Monday, December 24, 2012

Spiritual Starvation

Today, I was wondering what makes me different than everyone I know?  What makes me strange to the world?  Why am I constantly driven to learn more of God?  Why do I have this burning desire within me when even other Christians I know don't have this desire, or at least not to the extent I do?  If I had no family and no responsibilities, I would literally be online, or reading God books, or studying Scripture, or watching sermons, or listening to religious podcasts -- ALL. DAY.  I would pray, I would study, I would write 10,000 notes in my Bible.

Being a stay-at-home mom has its advantages.  I do spend a good amount of time learning of God and "kneeling" in my "prayer closet".

I think the Spirit gave me a little insight into what's going on here.  I'm suffering from a spiritual starvation.  What does that mean?  Well, I'll give you an example.  You know how sometimes you watch the Food Network and you think, "Man, it would be awesome to take some culinary classes!"  Not to become a "chef", per se, but just to learn how to properly cook.  How to cook GOOD food, not just... pork chops.

I often feel this way about learning the things of God.  I think how cool it would be to go to Seminary.  I'm not even remotely thinking of becoming a pastor, but man, it would be amazing to take some MEATY classes to learn how to properly study the Bible.  Or learn about God in general through a course that makes you write papers and research the Scriptures.

I want to know God, truly KNOW Him.  I want to unpack Bible verses.  I want to hear entire sermons that go through a book of the Bible and study it verse by verse.  I believe this is called exegesis.  I'm STARVING for this kind of teaching.

I feel like my Christian walk is like sipping milk rather than chewing on meat.

The problem I've found, however, is that the Body of Christ at large seems to be suffering from this starvation as well -- and they don't even know it!  They go to church, sing a few songs, hear a lovely message, and don't leave the building CHANGED.  They don't leave THINKING.  They don't have their world rocked by a revelation found in a specific Bible verse.

Part of this starvation in myself came about because this summer of 2012, the Lord Himself took me -- line by line -- through the entire book of Ephesians and unpacked every verse for me.  It was my most jaw-dropping, eye-opening period of awakening to the Scriptures in my entire life.  I've read Ephesians countless times, but the Spirit made me slow down and digest each verse, and truly understand what it was saying while at the same time, giving me a spiritual knowledge of what it meant.

After Ephesians, God took me through Galatians, Philippians, and Colossians.  The summer of '12 was an incredible time of tutelage for me under the Holy Spirit.  But my lament now comes from the fact that unless I do deep study myself, I don't get fed in this way by conventional means.

Don't get me wrong, I love my church and all the leaders.  I love learning different views from different people and discussing things amongst fellow Christians.  I love the "lighter" sermons about forgiveness or remembrance or chatting about a Bible story.  But I also need to have that deeper MARROW of Biblical teaching that will satisfy this hunger that's driving me to KNOW God.

To give you an idea of what I'm talking about - I LOVE it when I hear a teaching from Genesis that the pastor then ties in to a verse from Isaiah.  Or how the book of Joshua might fit in as well.  I LOVE learning about prophecy, not only of who Messiah is, but His Second Coming as well.  I ADORE cross-referencing Scripture and gaining new insight into something from an obscure passage in the book of Amos.  I enjoy learning the original words in Hebrew and/or Greek, to get the full understanding of what the author was trying to convey.

However in today's churches, it seems there's a general "glossing over" of the Old Testament.  They might pick out some Psalms and Proverbs, maybe the random Isaiah at Christmas-time, but as a rule, the teachings are all on the New Testament.  For me, this robs God of His Hebrew heritage, of the history behind Christ and why He chose to reveal Himself through the Jews in the first place.  And I'll be the first to admit I don't study the Old Testament as well as I should.  But I WANT to.  I want to find nuggets of God's amazingness in Deuteronomy just as I did in Ephesians this summer.

Case in point -- did you know that Moses' "suffering symbol" for the people of Israel in Numbers 21 was a precursor to the cross?

Why NOT?!  I first learned about Moses' suffering symbol, not from a sermon, but through a SONG by Michael Card.  I've read about it before, as I've read the book of Numbers, but unless we're TAUGHT these gems, we don't always see them.

The cross of Christ and foreshadow of Him is ALL OVER the Old Testament.  Christ Himself even told us the Scripture prophesied of Him.  During His life, the ONLY Scripture was OT!  THIS is what I want to learn!

There are certain pastors who still preach in the way I "crave".  I absolutely ADORE Charles Stanley.  That man preaches everything the Holy Spirit has been revealing to me in my own study.  I love listening to him and being "confirmed" time and again by what I've learned myself.  Matt Chandler is excellent for the younger generation, a 30-something preacher who's survived a brain tumor and goes line-by-line in Scripture, unpacking the meaning behind verses.  Another pastor I love is JD Greear.  He's written a book entitled "Gospel" that blew me away.  Why have I NEVER understood the grace of God like this before?  Joseph Prince is an acquired taste for sure, however, when he digs into Scripture, they come alive for me.  John Piper is amazing, as well as Paul Washer, both unafraid to "tell it like it is" and confront your lackadaisical beliefs.  And give me ANYTHING to read by Charles Spurgeon, and I'll devour it like a starving man at Thanksgiving dinner.

I want to be challenged, I suppose.  I want to hear messages I don't already "know".  I feel as if pastors sometimes cater to the milk-fed while starving the meat-hungry.  Perhaps they themselves don't know the meat.  Perhaps they don't know the difference between milk and meat.  Perhaps they think they are preaching meat when in reality, it is only milk.  Perhaps God is leading me down this road because He wants ME to know the difference.

When I realized what my problem was, that I was spiritually hungry for MORE than what I'm learning, I said a bold prayer.  I asked God to teach me Himself.  Somewhere along the way, the Church has lost her Spurgeons, her Wilberforces, her Bunyans, her Edwards.  We've had a few modern day preachers such as they -- AW Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill and the like, but they, too, have passed away.  This generation of preachers needs to buckle down while telling their congregations to buckle up.

A third time he asked him, Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, Then feed my sheep."
~~John 21:17

Amen.  Let us not assume our churches are filled with people who rightly know the grace of God through His Gospel.  Until I read a book on it specifically, I didn't.  Let us not assume we know all there is to know about foreshadow and prophecy in the Old Testament.  Let's not have the children in our Sunday Schools be the only members in church learning about King David or Noah or Abraham or Adam! 

As 2013 begins, let's recommit to feeding the sheep of God and giving His Body a deeper, richer walk with Him.  Unless pastors and leaders truly ABIDE in Yeshua, neither can their flock.  HIS flock.  It is an awesome responsibility to be a man (and woman) of God.  Let us not skate through it and assume we know it, or that they know it.  As the Body needs to be challenged, so too do our pastors.

Dig in.  Overturn.  Seek.  Knock.  FIND.

It is the glory of God to conceal things,
    but the glory of kings is to search things out.
~~Proverbs 25:2


Monday, December 17, 2012

Spiritual Illumination of the Word

Do you have a specific Bible verse that's sort of ... hounded you all your life?  You've read it a bunch of times, but it never really made sense?  You haven't done any study on it, but every time you read it, your brow furrows.  Pastors may have mentioned it, but they never really get into the WHY behind the verse.

My mystery passage of Scripture is 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

This Scripture is speaking of a specific sin, or thorn, in Paul's side that was causing him "pain".  We don't know exactly what it was, but he speaks of it as a "messenger of Satan", to keep him from becoming conceited in the wonderful visions and revelations Christ gave him.  In other words, God allowed Paul to have this vice to keep him humble.  However Paul wanted God to remove it.  But God spoke, and Paul realized "When I am weak, then I am strong."

And there it is.  The mystery that has stymied me all my life.  How is it possible to be strong when you're weak?  All my life I had assumed it meant Christ gives you the appropriate strength you need in times of crisis and weakness.  I suppose that's true.  But I don't believe that's the full scope of this passage.

If you notice, the Lord tells Paul His GRACE is sufficient.  His power is "made perfect" in weakness.  Well...  Ack, what does THAT mean?!  God gave us grace at the cross, we're covered with it and clothed by it.  It's all around us.  We're saved by it AND we live by it.  It is by grace we resemble Christ at all, amen?  But what does "made perfect in weakness" mean?  Isn't God's power already perfect?  And why only in weakness?  What's going on here?

As the Spirit sometimes does with me, the revelation of this verse came to me quite by surprise.  I hadn't read it in awhile, as I'm studying other books than Corinthians.  It just popped into my head one day.  God said, "Here, understand this."  And I believe this Spiritual understanding is the very KEY to knowing how Paul was able to rejoice always (1 Thess. 5:16), no matter what came at him (Philippians 1:20-21).

You see, God was showing Paul, through the "thorn" in his side (that was likely a certain sin he kept committing *see Romans 7*), that God's grace is enough for him -- the very grace given to him at the cross.  This revelation to Paul wasn't God's flippant reply to Paul's genuine guilt and shame over a habitual sin, but rather a LESSON IN THE GOSPEL.

At the cross, Christ became our sin and we became His righteousness.  Anyone who knows my walk with Yeshua knows 2 Corinthians 5:21 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible, because it outlines what actually happened that day.  Christ became "me", and I became "Him".  Galatians 2:20 (another favorite) says we DIED with Him on the cross and the life we now live is CHRIST in us.

So, it was our life for His Life, a life of sin and shame traded for a Life of Righteousness and Truth.  God placed OUR sin record on Yeshua, and gave US His mantle of Righteousness.  God then turned His face away from Yeshua so that He could gaze upon us.  We now have the favor of the Father toward the Son of God.

With regards to Paul's "thorn", God was saying that all of Paul's sins are GONE.  His record is wiped clean.  It is a struggle to live holy, but God knows its impossible, which is why He sent Christ to atone for us.  This is why God's GRACE is enough.  Because by His Grace, our sins are as white as snow.  We agonize over stumbling, but God tells us not to.  His Grace is enough.  He remembers our sins no more.  Christ already paid our punishment.  So while we hurt because we sin against God, the Lord is telling us there is now no more condemnation (Romans 8:1).

"My Grace is enough!"

But how could God's power be made perfect in our weakness?  Why is it when we're weak, we're strong?

Certainly Christ gives us strength when we ask it of Him.  But it is because of God's grace at the CROSS that we are strong when we are weak.  We are leaning on HIS work.  On HIS blood.  On HIS atonement.  It is by HIS strength we're saved at all!  So in that darkest moment, when you've stumbled into that familiar sin, THAT is when you're strong in Christ, because you already have the Victory.  You are an overcomer because He overcame.  Our identity is found in Him.  His Grace is the eraser that has wiped the "chalkboard" of our sin record clean.

When you are at your lowest and you feel like you've broken God's heart, THAT is when you're strong.  Don't turn away from God in that moment, Christian!  Turn TOWARD Him!  You are strong in that moment, because no matter what you've done, you have been given VICTORY in Christ.  His Grace is enough because He's wiped the impossible stains of your life clean with His Own perfection.  We are the strongest when we're weak because it is only when we're weak that we realize we need His strength to save us.

Grace isn't fully appreciated until one is brought to the end of their rope.  When we stumble in sin as believers, that is when we truly understand the scope of what has been forgiven.  That's when we internalize the price Christ had to pay, when we comprehend the depth of God's Love, and the magnificence of the One Who has given us redemption.

Therefore, in our weakness, we look to God's Grace to be our strength, because no matter how weak we are, we have been made STRONG through God's forgiveness of sins on the cross.  There is nothing anyone can do to pluck us out of Yeshua's hand.  There is nothing anyone can do to pluck us out of the Father's hand (John 10:28-29).  THIS is why Paul was able to rejoice in his suffering!

The strength of God's grace is everlasting.  No matter what we do, He will not lose us.  Our sins are forever gone.  And while we continue to sin in the flesh, the blood of Christ covers us until our salvation in Him is complete (Philippians 1:6) and we're glorified at the Resurrection.  Paul's strength in his weakness was not simply asking Christ to give him strength, but to realize he already HAD Christ's strength, His righteousness, His perfection, His favor with God the Father.  And never was he more aware of that fact than when he had sinned -- and yet remained a favored child of God!

The "strength" in this verse is not physical strength, emotional strength, or even a spiritual strength, but rather a knowing that no matter how hard we stumble, fall, or fail Him, His Grace is enough.  Our strength is knowing that our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).  That we are in the palm of His hand.  That He'll never let us go.  That our sin record has been completely expunged - even if we commit another sin.

I believe this truth is why God allowed Paul to have this "thorn".  Thank God for Romans 7!    Through Paul, we realize that as Christians, we still sin and we'll still struggle with it, but God's grace is enough - and His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  For when I'm weak, I see how glorious, how marvelous, how beautiful, and how incomprehensible our God is to forgive -- and forget -- a lifetime of rebellion through Jesus Christ our Lord.

When we sin, that is when we should praise Him the most, not run from Him in shame!  At the cross, He took our entire lives upon His shoulders so that we could find our strength in weakness through His wondrous Grace.  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. ~~Ephesians 6:10


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Yeshua Still Amazes Me

Lately, I've been thinking about my own mortality.  Morbid, I know.  I often wonder what my little world would be like -- without me.  How would my family go on?  How would my friends cope?  Certainly the world would continue on as it always has.  My life is but a small influence on this big earth.  However, I'd like to think I've reached a few people for Christ -- at least five that I know of for sure -- my children.

I often wonder what my funeral would be like, and how I'd be remembered.  I should hope the one thing that comes to mind, the one thing people cannot avoid, the one thing that would be shining throughout every corridor of my existence -- would be my love for YESHUA.  I should hope my friends and family would be happy and joyous in knowing I was HOME with Him FOREVER.

