Wednesday, September 19, 2018

"Hearing" God

If you knew today was your last day to be alive, what would you think about? What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Your answer may not be the answer to the proverbial what is the meaning of life. But it probably could become the meaning of many of our lives. 

I think I know - I would probably wish I had not missed out on some of the important times in the lives of the people closest to me. Others would say they would wish they had pursued the life God had intended for them to live. Others would consider in this critical time whether they even knew God at all. How can we live a life that is purposeful and without regret? In a small church gathering I attended recently, one man stood up and said that none of us know how many days we have left on the earth. Another man spoke up and said, “I know ..." Everyone leaned in, intent on gleaning some gem of truth from this seasoned saint. His answer was simple: "We have today.”

In 1 Cor. 2: 7-10, Paul turns us away from the foolishness of this world and toward the wisdom of God. Paul refers to “the things God has prepared for those who love Him. These are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.” In verse 12, he says, “What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.” If we have God's Spirit, can we expect to hear from Him? You may think the idea of hearing God is like an auditory hallucination ("You're hearing things."), but the Spirit of God is called "the Counselor" in scripture. How can He be our Counselor if He does not speak to us? He is not “the Listener.” He does listen ... but He also still speaks. For many of us, the wisdom of this world did nothing but put us in therapy! We needed the Counselor all along. 

So we must ask if God actually wants to show us things like He showed to the people of the Bible. Dreams like Daniel? Visions like Peter? The audible voice of God like Moses? Considering Moses, we can stand by, (like the people of Israel) and allow another person (like Moses) to encounter God, or we can press in (like Joshua) and seek God as truly the only One whose opinion matters most. (More on this later.) To be clear, certain mental disorders like bipolar can coincide with auditory hallucinations. Sleep deprivation can even cause visual hallucinations. So it is very important for us to confirm with pastors, mentors or close Christian friends to help analyze (confirm, test, etc.) what we are sensing, maybe even a doctor or counselor.

Some will say that people today cannot actually be led by the Spirit. That may have happened in Bible times, but certainly not today. However Romans 8:14 says, "Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God." Galatians 5:18 tells us to "walk in the Spirit." And Jesus himself taught us to follow his voice. In John 10, Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd, saying "my sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand." What a promise to you and me!

In whatever form it takes, how do we learn to follow God's leading, his "voice"? Just as it is with people, intimacy with God takes time. Paul set aside three years after meeting Christ to prepare before he began his public ministry. Likewise, it will usually take time to nurture and grow in our own dynamic and interactive relationship with God. Some of us would call these times of seeking God "quiet times." Consider that there are two very meaningful ingredients to a rich quiet time with God: Quiet and Time.

1) Quiet - Jesus refers to what some would call a prayer closet. That doesn’t mean there is a magically enchanted power in the spot where you keep your shoes and hang your clothes. Jesus is referring to privacy in a space where we continually meet with God. Jesus drew away from others for his own time with his Father. And in reference to the events around Moses's life, the Psalmist calls us away. “Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!”  
A favorite song of mine on this subject is "Come Away" by Jesus Culture.

2) The next ingredient: Time - If we make space for God, He makes space for us. As John Piper says, “When God draws near, hurry ceases. Time slows down.” Obviously, this will run contrary to how some of us live. For me, the more electronic opportunities I have 
(especially smart phones), the more hectic and scattered my life becomes. It takes an incredible amount of restraint for me to live, with my various goals and ambitions, and yet take ... time ... out ... to rest. But it is crucial for me to rest and be satisfied within the boundaries that God is laying out me. But time is what it takes. 

Like a teabag that must soak for a while as its flavor gradually flows into the water, this simply should not be rushed. Some call this meditation. One meaning for the Greek word "meditation" is "to mutter." It is the repeating of the good words of God that eventually soak into our very being, changing us. What do we meditate on? A great place to start is with the Bible ... the living Word of God. We drink deeply and are nourished by God's Word. Some of us need to disconnect from our phones and find real life with God. If our society is a desert, God's Word is like a phone booth leading to life. This is the real lifeline.

