Hangin' Out With God

Getting up close and personal with God through knowing and believing His Word

For Love of the Father — April 3, 2017

For Love of the Father

 

Originally posted several years ago, this article continues to expound one of the most powerful truths in the Christian faith, and still calls each of us to greater consecration to our Father God in obedience and love.

JESUS IN GARDEN - NEGATIVE  -KAREN'S WHIMSY” . . . but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” John 14:31

With these words, Jesus is personally explaining to His disciples the reason He agreed to be born as a human being and become the sacrifice for man’s sin. Until the reality of these words sank into my heart during a time of meditation one day years ago, I had always believed that Jesus had been willing to go through the terrible crucifixion and separation from His holy Father just because He loved me so much. I had thought His love for us, the people He had created, had compelled Him to that cruel cross.

But this verse forced me to come face to face with the truth. It wasn’t love for us that caused Jesus to pay the awful price. Rather, it was His love for His Father: “That the world may know that I love the Father . . . even so I do.”

Now, to be sure, it was the Father’s love for us that caused Him to send Jesus. But it was Jesus’ love for the Father that caused Him to obey and carry out the plan. Indeed, love for the Father instigated and controlled absolutely everything that Jesus, the Son, did. We were the fortunate recipients of that beautiful obedience, but we were not the cause.

Most assuredly, as God, His love for us moved Him to compassion, but His love for the Father moved Him to obedience. He spoke and acted, not out of His own compassion, but only as He felt the Father speak and act in compassion. He makes that fact clear repeatedly during His ministry. Because He was determined to be a continuously obedient vessel, He never acted or reacted because of what He saw or felt personally, but because He felt the Father’s leading and wanted to please Him.

That truth seems so simple, but when it finally settled deeply in my consciousness, it brought me to a new level of enlightenment concerning Jesus and what moved and controlled Him. Not only did I see Jesus in greater revelation, but consequently I was confronted with a greater understanding of what it means for me to be “like Jesus.”

I realized more than ever that being like Him was much more than obeying commandments, walking in forgiveness, loving people, and reaching out to meet their needs in the power of God. Those endeavors are, to be sure, part of the Christ-like character. But the overriding requirement for being Christ-like, indeed the very root of Christ-likeness, is love of the Father.

Love of the Father must be our primary reason also for doing or refusing to do anything. Certainly, the right words and the right actions will get a job done or solve a problem many times. But speaking or acting because we believe it is what Jesus would do, or even because we love those whose needs we are trying to meet by those words and actions, never makes us one with the nature of Jesus. No, beloved Christian, only a passionate, all-consuming love of our Father God will bring us fully into oneness of nature and character with Jesus.

When we love the Father so much that we live to please Him, even hunger to please Him, we have truly entered into the nature of Jesus Himself. When no circumstance and no person moves us to action, but rather the leading from our Heavenly Father, Whom to please is more important than life itself, then we will have come to that place where Jesus is truly living His life in us.

Then the world will “know that we love the Father, and as the Father gives us commandment, even so we do.” They will see the same love of the Father that they saw in Jesus – a love that leads us to an obedience so supernatural that it compels those watching to turn to a God Who merits such a love.

Dear Christians, may it be our constant prayer that the love of the Father will be our only motivation in every facet of our lives from this day forward.


THE REASON

O, Lamb of God
So pure, so holy, undefiled,
You came so meekly,
Vulnerable, a tiny child.

You took our sin
And took all of its consequence.
You chose the cross,
And on it your lifeblood was spent.

But for what cause,
When tempted in the garden that night,
Did you still choose
To let yourself be crucified?

You told us, Lord;
If we’d just listen, we would know.
You said, “Because
I love the Father, I will go.”

