Liberty!

I am grateful for the gift of salvation, believing that You empower me to become more like You!

[For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Ephesians 2:8;

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. John 4:10;

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12]

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

from James 2

Me: Good evening, Jesus!

Jesus: Good evening, Jon!

Me: I have read this passage out of James 2, thinking that James felt that works were preeminent in the life of the believing. That works are evidence, – a litmus test – as it were, of the fidelity of a disciple’s walk in You. It seemed to me to be an outpouring of a lifelong adherence to Judaism as it was practiced by the Pharisees in Jame’s time.

Jesus: Do not miss the earlier unmistakable reference that James made in verse 12:

So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” Compare Galatians 5:1 to see what he was talking about:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

James is simply exhorting to consider carefully whether your faith is placed in Me, resulting in a changed heart and changed works or in some idol (self is a common one) resulting in nothing. This is worth constant attention: are you in Me and I in you? If you are, the works will follow of themselves, as Mine do also. In fact, the works that will flow out of your life will be mine. You may walk in them freely.

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. John 8:36

Me: Thank You Jesus! I love You!

Jesus: You are welcome! I love you!

Generations

I am grateful for Your mercy!

Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

Matthew 17:17

He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.

Mark 9:19

And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither.

Luke 9:41

Me: Good evening Jesus!

Jesus: Good evening, Jon!

Me: You know, Jesus, that last week I sat through another of those talks about improving one’s approach to the different attitudes and beliefs of the generations. It seems to me the basis of the books and lectures I have been exposed to is that every “generational cohort” has a set of more-or-less common experiences that shape outlooks.

Jesus: What did they say that resonated with you?

Me: I can certainly see a foundation for the notion that major life events could shape one’s thinking. I thought of my own upbringing during the cold war, complete with nonsensical duck and cover drills in grade school. Many in my generation developed fatalistic attitudes, not expecting to reach adulthood.

Jesus: Fatalistic attitudes are not limited to your generation. Why do you say the drills were nonsensical?

Me: A little later in life, when I had real NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) warfare training in the military, and had seen from close-in video records how the shockwave of a nuclear yield tosses everything in the air and then blows it away. I saw pictures of items further out etched on regular walls by the flash. I realized that ducking under a school desk with one’s hands on his head was really a kind of placebo, not a survival tactic.

Jesus: What did you find most eye opening from the presentation on generational interaction?

Me: One thing was hearing the defining anxiety for the latest generation getting to working age (gen-Z, I think) is fear of the consequences of global warming. That it would be incumbent upon employers to present their best “sustainable” face in order to attract and retain these workers because they had a need to feel they were “part of the solution rather than part of the problem”. Another thing was that at least part of the Millennial generation in the United States was strongly shaped by the events of September 11th, 2001.

I had just finished watching a documentary on the collapse of the Twin Towers and building 7 that brought up a lot of unanswered questions and asserted the discovery of residue of high tech thermite in the debris along with steel micro-spheres, which require molten steel to form. Those assertions (with many others) and those explanations that have commonly been put forth are at odds.

During the section in the presentation relating the different concerns shaping the various generations, It immediately occurred to me that no mater the generation, if these things were the defining events, they were all also highly politicized and the narratives that had been put forth were carefully constructed. They all bear the marks of propaganda designed to produce fear.

Jesus: Your observation about playing on fear is as accurate as it is intentional by those involved. Worse things are coming ahead of My return, nonetheless.

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

Luke 21:25-27

Yet those who listen to Me hear My admonition to fear not.

But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.

Luke 12:31-33

Perfect Love gets rid of fear.

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

And fear of any but Me is inconsistent with who I Am. To be made perfect in love is to grow in perfect relationship with Me. That is not of your own doing, but My gift, if you will accept it.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

1 John 4:8

Me: What about the influence of the parents on the next generation?

Jesus: I gave parents the responsibility for raising their children.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:

Deuteronomy 11:18-20

Most have vested this responsibility in stewards from whom they have required no accountability. Many have abdicated altogether. Your nation has adopted law pertaining to public schools contrary to My instructions in Deuteronomy 11 for parents. Much more often than parents know, their children are taught that the beliefs of their parents are outdated and wrong. So even if parents endeavor to teach My principles for life at home, they are being undermined in many cases.

I have given plenty of warning that the spiritual condition of parents has long-term consequences.

