Saturday, October 31, 2009

No Frown On Father's Face

The involvedness and the fullness of what we receive through the simplicity of saying yes to God’s offer of becoming His child and a living member of his family is not just a life long journey of continued discover and celebration, but something I believe is going to be but the first baby steps that long continue as we step into eternity.

There never has nor will there ever be any sign of disgust, frustration, impatience on the Father’s part regarding us who have been re-birthed out of the intensity of His love, you will never witness at any time a frown on His face! We are an infinite treasure that never ceases to bring a smile to his heart in light of our discovering the wealth that is ours in his son Christ Jesus.

This salvation he has provided for us was never intended to be something, although perfectly completed and finished by making us one in and with him in our spirit, a place whereby we choose to settle and simply wait to be called yonder.
It is out of this vast inexhaustible place of perfection and completeness that becomes the very impetus of making us eye witnesses to this same salvation invading our entire soul, mind will and emotions.
As it were the power and kindness of his unconditional love opens up the arteries of our inner being to let that love flow and as it does, brings along with it all that we stand in need of, full maturation.

I am convinced that without some knowing, some measure of the experiential reality of the Father’s total and unconditional love for us, the demolition that He has to undertake within our lives will demoralize us.
We are All blinded to the existing default under tow of self-reliance within Sin that still exists within our flesh, and it this nefarious parasite which desires to keep us locked into a performance based approach to life and living.
On finishing these thoughts I want to conclude with what my friend Art has said and I quote him here, “It is by regeneration in our spirit that we’ve already received everything that Christ is to us, including peace. Christ does not give peace; “Christ Himself is made unto us peace, rest, wisdom, and sanctification (holiness)” (1Cor 1:30). He Himself, as peace, indwells our spirit.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me (in union with me) ye might (may) have peace (Greek. eirene, meaning “rest”). In the world ye shall (will) have tribulation (Gk. thlipsis – “pressure”)” (John 16:33).

We enjoy Christ as our peace and rest by abiding, not in the world, but in Him who is always there, abiding in our spirit. The “ye,” in John 16:33 above, which is called to abide in Him is the “ye” of our soul-self, our self. We have a part in living by His life, we are called to abide in our inherent union we have with Him in our spirit. Thus our soul self is called to “walk in the spirit,” that is to remain in union with Him and subservient to Him in our spirit.

Since Christ now indwells the believer’s spirit (2Tim 4:22, Rom 8:8-9) and Paul says Christ is “all” (Col 3:11b), then the believer has no need of anything more. In the light of these facts one might ask, “So then, why don’t I live overcomingly, with His peace and rest?”

An admission of recognized failure to live overcomingly with rest and peace is necessary and usually produced by the situation we may be suffering; it is “good” for us. It is good because the suffering exposes us and reveals to us the gap between our rock solid “standing” or position “in Christ,” and that of our present feeble “state of being.” Recognizing the failure of “our way” is a necessary Christian crisis and a blessed realization that we must have if we are to let go of self-reliance and choose to live by relying upon His love, grace, and life within us.

Rich

Friday, October 30, 2009

Learning To Trust Christ Within


The following is another part of a continuing article my friend Art is writing, I found this to be of utmost importance and wanted to share it here.
I would love to have and hear any feed back you would care to share after reading it.

Rich

“The Word” that Paul preached was the resurrected Christ as “the Spirit of life” indwelling the believer’s spirit as God’s full provision for all the things believers encounter in this life. The only thing necessary is for the believer to know and trust in His indwelling Spirit in order to enjoy the life and peace that Christ “is” within our spirit. “… to be spiritually minded (Gk. phronema, purposed in mind) is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)

Some Christians may honestly say, “Okay, faith and continuing trust are keys to enjoying life and peace of Christ. But what if I just don’t have continuing faith?”

First, let me make clear that while under the grace gospel, a believer may lack faith for their daily living, as I did for many years. I recall that it was in 1994 that I confessed that though I trusted God for my eternal salvation I had an awful time trying to trust Him for my daily living. Thankfully, Paul says my lack of faith is not condemnable because I am “in Christ.” “There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”(Rom 8:1).

Lacking trust in Him for our daily living does however prevent us from enjoying rest and peace in our soul. I personally suffered the stress of it for many years. It led me to a stress induced heart attack at age 49. Suffering that heart attack has brought me to see the truth and to a degree of cure for my lack of trust in Him for my daily living. Thus, I was blessed with suffering a heart attack.

To understand faith in God as the key to peace we need to understand “peace” in a deeper way. “Peace with God” is one thing and “the peace of God” is quite another. I had long had “peace with God,” but I had not enjoyed “the peace of God.” Christ is the source of peace, working for us by placing our faith in Him. Both kinds of “peace” may be seen in these two verses.

“being justified by faith, we have peace WITH God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1) “The peace OF god, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philip 4:7).

Most fundamentally, to enjoy the “the peace of God” we must first experience “peace with God.” There was a great gulf that existed between God and mankind ever since Adam’s rebellion against God. Adam’s rebelliousness and Sin infection has passed to all men (Rom 5:12). Thankfully, God has made a way for man by bridging the great gulf between God and man, reconciling man to His self “in Christ.” God made peace with man by giving His dear Son Jesus on the cross for all “the sins of the world.” Every believer now has “peace with God” since they have believed and placed their faith in the work of Christ on the cross to justify and reconcile them to God. The Apostle Paul declared by divine inspiration that “(Christ) was delivered for our offences and was raised again for our justification.” Therefore, “being justified by faith,” we, who once were at enmity with God (Rom 8:7), may now enjoy “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 4:25; 5:1). Now, having God’s remedy, any man “in Christ” enjoys “peace with God.” We simply need to trust Christ’s cross-work for us.

The result of “peace with God” is “the peace of God,” present within every believer’s spirit by the deposit of “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:2a). Every believer then has the potential to enjoy the “peace of God.”

The “peace of God” makes believers able to stand in the midst of all the troubles of life. The “peace of God” is available to rule our hearts; but it’s the result of our continuing faith and trust in Him. This is why the Apostle wrote to this the believers at Rome . “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Rom. 15:13). There’s the key – “believing.”

Only those who are at “peace with God” can know and in fact should know “the peace of God.” Yet, it does not automatically follow that all those who are at “peace with God” necessarily enjoy “the peace of God.” Believers must continue to believe, to cling to Him, in order to enjoy the “peace of God.” The word for continuing to believe is “trust.” Believe from the Greek means to “trust in, cling to, and rely upon” Trust is a continuing belief.

Believer’s may and should take their concerns to the Lord, because they can trust Him. Believers can enjoy “the peace of God” as they practice Paul’s admonition seen here in Philippian 4:6-7.

“Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)

The key to Philippians 4:6-7 is we approach the Lord in genuine thanksgiving; believing such that they can leave their concern with Him. Now note the promise (v7) that follows Paul’s instruction in verse 6.

“The peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (verse 7).

Verse 7 does not indicate you get what you want. It simply indicates that “The peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Enjoying “the peace of God” is as “the brass ring” Christians seem to reach for, yet we do not need to reach for the brass ring, we simply trust Him.

We can trust because, as believers trusting in Christ, “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). “Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means” (2Thes. 3:16). Therefore believers should not be constantly overwhelmed and defeated by the adversities of life. Rather, we should heed Paul’s exhortation to “Let the peace of God rule (Gk. brabeuo, govern) in your hearts” (Col. 3:15).

Since we are admonished to “Let the peace of God rule” in our hearts, then it is clear we have the role of “letting” if we are to enjoy Christ “who is our peace” (Eph 2:14). It is clear that the mark of Christian’s life working is the enjoyment of rest and peace. The key to rest and peace is FAITH, in the form of a continuing TRUST in the truths of “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) as presented by the Apostle Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles (Rom 11:13).

The Lord of peace Himself indwells every believer’s human spirit and so peace is ever-present as peace within the core of every believer. All we need to do is trust Him who “is our peace.” He is ever-present in all the situations of life. He’s the sovereign Lord and God of the universe. He is over “all things”; so nothing touches our lives unless He permits it for our “good.” Job is an example of this; the Devil had to get the permission of God to touch Job. Yes, Job suffered, but the end of Job’s situation left him better than before and he was now humbled. Shall we not trust Him in “all things”?

It is Christ’s enlivening and empowering resurrection life within the believer’s spirit that delivers us in this day of the age of grace. Today we live by the “faith of the Son of God” (Gal 2:20). In the KJV the word “of” is translated from the Greek “ek.” Here “ek” means “from and with.” We live by Christ’s life and Christ’s “faith” – it’s not our faith. It is faith we gain from having Christ with us; the Spirit of the very Son of God His Self is within us as our source of faith. It is not our faith – it’s His supernatural faith in us that we are to live by. As we “turn” our heart from self-reliance to rely upon Him, we are “letting go” of “trying” to fix the situations we face. His faith springs up to supply us, yielding rest and “peace of God” to our soul.

Patient faith is not a way “around” our troubles; rather, our new found faith in and reliance upon Christ is the way through our situation. Many Christians pray for peace for one another, i.e., “Lord give him (or her) peace.” Is this a legitimate prayer for believers? No, it is not. They fail to see that Christ Himself is the very peace of God within us, and our faith in Him is the only way to overcome our troubles in rest and peace.

Some might say, “I’ve read “faith of the Son of God (Gal 2:20 KJV). I guess I have Christ as my faith within me, but its not working. How may I come to a trust Christ in me for my daily living?”

First, we must receive Christ, as “the Spirit of LIFE” into our spirit at our new birth (John 3:6, 1Cor 6:17). Then, now being one with Him in our spirit, the Lord uses the sufferings of our daily life to turn our heart to Him so He can flow His Spirit-life into our self-soul, to renew our soul (2Cor 4:16) to trust Him. As Lord of our life, He permits the situations and circumstances of life to come into our lives “for the good” (Rom 8:28). Now look at the very next verse to see why “all things are working” - “…that we might be conformed to the image of Christ” (Rom 8:29a).

