What Has Your Big Brother Done For You?

Maybe you don’t have a big brother in your family like me….yet I do have a Big Heavenly Brother, Jesus, and He has done a lot for all of us.

You may have been taught many times regarding the woman with the alabaster box, in Luke 7.  How she had poured out everything she had on Jesus; and while that is a beautiful teaching, as I read this story with fresh eyes the Lord woke something up in me that I want to share with you.  Let’s dig into this historical account about this nameless woman, called a sinner, whom had an interaction with Jesus which changed her life forever.
In the beginning of Luke 7, Jesus is invited to Simon’s house, a Pharisee.  Right before this invite He is talking about John the Baptist and says this: ““I tell you that among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than Yochanan the Immerser! Yet the one who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he!”” ‭‭Luke ‭7:28‬ ‭(CJB)‬

What I find extremely interesting is this is exactly who Jesus ministers to…the least.  They are the people society deems less than through our human eyes.  Jesus did come to help the world see how His Father sees, among many other things He did. As Jesus traveled in those last three years of His life there is an emphasis in what He DOES which shows us just how important each individual is.  No one is higher or lower.  Everyone is on equal standing no matter wha they have done or not done and yet each of us is still uniquely made.  When we look at the historical life story of Jesus, within scripture, He healed the blind, lepers, woman and children.  Yet, to the many of the “well taught” men he was trying to heal their thinking.  He desired for them to repent, to see things differently and that had to start in the brain of these well taught “leaders” in the community.  It is the same within the story in Luke 7.  It is interesting that the least, within societies beliefs at that time, saw Jesus for Who He is; while those that would be considered greater had a much more difficult time seeing Who He is.

Let’s look at this account in Luke 7:36-50 (NASB)

“Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.” And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.””

Three things I took note of in this passage:

  1. “The definition in Greek of the word “love” used here is: 25-agapáo-With the believer agapáo (“to love”) means actively doing what the Lord prefers, with Him (His power and direction). True agapáo (“loving”) is always defined by God- a “discriminating affection which involves choice and selection”.  Properly, to prefer to love;….preeminently (above all) this refers to what God prefers as He “is love”.” biblehub.com
  2. Remembering faith is a gift from God.  See: It All Begins and Ends With Trust and Walk Confidently-It All Begins and Ends With Trust (Faith) (Part 2) for a greater understanding of how faith is a gift from God.
  3. What the woman did versus what she didn’t do.

As I put all three of the above things together while reading this account, I wept with the beauty and simplicity of Who God is and has been since the beginning.  In this story holds the simple yet glorious good news that Jesus had come to bring to all the people in this world He had created and loves so dearly.  The woman can be found in each one of us born from Adam; as we are born into sin (Psalm 51:1) and if you don’t believe this to be true you are deceiving yourselves (1 John 1:8).  I don’t know about you but I know I have had many sins, even after receiving God’s free gift.  Please remember we go from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). I also know that there is no way I could keep all of the Law as Jesus Christ has done for He has “upheld and upholds” the law (Torah) (1 Corinthians 9:21 and Galatians 6:2 CJB).  Because of this everyone should be able to relate to this woman, a sinner.  So what did this sinner do??  She loved (agapáo)!!!  Not just a mushy…oh I love you; but a preference, a personal selection, a free will choice showing good judgement and chose to follow IMG_1583the God given mustard seed of faith and trusted, believed in Who Jesus is.  She went and treated Him for Who she saw Him as, the King of kings.  The Pharisee, Simon, in this account did not.  Simon didn’t believe he needed much forgiveness.  He also believed He wasn’t in need of a Savior because he had the law to follow, his own performance that he relied on, and the yearly sacrifice for Israel-the Day of Atonement.  He was a Pharisee for goodness sake.  Yet, Jesus here told an important truth those that do not feel or think they have many sins love little.  Their reliance is more on themselves and their behavior and less on Him and what He desires to do for you.  Lastly, the woman did not go and beg Jesus to forgive her.  She did not speak all of her sins out and ask for forgiveness.  She actually did not utter a word to Him; she simply trusted in Who He is, and chose to believe Who He was in her heart and her actions showed her belief.  This faith is what saved her.  She boldly approached the throne of Grace, as a SINNER, and she simply from the heart believed in Who Jesus is and Jesus announced her faith (trust and belief) saved her.  Out of this faith, in Who Jesus is, came an act of agapáo (“loving”), an affection of choice and selection, a desire to love from and through Him, His strength that made her whole as Jesus said, “Your faith (belief, trust) has saved you, go in peace (wholeness).”  Her faith saved her, not her spotless record she tried to maintain but her faith.  Your faith saves you not your spotless record or your performance or your trying to act right.  Just your faith and out of this faith come these actions of agapáo.  This account happened before the Cross, before Jesus took all of the sins of the world upon Himself.  He was showing the “ones who were more influential in the world’s eyes” how their system of trying to follow the law could not be done nor would it ever bring the type of relationship that God, the Father, was desiring from the beginning: humans desiring , preferring , choosing and selecting Him out of our own free will.  He sent His Son to make the Way for us and all we have to do is agapáo- choose Him, just like the woman who walked in a sinner, broke her alabaster box and chose Jesus, believed in Who He is and walked out forgiven and whole.  There was no groveling but an active free will choice to choose Him, to believe in Who He is.

