Saturday, April 6, 2019

Married to Christ (Part 7 of 7)

The Apostle Paul worked hard ... that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2-3 ESV)

Has my heart been knit together in love? Have I reached all the riches of full assurance of understanding? How about the riches of full assurance of the knowledge of God's mystery? Paul and I are referring to my spiritual, Christian marriage to Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He is the bridegroom and the church, His body, of which I am a part, is the bride. Together, the two have become one.

In today's verses from Colossians 2, we have the word "mystery" again. In Part 1 of Married to Christ, I quoted from Ephesians 5 which is often used as marriage seminar material. However, I attempted to show that earthly marriage was merely used as an analogy for the "profound mystery" Paul was really talking about. This profound mystery is what Paul was emphasizing, not earthly marriage.

I used to believe that the cliche "God moves in mysterious ways" applied whenever the word "mystery" was used in Scripture. Whatever was a mystery was unknown and couldn't be known. More often than not, I'd skip over it, or at least tread lightly thinking I was not going to be enlightened to what it really meant.

But, after quite a bit of study, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and sound teaching and reasoning from Scripture, I came to understand how the original Greek word translated as "mystery" applied to the profound thought Paul was communicating. The hidden treasures of full assurance of the knowledge of God was being revealed, and I was missing it.

Unlike the genre of movies where certain knowledge is forbidden and remains shrouded, like a passing shadow, its usage here in Scripture describes something previously hidden but now fully revealed. This is special information that God has been saving up. Now He "desires all people to be saved and to come to the [full, accurate] knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:4).

This mystery is unprecedented unity with God the Father and Christ, His Son, and through all of us sharing the same Holy Spirit.

That is why I say I am married to Christ, whose work, not my effort, made this all possible according to the will of the Father. Am I happily married? You bet!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

My Theme for the Year

"Don't cling to a mistake just because
you spent a lot of time making it.
" ~ Unknown


But no more! Major changes have recently occurred for the better in my life as a result of letting go. Now my mind is set on moving forward.

To that end, I've adopted a theme to apply to my life at this stage. It's a combination of choosing and committing. You could say it's committing to my choices, or choosing to commit.

The central theme in both is the same:


What does commitment look like for me? It boils down to these four steps:

1. Define and clarify my priorities, then set goals.
2. Schedule time in my calendar to work on my goals.
3. Eliminate what does not contribute toward my goals.
4. Strengthen the performance of these steps into habit.

There are a few areas of my life that need refinement based on my priorities. Let this be the year I focus on those things.

More to come...

Saturday, October 27, 2018

My Soul Has a Hole as Big as the Sea

My soul has a hole as big as the sea.

People see through it,
    and hence don't see me.

My parents dug the hole,
    a few others picked at it, too.

They hid the fill from me.
    I've been looking for it ever since.

I am flawed because I've been gnawed.
    Wanting to be generous, becoming delirious.

My heart selfishly perverted,
    even when I try to do good.

My mind plays this trick,
    making me think that I'm sick.

I keep trying to jam the square peg
    into that round hole in my soul.

I say to myself it's good enough to be respected and appreciated.
    But what I really desire is to be praised and admired.

I try to tell myself it's not about me,
    but after a while cry out, "Why not? Why not me?"

"Where am I?
    Don't I matter?"

Then, I forget I even have a soul,
    and see nothing but the hole.

I see the hole as big as the sea.
    Then I see the sea is vast in me.

Vast and huge, deep, complex, fluid,
   creative, sensual, essential, full of life.

My soul doesn't have a hole as big as the sea.
    The hole as big as the sea is my soul in me.

(Dedicated to survivors everywhere.)

Monday, August 13, 2018

Know The Love of Christ that Surpasses Knowledge (Eph 3:19)

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

Do we all realize just how much God loves us?

He loves us so much that, without any condition whatsoever, He held back nothing to get us. After Adam sinned, God knew the only way to reconcile man to Himself was to send His only Son in the likeness of a man to die for us. God's righteousness demanded a perfect sacrifice, and Jesus Christ executed His Father's plan perfectly. He became imperfect man, though He did not sin, so that we could become perfect children of God, even though we do sin.

Now, nothing stands in our way of reconciliation, not even our personal sins.

That's right! Because of what Christ did, God was completely satisfied this requirement was entirely met. Christ completely satisfied the Father in that He died for all sins, and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And now, the righteousness of Jesus is simply credited to the accounts of all who believe. All who believe are justified in God's eyes in this way, having done nothing but believe in the name, the person, of His only Son.

Do we realize God did all the work so that His offer could truly come to us as a gift?

There is nothing you have to do to be acceptable to God for salvation. Reconciliation is all based on the condition of your heart in a moment of time. If at any one time in your life you believed and trusted in Jesus for your soul salvation, it was done. You were saved at that moment. Even if you proceeded to screw everything up immediately after, you're still in God's family. If you have never trusted in Jesus for your soul salvation, you can be saved right now by believing and trusting in Jesus Christ in your heart.

There are no degrees of salvation. None!

Once saved, you cannot become more saved or less saved. Just like when you are born in the flesh, you cannot be more born or less born. You are saved by grace through faith in Christ. More than that, you are in the body of Christ, which is what the church really is. No one can take you from the Father's grasp! Nothing will separate you from the love of Christ! He is your Father for eternal life, and eternal life is all about knowing the Father and His Son.

Now that we are saved...

Let's take a little time to rest in Christ, and learn from Him. Let us soak in the assurance of salvation and our guaranteed glorious inheritance in the saints. Let Him tell us all the marvelous things He's done for us, to us and in us, to reconcile us to Himself. What wonderful New Creations He has made of us! And now God, who freely gave us His Spirit, let's us fellowship with Him, to discover what He's really about; again, He holds nothing back from letting us come to know the truth and to know Him. He already knows us, and He loves us just the same. Let us grow into the knowledge of the grace and truth that is in Christ and now imputed to us. Let us speak the truth in love so that we all grow into the fullness of Him who loved us from before the ages began.

When we understand His plan, we'll understand His plan for us. (Romans 12:2)

Love in Christ,

(Various Scripture verses are referenced above, including John 3:16; Ephesians 1:13-14, 18, 2:8-9; 1 John 2:2; Matthew 11:28-30; John 10:28-29; Romans 8:38-39; 1 Corinthians 2:7, 12; Philippians 2:5-8; John 17:3; Romans 8:3-4; Titus 3:4-7; Romans 4:4-5; Romans 5:6,8), Ephesians 4:13, 15-17, 2 Corinthians 5:17 etc.)

Monday, January 1, 2018

Harmony, Peace, Good - Goals for 2018 and Beyond (Part 1)

Live in Harmony with One Another. 

Live in harmony with one another. If two singers sing the same notes at the same pitch, it is not harmony. If one sings melody while another sings bass, it is not quite harmony either. But, if each sings notes, even words, unique to themselves while complementary to the other, that is harmony.

I must sing as I am able, in my voice range and with tonal quality and dynamic volume, using meaningful and thoughtful lyrics that come from my heart.

Yet, if all the world's a stage, it is not my time to bellow a solo. Alas, the stage is quite populated. Nor am I the Director who decides who else is on the stage. To seek to harmonize, I must listen carefully to other voices as well. Music is the result of collaboration, be it duo, quartet, or orchestra.

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:16-21)

I believe there is a reason Paul included this advice to the Christians and would-be Christians in Rome. It is simply this:

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

~   ~   ~

Note to the reader:

To live in harmony with one another is just one of my many goals for 2018 and beyond. My other goals include living peaceably with all, and overcoming evil with good, phrases also found in the same passage above. I will write about those goals in later posts.

My hope and prayer for you are that God draws you to Himself, and then you diligently seek Him. For God so loved the world (John 3:16a), absolutely, and that includes you specifically.

If this devotional has touched your heart, please do not keep it for yourself. Share it. Leave a comment if you'd like. But most of all, thank God, the Father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Salvation 101 (Part 10) - Is Salvation Permanent?

Salvation is absolutely permanent. If at anytime you were saved, you were absolutely saved from that moment on. Salvation, therefore, is eternally yours.

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." (John 10:28-29)

Who has the Father given to Christ? All who believe in Him.

As John MacArthur said, "If you could lose your salvation, you would." In fact, nothing in all creation could cause you to lose your salvation. "They will never perish." (from John 10:28)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

And finally, what could be better than a guarantee of your salvation from God, the Creator of all things, who designed salvation from before the ages?

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 5:5)

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Remember, salvation is a gift, not of works. It is by grace one is saved, through faith (trusting God instead of yourself for your soul salvation). Works cannot earn salvation, nor can they maintain salvation. Christ did the work, all of it.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Once saved always saved? Absolutely! Guaranteed!

(See previous post on What's Become of You in Christ?)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

You Know Me, Yet You Love Me

Dear Father,

You know me by name, O God. You know my thoughts. You know my words before they are formed in my mouth. You know the desires of my heart. You know the intents and thoughts deep inside my heart.

