Fullness in Christ

... that it is my duty, out of a sense of emptiness, to go to Christ, possess, enjoy his fullness as mine, as if I had it in myself, because it is for me in him; that when I do this I am full of the Spirit, as a fish that has got from the shore to the sea and has all fullness of waters to move in, for when faith fills me, then I am full; that this is the way to be filled with the Spirit, like Stephen, first faith, then fullness, for this way makes me most empty, and so most fit for the Spirit to fill.

– from Fullness in Christ
The Valley of Vision

The Lord’s Prayer: Do What He Does

Ezekiel 11:19-20 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Do what He does

I look up to You, my Christ. I hear Your words. You have given me a new heart, and now I gladly receive Your words. It is because You gave me a new heart, it is now that I can do what You have commanded me to do.

My Lord and my God, You have taught me and shown me what it is like to speak to our Father. Your instruction, Your communion, Your relationship, Your bond with the Father is on display here for me to see and learn as the example. It is so evident in the Gospels that you missed your Father so very much and took every opportunity to go and talk with him.

Sometimes when I am so happy and joyful, I will forget to spend time with my Father. Sometimes when I am in sin, I am too scared to go to my God. Sometimes I am too apathetic and I do not care to go to God. Sometimes I worry, I am anxious, and I tend to trust in what I can do or what I can see before my eyes instead of believing in Him who has already done the work. Lord, please help me do what You do because at that time with my Father is so precious and so good. Lord, help me do what You do because no other god can help me. You alone are the One True God. Lord, help me do what You do because Father, Son, and Spirit are One and because all that You have done, You are now in me and with me. Because of You, You are mine, and I am Yours always.

Help me not to deprive of my time with my Father. Help me do what You do.

Mark 10:13-16: God Alone Receives the Fatherless

Mark 10:13-16 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

  1. What place do children have within church?
  2. What do you think Christ meant by receiving the kingdom of God like a child?
  3. We come into the kingdom like children but are we to stay like children and act like children or do we grow and mature?

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 23:4b Fear No Evil

My God,

I fear no evil.

For your precious Son has already conquered sin, Satan, demons, hell, and death.

I have no enemies on earth. Those are not my real enemies.

Rulers, princes, and principalities: they crouch for my soul. They wait to devour my heart. They do not hesitate to fire a million arrows of fire just to consume my being.

But you, O Lord, are my strength, my armour, my fortress and strong tower. It is in you alone that I trust forever.

You have slewed the dragon.

Of whom can I be afraid? You are my Lord and my God forever.

Here is Love: Romans 8:32 God Has Given Us Everything

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

I could sit here and blast you with God’s holy words about God alone provides for us, and we need nothing.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 1

It is more than “I don’t want” like we are monks in Timbuktu living off the land but rather, because God adopted us, we are co-heirs with the One who has inherited all things.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 2 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3

But is it that simple? To live in the world that we do now?

As an American, I live in the wealthiest land not only now but of all time. But are these verses right for me as my brother or sister on the poor side of town or in the run-down rural town not even fifteen miles from where I am sitting now?

And we even know that God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” 4

There is a disparaging difference between the rich and the poor or how we are finding out now, depending on which zip code you were born and lived. Nevermind the fact that God alone determines what time you would be born but what socio-economical status aka your zip code you would be born into just so that you would seek God. 5

Now, I remembered being homeless just in the last 18 months. But I now live in the most beautiful home I have ever seen in my life. I also remember when I made minimum wage. But I also remember when one year God doubled my take-home pay the proceeded to steadily increase my salary by 20% on average for seven years straight.

And I tell you, and I promise it wasn’t because I sowed some seed into a ministry. It wasn’t because I was living righteous. It wasn’t because I was paying tithes faithfully. It was none of the pragmatical reasons that you might try to figure out right now. You might think you are asking, “How can I get that?” but if I  know the American mind, what you are truly asking is, “How do I get God to do that for me?”

Let me tell you what exactly I did:

Up until last year, I was in a marriage where I was under constant abused. But unfortunately, I was too emotionally and mentally immature and ignorant to realize it until years later. When I started therapy, I was initially diagnosed as a narcissist but then rediagnosed later with Bipolar Disorder before finally and correctly being diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Yet, the abuse and stress too me to such a dark place that I contemplated suicide. I even placed a chef’s knife against my jugular in front my of then wife and my two oldest children.

But God spared me. And God continued his healing upon my heart and mind.

But then when God did grant me peace, you know how I responded? I ran away from him promising to live a life of apathy and debauchery. (For those keeping score, this was just little over a year ago.)

But God ran after me and saved me again. And not only did God continue his work, but God also finished his work of healing upon my heart and mind.

So, listen to all of the prosperity “gospel” preachers who lie through their teeth and try to tell you that God will give you riches and make you healthy if you would just give money to their ministry. I pray that God would save these people who lie about who God is—otherwise they are twice the children of Satan and the judgment would be far worse if they never attempt to preach one syllable in their lives.

You listen to what they have to say, and then you examine my life when God blessed me in every way.

But you see, if we think of money or houses or jobs or things, then our thinking is so tiny and small.

And I tell you, when my thinking of His perfect provision more right-standing with Him and His word, you cannot convince me otherwise that He has blessed me more than any other person who has ever lived or will ever live.

For you see, my friend, He has given me His Son, Jesus Christ.

You might reject this because it is an easy answer. I assured you when the Father gave up His Son so that His children are saved to Him, that was not easy! We do know that Christ gave up his Spirit and the Father pour his wrath upon His Son—the two most God-awful things that will ever happen to a person. But Isaiah says, “It pleased God to bruised his Son.” 6

And what’s even more incredible than that? Jesus Christ wanted to give his life up for mine.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 7

And Christ went to the cross and hung himself there with great joy for my sake so that I would be set free in Him. 8

Paul speaks all the time about being content. Paul speaks of having everything and nothing and content with just the same. But I think every one of us now has a tough time grasping that concept. Heck, bills have to be paid. Car needs to be gassed. Clothes on kids wear out. We always need food and water. And none of that comes cheap nor easy.

But I hope that we can each pray the prayer of the wealthiest man of all time:

Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. 9

and pray this for always:

In Christ, you have given me so much that heaven and earth can give me no more.

I hope and pray that we would be content with having everything because we have Christ. And because we have Him, we shall not want.

God has provided all because He is a perfect Father who loves his children.

Notes:

  1. Psalm 23:1
  2. Romans 8:16–17
  3. Hebrews 1:1–2
  4. Matthew 5:45
  5. Acts 17:24–26
  6. Isaiah 53:10
  7. Galatians 2:20
  8. Hebrews 12:1-2
  9. Proverbs 30:8–9

The Lord’s Prayer

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 1

Notes:

  1. Matthew 6:9-15 cf. Luke 11:2-4

Mark 10:1-12 God Alone Binds Us to One Another

Mark 10:1–12 And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them.  And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”  He answered them, “What did Moses command you?”  They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.”  And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.  But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’  ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,  and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”  And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.  And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her,  and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

The world says Jesus didn’t talk about things like hell or marriage. Yet, we can see here that Jesus does talk about marriage.

1. What does Jesus say about marriage?

2. Was divorce part of His plan?

3. Why do we have divorce?

4. What is marriage suppose to be about? (Ephesians 5:21-33)

5. What does Jesus do when people get divorce? Does he say condemn them? Does he send them to hell? 

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 23:4a Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

My Great God,

How many times have you rescued me from not only eternal death but certain death and doom?

How many times have I sinned that did and did not lead to my death?

The answer is countless. The truth is infinite.

But yet, you are my great God and Savior! I have fallen into the abyssmal pit too many times to count. But because of your grace upon grace, you were deeper still! You placed your hands underneath my dead body and rose me up again.

I have walked through, no, lived in the valley of the shadow of death. But it was death’s stench that engulfed me but it was your sweet scent of your gospel because you are the lily of the valley.

Never cease to rescue me. I will fall infinitely times more. I will need you infinitely and once more.

Amen.

Here is Love: Romans 8:31 The Preeminence of the Love of God

Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

The love of God cannot be simply defined by the merest of affections and words that we might share with one another. Is our relationship to our spouse, children, family, co-workers, or neighbor compare to one’s relationship with God? Although our relationships should be held in the light of God’s relationship with us, it is perposturous to think that anybody we know would compare to God is perfect in all things especially when it comes to love.

Yet, if we are not careful or perhaps we just do not know any better, we can let what other people do and say including circumstances and abuse and trauma and failures dictate what love is all about. Nevermind the fact that we sin and we fail and we have fallen short of what is good and right.

John so boldly stated that God is love 1 but we have no right nor authority to redefine what love is in light of our past experiences and current situation. In order to find out what good and perfect love is, we have to go to the One who is love.

How do we do that? How can we go to God and define what love actually is. We can certainly go by what he said. But when it comes to God’s love for us, we see time and time again in the Bible that God does not use just mere words but concretely and certainly backs up those words with real action. Namely:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 2

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 3

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 4

Christ’s death is not only the ultimate display of love for any living creature on this earth, it is the fullest display of all the attributes of God. 5 It the absolute proof that God will stop at nothing to save His people and bring them back to himself—even if it meant the death of His Son.

So when we see the question that Paul asks in verse 31, we must understand that question is not merely rhetorically or unspecifically generic, but instead, there is a correct and direct answer that Paul is searching.

Fair enough. Shall we look in the context of the verse in order to get the answer? My friends, I suggest to you it is mere more than just a few verses before or even the chapter 8 itself. Not to be overdramatic, but I think at bare minimum, we have to consider every single thing Paul said in his Epistle to the church in Rome and examine and thinking through these things.

Let us gather and examine:

The Gospel of God – The gospel is the power of God in salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also the Greek, and in that same gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, for it is written, “the just shall live by faith”. To that end, we are cannot be ashamed. 6

The Depravity of Man – God’s wrath from heaven is revealed against those who surpress the truth of God and by doing so, do not believe in and obey God. 7

Our Stony Hearts towards him and yet His Soft Heart towards us – While our hearts remained hardened towards Him and his gospel, God continues to be slow to anger, rich in kindness and patience and abounding in steadfast love in hopes that we would repent. 8

The Law of God – Those who were born without the law will perish without the law. However, those who were born under the law had every advantage of the nature and being of God and yet perish because they do not seek nor love God. 9

Everyone is Unrighteous – All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. 10

We are saved by grace alone 11

There is no boosting – We have done nothing yet God has done everything to save us 12

We do not put God into our debt13

We are saved by faith alone14

God did not save us because we were good but because we were sinners15

We were once enemies of God and now we are reconciled to God16

We were dead because of Adam and because of our own sins but we live because of Christ and what he has done in us17

Where law increased the sin, the grace of God abounded all the more18

Likewise, our old selves are dead and buried in the ground – Because Christ has risen, we have risen with him through faith in him who saved us 19

Futher still, we are no longer obedient to sin but slaves to righteousness20

We are released from the yoke of the law so now we have the ability to obey the law of God freely21

Even still, I struggle with obeying God22

I am wretched! Who will save me?23

Christ Jesus is his name!24

Because I am in him and He is in me, there is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION for me 25

Once dead, now alive 26

Cannot be saved by the law, can only be saved by Christ alone 27

Christ is the righteous requirement for his people 28

There are only two paths: One, being led by the flesh which does not possess the ability nor the will nor the power to please God which only ends in death; Two, being led by the Spirit of God which only leads to life abundantly and pleasures every more. 29

We are led by the Spirit if the Spirit of God dwells within us 30

If Christ is in us, we are alive because of the righteousness of God 31

If the Spirit of Christ who raised Christ from the dead dwells in us, the Spirit of Christ will give life to our mortal bodies through the Spirit of Christ who dwells in us. 32

We are not debtors to our old selves – We are free from our old dead selves! 33

But if by the strength and might of the Spirit of Christ, if you place your hands upon the neck of your sins and choke it unto death, you will live! 34

If you are led by the Spirit of God, you are a son of God. Period. End of discussion. 35

You are no longer a slave to fear, but you are a son of God who by the Spirit we can call upon our Father in heaven! 36

You no longer have to defend yourself—the Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God 37

And because we are sons of God, we are heirs of God and co-heirs with the Son of God who has inherited the whole world 38

Here’s a promise of God: we will suffer but we will receive his glory 39

Even all of creation, which was subjected to death because of our sin, waits and groans for all of the children of God to be finally and completely saved 40

Along with creation, we also wait eagerly to be saved perfectly and completely 41

For it is in the hope that is Christ Jesus that we are saved 42

While we wait and hope, the Spirit of God gives us strength where we are weak; the Holy Spirit intercedes for us 43

The Spirit of God searches hearts, knows the mind of God, and intercedes for us according to the will of God 44

No matter what we go through or what happens to us, all of those things are meant for our good—for it is only for those who are called according to his purpose. 45

To those whom he saw as sinners and extended grace to them, He has decided that he would mold, shape, and nurture his children to look like His Son so that his Son would be the eldest Brother 46

For every single person he predestined, he called. 47

For every single person he called, he justified. 48

For every single person he justified, he glorified. 49

So what shall we say to all of these things?

If God is for us, who can be against us?

But who can actually go against us? We know for sure that it is not the people on this earth. They are not our real enemies. They are prisoners of war and by God’s sovereign grace, they shall be set free!

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 50

So if the ONLY ones could go against us would be the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness, and the spiritual forces of evil, then let us see what the Bible says about our real enemies:

Who can go against us?

Definitely not the rulers and authorities of this age, namely, Satan and his demons: He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. 51

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 52

Certainly not the gates of hell: And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 53

Cannot be the sin itself: For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. 54

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 55

Not even Hell itself nor Death herself: And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 56

God has perfectly and completely conquered the wicked foe! God is the David who flung the single headshot to the vicious enemy of God who is Goliath who only came to kill, steal, and destroy the children of God while we sit and trembled in fear, loathing, and doubt before our mighty Savior. And with that thundering smashing of the pebble against the the skull of the Giant, our David pulled the sword from the sheath, and bared the weight of this own Cross, and sliced open the neck of our enemies once and for all.

The question that Paul asked was never rhetorical.

The absolute answer is that no one can ever stand against us because of everything God has done in us.

Give thanks, for here is love.

Notes:

  1. 1 John 4:7-8
  2. Galatians 2:20
  3. Romans 5:8
  4. John 3:16
  5. Psalm 85:10
  6. Romans 1:16-17
  7. Romans 1:18-32; John 3:36; Ephesians 2:1-3
  8. Romans 2:1-11; Ezekiel 11:14-21
  9. Romans 2:1-3:8
  10. Romans 3:9-23
  11. Romans 3:24-26
  12. Romans 3:27-31
  13. Romans 4:1-12
  14. Romans 4:13-25
  15. Romans 5:1-9
  16. Romans 5:10-11
  17. Romans 5:12-19
  18. Romans 5:20-21
  19. Romans 6:1-14
  20. Romans 6:15-23
  21. Romans 7:1-6
  22. Romans 7:7-23
  23. Romans 7:24
  24. Romans 7:25
  25. Romans 8:1
  26. Romans 8:2
  27. Romans 8:3
  28. Romans 8:4
  29. Romans 8:4-8
  30. Romans 8:9
  31. Romans 8:10
  32. Romans 8:11
  33. Romans 8:12
  34. Romans 8:13
  35. Romans 8:14
  36. Romans 8:15
  37. Romans 8:16
  38. Romans 8:17a
  39. Romans 8:17b-18
  40. Romans 8:19-22
  41. Romans 8:
  42. Romans 8:24-25
  43. Romans 8:26
  44. Romans 8:27
  45. Romans 8:28
  46. Romans 8:29
  47. Romans 8:30a
  48. Romans 8:30b
  49. Romans 8:
  50. Ephesians 6:12
  51. Colossians 2:15
  52. Romans 16:20
  53. Matthew 16:18
  54. Psalm 103:11–13
  55. Colossians 2:13–14
  56. Revelation 20:13–14