Who are You? Part 3

Have you ever decided to diet, exercise, or both to ‘get in shape?’ A great many of us have done this. Generally our resolutions don’t really bear fruit until we shift from hope, or longing, to a committed practice. Once we transitioned to practice we develop a growing ability to help others through the same process. So let’s explore the same concept in relation to getting in shape, spiritually, so that we can disciple others.

To apply getting in spiritual shape let’s examine this familiar passage written by Paul.

 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV) 

Do we generally notice that implicit in this passage is the idea that conformity is not an option? The option is only in relation to what we are being conformed to. The warning is to not be conformed to the world, because Paul recognized that our calling is to be conformed to Jesus. We are always being shaped by something. Our culture sends us messages all the time, messages about what to believe, how to act, or who to listen to and in the age of social media can be particularly cruel.

The way to “not be conformed to this world” is to train our hearts and minds to filter these many cultural messages through the truth of scripture. This is the how: it requires knowing the key principles and concepts in His word so that we choose truth and reject lies (think of the belt of truth girding our walk as seen in Ephesians 6). Examples in our culture abound. Some big ones are the sanctity of life and marriage between a man and a woman. Scripture is clear on both.

Simpler examples of using the belt of truth are honesty and integrity. I remember from many years ago working with a lady who let everyone know she was a Christian but had no qualms about lying to get what she wanted. They were mainly very public ‘white lies.’ Our colleagues all knew we were both Christians so I felt I needed to address this with her given her poor public witness. When I did she simply accused me of being a legalist. For her scripture was an option to apply when convenient, not a standard. For believers being conformed to the image of Jesus it is the standard. This is who we are.

When we train our minds and hearts to habitually embrace the truth of scripture and filter cultural messages through truth we move into a position to help others do the same thing because we can pass on both what we know and what we are becoming. Our experience establishes a solid foundation to stand on (think of the shoes of the gospel of peace in Ephesians 6) so we can be victorious and help others how to be the same.

So, are you in shape and being conformed to His image?

NOTE: On a personal note, I am taking a short hiatus from my posts, likely 2-3 weeks. I have received many words in recent years about the need to slow down/rest, which I did not heed. With my recent retirement (which I think of as a transition more into Kingdom work) I recently received four independent prophetic words about being in a season of preparation and the Lord calling me to a deeper place of rest and intimacy with Him as the key to that process. In fact when I looked back at my prayer notes I realized these prophetic words were a clear answer to a prayer I prayed and recorded on May 18. The prayer came out of an encounter with the Father that morning. So, while I trust I won’t be gone long, I currently need to be obedient (finally) and focus on going deeper in my relationship with my heavenly Father or miss what He has prepared for me to walk in. 10  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

Who are You? Part 2

In my last post I introduced the idea of a spiritual GPS (God’s Positioning System). I think there are some two key functions of this GPS: one function about identity, the other about location.

What about identity? Who are we? We need to know from His word that we are His children by virtue of receiving Jesus in the new birth.

12  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: John 1:12 (NKJV)

In our language rife, with cultural baggage, we tend to say we ‘accepted’ Christ. In reality He accepted us and enacted our salvation when we submitted to His Lordship. At the moment of our conversion we became a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) and were moved from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.

12  giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13  He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14  in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:12-14 (NKJV)

However, most of us still struggle with identity after conversion. Our battle is in our mind and heart. When we use God’s Positioning System we can embrace and believe the reality of what happened, no matter how we feel, and declare this truth to ourselves – ‘I am a new creation. I have been bought with a price and live in Jesus kingdom under His love.’ When this declaration moves from our minds to our hearts it becomes reality in our lives. If/when this reality begins to fade in our lives we simply return to declaring this truth to ourselves.

Speaking God’s truth into our lives is well established in scripture. Moses commanded the children of Israel to do it, Yahweh commanded Joshua to do it, David practiced it and Paul called us to practice it (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16).

What about location? Where has He placed us? Just like identity, we use His word to locate ourselves in Him. Look at the words of Paul and his desire to ‘be found in Him.’

9  and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; Philippians 3:9 (NKJV)

We need to be found in Jesus (for example there are many ‘in Him’ references in Ephesians). Where we are physically is far less significant than Who we are in spiritually! While physical location and many other things are important we are called to discern these areas of our lives from the place of being in Jesus. When we get Identity and Location right we have a solid foundation for the rest of our walk. How is your GPS working?

Who are You? Part 1

Recently I was in the locker room at the fitness centre and another patron was getting help from a staff member to open his locker. He commented that he always used the same locker so he would know where he was. Some interesting phraseology. However, it started me thinking. We have a lot of GPS (Global Positioning System) devices that tell us where we are and that help us to locate things or locate ourselves in relation to other things. I wondered about a scriptural GPS, God’s Positioning System, a system that would help us locate who we are!

I think there are a couple of factors at play in the area of identity. Someone once said, “Both the Lord and Satan are asking you the same question. Who do you think you are?” I think that is a crucial question. I think there is another aspect as well. If we know the truth do we believe it?

