“A Match Made In Heaven”

TEXT:  Ephesians Chapter  One.

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“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  [4] For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love [5] He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will”  (Ephesians 1:3-5 NIV).

[*NOTE: Capitalizations–“He”, “Him”, “His”–are inserted by this writer out of respect for God’s Majesty.  The original text in the NIV Bible doesn’t capitalize].

 

FIRST of all, this study is NOT about Calvinism or Arminianism doctrines.  It IS a study on BLESSINGS:

BLESSING #1.  God pursued us in the past–called ELECTION and…

BLESSING #2.  He makes us family in the present–called ADOPTION.

BLESSING #3.  GOD will make us COMPLETE in the future–called UNIFICATION.

I could end this blog right here…but I won’t, for there is so much more to learn from Scripture.  My hope is by the end of this study, you will grasp the LOVE of God has for you and the beauty of this BLESSING regarding ELECTION or CHOICE.

WHAT IS “ELECTION”?

The Greek New Testament, the word is eklegomai – “CHOOSE” [See Footnote [i] ].   In the context of DIVINE ELECTION, God is said to “choose” His people – (Mark 13:20; Acts 13:17; 15:7; and of course, here in Ephesians 1:4).

In Ephesians 1:4, Paul begins with “Long ago, even before he made the world…”- long before anything at all was made, God was there–this was the ETERNITY before CREATION.

God was completely sufficient and not needing anything.  But before CREATION, God did something–He thought about you and me with a PURPOSE in His mind.  This PURPOSE included JESUS and us – It says “God LOVED us and CHOSE us in Christ  Jesus…”

This CHOOSING of us by God is called ELECTION, based on “A Match Made In Heaven”. After 50 years of marriage, my wife and I can look back at all the naysayers, the trials, the disappointments along the way, and truly say our marriage was “a match made in heaven!” 

In Eternity–Before time began…

A MATCH was made in heaven where God Almighty matched us together with JESUS in His mind!  He did this because His LOVE–He specifically and purposefully CHOSE you, He chose me.

IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVE!

There are some arguments about where the concept of LOVE belongs in verse 4 of the text; actually three different arguments.  But I like the New Living Translation (NLT) talking about God CHOOSING US in relation to His LOVE–and nothing else:

“Even before he made the world, God LOVED us and CHOSE us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”

THE FIRST TRUTH–That God’s LOVE should revolutionize and transform the Christian life.

MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS IMPORTANT TO HIM:

God CHOSE to have a relationship with you–GOD CHOSE YOU!  You were important to Him!  Take a second and PRAISE GOD, right where you are, for that!

We were like a puppy at the local Animal Shelter.  But you know what?  God didn’t need to choose you.  There’re others far more eloquent than you and me–more compassionate–more holy than us that He could have chosen for His service in our place.

But God, who looks out over all of humanity, knows every skill, every weakness, knows every sin and every part of goodness in every person, and out of all those CHOICES, He decided to CHOOSE you and me.

And notice that Paul wrote “God chose us” – It’s NOT about me being chosen (focused on PRIDE)–It’s about God CHOOSING me (focused on humility).

But in LOVE to God and humility, I can say, if you are a CHRISTIAN, you are God’s CHOSEN–His ELECT.

The Concept of Election…

The idea of “ELECTION” plays against what we’ve always thought.  We think that WE need to pursue our relationship with God!  CHRISTIANS DON’T NEED TO PURSUE GOD – He has already pursued you, chosen you, and developed a relationship with you.  The fact is, it’s not all about PURSUIT, but about OBEDIENCE to the call.

In Tommy Tenney’s popular book, The God Catchers:  “God doesn’t hide Himself from you so that He can’t be found; He hides Himself from you so that He can be found”  (page 11).

Your RELATIONSHIP with God is more important to Him than it is to you by a long shot–considering all that He has done in advance through Christ to establish it.  What we need to do is let HIM continue to RELATE to you.

Don’t insult God by acting as if you bother Him, or a nuisance,  or you annoy Him.  He went to great LENGTHS to make you His ELECT, His CHOSEN.  You have the relationship–start honoring God today by letting Him take back control of the relationship.  TALK TO HIM and let Him talk to you…to guide and to love you.

God pursues US!

See, you might not have known this before, and so before…when you WORSHIPED unenthusiastically; before… when you PRAYED, timid and shy; before… when you read your Bible and you didn’t expect anything…that’s where I found myself years ago, so I know…but NOT ANYMORE!

Forget that stuff that’s behind!  Now you know that when you come into the PRESENCE OF GOD, He says “MY CHOSEN ONE!  I have sought you.  I have bought you with the blood of the LAMB.  Come on in!”

But there is more– The “BLESSING OF ELECTION” (Ephesians 1:4):

“God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes”

In the Amplified Bible, it reads “He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ…that we should be HOLY and BLAMELESS”

The words “HOLY” and “BLAMELESS” are two important terms in the BLESSING OF ELECTION–

The first term is “HOLY”:

Back in verse one, Paul addressed this letter “to the saints (the consecrated, set-apart ones).”  If something is set-apart, it’s made “HOLY.”    VERSE 1 and VERSE 4 uses the same Greek word – “hagios” – holy [Footnote [ii] ].

GOD’S LOVE TRANSFORMS OUR LIVES–

God made you HOLY, and HOLINESS is being set-apart for God’s use.  In other words, if you are a “true believer” in Christ, God CHOSE you from the beginning of time so He could USE you today!  God doesn’t just set something apart so it can sit and collect dust.  He has a specific plan for our lives in Jesus’ name.

That idea doesn’t set well with some people–that God would have a different plan for your life than the one you’ve chosen–

“I don’t want to live in a jungle as a missionary!”

Or here’s a personal statement I made when my pastor approached me with a bible study for dementia/Alzheimer at a group home:  “I want to teach Lord, but not here!”  He had a different plan for my life, and full of many blessings.

The fact is, we don’t TRUST God with our lives.  If you’ve never seen that missionary movie, Edge of the Spear, you should.

But God made us HOLY so He could use you and make your life SIGNIFICANT for JESUS’ sake.  Our lives are important to God whether we believe it or not!

But there’s more! – God made us “HOLY” and…”BLAMELESS” in His sight–(without fault).

Paul is making reference to the requirements in the OT system; where lambs were sacrificed.  The SACRIFICIAL lambs represented Jesus Christ–the SINLESS, SPOTLESS Lamb of God who would be SACRIFICED for all of us.

Peter uses the same word:  “But  [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot”  (1 Peter 1:19 AMP).

FACTS DON’T LIE!

MY PURITY IS IMPORTANT TO GOD–

God considers you right where you are now, WITHOUT a blemish, not bearing the effects of sin, carrying no blame because you are “in Christ.”

JESUS paid for our sin on the cross.  If He hadn’t died…we wouldn’t be “blameless.”  But because He did, when we placed our TRUST in the cross of Christ, God looked at us and said “You are spotless.”  It ALL comes back to God making that possible in eternity past through His love.

But what a slap in the face we give God…when we willingly turn our backs and choose to live in sin–when we treat our BLAMELESSNESS dishonorably, sinning without so much as the beat of an eyelash.

Our PURITY is important to God–so important that He gave us the title of BLAMELESS in eternity past–before Genesis 1:1.

THE THREE BLESSINGS I FOUND IN EPHESIANS CHAPTER ONE:

ELECTION is the FIRST of Paul’s’ three blessings in Chapter One.  Or as I like to call it, “A Match Made In Heaven.”

It reveals the LOVE God had for me; it presents me with some truths about God that absolutely revolutionized my own spiritual life.

My RELATIONSHIP with God is important to him and…my life’s DIRECTION is important to my Father, while at the same time, my PURITY is important to God.

A Match Made In Heaven
A Match Made In Heaven

My POST has been directed primarily for those of us who have accepted JESUS as our Forgiver and Lord.  When we understand how BLESSED we are to have been chosen by God as HOLY and BLAMELESS through Jesus Christ, when we realize that our DESTINY is to be part of God’s family; when we comprehend that God has poured out all His grace into our lives; how can we help but humble ourselves before Him and give Him the PRAISE and GLORY!