Jesus’ agapáo was
going to the Cross for us,
God’s agapáo was sending His Son
and then placing His wraith for the sin
humanity was due on His Son
and humanity’s agapáo
is to believe in Who He is

Because see He first chose you, us, the world.  He agapáo us.
Jesus’ agapáo was going to the Cross for us, God’s agapáo was sending His Son and then placing the wraith for sin humanity was due on His Son and humanity’s agapáo is to believe in Who He is.  This is the simplicity of the Good News: fully loved, fully chosen, fully selected, fully forgiven, fully righteous, fully reborn, fully live forever with God, fully whole.  This is how I see myself daily in the facts of all Jesus did for me on the Cross.   He does not want a groveling child but a child that is confident in what their Big Brother has done for them, what their Daddy did for them…living from that place of reassurance, embraced by the Holy Spirit our Helper…why not come join me in this safe place.

What Do You Do With Failure?!?!

The Lord, a few years back, had shared with me the statement I put in the picture right here:IMG_1492.PNG  This was hard for me to hear back then because I was a “law woman”. Keeping the rules with a slave mentality instead of a daughter mentality was the relationship I chose to have with my Father in Heaven…until He set me free (see It is Time to Let Go of the Rules-Otherwise Known as the Law).  Yesterday, as I talked with a good friend, the Lord reminded me of this word. As I was talking, I finally received understanding for this statement because He has helped me understand how to be His woman.  First and foremost, we must start at the right starting point: Jesus took my place and all punishment, condemnation, and sickness, that was my due because of sin, was placed on His body and for that I am eternally grateful.  I didn’t understand this when He had told me this a few years ago…I was still striving in my own effort to hold up my part of the bargain in this relationship with God; which I had been taught in the church to do (religious law keeping). If I didn’t hold up my part of the bargain then I was lacking, God would then turn away from me or lift His hand of protection. I would then have to go to Him repent, showing enough remorse. Then, and only then, He would be able to look back towards me, cover me again with His hand and all would be well……until…….I somehow messed up again.  This was a continual process of shame, guilt and remorse….and I NEVER felt like I would EVER be good enough for Him.  Wow!! So the statement, there is no failure in Him had me mystified…until….yesterday.  All because I have the right starting point now.  Here is the picture God gave me:

When I see His timeline or plan, many times it comes to me as a tapestry that is being made.  It is not complete, but is complete.  In the inner weaving of this fabric pattern are the failures in which He has made a beautiful tapestry out of.  Yes, the failures which He has made beautiful.  How can that be?!?!?!!!! These failures are not failures because they have actually fulfilled a purpose in our lives which He ALWAYS make BEAUTIFUL for His sons and daughters.  The scripture that comes to mind is this:

“Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with his purpose;”
‭‭Romans (Rom)‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭CJB

I encourage you to put past failures in His hands and take a look at the bigger picture of the tapestry of life that He is creating.  It is beautiful and honors Him. ❤

This Is Just TOO GOOD…

…to keep to myself.