And yet You love me.
I love You, Lord.

I want, I desire, and I delight to know Your thoughts and the abundance of Your heart, Father.

Your Son,

(Oct 23, 2012, edited)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

I Hate the Sin Nature, I Desire More of God

Dear Father,

I hate the sin nature (even though I'm not a slave to it). Rather, I want to know You more. I want rest in Christ. Father, reveal more of Yourself to me. Give me more of the light and wisdom of Your thoughts and ways in Your word. Grant me courage to always pursue You with all my heart.


(Oct. 21, 2012, edited)

Monday, November 20, 2017

What's Become of You In Christ

What's Become of You In Christ:
36+ Things at the Moment of Salvation

"The old has passed away; 
behold, the new has come." 
(2 Cor 5:17b)

1. A believer is in the Eternal Plan of God, sharing the destiny of the Lord Jesus Christ. As such the believer is:
Foreknown: Acts 2:23; Rom. 8:29; 1 Pet. 1:2
Elect: Rom. 8:33; Col. 3:12; 1 Thess. 1:4; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:2
Predestined: Rom. 8:29,30; Eph. 1:5,11
Chosen in Christ: Matt. 22:14; 1 Pet. 2:4
Called: 1 Thess. 5:24

2. The believer is Reconciled:
By God, 2 Cor. 5:18; Col. 1:20
To God, Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 2:14f.

3. The believer is Redeemed: (purchased from the slave market of sin)
Rom. 3:24; Col. 1:14; 1
Pet. 1:18; Eph. 1:7.

4. The believer is removed from Condemnation: 
John 3:18; 5:24; Rom. 8:1.

5. The believer is under Grace and not under Judgment: (doctrine of Propitiation)
Rom. 3:24–28; 1 John 2:2.

6. The believer's sins are judged by the spiritual death of Christ on the Cross: 
Rom. 4:25; Eph.1:7; 1 Pet. 2:24.

7. The believer is made dead to the old life and alive unto God. He/she is:
Crucified with Christ: Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20
Dead with Christ: Rom. 6:8; Col. 3:3; 1 Pet. 2:24
Buried with Christ: Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12
Risen with Christ: Rom. 6:4; Col. 3:1

8. The believer is free from the law: 
Rom. 6:14; 7:4,6; 2 Cor. 3:11; Gal. 3:25.

9. The believer is adopted: (placed as an adult heir in the family of God)
Rom. 8:15; 8:23; Eph.1:5.

10. The believer is justified: (declared righteous)
Rom. 3:24; 5:1,9; 8:30; 1 Cor. 6:11; Titus 3:7.

11. The believer is regenerated: (born spiritually into the family of God)
John 13:10; 1 Cor. 6:11;
Titus 3:5. In regeneration the believers are:
Born Again: John 3:7; 1 Pet. 1:23
Children of God: Gal. 3:26
Sons of God: John 1:12; 2 Cor. 6:18; 1 John 3:2
New Creations: 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Eph. 2:10

12. The believer is made acceptable to God: 
Eph. 1:6; 1 Pet. 2:5.
To make a believer acceptable to Himself, God sees to it that the believer is:
Made righteous: Rom. 3:22; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9
Positional Sanctification: 1 Cor. 1:30; 6:11
Perfected forever: Heb. 10:14
Made qualified: Col. 1:12

13. The believer is forgiven all trespasses: 
Eph. 1:7; 4:32; Col. 1:14; 2:13; 3:13

14. The believer is made nigh: (heavenly citizenship based on Reconciliation)
Luke 10:20; Eph.2:13,19; Phil. 3:20

15. The believer is delivered from the kingdom of Satan: 
Col. 1:13; 2:15

16. The believer is transferred into God's Kingdom: 
Col. 1:13

17. The believer is placed on a secure foundation: 
1 Cor. 3:11; 10:4; Eph. 2:20

18. The believer is a gift from God the Father to the Lord Jesus Christ: 
John 10:20; 17:2,6,9,11,12,24

19. The believer is delivered from the power of the Sin Nature: 
Rom. 2:29; Phil. 3:3; Col. 2:11

20. The believer is appointed as a priest unto God: 
1 Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6

21. The believer is under the care of God as a chosen generation and a protected people: 
Titus 2:14; 1 Pet. 2:9

22. The believer is given access to God: 
Rom. 5:2; Eph. 2:18; Heb. 4:14,16; 10:19,20

23. The believer is within the much more care of God; as such we are:
Objects of His love: Eph. 2:4; 5:2
Objects of His Grace: for salvation, Eph. 2:8,9;
for keeping, Rom. 5:2; 1 Pet. 1:5; for service,
John 17:18; Eph. 4:7; for instruction, Titus 2:12
Objects of His power: Eph. 1:19; Phil. 2:13
Objects of His faithfulness: Phil. 1:6; Heb. 13:5
Objects of His peace: John 14:27
Objects of His consolation: 2 Th. 2:16
Objects of His intercession: Rom. 8:34; 7:25; 9:24

