It’s important to follow the instructions! I don’t know about you, but instead of taking the time to the read instructions and follow the steps of what I’ve read, I often skip the “read the instructions first” part. After all, I should be able to figure this out on my own. How hard can it be? Reading a bunch of words – first – is an unnecessary waste of time…right?
Maybe the truth of the matter is….NOT following the instructions often costs us more time in the long run. I’ve found that to be true, not only in putting purchases together. It’s also been reality in carrying out my Christian life. How about you?
The Apostle Paul said something vital to life to the Romans believers (Romans 6:17). There’s the instructions:
Consider yourselves dead to sin
Consider yourselves alive to God (in your union with Christ Jesus)
The Great Struggle
perform an act of selfishness
begin to burn with anger
stiffen up with an offense
(you fill in the blank)
When that happens, we question the reality of our actually being dead to sin. We want to believe it…but we have contrary evidence.
Here’s what’s going on…
We are not considering ourselves dead to sins. We are listening to the voice of the flesh. We are making ourselves our own center reference point instead of Christ being the central truth of our lives. It’s simply another form of the, “What about me question.”
So let’s read and follow the instructions. Today, I consider myself dead to sin, and alive to God in Christ Jesus. That’s my final answer. I will turn a deaf ear the voice of my flesh as it suckers me into believing I’m not dead. Instead I am focusing on listening to the voice of Christ. He, by the working of Holy Spirit, is my only true reference point. The more you practice this truth, the quieter the flesh’s voice becomes.
Thanks for letting me share those things that have become life changers for me. If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you in the comments. If you’ve just stumbled onto this blog and found it helpful, please subscribe. Thanks 🙂
Jesus Christ is The Authentic Powerful Person. We have the privilege of being receptive vessels and enjoying the experiences of that Person and Power.
To be an “authentic powerful person” we only embrace our connection to the vine. When discovering we are one with the vine, we experience the results of the work of the vine. We respond to Him (the Vine) and His life (the sap that flows through the vine).
The very life (sap) of the vine flows “naturally” into the connected branch and on into the connected grape exciting all the elements that do what they do to expand and mature the grape. What does the grape do? Remain attached. There is nothing else it can do.
Anytime we as “branches” become consumed and concerned with making the grape grow, we inadvertently become the vine. Problem is…in becoming the vine we detach from the real vine. The result: No life (sap). You simply can’t expect the branch to do anything but what it was designed to do. Stay attached to the vine so the vine can supply the life, motivation and significance of the branch.
Acts 17:28 says that it’s in Him (Jesus Christ) [The Vine] that we have the vitality of life, motivation, and significance.
Do you want less stress and more peace in your life? Peace is the natural by-product of Him. Like the grape is filled with sweet juice, we are filled with peace when we receive it directly from the fine. The interesting (and very important point) is that the vine’s sap actually becomes the juice of the grape.
When we experience the peace we desire, it’s because we begin soaking up, drawing in, and mingling with the life of His Presence. We don’t get a piece of peace from Him. He doesn’t give away pieces of Himself. He gives away Himself.
I woke up this morning with the song, “Jesus is the Sweetest Name I Know,” on my mind. Here is the song I’m referring to. Afterword I would like to share what’s on my heart regarding this song and the 4th in the series, “The Authentic Powerful Person.”
It may be that this version of the song is so meaningful to me because it’s music that came out of my generation. But it’s the content of the words that are increasingly precious to me. Here’s why…
In a nutshell, it’s because He (Jesus) is The Authentic Powerful Person. And it’s because my understanding of that is becoming increasingly clear.
It used to be that I would give logical ascent to the truths of that song. At the same time – if I am being totally honest – there was a kind of “disconnect” with my statement of those words, and how my emotions registered with them.
In fact…if many true Christians (I don’t mean faux Christians, but the real-deal born again ones) would admit it, they experience the same “disconnect” during much of their worship services. Somebody said that Christians often lie more while they are singing their songs than at any other time. I honestly don’t think they mean to do so…I certainly didn’t…but I feel that, in most cases, it’s because there isn’t a heart revelation of what the words signify. And in that case they are ‘I-want-it-to-be so’ -or- ‘It-ought-to-be-so’ -or- ‘I’m-singing-the-truth-by-faith’ songs. <That has too often been the case with me, anyway>
[As a further side note: We have too often disconnected faith and emotion. There’s truth in the fact that faith is not based on feeling…but, it’s incomplete truth. True faith knows with the heart and therefore does bring feelings as a by-product…but I didn’t realize that until what I’m writing about became more real to me]
Jesus said to his disciples in John 14:11-21 that He was going away but that another Comforter was coming to abide with them forever. He also said in that same declaration…”you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you..”
In my opinion, people get confused on this Holy Spirit – Jesus “swap.” We can’t get the logic of our heads around it. We reason, “If Jesus leaves and sends the Comforter [Holy Spirit] then it’s no longer Jesus we are concerned with. It’s now The Holy Spirit that is with us and Jesus is in heaven. That’s the great mystery. At least part of it. How that works?
Here’s what I believe it means:
Jesus had to go away because He couldn’t physically indwell all of his disciples. In leaving, He came back (as it were) by the agency of Holy Spirit. However, part of the mystery is the fact that by Holy Spirit work, Jesus the Christ is literally, personally dwelling within and at one now with each of His disciples.
It’s not the historical principles of Jesus through Holy Spirit. It’s the actual person of Jesus by the working of Holy Spirit.
It’s also not Holy Spirit helping us live out the historic character and principles of Jesus. In other words…help us do the best we can to copy the historic example of Jesus as He walked the earth in His Jesus body. Plainly, simply (however much a mystery and even strange as it sounds) It’s Jesus…Himself…by the working of Holy Spirit…in us…through us…as us…with our own unique personalities and talents!
The Great Multiplication of Jesus.
So, that is why Jesus is still the sweetest name I know…the more the fact of Who He is becomes a reality to me. And, the more who He is IN ME (and YOU) becomes a reality to me. Colossians 1:27, “…Christ in me the hope of glory” isn’t referring to the Holy Spirit. There is actually a definite article before the title, Christ. [The] Christ. Therefore it’s speaking of a literal Person…not a power or principle…but a Personal Presence. And, that literal person in Paul’s mind was the one who’d been given the title, Jesus the Christ. In that statement he was simply referring to Jesus as His Title.
I think it’s important to be clear on this point. What happened was by the working of Holy Spirit but not as a heavenly swap with Holy Spirit. In reality, so is Holy Spirit One with you and me and so is Abba Father….just as we are one with Him.
Suffice it to say…I don’t understand it with my sense of logic. But, I grasp it with my heart. <our own logic is formed by our cultural surroundings through the years and that’s why we are told not to lean on it>
So…I sing the song. Jesus is the sweetest name I know…He is literally living personally in me. I don’t understand exactly how that was able to happen…but I am increasingly enjoying it.
The Lust of The Flesh can only mimic the Law of the Sin Nature. They only currency of both is death. But, the Law of Sin is the power of the old man. In Christ the old man (the Sin Nature) is dead and has no controlling power over the Born Again persons. The Lust of the Flesh only has phantom power. It’s doomed to defeat for those who believe truth and train their their souls in it.
Jesus said, “I am the vine. You are the branches. He that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: For without Me you can do nothing.”
What did Jesus mean when He said, “Abide in me?”
One of the definitions of the Greek word is, “To remain as one, not to become another or different.”
That’s easy to say as a religious idea that we’ve learned to agree with. After all…Jesus said it! However, agreeing with doctrines and connecting the dots in a way that affects our actual lives is often quite different.
That’s one of those sayings of Jesus that – if I were being honest – I didn’t really know what He meant. I mean…I figured it had to do with being comfortable with a Christ like life style. I reasoned that it meant that if I matured in my trust in Him, I’d be more successful in life. <Something along those lines>
That’s what I felt was probably true. I mean I’d heard – and preached, myself – that kind of definition for abiding in Christa thousand times.
However, because of my own sin consciousness, I didn’t fathom the depths of what Jesus was actually saying. That’s right…my own sin consciousness. You see…I knew me (better than God, apparently…how stupid is that?) and I knew that the core of my very being couldn’t be Christ (The Person) and still screw up like I too often did. Therefore, Jesus saying couldn’t mean what it looked like it did. It must be a future heavenly promise….no, that didn’t make sense either…But…holy cow…it didn’t seem to be working all that well too much of the time.
Some days I did (abided)…fairly well. I was pretty spiritual (in my own estimation). That’s code for…I felt pretty much together, peaceful, and powerful. I knew that God really loved me and approved of me on those days … <can we say, again…how stupid is that?>
But…<wham>…somebody or some thing would tick me off. Or some days I would wake up feeling as anointed as a stick…dull…un-inspired…didn’t want to be “that guy”…the one people counted on to have answers for their troubles. Truly feeling like, if I prayed for someone’s healing on that day…they’d surely die. How could Christ possibly be the core of my being at times like those? No way was that an “abiding” day!
