Hidden and Revealed

Colossians 3: 1 – 4

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

We talked about seeking on Monday. Here Paul tells us what else we should seek. So far this year, we have seen that we are to seek the Lord, His strength and His face continually (Psalm 105: 4), His Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6: 33), and now the things which are above. The shorthand is, fix your eyes on Jesus. Keep looking at him because in him is all that matters. All the universe is in him because he is the light, the life and the way.

Seeking is a very important scriptural and spiritual concept and I wouldn’t minimize it in any fashion. Reading this passage, though, one surely is gripped by our death in Jesus, which brings us to the next thought. We need to be resurrection conscious. By this I mean that by now we should have died to ourselves, died with Christ and been raised up with him in a resurrected life. If, then, you have been raised up with Christ, don’t keep looking back at or longing for the old, dead man. Leave the things of the earth to the dirt they are born of and set your heart on the things above. Does that mean you cannot enjoy any of the good things on the earth? No, absolutely not. God has given us all good things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6: 17).

At some level this is about our values. I think of saints I have studied or known about and the over-arching similarity is their devotion to Christ. They buried the old self with its desires and arose with a new value system. It is just fine to enjoy a new car, a new house or a nice vacation. We know that God gives us those things to enjoy. Dying to self means those things no longer occupy the space they once did. In the resurrection life, God is the center of the universe. If our life is truly hidden in God with Christ, we will have made some choices about what is most important to us. These are choices made with the heart. The lover of God could not choose earthly desires over His longing for God because his heart compels him to seek the face of God. This is about loving God above all else. Some of those old saints I have read about would more likely forget to eat than to miss a single day spending time with God. They needed it, craved it.

We love God too but perhaps our zeal is not as vibrant as that of some of the people we read about. However, we can be as impassioned as anyone. We can have such zeal for God that nothing stands in our way when it comes to our devotionals. We too can have an unquenchable passion for the one who loved us first. I know I want more of that passion in my life. I am sure you do too. As we focus our attention on the thing we want, we draw ourselves towards it. Discipline helps too. The use of discipline helps us to develop a lifestyle that later becomes a part of us. As we discipline ourselves to do what we choose, we begin to enjoy the fruit of those disciplines so that we come to desire the thing we had to almost force ourselves to do previously.

Still, it begins with a decision born out of love for our Father. We choose to die to self and the passions of self and instead live to Christ. This is really some heady stuff, very idealistic and not too common. The modern church certainly is not known for its disciplined devotion to Christ. None the less, we are true believers with a love for Christ and we are finding our way into deeper and deeper ways with him. We are products of the past and the teachings of our time. We have journeyed through many aspects of knowledge and balance. I believe we are beginning to long for more of Jesus and Father. We need more of them in our lives, in our very breath and we are leaning forward into them where the life we live is a product of their lives; us in them, them in us. The great news is, they are leaning toward us too. They are calling for us to come into the deep water, water which is over our heads. As scary as that can be, it is a wonderful place to be. With Christ, hidden in God is our life, our old life having been buried.

Where is your heart? What do you want? Tell the Lord and ask him to lead you. This is a new level in Christ and a very safe place.

Magnetism

John 12:32              KJV

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

Jesus was talking about his death and resurrection. His being lifted up on the cross like the serpent being put on the pole in the desert is a sign of salvation. Jesus was also talking about his resurrection and ascension. He was making the point that those acts would be the message that called people to him. That’s not all though, to this day, he is still actively calling all people unto him and that is good news.

There is also an evangelical message in here for us. When we lift Jesus up with our words and actions, we demonstrate his attractive properties. People are drawn to the story of Jesus and how he gave himself to save all people. And, there is no one who is not being drawn toward Jesus. That is good news to us. That family member who seems like they are not leaning towards Jesus, are in fact, being drawn to him. They may resist, true, but Jesus is calling to them and drawing them to himself. He is too attractive a figure to say, “No,” to forever. People are moving towards the kingdom because he is drawing them.

We cannot always see the work that is going on in the kingdom, but we have it on the very best authority that we should not worry. Despite how circumstances look, be encouraged. Jesus is not asleep; he is not lying down on the job. He is drawing you to himself too. Even though you are already his, he is drawing you closer and deeper. Look at the verse again. It does say “all” and you are part of all. Isn’t that a lovely insight today? Jesus is pulling you closer to himself every day. With that in mind, how can you not have a great day today? Happy Wednesday!

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.

Say “Yes”

Galatians 2: 20

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Here is the result of our death and burial. We have a new life. This newness of life came with our communion with Jesus in his resurrection. What, though, makes our new life any different from our old life? I mean, what is the point of a new life if it looks like the old one that we buried? Paul points out the way. This new life, the life that Jesus bought for us but that we are living out in our mortal bodies is not one of solitude, isolation or independence. The life we now live is the life of Christ within us. We live by faith and in the love which he showed when he gave up his life for us. Now, we give up our life for him. Our lives, these lives which we have dedicated to the Lord, this life which he bought for us at Calvary, we live intertwined in the Christ who loves us and gives us life. We live his life because he is alive within us and we are renewed. We say, “Yes,” to Christ and he fills us with his resurrection power of life and liberty.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,” (Colossians 2: 6 NIV). These verses make sense on the surface of our brains but when we really consider them, they are much more complex than we may first appreciate. However, this verse really is at the heart of the Christian message. This life we live we live in and through him. Doing just that makes all of the difference in our existence.

I was thinking yesterday about raising teenagers. There are so many things that you want to caution them about; drugs, sex, alcohol. I found myself thinking that loving them could end up sounding like a litany of “don’t’s.” How effective is it, I wonder, just telling children not to do this and not to do that. There must be a better way. Then I thought, maybe they need to understand that they are too valuable, too prized to damage their lives with things that will hurt them. Then I realized this is the same message that pastors must consider.