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

Exodus 20:5

Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Exodus 34:7

The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

Numbers 14:18

Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,

Deuteronomy 5:9

You know anger often comes in response to fear. Consider these instructions.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

Colossians 3:21

Me: The presenter of the talk on generational interactions said over and over that different beliefs and outlooks are not wrong and need to be embraced by the other generations, written into policy, and trained into the workforce. It seemed to me an assertion that moral relativism was fine. Just. Fine. Truth? What Pilate said…

Jesus: Here is a truth you can count on.

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Proverbs 14:12, 16:25

I want to talk to you about another passage that you have not recognized is related.

But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.

Matthew 11:16-17

Do you recognize the voice of the children of this generation? Saying to each other, “Fall into line with us. Do as we say is right and you will be accepted.”

“Peer pressure” and “Wokeness” are the order of the day. But I Am saying, “Listen to My voice! Set your heart on things above! Be filled with My Spirit! Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Matthew 7:12-14

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

Me: Thank You Jesus! I love You! I pray you will help me have the right attitudes.

Jesus: You are welcome! I Am working on your attitudes as you submit them to Me. I love you!

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Withered?

12 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:

13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.

14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;

16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.

17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.

19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.

20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.

21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.

22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

27 And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders,

28 And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?

29 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.

30 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.

31 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?

32 But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.

33 And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.

from Mark 11
Photo by Dave Meckler on Pexels.com

I sat with an acquaintance (who shall remain anonymous) this evening who was recounting one after another of the things he judged to be perpetually wrong in his life, voicing his anger toward this family member or that one, the failure of mental health people to help him, his various “diagnoses”, why others were to blame for Every. Single. Thing. I found only one thing he said that I agreed with: the failure of those working in the mental health profession to help him. The truth can set one free from all these maladies. Coping strategies are, at best, only learning to live with one’s demons. If one has been conditioned that error is truth and truth is error, well, the steering is going to be off. Neither mental health professionals, nor I, nor anyone else can force someone to walk in truth they have discounted. (Why that condition exists in this case is a long story.)

I did try to get this friend to agree to look at the passage in Mark 11, especially verses 23 & 24. If one has a mountain to move, what are his chances of success if he dissipates all his energy giving voice to his inadequacy and the impossibility of the task?

The passage talks about believing and not doubting. Doubting in this context is simply unbelief. Belief vs. unbelief. Verse 22 says “Have faith in God.” That is who we are talking about here. People who know God. This friend says he is in that category.

I am sure the fig tree in this passage serves as an object lesson for exactly how to have a withered life. (Hoping one would choose to avoid that end, of course.) Where is the wisdom in a man cursing his own existence? If one does so, while blaming God for not “fixing” it, what shall we do with that promise in verse 23 that says, “[H]e shall have whatsoever he saith”?

I have written extensively before about the value of lending one’s voice to the truth the scripture proclaims about the believer. That is, acknowledging who we are in Christ.

My unhappy and misguided friend is applying his energy rushing headlong in a diametrically-opposed direction. We would all still be on that path if we were unable or unwilling to believe Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin is sufficient. Something deep inside recognizes the truth that we deserve destruction, except we acknowledge the value He places in us. Redemption in Christ brings us into His glorious light, even from the deepest darkness.

Lord, please open my friend’s eyes, for things are possible with You which are impossible with men. I know also, that he is not alone. I know what it is like. I thank You for leading me away from cursing my own life with the lips you gave me to express gratitude and Your majesty, and to marvel at all You have made and continually sustain for our benefit. I pray these words might give guidance to any who need to find You and learn to say what You say. Blessing and not cursing.

Garden Trouble and the Cure

I am grateful to have the red-skin potatoes and new asparagus in the ground.

And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

Genesis 3:9

Me: Good evening, Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit: Good evening, Jon!

Me: I reckon the Father knew exactly where Adam was.

Holy Spirit: Far more precisely than Adam knew where Adam was. Did you wonder why sin caused Adam to “hide” though he had never hidden before, never experienced sin before, never even been harshly corrected? He was taught by Me. He communed with Me in all My fullness. That should be enough to convince you that knowledge, even knowing perfectly, is not a defense against the possibility of sin.

Me: Why did these new behaviors develop?

Holy Spirit: What was the tree that they had eaten of? The tree of the knowledge of good and evil:

And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 2:15-17

Also, what did the Father say at the end of His work on creation?

