Who are we in Christ?

We were created by God in his own image to be his own child, to do what He wants, when, where and how He wants, in order to get the results He wants.

And He made us with free will to choose to be and do that, or not.

Since starting this study, almost every day the Holy Spirit brings me another scripture with another facet of our identity in Christ to add to my notes. The following is in sort of a haphazard order, despite my attempts to make a logical step-by-step list.

I’m sure there are other descriptions and scriptures that could be added so I’m not going to publish this as “all inclusive.” Now and then He tells me, “It will ALL be helpful, you’ll see,” so I keep listening, keep studying, keep praying, and typing.

(If you get bored with this long list, just quit reading, but please don’t quit thinking about this subject, or asking the Lord for yourself: WHO AM I? He’ll find a way to answer you.)

How we live our daily lives, how we share God’s word, how we witness, even how we pray and intercede, are all related to that one essential question:

Who are we in Christ?

  • “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
  • We are in Christ, everything else is derived from that truth. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being.” Acts 17:28, John 14:20
  • We are also inhabited by God: (1) by the Father, (2) by Jesus, and (3) by the Holy Spirit, John 14:17-23. All the Trinity make their home inside us.
  • We were created in God’s image, Genesis 1:27
  • Chosen, (1) He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, Ephesians 1:4; (2) God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, 2 Thessalonians 2:13; (3) you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, 1 Peter 2:9
  • Forgiven of all sins, Colossians 2:13-14
  • Free, not condemned, Romans 8:1-2
  • Saved by grace, God’s free gift to us, Ephesians 2:8
  • … through faith, also a gift from God, Ephesians 2:8
  • … faith that comes by hearing and believing God’s word, Romans 10:17
  • … his own faith was offered by Jesus to the disciples and to us, Mark 11:22
  • We are now the righteousness of God, 2 Corinthians 5:21
  • Made an entirely new creation, 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • Sons of God, adopted; also led by the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:14-16
  • Heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ, Romans 8:17
  • Made one spirit with Him, I Corinthians Cor. 6:17
  • Friends of Jesus, John 15:13-15, also see 2 Chronicles 20:7, Isaiah 41:8, James 2:23
  • Taught by the Holy Spirit, who will also bring back to our remembrance whatever Jesus taught us; He will also show us the future, John 14:26
  • God’s workmanship, Ephesians 2:10, also see verse 8
  • Being changed (metamorphosized) from glory to glory, 2 Corinthians 3:18, also see Colossians 1:27
  • Unfinished; God began a good work in me and will continue to perform it, Philippians 1:6;
  • A life-long learner; I am continually learning and adding to what I have received and know, 2 Peter 1:3-8
  • God’s workers to do what he ordained for us beforehand, Ephesians 2:10
  • Co-laborers (co-workers) with God to do those things, 1 Corinthians 3:9; also see 2 Corinthians 6:1
  • As Jesus is, so are we in this world, I John 4:17
  • Imitators of God and of Christ, the word “followers” is literally translated imitators, Ephesians 5:1
  • Imitators of Paul as he imitates Christ, I Corinthians 4:16, 11:1
  • Seated with Christ in the heavenly places, Ephesians 2:6, also see 1:20-23
  • Spiritual warriors, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; in a war, whether we know it or not
  • Armed and armored, Ephesians 6:11-17
  • More than conquerors, Romans 8:37-39

What is our assignment?

  • Replenish planet earth, subdue it and have dominion over it, Genesis 1:26-28
  • Seek the kingdom of God, Matthew 6:33, Luke 12:31-32, which is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” Romans 14:17
  • Because “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:31-32
  • Reign with him on earth now, in this lifetime, Romans 5:17, Revelation 5:10; 20:4-6; 22:5
  • Do what Jesus did, i.e make disciples, teach them to observe what he commanded the first disciples: (1) preach the kingdom, (2) heal the sick, (3) cleanse the lepers, (4) raise the dead, and (5) cast out demons; Matthew 28:18-20
  • Do even greater works, i.e. deeds, than Jesus did, John 14:12-13
  • Do the works ordained by God for us beforehand, Ephesians 2:10
  • Be co-workers with him, I Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1
  • Be ambassadors for him, 2 Corinthians. 5:20
  • God is in us to will and to do his good pleasure; allow him to do that, Philippians 2:13
  • Do everything in love, I Corinthians 16:14 (agape, God-kind of love)
  • Walk (live, behave) in love, Ephesians 5:2
  • Give thanks in everything – no matter what happens around us, there are always things to be thankful for, I Thessalonians 5:18
  • Offer the sacrifice of praise, Hebrews 13:15
  • Pray without ceasing, I Thessalonians 5:17
  • Pray in the Spirit, Ephesians 6:18
  • Pray with all prayer and supplication, Ephesians 6:18
  • Pray God’s will and then we know we have what we requested, I John 5:14-15
  • Receive answers to prayer, thus receiving fullness of joy, John 15:11, 16:24
  • Note: many scriptures instruct believers to pray. None say pray for the sick, however, except for James 5:14: a sick person should call for the elders of the church who will anoint him with oil and then they pray over him. Jesus commanded disciples to heal the sick, not pray for the sick.

How can we do that?

  • Know God and Jesus, John 17:3
  • Be led by the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:14-16
  • Receive faith, Mark 11:22, Ephesians 2:8, Romans 10:17
  • Live by faith, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Galatians 2:20
  • Receive the baptism (and thus God’s power – dunamis) of the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:8
  • Be being filled with the Holy Spirit; this is a continuous verb, not a one-time event, Ephesians 5:18
  • Be a co-laborer with God, not a “lone ranger,” 1 Corinthians 3:9
  • Know who we are in Christ, know who God is and who the enemy is, John 10:10
  • Know our authority on the earth, Matthew 10:1, Luke 9:1, the same as the original disciples / apostles, Matthew 28:18-20
  • He gave them power and authority, Luke 9:1, 10:17-19, the 70 returned in joy; he gave them authority over all the power of the enemy; also applies to us
  • Fight the good fight of faith, 1 Timothy 6:12
  • Submit to God, then resist the devil, and he will flee from you, James 4:7
  • Resist the devil steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world, I Peter 5:9
  • Desire all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I Corinthians 12-14
  • Covet the best spiritual gifts (i.e. most appropriate for the need) I Corinthians 12:31; especially covet to prophesy, I Corinthians 14:39
  • Expect Jesus to manifest himself to us, John 14:21
  • Abide in him, allow his word to abide in us; then we can ask and it is done, John 15:7
  • Be transformed (metamorphosized) by the renewing, i.e. renovation of the mind (Greek word nous, way of thinking and understanding), Romans 12:2
  • We have the mind of Christ, his way of thinking and understanding as he is in us, 1 Corinthians 2:16
  • Take advantage of the information, training and equipment available in God’s word, 2 Peter 1:3-8
  • Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, Ephesians 6:10
  • Be spiritually armed and armored with the whole armor of God, Ephesians 6:11-17
  • Realize that we can do all things through Christ, Philippians 4:13
  • Allow the fruit of the spirit to grow and develop in our lives, Galatians 5:22-24
  • Allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, John 16:13
  • Live and walk (act, behave) in the spirit, Galatians 5:25
  • Continue living and acting by the spirit, not by keeping the law, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” Galatians 3:1-3
  • Be patient after doing the will of God, Hebrews 10:36
  • Let patience do its perfect work so we will lack nothing, James 1:4
  • Be patient with joyfulness, Colossians 1:11
  • Be anxious for nothing, Philippians 4:6
  • Do not be troubled or afraid, John 14:27, 1 John 4:18
  • Let the peace of God rule in our heart, Colossians 3:15
  • Be humble, 1 Peter 5:5-6
  • Don’t think more highly of yourself than you should, Romans 12:3

Also see:

Paul’s prayers, good examples to pray for ourselves and others:

  • Be enriched in utterance and knowledge, 1 Corinthians 1:4-8
  • Have the spirit of wisdom and revelation, understanding the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints (Christians), Ephesians 1:16-19
  • Be strengthened… comprehend… filled with the fullness of God; read entire passage, Ephesians 3:14-19
  • Know and understand God’s will, Colossians 1:9,
  • Be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, Ephesians 5:17

Childhood Salvation

Is there such a thing as childhood salvation?

Is there really an age of accountability? Some people think so, some people don’t. Some say it’s 8 years of age, others say it’s 12.

But have they ever lived with a strong-willed 3 year old? One who knows what it means to be “naughty?”

I think the article at this link explains the issue quite well. https://truthforkids.com/age-of-accountability

I don’t remember a time in my life, ever, that I didn’t know for sure that Jesus is the son of God, that he is God himself, and that he took my sin on himself and died on the cross to pay for MY sins.

“Jesus loves me, this I know.” And I do, actually. I was taught that simple song as a young child, and I believed it then just as I believe it now.

For God so loved the world, including me, that he gave his only begotten son, Jesus, and that whosoever (including me) believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16). I was taught that powerful verse as a young child too, and I believed it then just as I believe it now. It summarizes the gospel very well.

I have been trying to understand how I came to believe what I know to be true. Several things come to mind.

One:

My parents were both Christians who had been raised in Christian homes. (That really does make a difference.) We loved them and we trusted them. We trusted them to tell us truthful things, not to tell us lies.

They prayed for us and with us, my brother and me. We prayed over all our meals, prayed over both ordinary and special events, prayed at bedtime, and of course prayed in church. And we went to church as a family. We went to Sunday School and “preaching,” attended nearly every revival at our own church as well as other churches, plus tent revivals.

Even in the days when one or the other of my parents were far from perfect parents, far from perfect in their actions towards each other or towards themselves personally, they still turned to the Lord to help them. To deliver them. To restore them. And he always did.

I never knew my father’s parents; his dad died years before I was born and his mom died when I was about 3 years old. But they were church members (Baptist) and I can imagine them praying for their family and the families that would come in later years. That would include me. Many of the older Motte generations are buried in the Grove Hill Cemetery in Darlington, South Carolina.

My mother’s parents and most of their Powers siblings were members of Methodist churches. Many of their generation of that family are buried in the cemetery at Pine Grove Methodist Church between Timmonsville and Darlington, SC. My own parents are buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Florence.

When I would see either set of relatives, Christmas Day, Easter, birthday celebrations, whatever the occasion, there was always a time of catching up with family news, and there was always prayer. Every meal where Da (my mother’s father) was at the table would begin with him saying grace – “Thank the Lord for Dinner.” (Or Breakfast, or Supper.) And he meant it, as short as it was. He was indeed thankful. So were we all.

I didn’t hear my great grandparents’ prayers, but I am convinced that they did know the Lord and that they did pray.

Two:

My brother and I were taught the Bible, as being the real, actual, word of the living God. Sometimes it was Mama and Daddy doing the teaching, sometimes a Sunday School teacher, and sometimes the pastor. The Bible was important to all of us, as important as eating food and drinking water.

Early days we were read Bible stories from a children’s book. We learned about Abraham and Sara, Moses and the Ten Commandments, Noah and the ark, Jonah and the whale, David and Goliath, Elijah and Elisha, many others from the pages of the Old and New Testaments.

We also learned about Jesus — lots and lots of stories about Jesus. Who he was, why he came, what he did while on planet earth. We learned about sin and what it was, how it first got into existence, what God thinks about it, and what God did about it, for us, by sending Jesus.

We learned what grace is too, and that we didn’t deserve God’s grace but we got it anyway. We didn’t deserve God’s love, but we got it anyway.

We also learned that salvation isn’t automatic just because our parents were Christians, that we ourselves were responsible for that decision. I will never forget two little lessons we learned somewhere: “God has no grandchildren,” and “Living in a garage doesn’t make you a car!”

We were first taught these concepts in simple, easy to understand words. We learned that we have the ability to ask Jesus into our heart — meaning, to ask him to forgive us when we did wrong (i.e. naughty, bad things), ask him to be our “saver” and ask him to help us change our messy way of selfish thinking.

As a teenager I had occasions to think about all that once or twice, and each time I made a conscious decision and recommitment to that truth: Yes, Jesus was indeed my Saviour. As an adult living a troubled life years later, I made an expanded, deliberate decision that Yes, Jesus was both Saviour and Lord, and although I hadn’t really been acknowledging him as MY Lord, I wanted him to be.

And in an instant, he was. A lot changed that day… I changed a lot that day! See https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/all-things-became-new/

I don’t have a specific date written down anywhere when I was born again. Some folks would say I wasn’t really born again, then. I wasn’t saved, I wasn’t really a Christian, as a child.

I have to disagree. Father God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have been my loving companions for too long, the Bible has been too precious to me for too long, and the Kingdom of God has been too real to me for too long.

But I have often wished I’d made Jesus both Saviour AND Lord of my life much earlier.

Childhood Melodies

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong, they are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so.”

Patty cake. Three blind mice. Row, row, row your boat. Twinkle, twinkle, little star!

Daddy sang bass, Mama sang tenor — no, actually they didn’t, Daddy sang something in a barbershop quartet but I have no idea what range voice he had.

Mama didn’t sing much. She loved to hear him sing, though, and when I was little and taking piano lessons, Mama taught herself the basics of playing the piano.

Music was always playing in our house, whether on radio or hi-fi (record player with fancy turntable, loadable with multiple vinyl records). Folk music, classics by symphony orchestras, musical movie soundtracks, blues and jazz from New Orleans, boogie woogie, Hits of the 50’s and 60’s, Big Band love songs and war songs — Mama and Daddy had a huge collection of long-play 33’s to choose from.

Or somebody in the house might be singing (who knows who), or playing banjo (daddy), or playing piano (me), or playing violin (brother Bud, aka Harold).

During the summer months when Bud and I spent a lot of time at our grandparents’ farm, Mimi usually had a radio on in the house tuned to a country music station somewhere.

Grand Ole Opry on WSM radio, direct from Nashville! I learned to love the sound of fiddle music, acoustic and slide steel guitar, the thump, thump of a big old bass guitar, the twang twang of ukuleles and mandolins, and lots of hillbilly tunes. Bluegrass. Mountain music. Honky-tonk!

When Mimi and Da bought a black and white television set, they discovered the Louisiana Hayride and Grand Ole Opry were broadcast there, too! Now I could see what my favorite country western music-makers looked like!

Saturday nights brought the memorable Kitty Wells’ “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” or Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight” right into our living room.

I still can’t hear the name Hank Williams without hearing him singing “I Saw the Light.”

In between the vocalists might be the comedy skits of Minnie Pearl, or the amazing strings and pickin’ music of Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys.

Here’s a clip titled Earl’s Breakdown — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtMdqh3HFBo. It was wonderful then, still wonderful now!

Why did we love music so much?

One practical, earthly reason may have been Daddy’s oldest sister, Aunt Myrtle. She played piano for silent movies! And she sponsored my piano lessons. Myrtle could play like Liberace and she loved for all of us to listen.

There’s another, more spiritual reason, though. Music was Father God’s invention. The Lord sings! The sons of God (angels) sing! Heavens, earth, trees and mountains, even the stars sing!

So when it came to creating human beings, it’s only logical that He’d include a music gene in there somewhere. At least in my own family, I’m sure he did!

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” (Zeph. 3:17)

“When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:7)

“Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because he cometh to judge the earth.” (I Chron. 16:33)

“Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.” (Isaiah 49:13)

Acceleration, happening now

18 October 2021

Last night the Lord quickly answered my prayer question, “What’s happening now, Lord?”

Acceleration, He said. More and more things are happening fast, and faster, and faster. Some are visible, some invisible.

Some people – believers and unbelievers – have been blase up to now, simply shaking off news of behaviors and actions of ungodly people. Now they have begun to feel uncomfortable. They wonder if perhaps they should pay closer attention to current events. Their discomfort is growing more intense by the day. Soon their discomfort will have to be addressed.

Some ungodly ones who thought their way of doing things would benefit them and their friends are noticing unplanned results instead. Their ideas have brought results they didn’t anticipate and don’t like. Things are worse for them today than yesterday and will be worse tomorrow than today. They’re wondering what to do, but none of their ideas will be better than their past ones. Indeed, they will be worse. Some will be much worse.

Yet things are better today for many who now have life. Yesterday they had death; they were working for the wages sin brings, and that is death. Yesterday they came to a decision, decided right, and today they have life. Today many others will come to that same decision, will decide right and also have life. Their numbers are increasing exponentially.

The acceleration is working both ways. Watch for it. Pray about it.

Earth. Can it be saved?

14 August 2021

Over the course of several nights recently, I had a conversation with myself, then with the Lord about the current condition of planet earth.

I had been wondering but not really praying about the condition of the earth. I read The Watchers emails and visit their website occasionally (https://watchers.news/), and you can get really anxious and depressed with the chaos and “natural” disasters around the world. I put “natural” in quotations, because I am not convinced that they are indeed natural. They seem supernatural, demonic in origin to me.

Climate change is certainly not new, but the current severe heat wave seems to be unprecedented in recorded history in those areas. The destruction and loss of life due to record-breaking heat, cold, floods, and other large disasters has been increasing in frequency and severity, it seems to me.

Large volcanoes. Large earthquakes. Strange, weird, or just odd phenomena appearing on every continent.

Is it dying, I wondered? Are human behaviors actually killing the planet? That’s the claim long made by some groups. I had always “poo-pooed” that idea, believing these disasters have always happened. It’s just that with today’s increased communication ability, we’re hearing about them now when we didn’t before. That’s what I have thought.

But is that really the case? Can earth be saved?

As I was meditating, a verse popped into my mind… “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psa. 24:1, I Cor. 10:26, KJV).

I looked all those words up, earth, fullness, world, dwell therein. It doesn’t just mean the planet surface, it means everything in, around and under it. Including the civilized and uncivilized areas. Oceans, islands, lands, and core. And everyone and everything on it, humans, animals, plants, and any other creature (insects, bacteria, viruses), all are the Lord’s. Present tense.

Here’s how my conversation went (more or less) after I asked that question, “Can earth be saved?”

Father God speaking:

I made it. I planned it. I designed it. I engineered it. I constructed it.
I began with the universe. Then galaxies. Then solar systems. Then planets.
I hand-picked the specific timeline, and the specific spot in all of that for my ultimate creation, mankind.

I chose the continent, the region, the nation, the city, and the hilltop for my house. The Temple. My room in the house, the Holy of Holies.

Do you think I’m going to just give it up, without a fight? I always win my fights.

The usurper wants to be god, himself. He tried to steal the earth. That didn’t work out for him.

But limited as he is to this planet, this sphere, his prison, he wants to re-make it in his image. He wants to destroy everything beautiful, and good, and useful, and beneficial to human beings. He’ll poison, corrupt, contaminate, pollute or mutate whatever he can.

And he would kill it all too, if he could. He can’t. It’s mine.

I created it, I can re-create it. Repair what is broken. Replace what’s missing. Restore it. Heal it. Make it healthy and whole again. And I will.

At that, the peace of God settled into my thinking about what’s happening on this planet. Despite what the enemy does – with the help of ignorant or evil human beings – and even if Creator God has to completely rearrange the very microscopic cells of this planet, He will do it.

In, it’s such a little word

What was the plan, exactly?

Let’s talk about words some more. Words are describers:

Short, tall. Long, short.
Strong, weak. Simple, complicated.
Ideas, plans… Plans?

Remember this for later: “No word of God is void of power.” (Luke 1:37)

I was meditating on that verse one evening. It’s the angel Gabriel’s answer to Mary that day. He had told her something amazing, something wonderful, something absolutely dumbfounding. And she had asked him, How?

I gave that a bit more thought, then asked – “NO word, Lord? No word of God is void of power?”

“Have you considered the word in?” He replied. “As in, In the beginning?”

“Hmmm. I know several verses begin that way. Genesis 1:1; John 1:1.” I could almost feel him nod his head and wait, as I continued to think.

I had to admit that I’d never really considered that little word, in. So I did. I looked it up in various secular and Bible dictionaries, Strong’s Concordance, etc. The definition is not complicated. In indicates a location, a relative position. Inside. On. Within. At. Among. With.

Those meanings are simple. How is that little word in powerful, I wondered? Various Bible phrases began coming to mind.

In Christ. In Him. In whom. Jesus claimed that He was in the Father, that the Father was in him, and one day, they would both be in us. What a thought – one day we would be inhabited by God himself.

Consider John 14:10, 20-21, 23:

  • 10 “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works… “
  • 20 “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.”
  • 21 “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him…”
  • 23 “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”

Also:

  • “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” (Eph. 1:3-4)
  • “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.” (Eph. 3:12)
  • “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph. 4:6)
  • “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:” (Col. 2:9-10)
  • “For in him we live, and move, and have our being;” (Acts 17:28)

So much wonderful truth is contained in that one little word, “in!”

After a day or two, I began wondering about something else…

What exactly happened “in the beginning?” (Or even before the beginning.)

The Word was there… In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

Secret things were kept… That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world. (Matt. 13:35)

A kingdom was prepared… Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (Matt. 25:34)

The blood of prophets was shed… That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; (Luke 11:50)

God loved Jesus… Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)

God chose us… According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: … 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him: (Eph. 1:4, 10)

The works were finished… For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. (Heb. 4:3)

Jesus coming to earth in human form was preplanned; foreordained… Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, (I Pet. 1:20)

The Lamb (Jesus) was slain… And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev. 13:8)

Certain names were written in the book of life… The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. (Rev. 17:8)

I’ve begun to see a plan, haven’t you? The essential difference between Christianity and any religion: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27) The Gospel. The good news. THE PLAN. The only plan, planned from the beginning.

Christians are inhabited by the same Spirit that created everything. (John 1:3, Col. 1:16)

Such a powerful word, in.

God is building a wall

Late Friday night March 15, 2019 I was sleepily praying about many things including politics, the President’s southern border wall proposal and the opposition to it, when the Lord interrupted my prayers.

Quite clearly, he said, I’M building a wall.”

Okay Lord, YOU’RE building a wall, I answered, visualizing the wall of a house.

“No, bigger than that,” he said. So I imagined a much taller wall, although still part of a house. A bigger house, maybe two-story.

“It’s a wall that divides,” he added. “I’m not through with America yet. Now is the time for people to choose; to put themselves on the right side of my wall.”

Oh, wow. Wow. As I considered that, the image expanded, becoming more like the Great Wall of China.

“It will become a tower.”

I recalled towers I’d read about in scripture, such as those built in the center of vineyards. Watch towers.

“Think more like this,” the Lord said, and showed me the city wall around Jerusalem, with tall, broad, high guard towers at intervals.

Slowly the image expanded again; the wall grew higher, and broader, and longer, encircling a much greater distance than any one city. It was still growing when our conversation ended, but my thoughts didn’t end there.

I couldn’t go to sleep. I praised and thanked God for his message, and prayed. As I did, the faces of many people and accounts of horrible situations ran through my mind like a newsreel. Occasionally I dozed off only to wake up a short time later, still praying. More faces. More needs. More lost souls!

When Saturday morning dawned I was still praying. Eventually I got up, fed my hungry kitties, made myself a cup of coffee, and meditated on what the Lord had said. I jotted down some notes.

I knew he didn’t mean a wall in the natural world somewhere.

But like a physical wall, I knew this spiritual wall is becoming more obvious as it goes up. It is indeed a divider, between good and evil. God is creating a wall and drawing a line, making people choose. By their words and actions, they are revealing their hearts publicly.

And I understood more clearly, too, the purpose of the call to pray that is spreading across the world today. The intercessions of God’s people are the building blocks for his wall, brick by spiritual brick.

I spent some time Saturday researching definitions and uses of the words wall, tower and fortress in the Bible. I discovered that God himself is our strong tower, our defense, our fortress.

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runs into it and he is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10) I remember singing that verse many years ago, and now I find myself singing it again.

Over two years ago the Lord gave me specific words to pray, more like a command or decree: “Out and oust.”

That meant, reveal those (in government, or business, or media, or entertainment) who are opposed to God’s work, and remove them from any sphere of influence. Since then I have watched the answer to that prayer play out publicly, again and again.

God’s wall is going up, spiritually. He is drawing the line. And people are being forced to choose which side of God’s wall they want to be on, when the final bricks are laid.

Faith is also a grace

Thoughts about grace…

God’s essence and character are love.

Love is expressed to the object of love.

Grace (gift, favor) is an expression of God’s love.

You can’t truly separate out just one aspect of God’s character from all the others.

Consider a red delicious apple – color, shape, aroma, texture, juiciness, flavor, peeling, seeds. It takes all those to make that particular type of apple.

When God extends his word, which contains his creative life, to me – an act of his grace – all his character is wrapped up in that word. (Does he believe his own word? Does he have faith in his own word?)

God’s own faith comes too.

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” (NIV)

 

Curious? Dissatisfied? Hungry? Desperate?

Who told Bartimaeus?

“Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” (Mark 10:46-52 NIV)

Bartimaeus shouted. Not an accepted member of the community, he was a blind beggar, thus considered unclean, unworthy, and not permitted to enter the Temple. People in the crowd rebuked him, trying to shut him up, but he kept on shouting — and he wasn’t just yelling, he was declaring something, something important: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Questions:

  • How did he know about Jesus?
  • How did he know who Jesus actually was?
  • Why did he want to get Jesus’s attention?

Well, he was persistent. He got Jesus’s attention. He didn’t ask him for money, he asked for healing so he could earn his own money, and he got it. (Then he became a follower of Jesus. Neat.)

Who told Zacchaeus?

“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)

“Zacchaeus was a Wee Little Man…”  Remember that children’s song? He was a rich man, a powerful man with a powerful position, but that wasn’t enough to satisfy him completely. He wanted to see this Jesus, to figure out who he was. Unfortunately, he was also an unpopular man, a Jewish man who worked for the Romans. Also unfortunately, he was a short man, and no-one would move out of the way and give him space to see. Undeterred, he did an undignified thing: he climbed up into a tree.

Questions:

  • How did he know it was Jesus coming his way?
  • How did he know Jesus was worth looking at?
  • Did he want something from Jesus?

He was persistent. Not dignified, but persistent. And so he did get to see Jesus, and Jesus also saw him! He didn’t ask Jesus for more power, a better position, or anything… instead he repented of the unjust way he’d been doing his job. He needed salvation, and he got it.

Who told the Syrophoenician Woman?

“Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret.

In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

“First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.” (Mark 7:24-30)

Although this woman’s name isn’t mentioned, her nationality is: Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia (part of Lebanon or Syria today). She was not a Jew. Jesus had come into her territory, however, and pretty soon word got out that he was there. She sought him out, determined to find help for her demon-oppressed daughter.

Questions:

  • How did she know Jesus even existed?
  • How did she know he could help her daughter?
  • When he seemed to refuse, why didn’t she just apologize for bothering him and go home?

She was stubbornly persistent. Not on her behalf, but on behalf of her daughter who desperately needed deliverance. And she got it.

Who told the Woman in the Pharisee’s House?

“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.

As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is–that she is a sinner.”

Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:36-50)

This woman’s name isn’t mentioned either, but her status in the community is: Sinner. The assumption is that she was probably a prostitute. From her boldness to enter Simon’s house while he had dinner guests, she was probably not just known to Simon, but familiar to him. Perhaps one of her clients? Who knows.

But she wasn’t just bold; she owned an alabaster box of perfume, an expensive item to be carrying around. Some scholars have proposed that it was her life savings, although Luke doesn’t make that clear.

In any case, she didn’t just walk in, she fell down at Jesus’s feet, cried over them, washing his feet with her tears. Then she dried them with her hair, finally anointing them with the perfume. Can you imagine what her hair looked like after that? Or what the room smelled like after that?

Strangely enough, Simon didn’t have her thrown out. He didn’t even rebuke her himself. No, he began to criticize Jesus in his mind, who of course knew exactly what he was thinking.

Questions:

  • How did the woman know who Jesus was?
  • Who told her that Jesus was in Simon’s house?
  • What gave her the courage to invite herself in?
  • What gave her the humility to attend to Jesus’s dirty feet in an act of loving worship, when no servant had bothered to wash them?

She was persistent, throughout this encounter. She was already forgiven, because she already loved the Lord — she wanted to give him the best she had, and she wanted to do it publicly, in the position of a servant. She had needed salvation, and she had got it.

As you can see, I have questions and some possible answers of my own, but to me the most important point is this:

Somebody had told each one of them about Jesus.  Who he was, where he was, what he could do for them.

Whether they were just curious, or dissatisfied and hungry for more in their life, or desperate for help, somebody had told them about Jesus. A  neighbor. A friend or a relative. Maybe even a stranger in the crowd – somebody told them about Jesus. After they heard, they sought Jesus out and they found him.

It’s not the job of the preacher, the teacher, the prophet or the evangelist, only. Telling is every believer’s job. Somebody told us, didn’t they?

Sozo – salvation, faith and healing

John 10:10 tells us that there is a thief – aka murderer, aka liar, aka enemy – whose only aim is to steal from us, kill us, and destroy everything he can. But Jesus came to give us life, abundant life! If we don’t use the weapons and armor God has made available to us, the enemy will get away with causing chaos and havoc in our lives. God is not our enemy, he is our Warrior! But he won’t put the armor on us, we have to do that. He won’t wield the sword for us, we have to do that. This article is about the day I began to discover those amazing, transforming truths.

Esther's Petition

Testimony, part two

Sozo – salvation, faith and healing

Getting the job as the very first secretary of the Nursing Department of Florence-Darlington Technical College was the easiest thing I ever did. My current job was ending and I needed a new one, and one of the other parents at my children’s daycare told me about this new position being created. I called, went by and filled out an application form and was set up with an interview with Billie Boette, R.N., the new department head.

The day of the appointment I found her surrounded by box after box of loose papers, files, print-outs, student records, instructional materials, office supplies, and other assorted odds and ends.

There was a large outer room, a glass-walled inner room, two desks, two chairs and an empty file cabinet, all nice and new, and all stacked with overflowing boxes. Adjoining this yet-to-become office space…

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