Friday, May 31, 2013

Day 30 - We Are Safe and Secure, So We Are Free to Really Be Ourselves - 30 Days of Grace

Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.    John 8:35  NIV

A bondservant doesn't live in the house forever. A son remains forever.   John 8:35 WEB

Does the slave or servant have a guarantee of a permanent place in the family?  No, he is not actually part of the family.  He lives in the house while he is working there for the master.  When would he be required to go or be put out?  When his performance doesn't meet the master's standards or approval, or when the master has no more use for him.  Does he have any job security?  No.  His security in the house is tied to his performance.  Is he truly part of the family?  The family may treat him very well, but he is always a servant and never a blood relative, so thus he is never truly a part of the family circle.  Does he belong?  He has a role to play and fills a niche through what he does; his work defines his place in the house, so he belongs only as long as he fills that role. There is no real security for a slave or bond-servant; even a contract made with his master can be broken or annulled by his own poor performance.  He is judged by his own effort, and it's all up to him to continue proving himself in order to be able to stay in the home.  Since he cannot be sure he will stay in the home in the future, he has no security.

But what about the son?  The son belongs to the family forever, for he is a flesh and blood relative, born into the family.  While performance changes, birth does not!  It's irreversible!  The son will always be a member of the family and always have the family blood flowing through his veins, always have the father's DNA in every one of his cells.  The son 'remain forever' or abides forever in the house.  That is security!  He is always part of the family, always has a place in the home, is always welcome there, belongs with the family!  He always has a home and a place of belonging, no matter how far he roams afield, whether in mind or in deed.

I think of the prodigal son and his older brother.  The prodigal wandered from home in his deeds, going far away and rebelling against the father's plans and desires for him.  Yet even when he was lost, he still belonged to the father, to the household, to the family!  He still had a home, he just wasn't enjoying it!  And the older brother wandered from home in his mind.  He saw himself more as a servant and did not live as a son, enjoying the loving and unconditionally secure relationship with the father that was his birthright.  This servant mentality bred feelings of competition and resentment, yet the father's heart remained unchanged toward his son, and the son's privileges remained unchanged!  The father told him, "you are always with me, and all that I have is yours."  The older son was working for something he already had, while the younger son seemingly squandered what he had been given, only to find all that and more waiting for him back at home, safe and secure and his all along.  So both boys were secure in the family forever, even though they didn't realize it!

We are not servants who have to wonder if we are going to be kicked out of the house tomorrow based on poor performance!  We don't have to think it is all up to us to prove ourselves, do enough good things, be spiritual enough, or even be strong enough in faith to keep getting to live in the house.  No!  We were birthed into this household of God!  We were born again into this family of God!  We will remain, live and abide in the house forever.  'Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."  Ps. 23:6  We are part of this family for keeps, for God's DNA is in every part of us, Christ is our very life, His Spirit is our very breath - we are the God-kind!  We bear the family likeness and that won't ever change - it can't, it's in our spiritual DNA and part of our being.  We are who we are - God's dear children - by birth, not our performance.  Therefore, this place we have in the family, this belonging, can't be lost through performance.  It is secure, and we are secure!

It is so important to know how secure we are in God's family because we can't really relax and enjoy our relationship with God until we know we're secure in that relationship.  If we are always wondering if He might change His mind and kick us out of the family, if we are always wondering if there is something we could think, do, say or believe that would cause us to lose our place in the house of God, then we can't relax.  But the truth is, we are secure!  There is no way God is ever going to kick us out of the family.  "For consider what he has done—before the foundation of the world he chose us to become, in Christ, his holy and blameless children living within his constant care."  (Eph. 1:4 PHP)  He's planned on and has seen us being His blameless, holy, beloved children since before time began!  God's not going to disown His kids!  He's never going to let go of us or reject us!  For we are His flesh and blood, and that's forever.  Once a son, always a son.  That is what our verse assures us:  a son remains (abides, stays, lives, belongs) in the house/family forever!

So we are safe.  We are secure.  We are in God's family by birth, and that's irreversible.  We are His forever, part of the family forever.  We belong with Him and always will.  We have a home and are eternally part of that home, eternally welcomed there.  We are never going to be 'not a part of the family' - it just isn't possible, for His DNA is in our spirit and we're from above, from God, born of the Spirit!  Our citizenship or place of belonging is heaven!  We are safe in heaven already, seated with Christ in heavenly places. God has put us in Christ, and Christ is forever in the house, abiding forever with God the Father.  Thus, since we are in Christ, so are we forever in the house, abiding forever with God the Father!

What reassurance this gives!  This means there is nothing we can say, think, believe or do that will change the fact of our sonship!  There is nothing that can make us 'not a son of God!'  There is nothing that can make us rejected, forsaken, separated, or forgotten.  There is nothing that can make us 'not in the family/house of God!'  There is nothing you can do to mess this up!  Nothing!

What does that do for us?  It causes us to relax.  To be able to let go of our strivings, take off our masks, let go of our struggles, and just BE! Nothing is asked of us, nothing is required of us, nothing is demanded of us.  We don't have to work to become sons or work to stay sons.  We don't have to work to get in God's favor or work to stay there.  We don't have to prove our worth or maintain our worth.  We don't have to try to become something we already are - safe, secure, beloved, taken in, welcome, accepted, treasured, loved!

We are truly loved without any conditions.  Without any conditions!  We cannot fall out of this love, out of this home in God's heart, out of these Hands that hold us.  NOTHING can snatch us out of these arms of love!  NOTHING can separate or remove us from this Love that holds sway over us!  His Love is holding onto us, His Love is keeping us, and His Love never fails!  We are hidden with Christ in God.  We are in Christ, and Christ is always and forever in the bosom of the Father.  Therefore, we are always and forever in the bosom of the Father!  That is a place of soothing warmth, reassuring care, loving embrace, and total acceptance.  That is where we are forever!

Grace shows us we are safe!  We could never do enough to feel secure with God based on our works.  That is a servant mentality, and the focus is always on ourselves and our performance.  That is a law-based mentality, and the focus is constantly on 'how am I doing' and 'am I measuring up' - and we know the law has a standard of perfection, so it will always call us out.  We will never measure up!  So living by performance, by trying to keep rules  and requirements, trying to change and get better, trying to improve our performance and make ourselves more successful, just plain trying and self-effort of all kinds, all this will never ever bring security and reassurance to our hearts.  We will never be able to feel okay in God's presence and sure that we'll stay there if we think our staying there is based on our performance or how well we keep certain requirements.

But what a relief to find out we are under grace, not law!  We are not under requirements and rules!  We do not have to measure up, improve, change, get better, or be good enough.  We do not have to try!  There is no pressure on us to perform, to be better, to get something done, to prove ourselves, to maintain a certain level of performance, to meet a certain standard.  There are no requirements, demands, 'musts' or 'shoulds' put on us!  God isn't grading us, checking our work behind us, pointing out where we've fallen behind, or keeping score on us in any way.  God isn't looking at our performance, He is looking at His children and loving us for who we are, not for what we do.  He's not focusing on what we can bring to Him but on how He can lavish His love on us!  He isn't demanding from us, He is pouring love on us.  He isn't judging us, He is accepting us.  He isn't thinking of us with a critical mind but with a tender heart!  His thoughts aren't about what we do right or what we do wrong, His thoughts are about how much He loves and adores us and how delightful we are just as we are, right now, without needing to change or improve in any way.  In fact, He sees us as perfect to Him, His pride and joy, completely beautiful, and is delighted in who we are - His beloved children!  He doesn't see us as workers needing improvement but as children needing love!  We are truly not servants at all but beloved sons.  We are truly not under rules, law and performance pressures but under love, grace and His freeing acceptance!

