Having a Resurrected Heart, [Brand New]

“You have been raised to life with Christ. Now set your heart on what is in heaven, where Christ rules at God’s right side.”

Colossians 3:1, CEV

Paul’s explanation is given that is meant to clarify things for us.  Perhaps it is too simple, too straight-forward.  We seem to prefer the complex; ideally a 12 point plan, on ‘PowerPoint’, that makes us feel holy and strong, and even ‘spiritual.’ We’d feel much better if it was just a question of intelligence, rational mind and ‘practical thinking.’ Paul shares with this young Church of the Colossians. By the time he gets to chapter 3, he is ready to communicate an essential truth, which is meant to challenge our weak and faulty understanding.

“You have been raised to life with Christ.” The truth is this; the real world starts for you when you understand your resurrection as already taken place.  You were once dead, and now you are alive!  The life that you live is a resurgent life.  You have awakened from death. Essentially, you entered ‘piggyback’ on Jesus.  He has carried you into the deepest place in heaven.

It all can make sense if, set your heart on what is in heaven.”  This is the first mention of us taking action. Up to now, Jesus has did everything.  But at this precise moment, we must act– to set our heart on the deep priority of eternity.  To commence becoming who you really are.  You’re now a spiritual man, or woman, who just so happens (at this point) to have a physical body.

It is a place of triumph and power, “where Christ rules at God’s right side.” This is no inconsequential place. This is the ‘very center of the center.’  The presence of God is all-powerful, and all-knowing.  And it is accurate to say that we have been brought into that same atmosphere, where we breathe in the ‘shekinah’—  that is God’s glory.

Embedded in this single verse in Col. 3:1 is a vigorously rich sense of how and what is the spiritual life.  It should never be formulaic or mechanical.  (We will not find our intellect charging the way into God’s presence.)  Simply, we must believe in our hearts what has happened already.  We enter by faith. It is so easy, but can be quite challenging. You are now a ‘citizen’ of heaven.

“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.”

Philippians 3:20

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Release the Perfume! [Glory]

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“Your love delights me, my treasure, my bride. Your love is better than wine, your perfume more fragrant than spices.”

Song of Solomon 4:10

“When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume.”

Luke 7:37

“What about you? What precious perfume is locked inside your heart that could be lavished on our Lord? The little treasures you and I struggle to hold on to may hold back opportunities to worship Him with extravagant praise, releasing ministry and service to Him that will bless all those around us.”

-Angela Munizzi

We must see that our simple actions have a way of blessing Jesus.  We must come to see that the rich and good place, where what we do or don’t do, makes a real difference.  How long has it been since you have really had this responsibility?  We are significant.  You really do matter! The worship we sincerely offer reflects back on us. This allows us to be radiant to any observers.

We touch Jesus, somehow, and in some way we have blessed Him.  I believe that this must encourage Him, that He receives our offering.  He then responds and blesses those who are desperately crying out.  Jesus is not capricious, or sceptical, and so our worship must really affect Him. If only to add to the volume of those who have already crying out for mercy.

Our worship needs to become extravagantly simple again.  Poured out, ‘down-to-the-last-drop’ kind of worship.  It gives and gives until there is simply no more.  I also think it must be intercessory in its direction.

Intercessory worship will cover the helpless, and turn God’s ear to the needs of the depressed.

When the Holy Spirit tunes us, we become precise instruments of grace and love– enabling us to touch the hearts of many millions who are lost, who have no hope at all.

As a believer, one who struggles with clinical depression, the realization that I can be inserted into a “crisis-critical” situation is a bit comical or surreal— like sending the “Three Stooges” in to do brain surgery!  But you must see this.  I have learned this as I worshipped at His feet.  I have attempted to pour out every bit of perfumed nard,  I sincerely desire to hold nothing in reserve.

This desperation has a way of making me adequate, it is showing me how to become competent.  It has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with Jesus Christ, and His undisputed authority in the realm of this world.

His desire is to create a flock from the willing, and to bring all that glory home, to His Father.

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Help Me to Understand My Tears, [Trouble]

bowing-before-him In 1895 Andrew Murray was in England suffering from a terribly painful back, the result of an injury he had incurred years before. He was staying with some dear friends. One morning while he was eating his breakfast in his room, his hostess told him of a woman downstairs who was in great trouble and wanted to know if he had any advice for her. Andrew Murray handed her a paper he had been writing on and said, “Just give her this advice I’m writing down for myself. It may be that she’ll find it helpful.” This is what was written:

“In time of trouble, say, “First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest.” Next, “He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.” Then say, “He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.” And last, say, “In His good time He can bring me out again.”
How, and when, He knows.”

Therefore say, “I am here,

  1. by God’s appointment,
  2. in His keeping,  
  3. under His training,
  4. for His time.”

I am convinced that suffering has a purpose. I must keep or honor this particular engagement. It is for my good that I do so.  My life has meaning while I struggle with my issues.  Nothing is really ever wasted.

And God certainly doesn’t waste our sorrows. He uses them to build our faith and work His grace, character, and eternal purposes into our lives and through our lives. God takes note of our tears and gathers them in His bottle that none be wasted. (Psalm 56:8) He rewards godly tears (Psalm 126:5; Luke 7:44; II Timothy 1:4.) One day God will wipe away all tears from our eyes. (Revelation 7:17; 21:4). Don’t waste your sorrows, but give them to Jesus.

“You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.

My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help.
    This I know: God is on my side!”

Psalm 56:8-9, NLT

 

Is He Your Friend, or a Doctrine? [Friendship]

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“A rule I have had for years is: to treat the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal friend. His is not a creed, a mere doctrine, but it is He Himself we have.”

  ~D.L. Moody

This can be a liberating secret. It releases us from the terrible bondage of religion and ritual with all its negative connotations. Friendship with our Lord will carry us beyond creed or doctrine to the place of true communion.

But we value legalism, and that is precisely what we believe when we bypass the relationship. Doctrine is a good servant, but a poor master. Creeds are necessary, but incapable of bringing either salvation or a fruitful life. This can only come from a living faith in the Lord Jesus.

We evangelicals talk big about “a personal relationship.” That is indeed crucial. But few be the believers that walk in a daily friendship with their Savior. That is truly a tragedy.

“I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.”

John 15:15, NLT

Friendship with Jesus will bring true guidance. He shares secrets and wisdom to his friends. We are brought into a true knowledge of the Kingdom through the relationship of friendship with the King. We are not slaves– or drones, slavishly serving out of slavish fear. We are His friends.

Jesus wants to confide in us; sharing mysteries hidden by time and sin. And his kingdom is full of amazing perplexities! He is looking to bring us into a willingness of a daily communion.

He will heal our wounds, and forgive all our sins. He is truly our savior as well as our friend.

Friendship comes with a price. It means we are now tethered to the Lord. That can get old, especially when I want to do my own thing. I will continually have to lay things down, and choose to accept tether and follow Him.

But my soul now has a best friend.

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Mother Teresa’s Heart, [Mercy]

“Intense love does not measure; it just gives”

“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.”

Micah 6:8, NLT

These are all quotes from Mother Teresa, born ‘Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu’, 1910-1997. Here are some of the things she wrote or said. I hope they will inspire and encourage.

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Be the eyes of God. See what He sees.
  • See the world as God sees the world.
  • When God sees a homeless man. He sees a precious person who has a painful life, whom everyone else has cast aside.
  • When God sees people fighting against each other, He is grieved because they have allowed their small differences to destroy what they have in common.
  • When He sees a child without parents, He sees the lonely heart abandoned by people who themselves have pain.
  • See what God sees.
Be the ears of God. Hear what He hears.
  • God hears the silent tears of the lonely. He hears the voices of the oppressed. He hears the shouts of injustice. He hears the cries of pain.
  • Learn to listen and hear as God hears.
Be the mind of God. Think as He thinks.
  • Seek to understand the mind of God, to think as He thinks. Observe things around you and have conversations with Him. Seek His wisdom and knowledge. Know that He wants to bring you to a higher consciousness of His Kingdom.
Seek to understand the heart of God.
  • Be the heart of God. Feel what He feels.Feel the pain He feels for those who suffer. Feel the tears He feels for the lonely. Feel the magnitude of His great love and compassion for us His creation.
  • The heart of God is filled with overflowing love and He desires us to participate in His work to bring back wholeness to the world. See that the heart of God is indeed filled with unconditional love.
Be the hands of God. Do as He does.
  • God asks us to take everything we have learned from Him and change things. He asks us to use our hands to do His work: To stand up when there is injustice. To love as He loves. To do things no one else wants to do. By making a connection, volunteering, joining a community or offering to help, we do what God hopes for us all to do: love people to Him.
  • Listen to God and do what He beckons you to do. There is so much that needs to be done, but so few persons willing to do the work of God. We can no longer be just bystanders on the side of the road asking God for handouts, comfort and security. We each have a part in His great plan to bring salvation to the world.
  • Many believe that being spiritual is cerebral. Our minds seek only to contemplate and meditate on God, but that is only part of it. Thinking on God is 1% spirituality. Doing the work of our contemplations is 99% of it.
  • Action above all is what is hardest for us to do; yet, ACTION is the fruit of deep spirituality. Contemplation may be spiritual, but when there is no action behind our spiritual thoughts, they become worthless.

Like the Good Samaritan, what matters is that love is manifested into action. Not just concern, not just prayer, and not just sympathy, but ACTION.

  • The energy that gets the ball rolling and sets God’s love into motion is ACTION.
  • So many of us pray when someone needs help, yet, no one just goes on in and helps. We pray for someone else to do the work, but perhaps we are the ones who should heed our own prayers.
A person of God, sees, hears, thinks, feels and then DOES.
  • Spiritual thoughts are fruitless until they become a part of your life. One who does, follows through with what he has learned and produces fruit. It is the result of our conversations with God. One who thinks only entertains himself. One who does, entertains God.
  • God is excited when we allow our hands to be His hands, because only then can things begin to happen. Only then can work be accomplished.
  • We can no longer remain complacent and removed from everything. He challenges us to walk along with Him and be His eyes, ears, mind, heart and hands to do His work. To walk a closer walk with Him.
When our hands do as God does, then we are truly walking side by side with Him toward the Kingdom of God.

“We have not come into the world to be numbered; we have been created for a purpose; for great things: to love and be loved.

Mother Teresa

Sources: http://epistle.us/articles/deeperspirituality.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa
 
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All About Flawed Lives, [Hope]

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“Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws but because we let go of seeking perfection and, instead, seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives.“ 

— Michael Yaconelli

The principle is sound. We let go of our flaws, and make no effort to redeem them. Sounds easy. Although I feel no qualms in doing so, I still wonder. Can He forgive so much, and so many brazen sins?

We can so easily turn on ourselves (at least that’s the tendency) and find accusation.  We become our worst enemy, we desperately carry our guilt like some overloaded and heavy pack all throughout  our broken lives.

We must finally realize we can no longer seek perfection (or its facsimile) by our conduct. Things have gotten far beyond this. We are rascals and ragamuffins– and are likely to remain so. Unless God intervenes decisively.

But love has a way of loosening our rigorous thinking, like a rusted nut on some corroded metal bolt. He wrenches us, and wants to forgive us of everything. He has decided to love us. You must respond to find his forgiveness. Plain and simple.

Instead of seeking perfection, we should be really seeking God. I suppose this can be daunting. But God is comfortable in our difficulties. He rules over our personal confusion. We come with less then zero. He gives us everything.

We can do nothing but accept. His grace. Grace moves us beyond our personal tragedy. Finally accepting we can do nothing, he does everything.. And where does this leave us?

Our striving for a final acceptance comes down to this:  He rules over all our ‘issues,’ and we’re constantly made aware of this excessively extravagant grace. We are rich, only because he has made it so.

There is no one else who can make us worthy. There is no one else who can connect with our sin and then at the same time make us holy in his eyes. There is only God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

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On Your Knees

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“Come, let us worship and bow down.
    Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
    for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,
    the flock under his care.”

Psalm 95:6-7

I can think of nothing more significant than to pray. I especially like it when the Holy Spirit gives me a tug, and then reels me to Himself. Sometimes I respond, not always. I mentally assent to the idea of praying everywhere, and at all times. But yet the posture of kneeling is special. It smacks of humility and need, and fixes me on the Lordship of my Father. And that is good.

I guess kneeling has fallen out of favor among today’s believers. I hope that this isn’t the case of you.

In the olden days, common people would kneel in the presence of their sovereign king. It was an affront if you didn’t kneel. It spoke of disrespect and lack of submission to the king. I suppose it could be overdone; exploited by some. But these misunderstandings do not nullify what is true about this custom.

I know that kneeling prayer is not the only way one can approach God. But it seems that verses in Psalm 95 carry the implications of the believer having the following relationship:

  1. a maker or creator
  2. a God who is real and all-powerful
  3. and a shepherd who tenderly cares for us

Perhaps these special needs that we have are channeled through a saint on his knees. It could be kneeling prayer is where we encounter these three answers to our needs. When I’m in need of His tender shepherding, the venue becomes a prayer that kneels. This might transmit to us just to meet our ‘need of the moment’ (Today, I feel like I need a shepherd.)

Kneeling to pray is often the only thing that keeps me strong enough to stand. It humbles me before my maker, my God, and my shepherd.

I’m thinking of Peter after experiencing the miraculous catch of fish. Kneeling becomes the only response he could really make.

“When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.”

Luke 5:8, NLT

“And Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.”

– William Cowper

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