Your 2018 Messiah


Did you know that it is appropriate to wish people, “Merry Christmas,” every day of 2018? 

We have a shared understanding of the phrase, but it is very revealing, enlightening, and powerful to go deeper into the actual meaning behind the words, “Merry Christmas.”

Let’s look at the individual word meanings:

Merry = Full Joy
Christ = Greek: Cristos;  Hebrew:  Messiah
Mass = The word Mass comes from the Latin word Missa.  Missa means ‘a dismissal.’   The purpose is to celebrate a spiritual truth or mystery with the result being to ‘be dismissed and go forth’ in reality of the truth celebrated.

Messiah:  A Messiah was one who led his people to victory over their oppressors.  To end, however, the description at that point gives us an incomplete understanding of the end-goal of a Messiah.  Ultimately, the Messiah’s purpose  was to accomplish the following:

(A) To release from previous obligations of the oppressor.
(B) To re-write a code of conduct that was harmonious with His values.

Therefore, with joy, we celebrate our Messiah delivering us from our oppressor and then writing a new code on our hearts that corresponds to His Kingdom.

This post began with the idea of being able to celebrate the spirit of Merry Christmas on a daily basis in 2018.  Although Jesus, our Messiah, can be celebrated privately, it is vital to recognize our relational connection with a Body of believers as we worship the fullness of Christ’s work on our behalf.

May this new year be one that knows the fullness of joy as we recognize and celebrate (personally and corporately) the release of the old and rewriting of the new on the walls of our hearts.

It is the understanding of a Merry Christmas that motivates and propels us forward into a Happy New Year.

ONE FINAL THOUGHT:  Isn’t this a good time to emulate your Messiah by releasing others (and yourself) from the obligation of old expectations, and the re-writing of new expectations that were born from the heart of Jesus?

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Gary

2018 Faith


2018 will be a great year to abandon “pretend faith” and live by the kind of trust that works.

Let me explain what I mean by “pretend faith.”  That is the brand of faith that isn’t anything more than a naturally developed level of confidence.  It’s the kind of faith that one talks themselves into by repeating scripture verses.  Although it sounds reasonable to repeat the truth over and over until it sticks, it is a “works” method of attaining faith. In my opinion, based on my own experience, there’s a better way.  A rest filled way.

I believe that the Apostle Paul had a revelation of a more excellent way of the life lived by faith.  He had just had a profound spiritual awakening that he had been crucified with Christ.  He then states in Galatians 2:20,

“I no longer live, but the Messiah[a] lives in me, and the life that I am now living in this body I live by the faith of the Son of God,[b] who loved me and gave himself for me.”

The word “of” from ‘faith of the Son of God’ is a significant Greek preposition.  It is ek which indicates something being drawn or taken out of a source to be placed somewhere else.  Paul discovered that the life God gave us through Christ was based on faith that came out of Christ…not from Paul, himself.  He no longer had to rely on “getting his faith right.”  His success did not depend on him being able to work up enough faith.

He made the same point to the Romans in Chapter 7 when he said, “the things I don’t want to do, I do.  And what I want to do, I don’t do.  However, he didn’t stop at that point.  No joy there!  But, he discovered Jesus had settled the issue.

In Hebrews 12 the same revelation arises, “Looking unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of faith.  Jesus initiates the story and continues it to completion.

I believe Paul would say the same thing to many of us as he said to the Galatians in Chapter 3, “Why did you start in the spirit and attempt then to continue it by natural means.”

In my experience, having faith is no more of a struggle than I allow.  I know that’s a big statement, but I believe it’s true.  I look to Jesus expecting Him to write faith in my heart.  When I feel my emotions start to distract me, I give my issue back to Him to bring to completion.  I know I will fail, no matter how hard I try to convince myself, by attempting to do the faith formula just right…until I supposedly I have ‘enough’ faith.  But, that’s a deception.  A person cannot have faith in their own faith.  They have to submit to the fact that without the faith of the Son of God, there is no faith to be found or had.

It’s all about the rest of a relationship.  The relationship is with Jesus; not the scripture verses.  The purpose of the scriptures, as Jesus told the Pharisees, is to point to Me where life resides.  There’s no .life in Bible verses as an object of faith.

Embrace your relationship with Him.  He will write faith in your heart.  You can end having confidence in your ability to believe.  You have none.  He has plenty, and He’s willing to share!  It’s just a matter of relearning who the actual source is.

Gary

P.S.  I am not discounting the importance of Bible promises from God.  You don’t know what they are without the Scriptures.  However, the ‘good fight of faith’ isn’t about your struggling to have faith by struggling to talk yourself into believing the promises.   The struggle is with keeping your eyes on a relationship with Jesus rather than trying to prove to God that you really do believe Him.  He knows your heart better than you do.  Rest.  He is faithful to His care for you; not your ability to ‘believe right.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Your Faith Stale Bread?


Faith is like a diamond.  It has many facets that give it its brilliance of life.    

Faith is better described than it is defined.  Some of those explanations include phrases like the following:

“Faith believes that God will not lie.”
“Faith is the bridge between heaven and earth”
“Faith has  eyes that see the invisible.”

It is vital to understand that faith does not have any power of its own to manipulate circumstances and conditions in one’s favor.  As a very wise mentor said one time, “Faith that has the ability, within itself, to perform the task at hand is a form of witchcraft.”  By that, he meant that if faith had its own power, a person could (and would likely) use it to manipulate conditions according to his or her own desires.  That is a wholly different thing than functioning with God according to the Word He is currently speaking.

Faith is the connection of confidence that receives power from God.  Faith is the committed conviction in the character of God in the present moment.  Faith relies, not on yesterday’s manna, but on the living bread of the word He is speaking today.  Today’s word will be consistent with yesterdays truth, but, like manna, the shelf life is based on what is being freshly spoken today.  Many people struggle with faith because they are trying to live on stale bread.  It’s still bread but lacks the flavor that produces confidence.

According to Hebrews 12:2, Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith.  Note that it doesn’t say that He was the author and finisher of our faith.  He says that He is the author and He is the One who continues to work it out, with us, to fulfillment.

The verse starts with the words, “Looking unto Jesus…”  The idea of the phrase indicates that the person’s ‘eyes’ have been distracted, but is looking back unto Jesus.

But, let’s make this even more vibrant.   The Greek word translated unto is also translated into.  The point:  A person could look unto Jesus and only rehearse the things they believe about Him.  Whereas the idea of looking into Jesus indicates a much more intimate gaze…looking into His heart, and with the senses of the Spirit hearing and feeling it beat.

As a person allows the Spirit of God time to open the eyes their heart and see into Jesus, they realize His supernatural pen authoring faith.

Finally, we notice something else in this verse.  It speaks of Jesus being the author and finisher of our faith.  Until recently, I had only seen this to mean that the writer of Hebrews was pointing to the great cloud of witnesses in Chapter 11.

But…then I saw something fresh that strengthened my relationship with the Lord.  I believe, as a spiritual revelation, I knew that the writer was taking the general stories of the Hall of Faith and was making them personal and unique.

I now see that, just as houses have floors, roofs, windows, and doors in common, there are myriads of unique styles in houses that are still correctly known as houses.  There are basic characteristics that make for what we describe as faith.  However, the faith of your neighbor may not be adorned like your faith.  Just as everyone, worldwide has distinct fingerprints, retina structure (and I understand ears), we all have personal and unique relationships with the Lord.

Encourage yourself in the fact that your journey of faith will be the result of a unique relationship with Jesus, and all those around you will be the same.

I close with this:  Several months ago I awoke with a “snapshot” vision.  It was of an upright Bible.  An image of Jesus was walking out of the open pages.

The message to me was that Jesus comes walking out of the pages of Scripture.  As we meditate on the Logos of the Word, Jesus becomes the Rhema (active spoken word)  He becomes a living, present, revelation.