Once again I find myself going into some uncharted territory, although I touched on this in This is How Much He Loves You.  A good friend of mine had gone to see a speaker and she was telling me about a video that they watched.  As she was describing it to me she also was having a conflict for what she knows as truth and the message.  Here is the gist of it:

Fade in to Judgement Day and Christians are being judged: one man an accountant was supposed to be a pastor but didn’t do that, another man was a pastor and was supposed to be a pastor both fell short of what they were supposed to do.  Then a woman comes up and says all I did was be a mom and that was exactly what she was supposed to do (that was the good part or redeeming part of the video for her and me).

I have found in my 20+ year walk with the Lord this is a resounding theme within the church building belief system.  Let me explain: At the end we will be judged, even Christians, for what we did or didn’t do and our reward will be dependent upon what we did or didn’t do right according to what God has called us to do, like the story above.  What this has created is something not very healthy.  Many times it has led to spiritual abuse within the church.  See people, Christians, are so fear laden they can become frozen, unable to choose or they become puppets and can become used by those in power (yep…take a look at history or even present day people who have been abused by power).   I have many times had young people, or just people so afraid of making a choice until they hear from God. Both choices were great….but which one should they make…they want to make sure they choose right….and many times God is simply stating you choose I have blessed both.  God never intended us to be robots…He intended us to be Sons and Daughters of His.

So I went looking for where this belief system came from and I found some interesting info–

First, we must start with the right starting point. We must see God for Who He is.  This is why Jesus said repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near (Matt 4:17).  It was time for the people to change the way they saw God. See It is Time to Let Go of the Rules-Otherwise Known as the Law.  When Jesus came to walk the earth it was time for God’s people to understand they would go from being servants (law) to Sons and Daughters (grace) by not what they did but what Christ came to do for them.

Second, the scripture used to make this point about Christ judging His own body is seen through the wrong starting point; thus making it look one way when it isn’t.  One of the scriptures I found that is used to support this thinking is from Romans 14:10-12 (others are 1 For 3:12-15 and 2 For 5:9-10):

“You then, why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For all of us will stand before God’s judgment seat; since it is written in the Tanakh, “As I live, says ADONAI, every knee will bend before me, and every tongue will publicly acknowledge God.” So then, every one of us will have to give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:10-12 CJB‬‬

Some will use gold, silver or precious stones in building on this foundation; while others will use wood, grass or straw. But each one’s work will be shown for what it is; the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire — the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If the work someone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward; if it is burned up, he will have to bear the loss: he will still escape with his life, but it will be like escaping through a fire. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 CJB

Therefore, whether at home or away from home, we try our utmost to please him; for we must all appear before the Messiah’s court of judgment, where everyone will receive the good or bad consequences of what he did while he was in the body. 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 CJB

Let’s dig into each of these scriptures in order:

All will stand before God’s judgment seat because every knee will bend before God and every tongue will publicly acknowledge God.  It would be really, really wise to read the entire chapter….even the chapter before and after to get an understanding of the subject that is being spoken of.  The subject at the top of this chapter is TRUST.  Specifically speaking about a person whose trust is weak.  We are not to judge the weakness of his trust but whether or not he has trust (read all of Romans 14 and 15). At God’s judgment seat ALL (Christians and Non-Christians; living and dead) will publicly acknowledge God.  The next statement is that every one of us will have to give an account of himself to God.  The word account here is actually LOGOS in Greek.  WOW!  Let’s look at this closer in the Greek:

3056 lógos (from 3004 /légō, “speaking to a conclusion”) – a word, being the expression of a thought; a saying. 3056 /lógos (“word”) is preeminently used of Christ (Jn 1:1), expressing the thoughts of the Father through the Spirit.

