I was thinking how often I say “I Am” and then say something negative about myself. By doing so, I am creating my own existence for “As a man (woman in this case) thinks in his (her) heart, so is he (she).” Proverbs 23:7. I am changing that habit and striving to say what My Heavenly Father says about me whenever the words “I Am” come out of my mouth. While trying to put my thoughts in order, I wrote the following poem:
The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly. John 10:10, New American Standard (NAS)
The Christian life is not automatic. The joy of the Lord, the Peace that surpasses all human understanding, the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7, NKJV): all of these things are ours in Jesus through the Holy Spirit but we grow into them. Paul writes, “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit”. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NAS). It is the Holy Spirit, living within me who teaches me how to live with joy and peace and stability of spirit but I do not sit passive. I believe with all I am that everything my life in Jesus is, is meant to be, is becoming, comes from Him. I do not earn it. Rather, I live in partnership with what His Spirit is doing in me and that sometimes involves giving myself a good talking to.
I wrapped up a study on John 3:5 where I agreed with the conclusion that being born of water and the Spirit is being born of the word and the Spirit. Which word? The logos (G3056) or the rhema (G4487)? Is there a difference? I found Vines Expository Dictionary a help in distinguishing between the two: “Logos denotes the expression of thought-not the mere name of an object-as embodying a conception or idea…the revealed will of God…Rhema denotes that which is spoken, what is uttered in speech or writing”1
I enjoy doing word studies. A study is never over. As I was looking into John 3:5 I saw many different subjects I want to pursue. I found it difficult not to get sidetracked and looking at “the word” in the New Testament was one such temptation. There is far too much to say for this post so I will limit myself to saying I believe there is and is not a difference. There is no rhema without the Logos-Jesus Himself-and yet the logos is not expressed without the rhema. The Spirit reveals Jesus to me but then I find I need to hear words spoken. I listen to teachers, I read, and I often have to speak to myself. Ephesians 5:18-19 says, “…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs”. While not explicit in this passage, I believe talking to myself is just as important as sharing with others. I hear so many other voices, even when I step away from social media outlets, and few of them are saying edifying things. My thoughts begin to whirl and I must talk to myself, remind myself who Jesus is, and remind myself who I am in Him.
This is one such poem I wrote to remind myself of reality in Christ.
What is the source of my joy?
How can I know joy exists
When I see so much adversity?
Because I know the One who is Joy.
What is the source of my peace?
How can I believe in peace
When I see so much tragedy?
Because I know the One who is Peace.
What is the source of knowledge?
How can I see Him
When I see so much death and pain?
Because I know the One who Speaks.
His Spirit is knowing
His Spirit is certain
He is the Source
In the depths of me
Knitted to me
Opening the heart’s eyes
The welling spring
The River of living water
The Fountain of my life
The All in All
The Fear Not
The Living and Enduring Word.
Vine, W.E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, 1997, Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1241-1242
I had to laugh at myself. Within two hours of Part Two posting to the blog, I found myself in a situation exactly like the one I described: perhaps some relief from pain but it was going to require a doctor’s visit, a referral, no doubt more co-pays…my insides tightened and I could only think, “great. I’ll just pay for all that then, shall I?” Then the thought came, “didn’t you just post on how God has taken you through medical stuff and financial hardship?” Indeed I had. Had I learned anything from the experience? Yes, but I have to admit my first inclination is usually stress and anxiety and THEN remembering the goodness of God. And so, I write these for my own edification.
In part two I did write about a series of unfortunate events and how I expected my Father to reveal Himself to me as the Lord who healeth me and, instead, found myself face to face with the Father who loved me and wished His name hallowed above every other on earth. I am still learning all this means and it’s a theme I hope to explore in the future. For now I wish to answer the questions: if I am to expect that all the promises of God are Yes in Christ yet experience has taught me God rarely does what I expect in the way I expect it, what am I supposed to be expecting when I pray? Is there a secret to a victorious life in Christ?
I believe there is and that the secret isn’t so secret. I believe the answer is found in the Indwelling Spirit. 1 Corinthians 1:20 says “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.” In Christ. Two words that appear over and over again throughout the New Testament. If God’s promises are In Christ, then it must follow I must be in Christ in order to receive them.
In part two, I also quoted; “But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. (Matthew 6: 33, Amplified) In Luke 17 verse 21 I find, “Nor will people say, Look! Here (it is!) or, See (it is) there! For behold, the kingdom of God is within you (in your hearts) and among you (surrounding you). (Amplified) Acts 17: 28: “For in Him we live and move and have our being…” and the second half of 1 Corinthians 1:20: “And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” In just these few scriptures (I could quote more but I’d end up copying the entire New Testament) I see how important it is to understand “In Christ” and that there must be something in me that shows me what this means and enables me to say “Amen.” That something is a Who: the Holy Spirit.
There are two beautiful passages about the Indwelling Spirit found in the Gospel of John. I can’t choose between them so I’m quoting both: “I have told you these things while I am still with you. But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name (in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf), He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.” (John 14: 25-26, Amplified)
And then: “But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message (on His own authority); but He will tell whatever He hears (from the Father: He will give the message that has been given to Him), and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come (that will happen in the future). He will honor and glorify Me because He will take of (receive, draw upon) what is Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you. Everything that the Father has is Mine. That is what I meant when I said that He (the Spirit) will take the things that are Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you. (John 16: 13-15, Amplified)
Because I know the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ, His spirit dwells in me as me teacher and guide. As Paul says, “But if you are guided (led) by the (Holy) Spirit, you are not subject to the law. What is the law? The law, or Old Covenant, was based on IF/THEN. Now, under the New Covenant and the Indwelling Spirit, I find there is a different way to live. Rather than trying to please a remote God and earn blessings from Him with my good behavior and the fact that I (mostly) keep His commands; I live from the fountain of His life within me.
But, I know some of you will ask, aren’t you taking some of these scriptures out of context? Doesn’t John 14 also say, “If a person (really) loves Me, he will keep My word (obey My teaching); and My Father will love him and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him.” (John 14: 23, Amplified). Doesn’t that sound like it’s an IF/THEN?
It does and I hope to explore the meaning of these scriptures in more depth in later posts. In closing this one, I say truly, Our Father’s promise in Ezekiel 37 is made reality with the Holy Spirit: “A new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall heed My ordinances and do them.” Paul assures me in Philippians that, “(Not in your own strength) for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you (energizing and creating in you the power and desire), both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.” (Philippians 2:13, Amplified)
I wasn’t sure how to describe living from the Indwelling Spirit but I chanced to listen to Malcolm Smith’s Webinar # 340 and he put it perfectly. Now that we have the Indwelling Spirit, we no longer live from IF/THEN but now BECAUSE/THEREFORE.
I love that. However, with shifting my focus from If/THEN to BECAUSE/THEREFORE, what do I expect from God? The answer is everything and nothing. I do not expect specifics. Rather, I expect that He will keep His word that all His promises are “Yes” in Christ Jesus. I don’t expect that nothing painful or hurtful will never happen to me. I do expect that He who lives in me will be everything I need at all times: All in all. With Paul, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! (2 Corinthians 12: 9b, Amplified) His joy fills me and, through Him, I say “Amen”. May He and He alone be glorified.
Last week I began writing about my struggle to understand why, if all the promises of God were “Yes” in Jesus, did I not see them manifest in my life, and my feelings of failure because of that lack. There did seem to be a law in place as expressed in Exodus 15: 26: “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord who heals you.” Since I was not healed, I had to have missed a step somewhere.
I do not wish to infer I’ve spent the last seventeen years pursuing healing. At that time, my Heavenly Father revealed Himself to me in a way I had never known. At that moment, I realized everything I had ever thought about Him had been mistaken and that I knew nothing at all. Every day since then has been an opportunity to, in the words of Yoda, unlearn what I have learned. I focused on “But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. (Matthew 6: 33, Amplified) Amen. So be it.
Then, three years ago, I re-discovered a bible teacher I listened to as a child. He spoke of the promises of God, especially healing, and said it was so in Jesus and that I should expect! Expect? Expect what? I was seeking Him with my whole heart, what more did I need to do? I couldn’t argue with the scriptures I heard quoted. It did seem there was an aspect to my life in Jesus I was failing to appropriate. How to do so?
There have been moments of intense frustration as I tried to figure it out. There have been moments when I’ve been so angry I’ve cried out to God; “just tell me what you want! Why is this so hard?” It was a deeply confusing time and it was about to get worse.
With my limitations, I only work part-time which means I don’t have a great deal of extra cash. While I was struggling to figure out why I was not experiencing the fullness of the promises of God, I had a minor procedure that still required my going under anesthesia; a process that proved to be rather expensive. A month later, I was rear-ended driving into work which aggravated all my old injuries of that car accident from years ago. I missed work and pay. A month after that I ended up in the ER as yet another health problem came to a head. Major surgery was scheduled that was going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I had insurance (thank God!) but I still had to pay a portion of the cost. Less than a month before my surgery I was in another car accident (not my fault!) where I ended up in the ER AGAIN. More expense. Then came the surgery and recovery, and then yet again another minor surgical procedure. I didn’t have insurance for this cost and had to dig into my savings account.
In the midst of these health/physical struggles, the parameters of my job changed. I couldn’t drive myself anymore but had to take the train to work. This has always been my one point of refusal when accepting a placement: I don’t go downtown because I can’t take the train. It is too hard on me physically and I get terribly dizzy and sick to my stomach: probably complications from my TBI. Now, I had to take the train and I didn’t see any way out. I had taken some financial hits and would be a fool to quit. Then there was the job itself. There was no one else who knew the job the way I did so I didn’t see how I could quit and leave them hanging. Maybe this was it! I began to pray that finally, when I needed Him the most, my Father would heal me so I could do what I needed to do. Trusting He would be my strength, I began to ride the train.
