Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Seeing fully vs clearly

We should hold what we understand to be true lightly; even our understanding of scripture.

Not because scripture isn't sure or absolute. It is. And not because we can't understand or see clearly what scripture says. But to see things clearly is not necessarily to see them fully. What we know can be absolutely correct, as far as what we know, it's just not everything there is to know about it. 

We have heard the analogy of the three blind men who were told there was an elephant in the room. They were all directed to it and asked to describe what they "saw". The one directed at the trunk, said an elephant is like a hose, the one directed at the tail, said it's like a rope and one was directed at the leg, said it's like a tree. All were correct as far as what information they had but also incorrect because they were basing it solely on their very limited (finite) perspective. 

How many times have you read a passage when, like a bolt of lightening, God gives you new clarity from a passage you have read dozens (maybe 100's) of times that you have never seen before. And not only so, what you now see gives you new and fuller understanding of the rest of scripture. So every part of scripture is now open to you in a new way. Has this ever happened to you?

Do you understand this also means prior to this fuller understanding, every part of scripture was a little more obscure to you in some way. Again, not necessarily in correctness of what you know but in the fullness of it i.e. of knowing it fully. What we knew before was true, just not as complete. We didn't get a different meaning but a fuller one (though sometimes that fuller meaning is so much greater it can seem like it's different).

Why is this?

First we are limited/finite. Therefore, all truth can only been seen if God reveals it to us. Without the Spirit revealing truth to us we can not see well if at all.

Mat 16:16-17  Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."  And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

Joh 16:12-15  "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

And the extent of our seeing is tied directly to our willingness to listen i.e. our humility in knowing we need to hear. That we are limited in our understanding and dependent on another for it to be properly understood. It is for good reason Christ often said, "for those who have ears to hear..." and similar comments.  

What is truly interesting about John's "coverage" of the upper room discourse is how often he suggests, if not directly states, what the disciples did not understand 
regarding things that were being spoken or demonstrated directly to them.

Joh 13:7  Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand."

Joh 13:12  When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you understand what I have done to you?

Joh 13:17  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Joh 14:4  And you know the way to where I am going."
Joh 14:5  Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?"

Joh 14:7  If you had known me, you would have known my Father alsoFrom now on you do know him and have seen him." 8  Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." 9  Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

Joh 14:21  Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest 
myself to him." 22  Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?"

Joh 14:26  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Joh 15:26  "But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

Joh 16:16  "A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me." 17  So some of his disciples said to one another, "What is this that he says to us'A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'; and, 'because I am going to the Father'?"18  So they were saying, "What does he mean by 'a little while'We do not know what he is talking about."

Joh 16:25  "I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf;  for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28  I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father."

29  His disciples said, "Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30  Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question  you; this is why we believe that you came from God."

Joh 17:8  For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

Joh 17:25  O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26  I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."

The above verses clearly indicate that truth is the truth objectively, but our understanding and seeing it clearly, is not the same thing as seeing it fully. In other words, the truth can be right in front of us but that doesn't mean we see all there is to see regarding that truth. Christ himself (who says he is the truth) was clearly seen by the religious leaders of his day, yet was not fully understood. 

Why? Because seeing the truth depends not only on God by His Spirit revealing it to us (because of our limitations), but on having hearts that are able to see it (I would suggest one does not occur without the other i.e. having a humble heart is the condition needed before God reveals himself to us). 

Much of our heart is hidden from us due to our natural, deeply embedded (and subtle) inclination to be independent of God, which in turn, effects our thoughts and ability to see clearly, even as God's children. The key to understanding scripture is not intellectual ability but a humble disposition. And increasing humility is an ongoing process because the depth and strength of our commitment to independence from God (i.e. pride) is far greater than any of us know or recognize. We never "arrive" when it comes to humility. 

I am not saying we should be uncertain about what we know, I am saying we should be aware that there is much more yet to be seen because our hearts still have a far greater need for humility (admitting our limitations). In fact I am suggesting we will actually never plum the depths of what is actually in scripture. Why? Because the word of God is living and active. It's not simply and only ink/words on paper i.e. objective truths (though it is certainly that at a minimum). In fact we are told that Christ is the living Word of God. And if Christ, the living word is infinite in depth of knowledge and wisdom, I would suggest that his written word is as well.

