Friday, February 25, 2011

Check the fruit?

When John the Baptist was in prison and he wondered if Jesus was indeed the Christ, Jesus answered him saying, basically, check the fruit.  Look at the fruit of My life, John.  The blind see. The dead live. The lame walk. The poor have the good news preached to them.  John, the kingdom of God is among you and this the evidence of the unseen power of God impacting the seen world around you. The kingdom of God has indeed come. I am the One.
       Jesus says we will know His disciples by their love for one another.  He says check the fruit.  How is it working?  Is faith working?  Are you loving? Are lives transforming? Are captives being set free?  Are the blind given sight? Are the dead raised? What is happening in and through your life? What is your life producing?  By being who you are, believing what you do, what is happening through you?
      When we fully believe the reality of who we are in Christ, when we fully rest in the completed work of Christ on the cross, when we know that there is nothing good in our flesh, in our own thinking, in all we were before Christ, then we begin to walk in resurrection power of Christ, being who we really are.  The life of Christ, then pours through us produces fruit, brings transformation, brings joy and power and life overflowing. Our lives bring impact without even trying.  We bear the fruit, displaying the splendor of God, displaying the fruit He is producing in and through us as we  love God, fully resting in His completed work in us and His sovereign control over all events and circumstance in life.. The Christian life is not hard.  But it is impossible apart from Christ.
       Check the fruit.  What is happening in and through you?  Where are your eyes focused?  On earthly things or heavenly things that you can't see with your eyes?  Where are your thoughts focused?  On earthly things, things that perish?  Or heavenly things that are solid and unseen.  Where does your faith rest?
        We walk by faith and not by sight. We live in the heavenly realm in Christ Jesus. The life we live on this planet is an impossible life.It's a soaring on wings like an eagle type of life.  It's a walking on water life.  It's a life that is impossible according to our best thinking, or the things we see or feel. The water can't hold a man, Peter.  We sink in water, Peter. This life is hard, Peter. Jesus said, Peter come out on the water. Walk to Me.  Believing, Peter came. He did the impossible. Jesus fully expected Peter to do something physically impossible.  As Peter, took His eyes off Truth and believed his eyes, he sunk.  Jesus said only, Why did you doubt Peter.  Walk by faith, not by sight.
         We can't live the Christian life, apart from Christ.  To live the Christian life is Christ in us and us in Him. Abiding, loving, living in the freedom we have, being fully who we are because of what He has done, moving with Him in His purposes, His will -- not because of what we try to do or try to be. But because of who He is and His life flowing and through us. All our trying and striving could never bring us close to the reality that God has already accomplished in us in Christ.
       We are who we are.  Let's find out who we are. Let's find out what He has done.  Let's know the truth and let the truth set us free to truly live.


     Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”  The kingdom is the reign of God in the lives of people.  The Christian life is all about His Kingdom, His will being carried out on earth.
         It’s not about us and our comfort, our healing, or our satisfaction, though we receive comfort, healing and satisfaction in Christ. We are not really saved for ourselves. God is not trying to just get our lives back in order.  He is setting up His Kingdom and calling people out of darkness into His marvelous light. He saved us for His honour and glory, because He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and He reigns over all, in all, and 
through all. He is taking over the physical reality we see with our eyes with the unseen Reality of His Kingdom.
          When He saved us, He seated us in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  We exist in the unseen realm, so that even though we are in our bodies and our bodies are ours, they are merely a tent in which we dwell.  We dwell with God and in God, and He dwells in us.  The fullness of God is in us in Christ. We are eternal beings, existing in eternity right now.  We exist in everlastingness, right now. What an astounding reality for us who believe.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Abide in My Word

Jesus said that if we will abide in His Word, we are His disciples. We will learn from Him.  He will reveal to us and teach us.  The result, He says, is that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free.

So often I think we rely on feelings instead of truth.  Or we rely on experience instead of truth. We rely on things that are shifting or comfortable, rather than grappling with the reality of His Word and fully believing Him.  When we believe Him, He sets us free.  He frees us from the control of others.  He frees us from the control of circumstances.  He frees us from needing something or someone to make us feel good.  He frees us to know and experience Him.  He frees us to truly live in complete submission to Him; to walk by faith in Him alone, listening to Him, moving with Him, and seeing Him transform others as He transforms us through our faith.

If we abide in His Word. If we put our full weight into it, living within it, fully believing what He says.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Story of Love

This story is based on Ezekiel 16.  God creates beauty from ashes. 

I remember when I found you. You were just a baby. The field was near my house and I heard a faint cry.  As I moved toward the cry, I looked down, shocked at what I saw.  There you were, lying in afterbirth, struggling in your own blood.  You were not beautiful and my stomach revolted, but my heart ached with such compassion.  Someone had abandoned you. You were desperate and unloved. The cord on your navel was not even cut. No one cared to wash you, or rub salt on you to protect you from infection. No one pitied you even to wrap you in a cloth, but just abandoned you to die in an open field.  I stood there appalled. From the day you were born, you were hated by the one who birthed you.
            I watched after you and spoke life into you.  I said, “Live.” You flourished. I watched as you grew, becoming healthy and beautiful.  As you came to the age of love,  I swore an oath with you and made you my wife. I made an everlasting covenant with you, giving you myself without reserve.  I thoroughly washed the blood from your body until you were clean.  
           I clothed you with a beautiful silk gown covered in jewels.  I put pearls in your hair and gold bracelets on your wrist.  I put sandals on your feet and crowned you with a jewelled crown. I gave you the best food, all the delicacies of the land.  I loved you.  You were beautiful beyond compare because of the beauty I adorned you with. I gave you my splendour and your reputation went throughout all the country like royalty of a queen. You did not know, but I was the King. I had compassion on you and made you mine, giving you all of me, even when you were filthy and wretched and lost.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Love -- is there any excuse?

         And His command is this:  Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength and love your neighbour as yourself.  All three. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. ”  (1 John 4:7,8)
God‘s very essence and nature is love.  He loves because it is who He is.  He cannot deny Himself.  We were born of this Love because we have been born of God. It is our nature to love as He has loved us and gave Himself up for us. We are beings created to love, without condition, without agenda for self. We abide in Love and love abides in us through the Spirit God has poured into our hearts.
Is there any excuse for us not to love? Can you think of one?  When I meditate on the beauty and mystery of the gospel and what God did for me, saving me from His wrath, and transforming my life, I see the magnitude (though I have to say I barely even grasp this reality) of the power of the gospel and the love of God.  I just am beginning to get a glimpse of His love.  But I believe He has poured this love into my heart and has given me all I  need to love as I abide in Him.