2 Corinthians 3: 18

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.

I was thinking about this verse last week, so I looked it up. You know, it is even better than I remembered which is a lesson unto itself. Don’t rely on your memory when it comes to verses because, just as happened with me last week, Father will show you something new or deeper in it. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God, not by having “heard” the Word. That is an important distinction.

Last week when I went to my Bible to look at the part about the mirror, I was captivated by the word transformed. When you look in a mirror, whose image do you see? Really, that is a bit of a trick question because you are being transformed, bit by bit, from glory to glory. So now, with that I mind, whose image do you see? If you said your own, you are right but if you said Jesus, then you are righteous. I remember one time telling a friend that Jesus looked good on her. It was funny how that came out but after some thought I realized that Jesus showing through is exactly what transformation should be.

After you are born from above, you begin a transformation process. We are supposed to be transformed through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12: 2). Of course, that is elective. You can be born again and become a Christian couch potato. God has called us to transformation though. Remember that He said to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2: 12). The Bible does not say, lay on the couch and I will rain salvation down on you and transform you while you watch TV. Nope.

As you enter into this transformative process of renewal by the Word of God, the image in the mirror begins to change. The image of you begins to blur a bit and a shadow image begins to emerge. Bit by bit, and from glory to glory the image in the mirror begins to look a lot more like Jesus and a whole lot less like the old you. Hallelujah!

And don’t miss the last bit of this verse. The glorious transformation of our former selves into a glorified version comes by the Lord, who is the Spirit. The mention of the Lord being the Spirit is relevant to the rest of the verse, but it also stands apart as its own revelation. Many of us have not quite figured out, beyond a theoretical sense, that the Holy Spirit is Lord. In the Old Testament believers called God, “Lord,” and they were not wrong. Today we call Jesus, “Lord,” and that is right but now comes the third revelation in the series. The Holy Spirit is Lord. He is God. So, the Holy Spirit, who is God and who is Lord, is the one who is transforming each of us into the very image of Jesus. You will increasingly become the Jesus version of yourself, the glorified version of yourself as you cooperate with the transformation process of the Holy Spirit. He in you, you in Him, forever. You become an amalgamation; no longer just the human, flesh version of yourself but forever a divine version of you and Jesus together as one. Isn’t that amazing? Joining with Jesus; branches grafted into the vine; this is our right and our divine destiny. Amen!

Face to Face

Psalm 16: 10 – 11           TPT

For you will not abandon me to the realm of death, nor will you allow your Holy One to experience corruption. For you bring me a continual revelation of resurrection life, the path to the bliss that brings me face-to-face with you.

I am not ready to leave behind the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. Perhaps you are still in the Easter mood, or if you prefer, Resurrection Sunday. Forgive me if I still use the term Easter. I guess I am nostalgic about the whole Easter season, as an event that encompasses more than one day.

We’ve kept with our Monday psalm, but I went back to the sixteenth psalm just to think a bit more about Jesus and the resurrection. David wrote this psalm and it seems pretty clear that he was moved by the Holy Spirit to write these words. He wrote that God would not allow His Holy One to experience corruption. Other translations say that God did not allow His Holy One to decay. Though David wrote this long before Jesus was born, he had a revelation about the Messiah’s journey in the earth. Jesus had to come and had to die and be buried as any other human, but God did not leave him in the grave. He never experienced decay because life returned to him and, as you know, he arose from death to live evermore. There is great exultation in that event. It is fascinating that David celebrated it long before it became a reality.

Truly, as we read this psalm, we can hear that it speaks of Jesus and us at the same time. Because we are in him, his resurrection is ours too. David wrote that we can have a continual revelation of resurrection life. The life that Jesus died to give us is continually, day by day, being revealed to us. There is more resurrection life than we first realized, in other words. The revelation of the fullness of life Jesus give us takes a lifetime and beyond to realize. It keeps getting better and better as that revelation brings us face to face with the Father. We are intended to dwell in his presence continually. So, the day after resurrection day is a whole new life for us. What the Father did on that momentous day has given us life and today we live in the resurrection life of Jesus. It is eternal. There is no death in it because Jesus will never die. He died once for all and death has been defeated.

Today, you can live in the presence of God because of what He and Jesus did for us on that fateful day. Father wants us all to live face to face with Him. We can live in a bigger and bigger revelation of what that means daily. What is it to be face to face with God? What does God have in mind? As you continue to revel in the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection, ask yourself what living in the continual revelation of resurrection life means in your daily walk.

Waiting & Waiting

1 Samuel 16: 13

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward.

David was anointed as the King of Judah and yet he spent the next years running around in the desert hiding in caves as he was pursued by Saul. Paul had an amazing transformation and was called by Jesus to be an apostle. The next thing that happened to him was a long stint in the desert. He was called, anointed and then put up on a shelf. Even Jesus said, “My time has not yet come,” (John 2: 4). The moral of these stories is, even when you are called by God, even if His prophet anoints you with oil, don’t be surprised if you are not immediately launched into your ministry.