But again, this is not saying it's not absolute or objectively true. Truth is truth, it can never be true and not true at the same time. 

"...my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power... 

... as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"-- these things God  has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths  of God.  For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not  taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." - Paul an Apostle of Jesus. 1Co 2:4, 10 -14

"...At that time Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children (those members of society that are most humble);  yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." - Jesus  Mat 11:25-27



Be holy as I am holy

God's calling to "be holy as I am holy" sounds impossible and over-the-top. We may think, "how can I ever be as righteous as God!?" 

But this is a misunderstanding of holiness. Note the verse does not say do holy as I do holy. It is addressing our state of being; who we are, not what we do. This is not a focus on rightness of conduct i.e. "living right," though it certainly includes right behavior. 

This involves singleness of devotion i.e. It is to value God above all things, having our hearts wholly devoted to him (in the same way he is to himself). It's having the affections of our hearts captured by him and by nothing else.  Our devotion to him is distinct or separate from everything else. 

You may even argue a fair translation would be, "be wholly devoted to me and my glory as I am wholly devoted to it." 

Or as Christ said, if our eye is healthy (not blurry but clear and focused) than we are full of light. 

How and when does this occur?

It occurs only when we see the true value/glory of God. The more clearly we see him in all his beauty and glory, the greater our affections are for him, the more we are drawn to him and the harder we pursue him.

So our focus is not on right behavior/conduct, it's about right seeing and right valuing; seeing God clearly and truly as he is...as all loving, wise, good and glorious. We will never do so if and when our gaze/affection is set on anything other than him i.e. We will never be holy as he is holy.

Summary

Holiness is not being perfect in conduct but being perfected in devotion which is the fruit of an increasingly clearer view of his great glory/worth. As our value of God grows, our devotion and faithfulness to him grows; our behavior becomes more righteous and increasingly reflects the greatness of his worth. 

Mat 6:21  For where your treasure is (that which you value/treasure most and have the greatest affection for), there your heart (longings/desires) will be also. 22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye (focus) is healthy (clear and on the right thing i.e. that which has true and lasting value), your whole body (everything else about you; your actions, conduct etc) will be full of light, 23 but if your eye (focus) is bad (on the wrong thing), your whole body (your conduct) will be full of darkness. If then the light (your focus) in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 

This verse clearly indicates that the body by which our actions are carried out, moves as the result of our focus (eyes) being set on either the right or wrong thing. Actions are always the result or fruit of our focus. Our focus is always on what we believe is most valuable. And what we value is where our affections and longings lie. 


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Pressure to act...good or bad?

Does guilt and shame ever pressure us to act? 

Constantly! Without the love of God filling us, by and through the grace of God, these are always a part of our actions. 

Should we ever act out of guilt and shame? 

Never! At least not if we are in Christ. 

Shift

Is all pressure to act, bad? 

No. We can feel impelled out of fullness to represent God well which is a good pressure; one we can embrace and should heed. 

This comes out of a love for God and desire to honor him because he has loved and honored us in Christ.

Conclusion

We act only for one of two reasons; the glory of God or the glory/comfort/relief of self apart from God.

Why we act (motive) is always key to distinguishing good from bad actions; good from bad pressure.

#Guilt #Shame #Love #ThoughtsAboutGod #ThotsAboutGod

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Misplaced hope… Unfounded anger

One of our greatest challenges in handling the pain and suffering of this life is we place far too much value on the comforts of this life. We long for something in this life that God has not promised and then are surprised when we do not find it. In short we look for life that is pain and trouble free. 

Nothing wrong with seeking comfort or pleasure in itself. We were designed for it. The question however is a matter of expectation and how or when do we legitimately obtain it. 

Psa 16:11  You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. 

We are told that we, (along with this earth) are broken and in bondage. Yet we are always shocked when our "heaven on earth" is rudely and frequently interrupted.

We must remember that Christ stepped out of bliss into our broken world of pain to for the specific purpose of freeing us from it and ultimately uniting us with him in his new heaven and earth of bliss. This is our true and ultimate hope, not heaven on this present earth of brokenness and bondage. This is yet to come. But make no mistake, it is coming. 

Rev 21:1  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 
Rev 21:2  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 
Rev 21:3  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 
Rev 21:4  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." 

