More of God?

B31A20A1-664D-4D12-86F8-FB7EEDD792E2The year is 66 A.D. or maybe 67 A.D.  and Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, finds himself once again arrested by the Roman Empire.  But this time it is much different.  Instead of being under house arrest he finds himself in a dungeon in chains.  To be more specific in Nero’s dungeon.  Not only is Paul there but it is also believed that Peter who walked with Jesus is also there.  At this time Paul is able to write a letter to his fellow brother in Christ, a young man he raised up in the faith of their mutual Lord and Savior. This young man, Timothy, receives a letter which will be known as 2 Timothy to future generations. Yet, for Timothy this is the last correspondence he has from a man he had walked with and knew so very well.  This is the man Timothy had learned from Who Jesus is.  Paul knows his time is short and soon he will be poured out as a drink offering (4:6).  Paul asks Timothy to come to him yet at the same time realizes that Timothy may not get there in time, so his letter also conveys the concerns he has of the times and of the faith which is so dear to him and that he will die for.

If we put ourselves in the times this letter was thought to be written, we might see this as a transitional time for the believers in Christ.  Most of the other disciples have been killed for their belief.  The Roman Empire is controlled by Nero.  Under his rule the believers in Jesus suffered great persecution.  He is known as a cruel leader.  Both Paul and Peter are killed under his rule leaving only John as the  last of the original apostles.  Many believers began to wonder if Jesus would ever return and some were teaching the resurrection had already happened (2:17).  Paul also warns of others in the future who will have a form of godliness but deny it’s power and always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of truth (3:5&7).  He reminded Timothy, “ But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (3:14-15).  Paul also reminds Timothy several times to: “Hold fast the pattern of words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (1:13); “…be strong in grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2:1-2); and “consider what I say and may the Lord give you understanding in all things” (2:7). Paul wanted to ensure the true gospel—-stayed TRUE and that the message being taught would not go back to the old leaven (law).  He reminds Timothy of the importance of faith in Who Jesus is to secure salvation and righteousness and how this truth needed to be passed on to future generations. I believe Paul was passing the baton on to his disciple Timothy before he died.  What brought me to tears though was the realization that the church today has completely perverted Paul’s words and has done exactly what he didn’t want to happen with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  And the really sad part is that they have used his own words to do so.

So many times this book (2:20-26)  has been taught from the perspective of a believers behavior and their need to try to better themselves so they can “get more from God”, or “get to a higher level”.  Christians have lost the Way and forgotten it is Him Who brings us from glory to glory, not us.  And we already have ALL of Him in us, period.  There is no secret way of obedience to “get more Holy Spirit”. The entirety of the Holy Spirit resides in each believer as they Simply Believe.  People that believe there is a way for them to attain more of God by their behavior are simply feasting on the old leaven (1 Cor 5:8). This old leaven causes you to want to hide your mistakes and choices instead of living from the inside out (see: Grace Enables You to…. for more info).  When feasting on the old leaven you fear God and man because you don’t understand that God has already forgiven you because of His Son.  The truth is you are fully forgiven which causes you to not fear because you know, no matter what you have or haven’t done, you are beloved and fully accepted by the Holy Trinity.  

In our humanity we always want or desire to make ourselves righteous. It is just such a source of pride in humanity.  I understand this because for years this is the way I had lived.  This is where God truly wants humility.  It seems so difficult not only for unbelievers but for believers in Jesus to understand this.  We need to acknowledge the facts:

WE CAN NEVER MAKE OURSELVES RIGHTEOUS OR MORE RIGHTEOUS.

WE CAN NEVER MAKE OURSELVES PURE OR MORE PURE.

WE CAN NEVER MAKE OURSELVES HOLY OR MORE HOLY.

WE CAN NEVER GET MORE OF GOD BY OUR BEHAVIOR OR LESS OF GOD BY OUR BEHAVIOR.

According to Paul, we can only freely receive these things from Father God who made the way through His Only Son, Jesus Christ.  It is a FREE GIFT.  I submit to you the containers Paul speaks about In chapter 2:20-26 was to help Timothy realize that there are different vessels in the house of God and to make sure Timothy sees this clearly, understands this and makes sure the true gospel gets passed on to trustworthy people.  Paul talks about these containers in 1 Corinthians also.  In verse 8 of chapter 5 Paul mentions something that we must look at to understand what he was saying to Timothy: 

“Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

The old leaven is the law.  The leaven of malice and wickedness is the world and the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth is the New Covenant.

See Paul was warning Timothy that these different containers would all be present in the “Church” and to look for the honorable containers to entrust the message to.  Giving credence to those that taught the truth just as he has done.

When I better understood the history, I could better understand the wording of the letter. I began to see that this letter is not so much about what I have to do to attain more from the Lord; but much more about believing what God, through His Son Jesus, has already done for me.  I believe this letter is just reinforcing to Timothy what Paul has always taught: Jesus Christ, the Passover Lamb has already done it all for us…all we have to do is Simply Believe (Faith).

I encourage you whenever you go to read the Word of God to start at the right starting point…which is:

God Loves me

Jesus died for all of my sins

I am fully forgiven

I am righteous in Jesus

I am a new creation in Jesus

I have a free will choice to choose to believe Who God and Jesus is

The Holy Spirit (all of God) lives in me when I choose to believe

God never leaves me nor forsakes me

If we look at 2 Timothy with these eyes, we can see it is all about faith, grace and understand we can not in and of ourselves make ourselves a clean container but that through focusing on Jesus, through our belief in Who He is and ALL that He has accomplished on the Cross we are the clean or an honorable container. As believers we need to stop trying to put a new garment on an old one…it doesn’t fit-the New Covenant message of Grace is not a patch for the Old Covenant of Law— just put on the whole new garment of Grace given freely and completely to you by Jesus.  Through all scripture—ALL—-you can see the truth of Jesus.

It is time for Jesus,
not man,
to be high and lifted up
and He will draw
all men unto Himself.

So now go and read 2 Timothy with new, fresh eyes and let’s stand and make a change back to the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  We no longer want the old leaven of the law, nor the feast of malice or wickedness (the world).  What we want is the New covenant, unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.  Truth that Jesus took all your sins, it is finished, you are whole (even if you don’t look it or act like it, remember glory to glory) and you are obedient right where you are at.  A good friend said something so profound and I want to share it here.  She said, “I gave 100% of what I had at that time.”  This is how I see believers going from glory to glory now.  I can’t yet give what I don’t understand I have just yet.  But I am fully reliant on the Giver and the Giver knows my heart.

New Wine

The Fight

This past weekend I watched the McGregor/Mayweather fight.  I watched as round after round went by thinking about the endurance each athlete had to have to continue fighting.  I thanked God for the endurance He has supplied me with to fight the good fight of FAITH.  Because life is so much like the boxing ring and I am thankful that Jesus has won the war for me.

I had posted a great pic a few weeks ago of what I am going to write about in this blog post.  You can look at it here: Coming soon…Why the race is about faith and not behavior….#Hebrews11 #Hebrews12 . Let’s get to it.

Hebrews is beautifully written to well…..Hebrews….but there is much for us in the church in present times to look at here.  I went through the history of this book in Did You Really Just Say That?!?!.  So please go back and read this post if you haven’t yet. Hebrews 11 is the faith chapter and there are a couple of things I want to make clear with this chapter.  This faith chapter includes people like Rahab, King David, and Samuel.  It also includes what the Jewish people suffered holding on to their faith (trust, belief) in Who God is.  Please note King David was during the law but his faith made him righteous and Rahab’s faith made her righteous enough to be in the lineage of Jesus and she was a prostitute.  At the “end” of this chapter it states:

And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.(Hebrews 11:39-40 NASB)

Apart from us they would not be made perfect…..because something was provided by God that was better for us. This is describing what Jesus had done in their lifetime and ours. As the letter moves into Chapter 12 of Hebrews, we get into some pretty important wording that we all need to carefully look at.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin (noun) which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before usfixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners (adjective-describes a noun) against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NASB)

  • sin (noun)= hamartia 266 = (ha) not and (3313 meros) a part or share of; no share (“no part of”) loss (forfeiture) because not hitting the mark.  Every action or decision done apart from faith.

I have written about sin before in the New Testament in the blog Horizontal and Vertical (Part 4).  I have questioned: How could Jesus say, “Go and sin no more.” When He said to go and “sin” (verb) no more it was so much more than their behavior, as we might think of it.  We need to remember that Jesus is the “mark” we do not want to miss in the New Covenant.  Jesus came onto the scene here on earth proclaiming, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”  And He was truly desiring for people to look at things or see things as God sees them.  Jesus also clearly noted that their faith healed them not their behavior.  The definition of hamarte (noun) also describes every action/decision done apart from faith; this is a heart condition which then can convert into a mind decision.  I make a decision or choice of faith in God in the very beginning (faith as small as a mustard seed).  In this faith (trust/belief) I also believe that all my sins (transgressions=hatah, iniquity=avon, and sin=peshah) have fully been cleared by Jesus’ payment on the Cross.  When we see the word sin in the New Testament we think behavior instead of looking deeper and actually understanding the Hebrew word Peshah.  Peshah means to make a counter covenant and to clearly, of your own free will, choose to identify with the principles of evil.  When you see it this way it is in direct opposition to God and all that His Son has done for you.  This is fully making a decision or action apart from faith.  This word contains the idea that this is their own free will choice, self empowered choice to forfeit or have no part of or share of…..God’s desire to have a relationship with them which Jesus provided a free and clear way through the Cross for the whole world. This is truly “missing the mark”, Jesus.  This is what equates to wickedness or sin isn’t the Greek word hamartia.

  • encumbrance (noun)= ogkos 3591 = weight, burden, encumbrance–this is the only occurrence of this word in the NT yet this notes both Matthew 23:4: “They tie up heavy burdens (unable to move, pressing down on a person with oppressive force) and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.”  And Matthew 11:30 “For My yoke is [a]easy and My burden is light.”  Again both of these scriptures Jesus is talking about the Pharisees and how the Religious mindset lays a heavy burden on people whereas His is light.  Does anyone feel light?  I do….thank you Jesus.  Do you want to feel light?  Keep reading…
  • entangles (adjective) = euperístatos 2139 = from 2095/eú, “well”; 4012/perí, “all-around”; and 2476/hístēmi, “stand”) – properly, well-planted all-around, describing what is encompassing (encircling), i.e. surrounding, “wholly around”; (figuratively) a serious hindrance that “encircles” (hampers) someone who desperately needs to advance.
  • endurance (noun) = hypomonḗ 5281 = (from 5259/hypó, “under” and 3306/ménō, “remain, endure”) – properly, remaining under, endurance; steadfastness, especially as God enables the believer to “remain (endure) under” the challenges in life.

Yes, think about him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you won’t grow tired or become despondent. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in the contest against sin. Also you have forgotten the counsel which speaks with you as sons: “My son, don’t despise the discipline of Adonai or become despondent when he corrects you. For Adonai disciplines those he loves and whips everyone he accepts as a son.”  Regard your endurance as discipline; God is dealing with you as sons. For what son goes undisciplined by his father?  All legitimate sons undergo discipline; so if you don’t, you’re a mamzer and not a son! Hebrews 12:4-6

I don’t know if this scripture has scared anyone else, but it has me.  This verse always makes me envision an angry God up in heaven waiting to dole out some pretty hefty spankings when I don’t line up and follow all the rules.  How about you??  Let’s look at the beauty of these words in the Greek to have an accurate picture of Who God is and what the unknown author was really saying.

  • resist (verb)= antikathistémi 478 = to set down against, i.e. to replace, oppose; I resist, supersede, replace, oppose.
  • contest (verb) = antagonizomai 464 = (1 occurrence in the NT found here) resist, strive against, contend, antagonize.  The definition of antagonize according to Merriam-Webster dictionary is as follows: 1) to incur or provoke the hostility of His criticism antagonized his friends. 2) to act in opposition to : counteract

The word counteract bears more looking at.  Counteract means to act in opposition to.  We have not acted in opposition to sin to the point of shedding blood against sin.  Yet, Jesus has.  Jesus has resisted, opposed and superseded sin to the point of shedding blood.  The word sin here is a noun not a verb.  It is describing a person, place or thing.  When Jesus is explaining to go and sin no more it is a verb which is an action.  We need to be watchful of the use of the words.  When I have read scripture in the past I would see the word sin and automatically think verb which means action.  Where here it is a noun.  The use of the word in the sentence changes what it is defining.  As I stated above the word hamartano is described as this in biblehub: Every decision (action) done apart from faith (4102 /pístis) is sin.  Every action done apart from FAITH is sin.  Yet this word is a noun, person, place or thing.  This is how I felt the Lord was describing it to me.  The sickness mumps is a noun, it is a thing.  Yet that sickness develops actions like swelling of the neck and fever still things yet your actions come out of those things.  Like sleep, sweating, drinking liquids.  I hope this is making sense.  So Jesus sat and opposed or counteracted sin the noun so that we would not have the actions of sin the verb.  Here is how I see it in my mind:

FAITH (trust/belief God) VS SIN (counter covenant)

Jesus counteracted sin.  Here is a good example:  The doctor gave you medicine to counteract the effects of the sickness.  So: Jesus made sin ineffective in the lives who by faith walk through the door He opened. That is the pill.  We simply keep our eyes on the author and finisher of our faith.  He restrained, neutralized the ill effects of sin (noun) because He is the direct opposite or in opposition to sin.  Jesus counteracted sin for all of humanity as we have faith in Who He is and what He did for us.  So, the question always comes down to this…why do I sin….are you talking transgression, iniquity or actual sin according to the Hebrew.  See, Jesus says He paid for all of that on the Cross.  There are iniquities that are weaknesses to fall under temptation….yet what did Jesus do…He said it is finished, So it is finished. The payment has been made for the whole world but those that have access to it simply trust God for what His Son did for the world.  The enemy would like us to think that our salvation is dependent on our behavior when it is actually our faith that brings us into covenant with God, not our behavior.  What do I do when I have transgressed?  If you haven’t already please read: Horizontal and Vertical (Part 4); which will answer that question for you.  The realization that my relationship with My Father in Heaven is not based on my behavior but completely by His behavior brought freedom and a light load.  It is really that simple.

As I realized how Jesus counteracted sin,  He then asked me, “Why do people want to be sin foucused instead of Me focused?”

I believe the answer to this question is: as humans, since Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, have tried to attain our own righteousness, holiness and right behavior.  The law though has only proven we can not attain this.  Yet, still as Christians, we try to somehow attain holiness and righteousness by our own deeds still instead of realizing Jesus counteracted sin, He paid the price and for that I am eternally grateful.  We do have a new nature He paid to give us and we do act in that more and more as we focus on Him not our behaior.  Don’t put the Cart Before the Horse?  So we instead of becoming sin focused (a choice outside of faith) let us remain Jesus focused by believing and trusting that He has begun a good work and will remain faithful to finish it. (Philippians 1:6)  Because God promised to write the law upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33 and Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16) and be our God.  This is us in the New Covenant.  We believe, have faith, this is what God has done in us and realize God is finishing this work within us and believe He has created a new nature within us, that the old nature is dead with Christ and we have risen new with Christ.

In the Kingdom of Heaven trusting (faith) = righteousness, holiness, benefits of sonship/daughtership and so much more

Regard your endurance as discipline.  This means your endurance (see definition IMG_1646above) is discipline.  Discipline means to reach full maturity.  Remember that your seed of faith is given by God and is as small as a mustard seed but when fully grown becomes a large tree.  Strong, that can withstand a storm.  One of the notes on biblehub states that God uses things that happen in our life to mature us.  God’s discipleship is to mature us through life’s experiences.  Life happens and we either mature or we stay stagnant.  Choosing to mature grows our faith.  And just to make sure you understand: if we choose not to mature at that time GOD IS NOT MAD AT YOU!!!  And there will be plenty of more “LIFE HAPPENS” to mature.  We no longer live under the law; so please do not think that God is waiting to punish you as if you had to hold up your part of the bargain; because remember His Son, Jesus, has paid the full price for you.

“For they disciplined us only for a short time and only as best they could; but he disciplines us in a way that provides genuine benefit to us and enables us to share in his holiness.” (Heb)‬ ‭12:10‬ ‭CJB‬‬

We receive genuine benefit and share in His holiness as we hang on to our faith, let go of the law (heavy burden) and the sin (separate of faith).  Faith is the key to the Kingdom of Heaven.  Faith in the One who resisted to the shedding of blood, the One Who bled so we can partake in His righteousness and holiness.  This “fight” is the fight to remain trusting and believing in Who God said He is as we walk through this timeline of our life.  This is what every person listed in Hebrews 11 did and they endured horrible hardships.  This is what every believer had done in the time this letter had been written.  They endured terrible deaths.  Yet they were not told to make sure they didn’t do x,y,z but were told to not claim a counter covenant and keep the covenant Jesus paid such a dear price for.  As we look at the end of chapter 12 the author says:  let us have grace through which we worship and are accepted by God.  Grace…let us have grace this is how we worship and are acceptable to God.  So that means accept Jesus’ free gift of grace, fully redeemed, fully loved, fully holy, fully accepted, fully clean, fully righteous because of what Jesus did…not because of what you did or didn’t do….Just believe, trust; which simply means FAITH.  So know you should feel lighter as you have let go of the law and grabbed hold by faith…grace given by Jesus.

A Humble Heart Remains….

As I was talking to my husband about this upcoming post, he gave such a great analogy regarding this particular subject.  He said when he is aiming at a target downrange if you are just a little off it will impact your ability to hit the target.  It may not seem like you are off that much yet as the bullet travels away from the gun the trajectory which started just a little off will make a big difference downrange.  How far off have you been or are you now about your view of God?  How far off are your core values to His?  It again points to the starting point which is how you view God that allows a direct hit of a target downrange.

For so long I held on to a belief system that I had to prove myself worthy of God’s love.  I didn’t realize that I said one thing-“God loves me!” while at the same time deep within myself believing I had to do everything right to keep His love.  This is a wrong core value or starting point.  This way of thinking sent me hitting targets like: I am not good enough, I will never be good enough, I hate myself because I can’t get it right, God hates me, the whole world hates me because if God hates me then how in the world could I love myself much less anyone else.  I just NEVER could perform in excellence like….well…..Jesus did.  I was told I must emulate Jesus in every way and I found myself lacking…day after day.  Now WHAT!?!?!!!  I didn’t give up on God….but I believe we see a generation that quite frankly….IS.  Why are they?  I believe because they are starting at the wrong starting point with their view of God.

In my last post, It Truly Can’t Get Any Better, I promised to write about the “law of liberty” found in James.  It is important we have the correct view of God to fully understand this concept “law of liberty”. Many in the church see this “law” as “right behavior”–“Do this, but don’t do that!”.  Yet, early Christians understood this to mean something completely different…..or maybe they just started at the right starting point. Let’s dig into the words here (info comes from biblehub.com):

Law-Nomos (3551)-This word must be taken in context to understand what law is being talked about….I can hear my English teacher: context, context, context!!!  The law regarding the Christian faith is used only 4 times in scripture: Roman 3:27 Law of faith; Galatians 6:2 Law of love; and James 1:25 and James 2:12 Law of “liberty”.

Liberty-Eluthria (1657)-“Freedom, liberty, a state of freedom from slavery”. Freedom from the dominion of corrupt desires, so that we do by FREE IMPULSE of the SOUL what the will of God requires.  There is a note in biblehub.com it states see Epistle of Barnabas 2,6. Which led me to the Epistle…which in turn led me to the scripture in Psalms 51:

 

 

 

As I meditated on this scripture and the meaning of the “Law of Liberty”, I distinctly heard the Lord say to me:

“A Humble Heart is required when you become a Christian to even accept such a free gift; it continues to take a Humble Heart to run the race and realize it is not about you—your behavior or your “goodness” but about Me, My behavior and Goodness.”

That was so good to hear and yet I knew there was more He wanted to articulate to me.  And of course it came….I needed to understand the word HUMILITY.

Now let’s look at HUMILITY in the Greek:

Tapeinophrosune-5012-humility-

(a noun, derived from 5011 /tapeinós, “low, humble” and 5424 /phrḗn, “moderation as regulated by inner perspective”) – properly, low; humility, “lowliness” of human pride (self-government); that quality of mindset of “having a humble opinion of oneself, i.e. a deep sense of one’s (moral) littleness – i.e. lowliness of mind” (J. Thayer). In Scripture, 5012 /tapeinophrosýnē (“lowliness, humility”) is an inside-out virtue. produced by comparing ourselves to the Lord (rather than to others)… For the believer, 5012 /tapeinophrosýnē (“humility”) means living in complete dependence on the Lord, i.e. with no reliance on self (the flesh). The word occurs neither in the O. T., nor in secular authors.

I have written a little about this in, It’s an Inside Job.  When we compare ourselves to Christ we will always fall short. In this, we realize we need a Savior and must always rely on His Finished Work and the Holy Spirit working inside us; not our own ability (self/flesh) that produces any “right behavior”. This is humility, as a Christian: realizing it isn’t your ability that is creating any right behavior but His Spirit in you changing you from the inside out. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) Free from the carnal desires of the old corrupt self. Simply live from that truth. Remember the word “liberty” in Greek means our soul, because of what Jesus accomplished on the Cross for us and He sent us His Holy Spirit to dwell within us, will by FREE IMPULSE do what the will of God is and we are free, no longer slaves, to our old corrupt desires.  This is the truth, the fact that we live from.  This is what James is telling people.  He says, “Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free.” (James 2:12) We, in truth or in fact, live from the place of freedom from our old nature.  It is dead and we now live as a new creation, alive with the Holy Spirit within us.  Are we perfect, NO of course not—Jesus was and is the ONLY PERFECT SACRIFICE.

For me to hit the bulls eye downrange I needed to start at the right point.  The starting point is simple: God loves me no matter what before I was a Christian and after I accept His free gift.  This is Grace.  I used to believe God loved me before I was a Christian but now that I am a Christian I have to earn His love, favor and protection.  See this slight difference makes a HUGE difference downrange.  This wrong starting point puts me back under a law that I was never intended to be able to perform.

I also came to better understand that I have complete dependence on God.  Yet even that understanding had to come from the right starting point.  I finally realized I can not make myself behave or do right…..but He changes my thinking, my actions and He does this from the inside and it naturally becomes outward actions.  Do I always get it right…..no!  But does He still love me and has He already paid the price for my mistakes….YES!!  Do I spend hours with Him….of course I do….HE LIVES IN ME!  He is there 24/7 in ME!!!!!!  Do I make it a religious thing….certainly not…He told me to let go of the rules.  He wanted me….all of me…flaws and beauty…the whole package.  He didn’t want a robot or someone ultra religious, trying to look holy or make myself holy….He knew it was just an act…just me relying on my flesh to make myself holy.  But now I understand He truly makes me holy 100%…not because I have done everything right or performed A, B and C…..and don’t forget about D….heaven forbid I forget D…I say this in jest, but honestly that is how I used to live.  No more…I live from a place of freedom.  No longer a slave but a daughter of the Most High King.  Holy because He is holy, Righteous because He is righteous, Fully forgiven because Jesus paid for all my sins and Saved because He rose from the dead.  Simple faith that grows inside which is a free gift from God that I receive.  According to Psalm 51:16-17, He does not want us going through the motions or IMG_1502a flawless performance….yet He does desire broken pride and a shattered heart.  Humility is the opposite of pride.  It took humility to realize I needed saving and righteousness in the first place.  It takes humility to realize Jesus is the only One Who paid the price to give to the world salvation and righteousness. Humility must remain after we accept the free gift because that is the place we live from knowing that it isn’t us that changes our inward parts but God through His Spirit in us……that is GRACE.

It Truly Can’t Get Any Better

Such an important truth revealed, just in time for Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday…..Enjoy

Have you ever been afraid of what Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone that says to Me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven.”,  I sure have!!!!  We will get to that soon but first we must clarify some things……

What is the law for?  I have been taught many different things i.e. : It is there to keep us safe.  It is there so we know how to “act” as Christians.  It is there to point out how Holy God is and how unholy we are.  It is there to give us a framework for our behavior.  It is what we have to do to secure our salvation….what a minute…..WHAT?!?!  This in so many ways is what is taught to the church (ekklésia the body of Christ).  Behavior is what keeps you going to heaven.  Here are some examples, DO NOT: lie, cheat, talk bad about people, listen to certain music, read certain books, be around certain people (because they are doing “wrong things”), don’t drink wine or any alcohol, don’t gamble, don’t dance, don’t wear pants….I mean the list could go on.  The Law in the Old Testament was given to Moses, not Abraham.  Abraham believed God and that is where he received his righteousness, a gift from God.  The Mesopotamian’s had their own law known as the Code of Hammurabi which predates the Law given to Moses by around 300 years or more.  The Code of Hammurabi has many similarities to the Law given at Mt. Sinai.  Why?

Paul also talks about the law in Romans 2 and here from a biblical scholar we have a huge answer about the law. Let’s read from the Message version:

“If you go against the grain, you get splinters, regardless of which neighborhood you’re from, what your parents taught you, what schools you attended. But if you embrace the way God does things, there are wonderful payoffs, again without regard to where you are from or how you were brought up. Being a Jew won’t give you an automatic stamp of approval. God pays no attention to what others say (or what you think) about you. He makes up his own mind.

If you sin without knowing what you’re doing, God takes that into account. But if you sin knowing full well what you’re doing, that’s a different story entirely. Merely hearing God’s law is a waste of your time if you don’t do what he commands. Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God.

When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong. Their response to God’s yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision about every man and woman. The Message from God that I proclaim through Jesus Christ takes into account all these differences.” Romans‬ ‭2:9-16‬ ‭MSG‬‬

And to save on space….(so I encourage you to go and read all of Romans)…..Here is a little more:

“Circumcision, the surgical ritual that marks you as a Jew, is great if you live in accord with God’s law. But if you don’t, it’s worse than not being circumcised. The reverse is also true: The uncircumcised who keep God’s ways are as good as the circumcised—in fact, better. Better to keep God’s law uncircumcised than break it circumcised. Don’t you see: It’s not the cut of a knife that makes a Jew. You become a Jew by who you are. It’s the mark of God on your heart, not of a knife on your skin, that makes a Jew. And recognition comes from God, not legalistic critics.” ‭ ‭Romans 2:25-29‬ ‭

And:

“So where does that put us? Do we Jews get a better break than the others? Not really. Basically, all of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners. Scripture leaves no doubt about it: There’s nobody living right, not even one, nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God. They’ve all taken the wrong turn; they’ve all wandered down blind alleys. No one’s living right; I can’t find a single one. Their throats are gaping graves, their tongues slick as mudslides. Every word they speak is tinged with poison. They open their mouths and pollute the air. They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year, litter the land with heartbreak and ruin, Don’t know the first thing about living with others. They never give God the time of day. This makes it clear, doesn’t it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else? Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:9-20‬ ‭MSG‬‬

It sounds like there were Jews judging non-Jews saying that they are all fine and good because they were given the Law and are circumcised; not realizing that they also need a propitiation for themselves just as much as the non-Jew.  But why?  They followed the law and yet still sinned.  Remember the rich man who followed the law complicity until he was asked to give all he had to the poor and follow Jesus.  He couldn’t do it.  We all have our places where we fail to follow the law. Paul was making it very clear the law nor their personal behavior could ever make them righteous; because there would always be an area of failure in every single person’s life no matter if they are Jewish or not. Circumcised or not. Taught the commandments or not.  We all fall short of the glory of God. The law is put in our conscience from the beginning of conception.  It is written in the fabric of our being because of Adam and Eve.  When they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil it was implanted in them and as we are born from the seed of Adam we also have the understanding of good and evil in each of us. The Law comes from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Pure and simple.  Otherwise how could Hammurabi come up with some of the same laws 300+ years before Moses wrote them down for the Israelites?

Paul makes it clear that we all have a conscience that has been written on what is right and what is wrong.  That is why you would see the uncircumcised following the law without ever hearing of the law. The Law just makes known that we know what is right and wrong and we, in and of our own selves, can NEVER do what is right and avoid what is wrong 100% of the time.  Nor has God EVER BELIEVED we COULD!!!!  That is why He had to set things right.  Here is the scripture:

But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. Romans 3:21-24

Okay, the question I have today to some of the church leadership around the world is the same question Paul asked the Galatians in chapter 3 of his letter to them:

You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.

Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!

Selah (Hebrew for lift up,exalt or pause) Please pause and think about the above statement Paul made.

The Galatians, like many Christians today, were trying to perfect what God had already IMG_2795done.  They were “working their heads off to please God?”  Remember the list above I had made of the do’s and don’ts?  Those things are common sense things.  Some are just rules that are said to “keep us safe”.  But, in the end all of these “things” will not cause God to be pleased or not pleased with us.  What we need to understand is that God was pleased to give His only Son on our behalf, to set things right for us.  He pleased Himself with what He did for us.  The Galatians were so caught up with themselves and pleasing God with their behavior they forgot what Jesus said to the crowd at the sermon on the Mount:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23 NASB

I don’t know about you, but for me this verse has scared the daylights out of me.  I was so scared that I would do something wrong and then when I am ready to enter the kingdom of heaven Jesus would look at me and say, “I knew you not, depart from Me.”.  I believed this was based on behavior.  I could think of the lawless deeds I have done since becoming a Christian and what if I missed one that I didn’t say sorry for….WHAT THEN!?!?!?!???!!!!  I AM DOOMED!!!! AND MIGHT AS WELL STOP TRYING…..because I could never fully live up to the law.  Until, I understood I am righteous in CHRIST JESUS and I will never negate what He FULLY FINISHED at the Cross for me.  And this Scripture above proves that.  Let’s look at the Greek meanings from the above scripture in Matthew:

  • will=theléma= properly, a desire (wish), often referring to God’s “preferred-will”, i.e.: His “best offer” to people which can be accepted or rejected.
  • do=poieó=With nouns which denote to carry out, to execute; as, in Classical Greek to make a law of legislators; but in Biblical Greek to do the law to meet its demands-the things which the law commands.
  • lawlessness=anomia=NOT law; properly without law i.e. : (“lawlessness”) includes the end-impact of law breaking– i.e. its negative influence on a person’s soul (status before God).

First, what is His BEST OFFER?  Of course that is Jesus, Who He is and what He has done for the whole world.  That is God’s “best offer”….remember Paul said the crucified Jesus is where God set things right for us.

Second, do the things the law commands.  What are the commands of the New Covenant? According to 1 John 3:23, it is: This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another*, just as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” (*loving one another is the Law of Liberty talked about in James chapter 2, which I will discuss in another blog.)

Third, lawlessness here in scripture is pointing to a person’s soul and it’s status before God.  When we confess with our mouth Jesus is Lord and trust in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be delivered, made righteous in Him and be justified before God. (Romans 10:9-10, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 5:1 and many others).  This means your soul’s status is clear before God because of what Jesus did for us (propitiation).

