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Posts Tagged ‘grace’

“And try to learn [in your experience] what is pleasing to the Lord [let your lives be constant proofs of what is most acceptable to Him]. “ Eph 5:10 Amp

The Importance of Being Dealt With By God…

We all like feedback.  We all want some manner of knowing that we are pleasing God and that the substance of our lives is tracking with Him.

Often I have wondered if the Holy Spirit could not provide us with something like the “playback” of football plays all marked in color squiggles of how the play fell apart. Maybe He even could provide footage of our lives with His evaluations to improve our “swing!”

Have you been guilty of too tight a grip?Worse, have you been resisting His move in you? I have for certain!  But the Lord has been actively loosening my grip and perfecting my swing – something I could not begin to do for myself!

Here is what He has shown me: His Love! He has shown me my total inadequacy, and even lack of compatibility in my flesh for His love to move and animate my natural life. Like trying to put nuclear power into a small Tupperware container – my own self is that inadequate.  It is not the leaning of Him on me, it is rather the leaning of my entire personality on Him that He calls for!

Here is where I had the problem.

Through particular set of experiences I had run amiss of His ways…and indulged opinions and emotions of self and the flesh. He allowed me to “feel” in my spirit the hardening, the coldness, the growing remoteness from Him. I could not stand feeling so locked up.  I had to go to Him and ask, “What is this Lord?”

But before that, I was holding wounded thinking, and feelings of betrayal, I could not move forward in His love. I became stuck. So for a short time I was frozen, unable to cooperate with His love, but also unable to process the problem. I became uncomfortable.

Output of His love was stilled. I wasn’t blocked, I was blocking, stifling Him! I was like the proverbial Dead Sea with no outlet. And with no outlet for the life of Christ through me, there was indeed a backup.

We are so good in the natural to sense a physiological problem. Not so good in the spiritual realm. But we must get better! Thankfully the Holy Spirit is always on task, and His discipline and disclosure are effective. In His grace He answered me and provided diagnosis, in His mercy He provided a way of remedy!

Then I was led to repent and renounce those thoughts and perspectives…

Here is the thing. He will not force you. He is a Gentleman. But He will allow you to become very uncomfortable, because your resistance is rebellion. Your refusal reaps death.

The difference between disobedience and death is time…. It is important to understand that. Only when I am aligned with Him in His doctrine, in His will, in His way – in His love being manifested …am I in life. When I balk against that, I balk against life.

But the great news is He does clarify for us where we are drifting away. Where our own “pudding” is deviating from His perfect blend and consistency!

Here’s how: 2Jn1:1-9…

– He recalls to mind the command to love one another

– He shows what this love consists of: that we live and walk in accordance with and guided by His commandment.

– Specifically, that we continue to walk in love (guided by it and following it)

– Then verse 9 is the clincher: “Anyone who runs on ahead [of God] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ [who is not content with what He taught] does not have God; but He who continues to live in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ [does have God], he has both the Father and the Son.”

You see this is the Lord’s perfect recipe, and His perfect checks and balances. Better than any handbook on improving our stroke, the Lord has provided His word as a yardstick, even a litmus test of our hearts, like a template reflecting His perfection we can unequivocally know – either we are approved or disapproved in our conduct – our likeness to Him.

Not because I am checking my pulse against His and analyzing it.  But because the Holy Spirit brings us to awareness in our spirit man we register a distance and a loss that causes recognition — something is very wrong.

This spiritual perception is the Lord’s grace and His truth at work by the Holy Spirit! He shows us where we are not abiding and brings us under conviction.

It is the Holy Spirit Who continually reveals, discloses, declares, and transmits to us the truth of Jesus Christ. And as He transmits to us all that is of Christ He is not bringing forth just a thought – He is bringing forth into us the very substance of Jesus!

It is in this manner, in the abiding Presence of the Holy Spirit, that righteous fruit grows – because of the work which His Presence accomplishes in us! This is the very “Pudding” of the Lord!

The Lord has One Pudding Recipe. It cannot be counterfeited! There is only One thing that is Christ-like, and that is Christ Himself! He alone with the Holy Spirit can validate the substance of His life in you – His pudding! Be open, unveiled, and fully submitted.

“Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the Presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exaltation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight] –…” Jude 1:24 Amp

Amen!

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Day Seventy-Five

Who Is — Always a Groomsman — Never a Bride?

“He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the groomsman who stands by and listens to him rejoices greatly and heartily on account of the bridegroom’s voice.  This then is my pleasure and joy, and it is now complete.”  Jn 3:29 Amp

            Prepare to be shaken!

John the Baptist is an amazingly provocative character who the Lord has used to showcase before me a decidedly challenging level of obedience.  It has caused me to wonder … do we (the Bride) have this kind of obedience in us towards the Lord.  If I may explain…

When we perceive the church today — there is visible an almost celebratory wave of exultant exuberance that is understandable – but the caution for us is that even that exuberance must be submitted to and before the One we serve as Lord and Master, and King of Kings.  Even our exuberant love must be obedient! And sometimes the requirements of obedience may curtail what we would like to do in the name of love.

Some examples before we look at John…

In his own wisdom and deep feeling for the Lord, Peter began to rebuke the Lord for speaking about going to the cross – and the Lord’s words to Him were, “… Get behind Me, Satan! For you do not have a mind intent on promoting what God wills, but what pleases men [you are not on God’s side, but that of men].”

            Loving God means being on God’s side – even at the cost of your own best ideas, or your emotional perspective on what it means to follow Christ.

            Moses was precluded from entering the Promised Land because of personal failure at the waters of Meribah.  To not enter the Promised Land had to be a horrendous blow and disappointment.  It had to be one of the hardest moments in his life, and even after much pleading God finally tells him,  “It is enough!”  So Moses is held back from the greatest desire of his heart – to go into the Promised Land.  Instead, he was led to pass his mantle of leadership to Joshua, and to go die after ascending Mount Nebo.

            Loving God means submission – even when that submission feels like it will kill you!  We must obey!

            Now the hardest incident, even harder than Moses, is John the Baptist.  Yet it is one I see that is saturated with the grace of God.  He has known Jesus in the flesh as his cousin.  He has known Him in the Spirit as His Lord.  But He will never know Him as part of the Bride.  Though John heralds the way for Jesus and harkens the ears of the Israelites to His coming, and is even chosen to close out the age prior to the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt 11:11), he will never be part of the bride of Christ.  This is disturbing, and foreign, and even awful as I look from the seat of one in the Body of Christ.  And yet, John effervesces in great grace he says – (identifying himself as the groomsman… “This then is my pleasure and joy, and it is now complete.”)

            This is an astounding display of grace, love, and obedience in being all that God calls you to be!  Even when it is less than you might desire.  Who could say they would be content with not being part of the Bride of Christ?  Yet John is joyful!  That is a dying to self that the Body of Christ needs to embrace. We must give over all that we dream of being in His service in obedience and submission to His call.

It begs the question… is this the stuff the Bride is yet made of?  Are we willing to be all that He calls us to be, even if that differs from what we desire or imagine?  Even if it meant His sacrifice on the Cross (like Peter), or not entering the Promised Land (like Moses), or not being a part of the Bride ( like John)?

            I am seeing that there are places where my faith and trust and submission must take me in obedience, where exuberance cannot go.

            Like Abraham laying his beloved son on the altar as a living sacrifice – we must lay not just some things, but ALL things down as well, with confidence that though we may not yet see it, the Lord knows what He is doing!  Even in the age to come there will be a place where souls are saved – yet they will not be part of the Bride, for we will already be raptured!

            My appreciation for what obedience cost these particular saints has skyrocketed as I have looked from this vantage point.  And yet, we the Bride should not be deceived … salvation cost the Lord Jesus everything, and us nothing. But a life of obedience to Him now that …

             will cost us everything – to live as His saints!

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Day Seventy-Two

Our Shortcomings Remain

“Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).”  Eph 2:5 Amp

 

            As we mature in Christ and His likeness, it is easy to believe we have left our natural shortcomings behind in the dust.  But it is the liability for these very shortcomings that keeps us humble and keeps us from spiritual pride and contempt for other believers and those not yet saved.

