Who am I In Christ?

I am You are

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lie.  I am not good enough.

The Truth.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:14  “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

The Lie.  I am unable to go on.

The Truth.  You can do everything through Christ who gives you strength.

Philippians 4:13  “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”

The Lie.  I am hopelessly flawed.

The Truth.  You are a new creation in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

The Lie.  I am not wanted.

TheTruth.  You are chosen by God.

I Peter 2:9 ” But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

The Lie.  I am not loved.

The Truth.  You are delighted in and sung over by God.

Zephaniah 3:17  ” The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

The Lie.   I can’t do anything.

TheTruth.  You are gifted by God to do good works.

2 Timothy 1:6   ” For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

The Lie.  I am not fit for anything.

The Truth.  You are Christ’s ambassador.

2 Corinthians 5:20  “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.”

The Lie.   I am not valued.

TheTruth.  You are of infinite worth.

Luke 12:7  ” Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

You are fearfully and wonderfully made!

You can do everything through Christ who gives you strength!

You are a new creation in Christ!

You are chosen by God!

You are delighted in and sung over by God!

You are gifted by God!

You are Christ’s ambassador!

You are of infinite worth!

 

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He Turned the Tables…Forever!

As Easter approaches and Spring is in full bloom in the hill country, I am reminded of the Lord’s sacrifice to bring me to God. God’s gift is for anyone who will receive it. His love for us is undeniable. His sacrifice for me is personal.

To Live is Christ

It’s Friday of Jesus’ final week.  Jesus is being crucified at Golgotha, The Place of the Skull.  Jesus was nailed to the cross at approximately nine in the morning.  It’s now three o’clock in the afternoon, it has been dark since noon, to fulfill the scripture in Amos 8:9  I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day ; and in Jeremiah 15:9, Her sun is gone down while it is yet day .  The darkness to signify that the Sun of righteousness was leaving this world and the Jewish nation would be in darkness; a sign from heaven that their eyes would be blinded.  At three o’clock in the afternoon, Jesus cries out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”   Matthew 27:46b.  The darkness further signifying the dark cloud of Jesus’…

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Is This Popular Saying Biblical?

You’ve heard it…I know you have. Some, not truly knowing, have thought it’s a verse in the Bible. But I promise you won’t find this phrase in the Bible because it doesn’t exist. What is that phrase?

God helps those who help themselves.

This phrase more recently has been attributed to Benjamin Franklin, who, by the way, was a Deist. A Deist is one who believes that while a supreme being did create the universe, that supreme being does not involve itself in human affairs. Therefore, miracles and special revelation (such as healing, the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus, and the inspiration of the Scriptures) don’t actually happen. The phrase, however; actually originated in ancient Greece as the moral to one of Aesop’s Fables, Hercules and the Waggoner.

Maybe, like me, you at one time believed or still believe this phrase. I mean, it sounds good on the outset…doesn’t it? It also seems to attest to our western culture work ethic. You know…”pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”

This phrase, however, is as far removed from the heart of God as is the enemy of our soul. It actually smacks in the face of God and says to Him “I don’t need You, I want to do it myself” and “I’ve got this, I don’t need your assistance God.” If anything, these statements confess a heart that is full of self-dependence and self-reliance.

This is exactly what our first parents were thinking when they sinned in the Garden of Eden. They, in essence, said to God, “The snake (enemy of our soul) told me and I believed him, that you were holding out on me. That I actually should have received and deserve more than you gave me. That I should be just like you, God, having the same knowledge of good and evil and in control of my own life.   So, because I want to be independent of you and be my own god; I disobeyed you and bit into the fruit.” That, beloved, is the heart of fallen man that Jesus came to redeem. A desire deep down inside to be independent…to be the god of our own life…to shake our fist at God and tell Him “I don’t need you, I can do it myself.” It is the BIG lie. In reality, we are so dependent on God that we can’t even take a breath without Him. He supplies the very air we breathe. God created us to live wholly for Him…that is His plan.

Beloved, God works through our choices and the exercise of our will. He doesn’t push Himself on us, however, he does pursue us. It is the nature of our faith walk to ask in prayer. As a child, dependent on the love and trust of his or her parents, asks. God is eager…eager to give us what we need when we ask. Jesus said, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:11)

Why does God require that we ask Him? Because asking reveals evidence of our faith and dependence on Him; entrusting Him to provide for our every need. “And without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Heb. 11:6) Faith is pleasing to Him and the action of faith is on-going day-in and day-out trust in Him. It creates a bond of oneness which the Father desires. This oneness which was first exhibited between the Son and the Father is expressed in Jesus’ prayer in John, in which Jesus prays for His disciples and those who would come to know Him through them. Jesus prays for this same oneness with those the Father gives to Him. “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name–the name you gave me–so that they may be one as we are one…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:11b, 21, 22-23)

Jesus was so dependent on the Father that every word He said was coming directly from the heart of the Father. Jesus said “I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” (John 6:26b) Jesus also said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 15:9)

What are some ways we exhibit our independence from God? One way is when we attempt to prove God’s priorities. We say to ourselves, “God is too busy. Why should I bother him with my little daily nuisances when he’s busy helping people with big problems and those who are very ill? Surely, He expects me to deal with these things on my own.” We may also think, “I have gotten so far away from God, what’s the point? With all the sin in my life, why would God listen to me?” Here’s the misconception in that thinking. You have minimized your own pain to your own peril. You miss a perfect opportunity to humbly come to Him and say “Please help me, have mercy!” It can also develop into the beginning of a habit of creating your own world apart from God…independently and defiantly going your own way.

God won’t help those who help themselves because those who do are too busy doing to receive His power and His help. Jesus said, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) However, so often we continue to prod along on our own and then wonder why we don’t experience His power in our life.

How is His power perfected in us? His power is made perfect in our weakness. The Apostle Paul was given a taste of heaven and to keep him from becoming conceited regarding this revelation from God, a thorn in the flesh (we are not told what it was) was given to him. He asked that it be taken away, but Jesus said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (Paul continues) Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:9-10) Paul delighted in difficulties and other hardships, so that he would remain weak and therefore, Christ’s power would be strong in him.

Beloved, the truth is God doesn’t help those who help themselves; God helps the helpless and His power is perfected in our weakness.

Boasting in Weaknesses

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ‘s power may rest on me. 2 Cor. 12:9

Paul boasts in weaknesses (not sinful weaknesses) but in limitations, illnesses, distresses, or circumstantial adversities. Why does Paul boast in these afflictions? Paul knew that it is not human achievements that showcase the grace of God…it is human helplessness. This is the Christian paradox. When we are weak in ourselves, we then reach out to Christ and are provided His strength and divine grace. God has given us our weaknesses for our joy. What do I mean? Because the more aware I am of God’s grace, the more humble, prayerful, thankful, patient, gracious, content, and joyful I will be. That’s exactly where I desire to be.

Weaknesses are there to display most clearly the grace and strength of God.

Does X-MAS Take Christ Out of Christmas?

We see the X as we would see it in the English language, such as in an equation representing an unknown quantity or as in x-rated, representing an obscene movie rating.

On the surface, it may appear that Christ is being taken out of Christmas, but is this what is really going on?

Symbols from the early church

The early Christians used the symbol of a fish when persecution was great by the Romans.  This symbol was an acronym for the Greek word for fish, ichthus.   Early Christians wrote this symbol on the ground when they met someone they didn’t know to discover if the person was Christian.  Now the ichthus is the universal symbol for Christendom.

When we see the X we think of the English letter, but in actuality it is the first letter of the Greek word for Christ, Christos.  Which is transliterated into our English alphabet as X. So, the X has come through the history of the church to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ.

The intention of the X

There is a long history of Christians using the symbol X for Christ.  Just as the early Christians used the fish symbol to distinguish other Christians, so there is no disrespect intended in using the X in Xmas.  X = Christos (Greek word for Christ)

He Turned the Tables…Forever!

It’s Friday of Jesus’ final week.  Jesus is being crucified at Golgotha, The Place of the Skull.  Jesus was nailed to the cross at approximately nine in the morning.  It’s now three o’clock in the afternoon, it has been dark since noon, to fulfill the scripture in Amos 8:9  I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day; and in Jeremiah 15:9, Her sun is gone down while it is yet day.  The darkness to signify that the Sun of righteousness was leaving this world and the Jewish nation would be in darkness; a sign from heaven that their eyes would be blinded.  At three o’clock in the afternoon, Jesus cries out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  Matthew 27:46b.  The darkness further signifying the dark cloud of Jesus’ soul as he himself was the offering for sin, the sacrificial lamb.  It also signified the withdrawing of the light of God’s countenance as Jesus took on the sins of the world.

After Jesus cried out and breathed his last breath, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  The splitting of the curtain signifies the destruction of the nation and church of Israel and the entering in of the new and living way into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Christ.  No longer will the High Priest, from the Levitical priesthood, come into the Holy of Holies once a year to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people with blood that is not his own but with the blood of animals.  Christ is now our High Priest, in the order of Melchizedek, who’s own blood was shed as the only eternal, acceptable sacrifice and sprinkled on the Holy of Holies in heaven and therefore he is able to continually intercede for those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose. Hallelujah!

In the temple area in Jerusalem, the Court of the Gentiles is several acres on the outer most part of the temple area.  This is the designated area for gentiles from all nations to come worship and pray.  Just a few days before, Jesus had come into the temple area in Jerusalem and overturned the tables of the money changers.  These passages of scripture are given the most prominence in regard to the anger of Jesus to the greed and dishonesty of the money changers and people selling animals for sacrifice that filled the Court of the Gentiles.  Furthermore, any gentile who wanted to come into the Court of the Gentiles to pray had a difficult time doing so because they were crowded out by all the vendors selling animals and the money changers that were making exorbitant fees.  Jesus comes into the Court of the Gentiles and literally “turns the tables.”  The Jewish leadership had allowed the sanctity of God’s temple to be robbed.  Allowing the merchants and money changers into the temple area showed the Jewish leadership’s lack of dedication to God and the true purpose of the temple.  Further, it also showed Israel’s lack of respect for people of every nation to come worship and pray.  What Jesus did by turning the tables, in a sense, displays what was getting ready to happen in a few short days.  Similarly, in the book of Esther, God “turned the tables” for the Jewish people displaying the greatest turnaround on the grandest of scales.  Christ will, likewise, be turning the tables for all peoples from every tribe and nation.

So often, when Jesus spoke, He would speak of future realities in the present tense.  One example is when Jesus spoke of the signs of the end of the age.  In Matthew 24:15 “So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel”  Surely, the disciples must have marveled at what Jesus was saying and wondered when this event would happen in their life time.

As finite beings that think sequentially because of our restriction to time and space, we exist in past, present and future tenses.  However, this is not true for God.  God is eternal, transcendent and above time and space.  God is the eternal present tense.  He is the eternal present tense in our past, present and future.  So, when Jesus tells the disciples of these events,  He is speaking of our future reality in His eternal present tense.

In the present, Jesus shows his anger toward the money changers crowding in the Court of the Gentiles and preventing the gentiles from worship and prayer.  In the future, Jesus displays through this act that the former way of temple worship will be no more.  The promise of that future reality was signed and sealed when Jesus breathed his last breath on the cross and the curtain was torn in two from top to bottom.  The gentiles from the outer court of the temple area will, in a sense, be able to run right into the temple, past the The Holy Place and into the The Most Holy Place to the alter of God.  This is reason for praise and worship.

How am I to respond to this wondrous news?  Don’t stand around and dawdle in the Court of the Gentiles, run…don’t walk…run through the temple to the Holy of Holies to the alter of God.  Jesus has secured our future.  He was forsaken by the Father so that we wouldn’t be forsaken.

Have you been lukewarm in your relationship with the Lord?  Have you been half-hearted in your approach to the things of God?  Today is the day to turn it all around.  Jesus has already turned the tables for you.  All you have to do is turn to Him.

Further consideration:  If you would like information on what your next step should be in seeking God, please leave a comment or send a question on my comment page. 

The Promises of Spring

Spring is the seasonal reminder that God is always ready to renew ones life from the pit.  He desires to create in you and I a “new heart.”

Spring awakens me to the beauty of His creation after a season of chilly, and sometimes freezing, days and nights with trees stripped of their beauty and brown grass patiently waiting to be renewed.

Spring reminds me that as the seasons of nature run their course so does my life.  I am thankful for the reminder that a season of sorrow will open up to a season of joy as I keep my eyes on Him.

Spring brings in the warmth of air and brightness of day that warms me through body and soul and inspires new possibilities.

Spring serves to remind us that Christ is the creator and that everything has been created by Him, for Him and through Him.

Spring serves to remind us that He is our very life!  We are all walking corpses until God creates that miracle of new birth in us.  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:4

May the coming of Spring stir in your heart renewal, rebirth and new beginnings!