It was on those days that I was the center of my reference point. The facts of my union with Christ had not changed, but instead of looking at the quality of Christ within, I was looking at the failure of me.
Listen very closely>>> Whatever we believe to be true isn’t necessarily the truth (on the God Standard) BUT…whatever we believe to be true is what WILL shape our daily life experiences. That’s an indelible fact. It works that way all the time, every time, without fail. No exceptions. No deviations, No special cases.
Let me repeat>>> We’re always living out what we believe! We can’t do anything different. We can’t escape it.
Good News>>> We can experience the transforming power of Christ that we are one with. We start training ourselves to choose what we will believe and respond to that.
We are dead to sin
We are alive to Christ within (which is who and whose we really are).
According to Paul, it’s a mystery. I honestly can’t tell you how it works. But, I can tell you without lying or overstating the fact. IT DOES WORK!
Jesus Christ and I are One. I am alive to Him (the Big “I AM” and the little “i am”) I DO sense the stirrings of his nature within me. I am learning to pay attention to those stirrings instead of the agitation of fleshy habit patterns. It’s working better, and better, and better. Thing is…what’s my truth is also your truth!
This is the second in a series of posts on The Authentic Powerful Person. It may be helpful to scroll down to pick up this topic from the beginning.
Reality Check: Most of my readers may already feel they belief the statements and scriptures cited. They would also be the first to “amen” and “praise the Lord” the realities. However, some may have to admit that – for them – there’s been a disconnect between academic truth and practical daily enjoyment of Jesus’ many faceted abundant life (John 10:10). The gap between promise and practice is normally given two explanations:
Jesus is speaking of a future heavenly reality.
I have it now; but it’s by faith.
Both of these basic belief’s are not inaccurate. In fact they are rock solid true. They are simply incomplete.
Jesus did die for our sins that we could experience unending abundant life in heavenly places!
<spoiler alert: you may become offended at this one.> It does take faith to receive His purpose in the now, but if true faith is involved…ultimately experience is a part of the equation while one is walking and breathing on planet earth!
Therefore, it’s my hope – through these simple posts – to help close the gap in the disconnect between promise and practice. Doing so, I’m dipping into my own personal testimony rather than rehashing old “oughta-woulda-coulda-shouldas.”
One More Reality Check: The experiences herewith stated are also incomplete. You can realize and relish much more than I’m experiencing. Just know this “I’m on your six.”
If my own discovery of Christ being one with me to live His life in, through, and as me (instead of simply helping me) is truth, then what do I do? What’s my responsibility?
Putting it simply (as Bill Johnson put’s it) “lean into it.” Another term might be, “follow the hunch” – or – pay attention to your gut responses. We all realize that there are internal responses (gut reactions) that are good and others that definitely are not. How do I know the difference:
Does the gut hunch correspond to the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22)? If so, the source is The Vine (John 15).
Are you “reacting” or “responding?” There’s a telltale difference.
Our soul (which is neutral…but that’s for another post) either responds to Christ or reacts from flesh. In the process, the most dominant has set up inner castles. Over time the soul has developed habit patterns. Too much of the time, I was very well experienced at reacting from flesh dominated overgrowth in the garden of my heart.
<I know. I switched metaphors; but I think the point is there>
What I had to do was take my soul off of autopilot and train it to respond to The Life (Christ) within me, instead of react to the weeds of fleshly stimuli.
My soul is still in training…probably always will be…but it’s getting more and more used to responding quickly to Christ within for direction. I consciously and purposely recognize multiple times throughout the day that it’s the Person of Christ in me, through me, as me. I purposely face life as a “Whole Person.” The Great “I AM” united with the “me i am.”
I am so much more at rest. And, I’ve found “my actions” much more powerful and inspired in their results.
(to be continued…)
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Faith is critical to Christian life. Actually, it’s vital to living, period.
There’s been an exhaustive amount of teaching on the subject; And, in many ways the overabundance of opinions on the issue have born the fruit of confusion rather than clarity. Therefore, my hope is to bring at least a ray of fresh, unconfusing light to the topic of faith.
