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.

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 Joy of the Lord Is My Strength

This is just such a beautiful revelation from the Word of God…

I was talking with someone I know over Messenger and as I have many times in the past said or reminded myself the joy of the Lord is my strength from Nehemiah 8:10 she was asking for prayer to have the joy of the Lord amongst other things.  Here is what I wrote regarding the joy of the Lord.

“….and the joy of the Lord was to get up on the Cross for us and He is your strength in you through His Holy Spirit (literally I just now understood this, wow that is good Lord).”

Let’s look at the scripture the Holy Spirit brought to my remembrance and help you see what I saw and then dig into the Hebrew and Greek.  This is so absolutely beautiful I can’t wait to share more.

“fixing 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.” Hebrews‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”” ‭‭Nehemiah‬ ‭8:10‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and joy are in His place.”                        ‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭16:27‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” Galatians‬ ‭5:22‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The word joy in Hebrew is chedvah which literally mean joy.  It is found twice in the Old Testament which you see above. Please note that strength and joy are in His place. In Nehemiah chapter 8 we find the people realizing there is a holy day called the festival of the booths which signifies God with them among other things.  Remember “in His place” a representation of being with God in His place.

The word in Greek for joy in the above two New Testament scriptures is xará (chara) and the short definition is joy, delight, a source of joy. Yet the fuller meaning is:

Cognate: 5479 xará (another feminine noun from the root xar-, “extend favor, lean towards, be favorably disposed”) – properly, the awareness (of God’s) grace, favor; joy (“grace recognized”).

[The etymological link between 5463 /xaírō (“rejoice because of grace”), 5479 /xará (“joy because of grace”) and 5485 /xáris (“grace”) – i.e. that they are all cognates – is observed by LS (p 1,976), Zod (Dict), CBL, Wigram’s Englishman’s Greek Concordance (Ed. Ralph Winters), Word Study Greek-English NT (Tyndale, Ed. Paul McReynolds) – see also DNTT (2,356) and TDNT (9; 359,60). http://www.biblehub.com

Let’s put this all together now.  We take the above scripture from Hebrews and first we realize who the letter was penned to. It was Jewish believers in the Messiah. Second, we look at the wording (If you would like to see full wording click here for biblehub site: http://biblehub.com/text/hebrews/12-2.htm: )

Jesus who in view of the joy because of grace “lying before” (Definition: I am set (placed, put) before, am already there.) before Him endured the cross.

Jesus who in view of the knowledge of grace that was set, placed, is already there img_1290endured the cross for the whole world so that the whole world could freely live in His joy and strength because we have joy because of grace that we freely receive from Him when we acknowledge Who He is in our life, endured the cross.  Just like the booths in the Old Testament but so much better because it isn’t a representation of God with us…it is literally God in us.  When we realize the fact of God is in us you realize you have strength and joy because of grace. Because the Triune God lives in us and through us, all the time as believers in Jesus Christ. Every time I think about how much God loved us and desired so greatly to live in us that He would send His Son and His Son would pay our price all to be able to come live in us. Wow, amazing joy because of grace!

Correcting Perspective

Where to start, where to start…..well at the beginning of course…..haha…..I need to lay a foundation that is firm and is not going to waver. That foundation of course is Jesus. He is the only firm foundation for any of us. He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Lover of my soul and yours if you simply believe in Who He is-the Son of God Who took the sin of the entire world when He proclaimed, “It is finished” and arose on the third day. The foundation of our belief system is so important.

What we need to understand is our belief system is built up of words. Words hold the way to communicate what one believes or doesn’t believe.

One of the things I would love to do as a teacher is have a word, that described what we would be looking at for the day in History, and I would write that word on the board. The students then would come to the board and write anything that came to their mind about that particular word. I would then have the students look up the word in the dictionary, yes SIRI was asked on many occasions. Yet, the word being defined could not be used in the definition. It was always fun to see if their idea of the word matched the definition. So, where am I going with all of this??? I want to lay a foundation which changed the way I saw God, saw Jesus, saw myself and saw others. It opened scripture for me where before it didn’t make sense; opened my eyes to the goodness of the Father and the beauty of the Son’s sacrifice; and a true appreciation for the Holy Spirit. Literally my perspective changed! What I found out while writing this blog post was that photographers have to correct perspective distortions or use them to their advantage in photos. I, being an amateur photographer, had no idea about this issue except many times what I saw in real life and what the photo looked like were different. I found when the camera lens was tilted up or down this can cause a totally different perspective in the photo. God wanted to clear up my perspective because the reality of what I saw and what was true were two different things.  The lense we see things through is our understanding or perspective of the words we use and how we define those words. Here is an example of a picture that had distortion and was fixed: image

God wants to make sure our lense is giving us the right perspective to see Him clearly.

Over the next few blog posts, I will be simply defining some words that for me had gotten somehow redefined because how the words have been taught through church history. I believe it comes down to the fact that through human history we have always had a belief that we need to perform what we in and of ourselves can simply not do. We desire to take care of our sin problem on our own. It just doesn’t work. Our flesh cries out and we somehow feel we have to atone for our sin and the enemy laughs and says yes you do. Jesus cries out-It is finished! We can go back through history and see that the Roman Catholic Church had a great hold on atonement for sin. We can see people flailing themselves when they have sinned. We can see people “repenting” moment by moment hoping not to have forgotten some sinful thought or deed….otherwise you are no longer in “right relationship with God” until you do “repent”. Luther came out with his thesis on October 31st and pretty much said it is not be works but by faith that we have relationship with God. Yet, even now, over the years we have, as a church, gone back to flailing ourselves with a whip (I call it the repent, forgive, repent cycle), hopefully not literally flailing ourselves but figuratively speaking.

This is how the Lord laid my foundation to see Him how He sees me-He corrected my perspective and I repented (see my definition at the end of repent). He started with asking me to define repentance. I went to the board (my journal) and began writing how I see or define repentance:

I would start with confessing my sin (what I did wrong) to God, asking His forgiveness, receiving His forgiveness, believing He and I were once again in right relationship and probably crying a lot while doing so.

The Lord spoke very clearly in this moment to me as I wrote this and said, “No that is not correct; go look up the word repentance.”. This is where I started, although I had many questions that would arise over the next three days and this last year…..This post though will only deal with the word REPENTANCE.

Repent is found 56 times in the New Testament (NT) and 14 times in the Old Testament (OT)- (NKJV). Interesting, huh?!? I thought wow for sure Lord You had to say it way more times in the New Testament because we really need to do it a lot. Haha! It just wasn’t the way I had defined it. Here is the Greek and Hebrew word for repentance along with the definition from Biblehub:

Greek: metamellomai=change after being with, care be concerned with; metanoeo=after, to think-to think after or to change one’s mind

Hebrew: shub=to turn back, to return; nacham=comfort,to console oneself, to be sorry

Before we go any further I want to make note that in Genesis 6:6, Exodus 32:14, 1 Chronicles 21:15/2 Samuel 24:16, Psalm 106:45, Jeremiah 26:19, and Jonah 3:10 all use the Hebrew verb nacham in regards to God’s action not man’s. God was sorry, consoled and comforted Himself. God Himself was sorry He created man, He rethought the idea of burning up the entire camp of Israelites when they had chosen to perform the law but found they couldn’t-ummm the golden calf,  God also choose to be sorry and stop the angel from killing more Israelites when King David choose to have a census, God remembered the covenant in loving kindness (even though the Israelites could not perform their part of the covenant as they said they could at Mt. Sinai) God felt sorry and He made the Israelites objects of compassion to their captors and lastly is how God turned from or felt sorry and choose not to destroy the Ninevites because they had turned from their wicked ways. In these scriptures you can see God, Himself rethought, turned from what He was going to do, turned from what He was doing, changed His mind or felt sorry for what He had created. In Genesis where God felt sorry for what He had created with mankind, God had already created Noah, who is mentioned in Genesis 5:29, saying he would be the one to bring nacham or rest to mankind from their toil  because of the curse to the land. This is actually the first time the word nacham is used in the OT. I really want you to understand the true meaning of these Hebrew and Greek words down deep within the context of the language and story. Our perspective of the meaning of the words need to be what God intended. Okay, now back to the New Testament…

When the word repent is used it is important to know the definition; so as to read and understand what was being said.  We also need to understand the audience, the history at the time and any “slang” i.e.: He is being a pain in my rear. (What exactly was Paul saying when he said…..a thorn in his side…heehee….I believe that he was saying someone or people were being a pain in his rear.)

What I did from there is when I would read the word repent in scripture I would be able to see and understand it in the way it was really defined not the way I had been taught it to mean. The way God intended us to see and understand it. The first time repent is seen in the New Testament is when John makes a bold statement, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2). When I read this in the past, I saw Jewish people lamenting, crying out for forgiveness, groveling on the ground, and full of sinful deeds that they needed to see as sin. Like they didn’t already know what sin is or isn’t. They had been brought up under the law. Understood the law inside and out. Tried to uphold the law but found themselves like Paul admitting what they don’t want to do they do and what they want to do they don’t do. (Romans 7:19-20) Now because I understand the word repent means to turn, or change one’s mind I see a very different picture.

I see John the Baptist proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, look see turn in this direction this is going to blow your mind, this is going to be different than how you have done things for hundreds of years. Look the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are going to happen in your lifetime. The prophets of old would love to see what you shall set your eyes upon. Things are going to change because heaven has come to earth. Look, change your minds, turn from the way you have seen things done because NOTHING will ever be the same again. The Messiah has come!!!

Wow, such a different view of the Kingdom of Heaven. This started me on a quest of defining words that led me out of being a “law girl” or actually what I believe to be a “lukewarm Christian” which means a little bit of grace and a little bit of law. Jesus would prefer us to be hot or cold…the lukewarm He spits out (Revelation 3:16). Now I consider myself saved by grace. You may ask what do you do now when you “sin”, read Horizontal and Vertical for definitions of sin, when your flesh and the enemy cry out for payment for what you have done. I simply remind my flesh and the enemy that I can never pay that payment, but I have a Savior, the One and only Perfect Sacrifice, the Final Lamb of the Passover, My Beloved, Jesus the Christ Who loves me no matter what Who paid that price. God has fully forgiven me from beginning to end because Jesus paid my payment. I do not negate what was done at the Cross; I simply fully recieve what was done for me and believe what was done for me by Jesus the Christ was enough. I proclaim who I am in Christ. I am righteous only in Christ. I see myself wrapped in Him, the work finished at the Cross and my entire drawer of sin cleaned out for my entire life. That is the immensity of what Christ did at the Cross. He took all my sin, all my disease, all my condemnation as the Perfect Sacrifice and gave me His righteousness and wholeness. This right thinking and believing shuts the mouth of the enemy and my flesh no longer cries out for a payment. Trust me I had the same questions you probably do. I encourage you to go look, search, read, and seek the Lord. My deepest desire was to know God like He knows me….

Repentance is seeing God for Who He truly is.