Posts Tagged ‘2 Cor 4:4-6’

The Point

“Living for Jesus”

Our highest prize is to be found living for Jesus. God is offering us the invitation to walk in spiritual prosperity and release His love to the world around us. Our enemies are God’s enemies, our difficulties are God’s difficulties and yet, our victory is God’s testimony. We are beginning to understand that we have full access to everything for which Jesus died. Its not about the bigger, better or more popular life, its about gaining Christ. He has captured our hearts, by loving us in the midst of discovery!

“We cannot, but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)

Often the disciplines of our Christian faith can lead us to believe that our life is more about dying to self than living for Christ. Yet, we are exchanging the ashes of a misguided life for the beauty of abiding in His Presence. Though darkness lasts for the night, fresh joy gets released in the morning. The Lord, Himself becomes our Everlasting Light and shapes the way we see our world. It truly is Christ in us that is the hope of Glory (Col 1:27).

The Unveiling:

Glory goes unseen by many, because human desires of the flesh are a veil that the devil uses to hide what is available to us (2 Cor 4:4-6). The inward, spiritual man is so much more wonderful than the outer, natural man of flesh and blood. Its the Holy Spirit’s influence that begins to delight our heart and remove the veil of flesh, so that blessing, purpose and fruitfulness can emerge as our treasure (2 Cor 3:16-18). And treasure it, we will… just try to still our voice, shift our vision or hold us back! We have understood the call to go forth in power and it is now inside us, to endure all things with bold perseverance (Heb 10:35-39).

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?… Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us! (Rom 8:31-37)

Spirit of the Age

You are invited

The word “another” in the New Testament is translated from two different words in the Greek. They are similar and yet very different. One is allos, which expresses merely a numerical difference. It literally means “another of the same kind”. For example… a second apple would be another apple, but it would be the same kind – both are apples. The other Greek word that is translated “another” in the English is heteros. It means “another of a different kind”. An orange; for example, would be another fruit of a different kind from the apple. Its basic nature is different, even though it is in the same group with other fruits.

So what’s the thought here?

Jesus makes a big deal out of this concept when He defines our calling to become His disciples.  “And another of His disciples said unto Him, Lord suffer (wait for) me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, follow Me and let the dead bury their dead.” (Mt 8:21-22)

At first glance this would seem to be a strange reply. A person could come away with the idea that Jesus was a bit demanding. This man was a disciple of Jesus; not one of the twelve, but he certainly had potential… didn’t he? He was called by the Lord to follow, but was unsure in the immediate future that he wanted to see the impact of Christ’s teaching in his own life, family and community. He felt unable to commit to follow the Lord “at once”, or at this “opportune time”. He felt it was more important to bury his father; who many scholars believe, may not have even been close to death yet. His dedication to Jesus Christ was not great enough to walk away from the cultural responsibilities of his personal life. He was not free to commit.

After all, what would the neighbors say about him not being there to bury his father?

James and John walked away from the life they had as fishermen, to begin a new life with Jesus (Mt 4:21-22); but this man could not. He was a disciple of “another” (heteros) kind. He probably felt justified in his reluctance to follow the Lord. His reasoning was bound to his values and those values were set by natural realities, not Jesus’ invitation. He could justify staying at home and fulfill his duties there and still serve the Lord in some way.

He did not realize, he was enslaved by a “spirit”.

What this helps us to see is that often demonic spirits do not work to get you to reject the Lord. What they tend to do is enslave you to a lower level of discipleship than what God has called you to attain. Jesus tells us, “strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Lk 13:24).

Remember Gates hold authority in Scripture.

The strait gate is the entrance; where a threshold of personal authority and agreement must be stepped over or broken through, in order for us to reach that higher calling… that opportune time in Christ. Many individuals sense their invitation to experience a closer walk with the Lord, but find they are not able to break free from the spirit of the age. Wow, that is an important word, because it tells us of a limitation that is often hidden in our soulish desires and cultural allegiances. The dedication and commitment to the Lordship of Christ will not be great enough to make the transition.

They want to and they seek to enter in, but are unable. They don’t realize a spirit has enslaved them to a lower form of following… “at a distance”.

This “spirit of the age” must be broken.

If we are not guarding our commitment to Christ, stretching our spiritual muscle and growing in our knowledge of Him, we can find ourselves seduced by this spirit of the age. In a media driven nation like America, this is an easier thing to fall into than we would like to believe. I am convinced (as are many) in our conservative Church culture that our lifestyles do not reflect a truly Biblical world view.

The Apostle Paul said this would be based upon the spirit of the age blinding people’s minds through unbelief, so that they do not comprehend the glory in the face of Jesus (2 Cor 4:4-6). Its not a new thing at all; in fact, he also gave this warning to the Church of Galatia, “I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another (heteros) gospel” (Gal 1:6).

This “another gospel” carries the seductive spirit of compromise and will cause you to feel you are doing fine on your present level of commitment and growth. You may never hear yourself say “I do not need to grow spiritually”. It may be that you just lose that fire in your belly… the hunger is gone. Maybe you intend to commit more someday, follow through with that call sometime, but right now your life is just too full to earnestly seek after God. This spirit will lull you to sleep and make you unable to follow God’s original call upon your life. And it does become stubborn.

Breaking free requires radical repentance and fasting!

Radical repentance and seasons of fasting are often needed, to reveal the chains and crush their hold around our ankles. In order to believe the Word of God, we must capture every thought and renew the mind with Truths that will set us free to live for Him and commit to Him. This is the Spirit of Life in Christ that brings joy and peace.

Our Highest Prize

Scripture: “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” (Acts 4:31-32)

Thought for Today: “Living for Jesus – boldly”

Our highest prize is to be found living for Jesus. Living in such a way… that places are shaken, fullness is experienced, unity is established and all things are shared among a generous fellowship. God is offering us the invitation to walk in spiritual prosperity and release His love to the world around us. Our enemies are God’s enemies, our difficulties are God’s difficulties and yet, our victory is God’s testimony. We are beginning to understand that we have full access to everything for which Jesus died. Its not about the bigger, better or more popular life, its about gaining Christ. He has captured our hearts, by loving us in the midst of discovery!

“We cannot, but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)

Prayer and fasting can lead us to believe that our Christian faith is more about dying to self than living for Christ. Yet, we are exchanging the ashes of a misguided life for the beauty of abiding in His Presence. Though darkness lasts for the night, fresh joy gets released in the morning. The Lord, Himself becomes our Everlasting Light and shapes the way we see our world. It truly is Christ in us that is the hope of Glory (Col 1:27).

The Unveiling:

Yet, Glory goes unseen, because flesh is a veil that the devil uses to hide what is available to us (2 Cor 4:4-6). The inward, spiritual man is so much more wonderful than the outer, natural man of flesh and blood. Its the Holy Spirit’s influence that begins to delight our heart and remove the veil of flesh, so that blessing, purpose and fruitfulness can emerge as our treasure (2 Cor 3:16-18). And treasure it, we will… just try to still our voice, shift our vision or hold us back! We have understood the call to go forth in power and it is now inside us, to endure all things with bold perseverance (Heb 10:35-39).

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?… Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us! (Rom 8:31-37)

Learning Obedience

“If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”  (Heb. 12:7 & 11)

Jesus as our Example:

  • (Heb 2:10) “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
  • (Heb 5:8-9) “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,”
  • (Heb 4:15) “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

It is an astonishing thing for most Christians to think of Jesus “being perfected” and “learning obedience”. It seems contrary to our popular idea of Jesus arriving fully formed and spotless like a stainless steel robot that saves the world. That was not the case; however, He came as a human being and human beings learn obedience. So, Jesus learned to obey just like we learn to obey. This seems like a contradiction when Scripture declares Him to be “without sin”. He was the perfect ”Son”, without rebellion and without sin. Throughout His 33 years He “learned obedience” and suffered temptation, rejection, pain in His body and even death on a cruel cross.

The Process of Growth:

At first He learned obedience to His parents Joseph and Mary, whom he lived with until age 30. He was a carpenter’s son and had half brothers and sisters that came and ate together at the same family table. And of course He learned obedience to God. The Jesus we see at age 30 is more mature than the child of 12 we see briefly in Luke’s Gospel (Lk 2:41-52). He had grown up, ”increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man”. Notice the growth - intellectually, physically and spiritually. This speaks to His ability to endure temptation and stay on course with His Heavenly Father. Jesus “the man” had learned a level of obedience that Jesus “the child” could never have attained. By the time He reached the cross and had endured the intensity of Gethsemane; He was perfected in obedience and was the sinless Lamb of God, that could be slain for the sins of the world.

One with The Father:

Let me say that suffering at no time implies that Jesus had any moral imperfections. Jesus speaks this incredible testimony if you will, at the moment of His betrayal that “Satan had nothing in Him” (Jn 14:30). Learning through suffering life’s trials had strengthened His character, so that He was more and more obedient. He was more able to follow God through difficult and confusing circumstances. Jesus had the greatest liberty of anyone, yet He used that liberty in only one way – to maintain His ”one-ness” with His Father.

The Orphan Heart:

There are three primary realms of disobedience in the believer: the love of the world, the love of sin, and the love of self. These three loves are by nature inside of us, because of our orphan heart. When sin entered the world man was seperated from the Glory of God and lost his one-ness with the Heavenly Father. Our minds and hearts have become ruled by the god of this age through blindness, unbelief and meeting our own needs (2 Cor 4:4-6). Our greatest struggle is – who will “father” us (Jn. 8:42-47). God deals with these areas of our life as a father deals with children, by means of love, acceptance and chastening. God breaks us free of the orphan heart by training us to respond to nurture, instruction and discipline.

Battle Over the Heart:

These loves that wage war inside us, press us continually to disobey the Lord. The Apostle John calls us to forsake our love of the world in light of our love of the Father:

  • (1 Jn 2:15).  ”Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

What we notice is that many find obedience to Christ so difficult and the world so attractive, because of the orphan heart. That is why God chastens us as His Child, in order that we may not be condemned with the world.

  • (Jn. 16:33) “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
  • (1 Cor. 11:32) “But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”

Notice how the Lord calls us to Himself, “in Me you might have peace”. In the world we will have tribulation, but in Jesus we are invited into peace. It is human nature to turn away from that which is difficult and to seek ease and superfiscial happiness. By sending discipline and treating us as sons and daughters, God aims to turn our hearts away from the world and teach us how to find rest in His Son. We learn obedience through the things we suffer.

Dealing with Trouble:

We run into trouble in the flesh. There is incompatibility, because we are citizens of Heaven. There is anxiety, because we are ambassadors of another Kingdom, not of this world. There is that boss who is perverse or that co-worker who drives us crazy. Our Garden of Eden is plagued with weeds, mosquitoes, and serpents. Trouble is Designed for Dominion – Not Destruction!

Training for Reigning:

The purpose of trouble is to teach us how to rule. God’s discipline teaches us about obedience to the Father and life in His Glory. Our submission to God’s commands releases the anointing that breaks yokes and drives the love of the world right out of us. This present world is not our home, we must find no rest in it and get rid of any love for it. God’s Word reminds us that in Christ, there is a resource through the guidence of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:8-13). We are made able to overcome the world by faith everyday… just as Jesus overcame the world. 

Three Truths:

  1. God is Perfecting Us: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory…” (2 Cor. 4:17)
  2. God Promises Grace: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)
  3. God Loves and Accepts Us: “For whom the Lord loves – He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” (Heb. 12:6)

Promised Goodness

Some promised goodness

Friendship...

The Bible is filled with God’s promises for life. It speaks about mercies being new every morning and compassions that never fail. The question most folks have however is, ”How do I recognize His promise when it shows up at my doorstep?” 

The answer: You will need to be expecting it!

 Its no mystery that if your mind is on a ball game, you might miss the mail carrier, who just dropped off a gift. You might catch the big play; but unless you are looking for the mail, you will probably miss the delivery. Its all about getting your eyes on the Carrier. 

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning (Jms 1:17).

 We can have the best intentions and still miss God’s promised goodness in our lives. Just consider the greatest gift of all! Jesus, God’s only Son was given to take away the sin of the world (Jn 3:16-17). Yet, millions of people are living everyday without embracing the goodness revealed in His death upon the cross.

 Its a strange thought for those of us who have experienced His love, but not so strange for many who believe God to be an angry judge or abusive parent. Our experience or faulty religious teachings can mess with our views on the goodness of God. “Would He? Could He? or Can He?” These questions become difficult to answer, because they require healthy beliefs about ourselves and the True nature of God. 

Let me focus on the 2 most important ideas about God’s goodness:

  1. God is for you! His heart for you is always good and perfect… He is a loving Father. God never gives second class gifts, because His nature is to love us and nurture fruitful living (2 Cor 5:17). 
  2. Forgiveness opens our eyes. It is the greatest gift of all and enables us to recognize that He is good. The Father of lights shines upon our heart; not to condemn, but to free us from sin and guilt that blinds us to His goodness (2 Cor 4:4-6).

Healing and restoration, free us to live our lives in expectation of the goodness of the Lord being experienced everyday. We can recognize His love all the time and connect to His goodness. No matter how difficult the circumstance; believing and expecting the good and perfect gifts of God, will transform the way we see life.

 I’m not talking about extraordinary things. I am talking about living in His promised goodness and prospering as His Blessed Child. Its a choice we can make in everything that happens. It also helps free us to understand that things are not happening to us, they are happening for us (Rom 8:28).

 I see God pouring out His good gifts over me today, gifts that are too wonderful to define by simple observation. I would rather live in mystery than to define everything and possibly be wrong, simply because I live with incomplete information. The gifts of God must have a season to reveal their significance in my life.

So… I’m thankful in all things; and I’m willing to trust in His Fathering, because in this I don’t miss a thing. I can expect to experience more and more of His promised goodness.

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