Note:  Although, at times, valuable, meditation in the Scriptures is not the same thing as rehearsing what your favorite teacher says about the topic at hand as you meditate.  Meditation is a very personal, private communication between two covenant friends.  It’s the development of an intimate relationship.

May your faith be as fresh as today’s manna!

Gary

How We Can Experience More

God desires that we experience more, much more of His goodness!

Those things that block the abundance He desires for us and that Jesus paid for – in full – are our own fear-based ‘needs.’

There’s a good desire to be understood, but there’s also an unhealthy need to be understood.  There is a healthy desire to be accepted by others, but there is also an unhealthy need that is based on fear.

Noone desires to feel alone and lonely.  God made us as social creatures. But there is also a fear of being lonely that goads us into making unwise choices.

A fear of serving others because they may take advantage of our service can be a hindrance to acts helping others in need.

Then there’s the fear of death and the pressure of trials, or the fear of having nothing if we follow the will of the Lord for our lives.

All of these fears hinder the flow of God’s goodness from reaching our experience.  The heart of God’s desire for us is that we may taste and see that He is good and His love endures forever.

Many times, the first step to being able to experience His plan and purpose for our lives is to recognize those fears that so easily beset us.

Yes, the verse says ‘sins’ that easily beset us.  That is exactly what putting up with these fears robbing us from the fullness of God’s desire is.  Sins.

When we recognize them for what they are, bring them to God as such, lay them aside by choosing to look to Him for who He truly is…

We begin tasting…actually tasting His goodness.  And, mmm it is good!

Prayer: 
Lord, Deliver me…

From the unhealthy need to be understood and accepted
From the fear of being lonely
From the fear of being taken advantage in service
From the fear of death and trials
From everything that hinders me from knowing You in the fullness of Your goodness,.

 

Christianity Needs Real Intelligence

True intelligence isn’t merely the ability to make rational arguments about its faith.  True knowledge expresses itself in ways that bring joy into other’s lives.

Authentic intelligence isn’t afraid to color outside the lines.

The intelligence of the God kind looks for the gold in the mountain made of dirt.

The honestly intelligent man and woman know they are not smarter than their Creator.

People of real intelligence know how to enjoy their relationship with God and their neighbor.

Intelligence is energized by the creative abilities of the Holy Spirit.

Be intelligent as He is intelligent!

 

 

 

Into Me You See = Intimacy of The Jesus Kind

The key to finding life’s treasures is found in Hebrews 12:2, but perhaps not always in the way you’ve thought, or expected.

The verse says, “Looking unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith.”

If you lived at the time this was written, you would have understood the idea to include, “shifting your eyes away from one object to another.”  It meant to change your focus of attention.  Peter experienced the downside of this statement because he looked away from Jesus to the storm around himself.  But Peter did even more.  That brings us to a better understanding of the word, unto.

The Greek word is ‘eis.’  On the one hand, ‘unto’ is a correct preposition to use, but there’s a better one as we recognize the deeper sense of the phrase.

Peter actually did more than “look at” the storm.  He “looked into” the storm.  He got ‘up close and personal” with the waves and the wind.  He got intimate with them.  He ‘looked into” their destructive potential.  He saw and felt himself drowning.  His body began to respond, and he began to sink.

[We are governed by the beliefs with which we are intimate.] 

Looking “into” Jesus is superior to merely looking at Jesus.

Intimacy is best defined as ‘into me you see.’  Seeing from both sides of the coin, it could include ‘into you I see.

It can be a frightening thing to allow real intimacy to happen in any relationship; especially with Jesus.

I used to wonder why people would be afraid to have an intimate relationship with Jesus.  After all, wouldn’t that really be cool and fulfilling?

Then I realized (out of my own self doubt) that there were barriers to the intimacy of looking into:

1.  I didn’t want Jesus to see my dirt. (As if He wasn’t already familiar with my flesh).

2.  I didn’t want to see into His demands of me.  I had a pretty lousy image of how true spirituality and His will would affect me.  I reasoned (because of the influence bad religion) that God seemed to like taking guys he designed with the bodies and dna of football players breaking thier legs and making them play the flute.

