“The unique thing about the early Christians was their radiant relation to a Person. ‘The Lord,’ they called Him tenderly, and when they used the term they gave it its own New Testament meaning. It meant Jesus Christ, who a short while before had been among them but was now gone into the heavens as their High Priest and Advocate. It was this engrossment with a victorious Person that gave verve and vibrancy to their lives and conviction to their testimony. They bore witness joyously to the One who had lived as a true Man among men. Their testimony was not weakened by the pale cast of metaphysical thought. They knew that Jesus was very Man and very God, and He had died, had been raised from the dead and had ascended into heaven. They accepted literally His claim to be invested with authority over everything in heaven, earth and hell. How it could be they never stopped to inquire. They trusted Him absolutely and left the details to their triumphant Lord.”
A.W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous
Because Jesus has come, because He has taken on flesh to set us free, because there is now no condemnation for those who are in Him, and because He now sits at the right hand of the Father to dispense all His grace and glory upon those who would believe and ask, our present life in Him is as rich as we would have it be. Any sense of lack is simply you and I not living up to our heavenly privileges.
There is more for us. And it's all to be found in Him. Right now. Today.
God’s Spirit specifically tells us that in later days there will be men who abandon the true faith and allow themselves to be spiritually seduced by teachings of the devil, teachings given by men who are lying hypocrites, whose consciences are as dead as seared flesh. These men forbid marriage, command abstinence from food — good things which, in fact, God intends to be thankfully enjoyed by those who believe in him and know the truth. Everything God made is good, and is meant to be gratefully used, not despised. The holiness or otherwise of a certain food, for instance, depends not on its nature but on whether it is eaten thankfully or not. It is consecrated by the man who has accepted the message, and thanks God for food.
You will be doing your duty as Christ’s minister if you remind your church members of these things, and you will show yourself as one who owes his strength to the truth of the faith he has absorbed and the sound teaching he has followed. But steer clear of all these stupid Godless fictions... (1 Timothy 4:1-7a)
In actuality, either our life with Jesus is a matter of Union-with-Him (in His Life, Way, Death, Resurrection and an Experience-of-His-alive-Life-within-us) or it all becomes external observances, things measurable, rules followable, ie. a state of disunion. I highly doubt that the people trying to foist these ideas upon Timothy’s fellowship were “bad people”; more likely, they were just trying to be careful: “Timothy, this stuff you and Paul are talking about is pretty out there; let's rein it in a little, shall we?”
But, my friends, it’s our personal digging-into-Jesus, our Branch-clinging-to-Vine-ness that’s most imperative for us each playing our proper part in the Body of Christ. Without your Belief and experience of Him, we’re all in danger of descending into “stupid Godless fictions,” into externals disconnected from the Life and Way of Jesus.
So what do you say? Shall we dig in - and delight - this day?
There is really no need to "defend our faith." If you and I would only live it - enjoying all the wonders of the splendor of our inheritances in Jesus - the world's counterpoints would become utterly indefensible.
Joshua said to the people [just before the crossing of the Jordan], “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow Yahweh will do wonders among you.” (Joshua 3:5)
And rather than asking you to imagine the burning look in Joshua’s eyes while saying these words, or the rapt attention of the millions of people listening, I want you to – for a moment – instead imagine just Jesus and yourself, sitting together, tomorrow morning. You’ve only just woken up and brushed your teeth; you now walk out to the kitchen table; He is sitting there, waiting for you. With the warmest smile, He then motions you to sit directly opposite Him, and, for the longest while, He just looks at you – like the proudest father might look on his little boy or girl. Finally He speaks, short and sweet: “I have sanctified you; today I will do wonders in your midst.” Only that. That’s all He says.
If you and I gave our whole “quiet times” everyday to arriving at that reality, we would be the most fruitful, joyous, connected disciples of Jesus that the Modern Era has ever seen. Our acceptance of what He’s done for us, our expectancy of what He’s bound to do today, would define our every moment.
What do you do, personally, when you meet with Him? Is it time for a change to what's become, perhaps, just a routine?
