Jesus, Lord of my Beginning Origin of all I see Hear me as I cry to You Come beside and comfort me Tell me who I truly am Remind me of the name I lost Keep my heart anchored in Yours Because on rough waves I am tossed.
Jesus, Lord of all my Wanderings God of the Middle too Upholding all things with Your Word Nothing exists outside of You Lead me through this present darkness Illuminate me with Your Light Hide me in Your Secret Place Where there is found no more night.
Jesus, Lord of where I’m Ending All Creation rests in You Show me more than merest inkling Tell me all that You will do Speak words of Consuming Fire That will cleanse and purify Pull me close and keep me sheltered As we live life eye to eye.
Show me who I’m meant to be So You alone I glorify.
My Mom and I were talking about bargains. I love a bargain. In fact, I rarely make a purchase unless it is a bargain. I was re-thinking a purchase I didn’t make because it was an excellent deal but it was something I did not need. Just because something is a bargain doesn’t mean the money needs to be spent.
My Mom agreed and told a story about her father receiving several pairs of silk socks one Christmas: a bargain his mother could not pass up. My grandfather hated these socks. Mom said he thought they were uncomfortable and his feet sweat in them something terrible. Whatever his mother paid for them was too much. Which got me thinking…
Does anyone remember the silk shirt fashion trend? This had to be late 80s early 90s. Everyone was wearing them and I wanted one so badly. I don’t remember if I saved my allowance or talked my mother into purchasing one for me but there came the day I found myself the possessor of a dark teal silk shirt. How proud I was of it! What a beautiful color! How wonderful I would now fit in with all the IT people who had their own silk shirts! How I hated this shirt every time I wore it!
There was not enough antiperspirant in the world to keep my armpits from sweating in this shirt. I was anxious every time I wore my coveted silk shirt, certain that I was going to end up with large wet spots under my arms. I don’t remember if I ever did raise my arms in that shirt. I do know I didn’t wear it more than a handful of times.
What a waste of money that was. What an awful fashion trend. Remembering got me wondering…was everyone else having the same experience? Did silk shirts become a fashion trend because everyone was looking at everyone else wearing them and, too embarrassed to admit to excessive sweating, endured? Perhaps everyone else loved their shirts and it was only me who experienced the sweating. If so, it begs the question: why did I ever wear that shirt more than once? Was my desire to fit in so overwhelming I was willing to endure discomfort? The sad truth is yes, it was.
The way of fitting in has always escaped me. I tried fixing my hair like the popular girls, wearing the same clothes, trying to understand what they liked and talked about and it never worked. I think I’ve managed to misplace most of the photos from that era! I still can’t think of the words “spiral perm” without wincing. I never got the fashions quite right. It is a truth I must still acknowledge that what looks adorable on another woman will not look the same on me. I am always ever too something and it doesn’t fit right. I also acknowledge my personal taste never quite conforms. I can’t count how many times I left my house thinking I’d finally nailed it only to arrive at school and learn no, I had not.
I am now a mature woman who has found my identity in Christ. I am comfortable in my skin and my clothes and I thank Jesus for that. I also thank Him that I can look back on what were painful experiences at the time and see that there is a lesson to be learned from them.
Romans 12:2 says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” It might surprise you to know that the Greek word translated “world” here is not kosmos (Strong’s G2889) which means “orderly arrangement or decoration” and is the word translated “world” most often in the New Testament. Nor is it oikoumene (Strong’s G3625) which means “land, the terrene part of the globe, earth”. No, the word translated “world” in this passage is aion (Strong’s G165) and means “an age”. What’s the difference?
Vine’s Expository Dictionary says kosmos is “primarily order, arrangement, ornament, adornment and is used to denote the earth…the universe owing to the order observable in it…the human race…the sum of temporal possessions.” Oikomene “is used of the whole inhabited world” and aion is “an age, a period of time, marked in the N.T. usage by spiritual or moral characteristics…details concerning the world in this respect; its cares…its sons…its rulers…its wisdom…its fashion…its character”1 The entry also states “Aion is always to be distinguished from kosmos, even where the two seem to the express the same idea” and gives the example of Ephesians 2:2: …where you once walked after the course (aion) of this world (kosmos).2
What defines the age Paul admonishes me not to be conformed to in his letter to the Romans? I do not think I am mistaken to say it is a way of thought because after telling me to “be not conformed” Paul says “be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” In other letters, Paul tells us to “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) and to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind (Ephesians 4:23)”.
I have found that the rules of school followed me into adult hood. Not that the clothes I wear are of utmost importance-though that is still a thing-but; if I want to fit in, if I want to belong, I must conform to an acceptable way of thought. Perhaps I’m straining a metaphor but the thoughts of this age fit me like that silk shirt. Maybe everyone else is comfortable in it but I am not and I am not the same person willing to suffer anxiety and endure discomfort so that I can fit in with everyone else. My desire is no longer focused on fitting in. I want to know Jesus. I want to explore the vastness of my inheritance in Him, I want to live His life, and I want to think His thoughts. All of this is possible for me because He has placed His Spirit within me.
The renewing of my mind In Christ is not always comfortable but He is always safe. I imagine the word-picture painted in the story of the Husbandman in the 15th chapter of John. There are necessary prunings and they can be painful but He does not seek to destroy me because I don’t conform to His way of thinking. Rather, every work in my life makes me more the Me I was always intended to be and thus I am transformed into his way of thinking. So, I live. Yet, not I. It is Christ who lives in me. It’s a wondrous, glorious, awesome mystery.
And, if Isaiah 61:10 and Colossians 3:12 are any indication, I’ll be wearing some pretty cool garments.
Vine, W.E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, 1997, Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson Publishers, World, Pages 1245-1246
Vine, W.E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, 1997, Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson Publishers, World, Page 1246
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.