Then it began to dawn on me [code for Holy Spirit revelation]:

  1.  Jesus had no illusions about me.  He knew all of me.  Good, bad, and ugly and still loved me as He had all along.  He is not occupied with my short-comings.  He is the ultimate example of hope for my life and relationship with Him.
  2. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.  He made me and had a plan for my life that always corresponds to the very desires with which he designed initially within my soul.  My passions, and every way he ‘wired me’ physically, emotionally, and mentally are on purpose with a purpose that demonstrates His glorious wisdom.

Since then…

I’m progressing on the path of righteousness (right-ness) that grows brighter day by day.  Looking into Him and He looking into me is the only satisfying way to live life on our earth journey and for eternity.

I invite you to look away from lesser things and into Jesus, the one who writes and finishes the story of your faith!

 

 

 

A Better Look At Faith

Is your feeling that faith means to be willing to step off into the dark? Is it a scarry thing?

Is there a better understanding of faith than you now hold?  The improvement of your life depends on an increasingly better understanding
of God’s way of looking at life. 

I’m not referring to increasing your pile of man designed doctrine.  In this article, I’m investigating something that could lead to a deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus.

We’ve all heard many teachings, sermons, and opinions about what it means to walk through our earthly lives by faith.  Much of the time, the ones that I’ve heard (and taught myself) are not inaccurate.  They are merely incomplete thoughts.

The path of those in right standing with God and His Kingdom grows increasingly brighter (Prov. 4:18) as we make it our highest priority (Matt. 6:33).

One of the most well-known scriptures about the subject of faith is found in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith and not by sight.”  It certainly sounds like that means that faith is stepping off into the dark, doesn’t it?

However, there is a better understanding of that statement that is, actually, gloriously positive:

Faith is not a thing.  It is not a reasoned-out doctrinal position.  It is the realm of real, vibrant life that we move about within.

For example, A person lives in the realm (or land) that is peaceful, and harmonious in quality of life.  Another person may live their lives in a place that is constantly, by nature, an atmosphere of fear, and striving.

The word ‘sight’ in that verse is never used referring to things that people see with their eyes.  I.e.,  “My eyes see that she is wearing a blue dress.”

It always refers to the way one views what they are looking at.  It’s about how a person perceives a thing.  I.e.,  “The blue dress she is wearing doesn’t look good on her.  Is she trying to look dowdy?”

Please permit my paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 5:7,  “We are walking in the beautiful land of faith.  What we don’t perceive is darkness.  We see the hope-filled light.”

It is common that most people judge that faith is like stepping out of the light into the dark.  Reality Check:  That is the perspective of natural thinking of the flesh.

We will never enjoy life, nor grow in the experience of peace, joy, and love if we allow natural reasoning to dictate how we think and perceive God’s realities.

To walk in the land of faith is to detach our thinking from the perception that it is a dark, stress-filled place.  Instead, walking in faith is choosing to attach ourselves to a realm where the light of clear confidence saturates our being.  It means living our lives in the joyful light of God’s mighty, beautiful, creative, and satisfying presence.

Yes, the natural ‘reality thinking’ of the flesh will balk as we take on a new (more correct) mind-set.  But as we keep making the better choice of how we perceive what it means to walk by faith, the flesh’s dominance over our thinking withers.

To walk by faith (the best part) is to be attached to knowing the reality and depth of God’s character and quality of life.  It also helps us clearly see His attitude toward our “neighbors.”

God is not calling us to be unsure and afraid (as we call it faith).  His desire is for us to leave the darkness behind, and sit beside Him at His banquet table as our enemies look on heads hung low in defeat.

The re-trained (renewed) mind faces steps of faith like, “Okay, this is going to be good,” instead of (deep-tense-breath) Okay…here I go.”

Don’t you want to live the God-kind of faith where there is no darkness nor shadow of turning?  That’s your inheritance.  You can begin spending it now!

Gary