"We are near the end of all things now, and you should therefore be calm, self-controlled men of prayer. Above everything else be sure that you have real deep love for each other, remembering how ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.' Be hospitable to each other without secretly wishing you hadn’t got to be! Serve one another with the particular gifts God has given each of you, as faithful dispensers of the magnificently varied grace of God." 1 Peter 4:7-10
This week, in slowly reading and rereading through these verses, it was like my heart took a deep breath, savored for a moment, and then let it out. Because, I thought: What a wonderful thing it is to know Jesus of Nazareth. What freedom we're given. What simple joy. What purpose.
Think about the admonitions in these four verses. Even if the world should be coming to its close, we're called to be - in fact, we're resourced to be - calm, self-controlled conversationalists with our Savior, our Friend. Our work is love. Our tool for that is hospitality: in the Greek, "acts of friendship." The only talents in us that end up mattering are the "particular gifts God has given us"; we are esteemed as the "faithful dispensers of the magnificently varied grace of God." That's who we are in God's sight.
If you know Jesus at all, then you must realize that we are all neck-deep in the roaring, powerful River of Life that flows from His throne. But I think we think, sometimes, that we shouldn't get too carried away with our identity being too fully in Him. This week, I thought: No, let's get swept away; let's fully be who we're supposed to be in Him!
What do you think? Are you with me?
“How do I know anything about the sun? Because the sun shines, and in its light I see what the sun is. The sun is its own evidence. No philosopher could have told me about the sun if the sun did not shine. No power of meditation and thought can grasp the presence of God. Be quiet, and trusting, and resting, and the everlasting God will shine into your heart, and will reveal Himself. And then, just as naturally as I enjoy the light of the sun, and as naturally as I look upon the pages of a book knowing that I can see the letters because the light shines; just as naturally will God reveal Himself to the waiting soul, and make His presence a reality.”
Andrew Murray, The Believer's Secret of the Master's Indwelling
Then Jesus said, “I shall be with you only a little while longer and then I am going to him who sent me. You will look for me then but you will never find me. You cannot come where I shall be.”
This made the Jews say to each other, “Where is he going to hide himself so that we cannot find him? Surely he’s not going to our refugees among the Greeks to teach Greeks? What does he mean when he says, ‘You will look for me and you will never find me’ and ‘You cannot come where I shall be’?” John 7:33-36
Six chapters from now, sitting at the Last Suppertable after standing up from washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus will reflect back upon these words – “Where I am going, you cannot follow” – but in the context of the Cross – what He then calls “the glory of the Son of Man.” Here, however, He is speaking of the Ascension – “then I am going to him who sent me.” As He will then be sitting back on His throne at the right hand of the Father, “[they] will look for [Him] but [they] will never find [Him]. [They] cannot come where [He] will be…”
But the greatest glory of the Ascension isn’t just Jesus sitting in remote celestial thronerooms, it’s His supernatural ability, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to actually make His dwelling in us. He’s bodily living in you right now: do you know it? Imagine the crowd’s surprise if, in light of His coming indwelling, He had honestly answered these questions they were posing to each other…
1) “Where is going to hide himself so that we cannot find him?” – I picture Jesus, with a grin, pointing over at Peter, James, John and the rest of the disciples and saying, “Oh, I’m thinking right inside them seems like a pretty good plan...”
2) “Surely he’s not going to our refugees among the Greeks to teach Greeks?” – To which Jesus might’ve replied, “Just wait till you see next Pentecost!” From Acts 2: “Then those who welcomed his message were baptized, and on that day alone about three thousand souls were added to the number of disciples.” And where were they from? “There [were] Parthians, Medes and Elamites; there [were] men whose homes [were] in Mesopotamia, in Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the parts of Africa near Cyrene, as well as visitors from Rome! There [were] Jews and proselytes, men from Crete and men from Arabia, yet [they could] all hear [the Apostles] speaking of the magnificence of God in their native language.”
