In or Not?

I am grateful for being a new creature! I thank you for opening the way to beholding this promise more clearly.


Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

As I meditated on this verse, I became mindful of all the (many) times since “accepting” Christ as Savior, that I have engaged in bad behavior.  I was reminded that at no time does the Lord override my free choice.  I have to recognize that “in” is not a state that is permanently imposed upon me, it is an invitation.  He has done His part.  Will I come in?  Will I stay?

“Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; (Luke 21:34)

 

The price for my freedom has been paid.  Choosing to stay free requires vigilance.

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Gwinn MI Clock Tower
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Escanaba River, Gwinn MI

Gratitude Journal, 12/28/2017

I am grateful for this week off from work to rest my mind from the urgencies of the office, the opportunity to more clearly fix my attention on things above and to cultivate a keener perspective on the proper place of temporal pursuits.

 

At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

 

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:25-30]

Softening Dew

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way you should go. Isaiah 48:17

 

Me:

Good morning Father!

 

ABBA:

Good morning Jon!

 

Me:

It feels like a fall morning, here on the third of September; spectacular, with fog laying in the low spots and the air heavy and cool, dampening the sounds of my footfalls. You demonstrate Your glory in the beading dew on every blade of grass, glistening even in the muted light before sunrise. The ferns of the asparagus plants in the garden were bending down under the weight of the water they collected out of the air. The wetness seems all the more striking after this summer’s drought.

 

ABBA:

I Am glad you like it. Keep your heart attuned to Me, and I will refresh you. “The way you should go”, is is along with Me. Walk consciously in My presence and I will continue to lead you in the Way. I will redeem everything you present to Me from within your heart; gently, as the dew softens the dry blades of grass. My Spirit is not coming to you as the pelting rain, but silently as breath, carried as a mysterious vapor to everything exposed, no matter how dry it was before .

 

Me:

Thank You Father! I love You!

 

ABBA:

You are welcome! I love you!

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!

Prayer-Refiner’s Fire

Me:
Good morning Father!

ABBA:
Good morning Jon!

Me:

Father, in Ephesians 6, verse 18, it says this: “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,”. What would You tell me further about this?

ABBA:

There is the possibility of doing anything either in the Spirit, or in the flesh. Do everything in the Spirit, especially prayer, which is of particular importance.

1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 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.

18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.” 21 So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas [or yourself] or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, 23 and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.

I Am telling you, this is why it is of prime importance that you pray; “all things belong to you” means you have authority over all things – and therefore responsibility. This responsibility is the charge of a steward, for all comes from My hand. This means that you are representing My authority and not that which is within your flesh. The authority of the flesh was given away in Eden. The authority of the Spirit was given under a new covenant at the cross to any who will be bound to it. I Am Spirit. It is not possible to discharge your stewardship in the flesh, as all things done in the flesh will prove to be wood, hay and stubble. Only things done in the Spirit will prove to be gold, silver, or precious stones.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 2 Peter 3:10

Things done in the flesh, even for the wisest and strongest, are therefore useless. They will not pass the test. The things done in the Spirit will only be further clarified as the Refiner’s fire purges all vestiges of corruption.

Me:
Thank You Father! I ask You to help me learn how to carry out my charge in the Spirit at all times. Let me remember to allow the Spirit to have complete sway by faith. I am grateful also, for the myriad ways that You have given for us to sense whether Your Holy Spirit is the Power operating in our hearts at any moment or whether we have given place to the corruption of our rational minds. I am grateful that You are transforming my mind and have given Your Truth and your many great promises with which to occupy it, even in the sense of an armed force occupying territory in war. Thank You that You are Jehovah Nissi, God our Banner, God our Victory! I love You!

ABBA:

You are welcome! I Am indeed transforming You by the power of the Spirit and of My Word. No Word which I have spoken returns to me unfulfilled. Instead it accomplishes that which I send it to do. Therefore you can absolutely count on My promises and in My restoring all your mind and all your heart and all your strength to the purposes and to the joy and to the fulfillment of their original and perfect purposes. I love you!

Ungrasping

Me:
Good morning Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
The scripture tells me that You will bring things to remembrance that Jesus has told me and that You will reveal all things to me (I think He meant all things He wanted to say to me).

Holy Spirit:
I AM One with the ministry of revealing the hidden.

Me:
It seems funny to me to think of You as One who ministers mysteries.

Holy Spirit:
The Shepherd takes care of the sheep. I AM One who helps you with great and mighty things that you know not. Jesus told you that it was through Me that He got reacquainted with His relationship with the Father after leaving that intimate knowing behind to arrive in a manger.

Me:
He also told me to meditate upon His humility and that though He was, in fact, God become man; He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped (Philippians 2:5-7) while he was on the earth. He also said that humility was key to having Him bear the load when we “take His yoke” upon us. That verse said learn of Me, too. Would You help me with that?

Holy Spirit:
I would love to! First off, what is the definition of humility? The so-called simple modern definition is “not considering yourself as better than others”. This definition shows how shallow the typical understanding has become when it comes to humility. Look at Websters “full definition”.

Me:

OK.  I looked it up.

1: not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive
2: reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission
3: ranking low in a hierarchy or scale : insignificant, unpretentious : not costly or luxurious

Wow! Usually, only one part of a definition applies. Jesus really encompassed humility in ways I had never dreamed of considering. (And You! You give good insights!)

Holy Spirit:
Aw. Ain’t nothin’ special.

Me:
You are demonstrating how unlike God “false” humility is, aren’t You?

Holy Spirit:
It doesn’t become Me?

Me:
Ha! You know!

Holy Spirit:
Was Jesus assertive? Yes, as to the Truth. For the Truth is the Way. Shading the truth might look like a “kinder, gentler, way” on the surface. But in the long run, such lies are neither kind nor gentle. The human industry of “little white lies” is not of God. You know who the father of lies is, don’t you?

Me:
Yes, of course. The Devil.

Holy Spirit:
Telling the Truth in a way that does not offend is often hard work, for the one who is off the mark has their own deceptions in play. The enemy asserts that the lie is simply more expedient. For that matter, giving in to any sin is portrayed by him as the easier path. Know that the payday at the end of that path yields a bitter wage.

Sometimes telling the truth offends no matter what, and that is as it should be, too. Think of Jesus calling the religious leaders “whitewashed tombs”. Calling their behavior out for what it is proves there was true love behind the warning, precisely pointing out they were putting a “respectable” veneer over that which leads to death.

Yet, as regards people’s free will, Jesus deferred to the Father’s intention that everyone’s decisions are their own, even though He was on a mission to convince the blind of the Light.  We have talked before about the fact that true love is not possible under any other system. Persuasion, loving persuasion – yes, with all diligence. Control over others, that is the way of the narcissist and the aim of Satan; that is not the way of the humble.

Let’s talk about this movement in the culture to think humility is not considering oneself as better than others. That definition is troubled by being couched from the negative. There is an (almost) infinite range of things, that a thing is not. Surely, if a person considers himself “better” than another, that is an affront to Our sovereign will in creating them. We value each one. We love each one. We desire to meet with each one. We desire to redeem each one. All are made in Our image, yet all are unique. Who is man to say one is better in Our sight than another?

Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:4)

And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. (Luke 22: 24-27)

Do you consider yourself a “benefactor”? Do you have the attitude that no one else can do the thing that needs doing and do it right? Do you think if you don’t do it, it won’t get done? Consider whether you are applying yourself diligently to the thing I Am calling you to do. Recognize that you have nothing to give except that which you have been given. Look to Jesus’ example. Follow Him. Remember the yoke; work alongside, don’t try to pull ahead. The one who pulls ahead shoulders the load. Neither lag behind. I Am helping you.

Me:
Thank You Holy Spirit! This has been a marvelous time we have had together! Thank You for teaching me!

Holy Spirit:
You’re welcome! I love you!

Discernment

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. 1 Corinthians 2:14

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” John 6:63ff

Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?” John 6:70

Me:
Good morning Father!

ABBA:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
As, of course You know, I was listening to the Spirit yesterday about the redemption of our minds from death to life and from darkness to light and the subtlety between the mind and spiritual perception. Today, I noted these two passages about spiritual appraisal (discernment) and that process at work in Jesus’ life. Could we talk about that? Would it help me understand better?

ABBA:
We can! I want you to understand the example Jesus laid down for you.

Me:
Thank You Father! My quandary is that I think You have made it clear to me that Jesus operated from the same resources as are available to all men (Philippians 2:6, John 17:5, Matthew 4:3…), otherwise he would not be an example I can actually hope to follow.

ABBA:
Yes, I have made that as clear to you as you can yet accept. Go on with your question.

Me:
Well, what does this part mean in John 6, ‘Jesus knew from the beginning’?

ABBA:
Please look up ‘the beginning’ in that passage in Strong’s.

Me:
http://biblehub.com/greek/746.htm

Definition: (a) rule (kingly or magisterial), (b) plur: in a quasi-personal sense, almost: rulers, magistrates, (c) beginning.

746 arxḗ – properly, from the beginning (temporal sense), i.e. “the initial (starting) point”; (figuratively) what comes first and therefore is chief (foremost), i.e. has the priority because ahead of the rest (“preeminent”).

ABBA:
This is exactly the same word for in the beginning that John uses in proclaiming Jesus’ deity and eternal existence and identity as Agent of creation and Author of life. John’s commentary in chapter six is precisely an observation about that beginning. Before His incarnation, before He took on flesh; He knew these things. It does not mean at the time He selected Judas that He knew already that Judas would betray Him. How would it be a betrayal, if he knew it to be the plan? The revelation of this knowledge came to Jesus the same way it would come to you. It did not come because the mind of the babe in the manger was the mind of God as it was at the creation. Jesus, being born in the flesh, had to come to the decision to seek a relationship with Me in the same way that all men do.

I want you to see this: Jesus knowingly laid down the knowledge of Judas’ betrayal. The human proverb, ‘forewarned is forearmed’ should tell you that He considered, along with everything else He laid down to save you, that He would go into that betrayal without any special knowledge of it. That is, he made Himself vulnerable in the certain knowledge of the eventual attack. It was not just Judas; the cross was the plan.

Also, arxḗ was a carefully chosen word. It carries the connotation of foremost or preeminent. Think: necessary to the plan. Therefore, as Jesus gradually discerned in the Spirit the truths John is talking about, He reconciled Himself to the acceptance of them. On your account, He accepted them without mounting a defense; on the account of all who would come to know Him He was willing to be betrayed and to suffer death on the cross. His discernment in the Spirit, enabling Him to send Satan packing when tempted is a model for you. Think of Noah, suffering ridicule for over 100 years during the construction of the ark on dry land. I want you to have that kind of conviction in your discernment.

Me:
Thank You Father! I pray You will help me in my faith to attain that kind of sure expectation, for You are utterly reliable! I love You!

ABBA:
You’re welcome! I love you!