2 Timothy 1.7

2Tim17

2 Timothy 1.7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

God does not pass on fear to us. That is never from Him (not to be confused with the fear of God, which is necessary; we’re talkin’ fear of man or circumstances).

The Spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind is from God. It’s His Spirit.

The POWER is God’s; the LOVE is God’s; and the SOUND MIND is God’s.

That means we put off our fleshly person and put on Christ. We access the Spirit of God within us and USE IT.

One Body, One Lord

OneBodyOneLord

A lot of thoughts are swirling around in my head right now, from my devotions in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13; and trying to link to a couple of Stu’s posts from Oct 6th and 7th. Something God is explaining to me, something I’m trying to grasp.

1 Corinthians 12 is about the gifts God gives us (teaching, healing, prophesying, etc.) and about how they all work together in the Body of Christ; and 1 Corinthians 13 is The Love Chapter.

1 Cor 12.4-7 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

On Oct 6th, Stu’s daily verse was from Gen 1.27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

And my reply was, “Can you imagine- all the billions and gazillions of people ever created (note created vs ‘born’) and ALL in God’s image? He has so many facets, He is infinite!”

Jesus is God, and He is infinite. Also, we are created in His image. He works in/through all of us. Think of all the people who have ever been created, and all the gifts God designed into them; all working together as His body. In His timing, we meet up with one another, either face-to-face or through others, or reading/writing books, or radio / television, or online or whatever – we connect. God drops bits of Himself and His wisdom / Word / love through each of us unto others. We all work together for His glory!

Romans 8.28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I think we can also all know that all things work together for Him, for His glory. It is to the good to those who love God; and to the not-so-good to those who do not love Him. All to His glory. Isaiah 48.11b I will not give my glory unto another.

And one of His miracles is that He works this, His glory, through US! So, whether we feel like it or not, whether we think we’re doing any good at all or not, whether we are obedient or not, God WILL get the glory.

Stu’s verse on Oct 7 was Colossians 3:12 NIV Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

My reply: “Even when there is turmoil and sadness inside, we can clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We can put on Christ (Gal 3.27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.). Sometimes it feels like a front; sometimes it feels like a blanket. But it is always right.”

Here’s where 1 Corinthians 13 comes in. God is love. Whatever we think we know about love, we have to toss it if it isn’t God. Our love is not love. 1 John 4.10a Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us. 1 Corinthians 13 lays out some of the acts that we can do, some of the impetus that drives us; but if it’s not God / agape / love, then it is clanging, nothing, dismissed, ceasing, restrained, passing away.

Even when we don’t feel like it, we can still show God’s love. We can put on Christ (think avatar or actor), and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4.7).

God always blesses obedience. When we obey, even stiff-necked obedience, God blesses us. If we are disobedient, God will use someone else. But we will miss the blessing.

Be a willing, active part of the body of Christ.

Aren’t I Worth Anything?

ArentIWorthAnything

In me there dwelleth no good thing.

There is none righteous, no not one.

Nothing to the altar can I bring.

No salvation can be won.

 

All have sinned, no glory of God.

My righteousness is as filthy rags.

All my things with dung are shod.

Guilt within ever nags.

 

Can’t I do anything worthy of praise?

Is my good not good enough?

I should give up; nothing pays.

I’ll never be able to come up to snuff.

 

So goes the human and fleshly mindset:

We think of ourselves and want to matter.

Let us consider the Divine aspect

God’s ways are higher; we must our ways shatter.

 

I have loved you with an everlasting love,

I shield you with my strong right arm.

Look not below or within; look above

I will in no wise allow you harm.

 

With tenderness and mercy God has arrayed

With care each detail of His magnificent creation.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made

To manifest God’s amazing celebration.

 

It’s YOU! He celebrates each detail of you.

He loves to work through each facet of your

Unique personality, whatever you bring to

This life and those God brings to your door.

 

God has designed each child with delight.

He created us to need Him, He wants us near.

We can be whole only as we are right

And dependent on Him for all we hold dear.

To the Actor in You

ToTheActorInYou*

Have you ever acted in a part? A play? Church skit? I used to participate regularly in theatrical productions, and I very much enjoyed acting. It let me express sides of people that I wouldn’t have the nerve or courage to otherwise express. I got to slip out of who I was for a time, and be someone else. I could play another person with full abandon because I wasn’t responsible for that person: I was under the authority of the director. I could shed my entire personality and clothe myself with another persona.

As I was reading in Romans 7 this morning, a little something clicked.

What if being a Christian is just a little akin to acting a role? There are too many finer points for there to be any firm parallels, mind you, but the thought of it made it a little easier for me to visualize living for Christ.