It is time for the true Message to go forth once again.  Full circle to what was originally taught by the apostles.  The Message of exactly what Jesus Christ did on the Cross and in His Resurrection.  ALL of what He accomplished at the Cross when He said, “It is Finished!”  For our faith to be in Him not in our behavior.  It is time for the church to let go of teaching behavior and simply teach JESUS. It is simple trust that sets you right with God not your behavior. Keep the faith in what He did for you which FULLY assures your soul that it’s status before God is pure…not because of what you did but ONLY because of what He did for you.

It is all about: Knowing Whose you are and who you are.

God’s Big Plan

Two core values, the place where I live from, are 1) God is good– no matter my circumstances and 2) Nothing can ever separate me from the love of God.  I have not somehow produced this as my value, I simply don’t state that I have this value it has been given by God.  Because this is a place I live from it becomes my starting point as I walk through life with Him in me.  I believe as I have walked through life and tough circumstances have happened to me, family, friends these beliefs were formed in me by His hand…simply beautiful but also at times painful.  Maybe this might be better explained by Molinos, a writer in the 1600’s. His books were burned all over Europe and if you were found with one of his books it meant automatic excommunication from the Church. His fate was to be put on trial, sealed up in a dungeon so his face could never to be seen again. It is told that while he was in the dungeon he repented and on that day the Pope declared a holiday and people partied in the streets celebrating his supposed repentance.  He never left the dungeon though and died in 1696. Here is what he wrote about humility:

“True humility is an inward thing..It is an understanding so vast that no tongue can express it.  From this revelation proceeds a glimpse of the grace of God….a grace which takes pleasure in encompassing that person with the pure goodness of God.” Pg  43

As you read this keep in mind two of my core beliefs.  I wrote on Facebook a few days ago as I shared a memory from two years ago: We do skip death…I will be posting a blog on this soon….this was the biggest hope for Israel and it became true with Jesus…It is our perspective that needs to shift into our Father’s big plan and what salvation means. ❤ There is much hope!!  Here is the memory I shared:

Today I am chewing on GOD LOVES ME NO MATTER WHAT. Look: Enoch by an act of faith skipped death, he pleased God. Paul goes on to say it is impossible to please God without faith. And then further, WHY? (Hebrews 11:5-6 MSG) Simply put, ALL you do is believe God is real and true (Jesus is my Lord and Savior) and KNOW that He LOVES YOU-unconditionally. Period. That is all. The love part is challenging because our filters, that we have been taught, of how we see God. Keep chewing on God loves me no matter what. This brings such great pleasure to our Father in heaven. 💜

When I had re-read this memory and some of the comments immediately the Lord told me you do skip death.  And I was like, “Huh???!!!”  That is when He said Darlene go look up the word “death” associated with this passage in Hebrews…..so I did.  Here is what it means directly from biblehub.com:

2288 thánatos (derived from 2348 /thnḗskō, “to die”) – physical or spiritual death; (figuratively) separation from the life (salvation) of God forever by dying without first experiencing death to self to receive His gift of salvation.

Again a commonality to the word salvation from my earlier post It’s an Inside Job, separation from the life (salvation) and receiving His gift of salvation.  Again let’s look at the definition of salvation from the same source:

Cognate: 4991 sōtēría (from 4982 /sṓzō, “to save, rescue”) – salvation, i.e. God’s rescue which delivers believers out of destruction and into His safety. See 4982 (sōzō).

4982 sṓzō (from sōs, “safe, rescued”) – properly, deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety). [4982 (sṓzō) is the root of: 4990 /sōtḗr (“Savior”), 4991 /sōtēría (“salvation”) and the adjectival form, 4992 /sōtḗrion (what is “saved/rescued from destruction and brought into divine safety”).]

Please note the root of sózō is sōs….SOS. The well-known code to ask for rescue.  Amazing!! Anyhow, how does God’s big plan, SOS and death all come together?  Let me first start with what I believed salvation to be before.  For me it meant I was saved and not going to hell.  I believed in Jesus and that meant I was saved from eternal damnation.  As I grew in my Christian faith I heard arguments of whether or not you could “lose your salvation or not”.  Yet still what does this encompass and what did the early believers have or understand that we at times seem to be missing.  Here is one example the Lord keeps pressing me with:

Maybe this is only me but I know of others who have viewed it the same way.  Have you ever looked at your life or others lives and because of their circumstances thought oh they aren’t blessed or I am not as blessed as them because of this situation in my life i.e.: sickness, children, lack of children or something you would think as negatory??  I know I have.  I have thought in the past okay my life is going well I am in favor with God…and when it isn’t going well…oh I must not be in favor with God.  This is incorrect when we are no longer under the law and under grace.  This actual thinking allows the enemy to have you running in circles many times chasing something down that no longer has an impact in your life.  This is wrong thinking because if we believe this way we are actually saying to all those Christians who were put to death at the Colosseum we would have to say they are less blessed than those who were not.  We would even have to go so far to say Peter was less blessed than John since he ended being martyred and John on the other hand survived so many ways of trying to kill him. (John 21:18-23)

I know this is a tough subject but I wanted to share what I feel the Lord has been showing me in Romans 8-10 regarding this subject.  See when we think this way we are saying to the potter: we, being mere clay, why did you make me this way?  Instead we must look at His larger picture, His larger plan and know that His will is perfect. He keeps telling me Darlene you just play your small bit part in connection with Me.  Does this mean my life is perfect, No certainly not!  We still live in a world that is moaning for its redemption or the return of the King of kings!!  Does this mean I do not believe in healing, No certainly not!  Or other miracles, no certainly not.  But ultimately my faith does not lie in those things it lies in Jesus.  Because of faith Enoch skipped death and Abraham was made righteous and now because Jesus died we haveimg_1340 approval from God, the righteous One and because Jesus rose from the dead we have been freed from the power and  penalty of sin and removed from destruction into God’s safety/provision. We have life eternal.  The early Christians, I believe, looked past their present circumstances and didn’t judge their worthiness to God by what they faced; but by Who they believed in.  I desire the church, the believers of today to do the same.  To note their worthiness in what God did for them not in their present circumstances.

What we need to understand is that speaking our faith, trust belief in Who Jesus is and in our hearts have faith trust and believe that Jesus rose from the dead…it speaks of Who He is the first fruits.  That we skip death, the real death–the separation from life (salvation-God’s promises and provisions). Yes our bodies will die the first death yet it is like opening a door to pass through it.

Above and beyond everything, I believe, God’s interest lies in the desire for all to know Him.  He will go to extreme measures for His one lost sheep.  Didn’t He for you?  He certainly did for me.  And as people, Christians we play our part in this tapestry called God’s plan and somehow it isn’t always comfortable.  Yet, through that discomfort comes great and good things if we set our eyes on that.  This isn’t easy, yet I believe this is a place God wants us to have balance in.  Let’s look at this in scripture.

“Now what if God, even though he was quite willing to demonstrate his anger and make known his power, patiently put up with people who deserved punishment and were ripe for destruction? What if he did this in order to make known the riches of his glory to those who are the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory — that is, to us, whom he called not only from among the Jews but also from among the Gentiles?” ‭Romans (Rom)‬ ‭9:22-24‬ ‭CJB‬‬

The whole plan with Pharoah up until the time of Jesus had been a plan for God to show his glory to us, those living during Jesus’ time till now.  All the people, all the things that happened were ultimately to show His Glory.  Jesus spoke to this in John 21. See Peter was told exactly how he would die and approximately when and why he would die that particular death.  Peter was told it was for His Glory. I don’t know if I could know this, could you?  Yet, it was obviously with purpose. Peter though asked about John and this is what Jesus said:

“If I want him to stay on until I come, what is it to you? You, follow me!”” John 21:22

In the midst of my circumstances, friends circumstances and my life…I simply follow Him knowing I have my bit part to play to bring Him Glory in the way He desires me to.  He is the potter and I am mere clay.  I know He has the best for me and for others, no matter what their current circumstances are and that He loves, loves, loves us.  Pharoah made a choice because God hardened his heart so that the whole world will know His Name.  Yet I know Pharoah got a choice whether or not to follow Jesus.  See my faith has healed me.  My faith in Jesus has healed me, given me peace (shalom), taken all my sin, given me power over sin, given me eternal life, put me into God’s safety and given me God’s provision.  This is the place I live from while also understanding my life will not always look the way I think it should; but God will bring goodness out of it. All I have to do is look at the many who walked before me….the Christians martyred. It is with great purpose we individually live and with great purpose each individual impacts history and the tapestry of God’s larger plan. I am assured we have exactly what we need in the time we need it to bring God glory and to let those around us know the riches of His glory.