And this helps us sort out counterfeit wisdom from this parched world. Jesus warns: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come… and will deceive many,” in Matthew 24:4-5. We need to gauge what we are feeling in the spirit with the Word of God. If what we are feeling is contrary to scripture, we are not listening to the Holy Spirit. We must also be wary of thinking every thought during a quiet time is from God. An error I hear from dear and sincere friends is what I call the open door / closed door method of decision making. They say things like, “I will just give it a try, and if the door is not open, it must not have been the will of God.” So how then do we do this? I can only speak to my experience.

Often, I will have a certain feeling or a peace as I am praying. Or I will sense God is speaking a word or a short phrase to me. But then I will need to take the time to flesh out the meaning or meanings of what God is really saying. This can take hours, weeks or sometimes months to fully embrace the extent what God is truly saying. A few things have taken me years to interpret what I felt was from the Holy Spirit. We need sober discernment for this type of spiritual leading. Timing can be the most difficult thing when it comes to undertstanding God's leading. But he will lead you, through His word and/or your spirit being led by His spirit. "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18). “Grant that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened to know our hope and our inheritance and the love of Christ that passes knowledge and be filled with all the fullness of God." To "know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that (we) may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 1:18 and 3:19)

Moses had the people of Israel, on one hand, and Joshua, on the other. What must it have been like to know that God wanted to spend time talking personally with Moses—sharing His own intentions and feelings? These are the things Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians that no eye has seen and no ear has heard. What was it in Moses that caused God to call him? It wasn’t because Moses eagerly enlisted at God's beckon call. And it wasn’t because of his even temper. Our word ‘intimacy’ comes from a Latin word meaning ‘innermost.’ So intimacy implies a high level of transparency in a relationship. Moses was real with God, brutally honest with God and passionate about the things that burned in his heart. And this is the reality God is calling us into today. Can we be intimate in this way with God, our Father?

The people of Israel were not intimate with God. They stood at the entrances to their tents, onlookers, watching in awe as Moses entered the Tent of Meeting. They saw the distant cloud of God’s presence but did not hear the intimate conversation. All they knew of God’s words were what they heard second-hand from Moses (Ps 103:7) But one detail in this story people often miss. Joshua never left the tent. What did Joshua see? What did he hear? Later Joshua encountered God, or should we say God encountered Joshua in his greatest time of need. Joshua didn't need a telephone in the desert. He had a direct line with God, his own walk with God. In Our Story in Exodus, Matt Chandler writes, “What might change in our life if we really believed… in our guts that God sees us and He hears us? What sin might we walk away from? What confidence might we gain? What if we truly believed that God keeps his promises? How might we mine the Word of God for His promises? How might we cling to them when things are dry or stormy or dark?” 

I will say it again: Don't do this alone. Seek out pastors, mentors or close Christian friends to help analyze what you are sensing. Go slow as you develop this over time in your life. Remember, "stop" and "wait" are verbs. Wait on the Lord. He loves you and has your best interests in mind.

Let's remember: We have today, and we have our own walk with God ... Let us make the most of it. Let’s live the life God is calling us to live. 

Looking for some feedback from you here. Leave a comment on our Facebook page and tell how you are led by God. I purposefully didn't give a big variety of examples here. How does the Father speak to you? http://www.facebook.com/davidswensen

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Finding Love at the Cross

In Christ's death, we see God's amazing love for us. Let's look at some awesome truths here.

In the next part of our study, Paul is picking a fight with the Corinthians, calling their arrogance "foolishness." And from their perspective, the "power of the cross" is absurd. What do you think? 


Paul says, "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (emphasis mine) He is comparing two different types of "wisdom." He mocks the philosophers in Corinth who claim to be wise, saying God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish in verse 20.


I have thought many over the years times that I was wise, but I was really just being self-centered. My pastor used to joke that a man is smartest at the age of 18 and it's downhill from there. However, he added, age alone does not make us wise. A person could be 80 years-old and still be a fool. This cracked me up. But inside, I knew something was broken. I was a 30 year-old man, and I thought my way was the only way. My friend Ken described one of his teachers who was standing by himself, out in a field (read: "outstanding in his field"). This teacher had a revelation. He realized other people actually thought differently than him! It was like the heavens were opening and angelic choirs were singing. After Ken told me this story, I said something impressive like, "Huh." To me, this was new, and I needed to understand this just as much as Ken's teacher. 