Rev 21:5  And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." 

If we find ourselves angry at God for the pain and suffering of this life, it is due to our rebellious attempt to make life work independent of God and refusal to recognize our dependence and the need to be restored and reunited to him in this life resulting in ultimate freedom from pain in the next life.

Joh 16:33  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."

Rom 8:18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Rom 8:19  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
Rom 8:20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope
Rom 8:21  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Rom 8:22  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
Rom 8:23  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Rom 8:24  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
Rom 8:25  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
1Co 2:9  But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"—
Joh 14:1  "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
Joh 14:2  In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 
Joh 14:3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The necessity and fear of trust

The necessity and fear of trust

Trust is a huge and necessary part of everything we do. Why?

1. We are finite. We don't know everything, can't see everything and  can't do everything (though most of us try and like to believe we can) so we must move forward trusting others, counting on and depending on them for certain things to happen. 

2. We were never designed to go at life alone i.e. To operate without God first and then others.

However trust is very hard for us for we are damaged goods. Because of our disconnection from the source of love and life we suffered (and still suffer) a deep wound. Our souls are now raw. Yet we rarely are conscious of this condition because we numb and bury it by using Gods gifts to ease our pain. 

We only become aware when that which we use to cover and ease our pain is ripped away. As a result we have a deep-seated underlining distrust and fear of being harmed again; of reopening the wound i.e. not being loved.

All of this is due to our disconnection from and distrust of the Source of life and love i.e. The root cause of our damage. 

As a result of this disconnection, we feel we are on our own and must ensure our own safety, care and love. 

Yet we can't. We must trust someone. The question is who. Is it God or ourselves.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

What's really inside?

The true state of the *human heart (and condition) is often not evident until everything that we depend on to gain a sense of meaning and value is stripped away.

What surfaces emotionally when you're really cold, really sick, really tired, really hungry, totally alone or any other state of extended deprivation? 

What if you also find yourself in one (or possibly several) of these conditions with no hope of relief? What surfaces then? (think Job)

Whatever it is... fear, anxiety, anger, complaining, whining etc... that is who you really are; the real you.

We all do well when things go well. It's when they go wrong that we find out what we're really made of.

When everything is stripped away it becomes very evident that we are totally dependent (our true state of being) and very rebellious and rather miserable (our true condition) creatures, who are often ungrateful.

* I am making the distinction between "heart" and "condition" suggesting "heart" addresses who we really are; our being creatures dependent on our Creator and "condition" with those circumstances we find ourselves in that create pain and suffering (resulting from the fall) which brings to the surface what's in our heart. Maybe too fine or unclear a distinction?

Feedback is always welcomed. Nothing I post is final simply because I know much of our (my) heart is hidden from us (me), which in turn, effects our (my) thoughts and ability to see clearly.





Thursday, March 10, 2016

willing---> desiring ---> loving

We choose/will what we desire and we desire what we love.

So how does this play out with "free will?" The will is not free in the sense that it is it's own independent agent. We will what we desire i.e. our wills are tied to our desires. And we desire what we love and we love what gives us the greatest sense of meaning, value, purpose etc.

However what if there is something out there that gives a greater sense of meaning than what we now know and are aware of. In fact this "something" gives the greatest sense of meaning/value/purpose possible. It exists objectively, but to us, subjectively, it does not. How can we choose such an "object?" We can not and will not. How can we if we don't know it exists. So free will is not our problem. Blindness is. We can not will/choose and pursue that which we can't see and therefore have no knowledge of.  

So we go after that which our senses tell us does the best job of satisfying our need.

But here's an more fundamental question. Why do we need at all? What do we need?

The simple fact of our finiteness requires us to depend on certain things in order to do, know and live etc.

We are not self sufficient in the absolute sense. Physically alone we must have water, air, food, shelter at a minimum. Beyond these we desire far more.

How about emotionally? Do we need anything? Well studies show we need love. If infants are not touched and handled in a way that communicates they are cared for, they do not mature properly and can literally die. Curious, isn't it. Why is this? The common theme of everyone who unsuccessfully attempts suicide is life no longer had meaning, purpose or any hope of these and it was simply too unbearably painful to function this way. If I die, hopefully the pain will stop. This is why simply showing genuine care for someone in this condition can turn them around. It tells them they actually are important after all. 