My days ended with indescribable agony. The pain was so bad I couldn’t breathe. Finally, the pain got so bad I had to say “when” to the job. I had reached another crisis point. It was when I had nothing left that my Father came to me, wrapped His arms around me, and opened my eyes.
I saw that, even though He and I had developed a deep, personal relationship, I was still hallowing another’s name above His. What do I mean by that? I mean that a word had been spoken to me and the word sounded good and right. Fulfilling that word seemed to be honoring God and I stepped out in obedience to that word without ever checking it with God and being sure the voice I was listening to was His. I expected Him to give me the strength to do what I believed I needed to do.
Why am I telling you all this?
All of these things were piling on each other, one after another, and I was clinging to Jesus by my fingernails. Why? When everything seemed to be so opposite of what I believed and it didn’t appear He was with me at all; why didn’t I decide I’d been utterly mistaken, there was no God, and I was on my own to figure out this life as best as I could? The answer is because I know Him. He has revealed Himself to me step by step, situation by situation over the years and I KNOW He lives and He loves me. Still, I didn’t quite understand: I expected an answer to healing and He showed me the importance of hearing and obeying no voice but His.
Yesterday was the anniversary of the car accident that left me differently-abled. I am grateful to be walking and that, once my hair grew back in, I was not left with visible scars but I do live with limitations; both physical and cognitive. Which brings me to what I want to discuss in this series of posts: I say I have a relationship with Jesus…why then am I not healed?
2 Corinthians 1: 20 says, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God”. There are many promises of healing I could quote from both the Old and New Testaments but, for the sake of brevity, I’m going to focus on Exodus 15: 26 which states, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord who heals you.” If He is the Lord who heals me and this promise is “yes” in Jesus, then I should be able to expect healing, right?
And, it does seem Exodus lays out the rules for receiving healing. IF I pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, THEN He will heal me. I have attempted to pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees. I attended churches (not forsaking the assembling like Hebrews 10:25 says!) and attempted to do what they told me to do. I read my bible, attended multiple services per week, and devoted time to prayer. Then, I would miss a day of reading or a prayer time. Since I could not do these simple things on a regular basis, how could I expect God to heal me?
I sought healing through biblical methods. I had hands laid on me, was anointed with oil, stood in healing lines, and was prayed over. One traveling evangelist insisted that if he laid hands on me I WOULD be healed so I imagine my disappointment when he did so and I was not. Of course then the fault was mine because “a double-minded person is unstable in all they do” and “such a person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1: 8 and 7) so my still being in pain caused me to doubt which meant I didn’t really trust God and didn’t have any faith so He could not heal me. I had these things said to me.
Then I realized that, if I was following the rule laid down in Exodus, all I had to do was pay attention to His commands and keep His decrees. What simplicity! Jesus only left me with one: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) Well, has anyone else tried this? Have you found it as difficult a command to keep as I have? Failure after failure after failure. No wonder I didn’t have my healing! How could God heal someone who so consistently fell short of His standards of behavior?!
Have any of you been subjected to this? If you have, know I empathize with you. I have been trapped in this never-ending cycle of just not being good enough to please God and finally receive of His promises. I was already tired from the effects of the car accident and all this striving only made me more so. Then, I had a life crisis so devastating I was certain I could not and never had heard from God. I had failed Him so completely I should just curl up and die so He could send me to hell and get it over with. It was in this place that I met God! The living God. The gentle, loving Father who so desired a relationship with me, He sent Jesus into my darkness and death to get me and bring me out. (John 3:16 and especially 17!, John 17: 3, Ephesians 2: 4-7)
My feet were set on a new path and I began to get to know The Father. I do not say the path has been easy. In fact, it felt like the moment my Father began to show me who He was, the floodgates of hell were opened in my life. Even though…through every devastating circumstance, my Father has revealed a little more of Himself to me and I have been filled with awe and wonder.
But still I struggled with limitations from the car accident and, as the years went by, I developed other health problems. I prayed about them, tried to “Amen” all the promises of God, and received no miraculous healing. I ended up having a major surgery and afterwards had the opportunity to speak with a close friend. I told her how I had prayed leading up the surgery-that I would be spared having to go through it-and how the answer I had received had been “no”. I told my friend that, while I could accept the no, I had expected things to be different. It had been years since I’d come to know The Father in a new way and I’d expected I would level up somehow: like in a spiritual video game.
We both laughed at that but, after hanging up with her, I continued to think about it. That had been my expectation: that with greater understanding came greater blessings. Wasn’t that the rule? Within a few months of this conversation, I had to have another minor procedure. I threw up my spiritual hands. Whatever the secret was, I clearly had not discovered it.
Again, while a painful place to be, it is not a bad place to be. It has been my experience over the last seventeen years that these valleys of deepest darkness are where my Father’s light shines brightest. And so it proved.
To be continued…
Bible verses are quoted from the New International Version