Lord, work in us
That holy and obedient love,
That we, when tried,
Will speak and act only for God.

~~~
(Photo courtesy of Karen’s Whimsy)

 


 

The Heavens Declare — December 14, 2015

The Heavens Declare

Exif JPEG

Behold the morning brings the message:
Jesus paid the total price.
And again at close of evening,
It is written in the sky.

Day to day with joy resounding,
Grace and mercy new supplied;
In the face of sin abounding,
All its power at once denied.

Where the heavy heart and weary,
Shadowed by the awful curse,
Suffers pain and tumult daily,
Having life with God now lost,

There the sunrise, at day’s birthing,
Spreads the scarlet of His blood,
And that same bold crimson bloodstain
Rules the sky at set of sun.

God proclaims the glad reminder
At the start and end of day:
Man can live with  God forever;
With Christ’s blood the price is paid.

 

 

~

God’s Looking At Your Lamb — April 18, 2014

God’s Looking At Your Lamb

 

LAMB - LIGHTER

Today is ‘Good Friday,’ and it brings us almost to the end of the 6-week Lenten season. During that season Christians all over the world have focused on the suffering and crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, contemplating the awful price He paid for man’s rebellion and sin. John the Baptist introduced Jesus as “The Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29).

The Word of God also says, in the book of Hebrews, “He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. …We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Now where there is forgiveness … there is no longer any offering for sin. Since, therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus … let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.”

As believers consider what Jesus has done for all mankind this season, it would be good to remember this truth: Even under the Old Covenant, when a man brought a lamb to be sacrificed for his sin, neither the priest nor God Himself looked at the man to see if he measured up to a certain standard so that his sacrifice could be accepted and his sin forgiven. The only thing they looked at was the lamb itself. If the lamb was unblemished — spotless — perfect — the sacrifice was accepted, and the man walked away free of all guilt and condemnation.

So it is in the better covenant that Jesus instituted through His death and resurrection. In the New Covenant — as in the Old — God is not looking at you and me to see if we measure up well enough to be forgiven or to be admitted into His presence.  He’s looking at your Lamb.  He’s looking at my Lamb.  So we can rejoice, beloved!  We can go free from all sin and guilt and shame. We are forgiven and accepted totally and freely — for OUR LAMB IS PERFECT!

~

 

 

~~

 

Poems of Passion Week – Day 1 — April 14, 2014

Poems of Passion Week – Day 1

 

CROSS WITH CROWN OF THORNS - BLUE
I am setting myself the task, during Passion Week, of writing one poem a day about the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I want to focus in some special way on His suffering and death, and then His glorious victory and resurrection for my sake.

I can’t think of a better way than to create a poem every day from today – Palm Sunday – through Resurrection Day – Easter Sunday. In fact, since much of the church in several parts of the world celebrates Easter Week (the week following Resurrection Day), I think I will even write a poem for Easter Monday of that week as well. I hope these poems add to your commemoration of our Lord’s loving sacrifice and to your celebration of His glorious salvation.

( Those of you who follow all three of my blogs will most likely see several of this week’s posts on all three sites. I just think they are too important to limit their publication to one small venue.)

 

Here’s Palm Sunday’s Poem:

 

SACRIFICE

A crown,
A diadem,
A shackle placed upon the brow.

Bestowed
Contemptuously,
And scarlet robe on shoulders bowed.

The grief,
The agony,
The tortuous, mutilating pain.

All born
By Innocence
To give me peace and health again.

A cross,
On Calvary:
To execute the Father’s plan.

A tomb,
Now empty stands:
He’s paid the price for every man.

~

 

 

What Is This Thing Called ‘Salvation’? — July 31, 2013

What Is This Thing Called ‘Salvation’?

CROSS - PLAIN, THICK - QUESTS.Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature (Greek: new species); the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. … Therefore, we … beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).

What’s it all about? This “being saved”? This being “born again”? What’s it all about? I just don’t understand it. And I could never get my life straightened out enough and cleaned up enough to fit in with Jesus Christ anyway.”

Ever felt that way? Have you ever felt that you might really like to turn your life over to someone stronger and wiser, who could get it straightened out and make some real sense out of it – give it some lasting purpose and value? But you just don’t think you measure up to God’s standards enough to come to Him?

Well, the good news – shouted loud and strong – in the scripture passage above is that you do not have to measure up to God’s standards – or anyone else’s. You don’t even have to get one little thing about yourself or your life made right before you come to God.

That’s right. I mean what I said. And I can say it with absolute confidence, because God Himself said it first. And He said it over and over again. The passage at the top of this article is just one instance, but, to me, it is one of the most important of those instances. I have two other favorite passages like it in importance: Romans 5:6: “Christ died for the ungodly.” 1 Tim. 1:15: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

Now, of course, if you don’t think you need a savior – if you believe you are holy enough to live in the presence of the holy God of the universe, nose to nose, eye to eye, breathing the same air He breathes for all eternity, without being cleaned up at all – then I’m not talking to you. But if you realize that you are not on the level of that holy God – that you are not righteous and pure enough by your own merit to live with Him – then I am talking to you – and so is He!

The simple truth is that the work has already been done for you. Jesus did it all. He gave up the privileges of being on the throne of Heaven, came to this earth as a man, and lived a perfect life for you. Then God laid all of the sinful nature (to which you are heir) and all of the rebellion, disobedience, ugliness, and hatefulness of all the sin in the human race on Jesus (2 Cor. 5 21), and put all the punishment for that sin on Him as well. He bore it all for you, and after His death on your behalf, He came up out of the grave – also on your behalf – with eternal life and the right to bestow that new life on you. We have “been crucified with Christ,” (Gal. 2: 19-20) and “even when we were dead in our transgressions, [God] made us alive together with Christ … and raised us up with Him.” (Eph. 2:5-6).

But when we decide we’d like to have that salvation and that new relationship with our Creator, we often hold back because we feel powerless to separate ourselves from sin or the world’s way of life – or even from our own selfish nature. We feel powerless to make ourselves “worthy” of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Well, if you feel that way, rejoice! Because that means you know the truth: We are powerless! But that is okay. Because the work of saving us is His  and His alone! And it’s already been done.

That’s what our beginning scripture is telling us. When God raised Jesus from the dead, He raised Him up as the head of a body – which would be made up of believers – everyone who would believe in that finished work. That’s what the verse in Ephesians means when it says He “raised us up with Him.” And that’s what the passage in 2 Corinthians means when it says that God was – in Christ – reconciling the world to Himself. That word reconcile means to bring back into original or proper position and make the relationship right again. That’s what the Word says God was doing when He crucified Jesus Christ and raised Him up again and seated Him in power and authority forever. He was bringing “the world” back into right relationship with Himself.

Now look at the rest of that verse: “not counting their sins against them.” Who is the pronoun “their” referring to in this verse? The church? The “good” people? The people who call themselves Christians? NO! The only plural noun in that whole verse that the pronoun “their” can refer to is the word world.” Do you get it? God was – in Christ – not counting the world’s sins against them any longer. God was – in Christ (only in Christ) – forgiving all the people in the whole world for every sin counted against them. Can you grasp that exciting truth? In the mind and heart of God, it is already done. In the mind and heart of God, all of your sins are already forgiven – in Christ!

You see, that’s why there is no other way to salvation and eternity with God. There is no other religion, dogma, or program that has inherent within it the forgiveness of all sin and the eternal life granted by God. That forgiveness and that life are only in Christ – because He’s the only one who paid the horrible price of suffering and separation from God that was complete enough and perfect enough to buy freedom for the whole human race.

So, your next question is probably going to be, “Well if it’s already done, then what is my part?” Our part is believing and receiving. Even before Jesus’ crucifixion, when His disciples asked Him, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus told them, “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He hath sent.” (John 6:28-29).

Now, I do need to explain that the word “believe” from the original language means much more than mental assent. It means yielding or surrendering to and obeying.” To truly “believe” means that you give yourself to it completely. But that is the beauty of it all. We do not have to do the work of salvation. We just have to surrender to that work and let it produce its fruit in us. How do we surrender? We simply pour out our hearts to this great, loving Jesus, who has done all the work. We simply tell him in our own words that we know we need what He offers and gladly give Him control in our hearts and our lives. (That’s what it means to make Him our “Lord.”)

Once we totally surrender, Jesus comes to reign on the throne of our hearts. From that position, He can begin to clean up everything else about us that needs cleaning up. You need never fear. Once He has the position of authority, willingly given to him by you, He knows how – and is well able – to do the rest of the work.

So what about that term “born again”? Well to start with, we must remember that man was created by a spirit God and therefore is primarily a spirit being, having a soul and living in a body. Now go back to our original verse: “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature (Greek: new species).” When Jesus Christ comes in, our real man – the spirit man — is literally born again. A brand new species (the God-man species of Jesus Christ) comes in and generates its life in our spirit. Therefore, the Word tells us again and again that, once this happens, we are to be aware of the fact that we are now “children of God.” (Romans 8:16, 1 John 3:2).

Now all of this work is done – finished. In God’s heart and mind it’s a “done deal.” But remember: it is done ONLY IN CHRIST. Therefore, it is only when we make the decision to yield ourselves to Jesus Christ and receive Him into ourselves and our lives that we get the benefit of this finished work. Although it is done, if we choose not to access it, we get no results from it in our personal lives.

You might compare it to the process of getting data from the Internet. You know there is data out there covering the subject about which you need information. But that data will do you absolutely no good at all unless you sit down, turn on your computer, take yourself to that site, open up the channel, and deliberately download that information. So — you must open up yourself to Jesus Christ and all He has done for you, and by believing (yielding, surrendering) download every single bit of it. It’s all yours. It has your name on it. But you have to hit the download (I Believe) button to receive.

So what is salvation? It is the free gift of a loving Father who has paid the deepest, truest, most sacrificial price to restore His rebellious children to Himself. It is the free gift of the brother Jesus, who has given Himself in our place and paid the full price, receiving brand new life to pass on to each one of us. The work of salvation has absolutely nothing to do with us. Our only work is to believe what He has done and surrender to it.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17).

%d bloggers like this: