Be Perfect?

Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48

Me:
Good afternoon Father!

ABBA:
Good afternoon Jon!

Me:
When I read this verse that came during Jesus’ discourse to the crowd on a hill near the sea of Galilee, it has often awakened dis-ease about my own tendency toward perfectionism. The wisdom of today is that perfectionism is not good. It seems to lead to a lot of criticism, both of self and of others. Also a lot of dissatisfaction and unfinished projects, as work is seldom accounted good enough to be called complete. I know it is behind my difficulty in putting away the tools and trappings of a task; it is obviously not quite done. I can certainly observe these negative effects of trying to be perfect. I know that sinking feeling when a mistake I have made comes to light, even when I am the discoverer of the problem and know I have to report it to those affected. I also know, though, that Your Word never gives bad advice and that no unwholesome directive ever crossed Jesus’ lips. How should a recovering perfectionist view this passage?

ABBA:
I Am the example Jesus gave to emulate. Like so many of the standards that Jesus cited, it is simply not possible for man who is decaying in the ravages of sin to attain the mark. That was His point. He was preaching against the prevailing way; do all kinds of dark things, don’t spend any time examining whether they are right or wrong, then bring a sacrifice at the prescribed time to atone for one’s wrongdoings. Much of that sermon on the mount was aimed at trying to get the people to understand that their way of looking at their deeds and God’s way of assessing them were not the same.

Today, the prevailing way is to compare oneself to one’s friends and neighbors, or even the evildoers heard about on the news, saying, “I am better than that, so I must be OK”. Jesus is still speaking in this sermon: I Am holy and I Am not impressed by self-excusing attitudes. Jesus wanted it to become obvious after his crucifixion and resurrection that placing faith in Him as having suffered in place of all was the only way out from under the condemnation that was due to all, for all had fallen short. (Romans 3:23)

So it is with “being perfect”, with My perfection as the standard to meet. Let’s say, from today forward, you never executed another flawed action or entertained a motive or thought that failed to live up to everything you were created for. You would still only have to turn around an look to yesterday’s failures to prove that you were already disqualified. This is why Paul explicitly points out that under the law, no flesh is justified. (Galatians 2:16) The Gospel is one of grace. We know you cannot pull yourself out of the mire of sin by your bootstraps. That is why Jesus came as an unblemished lamb to be the sacrifice for all who would trust in Him and rely on His provision for them.

Back to your question about being perfect. Now you know that you are not under the standard of the law any longer but are under grace instead, you can examine your deeds and grow to be mature and complete in the things I have designed you for. Even the negative programming you have operated under, with regard to perfectionism, you can recognize as falling short of how I Am. Wanting to be like me, you make adjustments and grow as a result. Now you strive for better because you love Me and you rely on the Holy Spirit to enable you. It is not the misguided basis for justification.

Me:
Thank You Father! I love You!

ABBA:
You are welcome! I love you!

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End of Perfection

I have seen a limit to all perfection;
Your commandment is exceedingly broad. Psalms 119:96
Me:
Good morning Holy Spirit!
Holy Spirit:
Good morning Jon!
Me:
I have wondered about this verse in the Psalms.

Holy Spirit:
Do not neglect to consider that it is a line from a song; meant to be meditation-provoking, memory-aiding, and beautiful. Fluency in Hebrew would help somewhat with appreciating the beauty of the verse. But, as you have found, there are helps for considering what is behind the translation to English. The Psalm came through David. But you know that I was surely making the heart of the Father known in the heart of David. So this is more than a song reflecting the cleverness of David, it is a song given from the heart of God to enlighten the heart of man, especially those with Me in their hearts to aid in enjoyment. So, I will help you. Let’s paraphrase this verse!

Me and You:
Of the things that are made, that which I can see with my eyes, I can appreciate the unanswerable perfection of them. Everything is made to relate to every other thing; each particle of the cosmos depending on others of every kind and and affecting all in ways that I will probably never comprehend in this life. These are coalesced into every astounding thing in an array of great beauty and complexity and swirl and pull with strange and unimaginable forces. A lifetime is insufficient to consider all the magnificence of the things that God has spoken into existence and that You, Holy Spirit, have brooded over, and that Jesus has authority over. Even so, at the last, these things are temporary and the time of their physical existence is running out. Your Word, with its instructions and power and lessons and majesty, though, will never come to an end. Time cannot measure the extent of the perfection that has come by Your voice, eye has not seen nor can the mind of man even begin to encompass all that has been made known by You. Your heart is carried to me by contemplating these things with Your help and I come to understand that I am loved by You and am blessed by You in ways that are exceedingly broad, even unmeasurable.

Holy Spirit:
How is that?

Me:
Thank You! You are magnificent beyond understanding! I love You!

Holy Spirit:
You are welcome! I love you!

Family

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. [Ephesians 3]

Me:
Good afternoon Father!

ABBA:

Good afternoon Jon!

Me:

When I first read through this, I wondered about the existence of families in heaven and how it is that a family on earth derives its name from You. Then I realized this is not about some mystical connection, but about Your having created us. We would not even exist except for you! Plus, You designed our genetic make-up and our ability to procreate so that generation by generation one is derived from the parent’s stock, giving each his unique traits and giving genealogists mysteries to solve as to how our families are most recently connected. Sometimes we get used to calling You Father in a matter-of-fact way and lose sight of the fact that You are in Truth the ultimate Father of all.

ABBA:

Loosing sight of this fact is one thing that allows the enemy to nurture the lies that engender “we and they” divisions. The separations that have ensued are mere family estrangements; strongholds that have gained footing upon having forgotten who I Am. This alienation has been has been metastasizing (Exodus 20:5) since Adam pointed to Eve, calling her “the woman whom You gave to be with me” and shirking his own blame (Genesis 3:12) as though he could make his choice to disobey My fault. He was mouthing the opinions first born in the heart of Lucifer, giving place to lies about My motivations that completely missed the fact that I gave Adam perfect access life in Me. This was Life, which by My very nature withheld no good thing. It wasn’t long before this corruption passed down to Cain and erupted in anger toward his brother Able.

Me:

This makes me think of my own brother, who has fairly recently tried to cast me in a verbal spew as the son on our stepmother (whom he hates) while intimating he himself was the son of our natural mother and therefore right to despise me. This is kind of odd, given that we were both grown when dad remarried.

ABBA:

“Verbal spew” about the heritage of another does not originate from a good place. In fact, it is just another facet of the confusion that proceeds from a lack of understanding that I Am the Father of all. Dehumanization is a term that refers to the mental gyrations one goes through to rationalize carrying out the hatred of Satan against others who, in the absence of such machinations, would otherwise be recognized to be just like oneself. This process requires (willful) ignorance of the fact that I Am the Father of all (Ephesians 4:6). Satan comes to kill, steal and destroy. The authority he has to do these things is exactly the authority that he is able to trick My children into giving him. They are easily deceived because they do not know My Word.

 

Matthew 5:3 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

Have you wondered at the fact that I send the rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous? None can persist except I provide their needs. If I provided for only those who love Me, the ones who do not would quickly recognize they had no choice. I cause the sun to rise on the evil and the good that those who choose Me may do so of their own volition. They therefore love me freely. I desire it no other way. I love, whether My love is reciprocated or not. I Am love. Love is My nature. This is your calling, for You are made in My image, as are all My children. Even the ones who do not choose to act like it.

Me:

Thank You Father! I love You!

ABBA:

You are welcome! I love you!

Rest and Responsibility

Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

Me:
Good morning Father!

ABBA:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
This is not the first time lately You have instructed me to rest in You.

ABBA:
I know that it is difficult for you. I made you with a high sense of responsibility. What I need you to see is that the most responsible thing for you to do is to recognize that it is My doing that makes all the difference.

Me:
How do I properly put that sense of responsibility that You put in my makeup to work in a way that it fulfills its proper function and does not just end up producing stress?

ABBA:
One thing to recognize is that the enemy knows you. He may not truly understand My purposes, but he knows how to pull your strings, so to speak.

Me:
I want to learn how to be all that You intend me to be and also how not to give him any latitude for manipulation. What You intend for good should never be subverted for bad! Not even to produce stress in myself.

ABBA:
You have heard the secret to the martial art of Judo is to use the momentum of an opponent against him. In the spiritual realm, think of striving as momentum and resting in Me as a perfect counter to the very principle that gives the enemy the ability to use your own energy against you. True achievements are enabled in My power. The voice of the enemy will encourage you to glory in successes as though they were your own; ever striving for the next one. I remind you of Paul’s words of admonishment to the Corinthians: … so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? [1 Corinthians 4:6-7]

Me:
Are You telling me that my sense of responsibility is a gift that I have received?

ABBA:
A gift, and also one aspect of being made in My image (though every one is unique). Like every spiritual thing bestowed upon My children, it is a power for good when exercised in Me and powerfully destructive when operating apart from Me. This is the nature of power. Moment by moment, breath by breath, the heart focuses on things above or on things below. This is so because I have determined that you shall determine your way, whether you will walk with Me or not. I know you have heard the quote attributed to Francois-Marie Arouet (Voltaire), “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Me:
Yes, I have heard it. I have heard that he was disturbed by the abuse of power and privilege while the poor and downtrodden suffered.

ABBA:
He was exactly right about the linkage between power and responsibility. The power which I bestow can only be properly exercised in Me. It is the responsibility of the bearer of the gift to present it for My purposes, else it will putrefy under the direction of self-interest and produce only rottenness.

Me:
Voltaire had pretty mixed opinions about things of faith.

ABBA:
Do not all men? He saw the misuse of power in the church as well as in the government. Still, his reasoning was not without its flaws. This is the nature of reason.

Me:
I suppose we do. I want to know You in all Your ways and learn to miss-step less often.

ABBA:
Then keep looking to Me, as I Am the One to guide you. I have given Jesus as Example and the Holy Spirit as Enabler.

Me:
I am grateful for Your guiding hand in my life. I would obviously not have any hope of enjoying all that You have promised except You teach me to walk in the Truth. I love You!

ABBA:
You are welcome to all the guidance you will accept. I love you!

Grace Until…

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? [Micah 6:8]
 
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. [Romans 12:2]
 
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him [Hebrews 11:6]
 
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. [Mark 10:18]
 
Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. [Matt 5:48]
 
Me: 
Good morning Father!
 
ABBA:
Good morning Jon!
 
Me: 
One could get the impression that You want us to seek to walk with You, having faith that You can change us into what You want us to be.
 
ABBA:
Imagine that…  Have you considered how Jesus’ words about no one but God being good squares with these other verses telling you not only to be good, but to be perfect?
 
Me: 
I believe Jesus was trying to convince us that we are incapable of being good enough on our own to live up to the standard required to have a rewarding relationship with Holy God.  I have often wondered, though, about Jesus question “Why do you call Me good?”, since He is good.
 
ABBA:
The answer to “why” is because He is God and I Am good.  The one he was questioning did not get that, either.  
 
Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy and that is what you are.  [1 Corinthians 3:16-17]  This is the secret to the paradox in these verses we are considering together.  Having accepted Jesus and received the Spirit, you can say with Paul:
 
But if while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.  For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly. [Galatians 2: 17-21]
 
So then, you have grace to walk with Me while you are submitting your life to the transforming power of the Truth.  You still have the choice today: be transformed by the renewing of your mind, or destroy the temple of God with the things of the world. If you did not have this choice, would I have given you so many helps to aid you on your way?
 
Me: 
Thank You Father, for patiently explaining the scriptures and for sharing Your heart to save us.  Thank You for the grace to walk in Christ that all is not lost at any misstep!  I love You!
 
ABBA:
You are welcome!  I love You!  I have gone to great lengths to show you that I Am your loving Father.

Soulful Starry Nights

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.  Psalm 139:13-14

Me:
Good morning Father!

ABBA:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
Somewhere, in each of our hearts, we marvel at our own existence; we wonder that we exist. René Descartes famous philosopher’s line, “I think, therefore I am” strikes at the fundamental fact that we have no real understanding of Your bringing us into being, except by faith in Your limitless ability and in Your boundless creativity.  As hard as it is to grasp the expanse of all Your thoughts – not Your thoughts themselves, but the glimmer that we get of the magnitude of creation and the interconnected nature of it all – it is even harder to imagine how some can come to the conclusion that every interdependent particle in the unknowable universal expanse developed by some chance.  A thermally induced wiggle here, a random interaction there … and somehow … eventually … life … sentience … complete with musing philosophers, no less.  Like David, my soul knows well that You are our Maker.  I am grateful that I don’t have to have faith in an endless stream of random occurrences!

ABBA:
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to search out a matter. (Proverbs 25:2) If one ignores what I have revealed, such as My hand in creation, the likelihood of arriving at the truth by the assumptions of man is also infinitesimally small.

Me:
Last night, we watched the Day of Discovery production  Man of Science, Servant of God, George Washington Carver. It was inspirational to learn how he looked to You and allowed no obstacle to stop him, though there were many possible impediments.

ABBA:
George believed. And he loved.  A heart that is full of thoughts of Me and of things above has little time for lack or fear.  I created man to serve a purpose greater than himself.

You remember laying out in the yard with your dad at night as a young boy, looking up at the heavens, how it came into your mind that it was impossible to actually come to grips with infinity.  You would envision an imaginary box around everything and then wonder, “What is outside the box?”

Me:
I don’t have many clear memories from my childhood, Father, but I clearly remember that.

