much to embrace. Lord, thank you. Your grace is really too good to be true, yet it is so deeply true, true, true. Thank you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

True Spiritual Worship

"Put to death, therefore, whatever is worldly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." Colossians 3:5 NHEB
Notice that covetousness is defined as idolatry. Idolatry is when we worship something or someone who is not God. Worship is a heart of dependence upon. We so often identify worship with a feeling or a style, that we fail to understand that worship is our life.
Romans 12:1 "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." ESV
I realize the word "worship" in the Romans passage may also be translated "rational service." But either way we see that true worship is not a moment or two in a service, but a life-style of dependence upon the Savior. When we begin to "want" more than what has been provided, either through our work, or through gifts, then we can easily slip into a mind-set that is actually involved in idolatry in our heart desires and dependences.  Many times we do not understand this tendency and slip into ineffectiveness in our lives because the emphasis of our lives has shifted from the person of the Lord Jesus Christ into something we either want Him to do for us, or we want something from others. It is a subtle shift, but a shift nonetheless. It wrecks havoc on our dependence in faith and Spirit.

This entire passage is to alert us to what has been done for us and to urge us to apply the corresponding complimentary action for full reception of the gift of life in Christ. Remember when Paul told the Philippians in 4:11 "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." His contentment came out of a heart fully satisfied in His relationship with the Lord. He understood Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing."

When we are dependent upon the Lord, in His faithfulness, He never fails. So we need not have a want  about anything. This stretches us all a bit more than we would prefer. So just think about it, pray with it and begin to embrace the truth of the faithful care of our our Beloved Lord.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Embracing The Power of Christ

"Put to death, therefore, whatever is worldly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience." Colossians 3:5-6 NHEB
Because we have died in Christ, because we have been raised in Christ, because we are seated with Christ at the right hand of God we are empowered and enabled to live a different kind of life expression. Our righteousness is not earned by us, but is inputed into us through our unity with Christ, therefore, a different life-expression is expected. We have been placed into the domain of grace.

So often, our concept of grace is one of promiscuity in our behavior. We continue to think and behave like the world around us. However, the word is clear in this matter.
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age." Titus 2:11-12 ESV
Our gifting in Christ is the power of the overcomer and the victor. Therefore, we are empowered to live an expression of the Christ-life that is much different than the world around us. It is all by faith. By faith, we grab hold of the truth of our victory in Christ and let go of everything that interferes with the expression of Christ through us: all sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire and covetousness. We will work the the remaining section in the next post.

It is enough today to realize that grace teaches or trains us to live an expression that may seem foreign to our flesh, but it is really in harmony with the new creation in His Spirit. So as we ponder our power in Him, we actively participate in "putting to death" or "walking away from" or "turning a deaf ear to,"or whatever phrase would best suit it to you. The end result is that we embrace the power of Christ as the active ingredient in our life-expression.