When we become a Christian, we die to self, and are re-born in Jesus. We become a new creature. [2 Corinthians 5.17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.] We have a new role, because we are a new person. If we follow the actor analogy, we slip on a new character (although, in reality, the new character is not a role, but who we actually ARE). Romans 7 is about wrestling with the flesh: knowing that it’s not really YOU any more, but knowing also that you follow that old flesh sometimes, anyway.

Sometimes it’s easier to play a role when you acknowledge it’s not really you. Take on the role of Jesus. Immerse yourself in His character.

Analogies:

  • You get a script to follow (the Bible, if you will).
  • The Character you assume is well-developed and well-researched. You have a whole book to read about Him.
  • When you are “in character,” you might say or do things that are not in your (fleshly) character. But you can be more comfortable in staying in character because you are under the authority of the Director. There is no need to insert any of “you” into the role you play. However, the Character is revealed through you, personally.
  • When you step out of character, you are not following the Director, and are failing to follow the script. You might ruin the plot. As in Romans 7, sometimes you may slip and fall back into your own character. All it takes is a look back at the Script.
  • If you extemporize on the dialog, you may change the meaning of the delivery, and indeed, the whole plot. Again, another reading of the Script will bring clarity.
  • When you play the Character correctly, you are putting off all nuances and definitions of who you are in your flesh. You put on the whole Character of Christ.
  • The more you play the Character, the more you become like Him.
  • A strong actor will carry the other actors in a performance; will indeed change the tenor of the whole production.

Romans 13.14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

 

*image from google images

Preserve Me from Me

PreserveMeFromMe

In my devotions today, I read from passages in Jeremiah 10 and Psalms 121. These verses jumped out at me:

Jeremiah 10.23, 24 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.

Psalms 121.7, 8 The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

These verses tell me that I am not to depend on my own discernment or judgement: my way is not in myself, it is not in me to direct my own steps. Jeremiah reminds me that, when I do so, I will fall into sin. When that happens, I must cry out to God Almighty to correct me, but with judgment, not in His anger.

God promises, in Psalms 121, to preserve me from all evil – He will preserve my soul, He will preserve my going out and my coming in. Even when I depend on myself, even when I forget (or decide not) to follow Him, He will preserve my soul, evermore because I am His.

So I know I can rest in Him. I don’t want to become complacent in Him – Heaven forbid. But I may do my best to know Him and to obey Him, and therein lies my peace, my joy, my rest.

I like peace and joy and rest a lot. I am glad and blessed that my Lord offers me these gifts, just for the taking.

 

God’s Vineyard of People

We had a Sunday School lesson based on teacher and historian Ray Vander Laan’s series, ‘That the World May Know.’ I highly recommend looking into this series / these teachings. A YouTube search will offer up several videos to get you started.

This particular study was called, ‘A Well-Watered Garden.’ Mr. Vander Laan took the group in Israel to a portion of a hillside vineyard or garden (Hebrew, gan; plural, ganim).

Imagine, if you will, the land that God created for these farms. It was perfect. Did it look perfect? Not likely. The early Israelites’ ancestors had come from bondage in Egypt. They must have heard the stories of the rich farmland of the Nile River basin. They were promised a land flowing with milk and honey.

But they had spent 40 years wandering in the desert. Those desert years had taught them some things:

  • Dependence on God
  • Fortitude
  • Patience
  • How to listen to their leader (Moses, then Joshua)
  • The dangers of not listening to God / their leaders
  • A sense of community
    • In all that moving around, they had each other to depend upon: it was them against the world
  • Who their enemies were, and how to do battle

The desert was a wasteland. When they thought of a land flowing with milk and honey, what did they picture? Whatever met their eyes, it was better than the desert. God had promised that (Deut 6.10, 11) “it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not.”

God's Vineyard of People

When that rocky soil and those terraces met their eyes, did they have to shift their paradigms? Were they willing to put aside whatever they had imagined, and accept what God gave them? Did they see this new land as the amazing gift that it was?

The hillsides had been transformed into terraces so the crops of figs, olives, and grapes could be grown.

I found it interesting that each family’s portion was not a vertical strip of several layers, going up the hillside, but the land they took care of and farmed was one terraced layer.

You can imagine, as folks were tending their gardens, that they would often run into each other, looking up at cousin Ashan and waving, or down at Uncle Bozkath to ask about his new grandchild.

The farmers tending their gardens had much work to do in order to reap a good harvest. And most of the work was communal work: digging cisterns and irrigation, using rainfall to best advantage, grafting plants from each other, prevention of disease and rot, harvesting and using the fruit, and maintaining the walls.

The walls had to be kept strong and firm. If the garden walls above your own crumbled, that soil and water would come pouring down to make a mess of your own garden. And a fellow couldn’t necessarily see his own wall: he would have to walk in his neighbor’s garden, below, to inspect his own walls. Most often, each gardener would keep an eye on his neighbor’s wall, and shore it up when needed. They depended on each other to maintain their walls: Uncle Bozkath kept an eye on Zanoah’s wall; Zanoah kept an eye on Ashan’s wall.

The ground these farmers used for their crops was not the rich loam we are used to seeing in modern gardens. No, these olive and fig trees, and grape vines, grow in rocky soil. When building their terraces, they were able to access a rich store of supplies in the rocky ground.

Once in a while, the soil would shift, a rock in the wall would loosen, a hole would work its way there. Accordingly, as each farmer worked his plot, he might find a rock in his soil. Those of you who garden or farm might look upon those rocks in your soil and groan. Not those Israelites. They knew they were a gift, and they knew just what to do with them: Look at your neighbor’s wall, and see where that rock fits in to shore it up and make it stronger.

I love how God is Lord of Relationships. He created us to have relationship with Him, and with each other. He creates opportunity for relationships. Make Him Lord of your relationships.

I love how God gives us gifts. He gives us work to do, and the resources to use.

Some people see a rock, an obstacle, a nuisance.

Other people see a useful gift.

Who are your neighbors? What are the rocks in your life? Ask God what He would have you do.

{image from google images}

God’s Way

GodsWay

In the book of Ezra, the exiled Jews return to their homeland.

Interesting fact: not all Jews chose to return home, only those “whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1.5).

The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia (Ezra 1.1) to proclaim and put into writing, that “The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He hath charged me to build Him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah” (Ezra 1.2). In addition, Cyrus gave them all the silver and gold and brass items that Nebuchadnezzar had taken away. The Jews traveled back to their homeland with all this, plus all the gifts the people of the land bestowed upon them.

Once home, the people set to work to build a new temple upon the foundation of the old temple.

The enemies of the Jews around Jerusalem at first came, offering to “help” the Jews rebuild, saying, “Let us build with you; for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto Him…” But the Jews would have none of it (and rightly so), saying, “Ye have nothing to do with us to build a house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build into the Lord God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded.” (Ezra 4.3)

So the enemies gave the Jews grief for 16 years, and eventually wrote a letter to Darius, the king who had replaced Cyrus, a letter filled with lies.

Darius ordered a halt to the building.

The Jews might well have been devastated. They obeyed the king’s order, however, and stopped. AND they sent their own letter to Darius, appealing to him to find in the records the decree Cyrus had issued.

Darius did, and he found the decree. Then he ordered the rebuilding to continue with additional orders: the enemies of the Jews were to provide all the money and resources the Jews needed for completing the building.

Our eyes can grow round with amazement, and we can shake our heads at the miraculous provisions of God.

The Jews were obedient. That counts big with God.

Maybe, after those first 16 years, the Jews were running out of resources: money, timber, building blocks, energy, ambition. Maybe they had been praying that God would provide for all these needs.

Maybe they didn’t see, in the order to stop construction, an answer to their prayer.

But they waited on God, and were obedient.

The temple was finished and dedicated; sacrifices were offered; the laws, written in the book of Moses, were read and followed.

God blessed. Prayers were answered.

A verse that jumped out at me this morning, was Ezra 6.21: “And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat.

Filthiness was what caught my attention. When I studied it, the Hebrew definition indeed means filthy, unclean. There it was again in Ezra 9.11.

I thought, “I bet the people of the land around them might take umbrage at being called filthy. There are probably a lot of nice, well-meaning people they deal with, who are actually friends.”

I bet that’s true.

What is filthy, in the eyes of the Lord? Unclean. Of a foul or filthy mass. That which is apart from His Spirit. Really, anything that is not of God.

God is clean and pure. In our flesh, we are not.

As Christians, we can be washed as white as snow – CLEAN – with the blood of Jesus. Although this happens once-for-all at salvation, sometimes we have to do this, moment by moment in our daily lives. (1John 1.9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.)

What about the world around us? Our unsaved friends and neighbors, our relatives? All those nice, well-meaning people? Are they filthy? Yes. Just as we were. They have nothing to do with God (remember Ezra 4.3, the Jews did not allow the enemies to join with them in rebuilding.)

These things are God’s way.

This is why God warns us not to be intimate with the world. Be in the world but not of it. Love your neighbor – he’s just like you, and needs Jesus.