Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Be transformed..... How does it work?

Key 5 Transform: We are being transformed by fully believing in the Truth and yielding our soul and body to God.

     In Key 5 Transform, we learn how to live out who we are in Christ. We are beings with a spirit, a soul and a body. Our spirit has been made completely righteous and holy by and before God. This is the good news of the gospel. This is who we really are in Christ. Now as we choose to believe the reality of the gospel, our soul and body will be transformed as well. We grow as we choose to believe gospel and live and walk within this truth, fully resting in the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
     We are not trying to change ourselves because at the core we are already transformed by the finished work of Christ. The focus of Key 5 is now resting, abiding and living in this truth. The truth is that God through Christ has made us completely new. As we focus on transforming our thinking, we align our whole selves with this Truth as we abide in the Word of God. Our thinking in our soul transforms and our behaviours transform, coming into alignment with the completed work of God in our spirit. Our behaviours will begin to change and really match who we are in the spirit.
     The Bible says “walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out the deeds of the flesh.” The order of this command is important. When we walk in the Spirit, we will not carry out the deeds of the flesh. Walking in the Spirit is first. Behaviour comes as a result of the first. Walking in the Spirit is the same as fully believing God’s Word and living out God’s way. As we fully believe God’s Word, we will desire to stop doing ungodly, fleshly things because our inner most values in our mind will be transformed. This process will not be hard. It will be natural. Jesus said “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” The Christian life is not designed to be hard. It’s impossible in the flesh, but it’s not hard in the spirit. It’s easy and light. If the process seems hard, we are trying to change ourselves, instead of believing and resting in the finished work of Christ in us.
     We live by faith alone which means on a daily basis we are trusting the Lord that He has saved us, and is living out that salvation within us for all to see. There is no independence in our spirit. Our spirit is connected to God and totally dependent upon Him. Our spirit dwells in the unseen world where God is. Our spirit is always seated in the spiritual realm in God and receives commands from God. So we must now learn to live as a whole being by faith alone in God, not by sight.
     Throughout the years our sight and senses have been aligned and trained by the world system. This has come through parents, school, friends, TV, books and a variety of sources all claiming that their view of reality is the truth. We have come to know that only Jesus can define our reality and the reality of His creatures. So we must now look at sight and senses in a new way. Sight and senses will try to deceive our true selves and keep us focused on earthly things. So we must filter everything we see and hear and experience through God’s truth.
     God has given each of His believers the gift of His Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit walks beside and within our spirit instructing and guiding us in truth. He continuously works from within us, giving us wisdom, understanding, and equipping us for everything. He knows that we have been transformed at the core, in our spirit, and wants us to live that reality out according to the Father’s will. God gave us the mind of Christ through the Holy Spirit.
     The picture the scriptures use to show the covenant relationship we have with Christ is circumcision. It was through circumcision that an Israelite child was brought into the covenant God made with Abraham. The foreskin was cut away from part of man used for the joining of husband and wife in an intimate relationship in a marriage covenant to give the picture that the flesh was removed as a sign of the intimate covenant with God. In a marriage relationship, the two people become one flesh and one spirit, symbolizing the oneness of the unity of Christ and His church. The spiritual picture is that God in the new covenant will cut the flesh of man away and be in covenant relationship with his spirit. This is a picture of new Israel in Christ.
     God is our Master and He reigns in us. Yet, sin or this independence still dwells in our soul and our body. This independence is called flesh in the Bible. When the Bible is using “flesh” in this sense, it is not thinking the physical flesh you see. The flesh in this sense means the independence residing in the soul and body. The flesh is NOT us, but it dwells with us. The truth is that sin no longer needs to reign in a believer. But the reality of the Christian life is the walking out of this truth each moment of the day.
     According to our belief, the flesh will either have power over us or no power over us. Sin’s power, if we walk by faith fully believing the gospel, has been removed by the death and resurrection of Christ. It is according to our faith that we experience the overcoming power of God as we walk in the Spirit. Through our new birth, we are children of God. Our new spirit cannot sin or be separated from God again. Our new identity is sealed by God through His Spirit within us. Nothing will change the reality of who we are. We grow as we learn to BE who we truly are, filtering all information we receive in through our senses through the filter of God’s word. We learn to identify thoughts and values we held which are contrary to Truth, taking them captive into obedience to Truth.
     The soul, which is our mind, will and emotions, has a tremendous ability to either walk in the spirit or walk in the flesh. The mind’s way of making decisions is through the conscious and subconscious. The conscious mind is where we will things to happen. The subconscious mind is where the emotion and values are seated. Although we will things through the conscious mind, this will is not stronger than our emotions and values embedded in the subconscious mind. Our behaviours will go against the will and live out the emotion and value part of the mind. These are our core beliefs.
     Our bodies move in response to what we value. So our behaviour reveals what our soul truly believes. Actions speak louder than our words. We live out what our soul believes. If our soul’s values are fleshly, our behaviour will be fleshly too. If our soul’s values have accepted God’s truth as true, then our behaviours will be godly. This is why Jesus said people will know His disciples by the fruit of their lives. We cannot fake Christianity. We can try to live godly for a while, but we will eventually behave according to what our soul has accepted as truth.
     All we have learned from education, from family, from friends and any other sources, now must be brought in line with the Truth of God’s word. As we learn to think differently, we work at believing. Our soul will resist, but as our values transform, our behaviour begins to change, aligning with the reality of who we are as a new creation in Christ. As we grow, new godly values will replace the worldly values in our subconscious mind. In time, the soul and body become trained in righteousness as we choose to believe God’s word. Our bodies will transform as our actions begin to follow the truth our soul now believes.
     Our work, as a Christian, is not to try to improve ourselves or do great things FOR God. Our work is to fully believe Him, loving Him and working WITH God as He sets captives free to the praise of His glorious grace. We can choose to believe the truth of who we now are and live in the freedom Christ secured for us, or we can choose to not believe and live like captives even though we are actually free.
     The focus of Key 5 Transform is not trying to transform ourselves. The focus is just BEING who we truly are. As we walk in the Spirit, abiding in His Truth, we DO great things WITH God. Our doing will flow from abiding in Him, not trying to do great things. When we do something with God, we will know it’s not really us doing it, but God doing the work in and through us. Our response will be to thank Him, giving Him praise for transforming our lives, bringing beauty from ashes, giving us meaning and purpose beyond compare as He allows us to work with Him.
     God accomplished something beautiful in us through Jesus Christ, not for us, but for the praise of His Holy Name as He brings all His creation back into alignment with Himself.

Monday, December 27, 2010

True Health

     Have you ever grown up in a family you thought was healthy and realize it was not? I suppose many of us have. All families are born into disconnection with God and live within that reality, defining meaning and health according to what we think and believe to be best.
     As I learn to walk in truth, abiding in Christ, I see more and more what true health is like. I see what freedom there is in health.  I see what joy there is in health. I see what fellowship there is in health.  Darkness and light become more clearly defined. 
       I'm realizing that what we think is health is being redefined by God, who lays out what true health is through His Word. We begin to see see that we fall short of true health in our families, in our relationships, in our view of ourselves. As God reveals true health to us through His Word, we walk in the light, and we see. Things become more clear. Truth now defines us. Not others' opinions. Not our success in our jobs. Not relationships we hold dear. Truth.
      God is restoring us to health and wholeness. He is restoring us to a life of freedom and peace, above the pull of the world.  He is restoring us to living within systems of true love, free from agendas, free from alterior motives.  As we walk in the light, being who we are as light, we begin to truly live.  We are no longer rocked by the circumstances in life or by the unhealth of others.  We begin to truly see.  And people become more healthy by being around us.  The health within us begins to influence the systems around us.
          Jesus is the truth and the truth sets us free.  I am seeing that God really means this -- literally.  He means that we will walk free, vibrant lives in Him, as we abide in His Word -- as we rest in His truth,  as we fully walk by faith in Him alone.  He redefines reality for us through His eyes.  He gives us understanding through His Spirit inside us. 
     I'm so thankful to be seeing this... finally.  To be understanding that God is truly sufficient. That the Christian life is not hard.  That fully believing the truth really sets us free, in this life, in our families, in all our relationships, in our jobs, in every experience we have on earth.  It's not just a phrase or a hope for the future. It's an actual reality of our lives now. Walking by faith in our creator brings deep fulfillment and joy as we walk with Him proclaiming His message of hope to others.  In this walking with Him, we walk more and more free, more and more living within the health of who we truly are.  God has made us healthy in Christ in our spirit. and now He is making us completely healthy through our thinking and behaviour.  He is making us whol.  We become truly healthy, not as the world defines, but as God defines.  True health is so beautiful and free.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Story of the King

Someone was calling my name. As I cowered in my hiding place, a light shone into the darkness. As the light reached my face, I knew I was exposed. Raising my hands above my head, I stepped forward to face my captors. My chains jangled loudly around my ankles, biting into my skin. Slowly, pressed between the guards, I walked the slow walk to the King. As we entered His throne room, I saw Him. My breath caught in my throat at the sight of His eyes. My friends had told me He was cruel. They told me to run from Him and to hide, so that I could really live free and enjoy my life as I wanted. They said He was a cold and calculating Man, manipulating His subjects with laws, holding them back from really enjoying life.

Now, as I looked into His eyes, I couldn’t look away. A powerful, penetrating Light radiated from Him. I felt Glory and Power surge through Him; the Glory of a Truly Righteous Man. And to my astonishment, I felt such Love. An overwhelming Love like I had never known before.

My face burned as His eyes pierced through me. He saw me and He knew me. I longed to hide, but I could not run. He called me by name. He knew who I was. I felt laid bare before Him. I felt so unclean. Deep sobs welled up in me as I fell to my knees before His throne. The law declared death to anyone who broke even one of His commands. I willingly had broken many, over and over again. Guilt weighed down on me. I felt completely ashamed. I was His enemy. I knew I deserved death. Bowing in complete surrender, I bared my neck to this King.

I felt the cold edge of His blade on My neck. It rested against my skin. Ever so gently He lifted my head, and spoke right into my heart. You have sinned against Me, He said. You lived your life after your own will, violating my Law and My Truth. You deserve to die. You have become unprofitable to Me, a waste of a human life.

Slowly He raised the sleeve of His robe uncovering a gaping scar on his wrist. In obedience to My Righteous and Holy Father, He said to me, I gave My Life for You. I paid the penalty for your sin. Because of My Father’s love, I willingly laid down My life, so that you might live. Look at my hands. See the scars where the nails pierced through. I suffered humiliation in the hands of sinful men for your sake. I was falsely accused. Men spit on My face. They stripped my clothes and nailed Me to a cross. I died the death that you deserve, despising the shame. For the joy set before me, I endured the cross. I did not do this for you. I did this for My Father’s glory, for His Name’s sake. You do not deserve this Love. But because of My Father’s mercy and the Love with which He loved you, I gave My Life in exchange for yours. For it pleased My Father to bruise Me. In My death, I glorified My Father and you were set free. I perfectly obeyed My Father, totally trusting His Love, and fulfilling all that He commanded Me to fulfill.

As I hung on the cross, My Father poured all of your sin, every independent act you have done, into Me. I bore the full weight of His wrath against you and your sin, and, in the agony of My soul, was separated from Him and entered death for you. I died the death you deserve and was in the tomb three days and three nights. But death could not hold Me; It was for your sin, not My own, that I paid this price. I lived a sinless life, in absolute faith in My Father. My Father raised Me from the dead and I am now Alive.

If you turn to Me now, you must completely surrender. With your whole heart, admit your guilt before Me, confessing that I am now the sole Ruler of your life. Admit that you have sinned against My Father and that you believe that He raised Me from the Dead. We will remove your guilt and forgive your sin. I will save you and you will be one with Us. We will make Our home with you, making you new and righteous in Us. We will work within you through My Spirit Who I will give to you. He will cause you to obey Our law. You will enter into My Father’s righteousness and live with Us forever. You will become a slave to Righteousness, daily yielding your body and soul to Us, living for Our Glory alone. You will obey the Word we speak, for We do not lie. You will not be your own. You were bought with a price.

If you choose not to surrender, you will remain in your guilt and you will surely die. You will be cast from my presence and exist in death forever, where there will be weeping and utter torment.

As He rested the blade of His sword across my exposed neck, memories of my life flooded my mind. I had lived a wanton life, living only for myself. I had wanted to be free, not under the control of a King, but had become a slave to my own desires. Now as I humbly kneeled before this King, whose Presence filled the entire room, I knew how foolish I had been. How blind. As tears streamed down my face, I confessed my guilt before this Righteous King, gratefully receiving His merciful gift of Life.

He removed the sword from my neck. He lifted me to my feet, removing the chains from my feet, and, to my amazement, He washed my filth away. In awe, I looked at Him, His Love penetrated my heart, washing me, renewing Me, filling Me with His righteousness and Sealing Me in His Spirit. As He embraced me, He called me His child. You are now Mine, He said. I Love you with an everlasting Love. I declare you righteous because I have made you righteous through the cross of My suffering. I will never leave you or forsake you. We will walk together, enjoying each other, working together to see my Kingdom advance on the earth. I have come to proclaim good news to the poor, to bind up the broken hearted, to set captives free. I give sight to the blind and make the lame walk. I came that you might have life and life more abundantly. I am your Life.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Complete in Christ

If you are a believer, you are complete in Christ. You are beautiful. You are righteous. You are holy. You are not broken, not dysfunctional and you don’t need fixing. You are fixed. You fully function and you can live a godly life. Now that you are transformed, you move to work with God in His Kingdom. God’s love within you is a passionate love moving us you the direction of His heart and His ways. God is sufficient for you, and He is working in and through you to will and do for His pleasure. You cannot ultimately fail in your walk with God. You can only grow. You grow through suffering, falling forward in your failures; learning and growing through pain and struggle.You are fully who you are. Now be and believe who you are and made to be.

God hates religion. Why? Because we start trying to gain what we can never attain through our effort. We try to do what we could never accomplish. We try to be what we could never make ourselves be, and then we despair. We give up. We mope around. We live like hell on earth, when we have heaven within us if we are a believer. We bring dishonour and shame to our God because we fail to believe that what He said He would do in us, He has actually done.

Why do we struggle to believe? Because we don’t always see the evidence of God’s word in our lives YET. We don’t FEEL it’s true. So we try to change our feelings or change our behaviours, when all we really need to do is believe our God. We turn our focus to ourselves and try to improve. We create support groups, bible studies, prayer meetings, all with the focus of improving ourselves. God looks and seems to say, “What is there to improve? You are already perfect. My work is complete. Won’t you just accept this gift and believe Me? I am so glorified when you believe Me.”

The just shall walk by faith. Why? Because we know that we can never accomplish what God has done in us. We could never figure it out on our best day. How could we ever comprehend what God has done through Jesus Christ. This is the mystery of the gospel. Its beyond us. It’s a plan that God purposed in Himself since before the beginning of time, before the foundation of the world, moving events, people, raising up and casting down thrones and powers, bringing death and life, working all things together for His glory and Name sake. How could we ever possibly figure this out? How could we ever try to earn it? We do not deserve it. We were lost, lost, lost. And if He didn’t reach into the darkness and call our name, we would still be lost. God found us and He called us to Himself in Christ Jesus when we surrendered to the Son.

You did not seek God. He sought you. You did not find Him. He was found by you. That’s a big difference. He orchestrated all the events of history, all the events of your life to bring you to Himself. Your life is His design. He formed you in your mother’s womb. He wove you together, counting every hair on your head. He placed you in a certain family, in a certain town, in a certain culture, in a certain language group, in a certain country, and He did all this according to the counsel of His will, according to His good pleasure. You did not seek Him. You did not give your life to Him. You were dead. You were without hope. When the time was right, He called to you. He gave you the ability to hear His call. He authored your faith in Christ Jesus. He birthed you through His Spirit and so you live. You were dead and now you are alive. It’s by His grace you have been saved, through faith.

After all He did to save you, it’s tempting to think He chose you because you were somehow special. It might be deflating to know He did not do all this just for you. His goal was not to fix your life, get your marriage together, help your children, get the right job or give you success in this life. He did not send His Son to die for your sin for you. He did it for Himself, for the sake of His Name, which was being profaned among the nations because of you and all who lived independently of Him. He sent His Son to earth to model for us what we were not willing to do -- love God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbours as ourselves. Jesus perfectly lived out the law of God on this planet, in complete faith and love. He loved God with His whole heart, soul, mind and strength and He loved His neighbour as Himself. Jesus walked in perfect trust to His Father, knowing that, even in torture and death, God was good and was working all things according to His righteousness and character.

In Christ, God is reconciling His creation to Himself, bringing it back its purpose, the praise of His glorious grace. Why? Because He alone is good and righteous, full of mercy and loving-kindness. In His righteousness, His wrath burned against the unrighteousness of mankind. In His love He chose to redeem us, creating a new humanity in whom He would live, working out His will from within their hearts. Christ saved us from the Father’s wrath to the praise of His glory.

