In or Not?

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


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

 

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

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

 

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

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Gwinn MI Clock Tower
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End of Perfection

I have seen a limit to all perfection;
Your commandment is exceedingly broad. Psalms 119:96
Me:
Good morning Holy Spirit!
Holy Spirit:
Good morning Jon!
Me:
I have wondered about this verse in the Psalms.

Holy Spirit:
Do not neglect to consider that it is a line from a song; meant to be meditation-provoking, memory-aiding, and beautiful. Fluency in Hebrew would help somewhat with appreciating the beauty of the verse. But, as you have found, there are helps for considering what is behind the translation to English. The Psalm came through David. But you know that I was surely making the heart of the Father known in the heart of David. So this is more than a song reflecting the cleverness of David, it is a song given from the heart of God to enlighten the heart of man, especially those with Me in their hearts to aid in enjoyment. So, I will help you. Let’s paraphrase this verse!

Me and You:
Of the things that are made, that which I can see with my eyes, I can appreciate the unanswerable perfection of them. Everything is made to relate to every other thing; each particle of the cosmos depending on others of every kind and and affecting all in ways that I will probably never comprehend in this life. These are coalesced into every astounding thing in an array of great beauty and complexity and swirl and pull with strange and unimaginable forces. A lifetime is insufficient to consider all the magnificence of the things that God has spoken into existence and that You, Holy Spirit, have brooded over, and that Jesus has authority over. Even so, at the last, these things are temporary and the time of their physical existence is running out. Your Word, with its instructions and power and lessons and majesty, though, will never come to an end. Time cannot measure the extent of the perfection that has come by Your voice, eye has not seen nor can the mind of man even begin to encompass all that has been made known by You. Your heart is carried to me by contemplating these things with Your help and I come to understand that I am loved by You and am blessed by You in ways that are exceedingly broad, even unmeasurable.

Holy Spirit:
How is that?

Me:
Thank You! You are magnificent beyond understanding! I love You!

Holy Spirit:
You are welcome! I love you!

Not Roughshod

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. Romans 15:1-2

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Me:
Good morning Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
I need Your hope, Holy Spirit! In dealing with my brother, I am prone to expect only more of the same. More of the same that led to his state of homelessness, though we were paying his rent and utilities. I don’t know what Paul was talking about here. What did he mean to “bear the weaknesses of those without strength”? I plainly see my brothers physical impairments. How would one bear those weaknesses of his? Does paying his rent because he in not equipped to work qualify? That did not keep him from getting tossed out last June because of his actions and refusal to cooperate with his landlord about her demand that he stop running a cockroach breeding operation in her apartment; or his insistence in accommodating feral cats in a doors-always-open fashion. Once he was evicted, we didn’t even know where he was for more than six months. Six months including the punishing heat of summer and freezing cold of winter. When he called week before last because his car quit, he said he had been staying in an “unheated barn” and that he had to get out of there. After a couple of other calls, it came out that he was really staying in town in the metal building of an auto repair business. And, he said he had seen us “sneaking around” when we drove a thousand miles one way last June to try to help him. Now he says “he is dieing here” and doesn’t know what to do. I don’t doubt that is close to true. Yet he vehemently refuses to call his doctor, though that amazing man has continued to treat him in spite of enduring many curses to his face. He also rejects the many that are ministering to the homeless in various ways.

Well, You see what I mean. I need Your hope. And wisdom. The help given to him before only led to reinforcement of the hate toward me that our mother fed in him for her own inscrutable reasons. I can see the resentment because he can’t do for himself, though he is wired to be fiercely independent. I get that. I also know You wired me to be responsible. Please help me do that with the right attitude: in joy and not in guilt.

Holy Spirit:
I Am well aware of these things. You should not lose sight of the fact that he has survived six months with no contact from you whatsoever. It is Me that you need to be believing in, if you want all joy and peace. I have not given you an end-all answer for how to proceed because if I did, you would feel driven to embark on it in your own power. That is not a harsh criticism. I know the way you are formed in your inmost parts. I Am at work in this situation and you will be involved with Me one step at a time. As for your brother, strong motivation is necessary in order to get change in a stubborn heart. You would rescue immediately, if it were possible. Trust me when I tell you that would be counter-productive. Even the salvation that Jesus purchased for you, in His own blood, does not automatically cover you. You must recognize your need and repent of your wrongdoing and surrender your pride and consent by asking Him to bring you in. Though this is your greatest need, We do not run roughshod over your will.