But thoughts like these bring the curious mind to play out scenarios of what my family might go through in the event of my passing.  And it truly brought home the idea that we as Christians are the light of the world.

In my home, I am the only one that listens to Christian music.  Occasionally my daughters might, but not all the time.  Usually, I am singing and dancing along to my music while I do chores or cook dinner.  This light would be gone.

I'm usually loud in general, and my laugh (I've been told since my tender years) is quite ear-splitting.  In high school, folks used to refer to me as, "You know, Rebecca -- the one with the laugh?"  In my absence, the house would be quiet.

In my family, I am the only one who cares to go to church on a semi-regular basis.  I attend a small group and sometimes show at extra-curricular activities.  The only reason there is no dust on our Bibles is because I read them.  Occasionally my kids do as well, but not nearly as often.  The constant reinforcement of Scripture, therefore, would be lost.

I love to post on Facebook and this blog and a few Christian forums, edifying the brethren and sharing things the Spirit has taught me.  That soul food from our Lord would be dried up.

I am not saying all this as a downer, these are merely the thoughts I've had.  If God decided to take me, His light in me would go out in my corner of the world.  There are other lights -- my kids obviously, and my sister's family too.  If any one of them passed away, a similar story would be told.  We are all lights for Yeshua, we just vary from glory to glory.

Some of us prefer a quiet faith, while others prefer to live out loud.

But I have noticed in my own life that I am a "live out loud" Christian, while those in the closest proximity to me are of a quiet, if not dormant (or semi-dormant) faith.  I used to have like-minded believers around me in my youth, but for years after I married, I went through a long drought of the things of God.  Two years ago, I decided to do something about it and retired from writing romance for His glory.  I also decided it was time for me to find a church on my own.  I refocused my life to point to GOD FIRST, and then everything else to follow.  I worked hard to purge every vain idol hidden in my heart.

In short, my relationship with God is now the most precious one I have.  He is my Best Friend, my King, my All-in-all.  I would hope HE is what my friends and family would remember about me the most.  That I was gung-ho and unrepentant about what I believed.  That I jumped in head-first to the things of God and never looked back.  That this world no longer held any worth or entertainment for me, that all I lived for was YESHUA.

I want the memory of my very life to be a shadow of the Gospel.  I want to glorify my Lord even in my death.  I want people to be inspired, to stand in awe and say, "Now there was a woman who loved God!"

Not for my own sake, mind.  I will no longer be here.  I will be enjoying my eternity with the One my soul loves.  No, for HIS sake.  For the glory of HIS name.  That is the cry of my heart.

If I had my druthers, the Gospel itself would be preached at my funeral.  It would be required that awesome stories be told.  I would like praise songs to be sung, worship to be had, and thanks to be given, that Yeshua died to save me, that I'm safe and sound in His Loving arms.  I would hope the focus would be on HIM and not on ME.  That my life so reflected HIM that every story told would reveal Him.

After all these years, Yeshua still amazes me.  He's never left me.  He's been with me since I asked Him into my heart as a thirteen-year-old girl.  Folks I know that used to be on fire for Him have now cooled, but I haven't.  I've kept myself close to His robes.  I don't want to fall away.  I don't want to ever face this world without my God walking before me, without my God at my right hand (Psalm 16:8).  I know how I am.  I know how I spin out of control at times.  I need my Anchor.  I need my Rock.  I need the One Who's always been with me.  I need the One Who knows me better than anyone else on the planet.  I need the One who gives me peace, joy, and strength.

Perhaps I've been able to keep my childlike qualities.  I know for a fact that I've returned to my First Love.  He's rekindled within me a Love that burns brighter than ever before.  And He's given me a means to share Him with the world.

If He takes me out sooner rather than later, then I want the world to know I have NOTHING apart from Him -- He created me, the air I breathe, the food I eat, the family I have...  He's given me the home I live in, the cars I drive, the friends I have, the church I've longed for, and above all -- Eternal Life.  To me, God is THE MOST beautiful, glorious, wonderful, spectacular, generous, and loving Being in existence.

He STILL amazes me!  He will continue to amaze me for an eternity.  Hallelujah.  \O/


Sunday, November 11, 2012

In Everything By Prayer and Supplication

How's your prayer life?  It's an honest question.  I'm not trying to be facetious.  If you're a Christian, your relationship with Yeshua is THE most important relationship of your entire life.  More important than your  spouse, your children, your family, your friends.  In fact, Christianity is nothing BUT relationship with Yeshua.  The True Gospel of Christ has NO religion whatsoever.

If you think Christ is all about religion, you've been talking to the wrong Christians.  Or you're mistaken about the Gospel.

"Religion" is a list of do's and don't's.  A set of rules.  Things that are expected of you.  Appearances to keep.  Hypocrisy.   "Holier than thou".  Judgment.  Bigotry. 

A true Christian enjoys a relationship of FREEDOM in Christ.  Our Lord has released us from the bondage of a Law we have no hope of keeping ourselves.  Through Christ's perfect life and sacrifice, we are now freed from that bondage to live lives of GRACE.  Grace is freely given to any who ask Him.  Why?  Because Love is unconditional!  If you have a condition on love, it is no longer love.  "I'll only love you if you lose another 10 pounds."  "I can only love blonde women."  "If you're not rich, I can't love you."  "I love you because you'll be a very handsome older man."

Who says that?!  I mean honestly?  Only shallow people who don't know the meaning of love, right?  So if we, who are not God, know that true love is unconditional, how much more is the God of Love's affection for us unconditional through His Divine Grace?

By definition, if love has conditions, it is not love.  Love is unconditional.  Therefore, God Himself, in order to teach us that His love is unconditional, had to show us a love act of such "shock and awe" that it absolutely proved once and for all how He feels about us -- and He did that at the cross.  God's Own Law showed us that no human being is justified in His sight by works of the Law, because it pointed out our sin (Romans 3:20).  Therefore, only HE, a perfect, sinless Being, had any hope of upholding it.  And that's exactly what He did for us.

Then He imparted HIS life to us at the cross, taking OUR lives upon His shoulders and taking our sins to His grave.  The cross forever unites us to Him, which is wonderful news, because He rose again on the third day!  Now that we are united to Him, we will likewise rise again at the Resurrection.

That is the True Gospel.  When you realize that love has no conditions, it frees you, because you know God doesn't love you due to your performance, but simply because He loves.  God IS Love.

But getting back to your prayer that you know Christianity is a relationship with Yeshua and not a "to-do list", how do you pray?

"God is great, God is good, thank You, God, for this food..."

Do you do that much?  Or do you just bow your head when someone else prays?

