Am I? Are You? #13

I am grateful, Father, to be in Your family!

I Am… An heir of God. – Romans 8:17

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

16 The Spirit itself* beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

* Short side trip: Greek αὐτὸ is the third-person pronoun (he, she, it) determined by context. I believe the Holy Spirit is a person, an essential part of the Person of God (Deuteronomy 6:4), even as our spirit is an essential part of our being. I don’t presume to fault the KJV translation too much; it is impossible for the mind of man to contain a full understanding of God any more than a child knows a parent fully. We may know the Spirit as He incrementally reveals Himself to us in our spirit when we become intentionally still enough to hear.

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Me: Good morning Father!

ABBA: Good morning Jon!

Me: When I went to investigate Romans 8:17 further, I began to meditate on all of Romans 8, and I found it to be a cache of endless treasure (and a few hard concepts).

ABBA: When you were raising children, did you find that they were usually able to comprehend the full depth of things that they asked questions about?

Me: No, they were able to recognize and ask about many things that were both mysterious to them and wonderful at the same time. Deeper understanding often required more intellectual background than they yet possessed. Really, more than I yet possess.

ABBA: How would you answer them?

Me: Some dads would say, “Ask your mother” but I have always been disposed to try to give some response. I wish I could say I generally gave a heart-centered answer, merely acknowledging that it was a complicated question. At a young age, they were usually trying to decide how to relate to the thing, not learn how it was designed. I wasn’t heart-centered enough myself in those days and would ususally give an answer they were unprepared to make use of. I suppose I am still prone to do that if anyone asks me something.

ABBA: Yes, most young children are trying to learn, whereas some adults are trying to control. I understand you want to be accurate. I made you that way. Still, you have to consider the questioner and their frame of reference. I sent My Son, in part, to communicate My love for you (John 3:16) in a way that was unmistakable.

Me: The heart message in verse fifteen is one that is at the very center of the good news of the Gospel – that in Jesus we are adopted into Your family and no longer under the fearful severity of the law (which we instinctively understand we have violated). Now, we are brought in by love (1 John 4:8).

ABBA: You understand that the law is satisfied because Jesus suffered the penalty due to you. Do you also understand that as heir you have all of My resources available to carry out our mission? Do you know, you inherited a part of My mission as well? (Matthew 28:16-20)

Look at Romans 5:5. “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Do you understand that this promise is that My very nature is being manifest in you?

Me: I am trying to understand. I hope that is what this series is accomplishing for me and for any who read it with a spirit of contemplation. I know these things intellectually. I can read them in the scriptures. It is the heart that is stubborn. Usually, I don’t even realize that it is being so obstinate or that I have some negative self-talk running in the background. I do know that I need to repent of those internal messages that run contrary to the promises You have made to us.

ABBA: Keep listening for My Spirit to guide you into all the Truth. Keep delving into the scripture while looking to Me for Guidance. Commit My promises to memory and the Spirit will bring them to remembrance when you need them.

Now, what do you consider a hard concept?

Me: As I read on in Romans 8, I got to wondering about the “predestination” concepts in verses 29-30 (and many other places). I decided to read a bunch of other’s take on those verses. I was surprised by what I found.

ABBA: How so?

Me: I found a lot of people identifying as “Calvinists”, making all kinds of assertions about You and what this passage means. Some were mostly taking aim at “Armenians” whom they said were wrong to not put enough emphasis on it. Some seemed to be emphasizing Your loving nature, but perhaps only to some particular insiders of Your choosing. Others took what I would say are extreme views, claiming any foresight You have is equivalent to a final determination and that man has no free will and therefore no responsibility. Some claimed they were saved and others were irrevocably out because You had not chosen them. I found that the banner of Calvinist flies over all kinds of doctrinal positions. So much so, that I would say it is meaningless in a practical sense. I am sure I have not scratched the surface, nor that I want to.

Why do people feel the need to put You in some kind of box that they can circumnavigate? Don’t they even have a sense of Your limitless nature? Don’t they ever go outside at night and look up at some of what You have done? And how do some so handily ignore the Great Commission, or the fact expounded in Scripture that You are not willing that any should perish, while recognizing that some choose to reject. And that is another thing, some of these particular Calvinists used the fact that some reject You as “proof” that You did not choose them. If I know You at all, I know that is not true.

I believe you led me to these related scriptures:

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance

Romans 3 – Speaks of the inclusive will of God.

Ephesians 4: Grieve not the Holy Spirit. (Why give this instruction if, as I understand the extreme position of some, that the will of God is irresistible?)

Proverbs 14:12 – There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (This explains well enough to me why it is hard to get a persons to change their mind. Their way seems right to them. Convinced of it they are, yes. They don’t see the end because it is, well, at the end.)

John 1:12-13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

ABBA: Of course I led you to these scriptures and you know your identity as My child. The philosophies of men do not and can not describe Me. I have repeatedly shown you that a few of those who emphasize My sovereignty do so in order to be dogmatic about something they think they know about Me – that they really have no choice. At least they recognize the universe is not all about them. But they miss this fact; the only one who can restrict Me is Me. You are made in My image in this regard. You can control what you do, too. To belabor the point, I can of My own will, let you act according to your own will. It should not be lost on you that true love between us is not possible under other circumstances.

Me: Thank you Father! I love you!

ABBA: You are welcome! I love you!

Postscript:

I live and work in a community where perhaps the majority of the population attends churches where the members would identify as Calvinists. Many have been schooled at Calvin College, or one of the many similar institutions. Please understand that I know something of the hearts of these people and I am in no wise intending to paint my friends and acquaintances with a broad brush because of the extreme views of the few internet denizens that I mentioned above. I know from conversations with friends that these local churches have active missionary programs. Why would they do that, if salvation was an irrevocably-settled issue through “predestination”? It was through one of these churches that I initially learned that I could have a direct and intimate conversation with God and expect to hear from Him in my spirit through His Spirit.

On the other hand, if any finds him or herself subscribing to the notion that we don’t really have a choice, please keep seeking. Consider this: Why would the scripture spend so much time telling us how to live in alignment with God’s plan, if we could not fail to do so?

Power of God

I am grateful for the astounding warm-up today; 22F below earlier in the week, 52F now.

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 9 but just as it is written,

“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

[ This quote is from Isaiah;
For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear,
Nor has the eye seen a God besides You,
Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him. – Isaiah 64:4]

10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 2

Me: Good evening Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit: Good evening Jon!

Me: This passage is chock full of wisdom and the promise of still more wisdom borne (and born) by You! Thank You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome!

Me: I am mystified by Paul’s comment, which I know he got from You, that the rulers would not have crucified Christ had they understood all. Had they not, where would we be?

Holy Spirit: You have often observed that Jesus did not pull any punches in speaking with the rulers. He consistently told the truth in a way that would inflame their indignation and instinct to protect the sin they imagined was righteousness because it was, well, theirs. They were simply respecters of themselves. Not a humble bone in their bodies. Paul is just observing, matter of fact, that they did not get it. Even when bluntly told the truth.

When Paul uses the words “predestined before the ages” in verse seven, he is pointing out that God knew fully from before He created that man was going to need to be rescued from the power of sin. He knew before there was time. He knew before there was any man. He had always known. Yet, He chose. He chose to create. He chose to create man. He chose to create you. He chose that in the Son, He would bear your sin, that in Me, He, who is holy, would be able then to communicate with you who is only made righteous by faith in the Son. Were it not so, communication would be futile. (2 Corinthians 4:4, John 12:40, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Matthew 13, Isaiah 6:9) You observe this in your day; those who see not and hear not because the truth is foreign to them.

Me: Yes, Holy Spirit! If it were not for You, none of us would ever overcome our blindness.

Thank You for speaking with me about these things! I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love you! I love the ones that still persist in their not seeing and in their not hearing, but I Am unwilling to override their choice.

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!

Jesus, our Way

I am grateful for Jesus, our way.

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:2-3

Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’” 2 Samuel 7:16 (Samuel speaking to David; Jesus is the fulfillment.)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6

Me:Good morning Father!

ABBA:Good morning Jon!

Me: Thank You for the promises You have fulfilled in Jesus!

ABBA: There is an aspect of Jesus being the way that I want you to consider more deeply. Obviously, Jesus’ death in your place paid the legal debt you owed because of sin. (Death because of sin announced in the garden – Genesis 2:17; explicitly countered in Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ) He is the way to escape the deadly consequence of what you have done because He already endured your just deserts.

Besides that, I want you to think of “way” in the sense that Robert Frost used it in his verse about his travels. I want you to think in terms of the process of life, one thing leading to another; one day’s choices building on the decisions laid down the day before to stand as the foundation supporting today. When Jesus said, “I Am the way”, he also meant that His life is our highest example. He marks the way in the manner that a path guides our footsteps to the destination that He intends. A path does not guide one who does not walk on it. Remember Frost’s line, “ And looked down one as far as I could; To where it bent in the undergrowth;”. Reaching the destination requires continuing to put one foot in front of the other until the end of the journey is attained. In just that way, every step in your life is under your control. You can follow Jesus in the way, or you can turn aside and trudge into the woods. It is really always up to you, step by step, choice by choice.

The truth (I Am the truth) is clarifying. As the refiner’s fire causes the dross to rise to the top so it can be removed, walking with Jesus in the way does that sort of purification. When the scripture says “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, it is speaking of choices you make about that to do with your mind. Here is a signpost along that path: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. – Philippians 4:8; with the transformation noted in Romans 2:12 as a result and abundant life as the destination of this way (I Am the life).

Me:Thank you Father! I love You!

ABBA: You are welcome! I love you!

trough (not like this picture)

I am grateful that You laid aside Your glory and majesty to graciously serve us in our helpless dilemma, becoming helpless yourself that You might rescue us.

While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. – Luke 2:6-7

Me:
Good morning Jesus!

Jesus:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
I am prone to think that I need some kind of position of authority to make a difference, that I would have to be in charge of something. What authority does an infant in a feed trough have? Yet that is the way You came and You have made all the difference. I love You!

Jesus:
I love you! And that is why I came in the way that I came. I want you to make a difference and know that it is not your power or authority or circumstance that makes it possible to achieve the goal set before you.

Unfolding

I am grateful for the cooler morning and shower to settle the dust.

The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. – Psalm 119:130

Me:
Good morning Father!

ABBA:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
Psalm 119:130 has an intriguing message. Unfolding intimates a process, revealing in stages that which was hidden inside before. I think of a folded map. The outside might only have a title and other identifying markings, the useful details folded inside. I have to unfold the map, one crease at a time, to learn where I should go.

ABBA:
The adjective “the simple” has a connotation of “open minded” (https://biblehub.com/hebrew/6612.htm)

So it is not just the word which must be unfolded, but realization ripens under the message’s radiance – recognized from rudiments and repeated refinements – a rhythm of revelation and recognition resulting in refreshing and regeneration and renewal, and rejoicing.

If you look closely, you will find also, that some of the fun of the choice of words is lost in translation from the pictographs that underlay the Hebrew alphabet to the words of English:

Opening, unfolding – פֵּ֫תַח pethach (pay’ – phakth) and simple, open-minded – פֶּ֫תִי pthiy (peth-ee’)

Those who assert that Hebrew does not contain “rhymes” have not unfolded all.

Me:
Thank You Father! I love You!

ABBA:
You are welcome! I love you!

If

Featured photo from Garden of the Gods – Colorado Springs Colorado

 

I am grateful that You are loving!

 

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. John 15:10

 

Me:

Good morning Jesus!

 

Jesus:

Good morning Jon!

 

Me:

If I didn’t know better, from verses like Romans 5:8 (But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.), I could read John 15:10 as a statement of condition for God’s love.

 

Jesus:

“If” precedes a statement of condition, by definition. But it is not the condition that has come first to your mind. The condition is not stating that God will love you only if you behave in a particular way. The condition stated is that God – because He loves you – has prepared a beneficial (saving, growing, healthy, vibrant, giving, amazing, purpose-fulfilling, life-changing, joyful, …, and on and on) way for you to walk and has told you about it. The “if”, therefore, refers to whether you will accept His goodness and walk in the Way He has prepared; His plan for your good (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

“Don’t play in the street”, a parent tells his child. Is this a command?

 

Me:

Yes, it is.

 

Jesus:

Is it given to prevent the child from enjoying the wonders of the roadway?

 

Me:

It is given to protect the child whose experience is not developed enough to avoid the mortal dangers of traffic speeding along the street.

 

Jesus:

Is protection an expression of love?

 

Me:

Yes, it is. An expression of love by a parent meeting a critical need of the child.

 

Jesus:

Do all children obey?

 

Me:

No. Not all. Perhaps none obey all of the time.

 

Jesus:

Does disobedience in this matter dissolve the love of the parent for the child?

 

Me:

Not even if the worst actually happens.

 

Jesus:

So it is with God.

 

Me:

Thank You Jesus! I love You!

 

Jesus:

You are welcome! I love you!

deerCropped
Town Deer – Woodland Park Colorado