Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thinking--->emotions-->willing

Is there a connection between our affections and our wills?

Yes. We choose (will) what affects us (creates affection/desire) most; what most draws or allures us. What moves us to action (will) is what moves us emotionally (affectionately) first i.e. we are moved into action by our emotions.

Breakdown the word and consider its meaning. It consists of two parts. Emotion = e and motion.

Willing ourselves to act contrary to our desires wears us out and does not last long term.

What creates e-motions?

When we behold something beautiful and attractive we are excited and draw to it. We are moved (affected) to act/action. Likewise when we see something unattractive we are repelled. This too is movement to action but away from and not towards something.

What about our minds?

But isn't our mind involved also? Yes, what we think (believe) to be most desirable is what we choose (will) to pursue.

However what is truly desirable (objectively) and what we think is desirable (subjectively) are not necessarily one in the same.

What we think is desirable is only what we can see as desirable. If we are blind how can we see that which is truly most desirable?

Because we are spiritually dead we are also spiritually blind. Our problem is the greatest beauty lies beyond the physical and is found in the spiritual. A spiritually dead person can see nothing of the Spirit. God who is Spirit must reveal himself. 

How do we know God is beautiful? Do we have any indications?

Just look around you. There is much ugliness and pain in the world but there is also much beauty. Everything beautiful about creation comes from the Creator and reveals something of him. Likewise everything destructive that disfigures creation comes from our rebellion to the Creator. The creation is in bondage due to that rebellion. 

How do we behold God clearly who is beautiful?

When we see him face-to-face. But that is not possible in our present state so now we behold him by faith or "through a glass darkly." We believe he is who he claims and promises to be.

How do we know God's promises are true?

He proved them to be true by his actions.

And what action did God take to prove he's truthful and most trustworthy?

Even after we rejected God, he chose to pursue us and interrupted his world of bliss, by stepping into our world of pain as a man,

to pursue and embrace us in our brokenness and self inflicted pain out of his infinite love,

allowing this to kill him so that he might deliver us and our world out of pain;

not because he needed to but simply because he is love and loves us that much.

The more clearly we see him (mind/belief), the greater we desire him (affection/emotion) and choose (will) to pursue him passionately. 



Monday, February 15, 2016

Is God still providing even when things get hard?


Providence is God's provide-ence: The nature and status of what God has provided or is currently providing in and through the circumstances I find myself in.

We don't normally view hard and difficult circumstances as God's provision. But in fact everything we go through, as his children, whether good or bad (as we define it) is for our good. God is providing a good end even, and sometimes especially, through bad means.

Would you consider Joseph being sold by his brothers into slavery God's provision and a good thing? Or his being falsely accused and thrown in jail for years a good thing? Yet these and other circumstances ultimately lead to Joseph being promoted to second in command over all of Egypt and in the position to deliver his family from famine. Gen 37:3 - 50:20

What if the outcome of hard circumstances does not result in such dramatic provision, is God still providing? Yes he is but what he's providing is of a spiritual and eternal nature which is far more significant than any present material provision. God's provision can be but is not necessarily or always physical or material.

The prosperity gospel folks have it right in that God always wants our good and is doing good for us. Where they are wrong is they assume it's always of a physical or material natural and always here and now. 

These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing. Things that are seen don't last forever, but things that are not seen are eternal. That's why we are to set our minds on the in things above (Col 3:1-2) that cannot be seen. 2Co 4:17-18 (CEV)   

These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever. 2Co 4:17-18 (MSG)   

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2Co 4:17-18 (ESV)  



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The gain of self-denial

We are called to deny ourselves (e.g. fast) regularly to help maintain our focus and dependence on God, who is true life, instead of on the pleasures of creation.

When we least want to deny ourselves may likely be when we most need to.

If we regularly choose to act in ways that require us to depend and focus on God instead of the pleasures of this life we are deliberately humbling ourselves. 

We are not only called to this but this also leads to our ultimate joy and gain. 

Denying ourselves pleasures of this life (for a season) leads us to finding greater pleasures in God; a feasting on God himself as well as increased gratitude for his good gifts. Not only pleasures in God now but in the next life as well. In fact the greater our pleasure in him in this life the greater our capacity to enjoy him in the next life. 

"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." - James an apostle of Jesus. Jas 4:10  

And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save itFor what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?" - Jesus. Luk 9:23-25

"Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." - Jesus right before his betrayal. Luk 22:42 

"...but (Jesus) emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, - Paul and apostle of Jesus Php 2:7-9



Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Loving ourselves?

Most everyone agrees that knowing we have value is vital to becoming whole and functioning well. The question then becomes how is that best accomplished?

We hear a lot today about how and why loving and caring for ourselves is necessary and the best way (maybe the only way) to feel good about ourselves.

What if there is someone who knows you and cares about you better than you can care for yourself? Do you think/believe that's possible?

The best self-care is not caring for yourself but letting somebody care for you who knows you and loves you better than you can love yourself.

That would best be done by someone who has infinite knowledge, infinite ability, infinite resources and an infinite desire/love to care for you.

That would also not be you. A finite being cannot meet an infinite need.

Our only challenge is believing God knows and loves us better than we know and love ourselves and entrusting ourselves to his care.




Saturday, February 6, 2016

Moved to action

If God wants something accomplished it will not happen unless he brings it about. 

However he brings things about through our faithfulness. Faithfulness that is driven by the energy he gives us through our dependence on him.

The greater our faithfulness (actions that come by or out of faith), the more fruitful the outcome.

"...For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me..." - Paul an apostle of Jesus. Col 1:29

"...Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure..." - Paul an apostle of Jesus. Php 2:12-13

The question isn't whether hard work pays off but rather what is driving (or should drive) our hard work. 

For a follower of Jesus, being driven out of a desire to honor God and put him on display, in all his glory, is our ultimate motive. 

But what creates this desire? 

We can't and won't live for the glory of God unless we have personally experienced him in all his glory. This is not something we make ourselves do, it is who we become as we behold, participate and experience him in all his infinite beauty (II Cor 3:17-18). And that beauty is displayed most fully in the incarnation and work of Christ on our behalf.

1Jn 4:19  We love because he first loved us.

Believing God loves us with an infinite and eternal love no matter what, causes us to fall more and more in love with him and creates in us the desire to want to show him off. We want others to see this God who loves in this way. The more we see his love for us the more we desire to put him on display (glorify him) and desire others to see him in all his love.

On the flip side however, a major means by which we experience the love of God is our faithfulness/obedience. For more on this click here



Our worth… based on what?

What makes us valuable and of tremendous worth to God is not the abilities we have been given and all we can do with them but who we are. Who he has made us to be and to what end we were made.  

(to say it another way, if for some reason we lose some or all of those abilities are we now worthless? Not in God's economy!)

And who are we exactly? 

We are like God, in his image. And because we are we can participate in the very life of God in the same way God participates in his own life, a way no other creature can. (for more on this click here)

Because God is the greatest and most valuable being of all, our ability to participate in his life has a direct bearing on our value. It is the only basis for our true worth. Our doing doesn't give us value, our being does.

This is not to say our doing has no value at all. But it only has value to the extent our doing brings honor (points others) to God, the most valuable of all beings. Nor is our doing the basis upon which God loves us. He loves and receives us for who we are in his image and in Christ, who he made us to be, not because of what we do.

For a more in depth discussion click here.



Monday, February 1, 2016

Operating in the Spirit…mystical or practical?

We tend to think of operating in the Spirit as an exclusively mystical experience when in fact it is very practical but with supernatural manifestations and by supernatural means.

Operating in the Spirit is simply operating under the influence and freedom of God's love extended to us by his grace in and through the Gospel i.e. The good news that we can have a complete righteousness given to us as a gift.

A part of this good news is that God is now committed to us, always working in and through us for our good and his glory, no matter what. This is good news not just regarding entry into the kingdom but good news regarding our ongoing daily operation and his working within and on behalf of his children. For more click here

When we grasp the full extent of God's love revealed to us by his Spirit, it "lights us up" with energy/life that pours out through us to others.

Gods love by his Spirit gives to us what has been missing ever since we disconnected from him through our rebellious unbelief.

Before God took up residency and his abode in us by his Spirit we were like a fully decorated but unlit Christmas tree sitting alone in the dark. His love revealed to us in Christ and infused in us by his Spirit turned the lights back on. 

As long as we remain plugged in to the energy source (abide in him in all his lovewe will bear much fruit bringing glory to him (give off much light/energy and put him on display). If we are not plugged in there will be no energy or light.

If we ever forget and began to think this light and energy comes from us it's like pulling away from the source (light socket) causing us to unplug again and go dark.

The difference now is nothing blocks the socket. It is always available for us to plug back into.

For more on living by grace; according to the gospel; empowered by the Spirit click here