But maybe after reading this message, you’re asking – “Am I really one of God’s chosen, ‘a match made in heaven’?  

I believe, if that’s your thoughts in asking, it’s the evidence that God is drawing you to Himself.  He’s been waiting for your decision.

SHARE your questions, your decision below in the comment section of this Blog and I’ll try to answer your questions.

 

Bible References: New International Version [NLT]; Amplified Bible; New Living Translation Bible [NLT].

Photo Credits:  Ephesians 1:4-5 – mazmagi.blogspot.com; Shutterstock.

Footnotes:  [i]; [ii] – Expository Dictionary Of Bible Words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Umbrella of “Goshen”

TEXT:  John 17:11-19 NAS TRANSLATION.

Jesus is praying to the Father in behalf of His disciples, saying  [11] “And I am no more in the world; and yet they themselves are IN the world, and I come to Thee, Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are.  [12] “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Thy name which Thou hast given Me; and I guarded them, and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.  [13] “But now I come to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy made full in themselves.  [14] “I have given them Thy word; and the world hated them, because they are not OF the world, even as I am not OF the world.  [15] “I do not ask Thee to take them OUT OF THE WORLD, but to keep them from the evil one.  [16] “They are NOT OF THE WORLD, even as I am not of the world.  [17] “SANCTIFY them in truth; Thy word is truth.  [18] “As Thou didst send Me into the world, I have also sent them into the world.  [19] “And for their sakes I sanctify MYSELF, THAT THEY THEMSELVES ALSO MAY BE SANCTIFIED IN TRUTH.” 

6307059684_4f7747965cTHE UMBRELLA’S PROTECTION:

Living in the Northwest of America, you almost get use to the weather.  Well, almost!  Although I keep an UMBRELLA in the trunk of my car, the old saying in this part of the land when seeing an umbrella is,  “The must be a tourist!”.  After all, you can’t live under the protection of an UMBRELLA all the time.  Or can you?

In John, notice what JESUS says in verse 15:

“My prayer is NOT that you take them out of the world…”  ~ John 17:15.

JESUS didn’t want the Father to lock us up in Fort Knox; gold protected by steel, concrete, bobbed-wire, security guards,  impenetrable to the outside world.

Back in the Old Testament…

GOD did provide the protection needed for the Israelites.  The Book of Genesis tells us God went to a great deal of trouble to send the people of Israel down to Egypt in the days of Joseph.  Granted there were 70 or so of them at the time, but once Jacob and his sons moved to Egypt, they were given a special land called “the land of Goshen.”  That’s where they lived for the next 430 years or so.

The Land of Goshen
The Land of Goshen

Isolation–

Israel was literally isolated from the rest of the world– sheltered, protected from the influence of paganism and the outside world.  They had limited contact with their Egyptian neighbors and hosts; Egyptians were vegetarians, where the Israelites were meat eaters.  GOD created a cultural barrier of the two people s.

Now GOD could have done the same with us today…

Once we’re BAPTIZED into Christ Jesus, GOD could have whisked us away to some isolated and exotic land.  Personally, I pick an island in the Caribbean.

It would be wonderful for GOD to just take us away from this world’s temptations and lusts.  To a tropical paradise where we would sing praises for the rest of our lives.

BUT, that’s NOT what GOD had in mind.  JESUS prayed that we would NOT be taken “out of this world.”

JESUS prayed that we NOT be physically ISOLATED from people around us.

As Christians, God intended us to LIVE IN this world…but NOT OF this world.  As Peter wrote that we are to live “as aliens and strangers in the world.”  (1 Peter 2:11).

God has entrusted a very SPECIAL MINISTRY once we’re SAVED!

We are to be “the salt of the earth”; “the light of the world”–

GOD saved us to represent Him as Christ’s Ambassadors right where we are.  But there is a danger in that.  We might become like our neighbors–WATCH THE SAME MOVIES; READ THE SAME BOOKS; LISTEN TO THE SAME MUSIC.

