Posts Tagged ‘fallen short’

Change is Coming

Scripture: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

Thought for Today: “Welcoming the Crucible”

God knows the secrets of the heart (Ps 44:21). In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves. Yet we still feel a bit vulnerable yielding our lives to change. We ask God to use us and we know changes are coming, but being in the crucible of spiritual discipline can feel uncomfortable even to the most mature Christian.

Our Resistance:

When God tests and tries our heart, there are always things that firmly resist, because they have become our safety net. We have relied upon ourselves and trusted in own strength at times when we could not see clearly. The Apostle Paul tells us that many have exchanged the Truth of God for lies by serving and the worship of things that offer no real peace (Rom 1:25). He reminds us that we have all gone astray and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). These issues represent the baggage of idolatry and must be rooted out for us to enjoy the freedom found in Christ.

Real Transformation:

As much as we would like to believe we can change, transformation is not really something we can do for ourselves. It takes the power of the One who knows us best. We can change habits and shift our focus, but it is God who changes the human heart. When we step into the crucible of prayer and fasting, we make the most important move toward God’s best for our lives. The refining process frees us from sinful behavior, renews our thinking and enables us to discern the will of God more clearly (Rom 12:1-2).

God Loves and Receives Us:

Transformation happens in the safe place of His Presence, where the Holy Spirit gains access to those things that hinder our progress. God knows what is best for us and He always acts in our best interest by treating us as sons and daughters (Heb 12:4-11). We are reminded that when we are chastened by God, it is because He loves us and receives us as a father cherishes and loves his child. Remind yourself today that God loves and receives you as His very own son or daughter.

“Why do you spend money on what is not bread and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me and eat what is good and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” (Isa 55:2)

Clothed in Glory

It’s interesting to me that all of the creatures God made had coverings… except man. Animals had fur, birds had feathers and fish had scales or shells. But man did not have any outer covering, as he didn’t need it before the fall. Why? Because God clothed man in His Glory.

“You made him (man) a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him (or clothed him) with glory and honor.” (Ps 8:5)

God’s Original Intent:

The atmosphere of the Garden of Eden was permeated with the same splendor as heaven. There was no sin in the beginning and man walked with God everyday in a peace filled relationship in the “cool of the day”. This means they walked together in a spiritual dimension where they shared a oneness that was maintained by God’s Glory (a covering) and God’s Honor (atmosphere).

The Garden of Eden was Heaven on Earth:

The original Hebrew word for “crowned” means “to encircle”, “to surround’. In other words, Adam and his wife were surrounded by God’s Glory and Honor. They had been clothed with the Glory of God and didn’t need natural clothing and they were living in an atmosphere of perfect relationship and did not need natural knowledge. God was giving man a wonderful environment to rule, where God would truly be their provision and protection if this stewardship could be maintained.

Losing the Glory:

However, once they had been deceived by the serpent and sinned, they were no longer able to focus on spiritual reality as the Glory that once clothed them, seemed to lift. They found themselves naked. Notice that they immediately respond to their new condition by becoming afraid. They made coverings for themselves and hid from God. This is an interesting response since Adam and his wife felt no shame of being naked before they sinned (Gen 2:25).

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (Gen 3:7)

Why would they even consider making coverings for themselves? Weren’t they the only human beings in the Garden of Eden? Weren’t they surrounded by only animals, birds and fish?

Hearing God’s Voice:

The reason is given when Adam is answering God’s call “He answered, I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (Gen 3:10). Adam and Eve were afraid, because they were naked before God. I understand being ashamed, but why would they be afraid? They were afraid, because they were naked and had lost their original God given Glory. Now they found themselves controlled by a deception, a satanic lie that they needed natural covering and natural knowledge to sustain their lives. This came as a fulfillment to what God said to them earlier, “…you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen 2:17). The moment they were no longer in God’s Glory, they died spiritually and inner peace was replaced with fear.

Spiritual Death:

We are able to see a powerful expression of God’s Fathering love in the moments following the broken relationship. God, seemingly unaware of man’s location, calls out to man and asks him of his connection to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God says, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree I commanded you that you should not eat?” (Gen 3:11)

Spiritual Life:

Then God makes the first sacrifice, in order to clothe them properly.  ”The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” (Gen 3:21). God would spill the blood of a lamb; one of His created beings, to provide a garment suitable to cover human shame. This would serve as humanity’s first revelation that spiritual life is in the Blood.

The Apostle Paul said it this way, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” (Rom 3:23)

Our spiritual death has its connection to sin by the loss of our covering (God’s Glory) and our relationship (God’s Honor) based on His Presence (Holy Spirit atmosphere). Yet the Apostle Paul goes on to tell us of the reality of God’s grace… God’s favorable actions toward us who trust in Christ Jesus. He  tells us that God has restored access to His Glory and Honor in the free gift of salvation. Access to all that was lost could be restored through the Blood of Jesus. 

“We have been freely justified through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24).

