Wow! Just Wow!

17 04 2014

“The Kingdom of God is within you.”

Have you ever wondered what these words from Luke 17:21 really mean?

Earlier this year, I asked the Lord to explain this…it seemed important. Bit by bit He’s been increasing my understanding. It’s a “mind blower!”

It begins with the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. He was the perfect Lamb of God who took away our sin.

Took away our sin.”

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)

This is known as atonement.

Atonement = “At-One-Ment”

We are at peace with God…

…and He calls us “friend!”

Further, we discover in 1 Corinthians 3:16 that the Spirit of God now dwells within us.

…and we are His temple.

John 15 speaks of our abiding in Christ…and His abiding in us as well.

This is where the Kingdom of God comes in.

Jesus said that He did nothing of His own initiative, but only did what He saw the Father doing. He spoke what the Spirit told Him to say.

He was the prototokis…

the prototype.

We find this term used in Romans 8:29, and again in Colossians 1:15, 18. The English renders the word “Firstborn.” It’s not a very good substitute, for we completely miss the point!

The object of a prototype is to demonstrate what the produced line will be like. It is the example of what is to follow.

We don’t begin to grasp what we have been given!

Catch this from John 14:12:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”

Jesus was NOT speaking of what we would do once we die. This is a here and now thing.

After all, we are HIS body. His hands, feet, mouth, ears, eyes, and all the rest. The Prototype is on the Father’s throne. We, His assembly line, are created to do that which He demonstrated for us.

His desire is that we would abide in Him, work where we see the Father work, speak what He tells us to say, and do nothing of our own initiative…just like the Prototype. If we, His body, were to do this, what a difference we would make.

(Our aim, of course, must be that of bringing glory to the Father – and not making a name for ourselves. Thought I should throw in this disclaimer, lest some misunderstand!)

We’ve got to lose the image of the austere Jesus, meek and mild. If we read the gospels and note the words which describe Jesus, we discover that He was not calm, cool, and collected, but rather quite emotive and demonstrative. His was a life of simplicity – not sophistication.

Hmm. “Child-like.”

Interesting. Didn’t He say, “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”?

Our insistence on being “all that and more” spiritually, maintain our sophistication, and to seek success as the world defines it, will cause us to miss out on the greatest blessing of all – to experience the kingdom of God right here, right now.

Jesus defined His physical ministry in Luke 4:18, 19:

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to
 the poor;
He has sent Me
 to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to
 the blind,
To
 set at liberty those who are oppressed;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

The NIV renders the last statement this way: “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 

This is 2014 A. D. …the year of our Lord. Do you see it? Every year is “the year of our Lord” … the year of our Lord’s favor for all who would receive it.

It’s the year that our Lord wants to use us – His body – to continue the work He began at that time.

The gospel still needs to be preached. There are brokenhearted who need to be healed. There are captives and oppressed to be set free.

This is why we aren’t whisked away to His presence the moment we believe in Him!!!

He’s returned to heaven, but left us – His body – here to continue His ministry. As you can see, this involves much more than showing up in church on Sunday for a “holy huddle.” There’s work for us to do…work that will leave us amazed at what God has done through us.

The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead resides in us, and longs for us to partner with Him without limiting what He is permitted to do because of our preconceived notions of what’s “acceptable” or “correct” for Christians.

We might be called “winebibbers” or “a friend to sinners.”

We could be more alive than we ever thought possible.

We could experience the kingdom of God that is within us – now!

Wow!!!

*****

(Don’t miss Mel’s post entitled Three Wonderful Truths About the Atonement. It lays the foundation for what I’ve written. My last post, Bedazzled, also lays some of the groundwork.)

*****

I hope this made sense. God recently challenged what I thought I knew about Christianity in a huge way. Much of what I used to believe has been set aside, and I’m trying to wrap my mind around what He’s been showing me. Hopefully I’ve communicated well enough that you catch a glimpse of the vista before us. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in my own life!

The Lord bless and keep you all!

\o/





Bedazzled!

14 04 2014

The Good News is good news indeed! This last year I discovered something that seemed so amazing that I found it hard to believe. It is this:

The purpose of the death and resurrection of Christ was to restore to you and me the same relationship Adam and Eve enjoyed with God before the fall.

When I first understood this, I thought it had to be heresy. After all, I know myself. I am not a perfect sinless being.

Ah, but that is from a human standpoint. Jesus has a very different view.

Don’t miss these verses from Colossians 1:21-22:

“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and beyond reproach in His sight – if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel…”

(Read just the bold print above…do you see it??)

How is this possible? Can it be true? Let’s go to Hebrews 10:

“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His fleshand having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful ” (vs. 19-23).

God said it, but I find it hard to believe. As I stated earlier, I know myself. 1 John 3:20 addresses this issue though:

For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.”

Somewhere along the way, I picked up the idea that a relationship like this (with God), begins once I die. “Eternal life” begins then, doesn’t it?

Not according to Jesus:

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)

Whooee! It doesn’t get any better than this.

If I am “in Christ,” then eternal life is not something yet to come… I’m living it now!

