You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘grace’ category.

Have you ever wondered “what if…”

I was thinking about some “what if’s” the other day and I decided to make a series out of my thinking. No I’m not going to give you the answers only pose the questions – you get to come up with your own answers in consultation with Holy Spirit. Why not actually ask yourself the following questions over the next month… All the questions are based on promises in scripture, see if you can guess which scripture this comes from…

WHAT-IF-COLLECTION-1

It’s Easter and traditionally it’s the time to tell the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection. Usually in the telling we focus on the aspect of salvation and how we can know God and have a relationship with Him if we will give our life to Him.

Yet the message of Easter (the gospel message) is not about us giving our life to Him; it’s really about Him giving His life to us! It’s a subtle difference in words but a huge difference in outcome! God doesn’t need our life but we definitely need His! Without His life in us we are dead – dead in sin and dead to knowing Him.

We often concentrate on Jesus’s death and the aspect of Jesus forgiving our sins. But I don’t believe we concentrate enough on His resurrection and its meaning, which is “life”, new life – God giving His life to us in order that we may fully live and that He may live in us and through us.

When you actually think about it, that’s huge! God – the One who is love, freely gives Himself for us and to us. That’s the good news, in fact that’s really good news!

What does that actually mean ….

  • God’s love is unconditional and is not dependent on anything we do!
  • His love and grace have nothing to do with how good or bad we are!
  • In His love God gave Himself to win us back, not just so that He could know us and we know Him, but so that we could know the reality of Him living in us and through us!
  • We can live our life knowing His love, grace and favour flowing in and through us if we believe and accept what He did for us and allow Him to give His life to us!
  • He will supply all that we need to live that life of grace and favour! All of it, everything! We don’t supply any of it!

Wow, that’s really good news!

I believe that the concept of us ‘giving our life to God’ comes from our belief that because of what Jesus did we owe Him everything, which includes giving our life to Him. Yet He doesn’t ask for our life in exchange for giving us His; He gives His life to us freely. Our giving our life to Him in any way, or loving and obeying Him, is simply a response to that love, not a prerequisite for obtaining that love. Yet we have made it a prerequisite. Over the last couple of centuries we have introduced into the Church the ‘sinner’s prayer’, which we maintain must be prayed in order to obtain God’s forgiveness and have relationship with Him. Yet the only thing God actually asks is that we believe / accept what He did for us. “Jesus answered and said, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”John 6:29

His forgiveness is already a fact, whether we accept it or not. We don’t have to do something in order to get it. He did something, He forgave while we were still dead in our sin (Rom 5:8). Then, in His resurrection, Jesus invited us into newness of life; His life – flowing in and through us!

The good news is that we can know the reality of a loving relationship with the Father because of what Jesus did. The good news is that by His death and resurrection Jesus has provided for our salvation, our healing, our wholeness, and a life of fullness and prosperity in all areas of life – “He has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” 2 Pet 1:2-4.

When we accept what Jesus has done and allow Him to give His life to us we are made new creations in Christ; the old ‘us’ is crucified with Christ. (How that transpires may be a mystery to us, yet it is still true and real). We are grafted into Christ and His loving grace brings us into a living relationship with Himself, the Father and Holy Spirit. We become sons and daughters of God. We then get to live no longer by our own efforts but by the life of His Spirit living in us. There is nothing we can do to earn His grace and favour; He gives it to us freely. It is a free gift from God. Rom 5:15-18

We live and walk by faith, which is based not just on cognitive belief but on relational trust, and the more we walk in Him and experience His love and faithfulness, the more we trust and can walk in faith. (Faith is belief in and experiential knowledge of His love, trustworthiness and faithfulness that comes from knowing and experiencing His character, His loving nature and His provision in every area of our lives).

The Good News message is all about God’s grace and love – love displayed, love given, love lived in!

In this life of God’s love, grace and favour…

  • We don’t have to give our life to God in order to get salvation – He gives His life to us when we ask Him into our lives. Gal 2:20
  • We don’t have to try and become close to God – He came close to us, He made us intimate with Him – in fact you can’t get closer than being “in”… Rom 8:9,10 2 Cor 1:21
  • We don’t have to earn His pleasure and His love – He gives it freely. Eph 3:17 1 John 4:16
  • We don’t have to keep asking for forgiveness over and over again – His love is such that He has already forgiven every sin we will ever commit – ahead of time!
  • We don’t have to try to become holy or sanctified; He has made us to be holy and sanctified in Him.  1 Cor 1:30 1Pet 2:9
  • We don’t have to try to become righteous; He has made us righteous in Christ. 1 Cor 1:30
  • We don’t have to try in our own strength to not sin; sin has lost its hold on us. His grace (and His Spirit) teaches us how not to sin Tit 2:11 – 13
  • We aren’t justified (made good enough) by our works but by His work Gal 2:16.
  • We don’t owe God; He gave all things freely, not so that we would be indebted to Him, or owe Him anything  Eph 2:8
  • We don’t have to try and keep in His good books; because of what Christ did we are loved and accepted unconditionally as His beloved child. Eph 1:16
  • Just as we were saved by grace so we are kept by grace Col 2:6
  • We can’t finish (in our strength) what He started; He will complete the good work started in us Gal 3:3  Heb 12:2
  • We don’t have to struggle to know the will of God; His will is that we know and live in everything that is good, acceptable and perfect. Rom 12:2 Ps 23:3
  • I don’t read the scriptures to find out what I have to do, the rules I have to live by; I read them to find Christ in them Luke 24:27 , to learn about His nature, character and heart for me and mankind, and to learn how His Kingdom of love functions.
  • We don’t have to try… because of what He did we get to rest in Him. Matt 11:28 Heb 4:3  
  • We don’t have to keep begging God to provide – He has already done so. 2 Pet 1:2-4 Mark 11:24
  • We don’t have to serve; we are not servants, we are sons and heirs. Any service we do is a response of love and allowing Him to serve mankind through us John 4:19 Eph 2:10 Phil 2:13
  • We were not saved because God needed workers; He saved us because He loved us and wanted us back in His family Phil 2:13 Eph 2:10
  • We are no longer under the law (any of it) but under grace; we live by a new law – the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. He has set us free from the law of sin and death Rom 7:5
  • We are made whole and complete in Him; In Him we live and move and have our being. It’s His life in us that causes us to live this abundant life. Col 2:10
  • We don’t have to jump through hoops to become free; He has set us free already. Gal 3:13 John 8:32
  • God does not want complete control of our life; He wants to give us His life and teach us to walk as mature sons not as puppets or slaves/servants John 10:10

You have been forgiven, buried with Him, raised with Him, made alive in Him and, filled with Him. You get to live in Christ and Christ lives in you and through you and… He supplies all you need to live that kind of Christ life! Now that’s good news! That’s the gospel of his glorious grace and that’s the love and grace that we get to live in!

Last month in our ministry newsletter we featured an article by Stephen Crosby that unpacked the verse “The just shall live by faith”. We had a couple of emails regarding it so I thought I’d share a little bit more on its theme this month. (see original article here)

In his article Stephen shared that from a Jewish perspective/understanding faith had more to do with relational trust than with cognitive belief. Obviously both are needed, but as western Christians we have tended to believe that faith has more to do with mentally understanding something than relational trust. This has caused an imbalance in our Christian walk on a large scale with many Christians filling our churches who read the Bible, listen to sermons, give mental assent to what they hear and end up with a religious belief in Christ rather than a living, growing relationship with Him. We hear and understand that the Christian life is one of relationship with the Lord yet for many that relationship is a formal and somewhat uneasy one, based on their ability to believe in their minds instead of trust in His nature and character.

The Bible tells us we have all been given a measure of faith (Rom 12:3) and that we need to believe in the Lord (John1:12; 6:29). That’s where the problems lay – we think that believing means agreeing in our mind. Yet believing has as much to do with relational trust as it does with mental agreement. We can only truly believe someone when we know that we can trust them.

When we initially come to Christ we trust that what is shared with us about Him is the truth. And when He comes into our life, filling us with Himself, we find out that it definitely is true! From there we get to know Him, and He proves over and over again His faithfulness, love, trustworthiness and so much more.

So when troubles and challenges come our way we look back on that track record and know that because He previously came though in all those times, He will do so again. That track record of His faithfulness is what builds relational trust. And relational trust makes it easy to walk in faith because we know He can be depended on to come through.

So when it comes to the Lord asking us to do things that require faith, it’s actually relational trust that we step into more than cognitive understanding. We still need the cognitive understanding but that is not all we need; we must combine the two, understanding and trust. It’s this combination that will get us through. We read in the Word testimonies of His faithfulness to others; we read His promises to us and we recall His faithfulness to us. We then step into the reality of His faithfulness, knowing that as He has come through in the past, He will do so again. He will provide all that we need to accomplish what He calls us to, and what our need in that situation calls for.

The Christian walk is one of relationship, not mental assent, so it figures that faith must also be about relational trust not just mental assent and understanding. Everything in the Christian life is about trusting in the Lord, knowing that He has already granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness and that He will supply all our needs according to His riches in Christ – He’s done it many times before and nothing is going to cause Him to violate or break that trust you have in Him. You can depend on Him and put your faith in Him – He is trustworthy. That’s why you can walk and live by faith!

Part 2

As I was praying for this year there were four statements that came clearly to me – SEE, ALIGN, DECLARE, MOVE INTO IT!

See

Seeing or recognizing what God is doing is of course the first thing that needs to happen. This can happen in different ways and one way is not better than another; all revelation from God is of the same immense value, no matter what form it comes in. To receive revelation by an open eye vision is not more spiritual or valuable than hearing the still small voice of God whisper in your heart and mind; they are just different forms of receiving the same life changing revelations. Be thankful no matter what form revelation comes to you in; if you let it, it will change your life!

Align

Alignment is key in this time. We must choose to align ourselves both internally and externally with what God is doing and ask Him to give us understanding and experience of it.

For example, in our nation of New Zealand we have been crying out for years for God to move, and over the last few years we have seen the beginning of an awakening that is spreading through the church in our nation. Yet in many ways we haven’t recognized that God has answered our prayers, because we are looking for Him to move in the same ways He has moved in the past. Because of that many are missing what He is actually doing now.

For the past few years, as a ministry, we have been proclaiming that God is moving ‘now’ in our nation and recently at a Prophets’ Hui that I attended this prophetic word was given by a respected prophetic minister in this nation, Lorraine Hagen, which confirmed that. Part of it said this – “I saw as we began worshiping, a complete change over in time, and the Lord said “I have come, I have come”.  It’s not a time to call out and say, “Come”, anymore; He says “I’ve come”. It’s almost like “coming ready or not”.  He says “I have come”.” You can read the whole word here on our website.

Declare

We need to align ourselves with what God is doing and saying and begin to say the same things that He is saying. What comes out of our mouths must be in agreement with what God is saying and doing.

New Zealand, God has come to you and is doing wonderful things in your midst! Salvations, deliverances, healings, signs, wonders and miracles are happening each day somewhere in our nation and the groundswell is building! Get ready, see it, align yourselves with it, declare it and move into it!

I love how prophetic voices around the world are decreeing the same things. In a recent article that I read Francis Frangipane said this “We must recognize that our prayers, attitudes, and agreement with God are an integral part of establishing the reality of the Kingdom of God on earth!” What we say and decree will become established!

While I have talked about New Zealand specifically, what God is doing is not limited to New Zealand, it is a global move. We are in the beginning stages of a reformation of the church that will lead to a new reformation of society as we know it. The church is not getting ready to ‘ship out’; she is getting ready and beginning to release Heaven into earth like never before, and this will affect whole cities and nations! Bob Hartley recently said this “The first reformation initiated on the heels of the dark ages in the 1500’s answered the profound question of the human heart, “How will we be saved?” It restored to the church the truth of Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” This understanding of how we are saved is now widely understood and accepted throughout the church. This second reformation now coming forth answers the question, “How shall we then live?” This divine initiative significantly relates to how we are to live and minister to God and with God in a spirit of hope in this world, in this age. Hope is a relentless force and an earnest expectation of seeing God’s goodness and the fulfillment of His many intentions and promises for this age, not just for the one to come.”

Move into it

No matter where you are in the world, God is moving and doing the same things for you as He is for others. It is a global reformation, not just a local revival, that is taking place. It is an awakening of never-seen-before proportions that will flood the world and see Kingdom realities released and established in the earth to such a degree that it will be impossible to miss. Move into it, ask the Lord to make it a reality in your life, cooperate with Him and live the life led by the Spirit that you were created to live. Release Heaven with confidence everywhere you go, knowing that God works with you and will perform wonders through you!

As far as specifics go we will continue to see great fluctuations in different nations’ economic circumstances. National debts will continue to escalate and the global community will find increased pressures put on them in many areas because of that.

Justice issues like human slavery will continue to be a focus, although the overwhelming hugeness of the problem will cause many to do nothing because they believe that what they could do is but ‘a drop in the bucket’ and will change nothing. But just as dictators and systems have been toppled in the past, the issues of injustice like human slavery can be toppled too. But it will not be the policy makers and politicians that cause that to happen, it will be ordinary people who believe in an extraordinary God.

The answer for our nations is not the policy makers and politicians; the answer for our nations is you and me, the children of God, moving in His love and power, releasing Heaven into earth in every sphere of society. I am not just talking about miracles and healings here but also about things that will revolutionize societies and bring changes that will cause cities and nations to prosper. Ideas that will cause positive changes in education and learning, inventions that will solve many food, lighting and fuel issues, especially for third world nations. All these things will happen in the years ahead. The world’s media tells us that the world is getting worse day by day and that we are descending into chaos in an ever increasing way, but the church will arise in the midst of this as one with answers that will cause national and global changes as the Kingdom of Heaven is released into the nations of the world. And you and I get to be a part of that, if we will see what God is doing, align ourselves with it, decree it and move into it.