Thus, we can relax, because we are under grace.  We have been birthed into the family of God as a free gift through Jesus' death and resurrection.  We permanently belong to God.  We are safe and secure in His house forever!  This belonging is safe not just by birth, which is irreversible, but also because it is based on Christ' work and not our own, and Christ's work is perfect, unchanging, unalterable, and everlasting!  It is a God-work that brought you into this family!  Since it wasn't your work but Christ's that brought you here, you are secure, because His work is so perfect and lasting. And since it was based on His doing, not yours, even on His faith (which simply ignited your faith, for He responded to God in faith on our behalf!), then your doing can't mess it up or ruin it!  Your security int he family of God is set in spiritual concrete through the blood of Christ and the irreversibility of His resurrection.  You are safe!  You are secure!  You are home forever!  You are a son forever!

So what does that make you want to do?  Do you want to go run out and sin?  It won't change a thing if you do.  However, I feel that knowing this makes a person want to snuggle up to the Father, don't you?  It makes us fall more in love with Him and sin seems so unattractive, so unnecessary, so boring.  We have found Someone who wants us no matter what, Someone who says we always belong with Him no matter what, Someone who will accept us no matter what!  We have found Home, the place where we always belong, and we will remain there forever - that's a promise that is in our verse today!  What a relief.  This wonderful fact gives true security and makes us only want to know Him more and enjoy Him and His love!  And in this atmosphere of safety and love and acceptance, we can finally be who we truly are, can just be ourselves without fear of rejection.  We find the freedom to enjoy life, to enjoy new experiences.  We find the freedom to be creative and daring, to seek out new things and even to fail.  We find the freedom to risk sharing our hearts and lives with others, to risk loving others.  We find the freedom to be with God without fear, shame, or embarrassment.  We find the freedom to be totally open, honest and transparent before God.  We find the freedom to let ourselves be loved by Him and to live out of that love!  We find the freedom to live, and to live abundantly! What a wonderful Father and what wonderful grace!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Day 29 - His Imprint on You and Love For You Reveals Your Value and Worth

Amplified Bible (AMP)
Or what woman, having ten [silver] drachmas [each one equal to a day’s wages], if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and look carefully and diligently until she finds it?
And when she has found it, she summons her [women] friends and neighbors, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the silver coin which I had lost.
10 Even so, I tell you, there is joy among and in the presence of the angels of God over one [[a]especially] wicked person who repents ([b]changes his mind for the better..]                          Luke 15:8-10

What did the woman lose and what did that prompt her to do?  She lost a coin worth a day's wage and looked carefullly and diligently till she found it.  Why did the woman look so hard for the lost coin?  It was valuable to her.  What proved that the coin was valuable and not counterfeit or fake (and thus not valuable)? The woman valued her coin because it was an authentic Roman coin, proved to be of value by the imprint of Caesar's image on it.  We are like God's coins that He Himself has created, and our value is proved by the imprint of His image on us! Just because the woman lost the coin, did it lose its value?  No!  Did it lose the image imprinted on it?  Nq!  So it is the same with us!  Though we were lost from God, we didn't lose our value, we didn't lose His image imprinted on and in us.

What does it mean that something is lost, what does that say about the object?  It says it belongs somewhere, belongs to somebody; being lost implies that the object has a home. We were lost - this shows that we have a home, belong to Somebody - God !  Our lostness doesn't change the fact that we are God's own created offspring, that He made us, that we have His image on us (and thus have value and worth0, that we are His own and valuable to Him, that we belong in His arms, in His presence, in His house in heaven!  No matter how lost we are, no matter what dark place we end up in our lostness, we are always His creations with intrinsic value and worth, because we continue to have His image within us.

What did the woman do upon finding her coin?  She asked her friends to rejoice with her over finding the coin.  What did this say about the coin's worth in her eyes?  It was worth so much she told others when she found it, she was so happy!  What do the angels do when one of us lost ones repents (changes our minds about God) and is thus found?  They are joyful, celebrate, and 'throw a party' in heaven!  The angels of God are throwing a party because you have been found by God through Jesus and have changed your mind and realized this truth!  That's how valuable you are to God! Valuable enough that He throws a party upon your homecoming!

Andre Rabe, author of the wonderful book on Christ's love for us, Imagine, makes a point that we have imagined God as a judge that just couldn't get over our sin, but Christ has revealed Him as a Father who just couldn't get over His children!  We are valued and precious to God, even in our lostness/fallen mindset, because He made us and never 'got over us' even though we withdrew from relationship with Him.  We were lost from home, yet God never got over us and never stopped seeing us as His created children who belonged with Him!

The whole idea of someone being 'lost' means that they have a place where they belong, have someone they belong  with!  A 'lost' item automatically infers that item has an owner, has someone that wants it and values it!  Our lostness only reinforces the fact that God wants us, that we belong with Him, and that is why our hearts won't rest until we find ourselves at rest in His arms!  So just being 'lost' emphasizes we belong at home in His arms, that He is still our owner and not Satan!  Jesus came to seek and to save (rescue, deliver, bring back home) the lost - we were so valuable to Him that He came looking for us and found us and brought us back to God!  That is the very reason He died, to get the lost children back from the clutches of the kidnapper, the damaging enemy, and his enslaving lies!  Christ suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God!! 

Not only does our lostness denote our belonging with God and value to Him, but also the image of God within us denotes that belonging, value and worth as well! We fell through Adam's sin but still have the family traits, still have God's image and likeness within, like the lost coin still bearing the imprint of the Maker/owner/designer.  The imprint we have, His image, is Christ in us and the breath of His very Spirit in us.  Every human is in God's image, a design original, showing how special we are and to Whom we ultimately belong.  God has always remembered and seen His image in us, though for us it has been marred from view by sin and the destructiveness of Satan's lies and works.  But God has always known that we were His offspring as humans.  We are His offspring.  We were truly made by God, as His created offspring, with God's DNA inside us!  He has always seen His likeness in us, however veiled from visibility.  We're in God's image, and the first thing Adam saw was God's eyes looking at him with adoration and approval.   Do you really think the fall of Adam could totally erase what God Himself created and put into you, His own image?  No!  God's created work is stronger than Satan's corrupting work!  God has always seen His image in you and has always loved and accepted and approved of you as a person  He made, His own created child, with His imprint of goodness and love deep down in your core.  There is nothing wrong with your humanity, and the only things 'wrong' with you were things foreign to your true way God made you/designed you, foreign and unnatural to His image in you, which has continued to be in you no matter what!  God has always been well pleased with us as humans, pleased with His image in us!  And He has always known He would move heaven and earth to get us back into enjoying relationship with Him, back into resting in His arms and letting Him love on us!