The DANGER for Christians…since we LIVE IN the world, we might become LIKE the world and think like the world.  The apostle Paul warns us in Ephesians 4:17-20:  

This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,  being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart,  and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.  But you did not learn Christ in this way.

So if that’s the DANGER and GOD isn’t going to isolate us from temptation, how does GOD protect us under His umbrella as JESUS prayed in John 17?

SANCTIFICATION: 

“SANCTIFICATION” is a $20 word meaning “being set apart”.

Examples:

When you are attending church, you might have recognized people sitting in the “sound booth”; they, are “sanctified.”  They are “set apart” from the rest of us.

When your pastor is up on the stage preaching…“sanctified” from the congregation; set apart.

Anyone who is SEPARATED from the rest of us is “SET APART” and are SANCTIFIED.

A Powerful Tool…

Now as simple as it sounds, God has given us SANCTIFICATION, as protection under His Umbrella.  It’s the setting ourselves apart from the rest of the world while living IN the world, allowing us to be God’s servants to those around us.

THE FREEDOM OF BEING A SERVANT:

Your car is a wonderful thing.

– It helps you to go to church,  the grocery store,  a friend’s house, or drive to the country.

Your vehicle gives you almost total freedom to go anywhere, do anything.  But driving a car can also be dangerous.  The force of your car running ahead on into a tree with speeds of 55 or 65 mph; having the effect on your body, as if you were to fall from a 6th or 7th story window to the ground.  I read that it’s not the fall that kills you…it’s the sudden stop.

Over the years, manufacturers have created protection for us from this kind of danger:  Seat belts, Air bags, Bumpers, designs of the chassis allowing the front of your car to absorb most of the impact.  You are literally encased in a metal box that contains all the aforementioned protections and that METAL BOX literally “sanctifies” you while you drive down the road.  You are SET APART from the rest of the world; you are IN the world, but not OF it while you are in the car.

That is what SANCTIFICATION does for us.  When GOD sanctifies us, He “sets us apart” from the dangers of the world.  And when GOD sanctifies us this way…we are FREE to live IN this world, but not OF it.

We’re not locked away in a closet somewhere…we’re not walled off from people around us that need to know the LOVE OF JESUS.  We are FREE to be GOD’s Ambassadors; Servants IN a lost and damaged world.

How Does GOD Sanctify Us?

Here are several ways I discovered where GOD accomplishes this:

—  We are “sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”  (Romans 15:16)

—  We are “sanctified in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Corinthians 1:2)

And when we become SAVED, we are added to His church that sets us apart–sanctifies us.

LIVING UNDER THE WORD UMBRELLA:

JESUS praying to the Father says in Verse 17:  “Sanctify them by the TRUTH; your word is truth.”  John 17:17.  The word TRUTH is found in your Bible and the Bible is God’s tool to help us to be set apart from the world.

Paul wrote,  “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope”  (Romans 15:4 NIV).

And he told Timothy:  “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.  So that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3:16, 17 NIV).

Thus, when we study and take-to-heart GOD’S WORD, His word IN us, teaches and gives us hope.  We become equipped for not just a few, but for every good work.

How can the Bible do all that?

JESUS tells us in the TEXT:  GOD’S WORD SANCTIFIES US….it PROTECTS US.

That was what David wrote about when he said:  “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee”  (Psalm 119:11 NAS).

And in Psalm 119:9, David wrote:  “How can a young man keep his way pure?  By keeping it according to Thy word.”

When we use God’s Word correctly, the Bible becomes a “sanctifying umbrella” for our hearts, our minds and our souls.

God’s Word IS Truth.

We need to be so familiar with God’s TRUTH–you know it, you believe it, you live your life by its counsel.  By contrast, if you don’t guard your heart with God’s given word, you’re prone to be influenced by lies OF the world.  And if you hear those lies enough, you start to believe what the world believes.

PROTECTION COMES WITH A CHOICE:

When Jacob and his family were encouraged to go down to the Land of Goshen, where they would be protected from hunger, plagues, neighboring influences, they must CHOOSE:  Live their lives UNPROTECTED in their current circumstances,  or live PROTECTED under God’s “umbrella” in a foreign land.

