Friday, December 15, 2017

Abiding in love (i.e., God)

1 John 4 (NASB)
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 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.

 This passage reminds me of the first part of John 15 (NASB), which is one of my favorite passages because we memorized it in college:
4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.

Of the word "abide" (μείνατε) in John 15, Thayer's Greek Lexicon interprets "to be kept, to remain", and in 1 John 4, "to continue to be present" or "to maintain unbroken fellowship, to persevere".  God has given us agency to choose our presence and the focus of our attention.  May my presence and focus be increasingly with Him.  We can choose to abide in his love by obeying his command to love.  (Love is both a noun and a verb.)  We seem to be leaky vessels, so we need God's love to overflow out of us so that we stay full of his love.

Father, thank you for your love.  Jesus, thank you for being the connecting point for me to God.  Holy Spirit, thank you for flowing through me.  I want to continue to be conscious of your presence and attentive to your fellowship.  May our conversation be unbroken today, and may I demonstrate an increasing conductivity of your love.  I love you, and I love being with you.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Permanence

Brandi and I have had the privilege of praying with Jill a couple of times this past week, and we continue to have faith for healing.  This situation reminds me of the spiritual battle that we face every day.  We are guaranteed victory because we are gaining more of God, and He is refining us to be pure and holy like Him.  We are becoming more and more substantial as we climb the mountain, as CS Lewis describes in The Great Divorce.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire."
Hebrews 12:28‭-‬29 NIV

We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat. ... For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
Hebrews 13:10, 14 NIV

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16‭-‬18 NIV

Father, though we begin this journey as combustible as wood, you are faithfully petrifying us with your self.  We are being transformed and preserved with your permanence.  As we consume the bread from your altar every day, we are nourished by your Word, the Lamb of God, the Manna from Heaven.  I want to walk in eternity now, revealing the reality and presence of your Kingdom the way that Jesus did.  Holy Spirit, I want to keep pace with you today.  I love you.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Conviction is a blessing

This morning, I felt convicted that I overreacted in an email a couple of days ago. I thanked the Holy Spirit for His conviction because I know that He is leading me on the path of righteousness. So I sent an email to apologize.

Rev 2 records Jesus giving a letter to each of four churches.  To three of them, He gives critique/rebuke.  This is actually a blessing, so that we can be aware and walk in righteousness.  

To three of the churches, Jesus points out the fight against Satan.  Our enemy is not flesh and blood, and he is stealthy.

To two of the churches, Jesus specifically rebukes sexual immorality and eating food sacrificed to idols.

Father, you are righteous. Jesus, thank you for your truth, and thank you for speaking to us.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence and correction to keep us on the path. I want to walk in obedience.  I love you.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

sonship and healing

John 10:31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?"  33 "We are not stoning you for any good work," they replied, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."  34 Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are "gods"'? 35 If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."

Previously, I assumed that Jesus was referring to all humans as "gods" because we are made in the image of God with the ability to be creative and rule over creation.  But in a sermon a couple of weeks ago, Pastor Mark of CityView in Lubbock explained that Jesus's reference to Psalm 82 was actually an indictment (Ps. 82:2) against the Pharisees because people in authority (Ps. 82:2,6-7) are supposed to represent God, which means that they should defend the weak and rescue the needy (Ps. 82:3-4).  Furthermore, in John 10:36-37, Jesus is basically saying that He is genuinely God's Son (and God Himself) because He accurately represented God by fulfilling the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 35:

Isaiah 35:3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
    steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
    "Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
    he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
    he will come to save you."
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
    and the mute tongue shout for joy.

Similarly, when John the Baptist send his followers to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah, Jesus answered that He was fulfilling Isaiah 35 and 61:

Matt. 11:2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?" 4 Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me."

I believe that, as a son of God, I should be representing God to other people, and miraculous healing is a great way to do that.  It is interesting to me that in the book of Hebrews, in the context of humbly receiving discipline as God's children, the author references Isaiah 35:3-6:

Heb. 12:12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

I think there is an aspect of the "now and not yet" mystery here.

Father, thank you for sending Jesus as your representative.  Jesus, thank you for taking our sins away, and thank you that by your stripes, we are healed.  Holy Spirit, help me live as an effective son of God today.  I love you.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

let us draw near

Several points have impressed me this time through Hebrews.  While the Melchizedek priesthood was established in the time of Abraham (before the law), Jesus was established as a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek "on oath" in the time of David (Psalm 110:4).  Jesus's priesthood is ultimate because He was both the priest and the sacrifice, atoning for our sins once and for all and reestablishing relationship with God.  The conclusion, then, is close relationship with Him:

Heb 10:19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

If The Way to God is now available, then why would I not want to go to Him?  Why would I allow my heart and mind to be distracted by any other thing?

Ironically, this is the point of my blog.  And yet, as of late, I have been delinquent because I have been "too busy".  

Father, thank you for making the way to reconnect with you.  Jesus, thank you for being The Way for every person in the world for all time.  Holy Spirit, thank you for leading me to The Way.  Please help me turn my heart to you and seek you even more.  I want to know you and walk with you daily.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

fire and oil

Heb. 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. ...
7 In speaking of the angels he says,
"He makes his angels spirits,
    and his servants flames of fire."
8 But about the Son he says,
"Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
    a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
    therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
    by anointing you with the oil of joy."

I feel like the focus of my attention is so quickly drawn to my task at hand.  Like a child playing hide-and-seek with his father and quickly becomes distracted with something else in the room and forgets that he is searching for his father.  I want to stand in wonder at Him. I want to enjoy worshiping Him.

I started reading When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy by John Piper, and it resonates with me.  Fundamentally, we are passive recipients of God's grace - like the wick of a candle set aflame.  (In contrast, religion is man's attempt to set himself on fire.)  Yet, also, in just as much a fundamental way, we are active agents with respect to enjoying His fire and pursuing more flame.

Father, help me enjoy searching you out and standing in awe of you.  Jesus, I am such a fragile wick, but I know that you are gentle and will not snuff out a sputtering flame.  Holy Spirit, would you give me a steady pour of the oil of joy to sustain your flame?   I love you.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Fighting the good fight?

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:6‭-‬7 NIV

Most of the time I feel spent.  Jesus came to serve and to give his life as a ransom.  The apostle Paul was poured out like a drink offering.  But where is my joy?  Maybe I'm fighting battles that are not eternally significant?  

Father, please let me know if I'm fighting in the right ring.  I'm recently realizing that I'm feeling burned out.  How do I catch my breath and refocus on you and your amazing love so that I'm fighting with you and not on my own strength.  Jesus, teach me how you kept going for the joy set before you.  Holy Spirit, I want to keep in step with you.  I love you.