So what is it we need exactly. We need to be valued, important, of worth in the eyes of another. Some try to satisfy this need through self treatment so to speak... self love, self medication if you will...but nothing works completely and sufficiently except a relationship with the Source of life love and all things...God himself.


The humility of God?

What is interesting about the Spirit of God is the Spirit (always in the feminine gender in OT Hebrew) is equally God along with the Father and the Son.

Yet the Spirit basically remains behind the scenes, always pointing us to the Father and revealing to us the Son and his words. Almost the opposite of the Father who is always calling us to recognize the greatness of his glory.

The Spirit is called the Spirit of glory (IPet 4:14) but we are never told to glorify the Spirit. The Spirit is always glorifying or enabling us to glorify others (the Father and Son). 

The contrast is important and significant. This tells us God is not only all glorious but as the Spirit is all humble as well. The Holy Spirit is truly multidimensional and asks nothing of us the Spirit doesn't fully participate in. 

Part of what makes God so great is the Spirit is able to also be so humble and other oriented; not by necessity but by choice. 

We also see this same quality in Christ.

Mat 11:29  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly (humble, cast down, humiliated - in the original) in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Php 2:6-8 ...who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped (seized, held fast), but 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.

In addition to the above it requires greater humility to go from being God to man than it does going from being rebellious untrusting creatures to our true status of dependent creatures e.g. to go from a penthouse to an outhouse is a far greater step down than moving from a real house to a fake one. 

The steps God took to bring his love to us was a far greater step of humility than he will ever ask us to take. 



Sunday, March 6, 2016

"free" will or heavily influenced?

I find human behavior fascinating (my own included e.g. "...why did I do THAT?!")

In light of this I found the below video fascinating.

This demonstrates that even though we have "free wills" (everyone made their own "free" choice to stand) our will's are heavily (if not completely) influenced by our need for acceptance/approval/love (or at least what we BELIEVE we need to do, to acquire or achieve these).

https://www.facebook.com/sameer.alyaseri/videos/1612008969051321/

Being influenced for good

How do we counter being tossed about by the whim of others as in the video above?

When our identity is strongly anchored in Christ (he loves me no matter what I go through or what others think, do or say), we are not so easily swayed. This is likely why dictatorships do not like "religious" beliefs and most aggressively try to oppress and outlaw Christianity (or even other faiths). We are not as easily influenced by their dictates (because we are more influenced by God's).

How much of your behavior is dictated by what OTHERS think, do or say? e.g. When the polls go contrary to your views, does that effect you and make you reconsider your position? If not, you either are very principled, having strong convictions or you have a strong personality and are more a leader than a follower (the former often produces the later).

If you are anchored in Christ this will instill in you a strength you did not have before to do what you are convinced (believe) is right in the face of opposition (knowing there are eternal rewards no matter what, instills great courage and steadfastness). This is the essence of leadership; courage in the face of great opposition.



Thursday, March 3, 2016

Obedience... evidence of love

"If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just (in the exact same way) as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love." - Jesus. Joh 15:10    

Is abiding in God's love something earned? It can't be because Christ himself, who is fully loved by the Father, experienced his father's love by abiding in it. 

Note how this verse ties abiding in Gods love to keeping his commandments. Keeping God's Commandments does not cause God to love us no more than it causes the Father to love the Son. Obedience however is a means of our participation in it.

In the same way that Christ obeyed his Father, he's calling us to obey him. In so doing we will experience the love of God in the same way that Christ experienced it.

This also is suggested in the following verses. 

Joh 14:21  Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." 

Joh 14:23  Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him

From the above two verses we see the dynamic that drives us to keeping God's commandments is our love for him, while at the same time keeping his commandments becomes the means by which we participate or partake even more fully in his unearned love secured for us in and by Christ. 

Both of these verses indicate our experience of God's love and presence is tied to our obedience. This is not the same as causing God to love us. God's love is secured for us by Christ's efforts, not our own. 

Our obedience to God is the fruit of our trust in God and the greatest evidence of our love for God.

If we truly believe he loves us we will have no problem doing what he tells us to do. The more we trust in God's love the easier it is to follow his commandments i.e. they are not a burden to carry out.

1Jn 5:3  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome