“The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. – 1 John 4:15-16
Ever ask yourself, “Why did I ever do that”? Jeremiah 17:9 gets right at the heart of the matter; more deceitful than all else and desperately sick. The link above will take you to the biblehub.com entry for that verse, where you can discover that the phrase “desperately sick” could be rendered “incurable”. That diagnosis would seem to paint us into the proverbial corner, wouldn’t it? How is one going to make good on well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions if one’s “decider” is broken with an incurable spiritual ailment?
The good news is that we are offered a spiritual heart transplant. Really, give that new heart free reign, and it can permeate the entire being, transforming and renewing everything!
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
That sure sounds like good news to me! If you haven’t made that decision yet, I pray you will put it at the top of your list and not put it off any longer.
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 for
the fascinating uniqueness of every person. You, our Creator, are
I Am … A new
2 Corinthians 5:17
is the fifth entry on Christy Mitropolous’ artwork.)
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Me: Good morning
Jesus: Good morning
Me: I want to ask a
Me: I was grumpy and
surly last night. Even working outside on a gorgeous spring evening,
I seemed incapable of proper appreciation.
Jesus: You were
preoccupied with comparing your performance at work against your
perception of the many demands on your time. You scarcely notice the
extra-special sunset I created. Have you thought about why having
more to do than you can focus on causes you stress? One of the people
you met with yesterday about the likely impact of changes to an
electronic controller published an email naming you an expert on the
subject at hand.
Me: The guy who
actually made the changes was out sick. I knew the details because he
reports to me and had graciously kept me involved because he
recognized the stakes were high, business wise. But to your question,
I feel like a juggler who is struggling to keep all the balls in the
air. The last act of my day at work was fielding a question from my
manager, who asked me something I had not had time to study. I had no
Jesus: When I was
“in the flesh”, so to speak, I answered such a question, about
the consummation of all things.
I said, “But about
that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the
Son, but only the Father”. Mark 13:32
My point is, there
are things it is not up to you to know. Or do.
I am glad that you
recognized your attitude was not right yesterday and then brought it
to Me. If your peace is disturbed, it is a red flag that something in
your beliefs is not founded on the truth that I Am in control and
that I Am willing to guide you through. You have a tendency to think
“new creation” implies final perfection. What it means is
because the power of sin is broken in Me, there is the possibility. A
baby is a new creation, who has a lifetime of learning and
development ahead following the process of becoming
(v21) what he is created to be.
I am grateful for more Spring-like weather! Time to rake the gravel out of the grass from plowing the driveway last Winter!
The fourth statement
on Christy Mitropoulous’ artwork is:
I AM – A slave to
righteousness. Romans 6:18
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Me: Good evening
Jesus: Good evening
Me: My wife reminded me of Jim Richards’ definition of righteousness, as living the way things ought to be (I’m paraphrasing).
Jesus: When you were
living the way you thought things ought to be, you were not
righteous. Finding out My definition of the way things ought to be
and living according to that in the power of the Spirit is the way to
be free from enslavement to sin.
Me: I have had large
swaths of my life when I agreed your way was right, but still did not
or could not follow it.
Jesus: Yes, mere
agreement will not suffice to transform your life. What was the word
Paul used as an indicator?
Jesus: The proof is
in the outcome. Obedience is a verb. Agreement is a position.
Change requires action. Obedience in your own strength is works, and
as you know from experience, you will ultimately fail. Obedience
operating in My strength, in the grace I have extended to you, is
key; I will never fail you.
The other day, in a
meeting with friends, you observed that the trajectory of your life
had gone from a steady downward spiral to one that was consistently
upward. There are many ways to describe the divide Paul is speaking
of in this passage. It all comes down to this: will you walk with Me,
or not? Many think this means asking Me to walk with them. That is
not the way to freedom either.
For sin shall not
be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Me: Good afternoon
Holy Spirit: Good
Me: This third statement on Christy Mitropoulous’ artwork is one that my natural mind resists as presumptuous. It says, “Hey, wait a minute! I (insert reference to last bad attitude or hurtful thing I did here) and I clearly miss the mark of God’s best regularly.” I therefore have to get hold of those thoughts and compare them closely against the message of the gospel to bring them into subjection to the truth.
Holy Spirit: That is
certainly one aspect of the necessary work of correcting things you
have come to believe that are just not true. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
says, For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to
the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but
divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are
destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the
knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the
obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience,
whenever your obedience is complete.
some things about this passage:
Every thought matters.
The notion that only what you do outwardly matters is as false as
false can be. (See Matthew 15:19 or Mark 7:21)
Men’s ideas are one of the things that stand against true
knowledge of God.