[3056 (lógos) is a common term (used 330 times in the NT) with regards to a person sharing a message (discourse, “communication-speech”). 3056 (lógos) is a broad term meaning “reasoning expressed by words.”]

‘logon’ in Romans 14:12=answer or explanation in reference to judgment.

As we look at the entirety of Romans 14 we must take note that the answer to this judgement for believers in Christ would be I believed that Christ took all my judgement which simply means I trusted Him.

Next, is the scripture in 1 Corinthians 3.  Here Paul is trying to help the people understand the difference about living in the world versus living in the kingdom.  Paul is very clear that he has laid the foundation.  The foundation is TRUST.  Simple trust in Who Jesus is and what that brings.  I have talked about this in Fingerpainting to Masterpieces.  Paul is teaching how, as believers, we have died to our old selves and are a new creation made to exist within the kingdom although we are still living here on earth.  Paul is encouraging people to remain kingdom minded and showing or explaining to them how they are not.  He talks of behavior that shows they are not like jealousy and quarreling that have no “value” in the kingdom.  Let me put a thought forward here:  see when we go to judgement day the foundation is trust in Jesus.  On that foundation we will have built things some gold, jewels and others straw, grass.  In the fire the gold and jewels will withstand (kingdom) while straw and grass (earth) will not.  People who have lived more connected to the earth and their old nature will escape the fire but feel a profound loss of their “things” that they felt attached to:house, car, etc.  Those though that built with gold and jewels will not feel a profound loss at all.  These are things you can’t take with you but have a lasting impact on others: like time spent with others, love shown, food given, help given…these are kingdom minded.  Is this making sense?  I hope so.  It is not so much did I do the right thing to not be judged.  It is more the sense of loss of “things” of the world if that is what you felt is most important.  Now I am not saying things aren’t important it is where is your focus? Kingdom or world.  And this is done through trust first…like I talked about in Cart Before the Horse?

Last but not least, is the scripture from 2 Corinthians 5:9-10.  This sounds pretty damning. I don’t know about you but right there I would give up as a believer.  I could never perform well enough to not receive some pretty bad consequences.  How about you?  It feels hopeless to me if we stop short of reading a little further in the chapter.  What is being talked about in this chapter?  One thing I have stopped doing is reading or taking scripture out of context because what happens for me is hopelessness and a wrong picture of Who God is.  So let’s go into verse 11: So it is with the fear of the Lord before us that we try to persuade people.  What are we trying to persuade people of??

To trust in the Messiah Yeshua

and be saved from the bad consequences as we have been.

Or maybe it is better said by Paul in the end of this chapter:

For the Messiah’s love has hold of us, because we are convinced that one man died on behalf of all mankind (which implies that all mankind was already dead), and that he died on behalf of all in order that those who live should not live any longer for themselves but for the one who on their behalf died and was raised.  So from now on, we do not look at anyone from a worldly viewpoint. Even if we once regarded the Messiah from a worldly viewpoint, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is united with the Messiah, he is a new creation — the old has passed; look, what has come is fresh and new!  And it is all from God, who through the Messiah has reconciled us to himself and has given us the work of that reconciliation, which is that God in the Messiah was reconciling mankind to himself, not counting their sins against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore we are ambassadors of the Messiah; in effect, God is making his appeal through us. What we do is appeal on behalf of the Messiah, “Be reconciled to God! God made this sinless man be a sin offering on our behalf, so that in union with him we might fully share in God’s righteousness.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 CJB

Can it get any better than that?  NO!!!  Hope arise, people of God!!

One of the things, as Believers, we must remember is that we have already been judged on the Body of Jesus Christ while He willingly put Himself on the Cross to take all of our judgment from the Father.  He completely undid what the first Adam did and gives us the free will choice to take His free gift He has already paid for.  As we trust in Who He is we begin to become who we are in Him from the inside out.  He does His work as we trust in Him.  We naturally walk in who we are.  Not always perfectly but He understands that and has already made amends for it.  Let’s become kingdom minded not self minded.  Self minded (I have to fix myself because God needs me to and I need myself to so that I will be loved by him is worldly thinking). As we live kingdom minded we know that we know that we know that the King has justified me so He will never judge me. (Romans 4:5)

Whether you are an accountant, pastor, mom or whatever…..that doesn’t so much matter.  I think the emphasis has gone into what is my calling, what am I supposed to do???  With so much fear and trepidation about simply making a choice and doing the best you can at it all the while living in the kingdom.  God is not going to judge you on whether or not you had the correct title.  He is going to test with fire (grass or jewels) why you did those things….the heart intent and you will fully see when He does at judgment day.  I know many people who are pastors in the workforce (like an accountant) and many pastors that are IMG_2740 3wolves in sheep clothing.  We need to understand we live from the inside out.  You live where your level of trust is.  God knows where your trust is and He grows it.  Just trust Him. The kingdom is kindness, compassion, love, tenderness, patience all the while persuading people of what Jesus’ has done for them.  We, as Christians live in two worlds here.  One is the world (tied to earthly concerns like what am I going to eat, wear) all the while we fully live in the kingdom (knowing that we are taken care of and are about kingdom: persuading people of what Jesus did for them).  It is not rocket science; it is simply living from the inside out with eyes wide open.

 

 

Cart Before the Horse?

The age-old question…what came first the chicken or the egg?  It is such a great question.  For those of us that believe in creation by an all-powerful Creator than of course we answer the chicken. Remember in the beginning He formed all the animals out of the dirt (Genesis 1:24).  Much like us who also were formed from dirt; yet we were given the image and the breath of God (Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:7).  Amazing! So, here is a question what comes first grace or works?  So many times I have heard or read about “tension” in the scripture.  By this people mean: one verse says this but another verse seems to say a completely opposite statement.  A while ago I posted a picture named, Tension; you can click there for the link to the picture.

I believe when we look at scripture we need to start at the right starting point.  When we don’t start at the right starting point then of course we see opposing statements.  When we do start at the right starting point then what we have seen as opposing statements actually flow congruent.  Many times one scripture is pulled out against so many other scriptures and pointed out as an opposing scripture.  What is amazing is it usually is trying to denigrate grace.  One such scripture is James 2:17:

“Thus, faith by itself, unaccompanied by actions, is dead.”

Let’s read a little further into James 2:18:

“But someone will say that you have faith and I have actions. Show me this faith of yours without the actions, and I will show you my faith by my actions!”

The reason James is looked at is because it talks about behavior or works.  People that try to throw the grace Jesus bought for us to the wind and try to say it is all about behavior.  James here was talking to double-minded (Definition: (lit: of two souls, of two selves), double-mind-properly, “two souled”; (figuratively) “double-minded,” i.e. a person “split in half,” vacillating like a “spiritual schizophrenic.”) people.  People that said they have spoken with their mouth Jesus is Lord and yet the outflow of their life showed something different.  James makes certain points such as: a desire to treat poor people harshly and rich people well; not taking care of widows and orphans; or favoritism.  James called this a vulgarity.

img_1348If you see tension in scripture, I believe, you are putting the cart before the horse or somewhere within your core beliefs you still have an area of law you are abiding by.  Let me explain a little further. When we understand we are saved by grace alone that it was finished by Jesus the Christ on the Cross for the entire world to have the ability to choose the free gifts of grace–freedom from and power over sin; and salvation.

We are then able to start at the right starting point and will understand the works we do are a NATURAL OUTFLOW of our faith in the Christ which has allowed the Holy Spirit to dwell in us.