The Gospel of Restored Glory:

This good news cannot be overstated, because it is not accomplished by anything man can do (Rom 3:20)(2 Cor 5:21). God proved His love by sending Jesus to die for us, in our place and for the spiritual relationship to be restored that once was established in the Garden of Eden. The Bible says that when anyone turns to God in faith, a veil is lifted from their hearts and they are enabled to behold the Glory of God in the very face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 3:16-4:6). As believers who continue to look into that Glory a transformation takes place, whereby we are being changed into the same image (God’s original intent) from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor 3:18).

Jesus Said – Be Clothed In Glory: Power from On High!

“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city (Jerusalem) until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Lk 24:49)

Effective Disciples

Scripture: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)

Thought for Today: “Hitting the Mark”

Jesus is in essence saying… “ask and keep on asking, knock and keep on knocking, seek and keep on seeking… something will be open to you.” The spiritual disciplines of our Christian faith should be done for the purpose of developing our focus. Like an archer who takes aim at their target, we can only hit the mark if we are able to get our arrow and the “bulls eye” to line up. The goal is to hit the mark from any distance, any angle and in the midst of any distractions. So many things can become a hindrance to our spiritual life, but disciplines like prayer and fasting sharpen our aim by stabilizing our stance.

Identifying the Mark:

The Apostle Paul said that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). This means we are very familiar with what it feels like to “miss the mark”, because of where we stood… without Christ.

However, today by standing in Christ, we are fully capable of walking by faith and trusting in His power. We hit the mark by manifesting His Glory in the Earth. All fruitfulness and blessing flow from the work of God inside of us and through us. He has given Holy Spirit discernment, we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16) to equip us and train us in hitting the mark every time. We might need comfort, wisdom or healing. The Holy Spirit will lead us in all Truth and make His power effective to our need. James tells us that the passionate prayer of a righteous man is effective and hits the mark (Jms 5:16).

Fasting to Hit the Mark:

Here are a few ways in which fasting can elevate our effectiveness in hitting the mark. By fasting with a purpose we can focus and aim at significant needs and bring forth results that are supernatural.

  • To Strengthen Prayer (Ezra 8:3)
  • To Seek God’s Guidance (Judges 20:26)(Acts 14:23)
  • To Express Grief (1 Sam 31:13)(2 Sam 1:11-12)(1 Sam 20:34)
  • To Seek Protection (2 Chron 20:3-4)(Ezra 8:21-23)(Esther 4:16)
  • To Repent or Return to God (1 Sam 7:6)(Joel 2:12)(Jonah 3:5-8)
  • To Humble Oneself before God (Ps 35:13)
  • To Express Concern for the Word of God (Neh 1:3-4)(Dan 9:3)
  • To Overcome Temptation and Dedicate Oneself to God (Mt 4:1-2)
  • To Express Love and Devotion to God (Lk 2: 37)(Zech 7:5)

I want to encourage a focused aim on those things that hinder or distract from manifesting God’s Glory everyday. Your lifestyle of prayer and fasting is a uniquely powerful arrow for hitting the mark set before you!

The Faith Dimension

“Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the Gospel preached to us, just as they did (speaking of those wandering in the wilderness 40 years); but the word which they heard did not profit them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest…” (Heb. 4:1-3)

Do you see it? Do you see the faith dimension? The above verses make it clear… If we believe, then we can enter spiritual rest!

If we Believe?

Yes, that’s the point. Its not the same religious stuff that so many are experiencing in the church today. Its a participation in the love only found in the Father’s heart! When we come to believe in Christ and truly trust in Him, something has to take place in the heart of a person. How can the most powerful love in the universe make such a small impact upon our tiny broken heart? Its like being hit by a Mack Truck at 200 miles an hour and getting up from the pavement with the thought… “Is that all you got?”

The Disconnect:

Notice from the passage above, that the word being heard did not profit the hearers, because it was not mixed with faith. Here was a people who could not obey God; could not trust God, because they just could not get past the 400 years of bondage and all of those human expectations. They were unable to feel like sons and daughters, because of their “slave mentality”. They had made bricks and made bricks, reached quotas and followed their masters. Now God was asking for them to trust in His love. It was too hard… tell us what we need to do? It required faith, something they had long given up on.

There has to be more… and there is!

Entering into rest, is not a new concept – but it requires us to surrender our slave mentality. No more bricks, quotas or masters… God has done all the work. We are undergoing a renewal of the mind, a transformation… where faith emerges from the experience in God’s love. It was the Apostle Paul who told us that all that mattered was “faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6). Christ reveals the Father’s love by showing us mercy at the cross, preparing a place for us in His heart and ushering us in by the Holy Spirit. We are a people walking in fellowship with the Father’s love… experiencing mercy, forgiveness and glory. Its this revelation that calms our restless wandering; it heals, renews and restores the orphan feelings of the past (Jn. 14:18). We cease from our work and no longer live for the approval of others, breaking the slave mentality and freeing us to believe the truth. The faith dimension is opened by supernatural love, because we see that we are accepted by the Father, in the Beloved Son – Jesus (Eph. 1:6).

So… 3 suggestions we must take to heart.

  1. Be Careful… spiritual rest must not be underestimated nor ignorantly missed simply because we find it difficult to receive love.
  2. Its the Same Gospel… spiritual rest is available to all who hear and obey its promise. “God so loved the world…” (Jn. 3:16-17)
  3. Embrace the Father’s Love… spiritual rest is the resource that meets the need of the orphan heart.

The Promise Still Remains: Jesus said “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go… I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (Jn. 14:2-3)

Testing Purifies

If you desire to walk righteously before the Lord, rest assured you will be tested. In fact, the deeper your walk with Christ the more intense your testing will be. The Bible makes this clear: “The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits… When they fall, they shall be aided with a little help… And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time” (Dan. 11:32-35).

A great time of testing is coming upon “those of understanding”. Who are these people to be tested? They are the righteous, those who do exploits for the Lord, who walk with God and have the wisdom of Christ. Perhaps you’ve wondered lately, “Why am I being tested? Why is all this happening to me?”

Go back to your schooldays. When a test is given, it reveals how much you have actually been taught. The Apostle Paul speaks of a different school, one where we are “learning Christ” and are “taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:20-21). If you belong to Jesus, you are in His school. If you have served Him for some years, you may have thought you graduated. But none of us graduate until we are in heaven with Him.

David spoke often of being tested and tried: “I know also, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness” (1 Chron. 29:17). I would suggest that there are at least three tests common to every Christian.

1. We are tested by afflictions and sufferings.

Today there is a mistaken belief that those in covenant with God will never suffer. But all the heroes of the faith mentioned in the Bible suffered stonings, torture and violence (Heb. 11:37). The Apostle Peter explains to us, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Pet. 4:12-13). Peter seems to suggest that something of value was being produced and refined in how we experienced our tests… “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:6-7). Genuine faith is pure and pleasing to God, because it is unhindered by selfish ambition and focused on reflecting a pure expression of what God values.

2. We are tested by delayed answers to prayer.

Why does God delay answers to sincere prayers? It isn’t because He lacks power. He could merely blink an eye or think a thought and the work would be accomplished. And He is willing; even more than we are, to release His purposes in the earth. The answer is found in the fact that we must see the big picture. Jesus said to His disciples, ”…that men always ought to pray and not lose heart”  (Lk. 18:1). The Greek word for “lose heart” means to relax, becoming weak or weary in faith, to faint or give up the struggle. We must learn to contend in our prayers, because our breakthrough is just beyond the testing.

The Apostle Paul tells us, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9). The Lord is seeking a praying people who will not relax or get weary of coming to Him. These people will wait on Him; they won’t give up until the work is completed. And they will be found waiting when He brings the answer. For most of us, the hardest part of faith is the last half hour, when it looks as if God won’t answer. We’re tempted to give up, put it all behind us and go on to something else. But, that is not what God intends! When you are praying for what is obviously the will of God, you have every right to hold on and never give up until Jesus answers. You must not listen to the devil, the flesh or human reasoning. You are contending for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

You must ask God to plant the faith of Jesus Christ in you (Gal. 2:20), and not give up until you see completion (Heb. 10:35-39). This has happened to me at least a dozen times. I’ve given up and said, “Oh well, this must not have been God’s will”, and almost immediately the answer came! That may be exactly what’s happening with you. You’ve given up, no longer pressing in for your breakthrough. But God is at work in you and your answer is on the way.

3. We are tested by our frailty and failings.

God never wastes an experience, He is consistent in His training. But His training is for reigning! His goal is to strengthen us and cause us to see the way He sees. Christians who are tempted to fall back into old sins or turn back to the world are being tested. I am reminded of the old TV service announcement that would say “This is only a test! If this was a real emergency…” and in fact some do fall and have real emergencies, but God is faithful to provide a way out of every difficult temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). His goal is to train us to look for His hand at work rather than our human frailty.

I believe most Christians have a “sin consciousness” rather than a “righteousness consciousness”. The Christian must be willing to cast off the sin that so easily ensnares and hinders our growth. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom. 8:1). Its the Holy Spirit working in us that purifies us and deepens our spiritual convictions for empowerment and renewal. 

Maybe you have fallen short in some way, after years of serving Him. Perhaps you have found yourself surrendering to anger, lust or unbelief. That sin is not your destiny, so you gotta shake yourself free. You gave in for a moment, but God is not through with you. He is showing you something and wanting you to deal with it – by faith and in faith! 

Testing Reveals:

If you are being tested in some area, you may think, you are unworthy and wonder just how much ground has been lost? “Does God still love me?” The good news is that its only a test to prove you and purify your desires. My friend, if you allow God to transform the way you think, then you haven’t lost any ground whatsoever. God puts his loving arms around you and says, “I have brought you through this once again… so you could see what is in your heart”. You are making progress, but it must begin with seeing reality! Walking with God, requires us to let God “father” us and bring discipline that moves us into His perfect will for our lives. 

He wants all of our heart and will allow us to be tested until He has it all.