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

A Little of What…

The Lord has been speaking to me….

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.

The Struggle Is Real 

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭NASB‬‬

How many times have you used this scripture to remind yourself of what is truly going on behind the scenes?  I have used it many times; yet I don’t think I truly had a definite core value regarding it.  Remember I have talked about core values, how they line up with your actions and how your actions don’t always line up with your words; you can read more in these articles: Simon of Cyrene and Core values and Grace. I believe we have all had AHA! moments with God.  This is when we see God clearer and where true repentance happens in that moment; when we see things the way God sees them.

I had started this blog stating I would share openly what is happening with me, an open life journal.  There are times this is fun and at times it isn’t. Yet, I choose to live from the inside out in honesty.  Why a public forum???….maybe it will help someone else.

I had been talking to my husband, Bryan, over a month ago.  There had been a situation that had happened and I was angry at the injustice in it and the history that I have seen and heard about regarding these same people.  I looked  at Bryan and I said, “I hate them, no don’t look at me like that, I hate them!”  Now my husband and I have been married for nineteen years and thankfully he knows when to let me just say what is in my heart and let the Lord deal with me, haha!!  I went on, “My mom told me not to say I hate someone, I can say I dislike them but not hate. But Bryan, I hate them.” Later as scripture flooded my heart like: hate in the heart is just like murder and you aren’t walking in the light because you hate it would have been easy to be overcome by self hatred and failure like I had in the past.  But see I know the trick of the enemy, he loves to use scripture to always tell me I can’t measure up.  So, I agree with him in the truth that I can’t live up to the law, ever.  But I know Someone who has….and that is Jesus!!  In that moment I am so thankful, grateful for all that Jesus did for me and the whole world and in that thankfulness something always happens for me but first I had to be open and honest with what was going on inside of me.  If we start at the wrong starting point with God and see Him as a judge of our actions and not realizing all of God’s wraith has been taken on His own Son then we are fearful and can’t approach God with what is going on inside….and we begin to pretend that all is well (saying no, no I am in control of my emotions I don’t feel that way) and all we are doing is painting the outside as good and not dealing with the inside and we know God is more interested with our inside.  We must acknowledge the truth of what is going on inside of us.  Jesus took the law all the way to our hearts, trying to show us we can not ever perform this, but He could fulfill the law for us.

So, what do I do with this???  This very real feeling of hate in my heart?? These were real things that someone has done, is doing and may continue to do until God gets ahold of them.  I think it was about a week later when God spoke to my heart and this is what He said:

Darlene, you don’t hate the person you hate their actions. It is the action not the person you hate. This is what it means when Paul was explaining to the Ephesians that the fight is not against flesh and blood but the powers and principalities of darkness.  It is okay to hate wicked “acts” but you really don’t hate the person because the person has been made in My image and you walk in Me, in the Light, it isn’t who you are.  What you are railing against are the powers and principalities of darkness.

Here are some scriptures that go along with what He told me:

“”The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭8:13‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“Hate evil, you who love the LORD, Who preserves the souls of His godly ones; He delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalms‬ ‭97:10‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Now I was able to see things more clearly, literally dividing the person from their actions.  Look, I fully understand that I am not perfect because I know the Perfect one climbed on the Cross willingly for me and the whole world.  People choose to do evil things to one another but that doesn’t define who they are. Jesus defines who they are, they are still created in God’s image.  Does this mean that these actions are okay…no……and I wrote more about this in: Horizontal and Vertical (Part 4) and Has “Sorry” Lost Its’ Potency (Final Part)

Just because I have forgiven the person for their behavior does not mean that I need to trust them, or be around them.  Nor does this mean I should not look at and judge the actions they have made.  Note I said judge their actions; I didn’t say judge the person.  Lastly, remember forgiveness doesn’t come overnight, it is a process of healing with God and friends. You can read more here: We Stand In the New Covenant.

img_1280Now, I feel like I have written on my heart:  “Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  This is simply Jesus in His fullness….I in Him and Him in me.  I do not have to make an effort within myself not to do something….because literally Jesus has changed me from the inside out.  This is where I have the privilege to walk everyday, because of Jesus.

‘Fake It Til I Make It’ OR…..

Is There Something (Someone) Better?

I just want to address something that I have been caught up in for years, as a Christian. I want to bring freedom to an area that I have so struggled with for at least the last ten years. I have either been taught by either watching other Christians behavior or leaders out rightly telling me that I needed to, “Fake it till I make it.”.  This felt very wrong to me.  Yet, I was explained that I must “call things that are not as though they are”. (Romans 4:17)  I don’t know about you but I certainly would not like to go to a doctor who was trying to fake it until he makes it…..