We have withdrawn from Him in fear, believing the lie of Satan that God doesn't want us, we have become alienated from Him 'in our minds,' yet God has always been close to us.  In fact we can't get away from the One who fills the whole universe and sustains our very life and breath by His Spirit!   In Him we live and move and have our being.  By Him all things consist.  He upholds all by His power.  He is not far from each of us!  Instead He is close, present, right in front of us at all times!  He is here, now, loving us, accepting us!
Also, after the cross and resurrection, there is a new creation with the image of God seen again, not hidden, veiled, marred, etc.

God unconditionally loves us!  For God so loved 'the world' - everybody, those who know Him and those who don't yet know Him!  To love means to value highly and esteem as precious.  God's love for us, even when lost, shows our value and worth to Him.  So what does this mean for us as people who sometimes dislike or even loathe ourselves, hear the world tell us we are worthless or only as good as our performance?
Well, it means you can now hear the truth:  God loves, accepts, values, approves and adores you!  And it frees you!  Frees you even to love - and even LIKE - yourself!

You are free to love, value and approve of the one God loves, values, and approves - YOU!  You can show yourself the same love, compassion, tenderness, understanding, acceptance and kindness you would show someone else in their burdens, pain, struggles, and confusions, - in their humanity!

Jesus talked about ministering to Him when He was sick, hungry, needy, and imprisoned, saying that if we do it unto one of 'the least of these' we do it unto Him.  We are to love the least of these, because that is just what Jesus does.  Well, have you ever thought about that and how it applies to you?  What if the least of these, the one most needing your love and support, the one you are asked to you?  You are one of the ones Jesus came for, you who may see yourself as one of the least are actually worthy of Jesus' love, worthy of others' love, worthy of your own love!  You deserve to be loved!  Jesus said if people love you, it's like they are loving HIM, for He is not ashamed to call you His brother or sister!  So if you think you are the least of these, remember Jesus came for the least, the last, and the lost!  But He doesn't see you least, last and lost, no - He sees you found, first, and foremost!  Each one of us is His favorite, for He looks on each one of us with favor, that is, GRACE.

What is your value?  The value of something lost is shown by what the owner will do to get that something back!  Jesus moved all of creation to get you back, traded His position in heaven to get you back, permanently took on human flesh to get you back, went to the cross and despised its shame TO GET YOU BACK! 

Jesus came to reconcile us to God.  Reconciliation means an exchange of things of equal value.  The worth of an object is seen in what is given in exchange for it, for exchange must be of two equal things.  What was exchanged to get you back to God's side?  JESUS!  Jesus exchanged His own life to get you back!  That is how much you are are worth the priceless blood of Jesus, you are valued at the value of the Son of God Himself!  You are valuable beyond measure! Since the Son is of infinite worth, and He gave Himself to get you back, then you also are of infinite worth!  You are a treasure to Him.  He would rather die than live without you, and He is so happy to have you back in His arms where He can love on you for all eternity!  Think very highly of yourself, for you are a priceless treasure to God...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Day 28 - You Are the Child God Always Wanted - 30 Days of Grace

May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm!
Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.
For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [[b]because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]—
[So that we might be] to the praise and the commendation of His glorious grace (favor and mercy), which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.                            Eph. 1:3-6

Oh, what wonderful verses we have to look at today!  Why do we praise God the Father and Jesus the Messiah?  Because the Father has blessed us in Christ!  What has He blessed us with?  With every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm!  Wow!  We have been given EVERY spiritual blessing that is in the heavenly realm! These are eternal, wonderful, supernatural blessings that won't fade or decay, blessings that last forever and are far greater than anything in this world!  These blessings are from another dimension, the spiritual dimension, given by the Holy Spirit!  Who has He blessed us in?  IN Christ!  These blessings are all found in Christ! In His person and all that HE is to and for us!  Let's look at some of these blessings..What did God do in love?  He chose us, picked us out for Himself as His own.  Who did He do this in?  In Christ!  When did He do this?  Before the foundation of the world!  To chose carries the idea of 'calling by name' - so we see that before time began, God chose us, picked us out as His own, and called us by name, giving us our true identity in Christ!  How did God choose us to be, how are we identified before Him?  As holy and blameless in His sight.  Holy carries the idea of being set apart, pure, complete and whole.  Blameless carreis the idea of above reproach or fault, beyond criticism, praised, flawless, perfect like an exquisite jewel!  God chose us as whole and holy, perfect and flawless persons before Him!  Why?  In love!  He did it out of His great love for us, even before we were born, even before He created anything!  We were already chosen and given the identity of whole and perfect and beloved in Christ!  And it gets better!  Even way back then before time began, what did God predestine or plan or mark out as our destiny?  For us to be revealed as His own children through Jesus!  Again, what motivated Him to do this?  He plannned this out of His love for us!  He predestined for us to be His own beloved children!  This was His will for us, this is what pleased His heart and this was His kind intent toward us!  Why would He do all this?  To celebrate His glorious grace and favor with us, the grace (favor, kindness, acceptance, and unconditional love) He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved, Christ, from before time began!  We have been on God's heart since before the world began!  He has had our identity in Christ, our place in His family, marked out from before time itself!  He has had US set apart in His heart from before anything ever existed...

We were the child God dreamed of before time began, the child He always wanted, the child of His heart's desire!   You weren't a recent creation of your earthly parents, no, your origin goes back much farther than that, back before time even began!  Back before there was ruin, before corruption from sin, before any sin even occurred, before Adam's fall, before the Garden, before Satan ever way, before creation itself, what existed?  Only God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, in perfect fellowship and union!  There was only laughter, love, purity, other-centeredness, mutual sharing, transparent fellowship, safety and security, sweetness, acceptance, delight, joy, peace and life!  The Trinity was all that existed in that place out of time, before anything that ever existed, existed!  Beyond any place that ever would be, there was this place, this dimension where eternity just IS, and the Trinity was there, loving and fellowshipping and enjoying one another in perfect union!

And in that circle of fellowship and love, God thought of YOU!  He imagined YOU!  He dreamed of YOU!  He created you in His mind, in His heart, in His thoughts..He imagined exactly what you would look like, the personality you would have, the quirks and eccentricities that make you so delightful.  You were God's dream!  He dreamed you up before time began - that's where and when you really began, that's your true origin - in the heart and mind of God!

Do you realize He has been thinking of you since BEFORE the world even existed? He has seen you, held you, thought of you, since before time itself!  You were created IN Christ Jesus before there ever was a world.  The Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world, He said before Abraham (or anyone else, for that matter!) was, I AM!  You were made outside of time in the I AM!  Your starting point was in eternal God, you were created as a perfect new creation way back then, before time!  That is so because Jesus already was slain from the foundation of the world, He was already raised from the foundation of the world, and you were already raised with Him to new life from the foundation of the world!  God saw you and created you back before time began as the new creation self in Christ!  THAT is the self He originally made you, THAT is your true design, THAT is your real and only true identity!  God is totally outside of time, and He sees the end from the beginning.  He saw the new creation you from before the beginning!  And He held that person, that real you, in His heart, in His mind, through time, through your birth on this earth, through your confused perceptions of who you were, through your frustrations at trying to find identity from other people or works or things, until your discovery of Christ's work to present the new you, which is the only real you, the original you that God always had in His mind, the you that was created in Christ before time!  And with your faith awareness of Christ bringing to light the new creation in Him, this new you that God had held in HIS heart, that real you that had always existed in HIS mind, came flowering forth!

The new creation you, the new self in Christ, is the REAL true you that has always been God's intent and God's true creation of you!  The other self that you thought was 'you' all those years, the old man, was not the real you at all!  Now you are living authentically, as who you REALLY are and always were in God's mind, from outside of time itself!

Think about that real you, that God dreamed up way back before creation, way back before time.  What existed then?  Sin? NO!  Struggle? NO!  Confusion? NO!  Shame?  NO!  Hurt or pain? NO!  Rejection?  NO!  Loneliness?  NO!  Doubt? NO!  The real you was made and existed in the mind of the Trinity before time started, when there was nothing BUT the Trinity in existence!  Nothing but pure love, pure affection, pure joy, pure happiness, pure transparency, pure acceptance, pure approval, pure beauty, pure freedom, pure tenderness, pure sweetness, pure friendship, pure communion!  THAT is a place of innocence!  That is your true home and where you come from, your place of belonging, your place of origin!  You were dreamed up in that Union Life, in the midst of that Perfect Love!  So you are SO innocent!  You are so beautiful and so priceless and so perfect!  You are so beloved and tenderly cared for and cherished!  You come from a place, a heart, where evil never existed and never will, where sin and separation, anxiety and pain, fear and sadness never even entered in any way, and never could!  You were created in the heart of God in a place so innocent and shining with beauty that it lights up heaven with its light and makes anything on earth pale in comparison!  Your new self isn't cleansed - it never WAS dirty!  Your new self isn't forgiven - it never knew evil!  You came from a time before evil and pain even existed, and that is the innocence you ARE in Christ, now and forever!

Can you sense the amazing and beautiful LOVE God had and has for you?  You have been adored by Him from before eternity!  You have been in His thoughts and in His heart since before forever!  You are so cherished and so loved that words can't begin to describe it!  And you are so innocent, beautiful, fresh and new because you came from a place before time, where age or decay never touched you and never shall!  You are part of God's eternal heart forevermore, and He is so enchanted with the wonderful YOU that He made, in Christ, and chose to be His child, flawless, blameless, holy, whole, beautiful, fresh and lovely as a just-opened rose, from before time began!!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Day 27 - God is Perfect Love, Part 2 - 30 Days of Grace

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].
Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].

6 [Love] does not gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.
7-8a Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.

1 Corin. 13:6-8a

Let's continue our wonderful study on Jesus' perfect love for us:

Jesus does not rejoice at unrighteousness.  What does that mean?  It means He never brings bad things upon us as part of His will!  His will is never sickness, oppression, lack, struggle, turmoil, dark seasons, trouble, persecution, attacks, temptation, calamity, or disaster!  He doesn't inflict pain, He removes it!  He isn't the 'sickener,' He is the healer!  He doesn't hurt us, He mends us!  This gives us such confidence and security, knowing He would never lash out at us and hurt us, He would never punish/discipline us with sickness or trouble (He has already dealt with our sins anyway, so there is no punishment left for us, and discipline just means teaching - He teaches us by washing us with the water of the word through the illuminating of the Spirit, renewing our minds to the truth, which is always a good experience, not bad!)  It gives us assurance that He would never send bad things upon to 'teach us a lesson,' that those things are NOT His will and purpose for us!  Yes, He can bring good out of anything, but He doesn't send evil - no!  He turns evil around for good and always brings us through in victory somehow in Christ!  another similar verse says Love does no harm, and so we know He does NO harm to us!

Instead, Jesus rejoices when truth prevails.  What does that mean?  Jesus rejoices, not over the lying, deceitful, hurtful attacks of the enemy, but over the truth!  He rejoices over the truth about US!  He rejoices over the creation He made, rejoices over how beautiful and new and glorious we are in His sight!  He sees all of you and He is pleased and excited about what He sees, the wonderful person you are.  He doesn't just rejoice over His own presence and image in you, as if He had to put a "Jesus mask" on you in order to tolerate you - no!  He loves you for you!  He loves the family resemblance, yes, but He also loves the unique person that you are.  There is noone in this universe just like you, and He considers you a work of art, His masterpiece.  You have a special place in His heart that noone else can fill.  and He rejoices over the new creation completeness of His work in you.  He rejoices over the fact that you are righteous, blameless, spotless, without reproach, flawless, faultless, holy, pure and clean!  He rejoices that you are accepted, loved, adored, right, compatible with Him in every way, at peace with Him, His joy, in harmony with Him.  He rejoices that you are united with Him - He is glad to have you around and loved being with you so much that He chose to live inside you, bonded and melded together with your spirit - forever!  He rejoices in getting to be with you at all times and look into your face!  He adores you, and He rejoices in the truth of who you really are - His wonderful Bride!

Jesus bears all things.  What does this mean?  It means He puts up with anything!  Nothing we do, say, think, feel or even believe can drive Him away from us.  He is in this for the long haul.  He isn't going anywhere!  He is a faithful and loyal friend that can't and won't be put off by our failures and struggles.  He isn't disappointed in us, no, He is proud of us!  He won't get so frustrated with our failure to 'progress' or 'get His teachings' that He just leaves - He won't give up on us even if we do the same wrong thing for the rest of our life, even if we never come out of that addiction, even if we never see the truth of who we are in Christ, even if we never have stronger faith, see the healing manifest, or overcome the obstacles.  Nothing will cause Him to reject us or throw this relationship away.  We can't shake Him, can't get rid of Him, can't drive Him away with our failure!  This friendship is totally certain for all time - we can count on Him to accept us unconditionally just as we are, no matter what!!

Jesus believes all things.  What does that mean?  It means He always sees the best in us.  He sees the good heart underneath all our actions.  He sees what is in us, and He likes what He sees.  He knows our core is good, even when we don't know it or live out of it.  He won't stop saying how righteous, lovely and good we are, even when we feel ashamed and worthless and no good at all!  He believes in us!  He believes the best about us, believes that we are the best we can possibly be inside, that we are absolutely pure, holy and good in our deepest part.  He won't stop telling us that.  He won't stop reminding us that we are His very good new creations that want to do right!  He knows and constantly believes that deep inside, we have perfect love for others and perfect faith in Him!  He sees who we really are, the new creation He made us to be, and it makes Him smile and celebrate!  He is so proud of us, so happy with us.  He sees no wrong in us.  He believes that our capacity in Him is unlimited.  He believes that we could reach any goal and fulfill all our dreams in Him, for we have Him inside living by resurrection power in us, and the sky is the limit!  He loves to dream with us and believes that anything is possible for us in Him!  He trusts that our heart is pure, that we really do love Him.  He knows that we really are innocent children that want more than anything to follow and please Him.  He sees the little innocent child that is really you, pure and good and looking up at Him with awe and wonder, teachable, humble, perfect, loving, trusting, generous and good!  He believes in you, even if you don't!  He knows what He made when He made you, knows you are a masterpiece - for He ONLY makes masterpieces, and so that is what you are!

Jesus hopes all things.  What does that mean?  It means that He fully expects everything to turn out right for you, because He is already at the end of the journey, waiting there for you!  He is the end and the completion of your life.  He knows the end from the beginning.  He holds your life so securely in His hands that in His eyes, it's already done, completed, and fulfilled, and you are already home in heaven!  Truly, you spirit is already there in Him right now, and He knows full well that your redeemed body is going to appear there one day too!  There is no doubt in His mind about how things are going to turn out!  He is your keeper and will sustain you to the end, firm in the faith, safely tucked away in His arms.  Everything is so sure that from His perspective, it's already done.  That is what hope is - it is the full expectation of something happening, knowing that it is so sure and certain that you fully expect it to come about.  He is sure about our future, He is holding our future, thus we are safe and secure!  Our future is set in spiritual concrete.  

Jesus endures all things.  What does that mean?  It means Jesus will be there for you, always, no matter what.  He will be there for you through every circumstance, every problem, every crisis, every dark night, every faith lapse, every failure, every rebellion, every burnout, every questioning, every possible thing that could happen in this life.  He will never leave our side.  We have Someonme we can count on to be there for us through thick and thin.  We have Someone we can count on to uphold us and see us through anything. We have Someone we can lean on, Someone to help us, Someone who stands by us, ready to come to our aid and simply take over, carrying us through anything.  We are never, ever alone in this world!  We never have to face anything alone.  He is there for us, faithful to the end!  What a loyal Friend, what wonderful love!  He will always come through for us, never let us down, never abandon us.  When we need Him most, we will find Him most supportive.  In our weakness, He will be our strength.  He won't demand of us to be tough and handle it, no, He will handle it for us and will love doing so, considering it an honor and privilege to come to our aid and show His power on our behalf!  He will fight the devil for us!  He will meet the fears and doubts we have head - on and will send them away, no matter how many times we have the same attack.  He will constantly delight in us and tell us our identity in Christ, no matter how many times we forget.  He will pick us up no matter how many times we fall.  There is no end to his help, His support, His care for us!  He is our True-Blue Friend, always there for us in any time of need.

Jesus never fails.  What does this mean?  His love for us will never fail, no!  Instead, His love for us will win out over everything else!  Love wins!  That is the final word about our lives and future!  His love will never let us go and will carry us safely home.  In fact, we are home already in spirit - we are tucked into Christ, and Christ is tucked into God the Father - we are eternally wrapped in an eternal love hug by the Trinity!  That is safety, that is security, that is assurance, that is peace!  Nothing can get to us or take us from that place - nothing can pluck us from the Strongest Arms in the universe, from the most Everlasting Grasp in all creation!  Everlasting means He will hold us forever!  His love will never fail to hold us in that eternal hug.  His love will never fail to be there for us.  His love will never fail to believe in us when noone else does, not even we ourselves.  His love will never fail to treat us with honor and respect.  His love will never fail to celebrate the wonderful person we are.  His love will never fail to value us, see us as worth something, and call us special and important to Him.  His love will never fail to reach us, no matter what dark hole we find ourselves.  His love will never fail to pull us up, no matter how far we seem to fall.  His love will never fail to accept us.  His love will never fail to keep us.  His love will never fail us!  His love will bring us safely home!  We aren't in ultimate control of our destiny, Love is, Jesus is, and the good news is, Love never fails.  Love always comes out on top.  Love wins!  Therefore, we are safe, we are taken in, we are home..without condition, without possibility of change, without our having to deserve it.  We are already there because of the greatest things in the universe, the strongest and most effective thing, which always conquers - Jesus, who is Love!  He is the One who holds this universe together and sums it all up in Himself, and you are IN HIM, accepted by Him, embraced by Him, adored by Him, held by Him, LOVED by Him forever!  Love never ends.  His love for you truly is forever.  It will go on and on, outlasting the stars, outlasting kings and kingdoms, outlasting anything you do or say or imagine. When everything else has come and gone, you will still be in His arms, and He will still be loving you!  And that love will be as fresh and new and undiluted as on the first day of creation, continuing in that purity and joy for all eternity!  Everything will be all right, like sin never happened, with no memory or presence of any fear, trouble or pain.  Everything will be full of Pure Love, for His Presence, which is perfect love, will permeate the atmosphere, and all will be whole and beautiful and innocent and free.  You will dance forever in His Perfect Love!  His loving presence, His Spirit of Love, will fill, surround, envelop and saturate you!  You will be a child forever in His presence, with no worries or cares.  You will jump, run, sing, laugh and even fly and soar!  You will be safe forever, in pristine joy forever, beloved forevermore!  Love wins!

Wow!  Words fail me, thinking about His love!  Thank You, Lord, for loving us!  Thank You...thank You...thank You..we love You back! 



Saturday, May 18, 2013

Day 26 - God is Perfect Love, Part 1 - 30 Days of Grace

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].
It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].
Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].

This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.
5-6 Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.
7-8a Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.

1 Corin. 13:4-8a 

These well-known and beautiful verses from the Bible's "Love Chapter" are a wonderful description of perfect love.  Many times I have applied these verses to my own life and felt that they were a picture of how I ought to love others.  But I think we can also read these verses as a picture of how God loves us!  God Himself IS love, the epitome of love, love in a Person, love in action and expression.  And since Jesus is the perfect expression of God, the final word about Him, the image of God in the flesh, He embodies Perfect Love.  Looking at Jesus' life, seeing how He treated the broken (like Peter after the cross), the scorned (like the woman at the well), the failures (like Zaccheus), the poor and crippled (like the lame man by the pool), the wealthy (like the rich young ruler), the weak (like the little children), the immoral (like the woman caught in adultery), we can see how Jesus puts a face on God, and the expression on that face is a tender, loving, gentle and compassionate one, rather than a judgmental, condemning and harsh one. Jesus embodies the description of the Love Chapter verses here!  Let's go through them and see how Jesus, who is Love in Person, in the flesh, feels about us, treats us, and acts toward us, no matter what kind of lifestyle we have...

Let's just replace the word "love" with the word "Jesus" and see what happens as we go through the verses.

First we see that Jesus is patient with us. What does that mean?  That means He is long-suffering, doesn't get frazzled if we do the same wrong thing over and over, allows us to take as long as we need to learn new truths, never says 'hurry up' to us!  He is patient with us, not impatient.  He's never going to say that our time is up to 'get better' and since we didn't meet the deadline, we are 'out'!  There is no goal that He is expecting us to reach, and no throwing anyone out!  He is here to stay and will be with us in our mess, no matter what.  Whether we change or not.  He has no agenda for us.  He just loves being with us, and the relationship with Him that He has put into place IS the goal, already reached, and ready to just be enjoyed in all its perfection!