Living in the Northwest of America, the rain seems somewhat constant.  You never know whether to make plans or not with RAIN always in the forecasts.  Now you can sit in your homes 365 days of the year; set apart from the elements or you can venture out with preparation.  I CHOOSE to have an UMBRELLA in the trunk of our car, or near an exit door of the house.

With the SANCTIFICATION UMBRELLA close at hand,  I can be IN the world without being OF the world without protection.  The UMBRELLA is God’s Word and it comes with a choice.   Either you can use it, or ignore it!

WHAT IS YOUR CHOICE?

Protection in the Storm
Protection in the Storm

“SPIRITUAL RE-BIRTHING” in a Nutshell

My mind, as of late, has been focused like many others, on March 31st, 2013: RESURRECTION SUNDAY!  So when reading in First Peter this past week, and starting a Bible Study with my wife Dianne, I was drawn by GOD’S SPIRIT to the HOLINESS OF GOD and the events that Christianity has named–EASTER.

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“Re-Birthing” in a Nutshell

Where did the Expression “In a Nutshell” come from?

I thought I might insert the phrase into this blog for an ‘attention getter’, but later thought…culturally, would everyone understand the meaning; what do “nutshells” have to do with “spiritual re-birthing”?

How the phrase “in a nutshell” came to mean “brief and concise:

various_nuts_including_hazelnuts_walnuts_and_almon_postage-d172902192036531751exumr_325The idea of having a detailed amount of information about the FACTS, neatly contained in a small, compact nutshell has somewhat evolved to–the idea of having just the facts you need to make a decision, minus the “superfluous waffle.”  In a nutshell became connected to the idea of the information itself becoming compacted.  [References: Forsyth M. 2011. The Etymological Icon Books].

EXPLAINING THE BIBLICAL PROCESS OF “Re-Birthing”  (1 PETER I:1-25):

Where to begin?  When I used the phrase, “re-birthing”, I’m referring of course to the phrase we perhaps hear thrown around in Christian circles… without any emphasis or concern of who’s hearing the message and the understanding: “to be born again”. 

In my Word Detective investigation this past week, I found some interesting facts in the Older Testament (OT).

The Birth of Isaac found in Genesis 21–

The birth of ISAAC was a wonderful, Biblical, and practical example of “birthing” (Galatians 4:22-23. 29; and John 3:36).

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,

but whoever rejects the Son will not see life,

for God’s wrath remains in him.”

JESUS is saying in John 3:36, that those who BELIEVE in Him have (not will have) everlasting life.  To receive eternal life is to JOIN GOD’S LIFE, which by nature is eternal.  So, eternal life begins at the moment of spiritual rebirth.

Isaac’s Birth was Wonderful Because….

By all natural appearances, Isaac shouldn’t have been born.  His parents were far to old to bear children.  Yet, GOD brought Isaac to birth in spite of…Debate, Doubt, Dysfunction, Death of the natural human reproductive systems  (Genesis 15:1-4; 15-19; 18:9-14; 21:1-7).

GOD USED THE MOST EXTREME SITUATION TO SHOW HIS MERCY AND HIS MIGHT:

How important is this to mankind?  It says that any of us–whatever the SITUATION, SORROW, and SINFUL PAST–All of us can experience “spiritual birthing.”

For Abraham is the father of us all–

[16]  “THEREFORE, [inheriting] the promise is the outcome of faith and depends [entirely] on faith, in order that it might be given as an act of grace, to make it stable and valid and guaranteed to all his descendants–not only to the devotees and adherents of the Law, but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all!  [17] As it is written,  I have made you father of many nations in the sight of God in Whom he believed, Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if the [already] existed [Gen. 17:5]”  (Romans 4:16-17 AMP),

AND, Jesus died on the cross to put US in the family!

In the New Testament, “spiritual  birthing” begins–

It begins WHEN WE OPEN OUR EYES TO SEE JESUS.

With GOD’S GRACE (unmerited favor). when you look, you will see ‘HIM WHO IS WONDERFUL” and have the opportunity to reach out to Him.

“JESUS declared,  I tell you the truth,

no one can see the kingdom of God unless

he is born again.”

(John 3:3 NIV)

YOU MUST BE “BORN AGAIN” !!!

You must be spiritually “birthed” !!!  Your new birth begins your new life; one who experiences TRUE HOLINESS for the first time.

You begin to KNOW GOD in the “re-birthing”, EXPERIENCING HOLINESS IN “HIM WHO IS WONDERFUL”.

Be Holy

“Therefore, prepare your minds [be “ALERT”] for action; be self-controlled [‘disciplined’]; set your hope [focus] fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  As obedient children, do not  conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as He who called you is HOLY, so be holy in all that you do,  for it is written:  “BE HOLY, BECAUSE I AM HOLY”  (1 Peter 1:13-16 NIV). [The Word Detective added the brackets [  ] for emphasis].

The main idea behind HOLINESS is not moral purity but it is the idea of “apartness”–the idea that GOD is separate, different from His creation, in His essential nature and perfection of His attributes.  BUT instead of building a wall around His “apartness”, GOD call us into the “birthing process”, to come to Him and share His apartness.  He says to us, “BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”  You have become “sanctified”.

HOLINESS is not so much something we possess, as it is something that possesses us after we come to JESUS in the “SPIRITUAL REBIRTH”–Born again!!

When you begin to experience HOLINESS for the first time…

HOLINESS isn’t what you feel–it is an experience: “I don’t feel holy so I’m not holy.” 

train

“Don’t Depend On FEELINGS” (courtesy of The Four Spiritual Laws tract):

The promise of god’s Word–the Bible and not our FEELINGS–is our authority.

The TRAIN pictures above, illustrates the RELATIONSHIP we receive in the “spiritual re-birthing”  among FACT (God and His Word); FAITH (our trust in God and His Word), and FEELING (the result of our FAITH and OBEDIENCE) ~ John 4:12.

The TRAIN will run with or without the caboose.  However, it would be useless to pull the train by the caboose.

In the same way, as a “new-born” , we don’t depend on FEELINGS or EMOTIONS: “I know what the Bible says, but I just don’t FEEL very HOLY right now.”

We place our FAITH (trust) in the trustworthiness of God and the PROMISES of His Word.

~(“Don’t Depend On FEELINGS” was taken from The FOUR SPIRITUAL LAWS of Campus Crusade for Christ.) ~ My wife and I were both led to Christ by this Tract in August, 1972.

I believe it is a GOD-GIVEN condition at your “SPIRITUAL BIRTHING’.  You might not recognize holiness in your life, nor others around you.  BUT that doesn’t change the “birthing process”.

DEATH FIRST, THEN HOLINESS REALIZED–

Burying Like A Seed–No Death No Fruit:

John 12:24:

“I can guarantee this truth:  A single grain of wheat doesn’t produce a thing unless it is planted in the ground and dies.  If it dies, it will produce a lot of grain”  (GOD’S WORD TRANSLATION).

Being “set apart” in re-birth; Experiencing Holiness–

RE-BIRTHING is a High Place of dying out, being crucified with Christ and burying.  Now BURYING may seem more like a horrible place, but remember, we’re talking about “a spiritual re-birth of self”–our mind, personality; who we are.  Your physical body is just a tent where you reside; it wears out eventually, but who you really are doesn’t!

A NEW ROMANCE BEGINS …

WHY?  Because burying our old life opens the way for us to fall so much in LOVE with the Savior, to begin a REAL and RADICAL ROMANCE WITH THE REDEEMER!

In the letter to the Roman Christians, Paul uses a legal and matrimonial illustration (Romans 7:1-4):

Likewise, my brethren, you have undergone death as to the Law through the [crucified] body of Christ, so that now you may belong to Another, to Him Who was raised from the dead in order that we may bear FRUIT for God.  (verse 4, AMP)

The picture of “burying” here is beautiful to my eyes, then again I’m a visual person.  Our RELATIONSHIP with all other “spiritual suitors or spouses” must end through spiritual death.  Only the will of JESUS establishes A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH US.

