Am I? Are You? #11

I Am… Hid in Christ Colossians 3:3

Put On the New Self [Colossians 3:1-17]

1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— 11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Here is a great insight with nearly endless application for an improved life:

The truth will make you free. (John 8:32)

The passage in Colossians above is a bottomless spring of blessing. I can only counsel you to meditate on it.

A son of disobedience (v6). That has been a pretty accurate description of me at (hopefully former) times of my life. But I am being rescued from that “life” that I was choosing, and ushered into a glorious life (!) of His design. There are some pretty awesome characteristics of this new life listed here. You can participate in this great exchange too. If you want to, and if you are willing to tell the deceiving lying voice that claims you are going to give up something more worthwhile, to just. shut. up.

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Am I? Are You? #10

I Am… God’s Workmanship. Installment 10, working through the affirmations in Christy Mitropoulus’ artwork shown in the featured image.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

Definition of workmanship

1 : something effected, made, or produced : WORK
2 : the art or skill of a workman
also : the quality imparted to a thing in the process of making

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/workmanship

His workmanship. His. He is the author of the universe and everything in it. As beautiful and majestic and mysterious as the creation is to us – though we have extremely limited understanding – and we have not personally seen it in its original unsullied “very good” Genesis 1:31 state. This lack of insight extends to us:

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 1 John 3:2

As His workmanship, we ought not lay claim to glory for good works as though they are of our own manufacture. The good works we are called to walk in are specially prepared for us. To do them is our purpose. We were uniquely crafted to be able to carry them out. If my relationship with Him is not one of open communication, of diligently seeking Him, and listening with rapt attention, how will I ever discern what I am made to do? If I come to my understanding without Him, I will flounder.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

So King Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem and reigned…He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the Lord. 2 Chronicles 12:13-15

There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12

Yet when we align with Him, things are right.

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 139:14

Though God is sovereign, He restrains Himself in this: He lets us choose which way we will go. Where there is no choice, there can be no love. He is love; the very definition of it. What this means is that outside of Him, there is no love. Perhaps there is that which we would call love, but which falls far short of His love for it lacks the power of the divine.

Love is not the total of His workmanship in us, but it first in the list. Also, the fact that He lets us choose implies we have the power to live up to the promise or to go another way.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:16-24

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Am I? Are you? #6


I am grateful for having made Eric’s acquaintance.

This is the sixth affirmation found on the piece of Christy Mitropoulous’ artwork that we have been working though.

I Am … More than a conqueror. Romans 8:37

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31-39

My life is mercifully devoid of deadly peril most of the time. Hardship? More like occasional inconvenience. Nakedness? Hardly ever in public, except nightmares remembered from childhood where I was a helpless mannequin on display in the J. C. Penney store. I guess I was feeling sorry for the public embarrassment of the mannequins that worked there.

Persecution? Well, that is certainly on the increase. It is a plot by dark powers faithfully executed by those who follow them, whether wittingly or unwittingly. The policies of most companies have been changed to restrict open expression of convictions supporting traditional moral values. They may or may not be regularly enforced, but are a snare waiting for the unwary. Does this documentation mean your company is actually against traditional values? They could be. Probably though, they are just observant and pragmatic. They observe that if a complaint is lodged against you they are open to be sued because of your beliefs, unless they have taken a position against them. The courts have proven repeatedly to come down on the side of anyone but the one who is following convictions based on Christian belief. Christ-believers are now in a condition where one can’t work for a living and vocalize one’s traditional beliefs without taking on significant risk.

Most of this is in a still-trifling state, compared to the full aims of the enemy who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). This passage in Romans 8 stands ready to console, however bad it gets.

Death? I am convinced, like Paul, that death is no enemy for the Christ-follower. This doesn’t imply my sense of self-preservation has ceased to function normally. Though I know that none of us gets out of this world alive, I am sure that this existence is not all there is. Yesterday, I learned my friend Eric, who had been valiantly fighting cancer, had passed. I watched him battle the symptoms at fairly close range and fervently prayed daily, expecting his restoration. I never talked with him when I did not come away uplifted by his sense of gratitude and grace. There is no doubt in my mind that the attitude he displayed was merely an artifact of the upward road he was walking, right to the end of this phase of life. There in no end of the list of things that Eric was conquering. If you had known him, you would have seen that clearly too. Death is now one of them.

Life is in Paul’s list of things that cannot separate us from the love of God. I need to be reminded at every turn that I am a conqueror over the issues of life. God has given us in the scriptures a perfect life manual, He has given us a reprieve in Jesus from the spiritual death sentence we each had earned. He has given us His Holy Spirit to empower us to move in the life we are called to live. Why, you might ask, would I need to be reminded that I am a conqueror over life? You can likely answer that question yourself before it is fully formed on your lips. Life is sometimes not a bed of roses. Sometimes if is filled with many of the other troubles in Paul’s list. For me, though, it is my past history as a serial abuser of the free will that God has graciously given me, doing things that I wanted to do that were not in my best interest. Why? Well, inexplicably, because I wanted to. Still, I find Him unfailingly faithful. Unerringly true to His word. Helping me to be more than a conqueror, even over life. And this is the best part, simply because He loves Me.