Men are proud of these ideas.
Getting your thinking straightened out is a war.
It is a desperate struggle.
Life and death are at stake.
I Am providing the power you need to break the strongholds of wrong
It is My power, the power that created the cosmos and all its
Correction takes time.
Not because I have yet to provide a way, but because of your
ability to apply yourself to the process, to do battle in your
spirit and reconcile yourself to the truth.
I remember that word “master” also came up with regard to sin in
the early chapters of Genesis.
Spirit: Yes. Cain had some trouble with his thinking. He did not
master it, and he killed his brother Able while he was still
operating in self-centered anger.
4:7 “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And
if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire
is for you, but you must master it.”
point of Romans 6:14 is that those who are in Christ because they
have accepted the salvation purchased by His death for their sin are
free from the power of sin. That is, sin’s power over them
is broken. There are many passages of scripture that attest to this.
Before we look at some of those, note the difference in the message
to Cain and the one to believers (after the cross).
To Cain – “you must master it.”
To believers – “sin shall not be master over you”
is the grace that has been extended to you.
1:29 — The next day he
saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who
takes away the sin of the world!
8:34 — Jesus answered
them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the
slave of sin.
6:23 — For the wages of
sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ
Jesus our Lord.
8:6-8 — For the mind
set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and
peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for
it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not
even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot
10:10 — for with the
heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the
mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
2:12-13 — So then, my
beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only,
but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear
and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and
to work for His good pleasure.
out your salvation with fear and trembling. Take this work
seriously. Think of a demolition expert working to diffuse a bomb;
he wants to get it right. Your life is at stake too. This passage
does not mean that the basis of your salvation is your works. The
basis of your salvation is the completed work of Christ. The work
this passage is referring to is the same work as 2 Corinthians 10:5;
the work of aligning your beliefs, and therefore your thoughts, and
then therefore your actions to the Truth, which is Christ. Neither
are you to attempt this on your own. I Am here to help you.
Thank You Holy Spirit! I love You!
Spirit: You are welcome! I love you! Here is some more help:
4:12 — For the word of
God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and
piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints
and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the
on how I Am providing guidance to sort out what you believe and how
that affects what you end up doing.
I am grateful for the many scripture verses attesting to the availability of a Spirit-filled life!
My wife recently bought this piece of inspirational artwork.
This is the second installment of a series of meditations about the message carried in this Christy Miropoulos’ piece. This second statement has a lot of scriptural backing. I’m therefore not going to editorialize.
I AM full of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:9 – However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
Matthew 3:11 “As
for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming
after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals;
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Matthew 10:20 For it
is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks
John 3:5 Jesus
answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water
and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
John 3:34 For He
whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit
John 6:63 It is the
Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I
have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
John 7:39 But this
He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to
receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet
John 14:16,17 I will
ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be
with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot
receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him
because He abides with you and will be in you.
John 15:26 “When
the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is
the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify
John 16:13 But when
He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth;
for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears,
He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
Acts 5:32 And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
[There are hundreds of references to the Holy Spirit in both the Old and New Testaments, beginning with His part in the Creation.]
You and I have a
choice to make every moment; follow our own desires, or the leading
of the Spirit. It’s life and death. Choose wisely.
My wife recently bought this piece of inspirational artwork.
This is the first of a series of meditations about the message it carries.
I am grateful to have You as my Father!
O Lord, You are my
God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have
worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness. –
The statement at the
top of this piece of Christy Mitropoulos’ artwork leaps out at you:
“I am a son of God”. At least it leaps out at me. It seems to
fall into the category of things that are hard to believe because of
pervasive self doubt. The notion of being a child of God
acknowledges Him as creator of all, of course. But it is more than
that. He created fish, gophers, and earthworms too. To my
understanding, none of them are known to be able to read the
scripture that man (the species) is made in Their image (Father, Son,
Spirit, Genesis 1:26). Jesus got in in big trouble with the religious
leaders for Calling God His Father out loud – in public, no less.
Who was He, they accused, to claim God as Father? In His days walking
around on the dirt, every first son was considered the heir, with all
the authority of the father, once he was “of age”. Those with
authority constantly questioned Him on the authority issue.
The verse that
Christy references is in Romans 8. It bears reading:
brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live
according to the flesh — 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. For all who are being led by
the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 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!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit
that we are children of God, 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. Romans 8:12-17
Do not call anyone
on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
Truly I say to
you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will
not enter it at all.” Mark 10:15
You and I have a
choice to make every moment; follow our own desires, or the leading
of the Spirit. It’s life and death. Choose wisely.