It is no good for pastors to spend Sunday after Sunday telling their congregations what not to do. Besides, we all know the list of the things we ought not be doing. The real message is you are too beloved to do these things. I want you to say, “Yes,” to Christ, to living in him. Christ is true liberty. He is true peace and happiness. When we focus on loving him and, just as importantly, his love for us, then we don’t need those things. We don’t even want them. In truth, they become repugnant to us. And if you want to know the whole truth, they are weak copies of the true pleasures in life. Getting drunk or high will never give a person the high they can experience in the presence of God. If one ever experiences being in the manifested presence of God, then alcohol and drugs lose their attraction. All of the world’s pleasures attempt to mimic the exultation we feel in Christ but they always fall woefully short.

So, my plan is to continue to encourage you into an ever deeper relationship with Christ. Crucify and bury the old man with his fleshly desires. Receive the fullness of the renewed life that you have in Christ. It’s not about saying, “No,” to sin; it’s all about saying, “Yes,” to Christ. If you do and if you continue to, then you will not have a sin problem. Those things will just lose their hold over you.

Christ is calling. What will you say?

Newness of Life

Romans 6: 4

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Yesterday we looked at the sixth verse of this chapter which was about crucifying our old self. As we see today, that is not the end. After self is crucified, it is supposed to be buried. The problem many of us have is that we keep digging up that old man. The newness of life, however, is in our death, burial and subsequent resurrection, not in digging up the dead.

We die “so we too might walk in newness of life.” Picture the old you, the you that you grew up knowing, nailed to the cross with Jesus. It may be a bit macabre but it also highlights an important spiritual reality. Watch as the deceased “old you” is removed from the cross and laid in a tomb with Jesus. You are dead and buried. Then see what happens when Jesus arises from the dead. Are you awakened by his stirrings? You arise with him. The old life is gone but here is a new life, a renewal through Jesus. You are born of his resurrection and of his new life. You are a new creature in Christ, old things have passed away.

Get a picture in your mind of how this new you looks. Is there a new countenance to your face? Do you perceive something new or different about yourself? This dying to self and burying the crucified flesh is not just a cute story or analogy. God would tell you this is the real deal. He is trying to show you the reality of what is happening in the spiritual world. You can have newness of life – you were meant to, but it comes in this strange wrapping of death, burial and resurrection, I mean actual death, actual burial and actual resurrection. Although these are spiritual realities that does not make them any less real than physical realities and in truth, they are more powerful than the physical because the spiritual realm trumps the physical.

If you can wrap your head around these verses and not treat them as mere analogies, then you can arise with new breath and every fiber of your being will react to the new life within you.

Funeral Pyre

Romans 6: 6

Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.

I had a dream last week which I would like to share with you. As the dream opened I saw myself carrying what I understood to be an urn of human ashes. I did not know whose ashes they were but knew that I was supposed to spread them for the deceased. Suddenly, there appeared before me a statue of Jesus. Have you ever seen a statue of Jesus? I have not but I imagine it would be one of him humbly attired, standing with an expression of peace and compassion adorning his face. This was not that statute. This was a statue of a heroic Jesus. He was standing with one foot on a rock, head lifted and chest thrusted out much the way Captain Morgan commercials depict people. I was surprised at this pose. Jesus’ hair was shorter than expected and his face looked toward the horizon with a slight smile and a victorious expression. I remember thinking, “Well, that makes sense,” even though I was initially surprised. Then I understood to scatter the ashes all around the base of the statue, which I did. That was the end of the dream. Okay Joseph, what does it mean?

It wasn’t until I awakened that I realized the ashes were mine. Have you heard the expression, “dying to self?” God was calling me to crucify the old man, incinerate his ideas, plans and ways. I was drawn to lay the charred ashes of my former self at the feet of the victorious Christ. You and I are supposed to stand with him in victory but we cannot do that in our old selves. We must cast off the old man and be renewed in Jesus’ victory and resurrection.

We fight bitterly to hang on to our old selves but in the end, there lies the path of destruction. When we stand with Jesus, the ashes of our former self trodden under foot without a thought, we stand on high ground reaching toward the horizon ourselves. No sin, no pain, no slight or injury from our past mars the glory which shines upon our faces because they have been incinerated. Our faces reflect Jesus and the glory the Father has given him since the beginning of time. We are in Jesus and have already overcome. Just die and you will live. You will truly live for the first time in your life. All of the shackles will fall from your heart, your body will feel light, young and strong and you will have the wind of the Holy Spirit in your lungs. Just die, it is the healthiest thing you can do.

Dead and Buried

Colossians 2: 12 – 13

[H]aving been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.

Because of and through your faith in Jesus, you have died, been buried and raised by the power that is at work in God for Jesus. For the power that raised Jesus from the dead, is alive and has renewed you too. If you have given your life to Jesus, then your old self has died and been buried. The life you now live is a new life in Christ Jesus. It is his life that we live because we are a part of Him. And for goodness’ sake, don’t go resurrecting that old man. He is dead and stinks. Leave him in the grave. Live a new life; one in Jesus. Live the life that Jesus bought for you. You are a new creature. The sin of the past has been buried and so have the habits of the past. Leave them with that old, dead flesh. All that was in the old person was only leading you to death and destruction. The new life that Jesus has purchased for you leads to life everlasting as well as victory here on this earth. Don’t let the devil trick you into considering your past and your old self. That person has died and all those problems died with him. Let your mind consider the glorious life that Jesus has given you, a life in Him and with Him. Let your mind stay on that so that your joy can be made full.