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Knowledge Beyond Knowledge, Strength Beyond Strength

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Ephesians 314 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

As I was reading this amazing prayer of Paul recently, I noticed the a paradox, in which Paul prays for the Ephesians to “know” the love of Christ which “surpasses knowledge.”  Paul also writes that this knowledge beyond knowledge would enable the Ephesians to be filled with “all the fullness of God,” which is another incredible statement I may look at in another post!  I think paradoxes often represent deep truths, so let’s look a bit closer.

As is evident here, Paul’s desire for the Ephesians was not primarily for “correct behavior,” but inward enlightenment and rich spiritual experience.  I believe Paul was very aware of perhaps the greatest deception of religion; namely that righteousness can be found in the flesh – that is, in proper behaviors and observances.  This emphasis on outward behaviors naturally leads to (among other errors) an emphasis on having a correct set of knowledge and “rules.”  In desiring the Ephesians to know a love which surpasses knowledge, Paul is saying he desires the Ephesians to devalue “mental assent” of facts, and instead to receive and walk in an inward, spiritual revealed knowing.  We can know facts about things, and we can know other things by inward experience and revelation…the latter is the way of the Kingdom of God.

Paul also desired the Ephesians to be “strengthened with might (power) through His Spirit in the inner man…”  This leads to the question: power for what?  For so many of us, our carnal minds and tenacious religious indoctrination lead us to continually see sin and temptation and the devil as our chief enemies.  Therefore, we automatically think any strength God may give will be so that we can resist these things.  However, you’ll notice not once in this passage does Paul mention or even imply any of these.

It seems to me Paul was praying the Ephesians would be strengthened with power through God’s spirit because it takes a divine touch and power, beyond mere human power, to break free (and to stay free) from the ways of the flesh, the most deceptive of which is religiosity!  By the same token, it takes a divine touch and power to grow up in the divine nature, knowing (connecting with in a deep way) a love which surpasses knowledge and living that love out in the midst of darkness.  Let’s not forget, this power has already been provided – we simply must connect with it and let go of the old (repent) to walk in it.  If this is fulfilled, and we see believers begin to walk in spiritual knowledge, empowered to let go of religion and to suffer whatever loss is necessary, and to literally become the “body of Christ” and stones making up the temple of God, then the church and then the world will be so much more amazing and glorious than we can imagine.

What I see beginning is an exposure, weakening, and removal of those things which have masked themselves with spirituality and love, but are founded on selfishness and carnality.  The greatest deception is darkness and selfishness masked with light and good (perhaps with Bible verses).  I include most traditional “churches” in this category, but it’s far bigger than that.  I don’t know how gradual or sudden this weakening and destruction might be, but I see it beginning already.  The foundations and motivations of all things WILL be exposed in God’s time1 (which takes no concern for our natural lifespans), and only what is truly Spiritual will remain.  Right now, that’s not very much of what we see, but it’s there and it’s growing.  As I said last time, since everything that is not Spirit in origin will be consumed anyway, let’s not be afraid to question, to go a different way, to be radically different from the ways of flesh altogether, whether the extreme of religious devotion or hedonistic debauchery.  Love is its own way, and the Spirit goes where It will.  

Suffer now willingly in love, or suffer later by force, but know that in the end, love wins, God is good and we’re all heading there.  Take heart, let go of fearful self-preservation, and jump aboard what is inevitable and what, deep down, we all know is the way of righteousness.  Love, honor, humility, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, healing, truth…  

  1. 1 Corinthians 3:11-13

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Inevitable Fire and Solid Hope

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“For everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.”  Mark 9:49

“…he has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain. Therefore, receiving a Kingdom that can’t be shaken, let us have grace, through which we serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”  -Hebrews 12:26-29

A while back, a friend of mine said something that struck me as profoundly true: the “fire” spoken of many times in the New Testament is nothing other than the presence and being of God.  Let’s always remember, an essential part of who God is and what He does is “consuming fire.  In the end, the fire of God’s presence “shakes,” consumes and permanently ends all that is based on the fearful mind of man apart from the spirit, including all inward and outward selfishness, oppression, wickedness, falsehood, and perversion.  These are the “wood, hay and stubble” that Paul said are destined to burn up in fire.1  It can be no other way.  Wicked men won’t “burn forever” any more than wicked systems or institutions will.  Our God is not a torturing fire, He is a CONSUMING fire.  What can remain after undergoing such intense Fire?  Well, think about this: the only thing that no fire can consume is a fire like itself.

Jesus famously prayed that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven,2 and I think we can agree his prayer is inevitably going to be fulfilled, in time and space.  What remains to be seen is when and through whom.  Will we as the body of Christ lay down the illusion of our valuable independent lives to receive and live by the Life of the Spirit?  Or, will the vast majority of us continue to fearfully oppose and resist the Spirit of the very God we claim to worship, while covering our hearts in the armor of ignorance and pride?  Paul said the manifestation of God’s reign on earth  is characterized by righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.3  These are only found when and where men follow Christ, loving one-another as themselves, where leaders are servants, the last are first, and meekness is recognized as strength.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Romans 11:33-36.  In the ESV translation it says this:

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

All things are from God, through God, and to God.  Isn’t that amazing?  This is a solid hope: both the source and destination of the universe is God, who is love, light, spirit and consuming fire.  The fire must first consume, but love DOES win.  I refer to this as a “solid hope,” because in spite of whatever chaos and pain and lack of clarity we may find ourselves surrounded by, it remains true.  This solid hope is like a beacon in darkness, a northern star to navigate by.  It’s a truth to receive, build upon, and act in accordance with.  What it is NOT is an excuse to continue following the “flesh” down a path of selfishness and fear (even if masked by religion).  If we use divine truth as an excuse for the flesh, we are doubly guilty and awaiting God’s consuming fire to burn us and all we’ve built.  Even worse, living such a way contradicts and dishonors the Father.  

At the top, I quoted Jesus’ words in Mark 9:49, where he said we will ALL be salted with fire.  In context, Jesus was talking about hell and is clearly saying that ALL will undergo the fire of hell itself.  Everyone, at least at first, has desires, ambitions, motivations, fears, enjoyments, and whatever else, which have been kept away from God, knowing that if they are exposed, they will be consumed.  Well, I have news for us all: they will be exposed and consumed anyway!  If we willingly bring them to the light to be exposed and to the fire to be consumed and refined, we will become children of light and have less to hinder our progress along path of righteousness, and we will not have to be burned by force later.

I am speaking to myself as much as to anyone – keeping in mind the inevitability of Fire, let’s allow it to burn away our chaff and wickedness now.  Let’s let go of fear and surrender to love, following Paul’s counsel in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: “…do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Finally, think about this: not one single thing we can see with our physical eyes is eternal.  Nothing.  This simply means we should treat the physical world as transient and, in a sense, illusory, valuing and devoting ourselves much more fully to things which we can only see with the eyes of our hearts, things of the Spirit realm which won’t end, such as love, peace, joy, compassion, healing, kindness, faithfulness, self-denial, gentleness, righteousness, patience, faithfulness, truth, etc.  This is how Jesus lived, and all who will follow him as a Son of God will devote themselves to these things as well.  

Thank you for reading. 

 

 

  1. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15
  2. Matthew 6:10
  3. Romans 14:17
 
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Posted by on February 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Light and Darkness

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“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints…”  -Ephesians 1:17-18

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts…”  -Ephesians 4:17-18

Most of still today relate to God through law, believing that it is primarily our behavior/obedience that determines our relationship with Him, although we don’t have much of an explanation for why He seems so inconsistent in when and who He punishes and seems to reward.  I have elaborated on this issue before, but for this post, suffice it to say I believe we relate to God in this way because we don’t understand the radical change that took place in moving from the Old to the New Covenant – radical enough to change the definition of “obedience.”  In the Old Covenant, obedience was about keeping laws, about doing and not doing the correct things.  In the New Covenant, obedience is about having a renewed mind and walking in the light and Life of the Spirit within us – all of which are impossible when law is in focus, because law fuels self-awareness, fear, and sin.  I’m not making this up by the way, it’s in your Bible!1

At the top, I quoted two passages from the writings of the apostle Paul, who wrote powerfully about the New Covenant.  In Ephesians 1, notice what he says is the key to know the hope of the God’s invitation to us, and to experience the riches of His glorious inheritance: enlightenment of the heart.   Notice also what he says in Ephesians 4 is the one thing that alienates men from the Life of God: darkness of the understanding.  Both, as is obvious, are not outward behaviors, but inward perceptions and ways of seeing.  I believe that if we humble ourselves and genuinely seek the Spirit of God to enlighten the eyes of our hearts, being willing to let go of our precious doctrines and religious ways, it will happen.  Scripture says whoever humbles themself will be given grace and sight.  It is a renewal of the eyes/perception of the heart that constitutes “repentance,” which Jesus and the apostles said is the essential starting point to live within the kingdom (will, rule and reign) of God.  

The law, which empowered sin, is fulfilled and gone.  It was put away, nailed to the cross and ended in Christ.  Therefore, sin, as we usually think of it, doesn’t exist.1  As I’ve said many times, the issue now isn’t to avoid bad behavior, but to receive an enlightened heart and understanding so that we may knowingly and willingly participate in the things of God.  This is even more important when you realize that only what is Spiritual in origin will stand the purification of fire and the shaking which ALL people and things will undergo.  I’m writing more about this right now.  Again, this doesn’t mean we become better at stopping bad things and doing good things.  This means we become new creations according to a new identity and Life, which are part of the nature/Spirit of God Himself that dwells within us.  We walk in a different realm, with a whole new perception of things, so to speak.

The way of Christ is this: to abide in light/reality and overwhelm darkness/imagination, to walk in the spirit and deny the flesh, to receive grace and abandon self-righteousness, to see by faith and blind the eyes of flesh, to love and not to resist/demand/expect, to taste of death so that others might taste of Life.  As I’ve said before, it’s a much, much higher way than simply avoiding bad behaviors.  It’s actually MORE demanding and radical, but also much more life-giving!

I hope you’ll check back soon.   Bless you all.

 

 

  1. Colossians 2:11-15 ESV: “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, (12) having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (All this already happened.  Your circumcision in Spirit, your burial and resurrection.  In Christ it’s all done, and you are in Christ).  (13) And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, (14) by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (15) He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

    1. Along these lines, you can see also Romans chapters 5-7.  Specifically you could look at 5:13, 5:20, 6:14, 7:5-8, along with 1 Corinthians 15:56.  Hebrews also says we were perfected forever (in God’s sight) by the one, single sacrifice of Christ, and that God remembers our sins and lawless deeds NO MORE.  This is the solid foundation for us to walk without consciousness of sin.  This is also in part because no law = no sin.  Sin as in the old covenant sense of “don’t do this or that.”  Just as sin was taken away, our “obedience” is different too now.  Obedience in the Greek language means “conformity.”  How can you conform/obey rules if there aren’t any?  In the New Covenant, obedience/conformity isn’t about adhering to a set of rules, but to one’s identity as a son of God, full of love and light, one who is enlivened by the Spirit and not the fear-based flesh. It’s all too easy to follow rules with a wicked heart.  The pharisees did it in Jesus’ day and many religious people still do the same today.  God has no desire for that.  He looks for those who walk as sons in love and in the light and power of His spirit, without worrying about their behavior at all.  