3) “What does he mean when he says, ‘You will look for me and you will never find me’ and ‘You cannot come where I shall be’?” – To which He might’ve said, “Are you even remotely prepared for what I'm about to say? ‘When that day comes, [my followers] will realize that I am in my Father, that [they] are in me, and I am in [them]’ (John 14). ‘It is the man who shares my life and whose life I share who proves fruitful’ (John 15). You see, ‘the Christ [they’ll] have to deal with is not a weak person outside [them], but a tremendous power inside [them]’ (2 Corinthians 13). ‘And [their] life [will] not [be] that of the old “I,” but the living Christ within [them]’ (Galatians 2). [They will be] ‘ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within [them]’ (Philippians 4). ‘So [their] love for [me will grow] more and more, filling [them] with complete confidence for the day when [I] shall judge all men – for [they will] realize that [their] life in this world is actually [my] life lived in [them] (1 John 4).’”
An investor's greatest desire might be to build up enough capital to where they can live off their investment's income without even having to touch the principal. But, my friends, we have already been given a Kingdom! Our "returns," our overflowing riches in Him, aren't just for us anymore. Let's rejoice today in what we have and let's let it flow over into the lives of everyone around us!
"To sum up, you should all be of one mind living like brothers with true love and sympathy for each other, generous and courteous at all times. Never pay back a bad turn with a bad turn or an insult with another insult, but on the contrary pay back with good. For this is your calling—to do good and one day to inherit all the goodness of God. For: ‘He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking guile: let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.'" 1 Peter 3:8-12
Okay, let's parse our way backward through these verses to get to their purpose - their actual practical purpose - for our lives. What is constantly trained upon the ways of mankind? The face of the Lord, His ears, and the eyes of the Lord. And for what sort of men and women does His heart yearn? Those who would seek peace and pursue it… Those who would turn away from evil and actively do good… Those whose lips speak no guile; whose tongues hold back from evil… These are the ones who truly love life and do, in truth, see good days… And why do they live this way? Because it is their calling - to do good and one day to inherit all the goodness of God. But what is good; what does the "goodness of God" look like? It looks like avenging ourselves by doing good, never evil; being courteous, generous, sympathetic, truly-loving brothers and sisters of everyone we meet.
But, hmmmm... who does all that sound like? Jesus. The One whose face, whose ears, whose eyes are lovingly, always, trained upon us.
But how do we live in the manner of 1 Peter 3:8-12? Well, Peter actually led off the whole section with the answer: "you should all be of one mind." And does that mean we all just try really hard to be united, to have similar nice thoughts? No. It means what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2: "But we have the mind of Christ."
Friends, what if a single line of thinking exists for us? What if that single thought, that single mind, caused people to be brothers and sisters, produced true love, sympathy, generosity, courteousness, a gentle spirit; taught its thinkers real goodness, leading them in the way of everlasting goodness; showed them how to love life and see good days, to control their tongues, to pursue the right, to make peace, so that the GIVER of that single thought, that single mind, that LOGOS, could SEE, HEAR and EXPERIENCE His own sons and daughters living as He Himself once lived upon this earth for 33 years?
Would it be of interest to give all our thoughts to that Thought? By the Holy Spirit, that's our actual daily invitation!
“…there is only one vocation… you are called to a deep interior life, perhaps even to mystical prayer, and to pass the fruits of your contemplation on to others. And if you cannot do so by word, then by example.”
Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain
How much of our time do we spend praying because we want something...
...wanting something because we've been praying?
What if our prayer became more and more about perfect alignment rather than just constant appealings?
From Joshua 3's preparations for crossing the Jordan, with some notes in italics -
After three days, the officers went through the middle of the camp; and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of Yahweh your God’s covenant, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then leave your place, and follow it.” As many as 2 million people will then rise suddenly, grab their personal belongings, assemble their families, and physically follow the representatives and the representation of the way of the (Old) Covenant. You and I are called to rise each day, abandon our belongings and Self, lead the way for our families, and physically follow the One who is Himself the Way of the New Covenant.
“Yet there shall be a space between you and the ark, about two thousand cubits by measure. Don’t come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go; for you have not passed this way before.” And, here, it’s impossible for me to overstate how much there’s NOT a “space between” you and Jesus as you’ll follow Him with your day today! Perhaps that perception is the greatest pitfall in the Modern Church. We individually exist as if we’re following a distant external deity named Jesus; we try to “walk with Him” as if we’re separated by more than 2,000 cubits – in fact, by 2,000 years.
Wrong and wrong.
The purpose of Jesus’ Ascension was that, by taking the throne at the right hand of the Father, He might bestow on us – within us – the promised Holy Spirit and, by that Spirit, He Himself. Our opportunity now – that glorious truth we call “Abiding in Him” (John 15) – is well described if we’ll only slightly change Joshua’s officers’ words to the assembled Israelites:
“Yet there shall be no space between you and Me; I will actually live within you. Come near to Me; that you may know the way of the One who is the Way; for I have already passed this way before.”
Just a little reminder of your position and inheritance:
Your past is swallowed up by what Jesus did in the past on the Cross; your present is lived in His presence because He rose - He's alive!; and your future is to spend all eternity with the One who's presently sitting on the throne, loving you, empowering you, being your living hope.
No aspect of your human experience is untouched by His love. No aspect of this particular day is unknown to Him; He is with you.
"Delight yourselves in God, yes, find your joy in him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord. Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.
Here is a last piece of advice. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good. Model your conduct on what you have learned from me, on what I have told you and shown you, and you will find the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:4-9
So much of our own personal expression of Jesus’ goodness often uses “outward language,” yet it was Paul’s joyous “inner life” that was belying his circumstances at every turn. Consider this famous set of verses through the lens, not of comfortable American Christianity, but instead as written by a Roman prisoner imprisoned because of adherence to a small and controversial new faith-movement:
1) “Delight yourselves in God, yes, find your joy in him at all times.” With chains clanking on his wrists, Paul is looking out the window of his prison-cell with a goofy grin on his face, writing the Philippians. He writes the words, “Rejoice in the Lord always…” and then laughs out loud. Then continues, “Again I say, Rejoice!” Brothers and sisters, our personal joy – meaning Jesus’ joy pouring forth from us – must be the Church’s great witness to the world. Our lack-of-joy, in the face of all that we already have in Him, may be the greatest problem in the American Church today…
2) “Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord.” The first phrase of this sentence needs to be read in light of the second. Paul, originally one of the least “gentle” people you ever could meet, now sits in house-arrest absolutely relishing the nearness (both locationally and, according to the Greek used, “the akin-to”-ness) of Jesus. Genuine gentleness is a natural byproduct of proximity to our Savior.
3) “Don’t worry over anything whatever…” Stop right there. Do you even begin to understand that both here and in Matthew 6:25, we are actually commanded not to worry about anything? Commanded. Not to worry. Even without Paul’s wonderful sentences that will follow these five clear words, we should be given pause by the seriousness of the language he utilizes. Then comes the promise: “…tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.” This language is perfect because, presumably, Paul was looking out the window at the Roman guards standing guard over him as he wrote these words. And it’s with that level of personal watchfulness that the peace of God will watch over those hearts determined not ever to worry in His presence! My favorite wording of the privileged position we inhabit? “You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern.” (1 Peter 5:7)
4) “If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good.” Again, don’t forget that Paul is sitting in house-arrest in Rome, calling us – in our relative ease – to mine down deep into the “holy, right, pure, beautiful and good” goodness of Jesus. Just scratching at the surface should never be enough for us; nor should we be barely delving down with any old hand-trowel. No, we should be – by the power of the Holy Spirit – drilling down deeper and deeper until we freefall into the caverns of gold that are to be found in Jesus! We should be swimming in the vats of His glorious grace, spiritual inheritors of a spiritual lifestyle like the cartoon character Scrooge McDuck!
People often talk about "the end justifying the means," where the "means" are a series of actions and resolves that have resulted in whatever "end" they happen to be considering. But our "End" is a Person who literally justified our approach to Him; our "means" are now meant to be His own perfect actions and resolves. To be called by Jesus, then to be saved by Jesus, means walking with Jesus, means necessarily to begin to walk like Jesus. The interconnection of elements is supposed to be a thing of awe, of glory.
Acts 2:43-47 - "Everyone felt a deep sense of awe, while many miracles and signs took place through the apostles. All the believers shared everything in common; they sold their possessions and goods and divided the proceeds among the fellowship according to individual need. Day after day they met by common consent in the Temple; they broke bread together in their homes, sharing meals with simple joy. They praised God continually and all the people respected them. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were finding salvation."
Acts 4:13 with some notes in italics -
"When the Sanhedrin saw the complete assurance of Peter and John – the “παρρησίαν”: the outspokenness, the frankness, the freedom of speech, the freedom of action, the fearlessness, the liberality and lavishness – even though they were obviously uneducated and untrained men, they were staggered. They recognized them as men who had been with Jesus…"
And not in some sort of facial-recognition sort of “recognized them” - that would not have “staggered” the members of the Council. No, “they recognized them as men who had been with Jesus” – Jesus, the protagonist of that sentence, the antagonist of the Old Way, the One who somehow died, lived again, and now seemed to be standing here right before them – HE is the power that, through these two uneducated untrained men, “staggers” this whole group of educated, well-trained ones. Nothing is more frightening to their foundational historical religious-spirited suppositions than this earthquake of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven impossible: Jesus somehow lives on – in His followers. What the Council had attempted to murder cannot be killed!
And, since you know me well, you know where I’m going next: Have we been with Jesus in that same way? Have we accepted His call to “Follow Me” not as only a prayer of salvation, but as His actual invitation to be saved, to be changed, to be made fruitful; indeed to actually, everyday, learn to better follow Him? Have we grown hungrier and thirstier for understanding of the four Gospels, not just intellectually, but as the way His life still hungers and thirsts to break forth out of our hearts? Have we gone to the Cross and died with Him? Is it only His life that now raises us up, breathes in us, speaks through us, shows the world that He’s never ceased to live?
Friends, is there anything about our “Christianity” that staggers anyone? Oh, that it would be so! And ever more, everyday!
“[Bishop Bienvenu] was then alone with himself, contemplative, peaceful, adoring, comparing the serenity of his heart with that of the ether, affected in the darkness by the visible splendor of the constellations, and the invisible splendor of God, and opening his soul to thoughts which fall from the unknown. At such moments, offering up his heart at the hour when the nocturnal flowers offer up their perfumes, he could not have said himself, possibly, what was passing in his mind; but he felt something fly out of him and something descend into him… He dreamed of the grandeur and presence of God… He did not study God; he was dazzled by Him.”
Victor Hugo, Les Miserables
Trying to "reason our way to God" is asking the infinite immensity of all He is to squeeze into the limited finite housing of our mind and mental processes. An honest reasoning has to be prepared to allow one's mind to open out into that immensity: out where the mysteries lives in His glory. And that's precisely what we're invited to do as recipients of the Holy Spirit.
Then Philip began, and using this scripture as a starting point, he told the eunuch the good news about Jesus. As they proceeded along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, here is some water; is there any reason why I should not be baptized now?” And he gave orders for the carriage to stop. Then both of them went down to the water and Philip baptized the eunuch... (Acts 8:35-38)
Isn’t the whole narrative of this man’s salvation a thrill and a joy? He was riding back from a probably painful worship trip to Jerusalem (being, after all, "unclean" because of his condition), confused by a scripture, when he looks out the window of his carriage and sees a man jogging alongside. For his part, Philip had been going about his day when, by the voice of an angel and the Holy Spirit, he was sent out on this slightly absurd adventure.
This is the joyous way of the wonderful God we serve!
And the before-and-after qualities of this scene remind me of Paul’s glorious descriptions of the befores-and-afters of our own salvation:
“To you, who were spiritually dead all the time that you drifted along on the stream of this world’s ideas of living, and obeyed its unseen ruler (who is still operating in those who do not respond to the truth of God), to you Christ has given life! We all lived like that in the past, and followed the impulses and imaginations of our evil nature, being in fact under the wrath of God by nature, like everyone else. But even though we were dead in our sins God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, gave us life together with Christ — it is, remember, by grace and not by achievement that you are saved — and has lifted us right out of the old life to take our place with him in Christ in the Heavens…” (Ephesians 2)
Thank you, Jesus!
The eleven went to the hill-side in Galilee where Jesus had arranged to meet them, and when they had seen him they worshipped him, though some of them were doubtful. But Jesus came and spoke these words to them, "All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. You, then, are to go and make disciples of all the nations and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to observe all that I have commanded you and, remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the world." (Matthew 28:16-20)
* * * * *
On one occasion, while he was eating a meal with them, he emphasized that they were not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “You have already heard me speak about this,” he said, “for John used to baptize with water, but before many days are passed you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
This naturally brought them all together, and they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you are going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
To this he replied, “You cannot know times and dates which have been fixed by the Father’s sole authority. But you are to be given power when the Holy Spirit has come to you. You will be witnesses to me, not only in Jerusalem, not only throughout Judea, not only in Samaria, but to the very ends of the earth!”
When he had said these words he was lifted up before their eyes till a cloud hid him from their sight… (Acts 1:4-9)
* * * * *
“Great expectations are the proof of great love.”
- Honore de Balzac, The Rise and Fall of Cesar Birotteau
Now after the death of Moses the servant of Yahweh, Yahweh spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go across this Jordan, you, and all these people, to the land which I am giving to them, even to the children of Israel. I have given you every place that the sole of your foot will tread on, as I told Moses. From the wilderness, and this Lebanon, even to the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your border. No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you nor forsake you…” Joshua 1:1-5
Imagine being Joshua and standing upon the brow of a hill, looking into Canaan, with the voice of the Lord speaking whisperingly in your ear, like this. That morning you’d awoken with fear and anxiety about leading His people; now, at sunset, He is narrating the glories of your eternal possession, even as He shows it to you. Perhaps He even lengthened Joshua’s sights in order to see these lengths and breadths of the land He was set to give to his people. But can you feel the power of the Presence that had inhabited the cloud-by-day and the fire-by-night, as He's leaning over Joshua to point the way?
Abraham could certainly relate – both to the Presence and the precise words used:
“The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, ‘Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.’” (Genesis 13)
“On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates — the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.’” (Genesis 15)
For us, it is our own knowledge that He never “fails nor forsakes us,” our remembrance that He’s never “failed nor forsook us,” and our belief that He never will in the future “fail nor forsake us” that gives us the ability – today – to arise, to go, to take, to tread, and to be dauntless in His leading and presence. Immediately, here, as we’re reading the opening words of the 24 chapters that make up the Book of Joshua, we must lift our gaze to examine the steadfast face of Yeshua, our Savior, our Leader, Jesus. For we’re only as good for His service as the measure to which we believe He is good; we must stand intimately with Him, today, as Joshua once stood breath-to-breath with Yahweh.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom, of hope, of joy, of courage, of knowledge, of comfort, of counsel, and of power. No matter what our life (or this next New Year) throws at us, we mustn't fall back on our own thoughts or emotions; we must make use of, and become increasingly totally dependent upon, the Spirit of God as our best and only source for the wisdom, hope, joy, courage, knowledge, comfort, counsel and power of Heaven itself.
Let's live up to our privileges, my brothers and sisters, both today and over these holidays!
"It is through the Son, at the cost of his own blood, that we are redeemed, freely forgiven through that full and generous grace which has overflowed into our lives and opened our eyes to the truth. For God had allowed us to know the secret of his plan, and it is this: he purposes in his sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfillment in him. And here is the staggering thing — that in all which will one day belong to him we have been promised a share (since we were long ago destined for this by the one who achieves his purposes by his sovereign will), so that we, as the first to put our confidence in Christ, may bring praise to his glory!" Ephesians 1:7-12
"Yet every advantage that I had gained I considered lost for Christ’s sake. Yes, and I look upon everything as loss compared with the overwhelming gain of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. For his sake I did in actual fact suffer the loss of everything, but I considered it useless rubbish compared with being able to win Christ. For now my place is in him, and I am not dependent upon any of the self-achieved righteousness of the Law. God has given me that genuine righteousness which comes from faith in Christ. How changed are my ambitions! Now I long to know Christ and the power shown by his resurrection: now I long to share his sufferings, even to die as he died, so that I may perhaps attain as he did, the resurrection from the dead." Philippians 3:7-11
Isn't it interesting that our life in Jesus is the juxtaposition of these two elements: inestimable inheritance and complete cost? Yet what a beautiful, impossible balance it creates within us: our only hope to live it rightly will be He Himself!