If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
Me: Good evening, Holy Spirit!
Holy Spirit: Good evening, Jon!
Me: We met with the Tea Party group today and talked about how readily people laid down their freedom to assemble together and to to pursue their pursuits. Really, to pursue Your pursuits.
Holy Spirit: There was a bit of imprecision in that gaze backwards.
Me: In what way, Holy Spirit?
Holy Spirit: You were told that by giving those things up temporarily you could help save the lives of the vulnerable. No one wanted to put others at undue risk. As good citizens, you complied with the instructions you were given (with great emphasis on how critical they were). I told you in the scriptures to obey those who rule over you. (Romans 13) In that same chapter, you find this verse:
Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
It is only as the situation with Covid-19 unfolded, that you realized that much of the information that was given at first was mere guesswork, followed by fearful speculation, followed by manipulation by those with agendas aimed at control which was itself aimed at grasping power. Power at terrible expense to many, I would add.
Me: Hardly any of us want to be responsible for the sickness or death of another. We hear of ones who have died. Most imagine them innocent victims of random illness. There is little recognition that we are all appointed to die on account of the wages of sin is death and therefore our own doing. The only question, really, is the precise time of death. The ones aiming at control certainly never mentioned the name of Jehovah Rapha, lest hope derail their plans.
Holy Spirit: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
If one knows Me, then he knows that not even death will separate from Me. It is My perfect love that cast out fear.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:18
Your freedoms are from Me. They are not granted by any government. You need not fear those who can only kill the body. (Matthew 10:28)
Me: I wouldn’t consider myself brave enough to face the power of the government the way Jesus did.
Holy Spirit: He was looking ahead to His death when He spoke the words of Matthew 10:28. You are not trapped by the empty naturalistic dogma that has enslaved many, for you believe what I say to you.
It is only the most evil who would use the love you hold for others as a weakness to be manipulated. He does this because he does not understand the very power of the love he would use to control is Me, and I will be his undoing. Blinded by his rage, your enemy does not even recognize he is attempting to lay hands on Me. Imagine his surprise when his scheme goes wrong.
And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee. – Exodus 15:26 KJV
Me: Good morning Father!
Jehovah Rapha: Good morning Jon!
Me: This part of your nature, stated in Exodus 15, certainly seems little understood in our day.
Jehovah Rapha: Many have been inoculated with naturalism, now believing that-which-is came in to being by chance through eons of random processes. Plus, the prophets of fear are peddling hopelessness and fear over the very air that I made to sustain you.
I created you with a marvelous “immune” system make you able to withstand and fight invaders too small for you to see. It works without you having to think about it. But what you think – what you believe – certainly does affect its effectiveness. If you are filled with hope because of confidence (faith) in Me, it works best. If you are stressed because of fear and doubt and worry and negativity, it will be suppressed. The channel of fear into your life generally has an off switch. I recommend that you use it. If it comes person to person, consider that interaction an opportunity to counter fear with the truth. In so doing you will help the other one as well as yourself. What keeps coming out of your mouth is very important (Mark 11:23 KJV).
One of the points of fear that is coming out is that the virus making its rounds now is “novel” and you therefore do not have immunity. However, I made your immune system to learn and remember. Otherwise, vaccinations would be useless. Those who are already compromised in some way are said to be at greater risk. This should be common sense. They are already weakened by some issue and have not been walking fully in My promises, usually for a long time. The medical profession would call their condition “chronic”. Notice the root of the word is from khronos – time.
Me: None of us have been successful at walking in all that You have said, at least not on our own. We did not fulfill the requirements of Exodus 15:26.
Jehovah Rapha: I Am the One who knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). Nothing surprises me. I Am Jehovah Jireh – your provider. As I provided the sacrifice for Abraham (Genesis 22:14), so I have provided My Son Jesus as sacrifice for your sin. He Himself has said that there is none righteous except God (Mark 10:18). As you are in Him, consistently walking in the Spirit that I have given to empower you, you become righteous in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). He has fulfilled the requirements of Exodus 15:26 on your behalf, if you accept that He has and choose to abide in Him (John 15:4). Is this the hallmark of your life? I know that it is. Many, though, only call on me in times when they are already in trouble. Trouble in mind, trouble in body, or trouble in circumstance. It is harder to exit the mire than to avoid it. They want something from from Me when they call rather than to be in My presence. I desire fellowship with you. That is why I Am redeeming you and you are to walk in that promise. What do you think? If you draw near to Me, will evil like the surroundings?
Me: Thank You Father! How much better to run into the shelter you provide and avoid all kinds of trouble. How much better to enjoy health and peace and all of your mighty promises to those that truly love you! I do love You!
Jehovah Rapha: You are welcome! Thank you for spending this time with Me! I love you!
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
Me: Good evening, Holy Spirit!
Holy Spirit: Good evening, Jon!
Me: Holy Spirit, I kind of get the “law of sin and death”; that under the law no flesh is justified. But I am puzzled that this passage in Romans 8 talks of “the law of the Spirit and of Life in Christ Jesus”, as compared to “the law of sin and death”.
Holy Spirit: What puzzles you?
Me: I suppose I generally think of the law as prohibitive. Speed limits, prohibitions against theft, assault, murder, and mayhem. How does the law of the Spirit fit with that?
Holy Spirit: What about the law of physics, biology, chemistry? What do they do?
Me: They describe how something works. If we can observe that something always works the same way, given the conditions, we classify it as a law.
Holy Spirit: My Word never fails. It always works the same way. The laws spoken of in Romans 8 are spiritual laws. They are more sure than they laws of physics, biology, and chemistry, as understood by men.
Me: In that sense, then, “the law of sin and death” is not prohibitive, but instead describes how sin works?
Holy Spirit: You are made in the image of God; you have free will. I have simply told you how sin works (what it pays and the predictable outcome), as I have told you how life in Christ Jesus by My Spirit works.
Me: When I read that passage in Colossians 1:24 in the NASB it sounds like Paul was saying there was something lacking in Christ’s afflictions that Paul had to finish filling up. I know there was (is) nothing lacking in Christ’s afflictions because He said “It is finished” from the cross (John 19:30). It gets better if one puts in the footnote version of “of Christs afflictions” instead of “in Christ’s afflictions”. It seems to me with the NASB, the literal thing that they put in the footnotes is usually better than the thing they put in the text instead. [I don’t know why they do that.] How could anyone who knows You at all think there could be anything lacking in You or in what You do?
Holy Spirit: It is true that there is nothing lacking in Christ’s suffering. He is the faultless Lamb of God, a perfect sacrifice. His offering is more than sufficient to atone for your every sin. Your sense of My nature not lacking in anything is correct. What did you find when you looked at the interlinear rendering on Bible Hub?
Me: It seems much clearer that Paul was talking about filling up in himself what was lacking in his identification with Jesus in His suffering (or passions) for the church. I got more of a sense that he wanted to be conformed to the Image of Christ in himself (Paul). I know there are other places that the scripture talks about being conformed to the suffering of Christ. I don’t yet have a good sense of how that should work in my life. I would say that compared to Your promises and grace that any suffering that I have had to endure has been negligible!
Holy Spirit: Consider what it says in Romans 8:
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
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:
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: I pray you will help me learn these things from the heart.
Holy Spirit: Jesus prayed that you and He would be one. From the heart. That is what these things mean; one in heart, seeking the same purpose, operating in the same love and power.
Me: Thank You Holy Spirit! I pray you will help me grow in this oneness! I love You!
Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I Am and I love you!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. – Ephesians 1:3-4
Me: Good afternoon Holy Spirit!
Holy Spirit: Good afternoon Jon!
Me: Every spiritual blessing seems pretty inclusive.
Holy Spirit: They include Me in you, as you are in Christ.
Me: That seems the zenith of all possible blessings, to be joined with You, Almighty, Omnipotent, and Holy, Holy, Holy!
Holy Spirit, I think of the many times I have heard teaching that God cannot look on sin. Some even explain that is why Jesus was said to ask why the Father had forsaken Him on the cross as He bore our transgressions and diseases (Matthew 27:46). This teaching that Jesus was expressing that He felt abandoned has always bothered me, but I can’t really mount a cogent argument against it, except that it seems so contrary to all of Jesus’ assertions of His unity with the Father. Plus, there are these passages that speak directly to Your nature on this matter:
The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8
… teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
Holy Spirit: I would remind you that We came to the garden for a walk with Adam and Eve after they disobeyed the one direction that they were given. Do not think that We did not know of their sin (Isaiah 46:10). The scripture also records Our conversation with Cain after he murdered his brother. As for Jesus, He was not abandoned by the Father, nor did He think so. Accusing words with that meaning would never cross his lips for that was not in His heart that day any more than it has been on any other day.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
He was quoting the beginning of Psalm 22. The passage was well known to those around Him. He was reinforcing that He is the Messiah. Think of His disciples dismayed and dispirited, thinking this was the end of the promises He made and their relationship with Him. Read Psalm 22, and you will clearly see. Those too blind to see, misinterpreted His words at the time (Matthew 27:47). His words were directed to those not too blind, who would be drawn to understanding that this His crucifixion was the very fulfillment of the graphic prophecy written in the Psalm.
Finally, He was raised in power on the third day. Not what you would expect of one who had lost faith in the Father, even momentarily, at the end of breath.
Me: Thank You Holy Spirit! That helps a lot!
Jesus told the rich young ruler that there is none good, except God alone (Mark 10:18). The the verse in Ephesians says we ‘would be holy and blameless before Him’, when does ‘would be’ mean?
Holy Spirit: 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) Why do you suppose that verse includes the word ‘prove’?
Me: From Merriam-Webster: Prove (some aspect of every sense applies)
When I design a new electronic system, I have it subjected to a whole suite of tests to “prove” that it performs as required in all foreseeable circumstances and environments in which it is intended to be used. I watch its behavior under all the stresses to which it is subjected. Until all that testing is accomplished, there is a risk that I only think I have a robust design that will perform the functions it was designed for, when it is called upon.
Holy Spirit: In other words, you prove by testing that your work is not flawed and there is therefore a firm basis to place faith in it.
My work is perfect. It includes my design of you – in My image – and like the things you design, the things I Am giving you to do.
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
My image is like My design requirements for you. The difference in you and your electronic device, is that I have also given you free will because My will is unfettered by anything but My own choice. You therefore have the ability to embrace My design and provision (and Truth) or to ignore My guidance and go off in a way that seems right to you. If you do go your own way, it is the equivalent of your device being proved not to conform to the design requirements, and requiring correction to cause it to conform.
There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25)
“[I]n Christ” is key. Ephesians 1 verses three and four each say it once, as does Ephesians 2:10. Consider how often Jesus, as your example, stated His unity with the Father: John 10:30, 14:7, 14:9, 17:21 and 17:23. And, there is this verse in Colossians 3:14 explaining the power behind how this works:
Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. I Am Here to help you. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16
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
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
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
ABBA: Good morning
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
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
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
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
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!
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?
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.
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
“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
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.
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.
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.
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!