Am I? Are You? #15

I Am… at peace with God. (Romans 5:1) And I am grateful for it.

Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Me: Good afternoon Father!

ABBA: Good afternoon Jon!

Me: This passage in Romans is one of those where You are obviously active in all of Your aspects, Father, Son, and Spirit.

ABBA: That is always so, for I Am One. Have you considered My wrath in verse nine? Let me tell you about that, as well. It is in light of my wrath that peace with Me is even worth mentioning.

My wrath speaks of My settled opposition to evil and all its out-workings. What does my word say Jesus’ mission was, as far as the devil?

Me: In 1 John 3:8, it says, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.”

ABBA: That is right, starting with death that is earned through sin.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10

You are called to that same purpose.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20

You see, many recognize their sinfulness and assume that mention of My wrath means I Am mad at them over it. I am not. Toward them, I am compassionate. My wrath is directed toward the evil that enslaves them and had doomed them to destruction. I sent My Son to bear their death-wage in their place, if only they will turn and accept the gift of peace with Me, purchased by His blood.

Me: Thank You for that explanation of Your wrath, Father! And thank You for Your unimaginable Gift! I love you!

ABBA: You are welcome! I love you!

Christy Mitropoulos Signature

Am I? Are You? #14

I Am… Accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:6

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, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world , that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. Ephesians 1:3-10

Before there was a single molecule of earth. Depending on how expansive one is willing to be with the word “world” [Greek κόσμου – kosmou], possibly before there was a single physical particle of anything, anywhere; we were chosen. I shared at some length in my last post the conversation I had with God the Father on the intriguing subject of predestination as an aspect of God knowing the end from the beginning, so I am not going to divert into that mystery here, other than to recognize again that the scripture is replete with these references that center around God being omniscient and eternal. Since we are bound in time (at least for now) and He is not, we presently have little concept of just how these things work.

The important thing for me to see, is that before there was any “there” there, God looked at my need to be rescued from the downward death-spiral of sin and disobedience and determined to save me by the sacrifice of the Son. The word “grace” in verse six also connotes that it is a free gift and contingent only upon my willingness to accept it. In other words, when Jesus uttered, “It is finished.” from the cross, there was no further action necessary from God’s side of things.

God is truly extravagant in His giving. Paul used the word “lavished”. Marvelous. Marvelous! Marvelous indeed! No wonder verse six mentions praise! I return for a moment to the words “He chose” in verse four. We are not accidental beneficiaries. No, we are adopted (verse five). I daresay any adoptive parent will attest that adoption is not a random-chance event; no one ever said, “then an adoption happened”.

One last thing. It says “in the beloved”. I am a first-born son, as far as my natural family goes. Like most first-born children, I was trained early in a performance-based sense of self. I need to lay this mindset down. I understand that intellectually now but it is deeply ingrained. Some might ask, “Just why do you need to abandon this sense of yourself”? The answer is precisely because in my self I cannot live up to the holy life that is being spoken of, life that is even capable of true communion with God. Only One has ever managed it. The real mystery is that He made a way for me to be “in” Him. That is the way of acceptance, the way of salvation, the way of communion, of joy, of peace, of adoption. Of love.

I Am the way… John 14:6

Am I? Are you? #8


I am grateful for Jesus’ sacrifice on my account!

I AM … Crucified with Christ. — Galatians 2:20

20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

Romans 8 highlights the importance of “putting to death the deeds of the body”:

12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

Just as Jesus wrestled with His upcoming crucifixion in the garden, so I have had to make peace with the process of “dying” to the things I want that are contrary to God’s will for me. Another way to identify many of the things that need to see death is to recognize those things that I desire that are not in my best interest. I don’t mean my shortsighted desires either. I mean not in my best interest in the sense of the total of this life and its continuation after I shuffle off of this mortal coil. God has my best interests at heart, just as he has yours. He is limited by nothing except His having opted to let us decide.