When there is distance between the Lord and I, it’s because, like Adam, I’ve gone into hiding and attempted to cover myself with sewn-together fig leaves (very itchy, by the way!). No doubt the angels scratch their heads in wonder whenever I do this. “What’s she thinking?” I can hear them ask one another.

The distance is spanned in an instant when I acknowledge my sin and turn back to the Father. (Did you know that the Greek word used when the father ran to welcome his prodigal indicates that he sprinted? “Ran - of those who run in a race course; denoting to incur extreme peril, which it requires the exertion of all one’s effort to overcome.” [From Strongs Lexicon])

You…me…welcome to spend time with our Lord whenever and wherever we want. No shame, no condemnation, we’ve been reconciled, restored, we’re invited to come boldly to the throne of grace…He calls us “friend.”

Wow! From our human vantage point, this is the Crown Jewel…and I am humbled by His generosity.

This beautiful truth has, indeed, left me bedazzled!





Dare to be a Daniel

11 04 2014

Hi, everyone. It’s been a while since my last post. In January, the Lord gave me a “heads up” of a trial that would be forthcoming. He wasn’t kidding!

At the time, I was high on the mountain. Clouds obscured the valley. It felt like I was a mere step or two from heaven itself.

“Can this be?” I wondered. “Is this even possible?”

In a word – yes.

Many things broke loose at once, two major strongholds were broken in people around me that carried great significance for me as well, and the size of our household went from just the two of us to the eight of us…a major adjustment in itself.

During this time, the Lord is teaching us to walk with Him, and to trust Him completely. At the same time, He is teaching us to love others, and to leave off any attempts to “fix” them. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard Him whisper, “Shhh” to me just as I was preparing to address one matter or another in one of our new residents.

Being a “fixer” by nature, this has been a challenge, for sure.

However, as I stated earlier, there is a great deal of peace and freedom that comes from just loving – and allowing the Spirit to do His work.

What I want to chat about, though, is Daniel. What a remarkable man.

Although he’d had no part in the sin that caused the Israelites to be taken into captivity – and remained faithful to the Lord throughout his life, we find him having the most amazing conversation with God in Daniel 9. His words went like this:

“Alas, O Lord…we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments…moreover we have not listened to Your servants…

“Open shame belongs to us, O Lord…because we have sinned against You.”

Did you catch on whose behalf Daniel confessed?

We…us.

This is an excellent way to pray: realizing that we are members of God’s community. What affects one, affects all. Because he saw the problem as “our” problem instead of as “their” problem, God was pleased to grant his petition.

Daniel “stood in the gap,” and the Lord responded.

How different from the parable Jesus told in Luke 18:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-collector.

“The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector…’ But the tax-collector was unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying ‘God be merciful to me, the sinner!’

“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.”

I’m going somewhere with this…stick with me!

When it comes to pointing out someone else’s sin to the Lord, I’ve come to realize that very often He turns my attention from what they are doing to the same sin within me. It may not look the same in me, but it is there, nonetheless.

As in Jesus’ example above, we have two men: one who placed heavy financial burdens on people, and one who placed heavy religious burdens on people. Both caused undue stress; both were extracting from others beyond what they were able to give. Both had titles – the Pharisee’s was respectable, while the tax-collector’s was not.

That’s where the similarities ended.

The Pharisee saw himself as righteous (which is why he prayed to himself!), while the tax-collector had a more realistic view of his condition.

When we are in prayer for others, it is imperative that we ask the Lord if what we see in others also resides within our own hearts. Once we can see the plank in our own eye, and confess it, the Lord often begins His work on the other person.

For instance, when my children were disobedient and driving me to distraction, the Lord showed me that my own willfulness and rebellion was causing a strain in my relationship with Him.

When they were constantly asking for new toys and material goods and I asked for wisdom in how to handle this, He showed my own discontent with what I had…and how my prayers to Him were more like a grocery list than a conversation with the One I loved. I just wanted the goodies without any real relationship.

I could give countless more examples.

Interestingly enough, once I saw that their sin was also my sin, then confessed and repented, the Lord began to work on their hearts concerning the matter. They were His tools to show me my fault.

Not every time, mind you, but often enough for me to see it!

When we pray, we need to “dare to be a Daniel,” identifying with the sin of those around us…and looking for a variation of it within our own hearts.

Prayer is a clever way the Lord uses to expose the thoughts and intents of our own hearts. I like this way much better than being knocked upside the head and told what an idiot I am. I’m thankful He doesn’t use this method!

Have a blessed week.

I love you all and miss you very much.

Tami

\o/

Praising Jesus who is my refuge!





The Brokenness of Betrayal

27 03 2014

The Brokenness of Betrayal.

(Click on the link to read the short article…then stay awhile and read words of hope.)

This is a sad truth in today’s world. The opportunities for infidelity are endless. Here’s a sister who’s been to the dark side and back again.

 

\o/





Don’t Do Dis!

20 03 2014

We live in a world where advice comes at us from every side. Someone else always has an idea of how we should run our lives…

…and we can just as quickly “sort out” someone else’s life, if they’d only listen to our sage wisdom!

We recently finished a course in mentoring/discipling others. It was revolutionary for me.

My job, I discovered, isn’t to tell others what to do…

…it’s to point them to the only One who knows exactly what should take place. In the meantime, I get to let go of making judgment calls and condemning.

That’s a lot of freedom right there!

Instead of, “Do this, do that,” our response is:

“What do you sense the Lord is saying to you regarding this matter?”

If they haven’t inquired of the Lord, that’s the first line of business:

“You ask Him, then come tell me what He said.”

That they’ve never heard the Lord speak is not a consideration. It has to happen sooner or later, why not now?

The Bible says that His sheep hear His voice.

When they come back to report, what they think He said is weighed against the Word. Is it consistent with His expressed will? If not, then we ask again…and ask Him to make it plain.

Most of the time, though, what they *thought* they might have heard is correct. Their excitement at having actually connected with Jesus is so fun to experience!

The beauty of this sort of discipleship is that we are, in fact, teaching them to follow Jesus…which is what it means to be a disciple.

Further, I do not bear responsibility for making decisions or judgment calls that were wrong, and having to bear the embarrassment when they follow my wrong advice.

I love it!

When our time together is finished (and this is rarely a long-term commitment), they’ve learned how to hear God’s voice for themselves, and how to discern whether they heard correctly as well. They’ve actually learned to follow Jesus…and not me.

I am not omniscient, nor can I save anyone. Like John the Baptizer, I point others to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Does it get any better than this?

No matter what their issue, I am free to love, to speak truth (in love), and to give a listening ear without becoming embroiled in their life.

In the past, this is exactly what I did. I would become very emotionally invested in their problems, take sides, heap condemnation on their foes, and make myself nearly crazy in the process.

It’s wonderful to be able to give a safe place to vent (without repeating what was said to my friends and family), to point them to the Lord and ask lots of questions to help them think through what’s going on, and treat them with honor and respect…while extending the same honor and respect to those with whom they are in conflict.

I don’t want to “dis” anyone ever again!

The “byline” of our church is this:

We love. We make disciples.

I want to live my life like this…

Free

I’m amazed at how complicated I can make the simple commands to:

1) Go and make disciples

and

2) Love one another.

Do I never give advice? No. Sometimes it’s necessary to open Scripture and show them what God has to say about the matter.

Other than that, it’s a matter of asking questions and helping them come to their own conclusion…to take responsibility for their own life. I can make observations about common threads and ask them to consider the matter with the Lord.

They’re free to take or leave what I’ve said. Since my reputation as a *wise counselor* isn’t at stake, I’m not on the line. I don’t get frustrated because I’ve given *my* best advice – and had them completely ignore it, either.

They get to grow up a bit…and so do I as I practice entrusting them to the Lord. Grace and mercy can now flow from Him through me without my deciding whether or not they should receive it.

With the Lord’s help, I want to love…

…and not do dis!





Don’t Make Mine a Medium

17 03 2014

Phew! Life’s been happening around here! Although much of it looks like a mess from a horizontal perspective, we trust that God has everything under control. We’re actually doing well. ;)

Last week’s devotion covered the episode in 1 Samuel 28 where Saul went to Endor to seek the assistance of a medium. He desperately wanted to speak to Samuel. The problem was that Samuel was dead (and none too happy about being called back to earth)!

It’s a bizarre little story. If you’ve never read through 1 and 2 Samuel, the books of Kings or Chronicles, you should. There are all sorts of interesting little stories tucked away in them.

But I digress.

Anyway, the devotion went on to talk about the purpose of a medium. It is to be a mouthpiece to the enemy and his horde.

We hear people do this all the time, and everywhere. It’s sad.

What grieved me, though, was to realize that sometimes these words come through me. :(

Yes, me. A blood-bought daughter of the Living God. Having been chosen, accepted, adopted, justified, sanctified, glorified, and seated in the heavenlies with Christ Jesus. Oh, and sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise…

I opened my mouth and what popped out was NOT from the Lord, but from the god of this age.

I was his medium.

But, this ought not be. After all, Jesus has called me to be HIS ambassador, accurately representing Him to a lost world…loving people as if He Himself was here.

Check this out:

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

Ephesians 4:29

Oh, Lord. I need Your help. Please take control of my mouth. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord my Strength and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14





A life without borders on the ocean of God

14 03 2014

lessonsbyheart:

This song quickly became my favorite when I first heard it in January. Let’s take a walk on the wild side with our Lord! \o/

Originally posted on In My Father's House:

We just started singing this song at our church and it has quickly become the theme song for us. For it echoes a beckoning that must be responded to.

Like Peter, we hear the calling and know we can’t stay where we felt so secure before–back to the former way of living–the predictable, the known, the safe, where all must be calculated, weighed in the balance, categorized, understood and controlled by what we see.

No, against that fear that would rises up we must recklessly, illogically, irrationally step out into these waters–into the mystery, into the very heart of God.

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