Are you frustrated because God never seems to answer your prayers?  I've noticed through my experiences that people don't pray because they feel God rarely (or never) answers them.  Some people have even asked, "If God knows everything, then why should we pray?  Wouldn't He already know what I'm going to say or ask for?"

The short answer is yes, He already knows.  However, we pray, not to continuously petition God for a need, but to talk to Him, to enjoy Him, to LOVE Him.

How often do you talk to your spouse throughout the day?  Would you have a strong marriage if you never talked?  Why is it any different with your Heavenly Bridegroom?

Now, here's where some Christians have a disconnect with regards to their prayer life.  They seem to think reading the Bible is spending time with God.  They think singing praise is spending time with God.  Or maybe going to church.  Or small group.  Or book club.  Or a mission trip.

Those are all wonderful ways to be in God's presence.  But I can be in my husband's presence all day long and never TALK to him.  Being in his presence doesn't make our marriage any stronger.  What makes a strong marriage is communication.

And Yeshua desires an open line of communication with you!  When's the last time you came before Him without asking Him for this or that?  How about the last time you just came before Him to say "Hi"?  When have you just talked about your day?  Shared your hurts and happiness?

When have you simply admired His creation?  When did you stop and thank Him for your blessings?

Here is the secret to a successful prayer life.  The secret to having your prayers heard and answered, the key to hearing God's voice, can be found in James 4:8 - "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you."

If you treat the God of the Universe like a doormat, not thanking Him for every good and perfect gift you have, or like a genie in a bottle, pulling Him out only when you need Him, then He only honors you with the same measure of honor you give Him.

What husband honors a wife who ignores him?  What husband draws near to a wife who only wants him around when she needs something from him?

A healthy prayer life is exactly how you abide in Yeshua.  He even told us this.  If we abide in Him, He hears us and gives us what we ask of Him.

Why did He tell us to do this?  Why must we remain in Him?  Because He is a God of LOVE, and the God of LOVE deeply desires a relationship with you, wayward believer!  When we are close to Him, when we abide in Him, we are more in tune with His will.  And when we're in tune with His will, we're less likely to pray for a flashy car, and more likely to pray for peace, humility, and love.  Drawing near to God strips away our selfish tendencies because our focus is on HIM, not on ourselves.

When we begin to abide in Yeshua, we begin to really LOVE Him.  Most believers would say they love God.  But you can love your roommate.  You can love your co-worker.  But you're not madly, deeply in love with them.

A healthy prayer life is like tuning the rabbit-ears of your heart to pick up the signal of the Most High.  Once you're "tuned in", life seems to have new meaning.  I absolutely and 100% believe this is what the Scripture means in Song of Songs 8:4 - "Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires."  Folks with healthy prayer lives are those kind of Christians who are "different", they have a quality you admire, there's something "otherworldly" about them.  You want what they have.  God rests on them like a dove.  

This isn't some mystery, folks.  Draw near to God and He draws near to you.  This is why some folks say things like... "We have a God-shaped hole in our hearts..."  It's actually kinda true!  God created us to commune with Him.  And we're not satisfied until we do.  The amazing thing about it all is that once you start seeking Him, the more you want to seek Him.  The more you find Him, the more you want to find Him.  It's mind-blowing, how tuning into God makes one "hunger and thirst" after righteousness.

And Righteousness personified is YESHUA.

A relationship with God goes far beyond salvation itself.  A person can be saved and not have a healthy prayer life.  It's actually not a requirement of salvation. The only requirement is to confess with your mouth and believe in your heart (Romans 10:9).  However, the believer with no prayer life is quite literally ROBBING THEMSELVES of the ABUNDANT life!  And in all honesty, who DOESN'T want to know the One who saved their soul?!  Christ's work on the cross is THE most important thing to happen to you in your entire, eternal life!  How could you NOT want to know this amazing God of amazing Love?

There is no time like the present to begin your prayer life with Yeshua.  He needs no pomp and circumstance.  He did away with religion, remember?  Tell Him anything and everything.  Make "Pray without ceasing" your mantra.  Be constantly tuned in.  It's a discipline to carve out time from your busy day to pray.  But that's why we're called "disciples".

Don't be the one to tell Almighty God you didn't have time for Him today.  Get to know the One who lived and died for you. 


Friday, November 2, 2012

Loving God Above All Else

Is it odd to proclaim that I have a love affair with my God?  Am I weird to confess it?  Does this make me a "Jesus Freak"?  One of those crazy Christians who's a little off balance, a little out of touch?  Well it can't be because I'm single and long for a man.  I'm quite happily married.  And it isn't because my husband isn't living up to his end of the marriage, because I have no reservations in that regard.

There is nothing missing in my life that I'm conveniently filling with Yeshua.  In fact, He fulfills my life.  It's sad that a lot of folk today look upon a Christian who's all in for Christ as an "abnormality".  Even fellow Christians might think zealous people are overdoing it.  This is not to say that a quiet, comfortable love isn't acceptable in His sight either, however, what I am saying is that the overwhelming love of Christ...changes you.

Yeshua had Two Great Commandments.  We always remember the second one -- Love Thy Neighbor.  It comes up frequently when there's talk of intolerance, racism, sexism, or any other hot-button issue comes into play.  And it is quite poignant and to the point.  Love your neighbor as you love yourself.  What a novel concept!  We should all be so lucky to be recipients of that kind of love.

And yet, all too often, we forget the first commandment -- Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.  (Luke 10:27)

Before we're told to love our neighbor, we're told to love God, above and beyond anything else on earth.  Loving God above all things means abiding in Him.  Studying Him, reading His Word, and spending time with Him in prayer.  The more we learn about the love of God for us in His Son Yeshua, the more we fall head-over-heels in love with Him.  The more we wonder and marvel at His grace, the more we stand stunned at what our God has done on our behalf.  The more we see His beauty, the more we're blown away by His loveliness - the more we want to get to know Him.

That's when He sets your heart on fire.  It's no longer enough to wonder about Him or to think about Him, you've got to study Him and seek Him and talk to Him.  You've got to get to know Him, because if He's truly as wonderful and amazing as you are learning He is, then He has no equal in the whole of creation.  He is the consuming fire that burns up all the wood, hay, and stubble, leaving behind nothing but purity, compassion, faith, patience, goodness, kindness, and above all, LOVE.

And the more you learn of Him, the more you see His love for you.  It is reciprocal.  It is a relationship.  And it transcends the Bible itself to become real to you in your every day life.  When you know and abide in God, He leaps off the pages of Holy Writ and becomes absolutely glorious.  And you begin to see His beauty everywhere you look.  I liken it to someone you find attractive.  They are handsome or beautiful.  But the more you get to know them, the more you fall in love with them, and the more they become the most lovely person in the world.

Relationship with God is like THAT.

Those who don't have this kind of relationship think it's quite odd indeed.  But those who do have it, BASK in Him.  The more you know Him, the more you abide in Him and live your life by His commandments, the more you understand His sovereignty and His infinite Glory.  The more beautiful He becomes.  It's overwhelming to realize just how much He loves us.  