Works are a sign, the cart after the horse or the egg that comes from the chicken. It isn’t something you perform but how the Holy Spirit who has come to dwell in you performs as you abide in Jesus.  If the works are the focal point then we have definitely put the cart before the horse. Our focal point needs to start at the truth of all God did through His Son on the Cross and in the Resurrection. Early believers understood this.  It is time for the Church today to understand this as James said:

“Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father who made the heavenly lights; with him there is neither variation nor darkness caused by turning.” James ‭1:17‬

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)

Be Ye Holy As I Am Holy

This is the scripture that came to mind the other morning as I woke up and God, my heavenly Father, and I had a conversation.  He was reminding me how scared I used to be when someone would preach this scripture or how I used to read it and because my image of God was off I started at the wrong starting point.  What I used to imagine was God up there in heaven with a menacing face pointing His big finger at me saying in a condescending voice, “You be Holy as I am Holy!”.  Ahhhhhhhhh…I wanted to run and hide under a rock. No wonder people, both believers and non-believers, don’t want to have a conversation with Him. which of course makes the enemy so happy.

So many times I have had or heard teachers, preachers, etc… try and give you the 5 steps to a good prayer life, 10 steps to have relationship with God, 3 steps to “getting it right with God”; instead of simply going for the root of the reason why people don’t want to communicate with Him. Maybe what has been taught for too many years, since the Roman Empire made Christianity the official religion, is WRONG.  Hmmmmm……maybe the lack of the true gospel message of the New Covenant is the root of why people don’t want to have conversations with God. Maybe this false teaching needs to be rooted out and the truth declared and then people will long for, desire intimacy with the One Whom loves them so much. The problem is they have painted God out to be that figure I was describing above who we need to cower from rather than run to. And that is exactly NOT who He is.

There seems to be a real difficulty for humanity to combine justice, righteousness and holiness with GRACE, Love and Mercy. Yet, that is God. We hear it over and over again throughout His Word. So how can a Holy and Just God just let you off the hook for what you have done wrong? How can a Holy and Just God even look at you? How can a Holy God ask you to be holy—when you know for sure you can NEVER measure up? The answer is God can’t. He can’t just let you off the hook, He can’t just look at you, and you know you can never be holy in and of your own ability. Although I have tried whole heartedly to be holy. I tried so hard to do everything right, to say the right things all the time….yet I constantly fell short. It was NEVER ENOUGH to live up to the standards God had placed as the law. What I didn’t know for the longest time was that God NEVERTHELESS expected me to live up to that high mark. He knew I was incapable of doing so. What I did find out later is that in the New Covenant: because of what Jesus Christ had done for us on the Cross, because Jesus became sin for us, because Jesus took our punishment, because Jesus took our sickness and shame upon Himself, and because Jesus FULLY took our place we, who have faith in Who Jesus Christ is, are now let off the proverbial hook: we are fully forgiven and the payment for our sin is marked:”PAID IN FULL”, God desires to look upon His beloved (us) and we are holy. Simply put we are Holy because He is Holy. The Holy One, Jesus, took our place. That which knew no sin became sin for us and now we are holy and righteous. It causes, in me, a great thankfulness that rises up out of myself for what He did for me. It is not forced or manufactured…it simply is there as I mediate on the HUGENESS of what He did for me.

If you are doing what I used to do, trying to self create your own holiness by trying to do everything right, please stop. Look at the scripture:

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”” ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:13-16‬ ‭NASB‬‬

It is simple…I shall be holy for God is holy. I fix my hope completely in the grace that has been brought to me as Jesus was revealed for Who He is in my life. So I rest in the hope of grace and trust that He will take me from glory to glory changing me from the inside out. Stubborn children try to do it on their own; yet obedient children trust that what you are doing is for them. They trust and grab ahold of the hand that is bigger than theirs and know that good comes out of all situations.

img_1052I am made holy only because of what Christ did for me-that is freeing, makes me feel fully loved, fully cared for and fully safe. This creates the desire to communicate and have relationship with the One who adores you. This presents the right starting point for everyone to want to talk to their Heavenly Father. There is no need for multiple steps…only this God is for you, wants you and dearly loves you…so much so He gave His only Son to take your place so you could be His for all eternity-holy and righteous. Amazing Love.