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As You Want…

I am grateful to have the Word of God to hear and the Spirit of God to guide. I can scarcely imagine the universe that some believe exists by some innumerable set of random variations. (That started from what, exactly?)


“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Jesus, Matthew 7:12


Me: Good afternoon Jesus!

Jesus: Good afternoon Jon!

Me: I didn’t mean for it to be afternoon before speaking with You in this journal entry. I went out to plow the snow drifts that accumulated last night, and it was a much bigger job than I expected. Beautiful, though. Thanks for the trio of young deer that ran by, heading North. They were lovely as well. Your creation is full of Your magnificence! Everywhere I look, there is reason for awe and amazement!

Jesus: You are welcome.

Me: Lately my company has been making a distinction in their statement of the “Golden Rule”, that we should treat others the way that they want to be treated. They made that assertion without any further explanation, as though it was self-evident. That has kind of bothered me, because it seemed a modification of my understanding of what the scripture says. I am grateful to You for showing me that I was wrong about that and that my perspective was actually a self-centered one.

Jesus: Yes, I thought it was high time that you had that sorted out. The difference is, of course, seeing it from the perspective of the person you are treating however you are treating them. You are the one who knows how you want to be treated and if you assume that the way that you want to be treated is the way that they want to be treated then you have not afforded them the same freedom as you have exercised over your own desires.

Me: Treating them how they want to be treated instead of how I want to be treated requires me to find out how they want to be treated.

Jesus: Yes.

Me: That is not always easy.

Jesus: It requires building a relationship and being sensitive to their reactions to you.

Me: That seems pretty hard. It certainly is not possible if my focus is on myself.

Jesus: The Spirit is given to guide you into all the truth.

Me: You are saying that truly understanding others is the work of God, aren’t You?

Jesus: Yes. The work of God in you. … and I saw every work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work which has been done under the sun. Even though man should seek laboriously, he will not discover; and though the wise man should say, “I know,” he cannot discover. – Ecclesiastes 8:17

Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” John 6:28-29

Me: Thank You Jesus! I am grateful to You for the things you tell me. I love You!

Jesus: You are welcome! I love you!

Polarization

Mahaska Morning

I am grateful to have the opportunity to commune with You, Holy Spirit!

‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ – Jeremiah 29:11

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. – John 16:13

Me:
Good morning Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
The enemy, I know, is constantly waging a propaganda war, detracting from the message of Truth and hope. He even has his mouthpieces spouting that their particular lie is the truth, that we should be incensed about whatever they are harping about and revolt against that which, I can often see, is proceeding according to Your plan.

Holy Spirit:
This is not new. It has been this way since he showed up in the garden to tempt Adam and Eve. Jesus spoke of it in Jerusalem:

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. – John 8:44

Those who will turn their hearts to Me and put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6) will be able to extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one by the shield of faith. As the schemes of the devil progress, you will continue to see stronger polarization in beliefs. I am watching over My Word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12). I say I am working a plan to provide for your future and to give you reason to hope. Have I not said it, and will it not come to pass (Numbers 11:23, Psalm 33:9, Isaiah 55:11)? Those who are open to Me will have the opportunity to walk in the Truth that I Am revealing to them constantly.

Those who reject My voice, will be like those Jesus was speaking to in John 8. Their hearts are hardened. This was predicted:

“Son of man, you are living in a rebellious house. They have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious house. – Ezekiel 12:2

Me:
Thank You Holy Spirit! Thank You for Your guidance, for revealing the truth and the promise of the future, for giving hope! My faith is in You, God, for You are good and nothing that stands against You will prevail! I love You!

Holy Spirit:
You are welcome! I love you!

Bulwark

I am grateful for the day at home and the chance to reflect on the glorious benefit of the eternal stability of God to those who rely on Him.

He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. Psalm 91:4

Down toward the end of the time before Jesus’ arrest (which, from this,  we know He clearly saw coming) we see this protective heart of God revealed at work in Him on our behalf.

Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill You.” And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.’ Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Luke 13:31-35

buildingSevier
Placard: Building Fort Sevier

walkingTrail
You Are Here (Obviously)

Released!

I am grateful for the rain on this spring day, preparing the soil to support the season’s new growth.

For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence. Psalm 91:3

Changing minds and hearts is often a slow process. Changing my heart and mind is a slow process. My enemy may lay traps for me in my circumstances, to be sure. But more insidious are the snares laid in my own beliefs that as yet have not been conformed completely to the truth. I thank You Holy Spirit that You are come to guide into all the Truth (John 16:13) and that the Truth is setting me free (John 8:32). What a powerful Agent of Deliverance You are!

 

placard1
Placard at Fort Sevier, renamed Fort Bruce, renamed Fort Defiance

 

bigGun
Big gun, with my Sweetie for scale