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Genesis 1:31

Consider that until Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying the one prohibition that was given (for their own good, and the good of all that would follow) there was no accomplished evil in the world to know? There was obviously some in the spiritual realm. They believed the deception of the serpent that God failed to have their best interest at heart. Sin entered the world though their choice to disobey. One of the most noticeable evils was the doubt that entered them about the nature and character of God. The effects of their sin that caused them to “hide” presented many facets. They did not want to admit to their sin. They did not want to see the Father, for they understood He knows all. At least they would have understood, except one of the fundamental processes of sin is the shifting of one’s focus to self. They were ashamed. That negative emotion had not existed before in the world. They were afraid. God had revealed the consequences beforehand, though they had never seen either physical or spiritual death and did not know what it might look like. Do you know, they did not immediately recognize the void where their spiritual connection to Me had been?

And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Genesis 3:10

Fear had not existed in the world up until then either. Not by any of its names: neither by dread, nor anxiety, worry, terror, fright, horror, alarm, panic, trepidation, agitation, consternation, dismay,distress, angst, unease, disease, apprehension, suspicion, distrust. You get the idea. There is plenty of it now.

Much later, Jesus would point out that this death was the aim of the evil one.

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

John 10:10

Their innocence was stolen, as was their peace, joy, and unfettered fellowship with Me. Death entered the creation. The “very good” perfection was destroyed.

However, Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

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:

John 1:12

You should understand from these statements about Jesus that this “destroying” is not the same in nature as the devil’s brand. It works by making it possible for each one to accept Jesus’ atonement for their sin and thereby choose to be saved from their sin and the attendant death and decay that had been operating.

Jesus works in the lives of those who choose Him at the heart level. He sends Me to guide into all truth. In Jesus walk on the earth, some expected a political movement to set things straight: oust the Romans, restore Israel to sovereignty. Jesus did not choose that method then. He does not choose it now. The devil is defeated in his schemes when a person chooses to follow Jesus, depends on His power, and resists the devil so that his temptations get no traction. One adoption at a time.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

James 4:7

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

2 Timothy 1:9-11

And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Hebrews 2:15

Me: Thank You Holy Spirit! I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love you!

Purple Iris with Dewdrops

Elect

Elect. There is a word that is prone to raise the dander of various Christ-believers and the very foundation upon which others choose to mark their position. I think I will go out on a limb and cite what I believe Jesus is saying to me about it through the scripture. Come along, if you dare. Even the mildly curious is welcome!

May I start with 1 Peter 2:6? My takeaway in a spiritual nutshell: Jesus, the I AM incarnate, is the elect. We are/may be elect only so far as we are in Him. Let us read the first ten verses of 1 Peter 2, placing our targeted verse in context.

1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

1 Peter 2:1-10

About verse 8, which most translations have as something similar to the KJV, the translation as “appointed” escapes me. I admit it. The Greek ἐτέθησαν thus translated is used one other time, in Acts 7:16 in Stephen’s account of Jacob and his being laid to rest.

If I were doing the translating (which I am clearly and admittedly unqualified to do), I would have leaned toward the last words in 1 Peter 2:8 being “to which they were set”. From which, I would have understood the meaning to be “set in their ways, or fixed in their understanding”, i.e. as the result of their stubbornly-held anti-Jesus belief. To me, this interpretation of verse 8 squares nicely with Jesus’ statement, “According to your faith be it unto you.” upon healing the blind (Matthew 9:29). It is ironic that one of the aims of King James in wanting his own translation of the Bible, is that it not be so… Calvinistic. I get the sentiment. Calvin was living in Geneva and heavily influenced early English translations.

https://biblehub.com/interlinear/1_peter/2-8.htm

I invite you to prowl around relating to this passage at Bible Hub for yourself. You too, can become an unqualified researcher of the Scripture in the original languages. If you are one who leans toward idolizing Calvin, I urge you to reconsider the merits of being known by any name than Christ’s. But, I digress.

In Titus 1:1-2 – Paul gives his own conversion as an example of election as of (according to) the saved-by-faith-in-Christ, thereby amplifying that election (ἐκλεκτῶν) is simply imputation of the elect nature of Jesus into the life of the believer by faith.

Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Titus 1:1-2

Let me say, as an aside, that godliness is not powerless man trying to act as God acts; rather, omnipotent God acting in the heart of yielded man.1

Luke 18 contains two parables I would like us to look at, dear reader. The first mentions the elect (v7) being quickly answered by God. Jesus, then asks the rhetorical question, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (v8). To me, this reinforces the link between faith in Jesus the Elect and our election by virtue of being in Him, if so we (choose to) be.

1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Luke 18:1-8

Isn’t it handy for a parable to open with a direct statement of the object lesson to be remembered?

The second parable is of the tax gatherer and Pharisee praying; Jesus is asking his hearers, “Who was justified?” Verse 9 explains (before the story) this parable is against those who are trusting in themselves and despising others. Seems to me this parable has a direct application to any who presume salvation because they are raised in a Christian home, a member of any particular denomination, or whatever human “election” criteria one can devise to view themselves as therefore “in”, while others are, by inference, “out”. Not different than an Israelite believing himself “in” by birthright as a “son of Abraham”.

9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Luke 18:9-14

There you have it. My understanding of election as intimate communion with Jesus, who is THE Elect. Thank you for reading to the end. Please do not saw off the limb I am now out on. I am only trying to help those who would draw closer to the Elect.

1 When I use the word “man” in the absence of a definite article, I imply neither sex, as this is the way the language has traditionally been used. I find the modern he/she/whatever approach clumsy and frankly, an affront to a right understanding of the creation by His Unmistaken Majesty. You may now visualize me dismounting my soapbox.

Ark

I am grateful for for the transforming power of Jesus. For left to our own way, we get something else:

God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Genesis 6:5

Me: Good evening Jesus!

Jesus: Good evening, Jon!

Me: I am also grateful we were able to make the trip to visit the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum with the grand kids last week. I pray they will continue to think about what they saw and let it soak in.

Jesus: It was a good investment in them.

Me: We are so very broken if we are not in communion with You. And now that we have Your saving grace and power available to us, I am saddened by how many choose their own way instead. I have had periods in my own life where I was choosing my own way – and suffering the negative consequences of those decisions – not as though I can stand in judgment from some lofty vantage point. It is as if the incredible sacrifice You made to save us is of no interest. I have friends whom I try to point to You, yet they continue to struggle with the consequences of bad choices. They may know a little about You, but they do not really know You. You remain just a character in the book, I suppose. I know myself how subtle errors in thinking (well, maybe not so subtle) can derail our ability to accept the intimacy you offer. We fail to take Romans 5:6 seriously: For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. We know we are sinful and imagine we have to clean ourselves up before we will become acceptable to You. Never mind that is You who enables any real change.

Jesus: I gave you a gift at the Ark Encounter last week, to be standing behind the Asian couple reading the display about there being no place for racism in Christianity. Did you see their delight at reading the message that all are descended from Adam, and from Noah and that the notion of race is a false construct?

Me: Yes! Thank You very much for that! The husband kept saying, “Makes sense!” They even turned to me and shared their joy at considering the truth of that fact, though I was a prefect stranger to them, in that moment they apparently felt the kinship and wanted to share their excitement! Because of their speech, I don’t think English was probably their first language. Yet the recognition of the truth was all over their faces!

Jesus: And at the Creation Museum you were standing next to the black woman who was looking at the display of brutal treatment that has accompanied slavery: shackles, pictures of awful scars from beatings, and separation of families on the auction block. Again, with the message that there is no place for such in Me. You could tell she was moved by the consideration of it. Did you know that she could tell the same about you?

Me: I wasn’t aware. I did say to her that it was clear why You called us to be one in You. How could it be that slavery has been excused? That mistreatment of others for any reason has been excused?

Jesus: I know you know this passage. It applies here.

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Proverbs 14:12, 16:25

Some justified slavery because the Bible speaks of slavery and because it has been prevalent down though history, they reasoned, being sovereign, I must have condoned it. They did not know Me, as you say. Nor did they believe me when I put the world into their power. Instead, men promptly began handing over their authority to the devil.

Me: Thank You for talking with Me Jesus! I love You! Thank You again for all the gifts!

Jesus: You are welcome! I love you!

Ark Encounter

Your Eyes

I am grateful for the day!

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Matthew 27:46

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

Psalm 22:1-2

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.

Hebrews 13:5-6, 8

Me: Good morning, Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit: Good morning, Jon!

Me: I have read, Holy Spirit, that Jesus was quoting Psalm 22 from the cross, to make it plain to his followers and the others around that they were seeing the prophecy detailed in that Psalm fulfilled. That seems to make some sense. I am unclear whether Jesus was truly wrestling with feeling forsaken, in the throes of unimaginable suffering and on the heels of his struggle to submit His 100% human will in the garden of Gethsemane not that long before.

Holy Spirit: He was tempted in like manner as all men. (Hebrews 2:18, 4:15)

Me: I recall from my reading of the prophet Habakkuk (chapter 1), a similar sense of dismay as to whether God would hear or look away because of sin:

The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.

O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!

Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.

Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.

Then the charge comes from God for the prophet to consider the Chaldeans through He would send judgment on Israel for their sin. He speaks of the terribleness of the judgment in great detail

Habakkuk 1:5-11

Finally, Habakkuk gets back to considering You; that You are pure and holy and the instrument of Your judgment is not:

Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.

Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?

And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them?

They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag: therefore they rejoice and are glad.

Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous.

Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations?

Habakkuk 1:12-17

Holy Spirit: And the object of judgment was not righteous either. Hence My judgment. Do not neglect that Jesus has borne all the judgment due you. You are under a new covenant. Jesus is your redeemer. Your part is to give your heart to Him and to allow Him to make it new. The choice is still yours. The power is God’s

Me: I am grateful for Your grace! I am grateful for Your provision! Thank You! I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love you!

Love: Power to Change the World!

Are you a believer in Jesus?

If so, here is a verse to challenge your status quo:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

John 14:12

Here a flat statement in the scripture of Jesus’ purpose:

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

1 John 3:8

Do you suppose Jesus’ works, spoken of in John 14:12, might be associated with His stated purpose? Can you imagine any aimless works of the perfect Son of God?

Do you want to know what the works of the devil look like? See Romans 1:18-32

How can we have the power to combat this evil onslaught?

Consider this – God is sovereign. By that, I mean that He is bound only by His own word and his own nature. He cannot violate His own nature or His word and still be the God described in the Bible. I do NOT mean, as some do, that the sovereignty of God decides everything. I believe He has given us free will. One reason is that love does not function under coercion. When the scripture says we are made in His image (Genesis 1:26), we might understand that God has free will and He made us after the same pattern. How might we know? The strongest scriptural evidence I can cite is 1 John 4:8, which says that God is love. That is, love is his very nature. I believe He gave us free will that we would not be precluded from relating to Him in love. However, we misused our free will and followed a twisted lie about Him instead of having faith in His perfection. This choice gave the devil access to the things we were given to rule over in the beginning (including our selves). Can you say “diabolical plan”? We continue to reinforce that capitulation every time we choose to operate in our “own” will, instead of God’s revealed will. (Matthew 7:21, 26:39) We all know from painful experience the difficulty in subjugating our stubborn self will.

But God… provided a solution to our dilemma. Jesus went to the cross and voluntarily bore the penalty of our sin. If we can accept the completeness of this selfless act and lay down our impotent self efforts, we can find freedom:

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

John 8:36

The power to operate in freedom comes from the indwelling Spirit of God, whom Jesus sent:

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

John 14:7

How can we know if the Spirit of God is indwelling and we have yielded to Him (rather than continuing to habitually yield to our “old man”)?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

Remember that free will? Here is some really good news:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

I believe 1 John 1:9 is talking about transgressions of the believer who has lapsed into “walking in the flesh” or the unregenerate part of our nature, instead of the part of us that is saved (the Spiritual part, look back at John 14:17). Further, we don’t have to contest the free will of others to defeat the works of the devil in ourselves! All it really takes is to recognize we are displaying traits in the list in Romans 1:18-32 and not the ones in Galatians 5:22-23. If we do, we can pray something like: “Father, I am walking in the flesh again and not in the power of Your Spirit. Thank You that Jesus has paid the price of His life to break that bondage! Please help me to consider myself dead to these things, but alive to your Spirit. I want to do that which is pleasing in Your sight!”

Do you want to make some real change in the world?

Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 18:19

Law and Unfailing Love

I am grateful for Your grace.

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.

Romans 8:1f

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: Thank You Holy Spirit! I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love you!

Conformed to Christ’s Sufferings?

I am grateful that Jesus endured such suffering on my behalf, taking on Himself the penalty that is justly due to me.

Colossians 1:24

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in [literally “of”] Christ’s afflictions. NASB

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: KJV

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. NIV

https://biblehub.com/interlinear/colossians/1-24.htm

Me: Good morning Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit: Good Morning Jon!

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!