Me:
Thank You Holy Spirit! I love you! I submit myself to Your plan, though I have not seen it yet. I will follow the steps that You reveal.

Holy Spirit:
You are welcome! I love you!

Courage Within from Above

And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Me:

Good morning Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit:

Good morning Jon!

Me:

Thank you for the reassurances that Your work involves giving courage to do that which You call me to do, even when the truth is unpopular and the enemy appears to make inroads of corruption into every life. We hear so many lies that we become accustomed to them. What a contrast to You unfaltering truth and to Your reliability!

Holy Spirit:

Consider this psalm: Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; This I know, that God is for me. Psalm 56:9 I Am listening for the cry of your heart. My help does not require you to foresee the plan or the method. If you seek Me for what I Am doing, and you run to wherever I show you that My banner is raised, there you will see the mighty hand of Jehovah Nissi, God your Banner. The battle is fierce and the enemy is ruthless and he misleads many after him, but My victory is assured and all who can find courage in Me will see triumph and will play a part even in snatching the perishing from the flames.

Me:

Oh, let me keep my eyes on the Lord and walk in confidence in You! Often the enemy reminds me how I fall short. Thank You that the strength required is Yours and not mine! In You I trust! Only you can get through to us when we are blinded by our willfulness. Only Your voice can penetrate our ears deafened by falsehood. I cannot count the times that You have spoken gently to me when I deserved only condemnation; when You have shown light into dark dungeons of fear in which I was bound. I treasure the freedom that is granted in Jesus! Thank You, Holy Spirit, for enabling a new life of liberty!

I love You!

Holy Spirit:

You are welcome! I love You!

The Spirit of Christmas Past

20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion,to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,”
declares the Lord.

21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 59)

Me:
Good morning Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
It never ceases to amaze me, Holy Spirit, the sight that You gave to the prophet Isaiah, concerning the coming of Jesus. Last night, we read dozens of passages in Isaiah for our traditional lesson and carol service. Some are almost like they were written at the same time as the Gospel of Luke, though I know they preceded the virgin birth by probably 700 years.

Holy Spirit:
What is seven hundred years to Me? I Am One who is eternal, without beginning and without end.

Me:
You are always amazing in all Your works! I think the thing that is hard to grasp is Isaiah’s willingness and ability to listen to You and to hear so faultlessly.

Holy Spirit:
That is the primary qualification of a prophet.

Me:
Still, I have the scriptures to test what I hear from You and all the New Testament and the benefit of the salvation wrought by Jesus on our behalf. Whereas, Isaiah was only looking forward to the incarnation.

Holy Spirit:
I Am not constrained by time. We have talked about how Jesus’ sacrifice is not constrained by time either. It is the fact that the words of the law and the prophets, which became the scriptures, point to the cross and the desire of God to save that enabled all who would seek and listen to prepare their hearts to receive. The apparent constraint of their lives being in time before the incarnation of the Christ is no hindrance. The true difficulty is lack of faith and an unwilling heart clinging to its sin.

Me:
Oh, Holy Spirit, there is so much that has been beyond me. Trying to grapple with the concept of time and Your freedom from it boggles my mind.

Holy Spirit:
That is why your salvation, and in fact, all your relationship with Us is based on faith and not on understanding. A child can love his mother before he is capable of understanding all that he will eventually come to know about her. Your relationship with Me is like that, and will remain so on this side of the grave. In the end, the limitations imposed on you by the ravages of sin will be swept away and you will know Me face to face.

Me:
I look forward to that, Holy Spirit. Yet, at the same time, I cannot shake the apprehension that accompanies contemplation of the end of my days. Is that a lack of faith?

Holy Spirit:
Do not worry about that. You only feel the sense of self-preservation that I built into all. It is primarily there to counter the evil whispers of the deceiver that either recklessness or suicide are answers to anything. As a woman is prepared for birth during the months of pregnancy, so those who are Mine are prepared for the end of their days, when it is time.

Me:
Then I thank You for being spared the struggles of some in that regard, and I ask You to shine Your light on them and fill them with the knowledge of Your majesty and their hearts with Your Joy! I love You! Thank You for speaking with Me! What a treasure this time is! What a great gift to know You and to be known by You!

Holy Spirit:
You are certainly welcome! This relationship with you is My desire and I place more value on it than you can know. I love you!

Delegated Authority – What will I do with it?

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government[a] will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government[a] and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. [Isaiah 9; [a] rule, dominion]

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. [Ephesians 1]

Me:
Good morning Father!
ABBA:
Good morning Jon!
Me:
I look forward to the fulfillment of Your plan! In our current governmental systems, we have nothing like unity or unending peace.
ABBA:
I have given among men the freedom to choose. When the times reach their fulfillment, all things will be brought into unity. In the mean time, you have the freedom to choose. All the things that are under your authority can, even today, be brought into unity under the Son.
Me:
What things are under my authority?
ABBA:
What you will believe. What you will do with the time alloted to you. What you will speak. What you will give. Whether you will follow My Word and heed My Spirit, and love my Son. Will you love others? Will you show compassion? Will you trust Me when others deny Me? The matters of your own heart and of your own mind, these are under your authority. Will you stand on the Truth or compromise for safety or convenience? In My Son, I have freely given you life in place of the wage of death that you had earned in sin. No one can take you out of My hand. Therefore, no one can take away the choices of what you decide to do under the authority that I have given you. In these things, under Jesus, in the Spirit, by My zeal for this plan of redemption, let your mind be transformed and let your spirit be renewed. In the world, lies abound, but they will be shown for what they are and will go the way of death to which they lead. My Word is Truth and it will never pass away. Stand on that foundation and you will never be shaken.
Me:
Thank You Father! When I consider Your Word and Your mighty promises, my confidence is renewed and joy rises in my heart! I love You!
ABBA:
You’re welcome! The joy is a gift for you to enjoy and to share. I love you!

The Power of God

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
Me:
Good evening Father!
ABBA:
Good evening Jon!
Me:
This scripture is pretty stark, Father. In twenty centuries, nothing much has changed except the list of idols has expanded.
ABBA:
Throughout twenty centuries of My patience, some have accepted My power through the gospel and have been saved from the due penalty of sin and have instead learned to love Me and to honor me as their creator and Father. The reason not much has changed in twenty centuries of degradation is that Satan is not creative, only I AM. Do you remember Abraham, knowing Lot was in Sodom, bargaining with Me about how many righteous would have to be found to save the city from destruction?
Me:
I do. It’s in Genesis 18, according to a search on Bible Gateway. I also know that Jesus told us that in Your eyes, none is righteous. (Romans 3:10)
ABBA:
He meant apart from accepting His offering for sin and becoming in Him, of course.
Me:
It is a great and majestic blessing that You have bestowed on us a way of escape!
ABBA:
That is My point about Abraham and Lot. I AM providing a way of escape, such as Lot took advantage of. Just as surely as in Sodom, that which has been dedicated to the profane will be destroyed by fire and ultimately will not continue.
Me:
What does it mean that Your righteousness is revealed from faith to faith?
ABBA:
It means that I have ordained that those, like you, who have faith in Me shall be the channel by which My revelation shall flow to those who are open enough to come to faith in Me themselves.
Me:
Who are these who are open enough? How can they be found?
ABBA:
By My Spirit. No heart is hidden from Me.
Me:
I feel inadequate as a convincer.
ABBA:
Not to worry. I AM making the Truth evident (v19). You only have to be a witness of the faith that you have. Do not expect those to whom you speak to suddenly have arrived at the abundant life. They only have to recognize the futility of their current path and desire to turn toward My call. The rest takes time. You yourself are still growing in Me.
Me:
That is a fact for which I am most grateful! I love You Father!
ABBA:
I love you, Jon!