So, please consider this…
Let me start with an example from my life. Back in 1979 I found myself on a little dirt trail in the country of Kenya. I was amazed at how things had come together to make this possible. As I looked down the narrow dirt path that morning… (taking in the unique sights and sounds) …I felt like the Lord asked me the question, “Do you know why you’re here?”
I looked around a bit more and responded, “No, Lord…I don’t. Why am I here?” Almost immediately the inner voice of His Spirit said, “Because you decided to be.”
You see…I had made a choice. Another way to put it…I’d taken a step of faith.
Faith…and knowing what it is…has become too complicated and “spiritual-ized.”The truth is that faith is a practical practice … and it always works.
Here’s another way to look at…or describe…the anatomy of faith:
You know about something
That knowledge becomes a desire
The desire becomes strong enough that you choose it – or you commit yourself to it
I heard about the possibility that I could take a ministry trip to Africa (In my case I was personally invited). The more I pondered it, the more my desire grew and as I prayed it “felt right.” (Peaceable)
One day I made the choice to go.
<In place of the word faith, change it to the word “choice…decision…or committing yourself to something” and see if it clarifies your “faith question.”>
A process became apparent, but I wouldn’t have begun the process if I hadn’t made the choice to go. Obstacles arose along the way…further choices (steps of faith) had to be made. Then one day…
I was on a little dirt path in the country of Kenya asking the question, “Why am I here?”
I hope this sheds some fresh light on your faith path. What things do you know about, and desire? Is the next step…CHOICE?
Shouting can be a bad thing…if we’re hollering in the heat of an argument. However, there’s the release of a righteous roar of joy.
At least seven times in the Psalms we find the instruction, “Let the people shout for joy unto the Lord.”
There are several things that could be illustrated here regarding the Lord’s directions to shout for joy unto Him.
Why such an instruction? Why is it important to shout for joy? Why not simply be joyful because of His goodness, mercy, and compassion?
What is so important that God repeats it several times throughout the scriptures?
Let me list just four of many benefits of shouting for joy unto the Lord:
The focus and intensity that produces a vocal shout of joy to the Lord changes the direction of our will.
It lasers a decision of trust.
It strengthens our resolve and emotional stamina.
It mutes the voices of doubt and fear
There are many clamoring voices of doom and gloom bellowing their fear and doubt. Their cacophony of discord assaults us daily…hour by hour…minute by minute. The Lord gave us a practical way to nullify their hopeless clatter.
The Shout of Joy to the Lord!
The practical thing about this shout of joy is that it can be practiced on purpose continually. Just use the inner vocal chords of the mind.
The only caution: It won’t work…unless you train yourself to DO it. So, if you’re tired of being sick and tired, depressed and fearful, hopeless and hapless.
SHOUT! SHOUT! SHOUT FOR JOY TO THE LORD!
What other benefits does the shout of joy to the Lord contain? Thanks for your comments!
Yessiree. Couch potatoes are in vigorous training to become really burned out, burned up potato chips.
Couch potatoes misunderstand “trusting the Lord” as passively hanging out until God decides to do something they are asking for.
Couch potatoes have developed a “que sera, sera” belief system. (Whatever will be, will be).
Couch potatoes put everything in God’s hands and take little to no personal responsibility.
Couch potatoes are always hungry for something to “snack on.”
Couch potatoes are never really satisfied.
Couch potatoes think trust is passive when it’s actually active.
Psalm 5:11 says, “Let all those who put their trust in You rejoice. Let them ever shout for joy because you defend them. Let them that also love your name be joyful in You.”
This is a very active verse of instruction. It doesn’t work very well for people who are convinced that their goal in life is to develop couch potato faith.
The verse doesn’t say, “who trust in You.” It says, “Who put their trust in You.” That’s making an active choice. That’s swimming against the stream of opposing circumstances…as an active choice…again…and again…and again. The word “trust” can also be translated confident hope. That starts as a choice…a decision…not an emotional response. (Emotions follow when we stick with it.)
The verse goes on, “Let them ever shout for joy…”
The word ever is primarily a word of duration. Keep at it. But the root of the word also contains the idea of covered or secret places. In other words, let us ever shout for joy in the hidden places of the heart. It may not be appropriate to shout for joy in some places. But, you can continue to do so loudly within.
Finally, I love the word that is the reason for our continuous joyful shouting.
It’s because the Lord defends us. The primary idea that we think of is that He’s protecting us. And, that’s true. But the original Hebrew word here for defend also means “to join to.” In other words, the Lord “actively joins Himself with us to surround and protect.
Couch potatoes don’t seem to experience the joys and peace of His salvation. Perhaps it’s because they are responding to the Lord like couch potatoes.
You may be saying, “Yea…I know…I should be dis…dis…yuck…disciplined.”
I have a better idea that the Lord put on my heart when I said the same thing to Him.
He said, “I’m not suggesting better discipline. Instead begin training yourself in primarily two areas. Train yourself to be a meditator of My word. And, train yourself to pray continually.” Just those two. Everything else will fall into place.”
Ask Him to be your Personal Trainer. He will jump at the chance. But know this….”He’ll help you sweat.” 🙂
Some people call it, “Having a revelation.” Others term it, “an ah-ha moment.” Whatever we call it, it’s that point in time when something we were struggling to get our heads around finally makes sense.
A life truth that I discovered some time ago was that it is more important to get one’s heart around something than getting the head around it.
Because of that “revelation/ah-ha moment,” I have been training myself to approach issues with my heart first rather than my own understanding.
“Trust the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding”
Another way to say, “own understanding” from Proverbs 3:5 is don’t put your weight on what you think you know.
To fill the brain with good information is very important. We need to always be learning and it’s not an issue of divorcing your head from your heart.
The issue is the question, “Where do you put the weight?”
Our heads were never designed to function as a candle or flashlight. That’s what God created the heart to do. The heart generates the light we need to navigate this life.
We have to have information to work with. The brain gathers and stores that information. Without that gathered intelligence, there wouldn’t be anything for the heart to enlighten. In other words, “For God so loved the world” is just information (and non personal) until the heart shines on the words in a way a person can embrace and enjoy them.
That’s true for us as individuals, personally. That’s als0 true for other people we are concerned for. You know…the folks we care about that nothing…no amount of counseling…no amount of encouragement we try to give seems to make any lasting impact.
It’s because they need a revelation! An “AH-HA.”
I’ve recently witnessed several such situations where individuals seemed to be batting their heads against the wall. They were getting headaches rather than breakthroughs.
However, when the focus was changed from “trying to convince” to “praying for heart revelation,” absolutely amazing things started happenings. As a matter of fact, in some cases, faster than I would have dreamed possible.
I personally do two things for heart enlightenment:
I pray Ephesians 1:17-19 substituting the persons name (or the word, “my”). Example: “I pray that the eyes of (my/Jeff’s/Jane’s) heart will be enlightened that (I/he/she) might know you better and that they might know the hope of (my/his/her) calling, etc.”
I pray in the Spirit (tongues). In fact, I have discovered amazing results and a whole lot of “coincidences” popping up that weren’t before I started giving myself to the practice on a frequent and regular daily basis.
I pray that the eyes of (my reader’s) heart might be filled with wisdom and revelation that they will receive more than information from this article, but have a personal ah-ha in the reading of it.
I’ve discovered (and am still discovering) that “panic” to respond to a negative situation or circumstance is never what Dr. Jesus orders.
For me, panic has never been motivated by faith. And, what’s more…the results to a “panic driven reaction” always has one of the following results:
The “solution” was temporary.
The “solution” didn’t bring peace.
The “solution” caused even more problems.
The “solution” didn’t help me grow in faith or trust.
Most of the time the need for an “immediate response” is a faulty perception.
It has been my experience, time and time again, that God is never caught off guard. He has never says, “Whoa…we have a problem, Houston!”
What’s more…God is smart enough to know the ins and outs and all the natty little details. Typically He alone has the perfect wisdom to apply the perfect solution. And if we let Him do “His Job,” His ways and means will work out far better than our “panic attack.”
Does this excuse an attitude of procrastination on our part? Nope. Not at all. You know whether or not procrastination is your “drug of choice.”
But, if you are feeling “panicky” and driven to respond out of fear…then stop. Pull back. Tell God you trust him with (this or that) situation or person. And, also tell Him that you know He knows how to do His job and doesn’t need your advice.
Decisions that you are given no time to make are not normally the result of something God’s wisdom would lead you into.
Postpone Panic. Stop focusing on natural circumstances. Intentionally turn the situation over, in trust, to the One who has perfect wisdom.
In fact, sometimes you need to just take a nap or a night’s sleep as an act of faith. Avoiding life through sleep is not what I’m advocating. But, I think you know that already.
Panic decisions and actions are not your friends.
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