            It is not a pleasant thing – to see vividly our nature rear its ugly head, but what we must understand is that as we face these shortcomings with humility, and bring them to the Lord, then the very same grace from Christ Jesus that saved us is operative in the situation — and is available to bring us once again into fellowship and union with Christ.

            If I hide the truth that shortcomings still exist, if I contrive to hide them, push them down, or fail to recognize them, then I also fail in that moment to secure needed grace.  It will stand in the wings ready for my acknowledgement – but it will not fill me until I see my deficiency and bring it to Him in repentance and ask forgiveness.

            In this way – I remain a work in progress before Christ.  In spiritual places I am indeed perfect in Him.  But perfection must be worked out in me to where Christ is Lord over my flesh.  I must enforce His word over and in me to walk according to the Spirit, and in the light as He is in the light.  Without this recognition of continuing shortcomings – I become hardened, prideful, deceived and walking in contempt that others are not as far along as I.

            These, my shortcomings, are a blessing in disguise, as they keep me soft and pliable before the Lord.  They keep me ever in need of repenting, and ever in receipt of His active grace.  The danger is where I become hardened by pride, I am incapable of receiving His needed grace!

            Paul recounts this to us beautifully and poignantly in Philippians 3:12.  Concerning Paul’s own perfected state he explains:

                        “Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own.”

            So what do we take away from this?  We recognize our shortcomings will never end as long as we are alive in this body of flesh.  But we additionally recognize that after I confess and repent of these, I have the Lord’s active grace operating in me to press on and overcome.  The goal is not to be fixated on our deficiencies – nor to be caught up in bewailing that we are not perfect.  But rather to lay hold of Him and His perfection because He is more than sufficient for me!  In this way, I lose sight of myself, and lay hold of Him. He increases and I decrease.

            The fact of my shortcomings is true for this age.  But they are dwarfed by the abiding reality of Christ in me the hope of glory – which is for this age and the age to come.  My face to face encounters are here to keep me humble, and to keep me open to His grace.  Many people, both believers and unbelievers may get the dubious pleasure of witnessing my shortcomings.  But hopefully they will also get to witness the overcoming life of Christ emerge out of the ashes of my collision with my flesh – if I will remain mindful that I live not to be exalted myself, but to lift up Christ in me.

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Day Fifty-Eight

Super-abounding Grace! The Grace Juxtaposition

 

– many died through one man (Adam’s) fall… but many gain God’s grace through the one (Jesus)

– one man brought condemnation… but Jesus’ free gift brings justification

– by one man’s trespass death reigned… but by God’s overflowing grace we reign as kings in life

– one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men… but Jesus’s act leads to righteousness for all

– one man’s disobedience makes men sinners… but by one Man’s obedience they are brought into right-standing with Him

– where sin increased and abounded… God’s grace has superabounded

– where sin has reigned in death… God’s grace now reigns through righteousness which issues in eternal life through Jesus Christ (paraphrase of Romans 5:15-21)

 

It is done: completed! Seven juxtapositions of man’s natural state as placed beside what God has done for him.  Can there be any doubt of God’s redeeming love, how He has super-abounded in grace for us, and has more than overcome the condition of our fall?  If there is any doubt in you of God’s nature, His character, His love for you, or how far He has actually come to abound to us in grace – you need to take time and study for yourself the above passage.  Read it. Study it. Meditate on it.

I know – it is easy to get into a spiritual funk.  Life happens.  Your find yourself high and dry on a spiritual plain of desolation.  You find it hard to see Him let alone fellowship with Him.  But I tell you – the cares of this world have been choking the word that is in you.  Turn the tables now and let this word expand, occupy, and super-abound in you in truth.  The pressure this word exerts for truth is greater than the pressure of your situation!  Let this word fill your eyes and fill your heart with truth!  It will bear you aloft over and through your situation and circumstances, if only you will embrace it.  Not because you fully understand it intellectually – but by faith you believe that the One Who holds all things is willing and able to do what He has said here.  Let Him begin to saturate your thinking with His truth.  Let His grace abound even super-abound in you today!

 

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