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. Luke 9:23

Please don’t think that this is one more exhortation to hitch up your pants and redouble your efforts to exercise greater willpower. There is one thing about the dead; they don’t expend more energy than the difference in their remaining temperature and that of their surroundings. This is about turning over your “chooser” to God. Jesus made this possible:

Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Heb 7:25

My wife and I make a regular practice of reminding ourselves of some of the traits of God by praying through them together. Jehovah M’kaddesh — God our sanctification — is one of those descriptions. This word M’kaddesh is a transliteration from Hebrew which is often rendered sanctification, meaning set apart for God, or made holy. Holy means without fault and wholly consistent. The word saint is derived from it. Note very clearly that this is one of God’s attributes and it is not energized by us. We’re supposed to be dying to the thing in question. Remember? So what’s the problem? Its His power, but our choice.

I’m leaving you with a link to a set of sermon notes on this attribute of God. They are not my notes, but those of the late Rev. Don Robinson. I have not explored more of this person’s writings, but I found this particular one a thorough-going explanation of the many times in scripture that this word comes up. He also makes it clear that this is a life-long pursuit. We have a long way to go, but infinite help.

http://www.brandonweb.com/sermons/sermonpages/leviticus3.htm

Christy Mitropoulos Signature

Am I? Are you? #7


Today, we celebrate Easter. I am grateful for the resurrection!

Note to the newcomer to this series. This is a set of meditations and conversations with God about the affirmations for the Christian found on the pictured piece of art by Christy Mitroupoulos.

I Am … The righteousness of God in Christ. — 2 Corinthians 5:21

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Me: Good morning Jesus!

Jesus: Good morning Jon!

Me: Talk about adding insult to injury! Since I have been made more aware of my own depravity, I have a hard time even imagining what it must have been like for You to know no sin – in the sense of personal experience – then to be made to be sin. My sin!

Jesus: The scripture tells you that it was not easy for me to reconcile my flesh to the task of taking on not only your sin and its deadly consequence, but that of all who will accept My salvation. (Luke 22:39-46)

Romans 10:8-10—But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

I want this to be clear to you; 2 Corinthians 5:21 is not talking about righteousness by the best definition of men (or your own definition). What does it say?

Me: It says Your righteousness.

Jesus: Are you there yet?

Me: Clearly not. Yet I have been taught that I need to have to have faith that I am becoming so, and that (eventually) the result is assured because of Your faithfulness. There is the assertion that this passage marks a momentous exchange: You taking on our sin and we taking on Your righteousness by faith. Some say, “God’s not finished with me yet.” But on the cross, You said, “It is finished.”

Jesus: The distinction is that you are, as a matter of position, hidden in Me (since you choose to be). —Colossians 3:3 It is as if you were called into court to answer for many offenses, some of which are capital crimes. Your guilt is not in question. The sentence is spelled out. Then I volunteer to submit to the penalty you are due in your place. This part is finished. I already served your death sentence.

Do not doubt that the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) Contrary to what the schools teach in your day, that everything living came to its present state through purely natural means over eons of time, with death at every turn; there was no death before sin. (Genesis 2:17) Things degenerated from there…

“… O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

—1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (First two sentences are quoted from Hosea 13 by Paul, recalling a lament by God over sin and recognizing that man was in trouble, as the law clearly points out, but now rejoicing at being rescued by Me. )

Having been freed, you still have the practical aspects of “becoming” My righteousness. There is a process of transformation which you know from walking in it.— Romans 12:2

Me: Thank you Jesus! I love You!

Jesus: You are welcome! I love you!

Christy Mitropoulos’ Artwork
Christy Mitropoulos Signature

Am I? Are you? #6


I am grateful for having made Eric’s acquaintance.

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

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

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

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

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

Romans 8:31-39

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

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

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

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

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

Christy Mitropoulos Signature

Power of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me: Good evening Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit: Good evening Jon!

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

Holy Spirit: You are welcome!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding

I am grateful for peace with You! I am grateful that You were pleased to go to such extraordinary lengths to bring peace between You and all of us. The most extraordinary lengths that have ever been extended at any time!

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. – Luke 2:10-16

Me:
Good morning Jesus!

Jesus:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
The angels said to the shepherds, “… you will find”. Did they have to search many animal shelters in Bethlehem? Did they have to poke around the ox and donkey lots of strangers? Were they risking being accused of being thieves, creeping around in the dark?

Jesus:
I cried for them when they came by. The other shelters were silent.

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

Me:
Thank You Jesus! I love You!

Jesus:
You are welcome! I love you!