Most folks believe the Song of Songs is a book about lovers.  And it is.  But the wording is so strong, about a king coming to sweep his "ordinary" shulammite bride away, we can clearly see the allegory for Christ and His Church.

In Song of Songs 8:6-7, we see a powerful picture of Christ's longing for us. 

"Set me as a seal on your heart, like a seal on your arm..."  -- Keep Me forever in your heart, and declare Me publicly forever on your arm.  I love the beginning of this verse.  I love the aspect that the heart is secret and personal, but the arm is open and public.

"For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as unyielding as the grave..." -- Christ ultimately died to bring us into His Glory.  His Love was the only thing strong enough to conquer the grave.  His jealousy over us, that He was unwilling we should perish and be lost to Him forever, proved once and for all that it's as unyielding as the grave.

"It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love, rivers cannot wash it away."  -- God's love burns for us, how amazing is that?  In fact, God's love is so powerful, so total, so unrelenting, and so completely overwhelming that not even water can quench it, not even roaring rivers.  God is an eternal flame.  Nothing can quench Him.

Oh, to be loved so completely!  So amazingly!  So eternally!  Why do I love Him so very much?  Why do I dedicate all my energy and strength to loving Him and spending time with Him and learning of Him?  Because I have come to know and understand His Love, His blazing fire, His mighty flame... for ME.

All my life, I've never once seen nor experienced a life that truly abided in Yeshua.  I've seen fanaticism, and that can often be mistaken for abiding.  But fanaticism is taking things to extremes, crossing uncrossable lines, and turning God into an idol of your own creation rather than worshipping and loving the One True God of Scripture.  Those who twist Scripture to fit their fanaticism know nothing about loving Christ.  If they truly knew the love of God, they would keep His commands.  And in a heart that truly loves, there is no room for hate and anger, mistrust and unforgiveness.

But a Christian that rejoices always?  A Christian who prays without ceasing?  A Christian who gives thanks in all circumstances?  Who does that?  Who can continue praising God just as fervently on the bad days as on the good days?  Who can truly say "My help comes from the Lord"?  Who's faith is so rock-solid they can look Satan in the eye and say, "Do your worst"?  How many people can pray with such power that their prayers are answered?  Or pray with such humility that their prayers are answered?  Who can stare down adversity and say, "Thy will be done, Lord, on earth as it is in Heaven"?

THIS is abiding in Yeshua!  And I've never seen it in ANY Christian my entire life.  That is why I wish to BECOME a Christian who abides in Him, as a branch abides in the Vine.  If I've never seen anyone live like this, I want to BECOME the one who does.  I want people to give Christ glory when they see my walk with Him, because there's just something "different" about me.  I LOVE God and PRAISE His holy name, unrelenting, without remorse, with complete abandon, and yet...I'm not a fanatic.  I want to be the spark that lights my brethren on fire.


Because I LOVE Yeshua, with all that is in me.  And if He put me here, it was for good reason.  He created me to live for Him.  Love is not cold.  Love is not lukewarm.  Love is HOT and it BURNS with a passion to ignite a burning love for God within every beating heart that is home to the Holy Spirit.  The very temple of God.

Do not neglect Christ's first commandment to love God above all else.  Loving God is abiding in Yeshua.  Spending time with Him.  Obeying His commands.  It's the abundant life!  It's every thing Christ promised us and more.  Those who love God with an unrepentant passion are not odd nor strange, but rather, examples of Christians who totally trust their God with all the faith inside their hearts.  Come what may, rain or shine.

Yeshua, teach us how to love You and know You so well that we become unshakeable in our faith, unwavering in our resolve, and solid rocks upon which Your Church can stand.  Lead us to the shelter of the Most High so that we may rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  (Psalm 91:1)  In Your holy Name, Amen.


Monday, October 22, 2012

How About a Little Praise?

Today, God spared my father's life.  He had a triple bypass open-heart surgery.  Considering my father's failing health, his success in surgery is quite the feat.  But he was covered in prayer by those at my church, on my Facebook page, in my family, and my brethren on Christian forums.  He needed a quadruple bypass, but his fourth artery was too calcified to graft, and the surgeon did not bypass it.  The lesser of the two evils is that he may still have a heart attack, but not a massive one that takes his life.

Our family breathed a big sigh of relief today that he pulled through with "no complications".  He's got a long road ahead of him recovery-wise, and he'll be staying with us once he's out of the rehab center, but tonight, I'm in such a good mood, I wanted to praise the Lord.

Let's praise Him together for His goodness, shall we?  God is good.  All the time.

Hallelujah!  \O/


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Full Acceptance In Yeshua

How often have we felt unworthy of Yeshua?  That old sin rears its ugly head.  We say something vile.  We hurt those we love.  We aren't "model" Christians (whatever that means).  We aren't living holy lives.  Sometimes we're ashamed to come before His Throne.  So we avoid praying.  We avoid spending time with Him.

We say things to ourselves, such as, "I'm not worthy.  I'm not deserving."  Surely there are others in the Body of Christ who are "better" than we.  But brethren, this is simply NOT true.  This is a LIE from the enemy.

Do you believe, as a blood-bought Christian, that you belong to Christ?  Do you believe His blood has washed you of your sins?  Any Christian would say, "Yes!  Absolutely!"  However, we say things to ourselves that convince us we don't believe it.  We know the Gospel of Grace has nothing to do with works (Ephesians 2:8).  Therefore, it is not our works that make us holy.  According to 2 Corinthians 5:21, we have been given CHRIST'S righteousness.

And He took all our sins to His grave.

A life for a life.  It was not Christ's life that was crucified on that day so long ago...  it was YOUR LIFEGalatians 2:20 says we have been crucified with Christ and it is not we who live, but Christ who lives in us.  Colossians 3:3 says our lives are hidden with Christ in God.  Christ's life was given to you when He took your life upon His cross. 

This means our ENTIRE life's sin-record has been expunged!  Christ paid the penalty for sin in our stead.  So why, brethren, do we continue to "resurrect" our old man and beat ourselves over the head with the corpse of our sins?  THEY NO LONGER EXIST!

Do we continue to sin?  Yes, we do.  However, since our punishment was met in Christ's sacrifice, we are free from the power of sin to condemn us to death.  It no longer sends us to the grave, because it sent CHRIST to the grave.  But hallelujah, He rose from the dead!  He proved He has Absolute Power over sin and death upon His resurrection.  The resurrection is the guarantee of our inheritance, because where the Head goes, the Body follows.  That is why believers call those who have passed away merely "asleep".  They are asleep in Christ, because one day, they will awaken at that blessed Trumpet Sound! (1 Corinthians 15:52)

So, what makes us worthy?  Not our works.  The Bible is quite clear on that.  What, then, makes us worthy, brethren? 

The righteousness of Christ


Think about this for a moment.  Is there ever a time when Christ ISN'T worthy?  Is there ever a time when the Father looks upon the Son and doesn't absolutely Love Him?  He willingly took our sin and died our death so that we could live in Him.  But even upon the cross, God loved the Son.  The Father turned His face away because in that moment, YOUR life was upon Yeshua's shoulders.  Therefore, the answer to the question is NO.  There has NEVER been a time when God the Father looked upon the Son and didn't consider Him worthy.

Because while Christ was suffering your fate, YOU were given His righteousness.  And that makes YOU worthy, because CHRIST is Worthy.

I have touched upon this subject before on this blog, that when God looks at you, He sees Christ.  And this is true.  But stop for a moment and let the full force of this reality sink in.

Christ is the Second Member of the Godhead.  We are accepted into the family of God through His sacrifice.  We have been given His righteousness, and He has forever done away with our sins.  Now God loves each one of His children as PERFECTLY and COMPLETELY as He loves His Son.  We are loved by God the Father as if we were members of the Godhead ourselves.

We shall never be gods, however, we will share in the Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:4) by ruling and reigning with Christ as kings and priests (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6) at His right hand (Revelation 3:21).  We have become One with Him through His atonement, like a husband and wife become one flesh (Ephesians 5:31-32).  This is how we are co-heirs with Him (Romans 8:17).

Perhaps there was a time, before we were born again, when we were not worthy.  But after we believed, we were made worthy by Yeshua's finished work on the cross.  He presents to HIMSELF a Bride without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27).  Our worth is found in His Worth.  And Yeshua is Worthy FOREVER.  No longer can we say we're "not worthy".  No longer can we claim we are "undeserving".  If we have the Spirit of Christ living within our bodies as His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19), then we are worthy because HE is Worthy.

We, quite literally, have been given the very Worth of God Almighty.

So let us not entertain such self-debasing thoughts.  Let us not speak so poorly of ourselves.  This is not humility!  These are LIES from the enemy!  Our worth is found in Christ.  And if we are not worthy, then HE is not Worthy. 

And that, brethren, is simply NOT POSSIBLE.


Monday, October 8, 2012

God is Humble

Matthew 11:29:

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

Yeshua preached to the masses that He was humble in heart.  He is our God in flesh.  Yeshua Messiah, God Almighty, proclaimed Himself...  to be humble.

I don't know about you, but that blows my mind.  It goes against everything this world tells us.  It rubs us the wrong way.  Someone in authority, with grand power, should be high and lifted up.  Puffed up with pride.  Looked upon in awe.  Cowered away from.  Someone to be frightened of.  We often picture God On High with a lightning bolt or a mad look on His face, ready to smite mankind.

But Yeshua called Himself "gentle and humble in heart."

I often wonder about God's nature.  He's Holy, He's Love, and His Love is Humble.  True love IS humble.  Think about it.  We are more often drawn to people who are sincere, who don't seem to know their own worth, who smile often and give with an open, willing heart.  But those who feel entitled, who walk on others to get to the top, who steal, lie, cheat, and maybe even kill to get what they want, we feel no love for them at all.

True Love is humble.  And in that, so is God, because God IS Love.  

Everything about Yeshua was humble.  He was born in a manger.  He lived in Nazareth.  He was a carpenter's (adopted) son.  He had no permanent home after coming into His ministry.  He was not rich, revered, or even worshiped, except, perhaps, by His disciples after they fully realized Who He was.   And He even taught His disciples how to be humble themselves.

Peter wouldn't have it.  He refused to have Yeshua wash his feet.  "No," he said.  "You will never wash my feet!"  (John 13:8)  You see, Peter thought of Christ as we all do, our LORDWe should be washing HIS feet.  We are not worthy for Him to touch us and soil Himself with the caked-on dirt from the road!  But Yeshua says in verse 9, Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.

Immediately, Peter cried, "Then Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"

The lesson Yeshua taught that day was that our LORD cleanses us Himself.  HE makes us clean.  He does not need us to cleanse Him.  But also, even Someone as awesome and amazing as the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE isn't above getting dirty to wash someone's nasty feet.  He proved that day that Yahweh is Humble.

Once I truly internalized this, I began thinking of other things.  God is quite fond of saying things like: "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." ~1 Corinthians 1:27   

This idea of God's humility wouldn't let me go.  I got to thinking about our planet.  It's one speck of blue circling a non-descript, mediocre yellow star in the far arm of a random spiral galaxy that is parked in a bunch of fifty-some-odd galaxies called the Local Group.  Why?  Why is the earth in a "humble" place?  We don't circle a colossal red giant and we aren't camped out in a fabulously-arrayed nebula.  Our planet isn't huge, and we have never witnessed or come in contact with any life on another planet.  Out of this ENTIRE, ENORMOUS universe, God chose an infinitesimal little rock to display His Majesty.  Why?

Because God is Humble.

Like Peter, we wrestle with the idea that an Almighty God would care about us so much that He would get down in the trenches WITH us.  WE should be washing HIS feet.  Why would He bother?  If He had all the glory and power in the universe, why would He care about some random anthill in the boondocks?  God's humility answers that question. 

He uses the weak to confound the strong.  And He MAKES the weak strong in Him.  

If True Love is shown through humility, then God must give us a demonstration to teach us how to walk in love.  And that's exactly what He did in Yeshua.

He loves us because it is His nature to Love, and He chooses to humble Himself, to be involved in our affairs and even live among us, because it is Love's very nature to be clothed in humility.

God has no use for proud people.  It is the proud who look to themselves for salvation, gods of their own universe, masters of their own fate.  Proud people are constantly reminding everyone how awesome they are.  They want all the glory for themselves and they take it, sometimes by force.

But the humble are generous, givers, lovers, and they put others before themselves.  These are the ones God strives after.  Christ Himself was the blueprint for a life lived in humility.  Everything He asks us to do for Him -- HE DID FOR US. He put our eternal salvation before His eternal glory.  He loved us so much that He thought nothing of leaving His Throne for a life lived in dust, sweat, and heartache.

God did not think of Himself when He came into this world as a helpless infant.  He was thinking of US.  This is the ultimate act of humility from our very Creator, Who loves humble little creatures on a humble little planet in a humble little galaxy in our humble little corner of this vast universe.

I, for one, am so VERY glad our God is a Humble God.  If He puts no great esteem on any of His possessions -- save for US -- then likewise, I will put no great esteem on any of MY possessions -- save for Him.

Amen.  To GOD be the glory.  Now and forevermore.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

God is....Holy

One of the things believers consistently forget about God is that He's holy.  "Holy" is defined as sacred, blessed, consecrated, and set apart. We ramble through life as if Yeshua is our homeboy, conveniently forgetting the *reason* He came and died for us.  We should not reduce the divine holiness of the Almighty God of the Universe to meaningless frivolity.  I am guilty of this as well from time to time.  But I do well to remember He is Yahweh, Lord of Hosts, Creator of Heaven and Earth...not my Poker Buddy.

Through Christ's sacrifice on the cross, we were given an unheard of privilege.  He took our sins while we are given His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), and as such, we're considered priests of God (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6).  We are now allowed into His manifest presence without fear (Hebrews 4:16), peeking behind the Temple Veil and walking right in to the Holy of Holies.

We've got to remember, only the HIGH PRIEST of Israel could do this ONCE a year on Yom Kippur, and if his atonement wasn't acceptable, he'd be struck down.  They had to tie a rope to his foot in order to pull him out, lest any other priest be struck down for daring to come into the absolutely holy Shekinah Glory of God.  God is not evil, He does not wish to kill, but sin cannot stand before Him, it is the nature of His holiness.  We have no concept of such Absolute Holiness.  We define "holy" as an ancient relic or scroll that's been revered for centuries.  Or perhaps a well-respected priest is considered "holy".  But the truth is God's Holiness is a tangible thing, not some "concept" or "idea".  He is not holy because He is Deity, He is Holy because it is His very Nature.  His holiness is the only attribute named in the Bible that's repeated three times, "Holy, holy, holy" (Revelation 4:8).  In ancient Israel, if something was repeated twice, you needed to listen.  "Truly, truly..."  But if it's said three times, you needed to sit up and take note.

God's holiness is so great that any being with a single spot of sin wouldn't be able to stand a chance of surviving.  The only way to come into His presence was to be covered by the holiness of another, one equally as holy -- the Son of God -- Yeshua Messiah.  But in order to be covered, a sacrifice had to be made, a debt had to be paid, hence Christ's death on the cross in our stead.  Now, through our belief, our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). 

In our exclusive privilege of coming before His Throne, we have sometimes forgotten that God is HOLY.  We are free to have a relationship with Him, we are free to dance and sing and be ourselves.  We are free to tell Him our hopes and fears, our anger and our sadness.  But we must also have the utmost respect whenever we're before Him.  His holiness should never be belittled.  If we were to actually stand before Him, even covered by His redeeming blood, we would still fall lifeless to His feet as St. John did in Revelation 1:17.  As Paul did on the road to Damascus in Acts 9:4

Through Yeshua, God is our Friend.  He is our Healer.  He is our Redeemer.  He is our Bridegroom.  He is our Provider. 

But He also reigns On High in absolute, unrivaled, unequaled MAJESTY.  We should always be reverent, even in our joy, always be admiring, even in our excitement.  We should always be obedient, even during our trials, and always be respectful, even in our anger. 

God is my very Best Friend.  I tell Him everything in my life.  I spend time with Him, I study His Word.  And I joke with Him, I sing to Him, I dance for Him (maybe not very well, but He enjoys a heart of praise).  But I never forget Who He is.  I never forget what had to be done in order to give me such a sweet relationship with Him.

He has given us Freedom and Life in His Son.  He sits on the Throne of Glory

Let us not grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) by reducing His beautiful Holiness to parlor tricks.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Yeshua Practiced What He Preached

Whatever Yeshua preached that we should do, He did Himself.  I have a few examples to share, but I'm sure there are more.  I've been thinking about this again and again, and it fascinated me to know that Yeshua did for us everything He told us to do for Him!

Let's start with the picture above.  It's a bit...interesting.  We might actually get a chuckle out of it.  But if you think about it, Christ did exactly what this picture shows.  He traded His eternal Throne of Glory for the life of a homeless man.  Likely His clothing was tattered.  He probably slept where He could.  When you internalize this truth, it really AWES you.  The eternal Son of God Almighty humbled Himself to become a man.  He willingly emptied Himself of His Glory to be born into our world.  He even describes Himself as humble (Matthew 11:29).  Imagine that for a moment.

A Being that can speak anything into existence, Who owns humble.  He doesn't think twice about being generous.  It is His very nature to Love.  This is one of the qualities of God that brings a person to their knees.  An Almighty Being such as He cares *that much* to step into His own creation?  How many times have you heard someone wonder why an Almighty Being would even care about the "ants" on that blue speck in an unremarkable arm of the Milky Way, one of a bajillion galaxies?

But He does.  An eternal God of Love would love everything He's created, AND love it with an infinite Love.  Especially creatures made in His own image.  It wouldn't matter if we were all giants and lived on a planet the size of Jupiter -- we'd still be tiny to Him.  And yet He cares.  SO much.  Because He's humble.  And He's giving.

Point Number One: Yeshua told us not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34).  He never did.  You never once saw Christ fretting about food, clothing, or money all throughout the Gospels.  He was peaceful.  He completely trusted His Heavenly Father to provide.  In fact, He frequently told His disciples to have faith when they descended into worry.

Point Number Two: Yeshua told us to give everything we owned to the poor and come follow Him (Luke 18:22).  Like the picture above -- if He expects us to live a life without comfort, He likewise lived a life without comfort to set an example.  It's an extreme example, granted.  But the ultimate point was to put no value in material gain.  If you lose something material, it matters not.  You have treasure in Heaven.  Christ knew this.  Therefore, He was willing to live a life without material possessions.

Point Number Three: In Luke 6:28, He tells us to bless those that curse us and pray for those who abuse us.  In Luke 23:34, Yeshua prays for those who are about to crucify Him - "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."  Does this mean God the Father turned away from what they were about to do?  I don't know.  But I do know that after the crucifixion, when the earthquake hit, the centurion and those soldiers with him cried out in Matthew 27:54 - "When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”  If we are to believe that grace is by faith alone, and if the very Son of God prayed for the Father Himself to forgive them, clearly we see the fruit of the Son's prayer moments after His death.  We pray for those that abuse us and bless those that curse us because we never know how the Father will answer our prayers and bring them to faith.

Point Number Four: Yeshua tells us to turn the other cheek when someone strikes us in Luke 6:29.  Yeshua is the Prince of Peace.  Here, He's telling us to keep the peace.  Do not stir up contentions with petty fights.  We see Yeshua keeping His peace at His kangaroo court of a trial (Matthew 26:57-68).  Even when they beat Him and tugged at His beard and mocked Him, He stayed silent and did not sin.

Point Number Five: Luke 6:31 tells us to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  This is actually quite profound.  If God want us to give our lives to Him, He must give His life to us.  If He wants us to give up everything to follow Him, He must give up everything to save us.  He doesn't tell us to do anything without first doing it Himself.  I don't know about you, but I find this truth amazing, even though I've read the New Testament a million times.  If He asks for a commitment from us, He commits first.  Always.  And in the same manner.

Point Number Six: Yeshua says in John 15:13 that "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."  This is probably the most obvious of Christ "practicing what He preached" teachings, as He did, in fact, lay down His life for His friends -- US.  Notice how He says this is the GREATEST of loves.  Notice who is dying -- the Son of God.  Therefore we know that God Loves us with the GREATEST of Loves.  His Own.  Because He IS Love.

Point Number Seven: Matthew 5:44 has a great and humbling truth hidden within it.  This is the famous "Love your enemies" Scripture.  Christ definitely practiced this one.  And Paul even reinforced this idea in his epistles.  We think this is because God is a loving God and we should love everyone -- Kumbaya and all that.  But this is deeper when we scratch at it.  EVERYONE was an enemy of God before Christ came.  And He died for us WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS (Romans 5:8).  Yeshua told us to love our enemies because He first loved US, those of us who were at enmity with God (James 4:4).

Some people think what Yeshua asks us to do is beyond us.  That we can't possibly do it.  Perhaps they are right.  We are sinners, after all.  But everything Christ taught, He practiced.  I'm sure there are scores of other examples I haven't shared.  Like the Two Great Commandments, for one.  Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.  Yes, Yeshua honored them.  Imagine -- treating us, His neighbors, as Himself.  How does God Love within the Godhead?  Perfectly.  Amazingly.  All-consumingly.  And this is how He loves us.  The Father loves us as He loves Christ.  Christ loves us as He loves the Father.  The deeper you dig, the farther you fall into the height, depth, length, and breadth of the Love of God.  No one and nothing compares to Him. 

What He has done for us cannot be put into mere words.  There aren't enough ages to come to sing His praises.  My heart isn't big enough to contain my awe.  My spirit is overwhelmed at the beauty, the sheer and utter beauty of the King of Kings.

My Bridegroom, My Beloved, My Yeshua.

Lord...  I love You.  Because I know beyond the SHADOW of a doubt that You undeniably Love me.  My only lament is that words are not adequate to describe what I feel for You...  And if I cannot describe my own love for You, when I am but a human, how then can I even BEGIN to fathom Your unfathomable Love for me?

If my love is a drop of rain, 

Your Love is the ocean.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Understanding our Inheritance in Christ

In church, we're taught that the Body of Christ is made up of many members.  Each member has a certain job and we represent Christ here on earth.  He is the Head, and we are the Body.  And this is quite true.  Every member of our Lord's Church has a role to play in the Kingdom of God.  I heard someone say once that you are who you are in the Body of Christ because you are needed.  I recently asked Yeshua what I was in His Body.  I wasn't quite sure.  

He showed me that I'm an edifier.  One of my greatest gifts is to encourage others, as well as having a way with words.  There's no doubt in my mind Yeshua allowed me to grow in the knowledge of how to write stories and weave words together to keep things interesting when He finally called me to do His work.  I believe I was put here to edify other members of the Body, as well as sharing what I've learned through the Holy Spirit.  I suppose I have a ministry of sorts, writing on my Facebook page, this blog, and posting in Christian forums.  A humble little ministry, but our Lord is humble (Matt. 11:29), so I'm in good company.

And while it's true we're all members with different jobs, we also must realize that we are ONE BODY with Christ as the Head.  This doesn't just mean that He is above us with all authority, it means we are ONE with Him.  He is one with us.  He is our Lord, He tells us what to do, and as His Body, we do His will in this world.

But a head can do nothing apart from a body.  It has no feet.  It has no hands.  Apart from the body, the head is useless.  Now, I'm not saying CHRIST is useless, God forbid!  My point is, if it wasn't for Christ's Body (ie., US), the Word of Christ wouldn't have spread much farther than the Promised Land.  In that light, the body is likewise useless without the head.  It cannot move, cannot walk, it has no life.  Both are interconnected, both are one.  Your head is not separate from your body, and likewise, Christ is not separate from His Church.

Where the head is, there the body is also.  Where the body is, there the head is also.  Christ illustrated this when He said in Matthew 18:20 - "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."  He is with us when we are gathered in His name.  Ephesians 2:4-6 says - "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus".  We have been raised up with Christ, therefore, we are likewise with Him.

This is a fascinating truth, because in Ephesians, the wording is past tense.  We won't be seated in the future, we are seated RIGHT NOW with Christ in heavenly places.

The picture above might be a little crude, as there's only ONE Throne in Heaven, not two or three.  Even though God is three Persons, He sits on one Throne because He is one God.  Just as Christ sat down at the Father's right hand, we, too, will sit at Christ's right hand.  

Revelation 3:21 - "The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne."

Now, this is NOT to say we become God or gods ourselves.  Rather, Peter explained that we share in the Divine Nature in 2 Peter 1:3-4 - "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire."

What does that mean, to partake of the Divine Nature?

To put it simply, there was only one loophole through God's holiness.  He is so perfect, that only perfection can stand before Him.  This is why we must be redeemed.  God's justice is met when payment for the sin can be made.  This is what Christ did for us, He paid our debt for sin by dying in our place and taking God's wrath upon His Own shoulders.

This also accomplished a spiritual switcheroo.  2 Corinthians 5:21 explains it this way - "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

In order for Christ to take our sins upon Himself, He had to give US His righteousness.  The whole point of salvation is to make us clean, perfect, righteous, and holy.  This cannot be accomplished by our own ability, therefore, we have Christ's own righteousness.  This is what it means to partake of the Divine Nature.  He literally gave us a piece of Himself in order to redeem us.

While we are not "gods", we have been given the authority to rule and reign with Christ.  And this privilege comes with sitting on God's Throne with Him.  We are allowed, because we share in His Nature -- not even the angels can boast of this!  Right now, we are a little lower than angels, but when we sit upon Christ's Throne in our glorified bodies, we will be FAR ABOVE any other power in the universe, according to Ephesians 1:21.

Romans 8:17 tells us we're co-heirs with Christ.


We inherit what Christ inherits.  Well...  What does Christ inherit?  

ALL OF HEAVEN AND CREATION!!  The Father has given ALL power and authority to His Son! 

This is amazing, because it means that not only do we get to go to Heaven, we get to inherit what CHRIST inherits.  We're also allowed to sit ON His Throne to rule and reign with Him, and we've been given His authority.

If you go back through your Bible, you'll see countless promises given to the coming Messiah all throughout the Old Testament.  Here's the kicker in all this -- if we're co-heirs with Christ, if we're spiritually united with Him, if we share in His Divine Nature, if we're One with Him as the Head and Body are one, then WE likewise have ALL the promises given to Messiah!

Heaven will not be some boring, endless church service before the Throne of God singing worship songs to Him into eternity future, but rather, we inherit CHRIST, who has inherited EVERYTHING.  We are granted a place to sit at His right hand, just as He sat at His Father's right hand.

This is why we're called His Bride!  Just as a man is the head of the household, Christ is the Head of His Church.  We'll submit to His authority, but we'll also wear His name and work under His authority, just as a wife with her husband.  Yeshua quite literally gave Himself to us on the cross of Calvary.  

In more ways than one!  \O/