What Is A Spiritual Suitor? 

“Bury what spiritual suitors or spouses?”

Well…other “suitors” or “spouses” can be…

— Sin (Romans 6:6-11).

— Society (Galatians 6:14).

— Perhaps other Christians? (1 Corinthians 2:2).

And, the chief, all-inclusive rival Spouse is… SELF:

“I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who LOVED ME and gave Himself up for me”  (Galatians 2:20 AMP).

The SELF we are to be freed from by death is not the first TRUE SELF, fashioned in GOD’S IMAGE.  It’s a FOREIGN SELF, fashioned after the Satanic spirit clutching hopelessly to be GOD.

It, therefore, manifests itself in ….

PRIDE…

ANGER…

FRUSTRATION…

SUSPICION…

JEALOUSY…

It is this FALSE SELF that CAN and MUST be denied (see Luke 9:23), and it must be BURIED in Christ Jesus.  The clear instruction is…12605297-holy-week

“take up your cross daily, and follow Me”

JESUS HAS TASTED DEATH AND BURIAL FOR US:

He has already delivered us from the rival suitors, to ANOTHER!  JESUS HIMSELF has already paid the price; made the Sacrifice.  He Himself took the Cross, bore ALL the hardness of real death and real burial.

JESUS has experienced the grief of death, so that by dying with Him, we experience the Grace, even the Glory of dying out to old and being re-born to the new.

Along with the apostle Paul, we can gladly say on RESURRECTION SUNDAY…and on any given day of the year...Galatians 2:20.

VERSE 1:  Alas, and did my Savior bleed?  And did my Sovereign die?

Would He devote that sacred head  For someone such as I?

VERSE 2:  Was it for crimes that I have done, He suffered on the tree?

Amazing pity!  grace un-known! And love beyond degree!

VERSE 4:  But drops of grief can never repay  The debt of love I owe;

Here,  Lord, I give myself away,  ‘Tis  all that I can do!

CHORUS: At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,  And the

burden of my heart rolled away,  It was there by faith

I received my sight,  And now I am happy all the day!

“At the Cross”

by Isaac Watts and Ralph Hudson

A LIFETIME TO REFLECT:

MY STORY–Learning to Perfect the Perfection.

Dianne and I got married in September 1964, almost 49 years ago.  In fact, we’ve been saving our blessed abundance for the past three years; in order to be able to celebrate our 50th wedding Anniversary.

The analogy of marriage is very fitting in reflection of “back when…”  We get married in a moment of commitment but it takes a lifetime to learn to live with each other.

It’s similar with entire sanctification (Holiness): A PERFECTION OF COMMITMENT and HEART-CLEANSING IN A MOMENT.  It takes a lifetime, however, learning to perfect the perfection. 

As the Word of God tells us:

“THEREFORE, SINCE these [great] promises are ours, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates and defiles body and spirit, and bring [our] consecration to completeness in the [reverential] fear of God”  (2 Corinthians 7:1 AMP).

“Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the PURE (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation”  (1 Peter 2:2).

HOLINESS BEGINS AT “SPIRITUAL RE-BIRTHING”…

We who belong in the family of God have an advocate, “Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1 NKJV), who has paid the penalty to forgive our sins by what He did on the cross.  He wants to SAVE US…to be our personal attorney and Savior.  But remember, He is available only to those who call on His name.  If you have the slightest doubt that you are HOLY–that you have ever personally invited Him into your life, do it now!

TODAY’S PRAYER

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for sending Jesus, Your Son, to die on the cross for my sins.  I know I am a sinner and that only He, the resurrected Christ, can forgive and save me.  Jesus, I invite You into my life to become my Savior and Lord.  I give my life to You.  In Jesus’ name I pray,  Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, “SPIRITUAL RE-BIRTHING”  has taken place.  That’s it in a nutshell!

“So brace up your minds; be sober (circumspect, morally alert); set your hope wholly and unchangeably on the grace that is coming to you…[Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel].  But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living.  For it is written,  You shall be holy, for I am holy”  (1 Peter 1:13-16).