It’s an Inside Job

Romans is one of my favorite books in the New Testament. Chapters nine and ten, in Romans, hold a few deep secrets that have been overlooked and/or cast aside for far too long. This season, is the season that God wants to reveal Himself for the truth that is found in the New Covenant and how He has never changed.  He wants us to look at the grand plan He has for this world, the people in this world that He loves so much.  He loves His creation, the people who are created in His image, so much that He sent His only Son to die on the Cross to offer ALL a free gift of righteousness and salvation.  You do nothing more than confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe, trust, have faith in your heart  (the seat of your soul and spirit) the fact that Jesus rose from the dead you then receive righteousness and salvation freely. (Romans 10:9-10).  This is the word of trust the apostles proclaimed according to Paul.

So what does righteousness mean?  Here is the biblehub.com definition:

1343 /dikaiosýnē (“divine approval”) is the regular NT term used for righteousness (“God’s judicial approval”). 1343 /dikaiosýnē (“the approval of God”) refers to what is deemed right by the Lord (after His examination), i.e. what is approved in His eyes.

What does salvation mean? Here is the biblehub.com definition:

Cognate: 4991 sōtēría (from 4982 /sṓzō, “to save, rescue”) – salvation, i.e. God’s rescue which delivers believers out of destruction and into His safety. See 4982 (sōzō).

4982 sṓzō (from sōs, “safe, rescued”) – properly, deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety). [4982 (sṓzō) is the root of: 4990 /sōtḗr (“Savior”), 4991 /sōtēría (“salvation”) and the adjectival form, 4992 /sōtḗrion (what is “saved/rescued from destruction and brought into divine safety”).]

Though before Paul talked about what we freely receive by trust he had to talk about what this really meant to the Roman Jews and Gentiles that would be listening.  Paul through the Holy Spirit articulated the bare truth of the word of trust and what it really meant to both Jew and Gentile.  So many times now I see the Christian church acting as though we still must fulfill the law to be considered holy, justified and in img_1335right standing with God.  Of course many Christians, me once being one of them, say they believe Jesus accomplished a great work on the Cross and He is Lord of Lords and yet our entire salvation and righteousness still hangs in the balance or is dependent upon my behavior whether it is good=I then am in right standing with God or bad=God has turned away from me and I must somehow make things right between God and I again.  Many Christians today believe this and it is flat-out incorrect beliefs.  Now it isn’t just me saying this is wrong and certainly not the truth but it is Paul who stated it way before me. These many Christians, again I was one who used to believe this way too, remind me of the Jews that Paul talks about in chapters 9 and 10 of Romans.  Here let’s take a look at what Paul says:

“So, what are we to say? This: that Gentiles, even though they were not striving for righteousness, have obtained righteousness; but it is a righteousness grounded in trusting! However, Isra’el, even though they kept pursuing a Torah that offers righteousness, did not reach what the Torah offers. Why? Because they did not pursue righteousness as being grounded in trusting but as if it were grounded in doing legalistic works. They stumbled over the stone that makes people stumble. As the Tanakh puts it, “Look, I am laying in Tziyon a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will trip them up. But he who rests his trust on it will not be humiliated.”” ‭‭Romans (Rom)‬ ‭9:30-33‬ ‭CJB‬‬

“Brothers, my heart’s deepest desire and my prayer to God for Isra’el is for their salvation; for I can testify to their zeal for God. But it is not based on correct understanding; for, since they are unaware of God’s way of making people righteous and instead seek to set up their own, they have not submitted themselves to God’s way of making people righteous. For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts. Romans (Rom)‬ 10:1-4 ‭CJB‬‬

Paul is very clear: it is simply wrong thinking to believe we must pursue legalistic acts by following the Torah (Law of God according to Moses) to be able to be in right standing with God (otherwise known as righteous or holiness) or to have His salvation.  This thinking is not based on correct understanding.  They are actually desiring to seek their own righteousness and salvation and have not submitted themselves to God’s way of making people righteous.

Paul talks earlier in chapter nine about the promises given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He talks about how the seed of Israel is in Issac.  Paul explains how the promise was given and those that believed in the promise were the seed of Israel. Here it is in scripture:

“For not everyone from Isra’el is truly part of Isra’el; indeed, not all the descendants are seed of Avraham; rather, “What is to be called your ‘seed’ will be in Yitz’chak.” In other words, it is not the physical children who are children of God, but the children the promise refers to who are considered seed.”
‭‭Romans (Rom)‬ ‭9:6-8‬ ‭CJB‬‬

There is a little word “in” or in the Greek “en”. This word is so important even though it is so small.  Let’s look at what it means from the Greek:

1722 en (a preposition) – properly, in (inside, within); (figuratively) “in the realm (sphere) of,” as in the condition (state) in which something operates from the inside (within).

Not every descendant of Abraham are seeds of Abraham; only those that are in Issac.  That believed, trusted in the promise God had given at that time to Abraham.  See Abraham, Isaac and Jacob believed God and to them was accounted righteousness and safety. Not dependent upon how good they acted but simply because they believed the promise.  It was an inside job.  Just like it is an inside job for us now living in the Glory of the New Covenant.  The season of grace.

“What if he did this in order to make known the riches of his glory to those who are the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory — that is, to us, whom he called not only from among the Jews but also from among the Gentiles?” ‭‭Romans (Rom)‬ ‭9:23-24‬ ‭CJB‬‬

We are fortunate to live during such a time as this as we can freely receive righteousness-we are deemed right by the Lord after His examination, completely clean, completely holy, able to stand before our Father in heaven at all times because of Jesus Christ.  And we freely receive salvation-we have been properly, delivered out of danger and into safety; God has rescued us from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety).

Next blog post, I will continue with God’s Bigger Picture and how God’s safety really looks like.

Enter Into His Rest

If at anytime you are reading scripture from the starting point, ” If I will….then God will….”then you are starting from the viewpoint of the Old Covenant and trying to fulfill the law.  I used to do this all the time, but not any more, thank God.  When Jesus came, He died on the Cross and He rose again, this changed history and created a New Covenant free gift offered to all people.  This covenant is similar to what He did for Abraham, but a million times better, in that it is a covenant of faith where God did and Abraham received because Abraham simply believed in Who God is and this belief was accounted to him as RIGHTEOUSNESS.  Today, in the New Covenant, we, as believers, are under GRACE not law. So, when we read scripture it is imperative we start at the right starting point.  In the New Covenant we start with:  Jesus did it all for all time.  Jesus bore all my sin, shame, sickness, disease on the Cross.  He fully took my place and the whole worlds place on the Cross.  He took the entire bulk of punishment upon His own body for all time and for all people.  As believers in Jesus, we have the astounding privilege to be part of His family and fully understand that God, through His Son has done everything for us and all we do is receive.  There are no strings attached to this. As a believer in Christ there is absolutely nothing you could ever do to lose it (except deny Who Jesus is; but then He is chasing after you). There is absolutely nothing you have to do; but just believe in Who God is and what Jesus did for you.  As it  says in 1 John 1:5-10:

“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from ALL sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” NASB‬‬

Let’s look at this through New Covenant eyes: If we declare that we are sinners, that we truly need a Savior we are immediately walking in the Light with Jesus, we are cleansed from ALL sin. We just need to confess which means: “to acknowledge belief in”.  What are we acknowledging belief in?  The fact that we were all born into sin because of Adam and we are in need of saving.  Once we acknowledge this and believe that Christ died for us to be free from this sin nature, we are forgiven and cleansed from ALL unrighteousness.  Which means we are a new creation and fully righteous in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17&21).  The New Covenant is that simple. You do not imageneed to perform for God to stay in the Kingdom of Heaven because Jesus already has performed it all.  Do you need to keep confessing your “sin” so you can stay in good terms with God???–No, because we have already acknowledged that fact when we had faith or believed in Who Jesus was and Christ’s act with our faith, acknowledgement and acceptance of that free gift is what makes us on good terms with God; because the payment was paid in full by His Son for us. All of our iniquity, transgressions, and sin was nailed to the Cross for ALL time and were are righteous in Christ Jesus.  So, I challenge you to read the scripture above with the realization: this was written for non-believers to help them enter into the Truth of Who Jesus is and all that He did for them.  Next I also challenge you to read it from the right starting point: God through His Son finished it all for you and has done everything for you…now receive the Holy Spirit and enter into His rest as Hebrews 4:10 says:

“For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” NASB.

This is the message of the New Covenant, the message of Grace. The true gospel of Jesus Christ.

If you want to understand more about transgression, iniquity and sin read: Horizontal and Vertical (Part 4)

It Is Not This Way Among You…

One of my favorite stories in American History is about George Washington, after he was elected President.  There were men that wanted aplomb and a lavish entry for President Washington.  It became quite clear to George that they wanted to make him like a “king” instead of a person like everyone else that is trying the best he can with a government that was designed by the people, for the people.  George made it very clear he was not interested in looking “kingly” by saying, “I didn¹t fight George III to become George I.” George fully understood they had just fought a war not to have a king; why would we want to go back to what we fought so hard to leave?  When I had read that story years ago, it had reminded me of the Israelites wanting their own King just like all the neighboring people. Samuel warned them, told them they would not be happy with this choice and tried to convince them their King was better than any human king.  Yet, still they wanted to be just like everyone else…so they got Saul.  Humanity always is looking for a king in their life….I believe it is because God put the desire in us….we just need to look for it in the right place not at humanity but at God.

As humans, we tend to do what the Israelites did.  We tend to look at the story of Saul and David through the wrong starting point or the wrong perception. Maybe it is because this is what we have been taught for years in regards to this story.  Here is how I have learned what this story about David and Saul means maybe it is the same for you:

  • David did the honorable thing by not killing Saul so Christians should always treat their leaders with honor even if the leaders are not treating them with honor.
  • David never talked badly about Saul so we as Christians should never talk badly about leaders.
  • God took care of Saul and his wickedness so Christians need to just sit back and let God take care of the problems with leadership.
  • David then got promoted because of his good behavior so Christians you need to behave and then you will be promoted too.

These have tended to be the underlying theme in almost any message I have heard over the years about this story. Today though I would like to share a fresh perspective I believe came from the Lord to help me see Him and His Kingdom in His way (repentance).

As I pondered this story with the Lord, I felt He asked me a question.  That question was what might have happened if David had instead killed Saul in those two opportunities (1 Samuel 24 and 26).   The possibility that came to my mind was that maybe Jonathon wouldn’t have died at the hands of the Philistines. Now, I don’t know that for sure but I know God doesn’t ask a question just to ask…for me it is usually to get me asking Him questions…or He follows up with scripture for me.  He wanted me to take the timeline of Saul’s life (1 Samuel), why the people wanted a king (1 Samuel 10:17-19), Samuel’s warning to the people (1 Samuel 8:10-22), the point that David had already been anointed as the next king (1 Samuel 16:12-23)(he was righteous because of his faith in God (Psalm 32) and David fully understood where his authority came from–remember Goliath (1 Samuel 17:31-58)), David was never stripped by God from his kingship even though he made multiple mistakes and did not always act ‘honorably’, Saul killed himself and the Philistines killed his sons then beheaded Saul and fastened all their bodies to a rock (1 Samuel 31:1-13).  Next, He took me to the story of the sons of Zebedee. Remember when their mother came and asked Jesus for her sons to sit on His right and left (a place of honor) and Jesus said it was not His to give. Jesus used this very moment to teach and to help change His disciples thinking (repentance) about how leadership looks in the Kingdom of God. Here is what He said:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”(Matthew 20:20-25, emphasis mine)

As I read this verse, I sensed Holy Spirit telling me the way this story of David and Saul has been taught is well….wrong.  The natural tendency for humanity is to want power, to lord it over people and for people to want to be led by a human rather than God Himself.  What really happens when this story is taught this way leads to a “Saul” or “Gentile thinking” leadership trying to be taught as the way the Kingdom works and this then causes a people who are reliant on leadership/pastors rather than the Holy Spirit who is now living in and through them.  Yet as Jesus said….It is NOT that way among you.  When we continue to use this story to speak of leaders as “kings/queens” (like Saul) and how laity (David) is to act towards them is well–detrimental to both the leaders Christ put in place and the people. I believe this story is used by pastors and teachers to “keep their sheep in line”, and makes people reliant on humans rather than a Father in Heaven who gave them a Holy Spirit because God truly desires direct communication with His Beloved. Jesus made this very clear when He said:

“Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.” Matthew 23:8-10 MSG.

Jesus was making it so very clear that the playing field was level in the Kingdom of Heaven.  The people should not make it difficult for the leaders to serve, by not putting them on a pedestal and expecting the leaders to be Holy Spirit for them. Yet, what I have seen happen far too many times is leadership isn’t serving but lording it over the people and using the story of David and Saul to rally their ability to act in such a way. This then leads the people to be reliant on the leaders instead of God.  This can also in turn cause the enablement of pastors and leaders to spiritually abuse people, all in the name of God. The so-called “silence of David” is continually used to perpetuate another great crime against God’s Beloved Body (both leaders and people). The way this story has been taught for soimage many years have caused a great disservice to both leader and people.

It is time for the church to take a fresh look at a wonderful story with a fresh starting point that comes from the God’s Kingdom, not man’s.

Maybe what we need to teach with this Old Testament story is how God had opened up choices to David and even though he didn’t take those choices God was still with David because David believed (faith) and how secular government or a pastor/leader will never be able to be a substitute for the great, good and noble Heavenly King.  We need to remember in the New Covenant all people who believe in Who Jesus is receives the Holy Spirit.  Jesus truly leveled the playing field when He went and embraced the Cross for the whole world.

To see more of what I wrote on this subject read, Because of Christ Believers in Him are Seated in Heavenly Places

Jezebel

Yes, I have read many books about this “spirit” and if anyone was honest while reading regarding the “signs of Jezebel” we could admit we have done some of the signs of being Jezebel. It is like when we look at the signs of certain diseases and think, “Oh no, I probably have _____________ disease”. I think the term Jezebel has been very misused in the church body. Let’s dive into this and look a little closer. Why would Jesus mention a woman’s name from the Old Testament to describe what was happening at one of the churches in the letter John penned, “Revelation”? What exactly is being said here?

Let’s start with the first time Jezebel is talked about. Jezebel was a queen back in the Old Testament in 1 King 16-21 and 2 Kings 3-9. She had led the Israelites into idolatry and sexual immorality. She ended up dying because a eunuch threw her out a window, horses hooves trampled her, then the dogs ate her flesh. Wow..yuck! So you can see why being called Jezebel could have frightening consequences. Thankfully now though we live in the New Covenant!!! Jezebel is then mentioned once in the New Testament in Revelation 2, to the Church of Thyatira that was penned by John. Here it is here:

“’I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them-I place no other burden on you. Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS; AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”‭‭Revelation‬ ‭2:19-29 NASB (emphasis mine)

  • érgon (from ergō, “to work, accomplish”) – a work or worker who accomplishes something. 2041 /érgon (“work”) is a deed (action) that carries out (completes) an inner desire (intension, purpose).

One of the most challenging scriptures for me has been the following:

“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”” Matthew‬ ‭12:30-37 NASB (emphasis mine)

But it is important to look at this in its entirety and start with the right starting point. Jesus was here talking pre-Cross. He was making it known in the last part of this that our words flow from our heart, He sees our heart, our words will be judged and we are held accountable for those words. Yet, in the last sentence that I had bolded we are justified by our words not our deeds, our deeds flow out of our belief (faith) in Jesus because our faith in Christ supplies us with the Holy Spirit in us.

We need to know that our faith always proceeds our deeds because the Holy Spirit in us produces our deeds; not the other way around.

It is the fact, we are justified by the words: Jesus is my Savior. Even here, pre-Cross, Jesus is pointing to the fact we will be justified by our words of faith! We also need to start with the knowledge or understanding that I can never live up to what is expected. Jesus only can and has for us. Okay now that we have that cleared up let’s dig in. Jesus was making a clear teaching that what is in the heart does come out. Because we have the Holy Spirit in us, as Christians, we bear good fruit naturally. Do we get this perfect, no! Do we go from glory to glory, yes! Are we forgiven, always! What is interesting is Jesus is calling the Pharisses and Sauducess, the religious leaders of the time, a brood of vipers and evil without any good thing coming from their mouths. Pretty tight!! What we need to see here is that these religious leaders have spent their lives studying God’s word and leading people. They knowingly choose to lead people astray, or away from God, to serve their own purpose by stating that the miracle Jesus just performed with the work (deed) of the Holy Spirit was from Satan work (deed). They fully knew that at the base of things God is “life” and Satan is “death”. They desired so badly to call Jesus a fraud, they fully knowing called something that was a Holy Spirit work (deed) a work (deed) of Satan. We know they had full understanding because Jesus saw their heart and called them a brood of vipers who could not speak good. I want to address when someone speaks against or blasphemes the Holy Spirit it will not be forgiven them in this age or the age to come. I believe we live in the age to come. We need to remember it is specific to people who know it is a work of the Holy Spirit and say for their benefit it is a work of Satan. Many people have had this used against them by the very Phaarisees and Sauducees of our age believing they can not be forgiven, scaring people and misusing this term. Please stop! This is very specific and should not be used lightly. We need to understand that it was so specific to the point of Jesus saying those that are with Him are with Him and those that aren’t scatter. Truly, I believe the individuals this would apply to know what they are doing and Jesus knows their heart. There are many clues into the specificity of His statement regarding speaking against the Holy Spirit.

Okay now to try and put this all together. The main reason I used these two scriptures together is to point to the fact that both idolatry and sexual immorality are a way God sees to define whether or not you believe in Him or not. You are either with Him or against Him. Either Christ’s bride or not. There is no in between. So when Jesus is looking down (this is the true definition of “this against you” in Revelation) from His place in Heaven He is seeing a toleration or better definition is to permit, allow or not to hinder an individual that is proclaiming she/he is a believer and yet leading other believers to commit idolatry and sexual immorality. So what exactly is idolatry or sexual immorality? Let’s look at the definitions in Greek:

  • porneúō – commit fornication (sexual immorality); (figuratively) to be unfaithful to Christ, while posing as His true follower. See 4202 (porneia).v
  • sacrificed to idols—εἰδωλόθυτος, εἰδωλόθυτον (εἴδωλον and θύω), a Biblical and ecclesiastical word (Winers Grammar, 26; 100 (94)), sacrificed to idols; τό εἰδωλόθυτον and τά εἰδωλόθυτα denote the flesh left over from the heathen sacrifices; it was either eaten at feasts, or sold (by the poor and the miserly) in the market: Acts 15:29; Acts 21:25; 1 Corinthians 8:1, 4, 7, 10; 1 Corinthians 10:19, 28 (here L text T Tr WH read ἱερόθυτόν, which see); Revelation 2:14, 20. (Cf. Lightfoot on Galatians, p. 308f.)–www.biblehub.com

Now to the text that Paul wrote regarding what would happen when he was taken captive:

“I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ “”Acts‬ ‭20:29-35‬ ‭NASB‬‬ (emphasis mine)

Paul warned that there would be those that would come in and teach perverse things to draw disciples away. Paul did not commend us to the law but to God and the word of His grace. Paul fought for the grace message, the message of the Cross, the gospel of grace, the New Covenant to be taught unadulterated. Yet, he also knew there would be those that would come in and even those from among them that would teach perverse things. Paul makes it very clear only the word of His Grace can build us up, sanctify us and give us an inheritance.image

So bear with me, but I believe the Nicolatans and Jezebel were up to the same desired outcome–they desire to sneakily turn us away from the simple truth of what Christ fully accomplished at the Cross and in His resurrection. The Nicolatans were just forthright in their position of being anti Christ—-trying to disprove Who He was, what He did and Jezebel was pretending to believe in Jesus all the while knowingly turning away from the truth of the grace gospel by teaching a need for an intermediary (herself) between people and God—this position is for Christ alone- He is the only way to the Father-no one else can take that position. They would be the ones teaching perverse things such as leading us back to the law, performance based religion rather than the truth of the gospel of grace. It is interesting because the word Nicolatans means “conquering the laity”. That is exactly what has been done with the perverse teaching that the law justifies us and not the Christ. Jezebel inserted herself as a go between laity and God a place no one needs to take. There becomes a faithfulness to that person rather than Jesus Christ Himself. Anything that teaches against the fact that Christ died for the whole world’s sin for all time or that we need a go between for the “laity” is perverse teaching. (For more understanding read God Always Leads in Love). When we believe anything other than Christ and what He did for us is the only way to be sanctified, delivered and made righteous then we have been led down the road in perverse teaching. When we believe that we must uphold the law to justify ourselves we have nullified the cross and in so doing we have aligned ourselves with idolatry and sexual immorality. Remember sexual immorality figuratively means being unfaithful to Christ while posing as a believer in Jesus (Old Testament story of Hosea brings to light how God sees sexual immorality with unbelief in Him). When we knowingly teach this, knowing it is not the truth we are contributing to “her deeds” not “Christ’s deeds”. All we have to do is turn and see things His way (repent) make amends with our brothers/sisters and move forward in His grace.

Now let me wrap this up. See Jezebel in 1 and 2 Kings was a woman that pulled the people of Israel into idolatry and sexual immorality.  Elijah was the chosen prophet to help the people see how they had chosen to follow the wrong gods. To show the people the true God. That is when the sacrifice on top of the mountain takes place and Baal is not heard from and God burns up a very wet altar and sacrifice. There may have been sexual immorality; yet what God was truly concerned about was the fact that they had turned their hearts to a false god, that was sexual immorality throughout the Bible. In the same manner today we have had wolves enter in way long ago in the history of the church that have taught we must keep the law, we must create our own righteousness by our deeds (works). This is a perversity to the true gospel of grace and what Christ accomplished on the Cross. This way we are believing in a false god-ourselves to do what only Christ can do for us….make us righteous. This would be exactly where the enemy (Baal or any other false god)would want us to be. To believe that we ourselves can somehow do what Christ did for us by our actions and no longer fully rely on what Christ did for us. The Gospel of the New Testament, what Christ did for us and does through us is simply Grace.

There is so much more to this topic. It is time for old belief systems that are fear based to be torn down and rebuild our belief (faith) on the Rock-Jesus Christ Who was and is and is to come; the Author and Finisher of our faith; the One who took all sin, condemnation and sickness upon His body for the whole world for all time; and furnished us with a free gift that includes: righteousness and being filled with His Holy Spirit. To have all this all we have to do is say: you are my Savior–I believe You are the Son of God. If you have questions please write a comment. If you don’t want the comment published…just let me know. May God’s abounding love, grace and peace wash over you…with greater understanding of Who He is and Who you are in Him. ❤️