Who and How!

This time of year I do some self assessment. Most of it revolves around my relationship with God , family and the church body. In evaluating those relationships, some of the big questions I ask myself are: What conviction & reality am I living from? What is my Identity & how do I express that in relationships? Do I live from a big picture / eternity focus? What really matters & is my life becoming more and more about those things?

Two things Scripture can give us clarity on that will help answer these questions: Position & Power. The Position you occupy, as in who you are and where you are with God. The Power that informs and drives your actions and thoughts.

Today two passages: one about position, and one about power. I hope this gives you inspiration for the coming year and it’s challenges!

Romans 8:28-34

28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

  • How do we know this is true? (History, Scripture & Christ’s Spirit)
  • Being called and responding by loving God are tied up together in God’s way
  • Foreknew / Foreordained His own and gave them a destiny HE determines
  • The destiny God gives those HE chooses is sonship /daughter-ship like christ
  • To be like Christ is to be born into a second life that is eternal & perfect

30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

  • God’s will, purposes and ways operate outside our idea of linear time
  • God’s call cannot be refused, HIS choice cannot be revoked
  • He choses, He calls and You are given His Spirit to dwell in you: DONE DEAL
  • The Spirit is the mark of redemption and the foretaste of glory to be
  • It puts you in the position of ‘God’s Child’

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?

  • It has left preachers trying to describe how wonderful it is for 2000 plus years
  • The reality of our position as chosen, called & born again like Christ is
  • The big idea God is communicating to us is that if He calls us we are HIS!
  • If we are His, He is FOR US! In all the best ways (based on His idea of best)
  • The proof of that is what He did to put us in that position: Sacrificed His Son
  • If He has already given what is most precious; of course He will give everythin

33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

  • God says you’re His, HE puts you in that position, who can say you’re not His?
  • Many will try to condemn those God choses to give eternal life, but no one can
  • What Christ has done proves the supremacy of His power
  • And when you surrender your life to Him He then upholds your claim as chosen

Do you fully embrace and occupy the Position Christ has given YOU?

Ephesians 3:16-19

16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

  • God has the resources for you to be empowered to live for Him
  • Welcoming & trusting Jesus Christ’s abiding love is the way we stay strong

18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

  • If you are His the understanding is available to you by His Spirit in you
  • It’s our life’s work to understand the fullness of God’s love (complete in eternity)

SUMMARY:

POSITION

If Christ defines your purpose in this life then you can trust God for now & the future.

God knows you; if He chose you then He has called you, if He calls you He gives you Christ’s position & glory!

God has sacrificed HIS Son to put you in this irrevocable position; HE is for YOU!

POWER

God empowers & encourages His chosen by His Spirit (Christ Inhabiting your life)

Understanding & Trusting in God’s love is the source of strength (power for this life)

Being united with Christ provides power for this life based on the promise of the next.

APPLICATION:

Is it possible to seek God’s calling? Is it possible to reject God’s calling?

What is you plan for 2021 to grow in your understanding and trust of God’s love?

How do you connect to the empowerment of God’s indwelling Spirit?

What things can undermine your confidence in your salvation in Christ Jesus?

Our english word peace can carry some different connotations: The absence of conflict? The ending of hostilities? Reconciling of differences? The Hebrew word for peace is Shalom… The root meaning of shalom is ‘How it was meant to be’ (based on God’s will) Shalom is God’s idea of how it was meant to: All of His creation in unity with Him! Since Adam & Eve rebelled it has not been that way because of sin / rebellion…leading to a loss of Shalom. A holy God cannot be in union with a creation that is born into & embraces sin, there is no peace. Mankind has engaged in a rebellious ‘resistance’ that amounts to war. It was a war God could at once win by destroying us and it would be perfectly just. Instead He declared peace and came in person to give us the means to surrender. God was not going to change so He had to change us…He came to change us. We don’t deserve it, can’t earn it and yet He has delivered it, ‘Peace / Shalom’!

Scripture’s tells a story of God and us: Our rebellion & His graceful declaration of peace. This is how we learn what peace is, by the Word of God. In His Word He promised it, He personally made it happen, then He explained it and His followers showed us how to live it. The essence of Peace in Christ can be seen in four passages: The Promise, The Appearance, The Explanation, The Application!

Isaiah 57:15-21 CJB

15 For thus says the High, Exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy: “I live in the high and holy place but also with the broken and humble, in order to revive the spirit of the humble and revive the hearts of the broken ones.

  • No doubt who is proclaiming this…
  • God is the Most High and yet He condescends to the level of our brokenness
  • He does it to renew our lives, our spirits, our hearts

16 For I will not fight them forever or always nurse my anger; otherwise their spirits would faint before me, the creatures I myself have made. 17 It was because of their flagrant greed that I was angry and struck them; I hid myself and was angry, but they continued on their own rebellious way.

  • God is saying that you and I have no way of winning the war we started
  • God has given us warning that we might stop rebelling, but we want it our way
  • He says He won’t let this war go on forever

18 I have seen their ways, and I will heal them; I will lead them and give comfort to them and to those who mourn for them — 19 I will create the right words: ‘Shalom, shalom to those far off and to those nearby!’ says Adonai; ‘I will heal them!’”

  • He knows our condition and yet He offers healing anyway
  • He will declare peace!
  • For those close to God & far from Him, He will heal our relationship with peace
  • We can know peace and it will heal us!

20 But the wicked are like the restless sea — unable to be still, its waters toss up mud and dirt. 21 There is no shalom, says my God, for the wicked.

  • This is now in the words of the prophet, Not God in 1st person
  • The wicked are those God calls wicked, because they will not receive shalom
  • They will not know true, eternal peace

BIG IDEA: God promised to heal to mankind by declaring Peace / Shalom

There are other similar promises in the Hebrew Scriptures of God promising to make a way for the repair of the broken relationship between Him and His People.

And so it came to pass approximately 2020 years ago, as humans measure time…

The Appearance: Joy To The World! / Loves Pure Light! / Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled! / The Thrill of Hope! / And in His Name all oppression shall cease! / He came down to earth from heaven, Who is God and Lord of all / Now ye need not fear the grave; Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save!

The Christ Child came to make peace, to give His adherents Eternal Shalom!

You know the story, the Shepherds see the Supernatural Event Proclaimed by Angels and they are awed and amazed!

Luke 2:10-14 NIV

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

  • The declaration of Shalom
  • This is to be understood: The Messiah is Born!

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

  • The Shalom that is declared glorifies God and ‘makes’ peace!

BIG IDEA: The Christ Child, God Incarnate, came to declare Peace!

How are we to respond?

O Holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray; Cast out our sin and enter in; Be born in us today!

What if we need it explained a little better…

Colossians 1:15-20 NIV

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.

  • God’s Son, The Christ Child is an image we could fully relate to
  • The Christ Child, Jesus of Nazareth, has always existed. 2020 yrs ago

17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy.

  • The Christ Child is as much God as He can be: ‘Preexistent’ / ‘All Sovereign’
  • He is the reason and the means by which His Body, The Church exists: to lift Him up!

19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.

  • BOOM! What a great passage! The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a declaration of Shalom!

It was God’s unique and ingenious plan to come to us as a man… And by His sacrifice would He, make all things as they should be: In His ‘human-a-deity’, proclaim Shalom to you and me!

BIG IDEA: The Christ Child is God Himself making peace with us on The Cross

He had to arrive 1st so that He could go to the cross for you and me to have Shalom!

So how do we live that out? Here is the application:

Philippians 4:4-9 CJB

4 Rejoice in union with the Lord always! I will say it again: rejoice! 5 Let everyone see how reasonable and gentle you are. The Lord is near!

  • Unity with God, His Word, His Ways AND His People IS the way to real joy!
  • Let that unity be reflected in a manner and lifestyle that puts Him 1st
  • Demonstrate unity with God brings Him into your life!

6 Don’t worry about anything; on the contrary, make your requests known to God by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving. 7 Then God’s shalom, passing all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with the Messiah Yeshua.

  • Relinquish control!
  • Put this life in God’s hands because He has given you eternal shalom!

8 In conclusion, brothers, focus your thoughts on what is true, noble, righteous, pure, lovable or admirable, on some virtue or on something praiseworthy. 9 Keep doing what you have learned and received from me, what you have heard and seen me doing; then the God who gives shalom will be with you.

  • The Gospel is the information, here is the application:
  • Set your intentions on what God wants you to be about: What HE is About!
  • Learn and Repeat! Model your life on the Gospel, the ways of Christ’s people
  • The practice of doing this, living this is the connection to THE SHALOM!
  • Know God and you will know Peace…

BIG IDEA: Eternal Shalom is found in living a life surrendered to and with Christ!

Do we live in the fullness of the Shalom this Scripture points us to? It takes intention, it takes commitment, it takes time, to build & grow a relationship. This world we live in provides various distractions and upheaval…(lack of peace). Peace is not found in the things of this world, in what our culture at large values. Eternal peace emanates from God’s Spirit within us! The Shalom we experience now, having surrendered our lives to Christ is a foretaste of Eternal Shalom.

So press into / leverage God’s Shalom by His Spirit indwelling in you. If you are not sure if He is indwelling you; honestly pray along the lines of that Christmas Carol:

O Holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray; Cast out our sin and enter in; Be born in us today!

Luke 2:25-38

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 

26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss
[a] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 

34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[b] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Do you see what their Christmas celebration was like? They had nothing (of this world). They had everything (Jesus Christ).

Regarding prophecies, His first coming fulfilled many and every promise from the OT, (e.g. Gen 3 & 49; Deut 18; Ps 2 & 22; Is 7, 9, 52, & 53; Dan 9; Mic 5; Zech 11 & 13; Mal 3.) The Bible has far more to say about His second coming than His first.

The message of Christmas is clear: He’s come. His name is Jesus. He alone can save you from your sins. He will be back. Be sure you’re ready when He returns.

Christmas: ‘It’s the season of hope!’ Hope in what? You can’t hope in hope, hope requires an object: Something to hope for or hope in. What do you place your hope in? Education, contacts, resume, family, bank account? What is hope to you? Is it something that reflects reality or is it fantasy? True hope is grounded in reality but it involves trusting in ‘things un-seen’. There is a difference between unseen and not real. When we put our hope in things that are not real, those things cannot deliver and we get hurt. Some hurts are bigger than others with more lasting effects… We have all been hurt and it makes reduces our capacity to hope.

As Christ’s Followers we have hope in our relationship with God. He is worthy of placing our hope in Him because He is real: CHRIST CAN DELIVER!!

Ephesians 1:1-19

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Paul is unequivocal that who he is, his position, is all God’s doing, not his
  • To the community of believers, the surrendered disciples of Christ
  • To those who have received God’s grace in salvation and know God’s shalom
  • Grace and peace enable hope

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

  • This is a rejection of the idea God is concerned with giving us material things
  • It is all about Him, HE has blessed us, HE has chosen us!
  • We have hope because HE has placed us IN HIM! (United us with Him)
  • We can only hope to be blameless before God if HE makes us holy

5 In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.

  • He has made us holy & blameless so we can be HIS children by giving HIS son
  • God is glorified in each person who is predestined by God’s will to ‘Sonship’
  • In LOVE HE adopted us…not because any of us deserve it
  • Predestination: It is a Biblical Doctrine woven throughout the Scriptures
  • What is our assurance of the hope we place in Christ? Wait for it…

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, 8 in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. 9 With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

  • ‘IN HIM’: Because of Him, By Him, For Him, Together with Him…
  • We have been bought back from Hell by the sacrifice of The Cross
  • The rebellion we were all born into has been paid for, our sin forgiven!
  • Not just some grace… but the extravagant wealth of grace for all our sin!
  • God reveals HIS reality to us He choses to redeem
  • The reason any of us surrenders our life to God in Christ is because we ‘Get it’
  • But we don’t actually get it now (Eternal Life) So we need hope…

11 In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.

  • Repetition is used to bring clarity: Chosen & Predestined
  • HIS plan, HIS work based on the purpose of HIS will; all resulting in HIS glory!
  • It is for us as it was for them

13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.

  • Each of us who have believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ are made part of HIM
  • The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the down payment on eternal hope
  • It is He Himself who assures us of the hope we have
  • For those who are sealed, this season is special
  • We can focus on renewing and embracing that hope of eternal inheritance
  • We don’t have heaven yet, so God gave us HIS Spirit to mark us as HIS
  • This ‘Blessed Assurance’ is the hope we live on… extra good this time of year

So that is the basis for our hope, the last part is how God’s people intentionally help each other know the fullness of that Hope! The purpose of The Body of Christ / Christian Community!!!

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

  • The Ephesians have proven by their action they have God’s Spirit in them
  • So because God has chosen them Paul prays for their development of hope

17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in His holy people, 19 and His incomparably great power for us who believe.

  • It starts by God revealing Himself to you and you surrendering your life
  • Next it grows by learning to live by The Spirit through discipleship
  • This leads to His Spirit giving you wisdom & revelation to build your hope
  • The assurance of Spirit-Given enlightenment: HOPE IN HIM!
  • Hope that you are His no matter what
  • Hope in the knowledge that the power of God will give us eternal life IN HIM

SUMMARY:

Faithfully living as Christ’s disciples will bring grace and peace to our lives!

The blessings that come from being chosen by God for eternal life with him are not material blessings.

The gift of salvation is God’s alone to will, to give and to enjoy.

The grace God gave to forgive His children was also to enlighten, so we may fully hope in Him!

When God saves us He gives us assurance of eternity by placing His Holy Spirit into every believer, making us His forever.

The indwelling of God’s Spirit adopts, assures and enlightens us so we can know true hope: hope in HIM!

APPLICATION:

How does your ‘faithfulness In Christ’ effect your experience of God’s Grace & Peace?

How do you feel about yours and other’s salvation being predetermined by God?

What is your plan to grow in wisdom & understanding of God’s will?

How can your hope bring grace and peace to others this Christmas season?