This morning, I was reminded of the beauty of the name Jesus. His name is wonderful. There is power in the name of Jesus. But even more, there is an amazing promise in living a life that depends on Jesus. And I want to talk about that in today’s word.
I was led to read Colossians 2 today, and there is a section that is just amazing. Starting in verse 6, we find instructions and teaching about how to be free from the world, sin, and the lures of the Devil. It is simple, but it is so good. It starts by saying continue to live in Jesus. The same way that we come to Him, through Faith, we must continue to live in Him. What does it mean to live “through faith”? Is it enough to believe that Jesus died for your sins? Or is there more to it? Hopefully you already know that there is more to life than simply believing about Jesus. If our lives are about believing, then why are we still here? Shouldn’t we be taken up to heaven upon believing? Doesn’t the Word say that Satan believes? We are called to live in Him.
How do we live in Him? Verse 7 explains that we must be rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith the Paul teaches. Well, Paul taught about a pretty radical faith. He always demonstrated his faith with power. As a matter of fact, Acts 19 tells us of the extraordinary miracles that God did through Paul in Ephesus. But let’s keep it simple. If you sit in a chair, and you may be sitting now, do you realize that you are putting faith in the chair to hold you? In the same way, put your faith in God. Depend upon Him, and show people.
In verse 8, Paul writes that we must not depend on human traditions, the basic principles of this world, and philosophies that pull us away from complete dependence on Jesus. The enemy does everything he can to get us to compromise our faith. We must guard it.
Verse 9 and 10 are the reason I am writing this little blog.
“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” Wow, what a passage! You and I can find all of God inside of Jesus. I think we all agree with that statement. But it doesn’t stop there. You and I have all of Jesus in us, which means that we have all of God in us, the same way that Jesus did! God wants to do the same great things He did with Jesus, with you. He wants to use you, to partner with you. It takes faith. God is waiting for you to partner with Him.
So today, don’t get caught up in things that don’t matter. Don’t let your circumstances, politics, religious traditions, feelings, or emotions lead you, pull you, or deceive you. Stay close to God. Know that God lives in you, the same way He lived in Jesus. Hold on to Faith, like Paul did, like Jesus did. All the Fullness of Christ dwells in you richly.
Life can be hard. There are days where things go bad. Sometimes, it seems like whole weeks, months, and seasons go by without a single day going right. I have had weeks where everything I touch breaks. I remember one week in particular when I turned on the A/C and three units broke, I used the copier and it broke, and we had 4 ballasts for lights burn out. It really felt like I broke everything I touched. At home, that same week, my weed eater would not start, my tree trimming shears snapped (how do metal cutters snap when cutting wood?), and my refrigerator’s ice maker broke. In all, to fix those things, it totaled somewhere around $10,000. And then, that same week, I came out of my house to find that someone had crushed in my car door… I remember asking God what I was doing wrong, and why this was happening.
Sometimes, these things happen. It reminds me of Job. Sometimes, terrible stuff just happens. What is critical in these times is how we respond: do we do like Job? Or do we respond like Job’s friends? Or is there another way?
Job held to the fact that he had done nothing wrong, but that God was still punishing him. Job’s friends told him he had done wrong and that he needed to figure out what it was. In the end, God corrected both lines of thinking, and when Job quit worrying about all of that, he was restored beyond what he could comprehend.
That is what happened for me after that terrible week. We got a new copier, then the A/C guys came out to fix our units, and I was blessed to lead 3 men to Jesus. I prayed for my weed eater and it began to work. I bought a new pair of clippers to cut limbs with. My insurance paid for my car door, and I got to drive an amazing luxury rental in the meantime. An electrician blessed our church with 10 ballasts and changed them all out for us, for free. The only thing that didn’t get taken care of was my ice maker- which I don’t need.
In the end, I found that God was with me the whole time. He loves me, and wants me to have great things. He provided for our church and my home. We got upgrades of everything, and saw people’s lives changed from encountering His great love.
These testimonies help me in times where everything seems to be falling apart to not lose hope, to not allow stress to overwhelm me, and to stay close to God. Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you: do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
God is with you, in the good times and the bad times. But it’s more than Him just being with you. He is for you. He wants to come in and rescue you, to provide for you, to meet your needs. He cares about what you care about- He knows the desires of your heart; He tells us to cast our cares upon Him. Don’t lose hope. Don’t allow that bad stuff that happens to you to take away your hope, faith, and love. God loves you, He is with you, and He is for you.
Here is a thought: We share in the divine nature.
That is a phrase I feel almost blasphemous to type. What does that even mean?
1 Peter 2:4 says, “Through these (grace and peace) He has given us His very great promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
Do you see what I see? God wants us to participate in His divine nature so that our own nature doesn’t cause us to sin. That sounds like we have a choice. So is it possible to take on God’s divine nature and truly remove our own sinful nature? To what extent can we participate with God’s nature?
According to Paul, there are 2 natures: sinful nature and divine nature. Romans 8:8 says, “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” He goes on to say we have to partner with the Holy Spirit so that He lives in us (Romans 8:11). Paul doesn’t stop there. He takes it a step further by saying that he is no longer a slave (like he was in 7:14), but now he has been adopted into the beloved to be a Son of God, and the Spirit that allows us to participate with God in the divine nature also allows us to be co-heirs with Christ and testifies for us that we are God’s children. It is a beautiful thing to realize that God is calling us to partner with Him, and share in a different kind of nature.
Most people today use the excuse “It’s just my nature” to never change. I’m sure you have heard it as much as I have. Maybe you heard it this way, “It’s just how God made me.” Isn’t it great to know that God understood that about us, and gave us the ability to overcome our earthly habits and nature, and be transformed by His grace and peace so that no matter the circumstances we can all bring Him glory with our godly character.
So last week we hit on LOVE: What love really is, or rather who it is and what it looks like when we love others. Something that comes up more often than not when talking about God’s love with people is a fear that if all we do is love then there is never correction or justice. At the same time, most people try to make the point that we have to correct and always pull everyone in line. This is such an important conversation to have.
So let’s try to imagine a pendulum… and there are people on both sides. On Side A is Love/Grace and Side B is Justice/Correction. Each side believes that they are right: we need to show grace to people in sin, or we need to correct, rebuke and hold people accountable to their sins. Side A looks at Side B and thinks that all they are is mean, judgmental, and hypocritical. While Side B looks at Side A and thinks that they super passive, let anything slide, never correct, and turn a blind eye to any and all things.
From a worldly perspective, they appear to be separate and Christians must pick a side. But when you do that you are left blind because you either live one of two ways: “an eye for an eye “or “looking the other way”. But in the Kingdom there isn’t Side A or Side B, because they go hand in hand. Love is correction which produces Justice which comes from Grace.
See, when we encounter God and His love we are transformed by His Grace. In that transformation Correction comes in our hearts, our thinking, and our actions. With Holy Spirit’s Correction, we realize that it is Jesus who justifies us. In Jesus’ Justification we receive His Grace which we now give freely because as we freely receive we freely give. As citizens of God’s Kingdom we are no longer blind but see through the blood of Jesus the same way that God sees us.
Galatians 6:1-6 is critical for us to understand what God wants from us, so let’s look at it:
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.
This is so beautiful because it shows us how we are to LOVE and receive LOVE. So when we talk about God’s love with people there is no fear that if all we do is love then there is never correction or justice. Because we know that Love is correction which produces Justice which comes from Grace.