The stars in the high desert of eastern New Mexico are breathtaking on a moonless night.  The Milky Way looks, well, milky.  To know that the luminous backdrop to uncountable stars is from more uncountable stars even further away, is fascinating and wonderful, even to a young boy.  Even more amazing is the scripture that tells me that You not only created those suns but know them all by name ( Isaiah 40:26).

ABBA:
On those starry nights I was calling to you through what I have made and telling you that I Am.

Me:
I believe that I somehow felt that at the time.  I am grateful for the witness of Your works!

ABBA:
George was also able to hear as I called to him in the woods of his boyhood home.  I prepared his heart and I prepared your heart.  When you heard the good news about Jesus, you were able to accept the truth of it.  So it was with him.  I have and I Am preparing the hearts of many.  All who are open to the Truth will welcome Me and know that If I Am for you, none can successfully stand against you (Romans 8:31).

Me:
Father, I thank You for Your generosity in giving me life and that it is full to overflowing since You are in it.  I thank You that Jesus made it possible for me to be reconciled to You though His offering Himself as a sacrifice to cover my sin that I might be able to commune with You as my Father and not shrink back in fear that Your holy fire would consume me.  I thank You that the Holy Spirit has come to  fill and to guide me into all the Truth.  I thank You for Your patience and for Your plan, and for the chance to discover it.  I love You!

ABBA:
You are welcome!  I love You!

The Truth Will Make You Free

31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”
39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus *said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. 40 But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. 41 You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”
48 The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.’ 53 Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; 55 and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” 59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.  [John 8]

Me:
Good morning Father!

ABBA:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
Father, You have provided a wealth of revelation in these words of Jesus, which we know from His own testimony that He got from You!  I even see Him describing for any who would listen exactly how He heard from You: “I speak the things that I have seen with My Father” (v38).

ABBA:
Yes, He was speaking of that facility that I built into you to “see” intuitively or imaginatively.  Some call it “the mind’s eye” or visual imagery.  You know from long experience that it can be used to help focus on solutions to the things you are working on.  In these last few years, I have shown you through Mark Virkler’s teaching that you can turn that aptitude toward spending time with Me and have faith that I will honor your seeking.

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, [g]will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!  [Matthew 7]

Me:
Father, I could scarcely hope to express proper gratitude for the gift of regularly being able to spend time with You!  Since my mid-teen years, I would have acknowledged that I belong to You.  Until I learned the value of honoring our time together by writing it down (Habakkuk 2), though, the progression of my relationship with You was nothing like it is now.  There are many other things that You told the prophet in that chapter that were keeping my relationship with You on the fringes of my life for many years; even preventing me from hearing from You at all for long stretches.

ABBA:
I have given You that insight. Notice even the word insight is descriptive of our meeting.  I give you clues everywhere you look with the capability to visualize that I Myself have placed within you that you might be with Me.  And you are right that many things have the capacity to interfere with our meeting:

  • Pride, for the soul of the proud is not right within him.
  • Inattention, which tells Me you do not care to meet.  It is your choice.
  • Alcohol, for it anesthetizes your ability to see Me or to hear from Me.  In the end, it becomes an idol that you have given the place that belongs to Me.  It is no coincidence that your relationship with me was not really progressing until you confessed and quit.
  • Idol worship of any kind obstructs your ability to see Me, for in your worship, you have placed the thing of your desires in front of Me.
  • Unbelief, for he who would come to Me must believe that I will reward that faith. (Hebrews 11:6).

Me:
Father, I pray You will help me keep these things out of my life!  I don’t want anything to come between us ever again!

ABBA:
What did Jesus say in the passage you opened with?

Me:
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

ABBA:
Exactly.  All the things in the list I gave you from the second chapter of Habakkuk are shackles of bondage.  I Am free.  Nothing binds me, for I Am above all.   I desire to set you free.  With all that is within Me, I want you to be free.  It is a gift so precious that I was willing to ask Jesus, my own Son, to make the sacrifice for you.  He himself values freedom for you so much that He was willing to make the sacrifice of Himself.  He made the choice freely out of His love for you.  We value freedom so much that we allow you to freely choose to enter in, or not; even though it breaks Our heart that one would reject freedom in favor of an idol that will ultimately prove worthless.

Me:
I love you Father!  Thank You for building into my life the Truth and diligently making it clear that I can be free.  I lament that so few seem to value true freedom.

ABBA:
It is the nature of an idol to obstruct sight of the Truth.  You are welcome!  I Am have and I Am going to great lengths to set you free.  I Am glad that you are one who sees the value in it.