As I was thinking about writing this some lines from an old Paul Simon song came back to me, “When I was a little boy, and the Devil would call my name. I’d say, ‘Now who do, who do you think you’re fooling?’” The song is “Loves me like a Rock” from the early 1970’s. In the song Paul’s stability was found in his mother’s love for him. While that is admirable we have something much greater as an anchor. Yet I ask again, do we believe it?

Here is some basic scriptural truth.

13  He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, Colossians 1:13 (NKJV)

27  To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27 (NKJV)

6  As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7  rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7 (NKJV)

So, if we are discouraged, downcast, or wondering about our meaning and purpose how do we use these verses? I suggest turning them into prayers of thankfulness and speaking the truth of them out loud to ourselves. When we do the power in His word is activated in our lives. Practically I could take the first verse and say as a declaration in the spirit realm, “I have been delivered from the power of darkness and placed in His kingdom under His love!” As a prayer I could say, “Father, thank You that You have delivered me from the power of darkness and placed me in Your kingdom under Jesus love!” In fact, to change how we ‘feel’ we only need to apply this first verse of the three. As we exercise the faith to declare it the grace inherent in His word empowers our lives and brings the needed change in our disposition. If we are not in this condition we can apply this truth to our lives so we do not end up in this condition. There is life in His word!

If I have sounded repetitive here it is only because I deliberately am. So, the question to each of our hearts, “Who do you think you are?”

Hidden Things Part 3

Over 25 years ago I read something by A. W. Tozer that has stuck with me. He said, “Religious externals may have meaning for a God inhabited soul, but to all others they are a snare and a trap.” What was he talking about? Our tendency to value various practices over the reality of His presence. We need His presence and purpose. I started this series on Hidden Things with this verse.

2  It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. Proverbs 25:2 (NKJV)

Do we understand the concealment inherent in this verse? How do we search it out? A principle Jesus laid out on the way to Gethsemane was the need to understand Him in us and us in Him.

20  At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. John 14:20 (NKJV)

In reading this verse it seems important to understand the ‘day’ Jesus was referencing. For this group of apostles that day was the day of Pentecost that we read about in Acts 2. We can get caught up in the vision of tongues of fire, prophetic expression and eternal manifestations. Yet they were stirred by something greater. John 14:20 came alive in them! Think about this, on the ‘day’ we were born again the Creator of the universe infused His life and nature into our spirit. He made a Holy of Holies inside of us and took up residence.

So, if we want to search something out why not search out this hidden thing. Christ in us the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). We can gaze into the spirit realm and by faith look upon the Father seated upon His eternal throne (which I practice and advocate), yet do we understand Him in us? How many of us realize this reality drove the early apostles, it drove Paul, as it has driven many down through the last 2,000 years of church history. Why not let it drive us? Why not seek out how to look deep within to encounter the King of glory?

We can develop a sensitivity to His presence within us. Many years ago I wrote a song and one of the lines was, “I’m moved by Your moving within.” We can seek and find the reality of Jesus by His Spirit moving within and upon us. Isn’t this a worthy discovery?

Hidden Things Part 2

Where is the place of hidden things? Has Jesus hidden them in plain sight? Have you ever considered that Matthew 6:1-18 is a passage about the secret place? In fact Jesus references it very specifically.

4  that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. Matthew 6:4 (NKJV)

6  But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:6 (NKJV)

The idea Jesus is expressing here is that if we have a consistent hidden inner life the fruit will be evident in the rest of our life. Finding hidden things begins, in of all places, worship.

9  In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Matthew 6:9 (NKJV)

 Jesus instructed us to begin our prayer time with worship. With his gift for words Francis Frangipane has expressed this very well, “before we even lift our voice in prayer, He instructs us to bow our hearts in worship.” If we want to understand hidden things and know the counsel of His heart we must first learn to be worshippers.

If we want a meaningful outer life we must first develop a powerful inner life. Practically, a way to begin is to get alone with the Father somewhere and begin to give expression to our thoughts about Him. For example, Father, I thank You for your gift of salvation. I thank You that You have imparted to me Jesus righteousness. Jesus, You are the great and glorious one, the author and finisher of our faith. We can also lift our hearts and voices in song.

Another way to begin a prayer time in worship is to simply sit in silence before Him. He knows our hearts and values us just sitting with them open before Him. This as well is an act of worship. If we want to know His heart we need to regularly surrender our heart. Jeremiah asked a very important question.

18  For who has stood in the counsel of the LORD, And has perceived and heard His word? Who has marked His word and heard it? Jeremiah 23:18 (NKJV)

This whole chapter is worth reading. The context is false prophets speaking in Yahweh’s name and Jeremiah rebuking them as false. They were prophesying peace while Jeremiah, hearing from Yahweh, was prophesying calamity and judgement that could only be changed by repentance.

Weighing prophetic words is another message. Yet the principle behind Jeremiah 23 is that these false prophets were seeking Yahweh but unwilling to lay down their own agendas first so they prophesied their hearts instead of His. So, as Francis has said, let us come and bow our hearts in worship then lift our voices in intercession speaking out of surrendered time with our Father.

Below is a prophetic song from scripture that is based on a submitted heart, Mary’s. The Magnificat from Luke 1.