Next we see that Jesus is kind to us.  What does that mean?  That means that He is always doing nice things for us, that He loves to leave us thoughtful little (and big!) gifts, like a pretty sunset or a child's smile at the grocery store.  He has nothing but goodness and kindness for us.  He is tenderhearted toward us and is always looking for a way to show us blessing and joy!  His heart is generous toward us, He just can't wait to load us down with the experience of more and more joy, peace, abundance and blessing from His storehouse, for ALL that He has He already has given to us!  He doesn't hold back anything good from us, and He never gives anything bad to us.  He is all good, only good, ever good, with no shadow or bad side to Him.  We don't even have to fear that He will harm us or hurt us.  He is kind!

Jesus never envies.  What does that mean?  He isn't possessive or demanding. He always leaves you free.  You are free to hang out with Him or free to do something else, and His love and joy over you doesn't change a bit.  He is never disappointed with you, you never 'hurt His feelings' by not talking to Him for a bit!  His love is unconditional - it gives without expecting  anything back from you or demanding a certain response.  Whatever way you relate to Him is fine with Him!  And even if you never talked with Him again while on this earth, He would still be there loving you and working behind the scenes in your life, and He would still bring you to heavenly bliss.  He fully accepts you with no strings attached!  You can't mess this relationship up!  He gives you your freedom and just simply LOVES you, no questions asked, no 'results' or 'change' or 'commitment' demanded!

Jesus isn't boastful.  What does that mean?  He is humble.  He isn't in this relationship just for His own benefit.  He doesn't want you around just to make Him look good or so you'll 'glorify' Him, as if He were egotistical!  He is the most humble being in the universe!  He isn't out 'tooting His own horn' or thinking of Himself, no, He is always thinking of you!! You are His favorite thought!  His love is all for your benefit!  He is completely OTHER-Love, all for the other, not for Himself.  Everything He does is with you in mind, in your best interests, thinking of how to help and bless you!  He loves coming up with wonderful ways to make you smile, loves to whisper His love-words in your ear and thrill your heart!  He isn't all about Himself but all about you!  He isn't saying "Me first" but is actually saying "you first!" He actaually created you just to share His love with you for all eternity, actually created the whole cosmos just for you to have a beautiful place to live and to enjoy friendship with Him!  His love is totally unselfish.

Jesus isn't rude, doesn't act unbecomingly.  What does that mean?  It means that He isn't pushy, bossy, manipulative,  or ill-mannered.  Jesus has good manners!  He never resorts to force!  He never shoves us around.  He never 'makes' us do anything against our will.  His way is never heavy or burdensome but instead is always easy, pleasant, comfortable and light!  He never puts burdens on, He always takes them off!  He is never gruff or harsh.  His words are always affirming, never condemning.  His words will never make us cringe or wound our hearts!  His words will always be like a healing balm, bringing lightness and joy and encouragement!  He always uplifts us, never puts us down.  He always gives us a good word, never a bad word.  He always has something encouraging and uplifting to share with us.  He is a true friend who always treats us well, with honor and esteem, showing that He greatly values us and sees us as people of great worth and dignity in His eyes..  We are so important to Him, and the relationship we have is so valuable to Him, that He treats us with utmost care and tender concern!

Jesus doesn't insist on His own way.  What does that mean?  He means He doesn't demand His own rights.  He doesn't look out for His interest first.  He doesn't demand that we do things "His way or else."  He loves to hear our ideas and is open to them!  He loves to dream with us about the future, and if we have an idea or dream of something we'd like to do, He is with us 100% and is ready to go for it with us!  He loves including us in the dreams and plans He has, but only as we truly want to.  He never forces us to do things a certain way or to follow His ideas.  Our relationship with Him is not built on us following His plan or else.  There is no performance requirement!  It's a friendship, and He is a joy to have as a friend, never pushing or forcing, never out for His own way but truly thinking of us and giving us room to be ourselves and express ourselves and our opinions.  He gives us room to grow, become, stretch, fail, and take off and soar!  He doesn't demand His rights.  If we treat Him poorly, He doesn't change the loving and gentle way He deals with us.  People even killed Him, and yet He asked the Father to forgive them!    There is no certain way that He demands to be treated, He doesn't even get mad if we yell at Him or blow up in frustration when we don't understand why life goes the way it does.  He values our honesty and never recoils from anything we express.  All our feelings are valid before Him, and He never rejects us for feeling a certain way or for any action or word.  We can't mistreat Him, because He has no rules for how we must act around Him, and He loves us no matter how we act!  We aren't going to run Him off with the disrespecting words we may say or with the rebellious ways we may act.  He is here in this relationship to stay!

Jesus isn't touchy.  What does that mean?  He isn't irritable.  He isn't mad at us and will never be!  Nothing we say or do (or don't say or do) will ever cause Him to lose His temper with us!  His wrath is never directed at us, it was directed only at the sin that tried to ruin us, and that sin has been taken away at the cross.  Jesus is in an eternally good mood.  Jesus is easy-going and easy to get along with! We don't have to walk around on eggshells or be careful of our actions, worried that He might fly off in rage at any moment, no!  He is so gentle, calm, even-keeled, and stable.  He is like a Rock of stability and security for us, faithful to ALWAYS act in gentleness, calmness, and tenderness toward us, without any anger, frustration or irritablity toward us.  We will never get on His nerves, no matter what we do or say.  We can count on Him to always, always, always be the same way toward us - smiling in love and grace, accepting and celebrating us, happy with us, and never angry with us.  He promised, in fact, to never be angry with us or even rebuke us!

Jesus doesn't take into account a wrong suffered.  What does that mean?  It means He isn't keeping a record of our sins and  things we do against Him.  He doesn't even notice our sin.  He isn't a performance-oriented Person, isn't grading us on our behavior or even noticing when we mess up!  He really doesn't see our mistakes, they don't affect our relationship at all, they don't change the loving way He feels about us - because He has already removed all those things at the cross and is really not thinking about them, ever!  Our sins don't exist to Jesus!  He is not thinking of them, not worried about them, will never bring them up again.   This includes future sins!  There is nothing we could do to cause Him to view our sins or see us as a sinner, failure, unworthy, messed up, or missing the mark.  In His eyes, we've hit the target, met the standard, and reached the goal!  He sees us perfect as He is, and nothing can change that!  He is not holding our wrongs against us and will never bring them up again.  There is nothing we could do to ruin this relationship or change His feelings of love and favor toward us.  We can't lose His grace, because it is freely given without our having to earn it, given no matter what our behavior, so our behavior or thoughts or words or even faith lapses cannot send it away.  No failure, no amount of doubt, confusion, rebellion, addiction or wrong-headedness can ever change His mind or stance about us - He irreversibly loves and accepts us, holds and keeps us as His own!  HE doesn't pay any attention to our failure; He only pays attention to loving us!