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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A Given Understanding

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“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” -1 John 5:20

There are several deep and somewhat confusing statements in this obscure verse.  First, John says that Jesus came and gave an understanding, which enables us to “know Him who is true.” John then says that we are “in Him who is true,” “in His Son Jesus Christ,” and that somehow all this connects to “the true God and eternal life.” 

Reading this verse, the first question I have is, what is the “understanding” Jesus came and gave, and how does it enable us to “know Him who is true?”  On the surface, one might say this understanding refers to the things Jesus taught about God.  But there are two main reasons I don’t think that’s quite it.  First, because Jesus didn’t really teach “about” God.  Instead, he taught about the Kingdom of God, demonstrated it with healing and miracles, warned and prophesied against the corrupted religious establishment, and stressed the importance of loving others as oneself (which he said sums up the entire law). The second reason is, the Greek word for “understanding,” which is dianoia, doesn’t refer to mental knowledge.  It is most often translated “mind,” and seems to mean a full and true comprehension and thus a correct perception.    

John says this dianoia Jesus gave enables us to “know Him who is true.”  The word “true” is alethinos, which refers to that which is genuine, the real article without any falsehood or counterfeit.  Thayer’s Greek lexicon defines alethinos as:

  • 1. that which has not only the name and resemblance, but the real nature corresponding to the name, in every respect corresponding to the idea signified by the name, real, true genuine

    a. opposite to what is fictitious, counterfeit, imaginary, simulated or pretended

    b. it contrasts realities with their semblances

    c. opposite to what is imperfect defective, frail, uncertain

  • 2. True, veracious, sincere

So, it seems that John is saying the understanding and perception Jesus gave enables us to know God the Father as He genuinely is, to know His real nature, and not a distorted or incomplete representation.  The idea is, I think, that before Christ, under the Old Covenant, God’s people knew Him primarily through a relationship of laws and symbolic rituals.  Their relationship to God was more like one of master and slave, not Father and son.  The partnership and Spiritual union that the New Testament says is ours in and through Christ was not yet available.  The transition from the Old Covenant of law to the New Covenant of grace and faith through Christ was colossal, and has not yet been realized on a large scale.  Many scriptures speak of this transition.  Here are a few:

  • Galatians 4:4-7 (WEB): “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent out his Son, born to a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of children. And because you are children, God sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” 

  • John 4:19-24 (WEB):  “The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father. You worship that which you don’t know. We worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to be his worshippers. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

  • Romans 7:6 (WEB): “But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that in which we were held; so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter.”

  • Hebrews 8:1-5 (WEB):  “Now in the things which we are saying, the main point is this. We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a servant of the sanctuary, and of the true (alethinos) tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer. For if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, seeing there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things (the physical temples and rituals were only symbols and representations of heavenly, spiritual realities), even as Moses was warned by God when he was about to make the tabernacle, for he said, “See, you shall make everything according to the pattern that was shown to you on the mountain.”

  • Hebrews 9:22-24 (WEB): “According to the law, nearly everything is cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission. It was necessary therefore that the copies of the things in the heavens should be cleansed with these; but the heavenly things themselves (the alethinos, the true) with better sacrifices than these. For Christ hasn’t entered into holy places made with hands, which are representations of the true (alethinos), but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us…”

I believe the mind/perception/understanding Jesus gave is both the demonstration of God’s true nature as a loving Father rather than a callous master, along with the ability to be a “partaker” of this nature, as 2 Peter 1:4 says. I still believe that as far as God is concerned, flesh is dead and gone.  He doesn’t see our flesh or sin at all, because in God’s mind all believers are “in Christ,” meaning they have become adopted as members of the corporate son of God, literally becoming members of Christ’s body and filled with God’s nature, thus becoming one with God.  This too is the understanding Jesus gave, which Paul and others have elaborated on.  I won’t take the space to elaborate on it here, but, for example, scripture says Jesus “condemned sin in the flesh,” that there is no condemnation in Christ, that we have been perfected forever by the one sacrifice of Christ, and that God Himself has placed us into Christ Jesus, as 1 Corinthians 1:30 says.  

When John wrote that we are “in Him who is true, in His son Jesus Christ,” I believe he meant we are in God AS A RESULT of being in Christ. We in Christ (and Christ in us), Christ in God, thus we in God (see John 14:20).  It’s nothing we did or can do, God did it already.  Not only that, but it seems to me that neither “the true God” nor “eternal life” are found apart from our identity and union with Christ as members of his body, which is a spiritual reality we must “abide” in.  It’s as if God has allowed His nature and being to intertwine with ours in a deep way, through His son.  Now, all this doesn’t mean we as individuals are instantly perfect or that we can’t still act from the flesh.  To say that is to deny the obvious.  What it means is to the extent we have the “dianoia” to recognize we have been adopted as Sons in Christ, and our nature is that of Spirit and love, that we are not under the rule of sin and law, and that we are corporately the body of the son of God – as these truths become the foundation of our hearts and minds, we can manifest the fruit of the Spirit and establish the Kingdom of God on earth.  It is desperately needed, and I believe the season is coming where these things are going to come to pass.  The question is if we will have the courage to lay down our lives in the flesh and the world to manifest the life of the Son of God, our true Life.  Amen.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The “New” Commandment?

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)

Do you find it a bit odd that Jesus referred to the command to: “love one-another as I have loved you” as “new?” Didn’t he tell a Pharisee that that the greatest commandment in the law, which in their day had been around for roughly 1,600 years, was to love God and to love one’s neighbor as oneself?  I was a bit confused by this, so I looked closer, and saw that the word “new” in the Greek actually means something closer to “fresh.”  Jesus “new” commandment wasn’t new in the sense that it had never been heard of before, but it was new in the sense of being fresh, timely, invigorated.  I believe Jesus intention was to reintroduce and revitalize something that had been set aside, forgotten, and become stale. This forgotten, stale thing was the beauty, centrality and necessity of love.  It appears that above all else, as he was leaving earth, Jesus wanted his followers to know clearly that IF they would love one-another, then people would recognize that they, like he, were walking as manifested and obedient sons and daughters of God – in other words, his disciples.

As all answers tend to do, this raises more questions.  The first question that comes to mind is why Jesus specifically chose to emphasize love above everything else, like hell or holiness or prayer or witnessing?  Love must be of the utmost importance, especially when you consider that this was essentially Jesus’ final exhortation to his followers.  I believe the answer to this is first and foremost that Jesus emphasized love because he wanted his Father to be known, and love is the love is the true nature/essence of God, a nature which had become obscured and forgotten over the centuries, largely due to the ruthlessness of the law, which is another subject itself.  Not being connected to law, the new covenant enables and encourages authenticity and inward spiritual reality, not outward piety or rigid rules that result in hypocrisy and self-righteousness.  The second reason I believe Jesus emphasized love is because he knew that without it, the church/body of Christ would quickly begin to divide against and attack itself, becoming inept, blind, hypocritical and hardened, which is sadly what has happened, to the great detriment of the expression of the Kingdom of God/Heaven on the earth.  

I’ve said this any number of times, but while most of us would agree that love is vitally important, we really don’t realize or appreciate how radical genuine love is.  Love is just as different from religion’s rules and constraints as it is from hedonism’s pursuits and excesses.  Love doesn’t fit well into categories, as it is not for or against anything, but is simply grounded in the fact that Christ has reconciled all things.  Love steadfastly waits until the reality of this is fully manifested.  Love is pictured very well in the life of Jesus, who was merciful and kind toward those who religion had rejected or wounded, but was very harsh toward the self-righteous, who with hardened hearts laid burdens on others and misconstrued the true nature of God.  The suffering that accompanies love is largely because love is immovable, neither compromising truth, nor coercing or demanding its own way. Love remains patient in the midst of suffering, repaying good for evil and looking past the fearful ignorance of men, which unfortunately remains the foundation of most of what we see in the world today.

So, I suppose my point is that those who are Christ’s should realize that in his own words, love is absolutely necessary for believers to have toward one-another.  Love is THE fresh commandment Jesus gave to his followers, then and now.  Love is so vital because without it, the body of Christ will remain sick and the Kingdom cannot be expressed on earth.  IF this is so, it is of the utmost importance that we be sure, as John wrote, not to merely SAY we love, or merely BELIEVE in love, but to let the Spirit of Love penetrate us, permeating our perceptions until it is naturally the driving force behind our actions. This might mean reconciling with an enemy, or asking forgiveness when the other side won’t. It might mean getting rid of possessions we are fond of in order to help another who has less. It could mean showing mercy to someone who continually screws up and is extremely frustrating and disappointing. It could mean speaking truth when the consequences will be severe. It can mean joining, leaving, staying, going, and innumerable other things.  Let’s simply let love have it’s way, realizing that it is the way of Christ. I believe that as we do, the Spirit will be with us and new, fresh manifestations of Life will begin to be seen on earth!  I have written many other posts about love, so I would encourage you to look them up using the right sidebar if you are interested.  God bless you.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Leveling Up (Spiritual Sowing Pt. 1)

Sometimes I feel I have written about “flesh vs. spirit” too much, but I want to share what is on my heart, and I still don’t think I understand or have expressed clearly the nature and importance of this issue.  All of us, to some extent, still have “darkness” that needs to be removed in our minds and hearts in order to walk in the Kingdom of God more fully.

I want to look at a passage in Galatians, which I think summarizes the main emphasis Paul taught pretty well:

Galatians 5:13-26 WEB (R):  “For you, brothers, were called for freedom. Only don’t use your freedom for gain to the flesh, but through love be servants to one another (true love creates no “gain” for the self-preserving flesh).  For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you don’t consume one another (“biting and devouring” are the opposite of edification/building up, and are not the way of love).  But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you won’t fulfill the lust of the flesh (such as biting and devouring others, including brothers and sisters). For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, that you may not do the things that you desire (mixture of natures causes impotence and prevents fruit-bearing). But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (only flesh is under law, but in Christ we have “leveled up” to a new way of being, that of Life in the Spirit.  That’s all that matters now). Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God (in listing these “works of the flesh” Paul isn’t merely listing things we “shouldn’t do,” but things we WILL do if led by the flesh.  Practicing these things doesn’t condemn us to “hell,” but they are a sign we are abiding in the flesh, outside of the Kingdom of God.  If you truly love and want to honor the Father and Son, then living contrary to their way/nature is as bad as the typical understanding of “hell”).  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law (the law only applies to flesh –  to expose its weakness and sinfulness.  The spirit exists on a higher plane, above law). Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts (it’s not that we “need to” crucify the flesh.  “In Christ, it’s been done already.”  -That simple statement is the death of religion and law.  If we would/could truly understand and embrace it, then so much time and energy wasted on religion could be saved, along with inexpressible amounts of needless guilt, fear, psychosis, confusion, on and on.  We could then be free to “seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,” rather than propping up the institutions of men and our own image/reputation.  In fact, because the flesh has been “crucified,” we are “obligated” in a sense to walk in the spirit, as Paul says next). If we live by the Spirit, let’s also walk by the Spirit. Let’s not become conceited, provoking one another, and envying one another.”  

There is a lot to this passage.  Notice at the very end, Paul says that if we live by the Spirit we should walk by the spirit, and immediately says we should not “provoke” or “envy” each-other, things he just mentioned as “works of the flesh.”  If/since we have been baptized with Christ into newness of life, as Paul discusses in Romans 6, then we have spiritual Life within, a nature of servanthood, love and forgiveness; a nature which desires Truth and the honor of God.  Not only that, but a nature which despises the hypocrisy of religion, despises the corruption of the powerful and the oppression of the weak, and embraces hardship to walk a contrary path when necessary.  A nature which is in no way self-serving.  

The issue then becomes recognizing that Life and letting it become our driving force, which is much of what Paul meant by “walking by the Spirit.”  Simply “having the spirit” isn’t enough, we must let it reign in our hearts and lives, replacing the darkness and fear that we have clung to.  What good is potential or access if the valued thing is never taken out or expressed?  It’s actually better not to have access to something great than to have access and fail to use it.  Again, condemnation has no place, and isn’t helpful.  The flesh has been condemned already, that’s the point, and is largely why Christ died as he did.  The point is to really embrace that fact.  We can’t live honestly until we get past the “obligations” of religion, which then become our “god,” receiving our devotion.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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For Who’s Sake?

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In my last post titled “Good People, Careless Stewards,” I wrote about how we should be eager to change our understanding and walk in a new direction according to Truth (i.e. repent), because although change can be difficult, the Kingdom/Reign/Will of God is more important and valuable than us individually.  All attachment to the ideas or creations of men becomes a snare and a pit, keeping you from the way of Christ and from walking in the Spirit.  I think this is a very important point.  

Recently, I began to read through Romans, and something stood out to me in Paul’s introduction in this amazing, incredibly deep spiritual work.  It reads like this:

Romans 1:1-5 WEB (R):  “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the Good News of God, which he promised before through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we received grace and apostleship, for obedience of faith among all the nations, for his name’s sake…

I underlined “for his name’s sake” because really, this is the same idea I wrote about in my last post, just in different words; namely that the Kingdom of God is about God, not us.  Apparently, Paul wants to make it clear at the very outset that God choosing him as an apostle of the good news, and God’s gift of grace and calling to bring “all the nations” into the “obedience of faith,” are ALL for the sake of the “name” of God the Father and His son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Our individual destinies are secondary, at best.  The good news is the good news of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God.  Selfishness has no place there.  

So, what exactly does it mean that we are to live for the sake of the “name” of Jesus and the Father?  It’s much deeper than what typical Christianity has taught.  In scripture, a “name” refers to one’s character, their nature, their essence – it represents all that someone is, and what they have done.  So, to glorify or magnify or even be a partaker in the “name” of Jesus means we become united with him, that we take on his character and nature and then express it.  In John 12:28, we read even Jesus himself prayed that the name of the Father would be glorified,1 meaning that Jesus desired that through his life, the Father’s nature and character would be seen, known, worshiped, and honored.

So, anything and everything done in the Spirit, however big or small, is for the purpose of manifesting Christ on the earth (we are his body, are we not?) and glorifying the Father, bringing His will to earth.  Again, this is the purpose of every manifestation of the Life of God in us, whether we are chosen as apostles who travel the world with deep revelation and miracle-working power, or if we just live humble lives, showing kindness and compassion to those we encounter.  If done in love, even a simple hug or an encouraging word can be divine and healing.

If you look around at what’s going on in the world, it is tempting and easy to join in the “doom and gloom” crowd.  But there has always been evil in the world, and death.  In fact, in the past, there was often a lot more than there is today.  I really do believe, and not without reason, that people are slowly beginning to wake up from the stupor that has been upon them due to the influence of religion and fear.  My desire is that we don’t leave one religion only to join another or that we don’t simply trade idols.  The issue is this: “is our way of belief and life a manifestation of the Spirit, or of the mind/heart/soul of man?”  Have we REALLY been taught by the Spirit, or are we following a religion or a way of life for reasons we don’t want to admit or examine?  Why are we afraid to change, why do so many of us find it so hard to truly and radically love, even though we know deep down that’s the best way to live?  These are good questions to ask.  

I suppose that’s enough for now.  Until next time, God bless you and thank you for reading.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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