Thoughts and opinions

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes weigh myself down wondering what other people think of me.  This kills my joy and hinders me from being myself.  Like a snare, it keeps me from going forward and limits me to a boxed-in life.

“The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever leans on, trusts in, and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high.” Proverbs 29:25

I want to break out of this box.  The only opinion that matters, the Highest opinion – is God’s opinion.  I am promised that His thoughts toward me are wonderful – no other man’s praise or thoughts can compare with His!  He makes plans of peace for me – no evil thought crosses His mind.  How wonderful! I am completely accepted, approved and loved.

“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonderful works which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; no one can compare with You! If I should declare and speak of them, they are too many to be numbered.” Ps 40:5

What would you do differently, freely out of the depths of your soul,  if you could not care less what anyone thought? God’s thoughts are the only thoughts that matter – and they have already put the stamp of approval and blessing on us!

There is a choice

Over the course of the last few weeks quite a few amazing benefits of salvation have been mentioned.  Complete liberty, freedom from anxieties and fears, blessings, divine protection and healing to name just a few. God delights in people who love Him out of free will.  That’s why He does not force salvation on us.  We are given a choice.  Just like we are given the choice to believe in Jesus, we are given a choice to progress to the supernatural life of blessings and miracles.

“I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live…” Deut 30:19

This renewed mindset of blessing, healing and freedom does not always come naturally.  Because it goes against what we have come to know in the natural realm we need to CHOOSE life (the supernatural).  We need to choose the better portion, the gift that is wrapped up for us to freely enjoy.

“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].” Rom 12:2

Let your mind be renewed in order to see the wealth of blessings that is set before you. Choose the better part – choose Jesus and the life that He has given us.

True freedom

If there is one aspect of being born again that we need to protect, it is our freedom.  Many Christians start off experiencing the exhilarating redemption of the cross, only to slowly walk into legalism – one foot at a time.  Before they know it they feel depressed, enslaved under a yoke which brings no joy.   This yoke is the law, and we have been set free from it.

“Christ purchased our freedom [redeeming us] from the curse (doom) of the Law [and it’s condemnation] by [Himself] becoming a curse for us, for it is written [in the scriptures], Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (is crucified);” Gal 3:13

The law is clearly described as a curse in the above mentioned verse. If Christ purchased our freedom from this law, why would He want us to submit to it once again?  It makes no sense.

“In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off].” Gal 5:1

Jesus lived perfectly in order to fulfill the law.  We cannot be redeemed by following a set of rules – we can only be redeemed through faith in the finished work on the cross.

“Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice], so that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit [our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit].” Rom 8:3-4

God’s gift to us (Part 3)

In the previous two posts we spoke about the incredible gift God gave mankind in the sacrifice of Jesus.  He saved us entirely – body, mind and soul.  We’ve already established that faith in the sacrifice of Jesus leads to salvation of our souls and reconciliation with God.  We’ve also established that Jesus took it upon himself to carry every sickness and disease in order for us to experience health.  The third aspect of this complete salvation is the salvation of our minds.

Let’s look at Isaiah 53:5 again:

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.”

The highlighted part of the verse refers to our minds, and the fact that we can now enjoy peace.  Peace of mind means calmness, composure and freedom from worries.  It is a quiet place of contentment and joy, free from all depression, sadness and anxiety.

John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you.”

“May grace (God’s favor) and peace (which is perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to you in [the full, personal, precise, and correct] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Pet 1:2

A gift needs to be received in order to be enjoyed.  We just need to realize God’s heart towards us, and how blessed we are the moment we are born again.  We must get to know Jesus, who is God’s gift to us.  It is knowing the Truth that will set us free, really and unquestionably free (John 8:32, 36)!

God’s gift to us (Part 2)

We’ve already established that God’s gift to mankind was Jesus.  When He died on the cross He paid a complete price to save us – body, mind and soul.  In the previous post we discussed the wonderful salvation of our souls.  In this post I want to discuss the salvation of our bodies.

Isaiah 53:3 speaks of the cross of Jesus, and reads as follows:

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.”

Many Christians might read this and think: “This healing only refers to my heart”.  The truth is – this verse was brought into context in Matthew 8.  Jesus healed Peter’s mother, and afterwards “restored to health all who were sick”.  Immediately after these events we read the following verse, which refers to Isaiah 53:5:

“And thus He fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, He Himself took [in order to carry away] our weaknesses and infirmities and bore away our diseases.” Matt 8:17

We can therefore gladly accept the gift of healing which God gave us through Jesus Christ. It is just as real, and just as freely available, as the salvation of our souls.