So He chose you, calling you by name, and He saved you, giving you a new heart and new spirit when you surrendered to Him. He washed you in the blood of His Son and taking away all your filth, removing your sin forever. You are no longer an independent being, separated from God. You are a dependent being, who is holy and connected. Nothing will ever separate you from Him again. You were not saved by your effort or religious activities. You were saved by His grace, through faith. He gifted you this faith. You didn’t even come up with the ability to believe on your own. It was a gift of God, authored by Christ Jesus.

So agree the Truth of His word, beloved child of God, thank Him for what He has done. The work in you is complete. Now He invites you to get to work with Him, as He sets up His kingdom. You are His ambassador, the letter of His grace, the light through which He will now shine His light to the world. You can’t try to do this; you must believe Him, fully resting in Him, fully abiding in Him, His word and His love.

You long to obey Him. You delight in His law. You hunger and thirst for righteousness and you long to be on mission with your King. This is the reality of who you are as the new creation in Christ. He will work in and through your life, bringing impact to the world around you. As you go with Him, your thinking and behaviour will transform. You won’t try to change, try to go to church, try to pray or try to read your bible. You want to because you love your King and have abandoned yourself to Him. You know you are saved by His grace alone. The impact God will make through your life will last forever and ever. The key is just to love Him.

The problem with religion is that it doesn’t work. God hates religion, because religion is man’s attempt to accomplish a work for God. God doesn’t need your help. You are not transformed by religious activity and God is not honoured by what you try to do. He wants your love, to love Him with all you are.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Is it Real?

Think of salvation like getting hit by a semi-truck going 700 kph. If that truck hits you, you will feel the impact. You will not be the same; you’ll be in the hospital, you might be dead, but you will not be the same. There is no denying the reality of that impact. Which is greater, a semi-truck or Almighty God? If someone says they have been impacted by God, but there is no impact, either they are lying or mistaken. If God saves you, you are saved. You are a transformed being. You are completely impacted. The experience of this inner transformation is realized only by faith, by fully believing God and resting in His finished work. We walk out the Christian life by faith and not by sight any longer; we are not trying to be somebody; we ARE somebody. We are not trying to do something for God, we walk with our King being who we are, and He expresses Himself in and through us to the world around us. We are light, so we live as light in the world. Light shines in darkness, yet the darkness “does not comprehend it,” until God opens the eyes of those He chooses so they can see.

God Hates Religion
The opposite of Christianity is not darkness, it is religion. Religion is man’s attempt to work for God. Religion is man trying in his efforts and best wisdom to do God’s work. Christianity is the opposite. Christianity is God doing His work in and through His people, not for man’s sake, but for His own glory as He brings His creation back in line with Himself. Religion thinks man has something to offer God or do for God. Christianity says God needs nothing from us.

Religion has pride at its core. Religion has self its the core. Religion says “I need to do more for God.” Why? So I feel like I’m doing significant work and am doing enough to be pleasing to God. Religion says I need to read my Bible more to become more holy or clean. Why? I so I feel better about myself and improve myself. Religion guilts me when I don’t read the Bible enough or when I miss church. Religion guilts me when I don’t share my faith with everyone I meet and answer every alter call to reach the world for Christ. Religion says I must work on myself to make myself more acceptable by God, to get closer to God, to do all the things He expects me to do. Religion lacks joy and power, yet I keep trying to attain what I think I should be. Religion loves self-help book because it seeks to improve self.

All our religious deeds are filthiness to God. All attempts to achieve what God has already completed in us or to do, by our own efforts, what He wants to do through us is religion. We cannot achieve, devise, improve and add to anything that God has done. It’s done. Finished. Complete. And He did is masterfully, perfectly, beautifully.

Alive from the Dead

What would you do if you could not ultimately fail? If you had unlimited power pouring in and through you, enabling you to live a life that transforms the world around you with such force that the effect lasts forever? Welcome to the Christian life. This is your life as a believer. You are a citizen of heaven, a child of the living God. You have entered into the unlimited realm of God, connected to the most powerful and loving Being whoever was, or is, or will be. He is taking over the earth, calling the dead to life, and building His kingdom one life at a time. People come as He calls and He transfers them out of darkness into His marvellous light. He is saving them-- not just for themselves; He’s saving them for Himself, for His purposes on earth as He seeks out the lost. He is saving you to send you into the world as His ambassador, to be a voice of love proclaiming the truth of His gospel. He pulled you out of the darkness into the light to put you right back in to set others free through you.

When He birthed you new through His Spirit, He gave you everything you need for “life and godliness.” You reign with Him as He brings all things into alignment with Himself. You will “walk on water” with Him, doing impossible God-tasks by faith alone. You cannot try to live the Christian life. No amount of Bible reading will get you closer to God. No amount of prayer. Church attendance and seminars will not do it. You are now as close to God as you will ever be, because of what He did in Christ. You are as complete as you will ever be. You must believe that works won’t improve you; faith alone connects you with God.

Christianity is vital and alive when it is really real. When it is fake, it brings disgrace to God. True Christianity cannot be faked. It can’t be contrived. It just is what it is. There are only two realities in human existence: Death or Life. People either exist in Death or they exist in Life. If you are disconnected from God, you are dead in your sin or independence. If you are connected to God, you are alive in your dependence upon Him.

Knowing the Genuine Article

Many people who say they are Christians, even those who grew up in the church, may not really know God. Wow, you might say, that’s pretty harsh. It might sound harsh and those words might pierce you, but they are true. If you prayed a “sinner’s prayer” but it seemed to have no impact of God in your life, you have reason to question if you are really saved. How can I say that? I say it because Jesus said it first. He said we will know His disciples by the fruit of their lives. We will say to Him, Lord, we healed the sick, we went to church, we shared the Bible with everyone we met, and He will say, away from Me, away from Me, I never knew you. Are you His? Does He know you? Have you surrendered to Him from your heart? Not in word, but in essence. Have you truly had an encounter with the gospel, the good news of God?

If God birthed you new, you are new. How will you know? You will know by the fruit that begins to show. If He made you new, He placed His Spirit in you and is now working out His righteousness in and through you. You will not want to sin. Your former life will become uncomfortable to you. If you lie now, it will hurt you. If you steal, it will press in on you. You won’t like it anymore. You will want your behaviour to line up with the reality of the transformation in your spirit. You cannot deny Him. You will want to proclaim His gospel, the good news of His salvation.

But, if you are not really His, you can openly disrespect Jesus and not care. You will be apathetic and religious and put on a good front. You will think only of yourself and try to look good. You do not love God and will not want to be about His business. There will be no lasting transformation within or around you. But if you are alive, if there is life in you, you want God. You hunger for Him. You love Him. You may not know how to walk with Him or know what to believe deeply yet, but you want Him. It’s in the DNA of who you are as His creation. You were “created in Christ Jesus for good works” that He “prepared in advance” for you to walk in. You long for Him. You love Him, and it breaks your heart that you seem to fall short of pleasing Him.

No one can make a dead person live but God. Many churches are filled with dead people who think they are alive. Their works are dead works, devoid of power. They focus is on self, not God. They try to learn the Bible, but cannot understand what it says. The natural mind does not understand the Word of God. It is truly a holy book which has to be revealed to you by God. He gives understanding through His Spirit. If you don’t have His Spirit, you will not be able to understand. If God has birthed life in you, He will give you understanding as you yield to Him for His purpose, for His will alone. His wisdom always lines up with His will. He will never move according to your will or desires unless they perfectly line up with His own. He’s about His own will and His will is the right will. This is the profound difference between doing religion to having a thriving, celebrating relationship with God.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Coming to the End of Herself

Alone on her bed, she cried out to God. Years of fruitless living filled her with despair. Where was God? Had He given up on her? Why did He not seem to answer her prayers? She felt so far from God, and so unclean. She remembered the early years when she surrendered her life to Jesus Christ. Words had leaped off the pages of the Bible and God felt so close, continually speaking to her through His word. Life became an adventure of joy and awe as she got know her God.

Strangely, years of addiction and broken relationships prepared her for God. She came to Him bankrupt and when He transformed her the change was dramatic. Yet now, she felt alone. What had she done to displease God, to lose His favour on her life? She’d been attending church, doing ministry things, trying to pray, trying to read her Bible, trying to help people and she was tired. She was tired of trying to live the Christian life. Tired of lacking joy. Tired of struggling to find peace. Just tired. In a desperate cry, she wept before the Lord, “Just kill me God, if this is all there is to Christianity. It’s no different than the world, in fact I feel worse than I did before I knew you. Just take my life. Kill me. I don’t want to live like this anymore. Help me see what I’m not seeing. I would rather die.”

It was about 3 am. She’d stayed in her bed for three days, crying out to God. For years, He seemed to ignore her prayers. Why would He answer her now? For years she had asked Him to make her holy, to show her the way to be clean again and accepted by Him. For years, He never seemed to answer. Tonight, in the very early morning she sensed God speak. As she lay in her bed, He seemed to say, “My child, you have already died. You have been crucified with Christ. You no longer live, but Christ now lives in you. You prayed for years for Me to make you holy. I didn’t answer those prayers because my work in you was done. I made you holy the moment I saved you. I killed you that day, removing the old spirit within you, and I gave you life. I gave you a new spirit and heart that was totally clean and righteous, set apart for Me. You kept praying for peace, and I didn’t answer that prayer because I had already given you My Peace. All of it. There is no more to give. I gave you My peace through My Spirit the moment I saved you. You have all of Me in you now. All my love. All my peace. All my joy. All my self-control. All the fruit of My Spirit is in you now. Then I sealed you in My love. I have given you Me. All of Me. I am in you and You are in Me. You live within me. You’ve been trying to gain something you already have. That’s why it’s been hard. That why you have struggled. Your salvation was a gift, not something you can try to get. I have transformed you, making you whole, to send you into the world to proclaim this good news. Just believe Me. It’s done. You are complete.”

She listened in awe, tears streaming down her cheeks, “So you mean I’m completely Holy?” Yes. “So you mean I’m pure and clean?” Yes. The words kept flowing back with clear assurance. “So you mean You never left Me? You are pleased with me and accept me? “Yes. “So you mean I’m not broken? I’m complete, totally complete?” Yes. Scripture began to flow through her mind, words she had read many times, but never really heard. His words pulsing with the reality of the life within her, flowing like a river cleansing away all doubt, all pain, all the despair of the past 20 years.

God seemed to whisper into her heart, “You are a new creation. You are complete in Christ. You are accepted and holy. Dearly loved. You are seated in heavenlies in Christ Jesus and you reign with Christ. You are clean. You are royal. You are a priest. You are my workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that I prepared in advance for you to do. You have abundant life now and this life is in my Son. I gave you the righteousness of my Son as a gift of my grace. I made you completely righteous from the day I saved you. I filled by Son with the fullness of who I am and you exist in Him and He is in you. You are engulfed in Me. I have set you free. Now go and proclaim this good news to others who live without hope in the world.”

Then with the impact of His Spirit, the words came to her, “But I will not share My glory with you. You cannot accomplish the work of God by your strength or design. I never intended for you to try to ministry, try to set captives free or bind up the brokenhearted. It’s impossible for you to transform a person, but it’s not impossible for Me. It is what I do. I set captives free; I heal the lame; I proclaim freedom to prisoners; I bind up the broken; I give life to the dead when I call them from the grave. It’s impossible for you. You cannot accomplish My work, through your efforts, but I will accomplish my work through you as you fully believe Me. Walk with Me as I set up My Kingdom. Be about My task, living for My will alone. Walk by faith, obeying My word, and you will do even greater things than My Son did on earth, but you will know it’s not you. You will know it’s Me in you and I will receive honour and glory through you. Word with me and I will work with you. We will work together to see my Kingdom established. We are now one.”

“Oh, God,” she cried, “You are so beautiful. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for what you have done. For saving me and making me complete. Use my life for Your glory, draw people to yourself through me Lord. I yield myself fully to You.” Sobs welled up inside her, spilling over onto her pillow, cleansing her, releasing the beauty of His Spirit within her, the beauty of who she really is, who she has always been in Christ. Unbelief fell away and joy rose up, surrounded by overwhelming peace. God has accomplished everything, and her life now had meaning and purpose beyond compare. No longer would she live for herself focusing on her own transformation, but for her King, walking with Him, learning from Him, moving in the world according to His will and plan. He will speak His gospel through her, transforming people around her, and vicariously she will grow and become more and more like her King. She will live for His pleasure alone, seeing His will done on earth as it is in heaven. What lies she had believed. What lies she had been taught. The struggle was over, the Truth was setting her free. Now she just needed to believe.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Admitting who we are apart from God.

We admit that, before knowing God,
we were unrighteous beings living independently of Him.

But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousness are like filthy rags.  Isaiah 64:6a

As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one” Romans 3:10

True health begins by admitting how unhealthy we really are apart from God. As strange as that may sound, it’s true. Jesus stated this simple truth this way: those who are healthy don’t need a doctor. Most of us would prefer to stay as far away from doctors as we can. We don’t like being sick. Yet, from God’s perspective, a doctor is just what we need. In fact, when we think we are well and managing our lives just fine on our own, we are in the gravest danger. Jesus said he didn’t come to call the healthy. He came for those who know their desperate need.

As we looked at Realizing who God is, we realized we were created by a Holy and Loving God. He is a perfect Being, absolutely Righteous in all His ways. There is no error in Him. We were created to live holy lives in complete dependence upon Him. We were created to love Him and to live for His glory. He commands us to obey Him and to believe His every word, because He is the only Being who is Truthful and Right all the time. In His righteousness, He works together everything for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He is always working out what is right -- all the time. He never sleeps or rests. He is fully trustworthy. He never acts outside of His character.

When God created the first man, Adam, He placed him in a magnificent garden and gave him authority to care for and rule over all created things. Adam was an innocent being.  He had no awareness of evil.   He lived with child-like faith and trust in His Creator.  Adam was dependent upon God. All of  his needs were met; his labour was meaningful and he existed in close friendship to God.  God formed Eve from Adam’s body because He knew it was not good for Adam to be alone. He needed another being like himself.  Eve was a helper and companion to Adam, a co-ruler of the earth, and, soon, the mother to his children.  Both were naked and unashamed, living dependent upon God.

Adam and Eve could eat of any tree in the garden, but one. God gave Adam only one rule: you must not eat of this one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of it, God said, you will surely die. Adam and Eve now had to choose. Would they choose life or death? Death, in the Bible, means independence from Life. There is the physical death of our bodies and spiritual death of being disconnected or independent from God. God says to choose Life, because He alone is Life. Outside of Him is Death. This independent existence is called Sin.

When the serpent entered the garden, he directly contradicted the Word of God, tempting humans to disbelieve their Maker. They now had to choose whether they would walk by faith in God or choose to put their faith in the serpent who challenged the Truth of God’s word. They gave way to temptation and chose to believe the lie. They ate of the forbidden fruit and were cast into death.

The Bible says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” The consequence of their unbelief was immediate and lasting. God cast Adam and Eve out of the garden and out of His presence. They died a spiritual death instantly, followed years later by the physical death of their bodies.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Beauty from Ashes

Where do we get the idea that we can advise God? In our prayers we direct Him and tell Him what to do, as if He doesn’t know already. We devise a god of our own understanding and when our god fails us, we become angry with God as if it’s His fault for not coming through. We blame God as if it’s His fault for the problems in our lives. If only I wasn’t born into this particular family. If only I didn’t have this learning disability or this disease. If only people hadn’t abused me. If only, all these bad things had not happened, I would be okay. We often live as victims, blaming God, or others, when really He desires only to bring beauty from the ashes.

All the events of your life are designed by God to bring you to God in a plan that is beyond comprehension. God works all things together, whether seemingly good or bad, to bring maximum glory to Himself and significance and meaning to your life.

So pain is part of that process. We learn obedience through what we suffer. Well, God, we might grumble, that is not fair. And He says to us, who are you, o created one, to argue with your Maker? God did not even spare His own Son in the greatness of His plan to save you. Jesus learned obedience through what He suffered, and He lived completely without sin. He obeyed His Father even to the point of death, even death on a cross. A humiliating death; A death where He was beaten, stripped, nailed to a cross and held up in total humiliation for all to see. And God was pleased to crush Him because of the good that would ultimately come. It was for the joy set before Him that He, Jesus, endured the cross, despising the shame and sat down at the right hand of God. God highly exalted Jesus, yet He did not allow even His Son to avoid suffering and pain.

Through our pain, we come to know God and to rest in Him. We realize that we can do nothing apart from Him. Nothing at all. We learn that even in the pain of this world, the things people do to us, the calamities that come; God works all these things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Even the worst events of our lives, God weaves them together for good and brings beauty from them. He sets us free and He heals us. He binds up our broken hearts and heals our wounds. He causes His righteousness to shine out from us when we surrender to Him by faith. He enables us to love as He loves, with no agenda, but to set us completely free to depend fully on Him. The events of our lives lose their power over us as we begin to see as God sees.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Listening in Prayer

Walk prudently when you go to the house of God;

and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.

Do not be rash with your mouth,
And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.
For God is in heaven, and you on earth;
Therefore let your words be few. (Eccl. 5:1,2)

Drawing near to God to hear. This is the goal of prayer. This is true spirituality. What more do we need to say? What wise counsel can we offer God? What things do we need to ask for?

He knows our thoughts before one of them comes to our mind. He knows our needs. Our ways are not hidden from our God. He is abounding in lovingkindness. He loves us totally and completely like the good Father He is. What more do we need to say? Let our words be few. More than that is foolish to God and evil in His sight.

So we come to listen. To hear His words, for He alone is wise. He alone is True. He is fully trustworthy in all He says. He is right all the time. He instructs our hearts in His ways and His thoughts -- For His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways higher than our ways.

Oh God give us ears to hear what you are saying to us. Let us put aside all other thoughts and only live within Your thoughts, God, that we may know You, the only God and your Son Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Abiding is the reality of being who you are in Christ. Being, in connection with God in you and you in God. Existing and moving within Him and He within you. Abiding is the reality of life in Christ. In abiding, you experience Living in the Celebrating Life in Christ.

Abiding is being, but abiding is also doing, but it is not your doing. It’s the Father’s doing in and through you. You are a vessel for the life of God flowing through you, accomplishing His will on earth as it is in spiritual realm. So at the end of your life on this planet, you can say, along with Jesus, “I have done nothing.” This is the goal of abiding.

What does abiding look like? The abider moves in the flow of God. The flow of God is complete acceptance that whatever is...is. The abider gives the soul no reign. There is no “my will.” Now you say only “Your will”. God is working out His will in and through you. The Father’s will is active not stagnate. The Father is always working. Jesus was always about the Father’s business. Abiding is accomplished in total trust of the Father, being responsible to let things happen through you, knowing the Father is in control of all things working around you, working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The Father works all things together according to His will. Nothing happens by chance. Nothing is by mistake. All things are designed for the Father’s will, for His Name’s sake and glory. Not even a butterfly will come into your presence but by the will of God.

The Christian life should feel like you are in the ride of your life, but you are not driving. You are riding without resistance against where you need to go. It just is what it is. Your life is completely abandoned to God. As events happen, you accept that event in complete trust knowing God is allowing it for His purposes and His will. You must experience the next event; it may be "good" or "bad" but it is the necessary event or situation.

Thankfulness is the sign of an abider. The absence of worry or anxiousness is also the sign of an abider. Peace is normal. Joy is normal. The spirit of man is accepted as righteous and holy, full of love desiring to be expressed in every situation. So when a storm comes, there is peace. Peace flows like a river and you say, “it is well with my soul.” God is the anchor of your soul, the foundation on which you stand. He is the strong tower in which you abide. He is the Rock of your salvation. You will not be shaken. You are secure and solid in Him. He is able to make you stand and He will do it. He is doing it.

The abider abides in the Word of God. The Word of God is not quoted; it is fully rested upon. There is no trying to get it to “work”. It just works because it just is. Truth is spoken even when it may not go "good" for the speaker,... it just is. The abider knows the mind of God through knowing the Word of God. They ask or answer people with biblical statements without quoting the bible; they are speaking the same way as the Bible. It is natural for them to speak "Christ-like."

The eyes of the abider now are open to see the Father working. He sees small things as signs or hints from God to join what He is doing in the life of the one He is exposing. God is setting people free. He works in and through us to see His kingdom advance life by life as He calls the dead to life transferring them out of the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of the Son of His love. God connects us into Himself and we become one with Him.

People see the abider as "different." He or she is not "normal" to the others around them because the world does not abide. The world works its own will out on every situation. When you abide, people wonder how you can remain calm in difficult situations like Jesus standing before Pilate.

Abiders don’t NEED help from people, but understand that the FATHER's help comes through people

so they are open to receive help. They enjoy learning from others who the Father is speaking through because they want to grow more Christ-like.

Abiders still get off the mark when they let the soul thoughts drift. The drift moves them to make decisions from the soul, which would be to protect the body, love the body, love fame, power, money or any other earthly thing that earth values. These values are an abomination to God. The abider catches him or herself quickly because they can tell it does "feel" normal. They know something is wrong. Christianity is starting to seem hard to carry out, like a work to do rather than a relationship with their Father. So they quickly go back to where they stopped trusting the Father. They look to what they were told to do, but feared to go there or resisted the order. The soul had reigned. They confess or admit it to the Father and take up the fellowship again at this starting point, knowing that their behaviour does not separate them from God, but the experiencing fellowship with God felt disconnected because they walked in the flesh obeying the soul rather than the Spirit of God.

The goal of abiding is to know God. Not work for Him. Most religious people want to work FOR God, not KNOW God. Jesus said, “This is eternal life that they might know You, and the Son whom You sent.” In knowing God, we love God. In loving we God we obey God, knowing His will is the only will that matters.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Realizing who God is prt 4

In Realizing who God is, we realize who we are apart from Him. How small and insignificant we really are. We often think that we are creators in our own right, designers of our own destinies. We see ourselves as being in control of our lives and we live for our pleasure. But when we magnify God, we realize that we are not higher than God. We are created beings. He is not. He is a Holy Being, and we, when we live independently of Him, are not. Had He been any less than purely good, He would destroy us without mercy.

God sees you. He knows all about you. He knew the days of your life before one ever came to be. He knows what you are made of and He loves you. He knows that you are but dust. So fragile. So small. With one breath of His mouth, He could wipe you from existence; He is that great.

But He is infinitely good and loving. He loves you. He is mindful of you. Psalms 103 tells us that He does not treat you as your sins deserve. What kind of God is He that He would show us such mercy?

Let’s be honest for a moment. Have you ever prayed to God, telling Him what you want Him to do or how you want Him to do it? I have.  Have you been mad at God when He didn’t do what you asked? I have. Have you been disappointed and frustrated with God because of the circumstances in your life that you thought God would fix if He truly loved you?

God Knows You

Read Psalms 139:1-18 slowly.

 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, "Surely the darkness shall fall on me,"
Even the night shall be light about me;
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother's womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvellous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skilfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.

 According this Psalm, what does God know about you? Where can you hide from God?  Where can you go where God is not? What impact does this knowledge have on your life right now?

Knowing God

We realize we were created to know and enjoy God,

as He has revealed Himself in the Bible, and to live for His glory.

He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice,

A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and Upright is He.

Deuteronomy. 32:4

"And this is eternal life, that they may know You,

the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

John 17:3

“Whether you eat or drink, of whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31

As we begin to comprehend Who God is, we realize that everything does not revolve around us. We are God’s workmanship, created beings, made in His image. Our sole purpose is to bring honour and glory to His name. He is the one Being who has the right to do whatever He wants with us. He is the Master and Ruler of our lives. He is King and we are His subjects. But He is a righteous and good King, a Holy and Almighty King. He knows what is best for us – all the time.

It’s our responsibility to learn about Him and know Him. He is willing to reveal Himself to us as we stop trying to run our own lives and surrender to Him. As we surrender our hearts to Him, through faith in Jesus Christ, we enter into an intimate, connected relationship with God. In this, we come to know Him, and He pours His love in and through us by His Spirit.

Psalms 139 is one Psalms of many that reveals the heart of God to us. God penned this Psalm through David, the shepherd boy who became King. David was said to be a man after God’s own heart. He knew God and, more importantly, God knew Him.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Realizing Who God Is prt 3

God is absolutely powerful. What, to us, might seem impossible is not impossible for God. Nothing is too hard for Him. He transforms, frees and heals every person who comes to Him in faith. He raises the dead, gives the blind sight and He sets captives free. He binds up those who have been broken and hurt. Through His Word, God appeals to us: “Let Me tell you of the abundant life I have for you. I work all things together for your good. I am gracious and loving in all I do.”

God is the one Being who is fully trustworthy. He is Truth and all that is true and right originates from within Him. God never acts outside of His character. He is who He is and all He does, thinks and says reflects who He is all the time. He never lies. He always speaks what is true, so we know that His Word is always trustworthy. God’s words and actions flow from His inherent goodness and love. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. As we turn to Him in complete trust, believing His Word, He reveals Himself to us, and sets us free to truly live in the Celebrating Life.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Realizing who God is prt 2

God knows everything. He needs no new information. God has no need of counsellors or advisors. He is absolutely wise and knowing. He knows and works together what is right all the time. He doesn’t need to discuss His decisions with us. He will tell us if we need to know and to bring us into friendship with Himself . He doesn’t want us to debate with Him. He desires that we know who we are in our relationship with Him and that we obey Him in perfect trust, in perfect faith. As a good parent expects a small child to obey because the parent knows what is best, God expects obedience as He directs us according to His perfect will. He expects us to obey Him because He knows best all the time and His character is completely good. He always works from Love. He works all things, whether seemingly good or bad, together for our good, all the time. Even when we don’t understand His decisions, He is right.

There is nothing we can give to God, yet He chooses to experience life with us, as we learn and experience life with Him. We do not add quality to His life because He is fully complete in Himself. Yet, amazingly, His love wants to express itself in relationship to us.

God is always present. He exists. He just is. And we exist in Him. He always was and always will be. He has no beginning and no end. He is not created. He is the Creator of all things. All things were made by Him and for Him. There is no escape from Him. There is nowhere we can hide from Him. Everywhere we go, God is there. Whatever we believe about God does not change the reality of His existence. He exists. If we don’t believe in Him, our belief does not somehow annihilate God. He just is and what we think about Him doesn’t change the True Reality of God. God is the only Being who says if other gods exist or not. He says there are no other Gods. Humans attempt to create a god outside of the One True God but this is called a man made religion and is hopeless to save.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Realizing Who God Is

Key 1 Realize: We realize we were created to know and enjoy God, as He has revealed Himself in the Bible, and to live for His glory.

In REALIZE, we learn about God, and, more importantly, we come to know Him as God. We realize that He is the Creator and Ruler over everything. We also realize who we are in relation to Him. God reveals Himself to us through His Word. The Bible is inspired by God, literally, breathed out by Him, and describes the very nature and passion of God. God tells us, in His Word, that if we seek Him with our whole heart, He will be found by us. God will reveal Himself to us, if we seek Him with all we are. God also reveals Himself through the things He has made, from the vast galaxies to the smallest atom.

The dictionary defines Realize as: to know and understand something; or to be or become aware of something. So when we REALIZE, in this Key, we are coming to know and understand who God really is. He is not a God of our understanding. He is God and He gives us understanding to begin to comprehend Who He really is. If He did not reveal Himself, we would not be able to know Him.

When we begin to look at the character of God, we realize that God is unchanging. He always stays the same. His truth. His Life. His character. His ways. His purposes. He does not change. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Unlike mankind who changes his mind, God never changes His sovereign mind. His word stands and will be fulfilled. What He speaks comes into existence.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The incredible journey

Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations."
Then said I: "Ah, Lord GOD!
Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth."
But the LORD said to me: "Do not say, 'I am a youth,'
For you shall go to all to whom I send you,
And whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of their faces,
For I am with you to deliver you," says the LORD.

I am just amazed by God's words to the prophet Jeremiah.  God ordained Jeremiah before he was formed.  God set him apart for a specific role in history, a role where he would receive no glory and there would be no positive response.  Yet, in this role, Jeremiah brought glory to God because he spoke the words God told him to say.   God would not take any excuses from Jeremiah.  He said, "You sahll go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak."  What was Jeremiah's assurance in this task?  That God will be with him to deliver him.

Jesus said in the great commission, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them all He commands, and He will be with us even to the end of the age.  God does not leave us alone.  He will never leave us or forsake us. 

I'm amazed by the reality that even before we were born, all the days of our lives were written in God's book, before one of them even came to be.  God knows the plans He has for us, plans to prosper us and give us a future and a hope. In another passage, God reveals we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared in advance that we should walk in them. 

Before we came to be, God knew us.  He walked us through life on this planet, through pain, through bad decisions, through good times, and He orchestrated the events to lead us to Himself.  He called us out of darkness. Intersected our world with His Son and set us free.  But it does not stop there.  We are free.  But we are free to be slaves to His righteous will, as He works in us to will and to do for His good pleasure.

God working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. With God on our side, how can we fail?  With Him working in us, working out His righteousness through us, what can stop us?  Death cannot stop us.  Calamity cannot stop us.  Mistakes cannot stop us, because He is working all things together.  All things.  Nothing can stop us from loving God and living for His glory. 

We are already pleasing to God through the finished work on the cross.  We are clean. We are holy. We are dearly loved.  Now God is comforming us to the image of His Son who walked on the planet in perfect submission to His will, in perfect faith.  So God calls us to believe Him. To walk by faith and not by sight.  To reign with Him as He takes over the planet with His love and glory. Do not be afraid, He told Jeremiah, I will be with you to deliver you.

What an incredible journey we are on with our God. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's Faith. Just Faith.

'You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you." 2 Chronicles 20:17

We walk by faith alone.  For years, I read books that told me to bind this and that, to fight against the dark forces, to pray certain ways for victory.  For years I tried those various ways.  And what the Lord has brought me back to is just one thing:  Faith.

To just believe Him and what He has done in Christ.

We have overcome the evil one. Nothing can hurt us.  No one can touch us without God's permission.  We exist in Him and He is in us.  The scripture says tha the fulness of God is in Christ and Christ is in us and we are in Christ.  We are engulfed in God. Inside and out.  We have been sealed you by the Holy Spirit of promise and nothing can touch us.  Nothing can separate us from the Love of God, for God is love.  We are connected into and exist in God.

For years, I struggled to understand this and for years I struggled because of it.  I tried to help people be free from addictions, free from anger, free from so many things.  And I finally grew tired.  The Lord said, you cannot set people free.  I, He said, set people free.  I bind up the broken hearted. I proclaim liberty to the captive.  I heal and restore and transform human beings.

God is the who is our refuge and our strength. He is our strong tower.  He is the Rock on which we stand. It's Him. Not a method. Not a philosophy. Not more religious activity. Just Him.  What He accomplished in Christ is finished.  It's complete.  It's completely fulfilled in us.  There is nothing we could do to attain this gift.  Nothing we need to do to make ourselve more than we already are in Christ.

We are complete.  We are holy. We are without blame.  We exist in God and He is in us. He is empowering us to live godly lives. He is filling us with Himself through His Spirit all the time.  He is giving us wisdom. He is giving life to our mortal bodies. He is sustaining us, holding us together, giving us life everlasting right now.  We exist in everlasting life now. This life is Him.  He is eternal life.  It's just Him.

What freedom and joy we experience when we just believe that what God said He would do in Christ, He has done.  It's finished.  So we enjoy Him and rest in Him, in the sabbath rest of God.  We cease from our work.  We cease striving and know that He is God.  The work is His now, and He is always working. He never sleeps, never slumber.  He  never leaves us. He is connected to us and with us all the time. 

Our work is to believe in the One whom God has has sent.  Just Believe. It's just faith.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Power of Belief

Wow...  God has been speaking to me tonight.  I woke up at 4am and realized the power of belief.

Have you ever wanted to do something but in your thoughts you defeated yourself before you ever got started?  Or am I the only one?  Have you ever had the opportunity to move to a new level in your walk with God or in a role you have, and you got scared?  Your thoughts then moved to self-protection or self-awareness and you knew that you really could not really do what you hoped to do? 

Like write a book.  Like get married.  Like lead a ministry.  Like really live a victorious and powerful Christian life. Like move away from a self-defeating, joyless Christian life?   Like so many many things. 

I write these posts, one, because I am learning myself and it helps to write.  But I'm also writing because I think that what God is teaching me is true and it encourage you too.  If you have gotten stuck along the way, or if you have been walking in these truths and walking by faith yet feel alone. I think we can help each other. We can encourage eachother in the faith. I think our lives will be richer for it.

I had lived a self-defeated life for so long as a Christian that I'm really motivated now, even if I'm just really learning to write, to proclaim the reality of freedom and joy in Christ. Because I believe the reality that we can live in Christ is powerful and abundant and we settle for so much less.  I believe it's true for me and I believe it's true for you.  I believe that as we walk in Truth, we will walk free and powerful lives in Christ.  I believe we are designed to live this way.

Fleshly, earthbound thoughts can try to hold us back.  But do they have the power to hold us back?  No, they don't because we have been set free from the power of sin and death through Jesus Christ.  We are alive from the Dead.  We have been raised from the Dead in Christ.  We live because He lives in us.  We have been resurrected in Christ through the power of His resurrection.  And we live in Him. 

I write because God has just brought me through 5 days where I was letting my soul speak to me with earth bound thoughts and my body followed those thoughts and I began to feel like I could never do all I hoped to do.  And what I realized -- again -- tonight is that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  I am not defeated.  The Word of God does not lie. 

As I have been focusing on the Truth, I can actually feel life flow through me again and joy and power.  It's that simple, yet i struggled for five days.  The power of belief.  And not just the power of belief, but the belief in the reality that is really true because God says it's true.  It's not just believing anything.  It's believing God because what He said is true.

So I hope that in some way this message encourages you.  And you will in turn encourage me and others.  We can encourage each other to walk free lives in Christ.  I am learning. It has helped me to live it and walk through it.  And I share it in hope that it might help you in your journey to live it or continue to live it too. If you have floundered along the way, or felt stuck, I have felt that way too.  And we can walk through it together and experience the power of who we are in Christ. We can share in the mystery of God together and learn to walk by faith as the body of Christ.

Monday, October 11, 2010

New, but not really?

Have you ever fallen into the trap of not really believing the truth of who you are in Christ? Have you settled for less than what God has?  Jesus said that He came to give life and life abundantly.  Are you living far short of that ideal?

For years, I did.  I think I must have thought that I was new, but not really. That I was clean, but not really.  That I was forgiven, but somehow not really forgiven.  I kept praying, "God make me clean"  because I didn't feel clean. "God make me holy," because I didn't feel holy.  I felt like I still fell far short and could not figure out how to measure up somehow to the standard.

One day, God woke me up as  I cried out to Him.   He told me, "Nancy, I never answered those prayers you prayed to be holy, to be clean, because I already did it, the moment you first believed in me."  God told me that all the promises are Yes in Christ.  He is sufficient.  He has made me complete in Him.

Now I know that I am actually new.  Actually clean. Not sort of. Not partly. Totally and completely. 

I praise Him because I am free.  And we as believers are free indeed.  We have been freed from the power of sin and death.  We are free indeed.  We have been washed, and sanctified and justified.  Set apart to God and made righteous in Him.  What incredibly good news this is.  How freeing. How joyfilled and powerful.

So I focus on this truth today, walking according to it and resting in the finished work of Christ.  What a dramatic impact it has made in my life, in my children's lives, in my marriage, in ministry.  I am so grateful to God for His transforming power in our lives as believers!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Believing Who We Really Are

When you were a child did you ever pretend to be someone you were not?  A cowboy?  A princess?  Did you dress up and take on the role of that character?  You felt like that character for a little while as you played the game.  But  when you took the costume off, who did you become once again?  You became yourself once again.
Let me ask you.  When you pretended to be something else, did it make you that thing?  Or were you always you? 

As a believer in Christ, who has been transferred out of darkness into His marvelous light; who has been born again of imperishable Seed; who has been made new and righteous in Christ -- who are you?  Really.  Not who do you FEEL you are.  Who are you?  Who does God say you are?

If we have been saved by God and transformed by His power, the old is gone.  The person we WERE is not the person we now ARE.  We have been transformed by the grace of God.  Righteousness was a gift.  We are new in Christ. This is our reality. How do we know?  We know from the Word of God. God defines who we are.  He is the One who did the work within us, giving us a new spirit and new heart.  He filled us with His Spirit and has given us everything we need for life and godliness.  We are complete in Christ.

Just like when we put a costume on, it doesn't change our identity.   We are who we are.  Either we are dead in our trespasses and sins. Or we are alive in Christ. Our identity is sealed by God.  It can't be changed.  When we are in Christ we are new and holy beings. 

We are who we are, whether we "pretend" to something else or not. Probably a better word would be whether we believe we are something else or not.  If I am new in Christ and I don't believe that I'm new, does that change the reality of being new?  No. Because it is the reality of what God has done. It does change the experience of it though.  We say we are not transformed, not new, not clean, but those words are not the true reality.  They are feelings only.  Not truth.  If we base our reality on feelings or random thoughts we will walk according to those thoughts.  When we walk according to the Truth, we walk free and we rise up to live out who we really are.

Does this make sense?  It's faith. According to your faith.  Believing that what God said He would do He actually did the moment we surrendered to Christ by faith.  It's His work.  And it's done. Finished. Complete.  So we rest in His completed work. Fully enjoying the God who set us free.  Our hearts overflowing with thanksgiving, for God did for us what we could never have done.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

God's Symphony

All things working together for the glory of God. All the part playing. Each sound unique. Each sound necessary to the whole.  Rising and falling. Singing the song of the conductor. The song of songs of the Master composer.  God working all things together according to the council of His will, for the praise of His glorious grace.

He is the conductor. The composer.  And we play for His glory, we each play our part, we improve and grow. Unity forms and beauty emerges. Beauty takes over for the glory and praise of God.  Through One Spirit.  Through One Lord.  For One King.  The Master musician in the symphony of life.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Doing the Word

     How do we know if we truly believe the Word of God?  If we truly believe, putting our whole weight into the Truth, we will do what it says. We live what we believe.  If I say I am a Christian and I believe in Jesus, yet I walk around in despair, what is that really saying?  Do I really believe?  Or am I merely saying words?  The Reality of God is so much greater.
     Our belief will show in our actions, in how we live.  If we have all knowledge, and have not love, we are nothing.  It doesn't matter how much we know of the Bible. The question is: Are we living it, breathing it.... does it form our Reality?
     It's not about trying to live it. It's not about trying to do all that is written in the Bible, as if we need to follow rules and laws.  It's about understanding what God really did when He transformed us.  It's about understanding who we really are in Christ.  It's about God's work, not our own.  Once we begin to see that, fully believing God, magnifying Him, we will live differently.  We will live free, because we will realize that we are truly free.  (If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.) 
     If we believe we are children of God, transformed by His power through the death and resurrection of His Son, our lives will be different than they were before.  Our faith will show.  We will walk as a child of the King of Kings because that is who we are.  It's not who we are trying to be.  It is who we are,  not by any work of our own.  It's by the grace of God.   We are royalty.  We are the masterpiece of God, the Master Craftsman. We are amazing in Christ.  We are dearly loved by the most powerful and infinite Being in existence.  When we believe that, truly believe, resting our full weight into the Truth, we live differently. We just do.  We don't try to.  We just are.  It is who we are.  It's faith.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Truth Sets Us Free

      How many times have we heard the term, "we are sinners saved by grace?"  What does that really mean?  A sinner is someone who is independent from God. Not just someone who does bad things.  A sinner lives a disconnected life from God.  Our identity before we are saved is as a sinner:  a being who lives independently of God.  Apart from God, we are truly sinners and there is no hope for us unless God intervenes. 
     As Christians, people who have been saved by God, who are we now?  This was the focus of our women's study tonight.  Who are we when we have been transformed by God?  Are we still sinners?  Are we people who are still disconnected by God?  This is a critical question, because so many of us were raised in church to believe this.  Apostle Paul, over and over again, refers to believers as saints.  We have been redeemed by God and made new.  We have been made righteous in Christ.  We are accepted by God. Totally and completely, based solely on what HE did, not on what we do.
     It's important to focus in on the truth of God's word. What does He say about us, now that we have been saved by His grace, through faith?  Let's list a few.  He says that we are new, holy, blameless, redeemed, sealed with the Holy Spirit, free from the power of sin. righteous, alive, clean, pure, slaves of righteousness, sons of God, heirs in the kingdom, seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, circumcised away from the body of the sins of the flesh, sanctified, justified, washed, purified.  We have a new heart and a new spirit that is clean.
     What happens if we fail to believe the truth of what God's word says about us?  We will rely on feelings as the basis for our understanding of what is truth, and we will walk according to those feelings and thoughts.  The truth frees us.  Jesus said that if you abide in My word, you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.  Never are we commanded to rest in our feelings; to define our world by our feelings.  God is saying that now that we are saved and transformed beings, He defines our reality and our reality is unseen. It's a reality based on Truth and it's walked in by Faith.  Believing that what God has said is true.
     God is totally righteous. He is working out what is right all the time.  There is no error in Him.  He is perfect in all His ways.  No one counsels Him. No one tells Him what to do.  He never lies.  Always loves, even in His wrath He loves.  He works all things according to the counsel of His will, working all things together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes.  He is everlasting.  He is uncontested.  He never fails.  His Word is True.  His view of reality it totally right.  It doesn't matter if it's hard for us to understand.  He will reveal to us what He wants us to know as we sit with Him, with no other purpose than to bring honor and glory to Him and enjoy Him.
     We can believe God.  He is fully trustworthy.  He loves us and He knows what is right all the time.  What He says is right and He is actively working out what is perfectly right all the time, whether it makes sense to us or not.
     When God says that we are holy, we are holy.  When God says that we are new, we are new.  When God says that we are clean, we are clean.  We are what we are.  We are beings who have been created new in Christ. We are God's workmanship, the work of His hands. He does not make rejects. He does not make mistakes.  He does not make dysfunction. He is perfect in all His ways.  He has made  us perfect, given us a new spirit and heart that is perfect, unblemished, undefiled, and without sin.  And through this vessel, He pours Himself, through His Spirit, giving us everything we need to live a godly life to the praise of His glorious grace.
      What if we don't believe this reality, this Truth?  We see the words in the Bible, but our feelings and experience do not line up with it, so we put more weight on our feelings and experience than that Word of God.  What will happen?  We will live out what we believe and we will walk out our lives in dysfunction and confusion, eventually leading to despair.
      If we believe that elevators are unsafe, what would we do?  We would take the stairs.  If we believe that airplanes are dangerous, we will drive.  If we believe we need caffeine to stay awake, we will drink caffeine.  We do what we believe.  We do things by faith all the time.  We sit in chairs believing they will hold us.  We eat food in restaurants, believing we will not die of food poisoning.  We walk down the sidewalk believing that cars will stay on the road and not hit us.  All day long we live by faith in the things we can see.  Now God is calling us to believe Him, the unseen One;  the invisible God who created all things.  The God who is.  He just is.  He always was and He always will be.  He is God alone.  And He created us.  We have been born again by an imperishable Seed.  We are eternal beings, residing in eternity right now.  This is the truth.     
     We are in Christ. The fullness of God is in Christ and Christ is in us.  Think about that. Meditate on it.  What amazing reality.  God has done an amazing thing through His gospel. It's a mystery really.  How can we comprehend what God has done?  As God reveals, and we believe, we begin to walk by faith and not by sight.  Our values changes.  Our behaviours change. Our feelings may eventually follow.  We experience His peace.  His Joy.  His Love.  We stand firm in the midst of difficulties.  We rest in Him, fully trusting Him and magnifying Him.  He is our Joy.  He is our Peace.  He is our Love.  He just is.  And we are in Him.  We just are who we are in Christ.  Transformed beings, radiating the light and love of God, living as ambassadors of Christ in a lost and broken world.  And people begin to transform around us.  God's love impacts lives and we rest in Him, enjoying Him, thanking Him for this salvation that we could not earn, nor strive to gain.  It's a gift of God by faith in Him.  That's all.  He freely has given us everything we need for life and godliness. 
     We did not deserve it.  We deserved death, but He took all our independence, our sin, in Himself and paid the price we could not pay.  He set us free from sin's power and made us righteous in Christ.  We are free.  If we choose to believe the truth, we will live free.  We won't be able to help it.  It is who we are.  It just is.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

We are New.

I have been reading a book that I thought might be helpful in discipling people.  But I was disappointed.  The foundational belief of that book is that we are "sinners saved by grace".  This teaching has become so common that it's accepted as true.  I have realized through much searching, that it's not true, though most of my Christian life, I thought it was true.  And I struggled for years because of it. I believe we have been misled by this teaching.  We certainly were sinners saved by grace.  But we are no longer sinners.  Now we are saints. As Paul says to the Corinthian church: Such were some of you, but you were washed....

I also believed that I had two natures within me that battled against each other.  I was taught this doctrine as a young Christian and it affected me for years. I used to read the  NIV translation  of the Bible and the way Romans 7 was translated and commentary misled me.   Now I see that this doctrine is also false.  We do not have two natures that battle against each other.  We are new in Christ.  The old is gone.  The old me, the me that was born onto this planet from the seed of Adam, has been crucified with Christ.  We have one nature and it is new and righteous (2 Cor. 5:17,21).  
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."  (Gal. 2:20,21)

Now it is Christ who lives in me, in the new creation that I am.  I am new. Now.  I'm not trying to be new.  I just am new. Once I fully believed this truth, it transformed everything.  This is the reality of who we really are in Christ.  Christ is sufficient.  He accomplished in Himself, what we could never do. It's by grace we have been saved.  Not by any work of ourselves and it is never from any work of ourselves. Now we focus on the unseen reality where we truly reside.  We are citizens of heaven and our Father is God. We fix our minds on the things above, not on earthly things because we have died and our life is hidden in Christ.  Jesus is our life. 

As I was reading that book, I knew the author sincerely wants to help people be free.  It's  a noble quest.  It's important.  We want to live free. We were created to live free.  But I believe the Truth is that we are in fact free.  Just as Apostle Paul said to the Galatian church, "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."  There is nothing we can do to make ourselves more righteous than we are already are in Christ right now.  We have been given a new spirit and a new heart that is clean and pure. Our hearts are not desperately wicked. We, as the  new creation in Christ, have never sinned.  We are without blemish or stain.   We are sealed by the Holy Spirit and our inheritance is sure.  We will be presented to God holy and without blame.  He has made us complete in Christ and is making us complete as this righteousness works out through our thinking and behaviours.

God resides in our spirit, pouring Himself through us by His Holy Spirit, filling us, counseling us, leading us, rebuking us, teaching us.  He is continually working out his righteousness in and through us. And He has given us everything we need for life and godliness now.  So why do we still seem to struggle? 

I believe it's because we miss some central teaching. We fail to understand that the old is truly gone and that what remains is flesh. But that the flesh is not us.  Sometime I want to write about Romans 5-8 because those chapters are so incredibly helpful to understand these things.  I read them over and over again, and I believe that God helped me to understand some things that have changed my whole life. But today I'll just touch on Romans 6.

In Romans 6, we see that we have died with Christ, that the body of the sins of the flesh might be done away with.  Because we died with Christ, we have seen set free from the power of sin.  I used to think that sin meant behaviour, like doing bad things.  I have learned that sin means independence from God.  Not bad behaviour.  Sins are independent acts that we do.  We have been set free from this independence from God.  He has connected us to Himself and we now abide in Him.  We are not sinful in the core of who we are, in our spirit. We are connected, abiding and free.  We have the fullness of God in us now. So we have truly died with Christ and we have truly been made new.  Sin is no longer our master. We do not have to do anything independent of God again.

Another central teaching is circumcision.  In Romans 2, we see that we have been circumcised not by human hands, but in the spirit in our heart.  We have been circumcised away from the body of the sins of the flesh (Col. 2:11). This reality is expressed and parallels Romans 6:5,6:

" For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin."

God cut is away from the body of sins of the flesh through the death of Christ.  And He raised us up in His resurrection life.  The purpose of God circumcising us was to set us free from sin, so we would no longer be slaves of sin.  Christ dealt with sin once for all.  And we benefit from what Christ did now.  But what we believe is very important. If we believe that we are still slaves to sin or that we are "sinners," we will continue to struggle with sin.  The problem is with what we believe only.  Because the truth is that we are free in Christ.  If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.  A slave does not abide in the house, but a son abides forever.  You have been made a son of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and He has set you free.  He has made you new.  He has made you the righteousness of God in Christ.

Why do I attempt to write these things?  Why write a blog? Why communicate these truths?  Because I am now so free in Christ and so filled with joy.  God has revealed to me, much to my dismay, that I have always been free since the moment I surrendered to Christ.  But I did not understand these things. And I struggled for years. I think there are many people who may not understand these things either. That's why I attempt to write.  Though I'm not sure that what I'm writing is clear, I am attempting to express it.  Because I am hoping that perhaps God will speak and He will reveal the truth to someone who is struggling the way I used to struggle, and they will walk in joy and freedom in Christ.

God is so worthy of all praise and honor and glory. He has done such an amazing thing in Christ.  So complete.  The work is finished.  We are righteous beings in Christ. We are spirit beings who are housed in a body that is still prone to independence. We are sealed by God and filled with Him and we have everything we need to live a godly life here and now. I am so incredibly grateful to be free.

Have you struggled to have joy?  Have you prayed for peace?  Have you prayed that God would make your heart clean because you didn't feel clean?  You don't understand why you keep struggling after you are a Christian?  Are you sick of the struggle?  The answer lies in what you are believing.  I truly believe that it's as simple as that.  The gospel is simple and clear, yet we fail to believe it because of how we feel. Then we act on those feelings and we walk in dysfunction and we think that that is reality.  When really it is not.  It is really flesh.

If the Son sets you free you are free indeed.