When Samuel anointed David, the text tells us that the Spirit of God came upon David mightily. We all know that Paul lived in the anointing of the Spirit. Why, then, did David spend the next several years running from Saul and hiding in caves? Why didn’t Paul, with all of his great Jewish training and the anointing of God, immediately begin to preach the Good News? There is a time of preparation, a time of learning. There is also the waiting upon the timing of the Lord.

God knows times and epochs and we do not. He sees what is going on in the world as well as the happenings in the Spiritual realm. He has all the data, but we only see in a mirror dimly (1 Corinthians 13: 12). Besides that, once we surrender to the calling, then He begins to transform us into the person He sees. We need that time in the Word and time before Him. So, don’t worry if God has called you but you don’t see anything happening. If that is your situation, you are in very good company.

Robe’s Edge

1 Samuel 24: 5 – 7

But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king. I shouldn’t attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.” So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul.

There is some good advice here, don’t mess with the Lord’s anointed. The Pharisees should have read this passage. If they had, they wouldn’t have messed with Jesus. Jesus is the anointed one.
I wonder what the rest of the life story was for those who sent Jesus to the cross. Don’t you imagine the seed of their actions grew up and produced a harvest. I bet none of them lived out the number of their years.

We all are anointed in Jesus, every one of us, even those who are not ministers. We carry a piece of his anointing. Although the anointing of Christ is not limited to ministers, I think looking at this group makes it is easier to see the dynamic. Some ministers have a healing anointing more than others. Some are more prone to prophetic utterances while still others move in words of knowledge and words of wisdom. They have all been anointed by the Holy Spirit to work in Jesus’ ministry. Their specific anointing isn’t actually “theirs.” It is Jesus’. He has sent us to carry out his ministry.

I really appreciate David’s respect for the anointing. Though Saul was deranged and clearly not following God’s leading, David still esteemed the office. Saul was chosen by God. At the time this story took place Saul was already in disobedience and God had already chosen David to replace him. Actually, Samuel had even anointed David with oil and proclaimed God’s favor on him as the King. Saul still held the office, though and David would not violate the Lord’s calling of Saul even in light of the passing of the mantle. It appeared God had placed Saul at David’s mercy but that is exactly what David showed Saul, mercy.

What would you have done if Saul had chased you all over the country trying to kill you? I fear what I would have done. Would I have had as much respect for Saul’s calling as David did? I think about that now when I hear people criticize their pastor. It makes me shiver a little, as if a lightning bolt is about to strike. I certainly don’t want the disfavor of God on me because I, in some fashion, attacked His anointed.

I think this verse creates a good pondering point. It’s not uncommon to hear about David’s sin but this story is so strong about the honor David showed God in everything. Yeah, he blew it as we all have, but he withheld his hand and his men when he could have solved his biggest problem with one strike. He honored God’s anointing on Saul more than he cherished his own peace and safety. Amazing!

Trust begets Patience

1 Samuel 13: 7 – 14

Meanwhile, Saul stayed at Gilgal, and his men were trembling with fear. 8 Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself. Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcome him, but Samuel said, “What is this you have done?” Saul replied, “I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. So I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.” “How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

This is a classic mistake. I call it getting ahead of God. I have done it more times than I care to admit. I know what is supposed to happen, so I help God a little. The priest, Samuel says of this kind of thinking, “How foolish.” Saul got out ahead of God because he lacked trust. I reckon I make the same mistake for the same reason. Sometimes we need to just keep our hands in our pockets and expect the Lord to do as He says.

Saul took things into his own hands when the priest, Samuel, failed to show up on the day expected. Have you ever known God to be late? We joke about God’s 11th hour timing because it often feels like He is late to the party. We begin to get anxious and if we don’t check ourselves, the next thing that happens is we begin to “do” something. In fact, we almost don’t care what we do as long as it is motion. You can blow the whole thing in this way.

In my life, God has often withheld step two just to keep me from getting ahead of myself and Him. I do what He has shown me to do and then wait. Right now, though, God has given me a full vision of a project, right down to some very small details. I am dependent on other people though, so I want to get my personality involved and push them a little. It has been a major challenge for me to just do what the Lord has shown me to do and then take my hands off of it. I really, really want to start pushing some buttons, but I know that I need to wait and trust God. He will do what needs doing at the exact proper time. Saul destroyed himself and lost the throne for himself and his family by doing things the way he wanted to do them. He wasn’t just impatient though; he was also arrogant. That is not a good way to approach a project the Lord has partnered with you on. It is best for you and your project to wait on the Lord. And when I say wait, understand that Hebrew word implies trust, i.e. that you await the Lord trusting that He has all well in hand. Be patient knowing the Lord’s timing is best.

Cornelius’ Memorial

Acts 10: 4      (CJB)

Cornelius stared at the angel, terrified. “What is it, sir?” he asked. “Your prayers,” replied the angel, “and your acts of charity have gone up into God’s presence, so that he has you on his mind.”

Ivey Ministries has been working on our prayer ministry and developing a prayer team. Naturally I have been spending time in prayer verses. There are a number which have grabbed my attention but how can this one not cause us to pause? Today’s verse was taken from the Complete Jewish Bible. The NASB reads, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.” The very idea that our prayers ascend to God’s presence and stand as a memorial is mind boggling. Here is what I want you to hear, God honors your prayers.

Let’s make this story even more real. Cornelius was not a Jew. In fact, he was a Roman soldier, an officer at that. He was far from the model of a follower of Christ. The Jewish Messiah, afterall, came to the Jews and the Jews were not in a rush to accept Gentile believers. Cornelius, though, was a devout believer. He gave to the poor and “prayed to God continually,” (v. 2). The Passion Translation says he was, “a devout man of extraordinary character who worshiped God and prayed regularly, together with all his family. He also had a heart for the poor and gave generously to help them.” Though he was not a Jew, not of the chosen people, his faith, actually, his devotion which was demonstrated through his generosity and his prayers ascended to the very throne room of God and stood before God as a memorial. Cornelius got God’s attention. He so impressed God that God sent an angel from heaven to bless the man. If you read the rest of Cornelius’ story you will see that God sent Peter to Cornelius’ town, to his very home so that he and his whole household might be saved. Now Peter was one of the leaders of the church. There were plenty of other folks that could have traveled to Caesarea, but God sent for Peter because he had Cornelius on His mind. Cornelius’ devotion stood in the throne room of God as a memorial before the Almighty. The book of Revelation says that the prayers of the saints are incense before God (Revelation 5: 8). Cornelius’ prayers must have continuously wafted before God such that it got God’s attention. It blessed God so much that it moved Him to action. First, He sent an angel then He sent Peter. God, literally, moved heaven and earth for this man.

That is exciting to me. Sometimes when we pray it feels like we are spitting into the wind but, not so. Your Father is collecting those prayers and then He uses them as the scent for His throne room. You can get God’s attention with prayer. You can move Him to action but not only for the people you pray for. God is going to return the blessing to you. That’s good news. Maybe He will send an angel to you.

Let this be a call to prayer. Let’s shake things up. Now that we know the spiritual realm is taking notice of and moved by our prayer, let’s kick it up a notch. How exciting could things become in just 30 days if we all increased our prayers. And here’s the thing, it need not be hard or even time consuming. I am all for getting alone in your private space and communing with God, but you cannot “pray without ceasing” if you wait for that perfect setting. Here is what I ask of you instead, pray when you are pumping gas. You’ve got nothing better to do. Pray in the shower, driving to work, at the grocery store, waiting for the bus, waiting in line at the bank, etc. The point is there are many times during the day that we can bless God and others with a simple prayer lifted up to heaven. Don’t make it wordy or complicated. You can say twelve prayers while the eloquent people say one. Just be real and talk to the Lord about the people you see around you and don’t think you have to list everyone individually. Pray for “everyone who works at this bank, all the people pumping gas right now, everyone who attends the YMCA, everyone at work” and so on.

Lastly, consider joining our prayer team. It’s a Christian thing to do. If you are too busy to be on a prayer team, you’re just too busy. Quit something. Be a part of a team that is doing God’s work. I believe God will bless you for your faithfulness. Don’t you? Just click “reply” and let me know you’re in.

Costly Merchandise

Psalm 49: 6 – 9

They trust in their treasures and boast in their riches, yet not one of them, though rich as a king, could rescue his own brother from the guilt of his sins. Not one could give God the ransom price for the soul of another, let alone for himself. A soul’s redemption is too costly and precious for anyone to pay with earthly wealth. The price to pay is never enough to purchase eternal life for even one, to keep them out of hell.

This is not a verse about money though some people categorize it that way. It is about the value, the cost of one human soul. Even more, this verse speaks to the extreme high cost of redeeming even one human soul.

The cost of sin, it tells us, was so high that all of the earth’s wealth could not have purchased even one soul from hell. Standing on this side of the cross, we understand the high price. Only the blood from the innocent child of God could redeem us. What an incredible price to pay for us. I can’t help but wonder if we were worth the price, but our Father thinks we are. Nothing less than that which was most precious to Him was sufficient to buy our way out of hell.

I wonder if this psalmist had any glimpse into the price that would be paid. He understood Passover so maybe he had an idea how expensive the cost and maybe he knew the Messiah was going to have to do something extraordinary. Or, did he think we would go on sacrificing unblemished lambs forever. His writing sounds like he knew there would have to be something more, but could he ever have imagined that God would sacrifice His son? Sometimes that is even hard to fathom from this side of the cross.

What a crazy plan! I would have never guessed the price Father was willing to pay for me and I don’t know that He got a good bargain, but I am so thankful that He gave all. He gave His best for the least of us. Not one of us was unworthy of the price in His eyes. Isn’t that amazing? How could He love us that much? How could Jesus give himself up to slaughter?

I hope today’s verse stirs something in your heart. I hope you see how precious you are to the Father. Nothing less than the blood of His beloved was valuable enough, rich enough to redeem us. They gave all. Maybe today, in light of this verse and its revelation, we feel moved to give them more.