Wow!  Just going over theses truths, I am getting so filled with the Spirit right now!  He is PURE LOVE, isn't He?  Oh, what a wonderful God we have!  This study is so wonderful, let's continue tomorrow with the same passage...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Day 25 - Union Life: Face to Face with God - 30 Days of Grace

16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever—
17 The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you.
18 I will not leave you as orphans [comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, helpless]; I will come [back] to you.
19 Just a little while now, and the world will not see Me any more, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.
20 At that time [when that day comes] you will know [for yourselves] that I am in My Father, and you [are] in Me, and I [am] in you.                                                           John 14:16-20  AMP

Who will Jesus ask the Father to give us?  The Holy Spirit.  How is He described?  As another Comforter, as our Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby, and as the Spirit of Truth.  The Holy Spirit was going to be moving from where to where?  From  a position of being with them constantly to being in them!  Did Jesus say He would leave us orphans? NO!  What does it mean to be left an orphan? It means to be left alone, with no one to care for you or be there for you, noone to belong to, noone to love you.  It means to be bereft, abandoned, forsaken, rejected, all by yourself in this world!  Jesus did not leave us that way!  What did He do?  He rose from the dead and because He lives, so do we - He took us with Him into His resurrection!  He didn't leave us behind in the dark world alone, He took us with Him into the new creation!  And what do we realize/come to know because of what He has done, taking us with Him as He did it (as He rose and ascended)?  We realized that He is in the Father, we are in Him, and He is in us!  It isn't just that Jesus is in the bosom of the Father.  It is also that we are in Him, that He took us into Himself and included us in Him in all His work and experiences.  What happened to Him happened to us.  But even beyond that, we realize that He is in us!  There is no closer place for someone to be than IN us!  

We cannot have a closer friend and confidant and supporter than one who is IN!  Because HE is IN us, we are never orphaned!  We are never left alone, bereft, rejected, or forsaken! We will never be forgotten, uncared for, unsupported!  We will ALWAYS have someone there to love, support, stand up for and help us!  Christ has entered into us by His Spirit and He is the Friend that sticks closer than a brother, the Friend that will be with us forever, that will never leave us or forsake us!  We will never be all by ourselves to face this world, for He is facing it FOR us from behind our eyes, seeing the world as us, and living for us!  The dear Holy Spirit is called the Friend, the Comforter, the Consoler and Encourager, the Standby, the Helper, the Advocate, the Encourager, the Counselor, the One who always tells the wonderful truth about God's love for us and Jesus' finished work for us, about the wonderful new creations we have become, how pleasing we are to the Father, and how secure we are in His arms!  He is all these wonderful things to us, not from the outside, not even from beside us, but within us!

When we received Christ, we received God to come live inside of us, to come make His home in us, to come dwell within us and never leave us!  We are now face to face with God.  There is no separation between us and God, for how can you be separate from someone who is INSIDE of you?  You are always joined together and always will be.  Why? Because He promised never to leave you.  And because He tied Himself to you forever!  He became a man and took you into Himself, to be part of you forever.  Jesus will always be both God and man in one body.  He took all of humanity into Himself and identified Himself with us forevermore.  We are always IN Christ.  And now that you have received Him through simply believing He was there and loved and died and rose for you, now He has entered IN you!  The presence of Christ changes everything!  It brings you from death to life, from illusion to reality, from confusion to clarity, from turmoil to peace!  It moves you from the kingdom of darkness where Satan controls to the kingdom of God where Love reigns!  It brings you up into a whole new world by making you a new creation and birthing you into the eternal realm!  This new creation is literally made of heavenly material, made by the Holy Spirit, and this new person that is born is literally born from above, born of God, born of the Spirit, born of indesctructible seed, the Word of God!  You are made of Jesus material and can't be separated from Him, ever, because He is part of your makeup, part of your spiritual DNA.  You were remade a person who is bonded and blended and united with Him spiritually.  Your spirit and His Spirit are one!  You will never be apart from Him, ever!  It would be like trying to divide yourself from yourself!  He is your very life and can't be divided from you.  He is part of your real identity and you aren't even 'you' without Him!  That's how close He is!  It gives us security to know we can never be separated from Him!  The only thing that could ever have separated us from Him in our minds and thoughts was sin, and He took away all ours in! So there is nothing to separate us, and we are bonded to Him in unity forever!  We are safe in Him.

He is so close, He is IN!  You cannot get any closer than IN someone!  He is our very heart of hearts, the source of our life, our life itself! What love!  He loved us so much He wanted to live IN us!  He knew everything we would do, all the choices we would make, any negative things that we would be involved in, and He still chose to live IN us forever, never to leave!  He has put all those negative things away anyhow, but that was more for our sake.  He has removed any shame, guilt, condemnation, or horror we might feel about a holy God seeing all our dirty laundry.  Now we can know we are standing face to face with Him in pure innocence and beauty, flawless, faultless, blameless, perfect,with nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to hide!  God has always wanted this intimacy with us, ever since Adam was created!  But Adam ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and he became fallen and confused, fearing God and hiding from Him in his shame.  Now God has reversed the fall!  He has brought us back to the garden, but even done better than that!  We have it better than Adam because we are not only brought to a state of innocence like Adam had, of standing before the Father simply as His children, with no reference to right or wrong, good or evil, just innocent children dwelling in love. He has taken us farther by giving us to eat of the tree of life! Righteousness is our gift through Jesus, and righteousness means 'the right to life' - we have the right to pick and eat, and we have done that in receiving Christ! Christ, the fruit of the tree of life, has entered into us and we have been born again as new people who have God as their life!  God's very life has been born in us, in our person!  We have God dwelling in us, his innocent ones!  And so the fellowship we share with Him is not just side by side but within!

God fellowships with us!  He loves intimacy with us!  He understands everything about us and adores us!  We are innocent little ones before His face, and He is always hugging us to His cheek and whispering, "I love you, my dear little one!"  He loves to look at us, study our features, listen to our thoughts. He loves our company!  He loves spending time with us, hanging out with time with us is ever a waste in His eyes but is instead the most important and special thing of all to Him!  We rock His world!  We are His darlings, His pride and joy!  We are like His precious little babies in His arms, and He sees no fault in us, thinks we are absolutely perfect, the best thing going, the cutest baby ever!  Every one of us is His favorite!  Every one of us is His special, dear, prized and precious little child.  We are so valuable to Him we are truly priceless.  He is so thrilled to have us in His arms, where He always planned for us to be, from before the foundation of the world.  He has been waiting for this time of just holding us in His arms for all eternity!  He loves the way we look into His eyes, the way we laugh, our features, our personalities; He loves everything about us, everything!  Do you know how special you are?  Do you know that Someone has been adoring you for all time!  Do you know you have His constant attention, that you are always the center of His attention and care and concern?  Do you know He'd do ANYTHING for you?  Do you know He's always focused on you, and thinking of you, that you are NEVER out of His thoughts?  Do you know that your value is beyond words to Him?  God thinks heaven is being with you, and it just wouldn't be heaven without you there!  You make His day special just by being in existence!  In fact, you were loved into existence.  He created you to love on you, to cherish you, to hold you, to share His love with you forever. God enjoys you, delights in you, is singing and shouting over you right now with joy!  You move His heart with joy!  You are held in His arms of love forevermore, never to be parted from Him, never to be separated from the Love that made you His new, whole and beautiful little child!

