Can a child act like a monkey? Does that make him one? Can a dog or cat speak words as a human? Does that make them a human? No! DNA is independent of action/behavior. We function best when we function in accord with our DNA, but when we do not it does not change our DNA. As a child, I was a Leventhal. Certain behaviors were expected of us, but when I did not act in accordance with these behaviors (and I did not at times, surprise) I was still born of Bernie and Sandi and would always be a Leventhal with Leventhal DNA. A deeper truth is that I am a child of God with His DNA. Somehow my parents DNA is a subset of His DNA. I'm a Leventhal-Child of God. You may be a Jone's- or Martin-Child of God. And in the same flow as the child and dog/cat above, I don't always act in accordance with my DNA...but my DNA is the truest thing about me. I'm the baby bird with wings that doesn't know how to use them yet. Or at least not fully. Yet, everything I need is wit me, and I'm growing in the truth and the ability to walk in the fullness of who I am in Christ, according to my DNA...Christ in me IS the hope of glory and HOPE is not a future event as in the English language. In Greek, it is a hope ASSURED.
I do not know what the New Year holds for me, however, I know where I will spend it...
The "In Christ" fact is the vital side of the Plan of Redemption; it is always in the present tense.
"Wherefore if any man is in Christ he is a New Creation."
The New Birth is an "In Him" fact.
Righteousness comes to us, "In Him."
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them the are in Christ."
When we were born again, we came into Christ.
That is the vine and the branch life.
You are grafted in to Christ.
You become a part of Christ. His nature flows through you.
His ability belongs to you.
Just as your blood flows through your body so does eternal life flow through you.
We cannot understand it any more than we can understand the circulation of blood in our own body.
It is, "In whom we have our Redemption"
Satan's dominion, power an authority are broken over you, "In Him."
"We are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Him."
We have come into the New Life of oneness "In Him."
"In Him was life and that life was the light of men."
I am "In Him."
In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and life, and I am "In Him."
Artwork by Rick Fry
In the Old Testament, to behave differently required a name (nature) change - Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel.
We, New Testament people were crucified with Christ, buried with Christ and raised to new life in Christ. Scripture tells us we ARE a new creation, the old is gone the new has come.
Our name change?
From In Adam to In Christ
From Lost to Found
From Prodigal to Beloved Son and Daughter
Today, within you is everything you need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). You can be every good thing you desire, for you already are. The source of the life you desire is within you and the fact that you desire this life is proof He is within.
Walk in the truth as He is in the truth.
What if, "It is finished?" What if the "rest that remains for the people of God" is yours today? What if He has given you "everything you need for life and godliness"? What if He really does "love you with an everlasting love"? What if He "remembers your sins no more"?
What if these things are true?
How might your life experience at this very time be different
Cherishing me is all that you do
At all times and every day
Encouraging me till the lies go away.
Completed, finished, resting in You
That's all I've ever wanted to do
Finding peace upon your knee
There I sit, a refugee
Bruised and battered from the world
Around me all the garbage whirled
Yet now I know and now I see
Your love for me is full and free
Oh, to be loved by You
Cherishing me is all that You do
At all times and every day
Encouraging me till the lies go away
Thank You Father, thank You Son,
Thank You Spirit, to you I run
The race on earth, successfully
Knowing You are pleased with me.
All my love I give to You
Worshipping You, I gladly do
You are God and Lord and King
I'm in Your Son and NOW reigning
I'm in Your image
I look like You
Your glory upon me
All the day through
I AM TRUTH, I SET YOU FREE
GO, BEAR MY IMAGE, BRING MANY TO ME
IT'S BY THE SPIRIT THAT MEN I DRAW
THAT IN THEIR HEARTS, FOR ME, WILL BE AWE.
Reading in Zechariah this morning, and I come across chapter 7:5-6, where God speaks to the people and says (paraphrased), “was it really for me when you were fasting and even now in your holy festivals aren’t you eating and drinking just to please yourselves?” In other words, the source matters. Eating has no value on its own, nor fasting.
Consider these verses (paraphrased):
Rom 14:23 Anything not done with faith is sin.
Allow God to speak to your heart. Walk in these things. Don’t do because you should, do because He has freed you to do whatever He leads you in. Don’t judge it. We don’t see fully, rather, trust Him in all things.
1 Cor 3:13 Each man’s work with be revealed with fire that will test the quality of the work.
(quality = kind) Did this thing arise from our will and the performance-expectations of the world, or did they arise in the heart of God within you? This isn’t about fear of being exposed, rather about the freedom that walking in His freedom, even when others judge it, is acceptable, peaceable and profitable. Trust Him.
Luke 7:33-34 John the Baptist did not eat bread or wine and was considered demon possessed, while Jesus feasts and drinks and you call Him a glutton and a drunkard.
The world judges. No matter which way you go. This world of performance-based approval has us trying, doing, restraining and always questioning if we are good enough. You are...you are His. It’s not about effort but identity. It’s not about appearance but intimacy with Him who loves you.
As we celebrate the birth of the King, may we be free from the performance of “restraint.” May we be in reckless abandon and freedom in celebration at this miraculous time of year.
Once, years ago, leading a small group, I was trying to lose weight. I was bombarded with the thoughts, ‘My body is the temple, honor the temple, gluttony is a sin,” etc. As I struggled, God spoke clearly to my heart, “Vicki, you are “safe”. You are “huggable”. You are a port for these to rest with. Be who you be.” He spoke and I was given the freedom to be who He made me to be, size, weight, appearance – at least for that season. It was in listening to Him, that I walked in the weight I carried, allowing Him to order my steps in choices, and not concerned with what people would say, for He had spoken.
Today and tomorrow and through the new year, many of us will feel the need to restrain, to hold back, to exercise our will and refrain from the fullness of the celebration.
I just want to encourage you, that eating or not, drinking or not, is of no value unless Spirit led. Talk with Him. Ask Him what celebration look like for you and put aside all manner of performance-based approval. Hear His heart for you and celebrate in the beauty of the freedom He has given you. It was God who designed the temples and gave instruction for their dimensions and design, not the builders and not the worshippers. It will look different for each of us. Cookies and eggnog for me, different for others, yet as we walk in the space He gives, honoring Him, trusting Him we find the fullness of enjoyment and peace…without restraint.
From E. Stanley Jones: "Forgive me when I put the blame elsewhere than on me for the way I am."
I think the hardest thing in this life is to realize we were not created to live independent of God and when we do often life goes wrong - or we experience life, "wrongly".
Consider: In this life you will have tribulation, BUT be of good cheer…, and, Lord if it is possible remove this cup, BUT not my will but Yours….
It isn't in our identifying our victimhood or past, but uncovering those hidden lies and beliefs that are affecting us. IF we could get past our defense mechanisms and see what is there we could process, grieve, accept, forgive, learn, grow, change and move forward. It is in our desperate attempts to hold the pieces together that we fall further apart, kick, scream and blame in our temper tantrum. After all, it's about us, right?
Rather, it is in release and rest we find that He has always held us together - He knit us together and our essence can never be lost.
In returning (to your Creator) and rest (He's got you and your best interests at heart) you will be saved (liberated, freed).
It isn't in holding your edges close to protect yourself, but rather in exposing your nakedness with Him that you find yourself fully covered, protected and prospered in Him.
The problem isn't outside. It isn't your circumstances. We experience our life as troubling. We blame others. We lash out at those times we lose sight of the great love He has for us. These are times we have forgotten the intimacy we have with Him and chosen to live our lives independently.
Perichoresis, a view of the Trinity defined by Alister McGrath, "allows the individuality of the persons to be maintained, while insisting that each person shares in the life of the other two.”
In living intimately with God, in the presence of His indwelling Spirit, we do not lose who we are, rather we are elevated to live our lives from Him, in Him and with Him. From this place, we live life at its fullest and find we can survive and even thrive in life’s difficulties.
I’ve known this truth, but yesterday I listened to a sermon online (Grace Point Community Church, Houston) that brought further light. If we are God’s (and we are), His love is within us (and it is). That means that loving is our natural, automatic, normal, usual response.
John encourages the believers TO LOVE, a verb, an action (1 John 4:7). He invites them to LET themselves be loving. He reminds them that they have a choice. Love is within us, is our default behavior but we have a choice (free will) in which we may withhold that which is natural. Love should flow from me. When it does not (and this happens more often than I would like to acknowledge) it is revealing that I am operating from my “self”, my flesh, my ego and not from my identity, fused with Christ – His life and mine, inseparable.
It is always a choice to love. We get to walk from the Spirit within in the truth of who we are, or, walk in the flesh and leave a trail of regret for being loveless. When we withhold the love that defines who we are, in those moments of lovelessness we are the hypocrite. Yup, the true me loves – the hypocrite withholds and walks in a lie of their identity. Walk free. Be who you be. Love well, love often, love naturally.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone
who loves is born of God and knows God.
Let us love one another
Everyone who lovesἀγαπάω, agapao: Strong’s 25 NT; loveHelps Word-studies: to prefer, to love; preferring to live through Christ by embracing God’s will (choosing His choices) and obeying them through His power.
Zodhiates: Love as a direction of the will and finding one’s joy in something.
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon: "to take pleasure in the thing, prize it above other things, be unwilling to abandon it or do without it"
Love is from God
ἀγάπη, agape: Strong’s 26, NT: Love, goodwill
Zodhiates: Benevolent love, not shown by doing what the person loved desires but what the one who loves deems as needed by the one loved. Unselfish love.
Rom 4:4 and 5 are often viewed separately as many Bible versions split these verses with a new section title masking the beauty of the comparison that is breathtaking to me.
4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness...
Work produces a debt, like the payday loan that is almost impossible to get rid of, whereas only basking in what HE has done for me demonstrates my righteousness.
No more debt for me. No more work. No more consideration of how I am doing. Isaiah 30:15 says, "In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Do you see it? I must stop the work, return to the truth of His death, burial, resurrection and bask in what that means. It's in my refraining from effort and focus on His FINISHED work that I may find strength....to do! Not as a requirement, not as a must, ought or should (don't should on me) but rather, I GET TO walk in every truth, I chose to LET His life be manifest in my daily walk. Some say it's semantics. YES! It is semantics and words DO matter.
Oswald Chambers says, "Paul did not say that he separated himself, but “when it pleased God, who separated me…” (Galatians 1:15). Paul was not overly interested in his own character. And as long as our eyes are focused on our own personal holiness, we will never even get close to the full reality of redemption. Christian workers fail because they place their desire for their own holiness above their desire to know God. “Don’t ask me to be confronted with the strong reality of redemption on behalf of the filth of human life surrounding me today; what I want is anything God can do for me to make me more desirable in my own eyes.” To talk that way is a sign that the reality of the gospel of God has not begun to touch me. There is no reckless abandon to God in that. God cannot deliver me while my interest is merely in my own character. Paul was not conscious of himself. He was recklessly abandoned, totally surrendered, and separated by God for one purpose— to proclaim the gospel of God (see Romans 9:3)." (My Utmost for His Highest, January 31).
If you could not mess “it” up and were guaranteed “it” would work out what is the “it” you would do? Selah (consider…)
“It” fits you, right?
You are passionate about “it”, true?
When you think about “It” you come alive, don’t you?
Shut your eyes. Picture “it”. Are you smiling? Has your breathing slowed but heart rate increased? Is there a sense of joy?
It’s hard to imagine that we give the risk of failure or mess up more power than the beauty of the “it” we were created for.
Courage is choosing to be who you are and engage in your passion without regard of the “what if’s?” How can living a life of passion ever be a fail?
My heart's desire is to walk with people until they believe every good thing that God says about them. This happens as they are introduced to intimate relationship with the lover of their soul.