But what about the blood? What's the big deal? Well, just as we know today a body cannot survive without the circulation of blood, even in those days, they believed a person or animal's "life was in the blood." So blood had great meaning to them. Even more than that, they believed it was how to come to God. The book of Hebrews says "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins."

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In the cross, we see:

1) God's hatred of sin. He brought the shedding of blood, the original remedy for sin, to a head when Christ was crucified. As Billy Graham wrote, "To gain a clear understanding of God’s attitude toward sin, we only have to consider the purpose of Christ’s death. The Scripture says, 'Without shedding of blood there is no remission' (of sin) (Hebrews 9:22). Here is a positive statement that there can be no forgiveness of sin unless our debt has been paid. God will not tolerate sin. He condemns it and demands payment for it. God could not remain a righteous God and compromise with sin. His holiness and His justice demand the death penalty." The meanings of Christ's sacrifice are amazing. "He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed." Isaiah 53:5 Yes, as the first half of Romans 6:23 states, "the wages of sin is death ..." But don't miss the second part: "... the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

2) Now let's turn a corner and view the cross from a different perspective. You've got to understand this. This wasn't a random occurrence, as if bad people killed Christ. No, He laid down his life. "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." (1 John 3:16, emphasis mine) It is Christ's love for us that led Him to the cross.

So if He loves us, can we actually trust Him with our stuff? All of it? For me, in various seasons of life, this has been really hard. I have repeatedly not wanted to trust anyone but myself. At times, I have isolated myself and even acted on my fears, hitting the "reality ejection seat," numbing out, trying to escape. Then, when it was too late, I realized there was no parachute and I came crashing into the ground. So I've had to ask hard questions: Does God have my best interests in mind? Yes. Will I trust Him rather than my personal great wisdom? A "yes" may have been the answer in my head, but ... would my actions match my desire to trust him?

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In the best circumstances, I have seen my error and turned back to God. What about you? Remember everyone is unique. So this could be whatever way that you come to God: though the Bible, through songs (see below), through a church, other types of gatherings, through a blog or a bunch of other ways. One pastor I knew gave his heart to Jesus while he was sitting in his bathtub. As I said repeatedly before, God is after your heart.


Lastly, consider that it can actually be wise to trust in something you cannot see. This is like when you walk into a dark room and flip the light switch. You expect the light to come on, right? But you did not know this when you were a child. You had to observe others' expectations that light switches actually turn on lights. Later, you tried turning them on yourself, and it actually worked! So when it comes to trusting God, you can view others' faith and choose to believe on your own. Some seekers believe from reading the bible and seeing other's faith there. And you can take small steps or just jump right in - bathtub or no bathtub.

In the end, we trust God in response to his love for us. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Eternal life through the cross. The wholeness described above in Isaiah 53:5. This is a big plus sign on our horizons, like I tried to show in the photo above. Jesus himself said in John 10:10, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." I hope you can grow in this goodness and be satisfied with God's love today.

- Dave

And here are some of my favorite songs about the cross.

In the Shadow of the Cross - "So let my soul be satisfied." 
At the Cross
You Are My King (Amazing Love) with scriptures, "If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed," and prayer for college students.

P.S. There are many more meanings behind this rich symbol we call the cross. Here are two:
1) The cross is empty. Jesus is not still there. His resurrection brings strength and an inheritance.
2) Also, He is not just gone. He gives us His Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 2, we will look at wisdom that comes from God himself

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Idolatry - Where Will You Place Your Crown? - 1 Cor. 1: 12-17

Idolatry can be defined in a few ways. It can be the worship of a physical object, as if that object was a god. It can also be extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone. It is a person exalting something or someone as god in their lives. An extreme example in the bible occurred when Moses was away from the people of Israel and they started worshipping a golden calf. While the idea of bowing before a bronze statue seems unimaginable, there are idols all around us competing for our attention, our loyalty, our affection. Some are overt like money, fame, sex or power. Others sneak in, subtle - our family, a job or independence. And others can be more out of the box: a dream, a hobby ... or a bronze statue. In reality, anything that we give our hearts to, we are putting in a place of authority. And we cannot give these things preeminence. In a sense, we are giving these forces a crown that God deserves. To me, a crown represents authority, and God is to be King of all. This is easier said than done. We must deliberately and choose to put him in that place in our hearts.

In “Counseling the Hard Cases,” Dan Wickert writes, “Just as every sin is the fruit of unbelief, at the heart of every sin is an idol. If I believe a lie about God, then I am not worshipping Him; rather, I am belittling Him, casting Him from the throne of my heart. Man was designed for worship, so if I am not worshipping God, I am worshipping something or someone else.”

Looking at 1 Corinthians, Paul gets specific and asks about our God-ordained leaders. It is true, we can put those we follow on a pedestal where only God should reside. The Corinthian believers were attributing their allegiance to at least four different leaders. One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? … Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”

So as we follow our Christian leaders, we need to take this to heart and not blow their roles out of proportion. It is a good thing to have Christian mentors, pastors and other types of leaders. But they are our guides, not our way. Jesus is the way. As a mentor told me recently, "we need to take the crowns off of people and put them on Christ." 

Pulling back, this can also apply to any people we have put on a pedestal in our lives. When we were young, we followed our parents until differentiation caused us to realize we were our own unique person with our unique identity. As a boy, I put my dad on a pedestal and later, leaders and even bosses. This isn't fair to them, and it can be crippling to us. So also, our parents, teachers or any leaders, for that matter, do not deserve our idolatry, whether they are living or not. 

We can even put friends in this place as well. When we do this, we are submitting our souls to them and creating unholy "soul ties." Cherishing friends is awesome; worshipping or putting their approval over God's is not. Friends can let us down. God does not. In Hebrews 13:5, the writer proclaims God's word to us - "I will never leave you or forsake you." And after we change our thinking, we must forget and return to this deception. This error reminds me of Charlie Brown returning to the football field every fall, hoping Lucy will not pull the ball out from under him again and again. 

Surrender this to God. We can look at the elders in Revelation as an illustration of this. They bowed down and cast their crowns onto the ground before Almighty God. Trust Him. He can deal with idols in at least two ways: 
  1. He can wrench them from our hands. For example, if we are clasping onto money as if wealth was our only hope in the world. In this situation, God can shatter our frozen fingers for us to truly be free. Still, his love can melt our stubborn will before it comes to this.
  2. Alternatively, He can allow us to become miserable as we live with a substitute for the good, good Father, who offers us true life, grace and peace.
We need to take the crowns off of people, off of things and put them on Christ. Today, who will you give your crown to?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Saved, Called and Equipped - 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

God has saved you. He has called you. He has equipped you for fellowship with his Son. We are going to look at 1 Corinthians in the upcoming weeks.

1 Cor. 1:1-9 – (NASB) 1 Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother. To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you,

Again, we are “sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours” (NASB)
The NIV says we are “sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere …”
The Message paraphrase calls “sanctified” people “believers cleaned up by Jesus and set apart for a God-filled life.”

When our life is “God filled,” a part of that is God’s infilling. He fills us with His Spirit. There is a deposit … in us … of His own essence. So among other things, we are “cleaned up” from the inside out. We want to walk with Him because we want to be in right relationship with Him. That is one meaning of “righteousness,” in the original Greek language. We want to live from the inside out. We want to be authentic, something real, to be sincere, not fake. Contrast this with religious legalism, working from the outside in.

As a practical model for this, when a child only lives to obey a parent out of fear of anger or perhaps violence, they obey when the parents are around. When the parents are absent, rebellion arises. If the parent instead has a strong, personal, intimate relationship with the child, the child will want to do what is right, even when the parent is not around. The child has a deposit from the adult and wants to do what will protect that parent’s heart of love. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.


Ultimately, the Holy Spirit is perfect love. God is love, and His Spirit is described as our Helper . So the more honestly we can relate with God, the better off we will be. Often, David got real with God, at times outright raw and brutally exposed before him. And God called him a man after His own heart.