God’s gift to us (Part 1)

Jesus referred to Himself as “God’s gift” (John 4:10).  When you ask a Christian what this means, they will most probably tell you “He saved me”.  This is definitely true, and it is the first and foremost point I want to talk about.  But, we must not stop there.  Jesus’ sacrifice accomplished even more than just salvation of our souls.  God’s gift to us – Jesus – endured the worst possible torture hanging on that cross.  He carried the weight of every single sin (past, present and future) so that we could once again be reconciled to God through faith in Him.

“Yet now has [Christ, the Messiah] reconciled [you to God] in the body of His flesh through death, in order to present you holy and faultless and irreproachable in His [the Father’s] presence.” Col 1:22

Through the gift He gave us, we are now irreproachable in God’s eyes.  Irreproachable means to be blameless, faultless and innocent.  It means we are pure, as if we have never sinned.  Justified.  Righteous.

“And He [ that same Jesus Himself] is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also for [the sins of] the whole world.” 1 John 2:2

“Therefore, since we are justified ( acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).” Rom 5:1

The complete, finished work on the cross made eternal life possible for us.  It removed all our sins and now presents as as pure, faultless souls before God.

But wait…there’s more! :-)

The goodness of God

I’ve referred to it a few times, but today I want to dedicate an entire post to the goodness of God.  Before I came into contact with the true God, I was overshadowed by the perception that He was a very angry God,  waiting for any opportunity to chastise me.  I had no joy, and I lived under constant condemnation.  The moment I came to understand His character and His heart towards mankind, I was set free.  There are numerous verses that speak of God’s goodness and character:

“And this is the message [the message of promise] which we have heard from Him and now are reporting to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all [ no, not in any way].” 1 John 1:5

“If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him!” Matt 7:11

“He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in [His] kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus.” Eph 2:7

We are blessed to know and love a good God. He made it so easy to love Him, how can anyone resist?

“But let him who glories glory in this: that he understands and knows Me [personally and practically, directly discerning and recognizing My character], that I am the Lord, Who practices loving-kindness, judgement, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.” Jer 9:24

A first revelation

I received my first ‘living’ word in 1999 – a verse I read which truly stood out and spoke to my heart.  I cherish this verse, and find it wonderful that God chose to reveal His character first and foremost.  I did not hear a message of condemnation or judgement, nor one of works or service.  It was a message of reconciliation – spoken so kindly that my heart melted.

“The Lord appeared from of old to me saying, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.” Jer 31:3

In this verse He showed me His never-ending love – it is infinite and boundless.  There is nothing I can do to stop this love, I cannot mess it up or cause Him to change His mind.  This love is not dependent on holy living or works achieved – it moves through all boundaries and overcomes everything.

“For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening 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 which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 8:38 – 39

It is this love that will lead the world to repentance – the revelation of God’s character (Rom 2:4).

Jesus out-achieved everyone!

We don’t live by the same set of rules that the world lives by (John 17:16).  In the world we get praised for what we have accomplished or how far we’ve come in your own strength.  We have ignorantly tried to apply the same set of rules to our Christian lives – trying to please God through noble accomplishments, achievements and spiritual warfare.

In Christianity the only achiever was Jesus.  We are most ‘spiritual’ when we realize we cannot accomplish or achieve anything worthy of God’s praise on our own. The only ‘work’ that pleases Him is faith in the complete sacrifice of His Son, who achieved everything (John 6:29). If we understand this, Christ will truly manifest in our lives.

“I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me;” Gal 2:20

“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit” Zac 4:6

“My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness.” 2 Cor 12:7-10

“If anyone among you supposes that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool [let him discard his worldly discernment and recognize himself as dull, stupid, and foolish, without true learning and scholarship], that he may become [really] wise. For this world’s wisdom is foolishness (absurdity and stupidity) with God, for it is written, He lays hold of the wise in their [own] craftiness; And again, The Lord knows the thoughts and reasonings of the [humanly] wise and recognizes how futile they are.” 1 Cor 3:18 – 20

The good life

I want to cringe when people make the Christian life out to be one of sorrows, seriousness and hardships.  These people lay a burden on you, making you feel guilty if you are enjoying your walk with God.  This perception goes against my experience of God’s heart towards us. I believe He wants us to be happy in His presence, to look forward to every moment spent with Him.

There are quite a few verses to confirm this:

“…in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

“…I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” John 10:10

“…For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” Mat 11:30

“Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). ” Rom 5:1

So … don’t let anyone make you feel less worthy if you are loving life and enjoying a relationship with God.  There is such great joy and contentment in knowing someone loves to be in your presence – why would it be any different for God?  He is happiest when we are in His presence, loving Him.  In Luke 10:40 He commended Mary, saying she has chosen the good portion – a life of knowing Him instead of just serving Him.