I have written a few blogs which I now realize led me to my freedom this morning. It may help if you read these first:

Since this was first told to me, “Fake it till you make it”.  I have had a sense that this is wrong….hint, hint…Holy Spirit Helper, trying to help me. It wasn’t until last night, as I sat at my boys basketball game, when something happened to my oldest son that got me very angry and the ref didn’t see it. I was over the top angry. Later that night when all was quit in the house I was talking to God…one of my favorite times from childhood. As I spoke to Him He first reminded me with such love and compassion, “Remember Darlene, if there is an area you are angry about with Me, you are not trusting Me.” Now I have learned over the last year, there is no way in and of myself that I can create that trust. I knew that God wanted to do something for me through these circumstances. I just didn’t know what. He was not expecting me to plead or bend over backwards or try to work this out for myself. He just wanted me to come to Him. He was not mad at me for not trusting Him. He actually understood me. He wanted to heal and help me.

This morning as I woke up and went about my daily morning activities (working out) the Lord began bringing some things to mind for me, connecting things for me. He reminded me I have been so sad lately of lost relationships, lost relationships for my boys and the sadness that comes with other people’s decisions that impact your life. He also reminded me of last night and how angry I had become at a situation that before would not have impacted me like that. There was a connection and He showed me.  I knew I had to be honest with myself, with God and with others. I had already shared with my husband that I was feeling sad the last few days. There was a loss in relationships, chosen by other people to cut us off. This was hurting….again. This should be over and done with but much like when a death occurs in your family there is a process of grief and it takes time and it fluctuates.  What hurts ourselves is when we try to, “Fake it till we make it.”.  In any area of our life when we try to “fake it” we have just gone into striving in our own ability by pretending (pretense=The act of pretending; a false appearance or action intended to deceive) and have denied the work of the Cross and what Christ died to gain.  “Faking it till we make it” imageis simply a lie. It is pretending on our own to be what God intends for us rather than facing/looking at who we are honestly, what is truly in our heart, and knowing we can’t fix it but God can and will. When we truly have the understanding of all that Christ died for we can much more easily look at ourselves honestly. This “faking it till you make it” is exactly what the Pharisees did. The outside of the cup looked pretty good but when you look inside it was dirty.  We end up truly only hurting ourselves with this pretense.  Because we actually start to believe we can change ourselves which is in direct oppossion to the Truth.  You only end up lying to yourself, God and others. Let me explain further…

The scripture used in Romans 4:17 has been taken out of context and made into something it isn’t. Let’s look at it in entirety:

“For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.””Romans‬ ‭4:13-22‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

If we are honest and read this scripture in its’ fullness, we see here a description of God and Abraham. God is the One who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did. Abraham, who is the father of many nations (that is you and I), contrary to hope- believed in hope according to what God had promised or spoke.

Abraham did not waver at this promise was strengthened in faith and gave glory to God for giving him that ability to be strengthened in faith.

Abraham was fully convinced that what God had promised him God was able to perform–this is where Abraham got his righteousness from-his belief that what God promised God was able to perform.

There is such a push in some circles of Chistianity for us, as believers, to call things which do not exist as though they do and I believe this is erroneous teaching as we really do not want to take one scripture that isn’t even used in its fullness and make our whole belief system out of it. Do I believe in miracles, yes. I have seen them and been a part of praying for them. In this scripture Paul was talking specifically about the birth of Isaac; as we see at the end of verse 18 through verse 19 Paul talks about the many descendents and the reality of Abraham and Sarah’s bodies. God is the creator of life and through us He creates life-babies. We need to understand this scripture and not be afraid to tell the truth. Abraham and Sarah both admitted their bodies were dead to the ability to create a child. What they proclaimed was the belief that God was Who He said He was- He strengthened their faith and He had promised to give them a son.  So God had to give life to the dead, calling what does not exist to exist. These are attributes of Who God is and what He does.   We need to start with the fact that God is infinitely wise, Whose ways and thoughts are way above mine. He desires the best for all of us.  I desire, and have proclaimed heaven on earth by closely listening to the Father. But it is His creating that is occurring, not mine. Thankfully only those proclamations that line up with His will, will only occur (He is so good); we only need to look at the Old Testament prophets to see this truth.  God is interested about our insides, our core NOT in behavior modification.  Any of us can modify our behavior for a time but only God can change us from the inside out which brings about lasting change externally.

Once again He has strengthened His daughter’s faith and healed me. Simply put I believe that God is Who He says He is. I simply believe Jesus is Who He said He is. Through me He shall do great wonders, just like with Abraham. The plus side is that I have His Holy Spirit living inside me.

So, this morning I wept for the loss, another layer. The loss in my life, my children’s lives, and my friends’ lives. I grieved with God, He healed me in my grieving. Not “faking it till I make it” but being real…living from the inside out with myself, God and others. Who wants to join me? ❤️