This condemnation of living the fake life is not an original idea. In "Abba’s Child", Brennan Manning calls this outward persona the “Imposter.” Glennon Doyle Melton calls this her ”representative” in her book “Love Warrior: A Memoir.” In “The Cure,” John Lynch calls this living “behind the mask.” Whatever you call it, it is fake. God calls us to honest living. The woman at the well was revealed as a phony when she told Jesus she had no husband. He gently pointed out her troubled past and current compromise. She now had a choice. This challenge could be resisted and avoided or it could utterly revolutionize her life. Note: God will never ask you to do anything that you cannot do. He will give you the power to do what he has called you to do. The woman dropped her water pot and ran back to her city telling everyone about Jesus.

In the book we are looking at, 1 Corinthians, the church has some messy situations. The Lord uses Paul to offer ways to true holiness. Let us come along with these people as they move from being fake to truly living, “enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge.” The Message says of them “You don’t need a thing – you’ve got it all!” They are described in verses seven through nine
as “not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” You already have everything you need for successful and fruitful living. You don’t need a thing. Time is on your side. Some of this new life will be in seed form. Some will be growing into visibility. Other aspects will flourish soon and grow before your very eyes. Jesus came that we might have life to the full (John 10:10).
 Let His Spirit within you nourish you, drawing you closer to Him.

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

Abba's Child by Brennan Manning

The Cure by John Lynch

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Father's Love



God as father? If God has led you into faith in His Son and you've turned from your sin towards Him, then you're saved by grace. God is your Father. John said it this way in 1 John 3:1, "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"

Father God is shown in Proverbs as a strong Defender of the fatherless. Proverbs 23:10-11 says "Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, for their Defender is strong; he will take up his case against you." (Every common translation capitalizes this word, signifying it represents God.) In those times, the boundary stones established people's property lines. Think about it. What hope did an orphan have in those days? They had no family, no inheritance. Their property was their most valuable possession, possibly their only hope for food and/or income. For someone to steal a portion of the orphan's property was a gross injustice in the eyes of God. If someone messes with God's child, this proverb is saying the Father will take up His case against them. 

The Father takes up His case against the enemy. In the new testament, Jesus paid the price for us on the cross. When hell was having a party, Jesus had a plan. He was disarming hell and the grave on your behalf. And His resurrection power enables you to walk away from sin and enter into a relationship with Father God. As I have talked about various homes (Eden, your home and with friends in Blog #1 and secure in Christ in Blog #2), no home compares to being at home with God, abiding in His presence. This is a conscious act and takes time to develop. But it is possible and has been life-changing for countless people for centuries. Prayer, bible study and many other activities can bring you in. Psalm 16:11 says, "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy ..."


There will be a time when your parents or people you look to for guidance or mentorship will begin to pass away. Being with them will suddenly not be home anymore ... because (sorry to be so blunt), they will be gone. I have a relative like this who is currently gradually losing weight. There seems to be no medical reason for this. We are just praying for comfort and a breakthrough.

Where do find comfort in this, or frankly where do I find comfort in any extremely difficult or confusing situation? I propose two helpful answers for your consideration:

1. The promise of God's leadership, love, goodness and presence. You see, I don't think any of us will understand all of the stuff we go through in life. God may not always offer explanations, but He does offer Himself. His comfort results in our consolation. His discipline results in our maturity.
 His love changes us forever.

2. And consider the eternal justice of God. For example, anytime someone questions why a good God would allow someone like Hitler to inflict monstrous pain on others, I want to point out the possible disastrous condition of their souls. Only God knows people's eternal condition, but an eternity in hell is nothing to take lightly. 

Let us return to God's Fathering heart. Do you know why I love my children? Why do you love your children or possibly those you have influence over? I love my kids because they're mine. Not for their achievements or personalities. I do not dislike them when they make mistakes (partly because of poor choices I too have made over the years). I simply love them because they are mine. They are my sons and my daughter. Nothing can change that.

If now is your time, and God is drawing you to him, I offer a prayer for you to pray. It is not so important the exact words you pray. What matters is the attitude of your heart. A friend of mine often started out his prayers with "Dad." Here's the prayer I invite you to share with me:

Father, I do not know you as much as I would like. Open up the word and my heart to receive you. I turn from the sins of my past, and I trust you in a new way now. Lead me into a healthy new life with you. Amen.

Lastly, here are a few songs that I hope will bless you. I wrote "I Trust In You" when I was processing my own view of God as Father.

I Trust in You  https://youtu.be/_R7QxMeuC4c
Faithful Father by Brian Doerksen  https://youtu.be/QHISaL2b2nw
Home by Brian Johnson https://youtu.be/JYSQsww-iAI

God bless you in your relationship with the Father.
Dave

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Jesus Brings Life

There is hope in a harvest. Seeds are planted. Expectation rises. The same is true with your heart. Jesus causes your heart to come alive, and as you grow new life abounds. He said, "the thief's purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life." John 10:10 Jesus satisfies.

But the first part of a seed's life is hidden. It is under the surface, in the ground. Or like a lotus flower, hidden under the water, waiting. In the bible, they likened this stage to dying and being reborn, a drastic transformation. Christ described His own journey in these terms. "… unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." He told Nicodemus, "unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God … unless one is born of water and the spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

So Jesus speaks and breathes life into us through His Spirit. We are born again. 1 Peter 1:23, "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." Romans 8:15-16 says we did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but we have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Jesus brings new birth into enduring new life. Let us all come alive today.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Secure In Christ

I cannot talk about the Father heart of God without talking about His Son. Jesus lived approximately 33 years, His last three years comprising of His public ministry. Every Easter we acknowledge His death and resurrection. On New Year's, we celebrate the anniversary of His impact on the earth. At Christmas, we celebrate His birth. The copyright on your favorite music dates back to His life and death. There can be no denying that Jesus walked the earth.

But what impact does this have on our lives? Acknowledging Jesus lived among the men and women is not enough. We have to come to grips with Jesus as the Christ. You see, Jesus was His name, but Christ was His title. "Christ" is another word for Messiah, or "anointed" one, literally "smeared." Jesus had a mission. He was set apart for a specific task. He was after your heart.

We can see His heart for people from different angles. When His friend Lazarus died, Jesus wept and called him out of the tomb with grave clothes and all. For a woman who had bled for years, He ministered healing. At the temple, His passion burned as He overturned the moneychangers' defilement of His Father's house of prayer. For a paralytic, He stopped the meeting, healed him and forgave his sins. For you, He stands at the door and knocks, waiting for you to invite Him in. You can rest assured of this. He is after your heart.

If He was such a great man, why did they crucify him? Because he had a unique relationship with God. He was God’s Son. You may say, "Waitaminute. You had me with the historical Jesus, but Jesus as God's flesh and blood? I just don't know." Well, Jesus knew. He said in John 10:30, "I and the Father are one." And He had a hope, an anchor. His foundation was found in His relationship with His Father. When His Father asked Him to lay down His life for the salvation of mankind, His prayers were so intense, He was sweating blood. And He prayed, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” After all, He was after your heart.

In John 5:19-20, Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all that He himself is doing. And greater works than these will He show Him, so that you may marvel.” Col. 1:15 says Jesus “is the image of the invisible God.” Hebrews 1:3 says “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature.”

And what happened when Phillip asked for a greater revelation from Christ himself in John 14:8-12? Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” If you’ve seen the Son, you’ve see the Father.

I remember the first time I went into a worship service where people were lifting their hands as they sang their songs. I thought, “What is with these people?” It turned out their security was not being afraid of what others thought about them. It was in Christ. He had revolutionized their lives and made them passionate for Him. So where do we stand? Is our security primarily in Christ? This is not the three little pigs picking the correct material to keep the wolf out. This is abiding in the shadow of the cross, the empty tomb, the risen Christ and His very Spirit.

Hillsong Worship recorded an updated version of the classic hymn “On Christ the Solid Rock.” One of the writers, Reuben Morgan explains that "When the earth shakes, we look to our feet and wonder what it is that we are standing on? When darkness seems to hide His face; In every high and stormy gale; Through the storm; My anchor holds". See it here.

Again, Revelation 3:20 says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with Me.” If you have met the Son, you have met the Father. He is after your heart. Open it, and welcome Him in. 

God bless you.