Bless you. Have a wonderful year discovering more of God’s amazing plans and purposes for your life, and releasing Heaven with love and power wherever you may be!

Part 1

We live in exciting times. The church is undergoing rapid change and everywhere around the world God’s people are releasing Heaven into earth like never before. More people have been saved in the last twenty years than in all of history so far. God is doing wonderful things in every nation and we are all called to be a part of what He’s doing.

While in many ways this year will continue to build on what was started or established last year, God is the God of the ‘new’ and He is always doing new things, so we can expect Him to do new things in our lives and in the church this year. Interestingly, those things that we call ‘new things’ will in fact be a combination of things already established in Heaven, things that are truths or realities that have existed for eons that we are just discovering in our journey in Christ, as well as things that the church and world has not seen before – truly new things.

Often in the church we can mistakenly expect that God will work to a time frame that is measured in years, because that is how we work, but His timetable is not necessarily measured in years but in what we term ‘ages or dispensations’. So before we can understand what He wants to do this year we need to know what ‘age or dispensation’ we are in, so that we can see how this year fits into His overall plan.

Understanding the time and season

The overall age we are in is the New Covenant or Kingdom age. But within that are smaller increments of time that are focused not around dates but around revelation that God is releasing into the church and things that He is establishing in the earth. Over the last few years we have been transitioning out of what came to be known as the ‘Church Age’ into what is being called the ‘Kingdom Age’. The church was actually birthed into the original Kingdom Age, which is what Jesus announced when he was on earth, but the church moved away from a Kingdom focus to focus on building the church as an institution. This caused a shift in focus and outworking and it has taken many centuries for us to realise this and come back to God’s original intention. That is where we are in the church at the moment – coming back to God’s original intention.

In the twentieth century part of the Church Age, the focus was on ‘our church’ and ‘our vision’, but in the last few years that focus has been shifting back to an understanding that God wants the Kingdom of Heaven released into earth with love and power and that ‘our church’ is simply one small part of ‘the Kingdom’. As a part of the Kingdom we don’t throw out ‘our vision’ entirely, but we must realize that ‘our vision’ must serve God’s current purposes in the Kingdom, not simply our purpose. In the Kingdom Age we must have a ‘global kingdom understanding’ not just a ‘local church’ one. We are also realizing in a fresh way that we are the Church, not that we simply attend one.

We are also transitioning into the time where we will see the ‘revealing of the Sons of God’ and the ‘restoration of all things’. The church is not winding down, she is just really beginning to come into who she was destined to be from the beginning – a church full of glory and power, without spot, wrinkle or blemish, a church that releases the Kingdom of Heaven into the earth and into every sphere of society. How exciting it is to be a part of the birthing and establishing of this era!

The Church

The church worldwide is in a state of change because we are in that place of transition that I mentioned earlier. The church is in many ways being deconstructed – by God. Theology and beliefs are being challenged and changed as the Lord gives new revelation. (In some cases that new revelation is of old truths that have been forgotten). Traditions and ways of doing things that have been established for centuries are being re-examined and in many cases thrown out. This is absolutely necessary if the church is to move forward and really become a true representation of Christ in the earth.

Everywhere people are realizing that the church is not about ‘meeting on Sunday in a building’, but is about ‘being the church’, that is, people that release the Kingdom of Heaven in their daily lives. One result of that will be that people are trained and released for their work of ministry instead of being trained to simply fulfill their Pastor’s vision. That is not said as a criticism, simply a fact. If we cannot state the facts we will never be able to recognise when things need to change.

Revelation of Grace

One of the things we are seeing restored is the revelation of what Christ accomplished on the Cross. This revelation of the finished work of the Cross and grace will continue to grow and become established in the church. It will cause major changes to happen in the church worldwide, both in theology and practice.

There will be those who will rise up against the revelation of grace, as there have been with every revelation God has released.  Yet this revelation is as essential to the church realizing who she is in Christ, and who Christ is in her, as was Martin Luther’s revelations of the 16th century, and it is a critical revelation for us to have in order to be able to move forward correctly into this season.

Prophetic Understanding

One of the places it is most imperative that this revelation is established is amongst the prophets – those whose voices and messages cause so much to be established. If the prophetic community does not really get this revelation then we will stay in a place of largely ineffective leadership, ministering from a mixture of the Old and New Covenants.

This revelation of the finished work of the Cross and His grace will cause a shift in the manifestation of the prophetic gifting as prophets minister out of an experiential knowledge as well as a theological understanding of that. Unless we get a real revelation of that grace and love, and of God’s loving nature as shown through Christ’s life, we will continue to prophesy that God is coming instead of that He has come. Old Covenant prophecy looks forward to God coming, but New Covenant prophecy reminds us that He has come and it calls us and releases us to walk in the dunamis reality of what His coming accomplished. The current mixing of Old and New Covenants in prophetic ministry causes the church to continue to look forward to a ‘coming move’ instead of walking in what He has already released through Christ’s finished work. It also causes us to continue to prophesy gloom, doom and judgment. Indeed we have mistaken much of what is natural disaster or the consequence of walking in sin for God’s judgment on nations, but it is not.

Because our words release, create and establish things, we will release, create and establish what we prophesy. Much of the state that the church is currently in is because of what we have prophesied, taught and established over the years. That is not to say that everything that has been proclaimed and established has been wrong. We have spoken and led out of what we knew and understood to be the truth, and as God’s children we are all on the same journey of receiving progressive unfolding revelation of the Lord and the realities of His Kingdom.

I’ll do another entry tomorrow with some more specific insights in different areas. Thanks for reading this and may the Lord give you revelational understanding of what He is doing at this time. Remember, do not take what I have shared as truth just because I write a blog or have a prophetic ministry. Indeed don’t just accept anything anyone writes or says without checking it out yourself; ask the Lord about it and may your spirit witness with what is true in what I have written, even though your head may not yet fully understand it.

Bless you, see you tomorrow.

 

 

 

We are in the midst of a great awakening in the Church where the children of God are waking up to “who they really are.” Part of the foundation of this awakening is a deepened revelation of the love and goodness of God that is giving birth to a “Love Revolution,” now sweeping the earth. The Church is learning how to live loved and, as a result, is becoming “living love” – pouring out love in ways that is causing transformation to come to thousands daily. You are called to be a part of that revolution, and it starts with knowing that you are loved – unconditionally and irrevocably.

Let Father God love you, really love you, and through the transformational effect on your life, you will not be able to do anything but love as He does. As a result, you too will transform the lives of those you come in contact with.

The One Word That Is At the Heart of the Good News of the Gospel

One of the amazing things Jesus accomplished through both His life and death was to reintroduce a reality that had not existed since the fall of mankind – a loving close relationship with God.

With one word Jesus changed everything. He declared the end of religion and proclaimed the restoration of relationship. He changed forever the way man would see God (if they really looked). That one word is at the heart of the Good News of the Gospel. It’s not the word “forgiveness,” or even the word “grace.” Those are powerful words, but the one word Jesus used to change everything is “Abba.” Abba is the word for “Father” or “Daddy.” It may not sound like much of a revolution-starting word when you first hear it, but that word “Father” changed everything and assaulted every religious belief in existence, both outside and inside Israel.

Knowing “Father” Changes Everything

Jesus came not only as the Savior, but also as a Son. He came to reveal the Father and to provide a way for us to return to relationship with Him. Knowing God as “Father” changes everything because it reveals our reason for being created – to be in a loving, cared-for, protected and provided-for relationship with Father God. We were never meant to have to strive in order to know God, or have to earn a relationship with Him. We were meant to be “children” to the Father – a Father who loves us with 100% pure, untainted, undiluted love and goodness.

Jesus came not only as the way back to the Father but as a model of how we were created to be in relationship with the Father. That’s why He came as a child, as a Son, because only a Son could reveal God as Father. A servant cannot reveal God as the Father – he can only reveal God as “master” or “boss.” Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father”(John 14:9). In Jesus we see the Father’s love revealed and expressed. And once we see the Father, something in us wakes up and remembers that we were made to be in loving relationship with Him!

Experience His Daddy Love

God wants to lavish us with His love. He wants the experiential knowledge of His love to be the very foundation of our lives. He wants all that we do – all the decisions we make and our revelation of who He is and who we are – to be a result of knowing and dwelling in His glorious love. The apostle Paul understood how important it is to have this revelation of God the Father’s love and to experience it. That’s why he prayed, “That you, being rooted and grounded in love…may comprehend what is the breadth, length, height and depth and to know the love of God that surpasses understanding, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

He’s a Good Dad. God is Love. Everything He does is motivated by love. He has no ulterior motives, no agendas except to love. Love is not just something He does; it’s who He is! He doesn’t love you because He wants something from you. He’s not looking for servants. He’s not expecting people to try hard to please Him. He is looking for someone to lavish His love upon. That is the type of Father He is. Yes, we will serve and we will obey, but those are the results of knowing His love, not the means of gaining it.

Some of us never knew our fathers. Or maybe we had fathers who were absent emotionally even if they were there in person. Some of our fathers were abusive. Others demanded perfection of us. Earthly fathers have let many of us down, but we can’t afford to judge God the Father by what our experiences tell us a father is like. I used to, and because of my relationship with my dad I didn’t want to know God as Father. In my mind, fathers weren’t nice; they abused their children. Thankfully those hurts have been healed and I am set free from those lies. Now my relationship with Abba, Daddy God, is so precious to me. I know He will never abuse me, that He only has good things for me. And I know He is the same for you.

His Treasure

Daddy God has chosen us as His special treasure. He IS love and His love melts away our performance-oriented mentality. God does not want to treat us like a servant/slave but as a son/daughter. He’ll let us be a servant if we insist, but it’s not what He wants from the relationship. And if we insist in seeing Him just as master and not Daddy, Abba God, we miss out on so much.

You are a son or daughter of your heavenly Father, the One who is Love and who is forever good through and through. There are no hidden agendas in His love. You now live under a new and everlasting covenant based on Daddy’s promise that He will never stop loving you or doing good for you (see Romans 8:38-39, Jeremiah 32:40)!

God is love; and Daddy God loves you with an everlasting, 100% pure, unfailing love! Revel in His love; soak it up! You are not being greedy; you are not being somehow less spiritually mature by reveling in that love. In fact, really knowing His love is a mark of maturing in childlike faith and trust. Enjoy it – go on, really enjoy it. There are no catches here, no tricks, just pure undefiled love. God, your good Father in Heaven, wants you to know that glorious love, to be set free by it, to make your home in it, to be comfortable in it, and to find the full expression of who you are in it.

 

It’s almost Christmas and every year Christians around the world get upset with the whole Santa thing, the commercialism of Christmas and how to live in this world while not taking it’s standards as their own. When my kids were growing up I worried about the same things and in the end chose the route of teaching my children how to discern for themselves instead of using blanket “no’s” to many things.

When our kids got to an age where they could understand (about two – three years old) we explained Santa to them. They grew up understanding that he was make-believe yet fun and we didn’t feel it compromised our Christianity by allowing our children to partake in make-believe. After all God gave us our imagination to use not only to dream with him and see into the spiritual realms but to imagine – to make things up – thats where CS Lewis dreamed up Narnia and his other wonderful stories – in his imagination. (The world would be a very sad place if all imagination was removed – we would be automatons without dreams or vision and nothing that man has dreamed up would have been created yet)

The other day I was checking out some craft blogs and came across this wonderful example of explaining the whole Jesus & Santa thing. The explanation doesn’t kick in until a little bit down the page but I loved what they have chosen to do to explain it all. The couple in the blog are also learning to walk in grace-based parenting and share a couple of great books in the link that I’m sure would be well worth the read. Here’s the amazon link for them as well as another one called “Grace based parenting” which is on the same page.

I hope it gives you some ideas of how you can approach this whole subject with your family. I am certainly going to share it with my kids and hopefully we can incorporate something like it into their Christmas family traditions.

We’ve just had a great time with Linda and Dan Wilson. They did a mini conference for us called “Supernatural Marriage” and are the authors of the book by that name. It was, I think, the best marriage seminar/conference I have ever attended. Linda and Dan are just such lovers of God and of people that you couldn’t help but be encouraged around them.

While they taught on having a supernatural marriage many of the things they taught were applicable in a far wider arena than marriage. For example – a reminder that the fruit of the Spirit is who we become, not just something we try to do.  Life in Christ is about being transformed into the image of Christ and that affects every area of our lives. There was an encouragement to pray for each other and impart to, prophesy over and release the power of the kingdom into each other’s lives. We were encouraged to consciously draw on the wisdom, might, counsel, understanding etc of the Holy Spirit in all our relationships.

Dan & Linda also shared that because we often live so conscious of the earthly realm we can get lost in the facts of our life, and the truth just gets lost. Yet truth is mightier than facts – the truth of who God is and who he wants to be to us in this present situation and what of heaven he wants to release into the situation.

All these things are a part of living the normal Christian life and it was good to be reminded of them. I don’t know about you but sometimes I find that it is all too easy to forget some of these things in the demands of daily life.

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Jesus’ cry from the cross has for centuries been interpreted by the church to mean that the Father forsook Jesus, turned his face from him and left him to face the cross by himself. But is that true? Did the Father actually forsake Jesus and turn his back on him?

As we read those words of Jesus in scripture a seed question becomes planted in our minds – if he forsook Jesus will he turn away from us? I want to look at both of those things in this article – did he forsake Jesus and will he forsake us?

If we take the words of Jesus at face value we might believe that God abandoned Jesus on the cross, however if we look at other scriptures and understand some cultural things we actually begin to see something different.

In scripture we find quite a few verses in the Old Testament that seem to indicate that while God promised not to forsake Israel Deut 4:31 he then goes back on his word and does forsake them. But does he actually forsake them or does their sin have consequences; are they are reaping what they have sown? Here are some of those verses for you to check out – Deut 31:16-18; 1Ki 6:11-13; Neh 9: all esp30 ,31; Is 59:2; Is 54:8.

Let’s look at how God dealt with Jesus because that has a huge significance for us and our lives.

Throughout his lifetime Jesus made some interesting claims.

John 10:30,I and my Father are one.” That reality was never rescinded before, during or after the cross.

In John 14:9 -11 Jesus says four times that he and the Father are in each other. v9 “He that has seen me has seen the Father.”  10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” 11  “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.”

In speaking of his coming death, Jesus believed the Father would not leave him to face it alone.

John 8:28,29 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself…. 29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone.

John 16:32, Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

Then we come to those famous words on the cross… My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me (Matt 27:46)

Did God really turn his back on Jesus and forsake him or was something quite different from what the words seem to imply actually happening. I believe that something different was happening.

Why?

Because God is good (Mk 10:18), he is love (1Jn 4:8) he is faithful (Deut 7:9) cannot be false to his word or who he is and his mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13)

Jesus perfectly fulfilled all the law and obeyed all Gods commandments so God couldn’t go back on his word and forsake Jesus. God said to the children of Israel that if they obeyed his laws then he would never leave nor forsake them (see verses earlier in article).

Jesus himself believed the Father would not leave him or forsake him as seen earlier in this article.

Paul says in 2 Cor 5:19 …God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.  God was IN Christ, they were one, and so he hung there too. The Amplified Bible says it like this “It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor).”(AMP)

Although mankind has felt abandoned or forsaken by God since the fall he was not. Even before mankind was created God made provision for the possibility of the fall, even then he decided he would never forsake us. Scripture tells us that Jesus was the lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8)

Jesus, as fallen man, was identifying with us, taking on our sin; our grief, our confusion and the inaccurate feeling of abandonment by God that mankind had suffered since the fall. He was not speaking out of his feeling of abandonment, he knew God was with him, he was speaking out of ours. You might be thinking but the Bible says our sins have separated us from God and hidden his face from us (Is 59:2) Note here it is sin that does the separating, sin that hides Gods face from us making us not able to see him1 not God hiding himself from us because of sin. It is sin that is the bad guy not God. God has not forsaken or abandoned us because of our sin.

Another thing that was happening at that point was something that would be yet another indicator to all present there at the cross, that Jesus was in fact the Messiah, the long awaited one. A teaching practice in those days was that the teacher / rabbi would say the first verse (as we know them) of a Psalm or passage and the listeners would know what was coming, where the teacher was going by quoting that verse.

Those words “My God, my God why have you forsaken me” are a quote of the first verse of Ps 22 – the prophetic, messianic, psalm of deliverance written by David that begins with that cry but goes on to say that God hasn’t despised him or his cry, he has not hidden his face from him, he has heard when he cried to him; and the passage ends with the declaration “they shall come and proclaim his righteousness because he has done it!“  In other words “It is finished” he has delivered us! David is telling us ahead of time that the Father will not turn his face from Jesus and Jesus refers the Jews back to that passage of deliverance by using this phrase.

Most of those Jews listening would know that Jesus was referencing the entire passage especially any Pharisees or Sadducees there. They knew their scriptures and were familiar with the Messianic prophecies. For those that heard this cry aright, they would have heard that Jesus did not feel forsaken; they would have heard that he was proclaiming hope and deliverance.

Yes there were some who did not get that, who thought he was crying out to Elijah but those possibly were not even Jews and while we can’t know that for sure we do know that there were many people there from different nations. Any Jew listening would have known that Eli means “My God” not “Elijah” so they would not be likely to have made that comment.

Now to the other question – will God forsake us? I recently received an email from a woman who wrote that she had been through a hard time over the last few years, losing their business and much more in the economic crash. A friend had that day given her a verse (to help her make sense of her circumstances). It was Isaiah 54:8 – In anger I turned away from you for a moment etc.

As his children, does God get angry with us and forsake us this side of the cross?

No he doesn’t ever forsake us, not for any reason!

What about when we sin?

In Jesus God forgave every sin even future ones. To be honest, when Jesus died, every sin you or I would commit was a future sin. And God forgave us ahead of time! Even when you do sin today you are already forgiven and there is no condemnation (Rom 8:1). God cannot condemn you, to do so would mean he would have to discount Jesus work on the cross. He cannot turn his back on you – to do so would be to deny his word and he would have to take back his forgiveness, making him a liar. You are forgiven, totally, eternally already forgiven!

My thoughts are that those verses from Isaiah have no place in a New Covenant believers life other than to show us how different our covenant is to the old Covenant that God had with the Jews.

As New Covenant believers in Christ it simply isn’t true of us in our relationship with the Lord. He will never leave us, forsake us or turn his face from us because of anger toward us!

He says in Matt 28:20 Lo I am with you always, even to the end of the world. And in Heb 13:5 for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Scripture is clear that we are now joined to God in such a way that we are one spirit with him – 1Co 6:17. God cannot separate Christ or us from himself – we are now in Him and one spirit with him.

Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that God will or does forsake us. That God will forsake us is a strategically planted lie of the Devil who delights in blinding us to the truth in scripture and the truth of who God is. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will not turn his back on us or abandon us in our hour of need just as he did not abandon Jesus.

God’s promises to us of his continuing presence, goodness and provision for every area in our lives are too numerous to mention here, but I want you to know that if bad things do happen to you or you do sin, God has not and will not ever leave you or forsake you. He longs to give you peace, wisdom and strategy for your circumstances and to turn your circumstances into good for you (Rom 8:28) because that’s who he is and that’s what he has promised!

1 – Matthew Henry Commentary

This morning I (Lyn) read a blog entry that challenged me and got me thinking and that thinking has led to this post. Thank you Jonathan Welton for that challenge. You can read the post that challenged me here on his blog “The Rogue Theologian”  http://roguetheologian.com/2012/02/25/offended/

A few years ago I heard of a young man who many in the church considered too radical and offensive. His passion, youth and freedom along with the terms he used and the things he taught were considered by many to be almost heretical and some even made the claim that it was of the devil. But they thought and said that about Jesus too.

I have been on an interesting journey over the last few years, layers of religiousity have been peeled off and wrong thinking exposed and corrected. You might not think that is very unusual and in some ways I don’t either as God is continually causing us to be challenged in order to grow up into Him and be formed into the likeness of Jesus. But what has been interesting is who God has used to challenge me. But that is often the way isn’t it – God will use all sorts of things to challenge us, all sorts of people too.

(Passion, youth and freedom will sometimes lead us to do things that age, so-called wisdom and staleness will often not allow and unfortunately our staleness can lead us to feel threatened and challenged by someone who exhibits a life and freedom we no longer have. That is part of what I suspect happened in the case of the young man mentioned above. Add to that freedom his interpretation of scripture differing significantly from the accepted traditional view and you’ve got the potential for major upset.)

That young man was John Crowder and because I never like to take someone elses opinion as gospel without checking things out for myself I googled him and You-tubed him. Immediately I could see why people disliked him, the terminiology he used as he staggered across the platform would be enough to rattle the cages of most of us. I was no stranger however to the effects of the Holy Spirit on a human body and had done my own fair share of staggering and / or falling down and being pinned to the floor under the power of God so the drunken staggering didn’t worry me.

As I listened beyond that point in the videos what I heard began to challenge and yet confirm some things for me that God had already started to show me. (Yet at the same time it was stuff I had always known in my heart to be true but church life and traditional teaching had caused me to doubt it and eventually to bury it and accept the party line.)

I then read Johns books and I discovered a young man with a deeply questioning, searching mind who had done his homework. This man was a modern day theologian disguised with a mystics heart and passion. He had searched scripture and he had researched extensively what he was talking about. His scriptural knowledge was comprehensive and his ability to share it easy to listen to once you got past the drunkeness of the Holy Spirit. Does he have all truth – of course not;  but he has a great deal more than I had.

And then recently I got to go to a Mystical conference he did here in Auckland and there I discovered a slightly older and wiser but no less radical man. I have to say I came away from that time with him challenged more but also more convinced that he knew what he was talking about and that what he was teaching was scripturally accurate.

Johns books are just some of many that the Lord has used over the last few years to challenge and change my world. So today i wanted to say thank you to those people and honour their hungry, questioning searching hearts. I know they will probably not ever read this post but that’s not the point of writing it. There is too little honouring of each other in the church and so I decided I needed to do my part in changing that. Do I agree with everything I have read or listened to over the last couple of years – no; but that’s okay too.

So John thank you for being you, for believing and unpacking grace in a way that has challenged and changed me (it was God changing me of course but he does use people in that process). Thanks too to Benjamin Dunn, Andrew Wommack, Rob and Ryan Rufus, Cornel Marais, Paul Ellis and other grace teachers as well as all the naysayers and opponents. Thanks to those opponents who have challenged me on things I have said you have made me think through things on a deeper level and also dig deeper into scripture. Thanks also to our XP team who have been on the same journey – our discussions have been like rich satisfying food.

God has worked through each of these people to bring me into a freedom and love for God and others that continually delights me and fires the hunger for more. I honour you for the price you’ve paid and the truth you wouldn’t let go of. Thank you.