Then we might then ask, “What is Christ’s image?” Here Paul reveals Jesus’ way of living - Jesus trusted the Father.

“Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus…And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience (to God the Father) to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!” (Philippians 2:5, 8, AMP)

Jesus trusted the Father’s hand in His earthly walk. Jesus trusted the Father unto death. Only Christ in us can carry us through the trials of life…by His faith in the Father. So, we must cling to (TRUST) Christ in us because He is our faith in the Father.

The Lord purposes that we would let go of believing our outward circumstances in the world around us to trust Him who has overcome the world.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation (Gk. thlipsis, pressure): but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Jesus said believers have but one work and that is – to believe.

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work (ordained) of God, that ye believe on him (Jesus) whom he (God) hath sent.

We must come to “believe on Him” – that is to trust Him who is Lord over all things and who loves us unconditionally – He will carry us through.

Knowing our deepest need to be changed inwardly, in our soul, the Lord permits seemingly insurmountable situations to come into our lives in order to turn us from self-dependence. We’ve always depended upon our fallen sin-infected self-life, but the stress of our self-dependence is great because deep down we know we can’t control anything. By these situations, He works in us to bring us to see the truth and to cooperate with His work and His will in our lives.

The Father’s desire is that we rely upon Christ’s overcoming, uplifted, indwelling life. His life is able to meet our deepest needs, and to deliver us while we remain in the midst of trial. We are delivered by His life spreading from our spirit (His dwelling place) to our needy soul, which needs a new “mindset” or “attitude” (Philip 2:5) – a change from self-dependence to one of trusting Him as our all in Him.

When we receive His light into our soul, we are changed “from glory to glory.” This is the work of the “the Lord’s Spirit” (2Cor 3:18) as we turn our heart from Moses (the old way of the Law and “works”) to Christ within us (2Cor 3:15-18). We turn to His grace-filled life within our spirit. This turning of our heart is a yielding of our soul’s mind, emotion, and will to the Lord, permitting us to receive the current or flow of His life supply to be ours for our daily living.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Is Grace Just A Concept?


It says that the Law came through Moses, but that grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. In another place it says, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” And, “For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.”

Is truth simply relegated to the best translation of the scriptures and if so, then why the sending of the Word that was made flesh? Meaning, for some, they see it like this, there’s God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Holy Scriptures.
What if in the Word becoming flesh as a man, that all the arguments would be removed in trying to wrestle and debate over rightly understanding whose concept was the right one?

Maybe “grace and truth” is so much more than the religious abstract theological puzzle pieces men have used to keep us from responding to His closeness?
The Father’s closeness came among men through his son Jesus only to become that closeness within us through the finished work of God.
The work of the Father as I see it is now in the “now-here” in this moment of wanting to bring revelation, not a concept of who and what grace and truth really is, and what that discovery will further unleash in the world you and I live in!

Rich

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Three Levels of Deliverance


The following is a wonderful picture of His amazing grace in operation as we continue in our journey with our God and Father.
This is taken from an ongoing series of articles by my friend Art Licursi.

Rich


Paul and his co-workers suffered many difficulties, such as coming close to death, in their travels and effort to spread the mystery “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) that Jesus gave to Paul for us. Here we see mention of the “trouble” that came to Paul and his co-workers.
2 Cor. 1:8-9 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: 9But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, (so) that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

Paul mentions three levels of deliverance as relates to the troubles believers will endure. In the following verses we see that Paul speaks of “deliverance” that was working in his life in three ways; 1) “delivered” (past tense), 2) “…doth deliver” (present tense) and 3) will “yet deliver” (future tense).
These three “deliverances” apply to three parts of man’s being, his spirit, soul, and body (1Thes 5:23), occurring at three differing times. as it now is in the life of all Christians.
2 Cor. 1:10

Who delivered us (Who has delivered us by flowing His life to us in our spirit) from so great a death,

and doth deliver (Who is continuing to deliver us by flowing His life to us in soul):

in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us (Who will yet deliver us by His resurrection life manifested as our new incorruptible “spirit-bodies” - see v9b)

I interpret these three levels of deliverance as follow.

1) At our rebirth our human spirit was delivered by regeneration (Titus 3:5), by the “spirit of life in Christ Jesus”; thus our spirit is now totally delivered (1Cor 6:17, Col 1:27).

2) While we live our life on earth our soul is “being delivered” - it is being “renewed” (2Cor 4:16, Rom 12:1-2). Thus, Paul commends us to be renewed in our soul’s mindset or attitude.

Philippians 2:5 Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus:

3) We as Christians are yet to “be delivered” in body - in the twinkling of an eye we will exchange these corruptible bodies for incorruptible spirit bodies (1Cor 15:52). Philip. 3:21 Who shall change (metaschematizo, transfigure) our vile (earthly) body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Mankind has been dead toward God, much as we might say a phone line is said to be dead. There had been a break or cessation of communication and relationship between fallen man and God since the fall of Adam; Sin had separated mankind from God.