24. The believer is part of Christ's inheritance:
Eph. 1:18

25. The believer is a beneficiary of the inheritance from God: (an heir of God and a joint-heir with the Lord Jesus Christ)
Rom. 8:17; Eph. 1:14; Col. 3:24; Heb. 9:15; 1 Pet. 1:4

26. The believer has a new position in Christ: 
Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:4; 1 Cor. 1:9; 3:9; 2 Cor. 3:3,6; 5:20; 6:1,4

27. The believer is the recipient of eternal life: 
John 3:15; 10:28; 20:31; 1 John 5:11,12

28. The believer is a member of the family of God: 
Gal. 6:10; Eph. 2:19

29. The believer is Light in the Lord: 
Eph. 5:8; 1 Thess. 5:4

30. The believer is united with the Father: 
1 Thess. 1:1, cf. Eph. 4:6
He is united with Christ: John 14:20, cf. Col. 1:27
A member of His Body: 1 Cor. 12:13
A Branch in the Vine: John 15:5
A Stone in the Building: Eph. 2:21,22
A Sheep in the Flock: Eph. 2:21,22
A part of His Bride: Eph. 5:25-27
A Priest in His Kingdom: 1 Pet. 2:9
He is united with the Holy Spirit Rom. 8:9; 8:29

31. The believer is the recipient of the ministry of the Holy Spirit:
Born of the Spirit: John 3:6
Baptized by the Spirit: 1 Cor. 12:13
Indwelt by the Spirit: John 7:39; Rom. 5:5; 8:9; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; Gal. 4:6; 1 John 3:24
Sealed by the Spirit: 2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 4:30
Recipient of Spiritual Gifts: 1 Cor. 12:11; 12:27-31; 13:1,2

32. The believer is glorified in Christ: 
Rom. 3:20

33. The believer is made complete in Christ: 
Col. 2:10

34. The believer is the possessor of every spiritual blessing: 
Eph. 1:3

35. The believer is the recipient of a human spirit: 
Rom. 8:16; 1 Cor. 2:12; 2 Cor. 7:13; 1 Thess. 5:23; Eph. 2:5

36. The believer has access to all Bible truth through the Grace system for Bible understanding
and Christian growth: 
Col. 2 and Eph. 4
A Saint of the new species: 2 Cor. 5:17

(Credit for this list goes to Lewis Sperry Chafer.)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Salvation 101 (Part 9) - How Does Getting Saved Differ in the Old and New Testament Periods?

How does getting saved differ in the Old and New Testament periods?

Quick Answer: 
How one gets saved does not differ in any period. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

Longer Answer:
If you have read and understood the previous parts of this 'Salvation 101' series, you might be at the point where the Q&A here is obvious. Of course, how one gets saved is the same because it's about trusting God for His gift for the salvation of your soul. 

It's not about behavior modification, an emotional or physical response, nor any need for additional sacrifices. Salvation can and does only come from God as a gift. It only happens that after Jesus was born that we could know His name. (PS: 'Christ' is His title, not His last name.)

All throughout the Psalms, for instance, King David trusted and exclaimed that salvation only comes from the Lord.

Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people! Selah (Psalms 3:8 ESV)

My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word. (Psalms 119:81 ESV)

...and many, many more.

In fact, even in the New Testament, we can read about Paul holding up Abraham's salvation as an example to the Jews to clearly show it was 1) apart from the law and 2) due to Abraham's trust in God that the righteousness of God was credited to Abraham.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- (Romans 3:21 ESV)

For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." (Romans 4:3 ESV)

This 'Scripture say' verse is quoted from...

And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:5-6 ESV)

Final Note: There is a tremendous difference between salvation in the church-age and salvation in other times. But how one gets saved and what it means to be saved is absolutely the same - by grace through faith, for the righteousness that comes from God. 

The difference is in the church itself, by which I mean the body of Christ, not just "a called out assembly." God has done something extraordinary in the church-age, which will the topic of future posts in another series, plus sprinkled messages here and there.