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Archive for the ‘Knowing God’ Category

Who am I

I have one eye that is used a lot but I cannot see.  What am I?

You see me where I never was…and really can never be.  What am I?

If you say my name, I disappear.  What am I?

If I drink I die, if I eat I’m fine.  What am I?

Riddles are kind of fun, aren’t they?  If you want the answers, join the Six-Days to Abundance journey and let me know about it.  I’ll send the answers on! 

But did you ever consider that each of us is a bit of riddle?  We spend much of our lives trying to answer that question, who am I?  It is a critical question because it is the foundation of our lives.

Whether we know it or not, we make our decisions based on what we believe gives us worth.  We choose our actions, our friends, even life-time pursuits based on what we feel gives us ‘value.’  In fact, who we understand ourselves to be is a life & death matter.  The heartbreaking reality is that over 44,000 people commit suicide every year…and that’s the reported suicides.  Life is difficult.  Without understanding the value of this life we have, we end up assigning value to parts of life.  Those parts will not hold up to the rigors of life.  Identity rooted in the Giver of Life grows stronger as the years progress.  It is the only foundation for life.  So, how do you define yourself…do you even know?

Write an advertisement for yourself.

What would someone need to know to know you?.

What do you come up with?

Wife.  Athlete.  Or maybe disabled.  Mom.  Divorced.  German or Italian.  Teacher.  Pet owner.  Couch potato.  High School drop-out or PhD candidate.  So & So’s child…or parent.  A Christian, a Muslim.  Jewish.  Homosexual.  Prisoner.  Addict.  Pastor. Winner.  Loser.

 All of those are important but anyone of those things can change (even ethnic heritages are sometimes not what we thought).  When things change, you will still be you.  So ‘who are you?’

We are each a riddle…until we go to the One who created us.

You (God) made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Psalm 139:13

God is the Giver of Life.  As Paul said to the Romans, in Him we live and move and exist.  The only way to know who we are is to go to Him.  God has given us life to search out the answer to the question of identity.  He calls to us throughout life and sent Jesus to open the way for us.  The choice to go to Him is ours.  What often drives us to Him are the disappointments that comes with a faulty understanding of self.

  • If I am what I achieve, what happens when I fail?  My identity…my sense of self bottoms out.
  • Or what if I achieve great things…think of the celebrities who have ended their own lives or whose lives are stolen by addictions….and still can’t find fulfillment?  The praise of others is not life-giving.
  • If I build my life on my children…or a spouse…and their quest takes them from me, what is my foundation?
  • Or if my identity has been in my job and my company closes, how do I face the rejection that comes with job-hunting?
  • What if I made one bad choice that haunts me for decades?  Is that the sum of who I am?

No!  The stuff of life is where we live out who we are…it is not supposed to make us who we are!

We find out identity by going to the maker.  We recognize that in other realms of life.  Take a look at this picture.  What is it for?  You can click the picture to find out but thepoint is we go to the creator (or one who has experience) to find out purpose.  

With the precious gift of life, why would we not do the same!?  We want to be the masters of our fate, but the ways that seem right to us often create havoc.  Jesus came that we might have abundant life!  Listen to who the Master says you are…and then live with awe for His love and the masterpiece He has wrought in you.  Give yourself to the world and to revealing Him.  You will be blessed and so will the world!

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Image result for identity in Christ verses

There are countless resources aimed to help Christians embrace the identity that comes with faith in Jesus.  This is one.

Living out this identity is a life-time challenge that requires us to stay connected to God and others.  It gives us a foundation for living.

All that we search for is found in Jesus. Let Him Love You! 

Danger & Devastation: Fire Insurance

We buy fire insurance with the hope that we never need it.  In the natural realm, it works reasonably well.  Even if the policy is not that good, fire insurance works well to gives us peace of mind and even a poor policy will mitigate the devastation if a fire happens.  So, a fire insurance policy is a solid investment for our earthly concerns.

Kilroy fire

December 19, 1976 – childhood home

Eternally, though, fire insurance is another story.  In fact, it is a false hope based on deadly deception.  Faith as a ticket out of hell is really a ticket to a dead end.  On earth, fire insurance is bought with hope that it will never be used.  In the spiritual realm, there is no such hope.  Death is a certainty.  It makes sense then that much more care be given to eternal insurance…assurance.

Just as earthly death is certain, Scripture reminds us that faith without works is dead.  (James 2:17).  That verse is not speaking about earning salvation.  Salvation is not based on us; it is faith in the completed work of Christ that saves.  But faith is evidence of what we believe; if we don’t act as if we believe, where is the evidence.  James 2:17 is saying that the way we live reveals the faith we possess.  Faith is belief…our actions reveal what we believe more than our words do.  Our minds can agree to something but unless we actually believe it, our hearts will not feel it and our feet won’t walk it.  Fire insurance faith gives mental assent…living faith gives united assurance.

Walking out faith

The shoes we are to wear as armored believers are Good News Shoes!  Our walk is to be one of peace…restored to a loving relationship with the One True God.  Any time our lives have ‘compartments’ or places where the sweet peace of God is not felt, we need to stop and seek the face of God.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God–unless we allow it to.  James tells us that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.  The cry

max and marie hands fire

Picture from my in-laws living room after their home was destroyed by fire.

of the Father’s heart is ‘come to me’ — Christ’s prayer before He endured the cross was that we would be united with Him because He was united with the Father.  Total immersion in the holy goodness of God is the desire of God for each of us!

No matter what the battle feels like…the raging war and waves of horror…the end is sure.  The life of faith requires the death of self.  And death is not pretty.  Have you walked in the valley of death with a loved one?  The physical and emotional toll is great.  Scripture says Jesus endured for the joy set before Him.  That is our hope as well as we battle through to confident assurance of our unity with Him.

Engaging in Battle

Make no mistake:  spiritual battles are real and necessary.  Putting to death the old man is not easy.  There is a deadly, dangerous self-protective deception that can keep us from ever seeing the depths of our own depravity.  We can study the Word and love its beauty–and think that our studying and appreciation for it is enough.  It is not.  Appreciating art does not make me an artist.  The Word is pure and holy–but we are not.  Mental assent does not create unity with God.  Fire insurance faith is not assurance.  It is a deception that can kill.

So, how can you know?  Eternal life is the gift of God Himself.  Read that slowly.  It is not a gift of God…it is God.  Eternal life doesn’t start when we die; we live it now.  We live it when we receive it.  When we receive the gift of God, there is a war between good and evil.  It is a war that is won but it is not one we can excuse ourselves from.

But you, O man of God, flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession before many witnesses. I Timothy 6:11,12

And never give up.  It is always too soon to quit!  Press on for victory by renewing your mind with Truth from God…and then committing to act.  Strongholds come from conditioning of the past…negative thoughts & actions that you cannot control are conditioned responses.  What you have conditioned yourself to do can be changed as you remove anything that does not align with the Word of God.  Seek unity with Him and the double-mindedness that kills will be eliminated.  That is the death of self…that is participating in the crucifixion.  It will be painful…but it is the only way to life.

Seek to know God.  Surrender to His way.  Sacrifice to obey Him.  

And see the miraculous ways He works.  God is faithful.  Christ is victorious.  

Hearing God in Horrors of Hurt

On the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, looking to Jesus–our INTERCESSOR–is a blessed endeavor!  May you enjoy this excerpt from my devotional, Fixing our Eyes on God.

There are some wonderful, awe-inspiring revelations of Jesus that begin with “I.”  He is the I am, the Image of the invisible God, immortal, immutable, and Immanuel, God with us!  The One who is all of those things is also our Intercessor.  Scriptures tells us He lives that He can make intercession for us!  Now that is an incredible view of our Savior!

Intercessory prayer weaves its way throughout scripture.  In the Old Testament, we see God’s people, His prophets and His priests offering prayers on behalf of others.  Isaiah prophesied that the coming Deliverer would pray for sinners.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:12

The truth of that prophesy shines forth in the New Testament as we observe Jesus praying for His disciples, His enemies and us!

Intercession is a costly endeavor that God expects from each of us.  Yet God never asks us to do anything He won’t join us in doing.  Intercession is a joint endeavor…it fulfills the prayer of Jesus in John 17 which asks the Father to bring us to unity.  Intercession unites our hearts with others, with the Spirit, with Christ and with the Father.  The fact that Jesus is our Intercessor reveals the incredible privilege we have to intercede.

Our human passions and concerns often cloud our minds.   We do not always know what to ask of the Father; we would miss countless blessings without our Intercessor!  The Spirit searches our hearts for the needs we cannot express—and sometimes do not know.  The Spirit’s unity with Christ—and His with the Father—brings the very will of God into the center of our being.

Our Intercessor’s prayers are pure and perfect, aligned with God’s purposes for our lives.  Jesus asks for exactly what we would ask—if only we understood as He does.    Our minds can only glimpse the fringes of the great mystery of unity with God through Christ.  Our intercessory prayers for others allow us to join in the very work of our Savior.  May we rejoice in His work and our privilege as intercessors!

Love Life

Shortly after 9/11 there was an interview with an ISIS member who captured for me the essence of their heart.  He said something like this:

“America, you will never win because you love life and we love death.”

He may be right…our country may not win, but we don’t have to lose.  Christ is life; He already won by overcoming death.  He offers us life.

In the face of yet another murderous attack, I share a piece from Fixing our Eyes on God.  We need not be fearful or victimized.

Know Jesus.  Know Peace.  No Jesus.  No Peace.

Our look at the Lord today is a well-known title: Jesus is Life.  It (life) is a passion for God; He is the giver of Life.  God loves Life and longs for every soul to know the abundance of true Life. Jesus came that we could know the fullness of eternal life.  But Satan loves death and constantly seeks to blind all to true Life.  He directs our attention to illusions of life that are only death in masquerade:  fame, fortune and adventure.  True Life is Jesus.
Throughout the Old and New Testaments, Scripture guides us to Life.

All Scripture points us to the fullness of Life—to Jesus.  The writings of the disciple John repeatedly remind that Jesus is Life.   John quotes Christ’s own words that ‘He is the way, the truth and the life.’  Jesus is the only way to God; He is the source of truth; and Jesus is Life itself.  The gospel of John opens by beautifully laying out Christ’s eternality as the Word, the Life and the Light of the world.  John’s gospel ties perfectly with the Psalmist who praised the light given by the Word.  It knits with Paul’s explanation that the presence of Jesus reveals eternal life.  The Word, Jesus, is light and life to all who receive it.  The Greek dictionary defines the light that the life of Christ brings as a light unable to be kindled or quenched by another!  Satan can deceive for a time, but he cannot produce a light that endures.  The Word who is Life and Light will never pass away.
Fixing our eyes on the source of life is the only way to navigate this treacherous world safely—and to help others do likewise.  No path on earth can resist the light produced by Christ’s life.  As we allow His life to fill the darkest parts of our lives, the pathway we should take becomes clear.  The shadows that fill the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ flee in the presence of eternal Life!  The despairs that threaten our souls—loneliness, addictions, fear—dissipate when the truth of His life penetrate.  Lives filled with His life illumine the paths of others as well.
In addition to the Light that accompanies the Life, scripture reminds us of other ways Christ is life to this world.  Jesus is the ‘living bread’ and the ‘living water.’  His Life is sustenance and refreshment in this dry, weary land.   As pilgrims, we are not to rely on any other source for life than Jesus Himself.  When the Life of Christ fills us, that which is ‘dead’ becomes alive.  In fact, Christ calls us to be ‘living stones’ in this world of death.  Our lives are to evidence what Christ told Martha:  “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live…” (John 11:25).  Our lives are to overflow with the Life of Jesus so that He spills onto those who walk nearby us.

Let’s Look Like Jesus: Holy Fear

This series of articles, “Let’s Look Like Jesus” complement the perpetual prayer list for Christian Character.

Holy Fear is actually the antidote to the horrible fear immobilizing so many in the world today.  Fear is a common part of our world; in fact, sometimes it seems fear makes the world go round.

Proverbs 28:14 challenges us though:  ‘happy is the man who is never without fear.’ The words stop me as all of the foolish fears of life eddy through my mind: the fear of aging and infirmity, the fear of disappointing or offending others, the fear of failing, and the fear of shame. The list is endless of those things that we can fear. Yet, those are the fears of evil which destroy life.   Dr. Caroline Leaf explains the deadly impact of fear-based thinking in this brief video:

 

Clearly the wise writer of Proverbs spoke of fears which lead to blessing and life.  There is a reverent fear…an awe…which protects from evil and leads to life.   There are earthly things which inspire a reverent fear. Electricity is one. We often take its power for granted but unleashed electricity is indeed a fearsome, deadly force. The wind is another. At times it is a gentle, refreshing breeze and others a destructive force beyond the control of our best efforts.

The only fear, though, that leads to happiness is awe of our eternal Creator. As a Christian, holy fear is that aspect of our character which flattens us before our mighty God. It is the reverent awe of lying prostrate before the King of Kings which transforms a child of God. It is an attribute of great value in the character of a child of God.

With reverence and fear as an integral trait, we will not only read the Word of God, we will seek to see it become alive in our relationships with others. We will take His Word not only as our standard but as the reality in which we long to live. Our choices will never become completely perfect…our humanity is not eliminated as the character of Christ controls us more fully.  Less of us and more of Him is a life-time process.

Fear of God, though, will lead us to trust in His design, to obedience to His ways. His blessings will overflow into the details of our days. Our lives, and the impact of our lives, will reap eternal rewards with a heart that is humbly reverent. Rejoice today in trusting submission to the Creator…in laying before Him every worry and care knowing that He can and will bring good!

Choose wisely the spirit that rules you

This world is hungry for ‘spiritual stuff.’  But there is one Holy Spirit and a multitude of unholy spirits.  The acceptance of ‘unholy’ stuff troubles me, and I decided to pull out a summary of some Scripture digging I did some time ago on the topic.

The Scriptures are the only place for Truth.  The topic is far beyond my total understanding, and this is not offered as a definitive analysis.  I share it as a tool for prayer, as an encouragement to go the Word and as a flicker of Light in the midst of much deception.  The draw to ‘spiritual stuff’ is part of our design.  God created us for Himself and He is spirit.  There is an enemy seeking to steal, kill and destroy, though.  The occult is very prominent in our culture today.  Beware.  Honor the draw to ‘spirits’ with humility and dependence on God.  Seek wisely!

Without Jesus Christ, we are subject only to the unholy spirits…demons the workers of Satan.  Without Christ, we are captive to the unholy trinity of our flesh, the world and Satan. With Jesus, victory is ours if we love and obey the Father as our Savior showed us to do.  Our lives are now hidden in Christ who sits at the right hand of the Father.  Free will allows us to choose Jesus Christ instead of those unholy spirit…but we must live that choice moment by moment.

As a believer in Jesus, the Holy Spirit of Christ (the One that raised Jesus from the grave) lives in us.  There is no need to fear, but the reality is our lives are lived out in the earthly realm where Satan rules.  Victorious living in the midst of his domain demands that we live in the power of the Spirit.  We must walk through this life as Jesus did:  in fellowship with and obedience to the Father.

With Christ, we are free to choose the spirit we live from…the spirit that will rule us.  We can choose to live with a spirit that is:

Humble, Patient, Contrite
Or one that is Troubled, Hasty, Proud
The Spirit we choose determines the flavor of our lives.  However, I was intrigued to note that both the Holy Spirit and unholy spirits can be in state of: rest/unrest; vexation; vanity; grief; trouble; lust; or strength.  Being controlled by the Holy Spirit does not mean we will become passion-less robots or ‘anything goes’ liberals.  Our passion will be for the Holy, True King…just as His passion is for us.
Scripture is clear:  The spirit speaks.   When we are attentive, we will hear, see and know the spirit–good or bad–ruling in us.  It was also interesting to me to not that the Scriptures attribute a spirit to most entities:  men, nations, angels, kingdoms and animals.  The Scriptures link the Holy Spirit with such attributes and activities as:

Faith          Faithfulness       Truth    Life      Meekness       Humble/Humility   Quiet          Life       Meekness       Promise       Counsel       Prophesy     Grace                Order/Judgment       Might/Power       Sound Mind       Love       Glory       Wisdom         Holiness       Supplication       Adoption       Knowledge       Fear of the LORD

An Excellent spirit comes from understanding!

 Those are the things we want in our lives…those are the things God wants for us.  That is what ‘thy Kingdom come’ looks like.  They are not natural to us; they are divine and require the Holy Spirit.
While the list above refers to actual ‘named’ spirits, the Scriptures also specify what our lives will look like when the Holy Spirit is in control.  A Holy Spirit powered life will have attitudes and activities that include:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, healing, miracles, unity, fellowship, discernment, security and speaking/interpreting tongues.
In fact, the Word tells us that the fruit of the (Holy) Spirit is in ALL goodness, righteousness and truth.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
But the Bible does not stop with teaching us about the beauties of God.  The Devil is real and active, and we are not to be ignorant of his work.  Unclean and evil spirits that are identified in Scripture include:
  • Sorrow (with an underlying issue of heart that is hardened to God)
  • Divination (python) (seeking the aid or insights of unholy spirits)
  • Spiritual Unclean-ness
  • Moral Unclean-ness
  • Silent
  • Heaviness (weak, despondent, dull)
  • Deaf
  • Lying
  • Error
  • Bondage
  • Familiar
  • Whoredoms/adultery
  • Infirmity
  • Seducing (that teach doctrines of demons)
  • Fear
  • World

Just as the Holy Spirit produces results we can see, unholy spirits produce results too.  When unholy spirits rule and reign in our lives, the fruit visible in us will be:

pride      haste      unclean-ness      captivity       slumber       error

weakness (mental, physical & moral)      false prophesy      filthiness

In Revelation, we read much of Babylon.  Digging into that word and the essence of the city, reveals that unholy spirits dwell in calamity, confusion and bitterness. God created us for Himself–He is a God of order, not chaos. The devil created chaos and Adam cooperated with it.  Jesus gave us the opportunity to reclaim our birthright and live our design.  Jesus allows us to be ruled by the Prince of Peace but the CHOICE is ours to make!

The command in Eden was to take dominion over the world.  Adam abdicated that responsibility; salvation opens the door for us to obey that command today.  We are not to let unholy spirits rule and reign in our lives.  We are to bring order by being submitted to God.

We are to be obedient children of the most High God.  My prayer in sharing this is that we will be diligent to KNOW God, to know and live the beauty of His design….to recognize and reject the influence of the unholy.  Take authority over that which is not of God and eject it from life.  Let His Kingdom rule and reign in you–and watch the work of the devil crumble!

If you don’t feel like you have a choice, go through the Steps of Peace and talk to God.  You do have choice.  With Christ, all things are possible.

Let’s Look Like Jesus: Servants

As I read my favorite devotion this morning (My Utmost), the question I’ve read every year for over a decade pierced my heart yet again:

“Am I willing to be myself and nothing more…”

Logic says that’s all any of us can be…but it is seldom how we live.  I don’t like my limitations, my failures, my selfishness, my ….  But those are part of me.  Learning to simply be myself–and know I am loved as I am is critical to becoming all Christ intends for me to be!  Willing to be myself in service to the Great I am is a powerful position.  Today, we’ll look at the beauty of servanthood as Christ displayed it:  that is the destiny of each of us.

Humility and servanthood are unquestionably linked; in fact, Christ’s servant heart preceded the humility that led Him to the cross. Servant-hood is not for the faint of heart. However, it has a counterfeit in natural man, which sometimes makes us think this is an easier character trait to obtain.

As Christians, we must never mistake volunteerism for servant hood. Needs abounded then and now. While Jesus met needs (and meets them), He was neither needs-driven nor needs-focused. The incredible beauty of Christ’s attitude of service rests upon the truth that He acted purely out of obedience to the will of God. True servant hood exemplifies such focus. The servant heart finds the answer to all of its needs in Christ and simply serves as a conduit to the world for the great Need-Meeter!

The desire to do good for others is not necessarily Christ-like. Alleviating suffering is Christ-like, and we are created in Christ to do good works. However, the Spirit of servant hood exhibited by Christ is far more challenging than simply doing good. Self seeks the spotlight in our lives; sometimes serving allows us to be noticed. Examining Christ’s life shows us that such service is not the servant hood He displayed.

Satan tempted Jesus to serve Himself…to use His power to meet His needs, to reveal His power and claim His inheritance. Jesus refused to rush the Father’s plan and gave glory to God in His refusal to lift up Himself. The disciples encouraged Jesus to pity Himself…to insist on His Kingship and demand the honor and glory He deserved. Jesus rebuked their suggestions and pressed on toward the Father’s will. Those who personally knew Jesus questioned His identity and said ‘show yourself.’ Christ refused the temptation to defend Himself and stayed firmly focused upon the will of God.

Each of those victories strengthened Jesus for His blood-wrenching night of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is that night of prayer that reveals the heart of servant hood: ‘Not my will but thine.’ Those words are the heart-cry of pure service. As Christ’s earthly life neared its end on the cross, the crowds mocked Him with the words ‘Save Yourself.’ They, like many today, failed to understand that the focus on self never brings deliverance. Self steps aside in the heart of the servant to allow the purposes and plans of God to enter.

The King of Kings forfeited the blessings of heaven to wash the dirty feet of His most beloved creation: humankind. He endured betrayal, deceit, anger, disrespect, humiliation, torture, cruelty, injustice and death at the hands of those He came to serve. Not only did He endure it, Christ absorbed it and all of its consequences to accomplish the purpose–the will–of the Father. The heart of the servant is willing to do the same. Servant hood is not volunteering. It is life-giving sacrifice that costs all of self.

Oddly enough, it begins by accepting ourselves as the beloved of God…even with our shortcomings and imperfections.  Only a surrendered life can truly serve.  His power is great enough to fill our every lack.  He gave His very life for our sins…receiving His gift with thanksgiving means receiving His very life and giving it to another.  For a powerful, deep look at Servanthood, read HIS: Hands in Service or schedule a workshop for your ministry team.

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