1) All mankind is born into this world “dead in spirit” toward God, since sin in his being has made him unable to live righteously. Due to the effects of sin in man’s being, fallen man is strong toward sin and weak toward righteousness. If we deny this we lie or we’re burying our head in the sand.

2) Our bodies have a sentence of death in them. The death rate is still unchanged – one per person. These vile bodies will one day be exchanged for a glorious body like unto Jesus’ resurrected body. Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Sin works death in us completely, 1 Cor. 15:56a “The sting of death is sin.” Thus, we see that Christ came that we might have His resurrection life (Gk, ZoĆ«, spirit life) and have His life more abundantly (John 10:10) – that is His life is to permeate our entire being, eradicating death in our spirit and our soul, and then yielding our new spirit-body.

So what is it that we are we being delivered of or delivered from in the three parts of our being? We see in 2Cor 1:9 (above) that Paul is speaking of deliverance from of “the sentence of death.” We were dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1b). God delivered us by depositing the life of His Son into our spirit ( Col 1:27. God has already regenerated us in spirit, (Titus 3:5) by depositing Christ’s “spirit of life” into our spirit (1Cor 6:17). We were made alive in our spirit where we had “been dead in trespasses and sins”

“And you hath he quickened (Gk. zao, made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sins;” (Ephesians 2:1)

Christ’s life in our spirit is now flowing to renew and bring life to our soul, delivering us from the mindset of the flesh which ends in death. Romans 8:6a For to be carnally minded is death…He is now making us alive in soul by bringing us to renew our mindset to trust Him in all things. Romans 8:6 … to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Now we also look forward to the day when our physical death will be swallowed up of His life. He will “yet deliver” our body by making it incorruptible.

1 Corinthians 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality (eternal life), then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

The life of Christ we received into our spirit at the moment of our rebirth has forever enlivened and is “sanctifying us completely, in (our) spirit soul and body” (1Thes 5:13). Christ’s life is fully dealing with the sentence of death within His own.

Romans 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Purpose Driven God


Does it all come down to God being driven to accomplish, squeeze out of us, the biggest bang for his buck?
Here’s a wild thought, perhaps there is a much higher priority within His heart (other than what he can accomplish through us), maybe it’s as simple as him wanting us to be with him and him with us! Egad, not that simple is it?

Rich

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Grace of God


I liked what my friend Art shared in the following article so much, I wanted to share it here as well. It is not for the timid, meaning for those who do not like reading long posts, but for those who do, I know you will be encouraged.
This is part ten of a 25 part article he is sharing.


Rich

Many do not realize that Jesus had and has these two ministries.

First Jesus had his terrestrial (earthly) ministry to the nation Israel concerning the everlasting kingdom of heaven to come to earth (Matt 6:10). He proclaimed to Israel that the kingdom was “at hand” (Matt 3:2, 4:7, 10:7, etc.) and gain taught His Jewish disciples concerning “the kingdom” for 40 days after His resurrection (Acts 1:3).

Since the call of the Apostle Paul Jesus began Jesus’ ministry is to the “the body of Christ.” Today, Jesus has a heavenly (celestial) ministry is to the members of “the body of Christ,” those whose citizenship and destiny is eternal in heaven (Philippians 2:20).

The Apostle Paul was saved through the direct intervention of the celestial Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus returned to this realm from heaven specifically to save Saul of Tarsus, who is called Paul.

Paul “laid the foundation…which is Christ” (1Cor 3:10-10) as the dispenser of this new relationship for believers during the “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph 3:1-2). Today, the Gentiles, and the very few Jews who will believe and receive Paul’s mystery “gospel of the grace of God” (Act 20:24), make up “the body of Christ.”

Paul is the Apostle (Gk. apostolos, sent one) chosen by God to bear the message of the formerly secret plan and purpose of God concerning “the dispensation of the grace of God” for “the body of Christ.” Once we see Paul’s unique place in God’s plan we may note that Paul is God’s messenger and Apostle to the mostly Gentile “the body of Christ” as Moses was God’s chosen dispenser of “the law” dispensation to the nation Israel. Romans 11:13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles…

Paul here in these verses describes how he received the new “mystery” (musterion, “secret”) gospel, and exactly who “the dispensation of the grace of God” was intended for.
Galatians 1:11-12 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me (Paul) is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 3:1-5 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men…

The dispensation has changed from “the law,” which was given to the nation Israel only (not the Gentiles, see Rom 2:14a), to “grace” for the Gentile “the body of Christ,” with some Jews (Gal 3:28).
This dispensational change can also be seen in how God today meets the needs of His loved ones and “delivers” them from suffering; it’s clearly seen by the marked change within the lifespan of the Apostle Paul himself. God’s dealing with Paul is “a pattern” (1Tim 1:16) for all believers today.