We are face to face with the God who is Love.  We are in union with the God who is Love.  We are always in the Presence and care of the God who is Love.  When we meet Him through His Spirit in us, we find that He has been waiting for us to acknowledge Him all along, He has been waiting for us to enjoy this relationship, He has been planning for this day for all time!  And we find that He is Perfect Love.  He is delightful, fun to be with, laughing, merry, and always in a good mood!  He is always delighted with us, even right after we fail (those sins are gone, anyway, through Jesus' cross!).  He is always there for us, always a Friend, always looking at us with tender love and affection!  He actually enjoys our company.  He has only good words to say to us, only words that uplift us and heal us and encourage us!  He's kind and patient, good and generous, giving and never taking into account a wrong suffered.  He is love!  Let's talk more about this Loving God next time!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Day 24 - The Friendship We've Always Longed For - 30 Days of Grace

For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

The Lord your God is ·with you [in your midst];
    the mighty One will save you.
He will ·rejoice over you [take delight in you].
    ·You will rest [or He will quiet you; or He won’t rebuke you] in his love;
    he will sing and be joyful about you.”

The Lord your God
wins victory after victory
    and is always with you.
He celebrates and sings
    because of you,
and he will refresh your life
    with his love.”

Zeph 3:17

This is such a wonderful verse about our relationship with God that I wanted to give three different versions to just enjoy the nuances in meaning even more..
Look at the wonderful relationship God has brought us into through Christ!  Where is God now?  He is living among us!  He is in our hearts, the hearts of all believers!  This mighty God and Savior is here, and we have a relationship with Him!  Let's see what this relationship is like:

How does God see us according to the verse?  He sees us as delightful and bringing Him joy!  He takes delight in us with gladness.  We make God happy!  He's delighted with us.  He's not disappointed or upset with us.  He's not looking at us to point out our faults or areas needing improvement.  No, He is pleased and happy with us!  He sees us not on the basis of our rights and wrongs but on the basis of our sonship!  He sees us as His dearly loved children, and He delights in everything about His littles ones - us!  Just like a little baby is so dear to the parents, and they see no fault or flaw in him but instead rejoice over every detail of that little person, so God sees and delights in us!  

God loves us.  What effect does this love have?  One version of the verse says He will quiet or 'rest' us with His love.  His love quiets our soul, it brings rest.  We are able to stop striving and be at rest when we see God has already accepted us totally and truly loves us without condition.  Nothing we do could make Him love us any more or any less.  We are just plain LOVED by God.  And not loved a little.  We are loved to INFINITY!  We are loved with an infinite, never ending, never stopping, eternally enduring love.  His love never ceases and His love will never fails us.  This makes us settle down in peace in our hearts.  It is like a little child that is upset and crying.  As soon as the mother scoops us the child and holds the close to her heart, wrapped in her arms, the child stops crying and settles down, breathes easily, feels that everything is okay and fine.  The presence of the mother with her great love and embrace quiets the child.   In the same way, God is hugging us and quiets us with His love!

According to another version of the verse, His love will calm our fears.  His love turns our thoughts from fears over our circumstances to joy over His protection!  I read once that every fear a person has can be traced back to a feeling of being cut off from God.  God shows us in this verse that He is among us, in our very hearts.  He is here to stay and will never to leave us alone.  
Another version of this part of the verse says, "He won't rebuke you," so we know He won't bring up our sins or point out our faultsHe isn't out to put us down or call us out.  He isn't out to harm us.  He isn't against us but for us!  He isn't looking at our sins and being disapproving,  no, He is looking at us and delighting in what He sees!  He isn't being punishing, He isn't out to harm us, He isn't going to hurt us in any way, no, He is only out to protect and shield us from harm.  Love protects at all times!  We are safe in His love!  God will never do anything to harm us!  He loves and accepts us perfectly, for He delights in us with gladness and is happy with us.  He will never cut us off from Himself, leave us, reject us, abandon us, or leave us alone to fend for ourselves.  He is here and He delights in us.  He is not going to leave, and He is not going to be displeased with us and drive us away.  He is going to stay with us and He is telling us that we are going to stay with Him!  So we are safe.  We are secure.  We are loved.  Therefore, fear melts away. 

What is God doing according to these verses?  He is singing over us, rejoicing over us with joyful songs!   God sings songs over you, like a parent sings over a sleepy child at night.  God sings songs over us because He is so thrilled with us.  He is so happy about us that He celebrates, according to the verse above!  He celebrates, has a party, enjoys us, and breaks out in joyful shouts about us!  He thinks we are the greatest, the most wonderful kids of all, because we are HIS kids!  Every parent thinks the world of their own kids, thinks their children are the greatest ever, and that is how our heavenly Father feels about us.  He feels so happy about us He celebrates!  The atmosphere of God is a party atmosphere!  There is nothing but joy and laughter in His presence!  This is the atmosphere of God, the atmosphere of  unconditional love and grace.  That is the kind of relationship we have with God. We have a perfect relationship of grace, love, acceptance, celebration and life!

The last thing mentioned in one of the versions of this verse is that God will refresh our lives with His love.  His love is refreshing. It is invigorating!  It is so wonderful to know Him, that it is LIFE to us!  As the Psalmist says in Ps. 16, in His presence is fullness of joy, and also says in Ps. 20, His lovingkindness (steadfast love/grace!) is even better than life!   This is the love we've looked for always and the relationship we were made for!  And we have it now, by Grace!
Jesus' perfect work of grace has brought us into the relationship we've always longed for, always wanted.  With God, we have the unconditional love, acceptance, and communion we have always wanted!  Grace at its deepest root means joy or rejoicing, and God accepts us into His arms and rejoices over us forever!  We make Him leap with joy!  We make His heart skip a beat just thinking of us and how much He loves us!  We make Him smile, laugh, and sing! 

And grace at its heart also means acceptance.  God has accepted us.  He has welcomed us in, never to turn us out!  He will never let us go.  He will hold onto us forever.  We are safe in His arms.  We are protected, sheltered from the wind and storm, kept safe in His love.  Accepted, taken in, embraced, found, brought home, wanted, adored, loved.  We are loved as we are.  We are accepted 100% without any condition.  Nothing will make God reject or abandon us.  He knows everything about us and takes us right now and forever, whether we ever change or not.  No changes demanded or required.  We are taken right now as perfectly fine for Him!  We are okay before Him.  We are totally, completely accepted without reservations of any kind.  He truly knows us, and He truly loves us! 
Thus we can rest in Him, can open up and be ourselves with Him, knowing we are in a place of complete safety and acceptance, a place where we are always held and understood, never rejected.  

He is always there for us, deep in our hearts, glad to interact with us and ready to encourage and speak sweet words of comfort and grace to us.  He sings over us there and delights in us with joyful laughter!  We make God dance with joy!  He never has a harsh word but only and always a soft, gentle, healing, happy and beautiful word for us.  He never puts us down but only lifts us up and makes us feel better, makes us smile, makes us laugh!  He never has a problem with us or see anything amiss in us or our relationship.  

He loves being our friend!  He wanted to be around us so much that His Son died so He could come into us and tie Himself to us forever!  God loves hanging around us.  We are never a bother or burden to Him.  All is perfect bliss between us!  Our relationship gives Him ultimate joy, and it's what He created the whole universe just to have - a place in your heart where He and you could always be together, sharing life together, enjoying each other!  His goal has always been to just wrap you in His arms of love, hold eternally to His heart and love on you forever!  In His arms, there is nothing but joy and laughter, peace and fellowship, quietness and rest.  And that is where we have been brought to be forever by Jesus!

May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14