Many religious people take the Lord Jesus Christ as their pattern in life. When problems arise, they ask themselves: “What would Jesus do? – WWJD? Some seek to be saved by what Jesus said and many Christians seek to conduct their walk by “walking in His steps” – disregarding the fact that Jesus said He had come only to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel ” (Matt 15:24), addressing them only.

While our Lord's moral and spiritual virtues are indeed worthy of emulation, there were many details in His conduct which we should not imitate. i.e., none of us would be in a position to pronounce upon the religious hypocrites of our day the bitter woes that our Lord pronounced upon the Pharisees of His day, simply because we all have so much of the Pharisee within us also.

Certainly we cannot be saved by “following Christ,” or striving to live as He did. No works of ours can save us or ingratiate us to the Lord. If we try to follow Jesus His perfect holiness would only accentuate our unrighteousness and condemn us. He came to save us from perdition, not by His life, but “by His death.” “Christ died for our sins” (1Cor.15:3) and sinners are “reconciled to God by the death of His Son” (Rom.5:10).

Nevertheless, God has given us “a pattern” for salvation and for our Christian living. It is none other than the Apostle Paul, “the chief of sinners” who was “saved by grace.” “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I (Paul) am chief” (1Tim.1:15). Paul said; 1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

Paul, as Saul of Tarsus, had led his nation Israel in rebellion against God and His Christ. He was “exceedingly mad” against the disciples of Jesus Christ and “breathed threatening and slaughter” (Acts 9:1) against them. Why then, did God save him? Paul goes on to tell us in the next verse.
“Howbeit [but] for this cause I (Paul) obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, FOR A PATTERN (Gk., hypotyposis, typification) to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting” (1Tim 1:16).

Since Paul clearly is “a pattern” for the members of “the body of Christ,” then we may want to compare Paul’s life experiences, comparing Paul’s earlier life experiences with his later life experiences as recorded in Scripture.

In the early Acts period, God was still offering the Kingdom to Israel via “the twelve” Apostles “with signs following” (Mark 16:20), just as Jesus had announced the Kingdom “at hand” in the gospels “with signs following.” But Israel again rejected Christ by rejecting the witness of the Holy Spirit concerning Christ when they stoned Stephen to death. It was then that Paul was saved and given the new “gospel of the grace of God” (Act 20:24), for any person, who would receive it, Gentile or Jew.

Paul’s was given and then used to bring the message of the cross to the Jews, still with “signs following.” During the book of Acts Paul always went to “the Jew first” with his new gospel. Paul said, “The Jews require a sign” (1Cor 1:22). In Acts we see miracles such as the “cloths” that were sent from Paul’s body to the sick that they would be healed and “delivered” (Act 19:12). These were signs to confirm the validity of Paul’s “mystery” gospel message; that the age had changed to grace by faith in the cross.

Now compare Paul’s sign-miracles that he performed in his early ministry with what we see of Paul in his latter seven epistles; Ephesians – Philemon. These latter epistles were written between the years AD 61-63. This was after Acts 28:28, when God had fully given up the Jews – then “turning to the Gentiles.”

During the time of Paul’s last seven epistles, his prison epistles, we may note that Paul could not bring miraculous deliverance or healing to anyone, not even his own self. Paul sought the Lord, asking to be delivered of his “thorn in the flesh” (2Cor 12:7), but the answer God provided was not deliverance as Paul had hoped, rather Paul heard these words from God - “my grace is sufficient.” Since Christ is the grace of God with us (2Tim 4:22b), then God was saying “My Christ is sufficient.” “…grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17b)

Further, the Lord communicated to Paul that his thorn in his flesh was a “messenger of Satan,” obviously it was permitted by God “to buffet” Paul, lest Paul “be lifted with pride.” In any case, we see that the Lord enlisted Satan to work as a tool in the Father’s hands to do for Paul what Paul cannot do for himself – it was to humble Paul. Many theologians think Paul’s “thorn” was an eye problem, but I personally believe that Paul’s thorn was not a physical problem, but rather a chronic fleshly temptation, his pride, that was his ever-present temptation. Paul’s suffering was used by God to humble Paul.

Most Christians should realize that 1st Corinthians in which the miraculous gift ministries were active, is written to “babes” concerning many carnal matters. By contrast, 2nd Corinthians is a much deeper book that speaks of the suffering and work of God in the believers life as they grown in Christ (i.e., see 2Cor 4:8-18). In 2Cor 1:8-10 Paul recounts his own experience and troubles that brought him to a concern for his life (v9a) – for a reason.
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: 9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

Note that in v9b Paul tells us exactly why the Lord permitted these difficulties to come upon him and his co-workers. Paul says it was so “that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God.” Ah, here we have it; “trust” is the core issue for the growing believer. We need to grow in our trust of Him as our all. With the outer miracles mostly set aside, learning to trust the Lord is the basis of our “new way of living.” Apart from Paul as “a pattern” we would never have such a clear understanding of the rich supply of the life of Christ that is so close to us as to be our very life (Col 3:4).

Let me recount some of Paul’s words concerning his latter ministry experiences as further evidence that the time of miraculous “signs following” had ended. Paul at one time healed and raised the dead, but now we read in Paul’s latter epistles such comments as these. Paul recommended to Timothy “take a little wine for thy stomach sake” (1Tim 5:23). Paul writes also that he had “the physician, Luke” with Him ( Col 4:14, 2Tim 4:11a).

We might ask, “What happened to cause Paul’s apparent loss of God’s delivering power?” Why didn’t the mighty Paul just heal his own self, or “his son in the faith,” Timothy? How could the once mighty Paul leave Trophimus “sick” at Miletum? “… Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick” (2 Tim. 4:20).

This record of healing and deliverance, and then the loss of such power in the life of Paul, indicates the time of the sign/miracles had ended. But it also requires us to take a closer look at a new form of deliverance for believers during “the dispensation of the grace of God,” as God continues to provide for His beloved children. This we will do in the next installment.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Letting Go of the Old Ways


I recently listened to a pod cast by Andrew Farley, author of his recently published book, The Naked Gospel, in this pod cast he was sharing about his needing to upgrade on his older computer. He said he was a died in the wool PC man and never even gave it a second thought in upgrading, to consider anything other than a newer PC, until a chipper big smile on his face sales person greeted him and asking, “how can I be of assistance to you.”
As Andrew told him what he was looking for the sales person then asked, what about a Mac this time? No way Andrew said, that is not remotely close to what I want, until the sales person said these magic words to Andrew, “but sir, you can now use PC operating software on the Mac and actually with recent improvements you can do so even better than on a PC.’ Wow, Andrew said, I’m hooked!

In our having been re-birthed according to the scriptures, “(This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun-all things are become new)” there is a new operating system (law) in that we have been spiritually joined to God. “But the person who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him.”
Thing is, that in the re-birthing it was just our spirit that became fully alive by being joined to His, making us one in our spirit union, the soul and body need to experience the same transforming grace.
It is within our flesh which encompasses our soul that therein lies the old operating system that draws from the reservoir of the knowledge of good and evil. The master of disguise, aka, the father of lies, of religion, the one who is the prince of darkness is masquerading as an angel of light has infected us all, but for some this has spilled out into religious rolls such as pastors, teachers, prophets etc.

Without seeing and getting to know the anointed and gifted One, Christ in us, then we will see ourselves “as” being gifted, as in being separated from the only one who can produce within and through us His life however He chooses to do that.
Revelation is the very air that fills our inner being with the free flow of His love, life and light that is designed to make real to and in us experientially what we already have in Christ Jesus.
Because of having next to no vision (the eyes of our heart being opened) of the resurrected and glorified living Christ in us as us, then what appears to be merely something like Christ operating through certain “gifted” ones is that which steals the affections of our heart from Him.
For these individuals to let go of their old way of thinking would be tantamount to committing spiritual suicide, their identity would cease to exist, they would be made of no reputation, they would be left with nothing more or less than what each of us has in Christ.

Rich

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Unholy Trinity


I was listening to a pod-cast today entitled “Picking Scabs” broadcast by the guys over at Rock Canada, “Two Fools on The Road to Emmaus”. These two brothers are like so many who are sorting things out and processing ideas they never before questioned. I love the ongoing conversations they continue to share with anyone wanting to listen.

I want to share some of my thoughts regarding what they were discussing regarding the “system”. This system is also seen in conjunction with what many are calling the institutional and organized entity commonly alluded to as the church. Without worrying about sounding redundant and repetitive, I will once again openly share what I know to be true as I continue to grow in the grace and true knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The title I chose for this entry, The Unholy Trinity, is a composite picture of an alliance that is usually perceived as being some nebulous force out there, somewhere. Where? Not really sure, just way out there, man. I see this trinity as consisting of the “world, the flesh and the devil”. As it says in the scriptures, “The whole world lies under the direct influence of (the evil one) Satan”. In my opinion these three components are in fact one, residing within a nameless and faceless entity within us all, within our flesh in the form of Sin. But Sin is only a concept at best for most of us, and Satan loves this kind of hazy ambivalence (I wrote about this reality in another blog entry,
The Invisible Third Strand).

The fellows over at Rock Canada were discussing the same complaint regarding the hurt, pain and devastation that has been wreaked on so many in that they hold the system and its leaders responsible for the anguish that they’ve experienced. But they’re not seeing that the so-called ‘system’ is but an outer description of a far more clandestine and diabolic entity that exists inside the finger pointers as well!

This entity we have tagged as the “system” is within all flesh. Those who point fingers at the leaders within that corrupt system who inflicted so much pain are the same ones who at one time ‘gave a mind to’ those likewise blinded teachers. We may nod our heads in agreement with what the scriptures say about the world, the flesh and the devil: “Our battle (wrestling match) is not with flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” This sounds like something straight out of the pages of one of Frank Peretti’s novels. Sorry, but what Frank shared in those novels is lame in comparison to what is going on largely undetected in our own lives as believers.
As long as anyone of us continues to rail at the leaders within the “system” for our sufferings, the devil, Satan, has won again, laughing his ass off, seeing that we are blind to his presence but yet fixated with our unresolved and misdirected hurt and anger.

There is a finely tuned and honed clarity that some might refer to as discernment that is coming to the surface in my siblings throughout the earth in recognizing wherein our true battle lies, and it’s the exposure of the father of the “system” in their flesh.

Is it remotely possible that out of His great love for us, God has allowed us to exercise our free will choices knowing full well the outcome of untold wreckage and carnage that would result, and that only in our total bankruptcy would we discover to our embarrassment we know nothing of the power of forgiveness beyond a powerless concept?

Borrowing and expanding on the Pogo cartoon, “We have gone out to see the enemy, and discovered that he is in us.” The enemy of our soul cares not what or whom we blame, be it the “system” we call the organized, institutional ‘church’, or the government, or whatever. As long as this detracts our vision from the truth, we remain crippled and blind. Without a vision or a revelation, God’s people are perishing, but he has made a way of escape for us as we choose to turn our hearts toward our Father.

Rich

Monday, October 05, 2009

He Is Before All Things

Shadow Chasing

Webster defines Christianity as "the religion of Christians, or the system of doctrines and precepts taught by Christ; conformity to the laws and precepts of the Christian religion."

Sadly, most Christians today would agree with that definition. And so would I. That is the Christian religion. That is Christianity. So under this definition and description I must declare to you that I have once and for all time rejected Christianity!


But Rich, what are you saying, have you rejected the doctrines and precepts taught by Christ? No I have not. But I have rejected the idea that the teachings of Christ can be separated from the Person of Christ. The teachings or doctrines are there to point us to the Person. The teachings within themselves are not the goal. The Person is the goal!

So we have created this system called the Christian religion or Christianity and it has become just another "thing." Jesus never started the Christian religion. He never started any religion. He only pointed people to the only Way to the Father. And then He told us that He is the Way. The problem with religions is that they all point to a teaching, a concept, a philosophy, a method, or a program to help you reach spirituality or your acceptance with God. But Jesus only pointed to a Person.
This glorious Christ is so much bigger than any mere religion! No religion can contain Him. No doctrinal system can define or explain Him. No set of things or 'its' can ever confine this unlimited Christ. Even your thoughts and ideas about Him can never restrain this all sufficient Person. The confines of man-made religion (including Christianity) can never harness the Christ who is before all things. No thing can contain this vast Christ, and, anything less than Him will never satisfy the human heart.

Yet we continue to settle for lesser things. We continue to settle for things about Him instead of just Him. We continue to live in the shadows instead of the substance. I don't know about you, but I am tired of living in the shadows. I want to live in reality. I want to grab hold of the substance of this Person. I desperately want to live this Christ who is the All in all!

I would love to hear how this might be speaking to you!

Rich

Sunday, October 04, 2009

In Him We Live

Learning to live loved becomes more and more like breathing, “In him we live, move and discover the freedom of being.”
Let’s take a quick look at the alternative as I see depicted in this video clip, for those wanting to live within the wide open spaces that Law offers, well, knock yourself out.

Rich

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Untold Wonder



Imagine with me if you will, you have been somehow magically transported to the very top of a mountain you didn’t even know it existed until this very moment, and you’re standing where no human has yet to stand, if ever set foot on before now.
Your guide is somewhat of a mystery in that you can’t with your senses seem to detect their actual presence, and yet that somehow seems totally irrelevant to this dizzying and intoxicating panoramic breathtaking view.

Your movement seems to be more of a floating than the movement of appendages, you are being brought ever so slowly through what appears to be a thick misty like curtain that is drawing back as in welcoming your very presence, as if this had all been planed just for you. Suddenly before your very eyes a sight so amazing, you’re enveloped within the dancing colours that resemble an aurora borealis; you dare not breathe, lest you cause this moment to dissipate into thin air.
What is this, you say to your self, only to distinctly hear from your rather translucent guide, this is bit one of so many untold wonders I see, and yet until this moment apart from you, no person even knows of its existence.

Maybe it was the extremely thin air at this elevation that seemed to make this group of flowers I was beholding appear to be more than just flowers, and somehow quicker than that thought came, it shot away from my mind like an Olympian thrown javelin.
Once again I heard the voice of my guide, what you are privy to is but one example of that which I and I alone know of, the untold beauty such as this, and yet this pales in comparison to an inner glory, wonder and rapturous splendor in some of the ones I am so fond of scattered through the hellish sink holes of this world you live in.
Apart from their captors, I alone see, drink in the awe of their delight in me as they slowly waste away with inhuman cruelty being their daily portioned ration of contempt.
There is no way the world will ever see this on the news, it will not be on Face Book, or My Space, or Twitted about on cell phones, and yet I tell you they are clothed in an inner finery that Solomon could only dream of.
As you go back and awake in the morning remember and believe what you have observed, encourage those you are yet manacled to lies they were born with, that I see them and I long to open their eyes to see the unspeakable pleasure I have IN them!

Could this have simply been nothing more than a wild and fanciful dream I mutter to myself as I yawn and stretch waking slowly to the early morning rays of the sun dancing on my bed? As I step down onto the floor heading toward the bathroom, somewhere from deep within, I sense an overflowing pleasure that seems to be directed toward me that I have never known, and mysterious as it all seems, I know this is but the first steps of freely giving it away to names and faces of people that seem to be flooding my mind. As I look longingly into my mirror, I see what I have been given is so far beyond having the golden touch; I have been given the very words of life!

Rich

Friday, October 02, 2009

Vicarious Living


There are many expressions of dis-ease that religion has produced in Christians such as, dissatisfaction, frustration, disillusionment, anxiety, guilt, shame just to name a few.
What started out as a ‘big bang’ supernaturally being brought into a living relationship with God has somehow, somewhere been hijacked, and that is what is on my heart to talk about.

With out continued revelation, “(Man shall not live by bread alone, but by ever word that comes from the mouth of God”, and, “In the same way you have received Christ Jesus, continue to walk in Him),” its just a matter of time before we start acting as Jesus impersonators, and how is that done you might ask?
Well, its always the same, we started out in, by and through His spirit, in the beginning we had no need for surrogate or foster parenting, we operated freely for some, a very short time and some longer out of the unlearned intuitive flow of His life (regulating) in and through us, it was heaven on earth.

Loosing our spiritual equilibrium is sort of like an animal or bird that sees you instead of its real parent in its entry into the world, often there is an imprinting that happens where you are mistaken for its parent.
Because of some shifting at a heart level we slowly become fixated with people we start looking up to, that can be just about anybody that we see as being really ‘spiritual.’ If in fact what we are seeing is truly them living because of the life of another, Christ in them as them, we indeed can learn much from them.
But on the other hand if it is nothing but a form of godliness, then it might simply be, the blind leading the blind.

Where a sibling is living out of His life in them regulating their living, moving and being, as a direct result of the unfolding revelation of Christ to them and we do not detect this, then the next best thing we usually resort to, is trying to apply, walk in a similar walk as they are, but finding out sooner or later that the life God offers has nothing to do with imitation!
One doesn’t have to look to hard or far to witness so many trying to live the Christian life as if that were attainable, trying to make what they have read or listened to from other siblings, to work for them not realizing that this is trying to live vicariously rather then living spontaneously from within.

Somehow in not having the eyes of our heart opened to see and know (the true knowledge) of whose and who we are, we begin to resort to acting out of the residual lies embedded within our flesh, and the lie of all lies is no different than the first one offered to Adam and Eve, “You can become like God.”
The short cut is most alluring to our flesh, we can attain at the click of a mouse, or listen to a pod cast, read a book, and think in the assimilation of that information we can mature, grow, and yet if there is no revelation we have only retarded and stunted our growth by being puffed up rather than being built up.

Can you hear the Father’s call to you, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Rich

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Doing Nothing


When is doing nothing doing a lot, hmm, well if we look at what Jesus said maybe it is self explanatory? He said, “The son of man can do nothing of himself, I only do and say that which is made evident to me by my Father.”
The essence of sin is, Satan tempting us to either “gross sin”, or to simply live our life apart from dependence upon Christ, which is the root of all sin.
Is it possible that those thirty years Jesus spent hidden away was in fact him doing nothing?

Most Christians think that it is a work for us to do, to “put on the new man” and to “put off the old man.” But this is a wrong concept. It is not a work for us, rather it is a non-work of “letting go” to simply trust Him. Letting go is our labour to enter His rest. It seems that we will “do” most anything to avoid simply trusting God and the truth spoken of Him as revealed in the Bible… rather than simply trusting Him, His love and His life in us.

The result of our submission to rest in union with Christ is that Christ’s life is enabled to from within our spirit, to renew our soul-self. This yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness, which is peace, and rest. By this union we walk in agreement with “the spirit,” we co-operate with Christ in us. We are renewed in our soul as we learn to submit to His inward governing of our lives. This liberates Christ in us to live through us as He wills in every circumstance of life. These are some of the fruits of our proper union with Him who is our life.

As I am fond of saying, ‘It’s not a seminar It’s a revelation,” we will never be freed from the suffocating mind-sets we have, apart from the spirit of life contained within the message of the good news (gospel), a seminar has no power to break the sin habit patterns we have all grown up with and in.
At the core of our being is just that, a ‘being’ not a doing, and then out of heart exploding revelation on that point, truth alone, we might discover why there is such dis-ease and sickness throughout the body of Christ!

I am slowing learning that the rest, peace and joy that had so alluded my living for so many years is being swallowed up in simply labouring to let go of what Sin in my members tries to persuade me that is yet unfinished business!
“After Jesus had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

Rich