Into-Me-see and Into-me-see

One definition for intimacy is closeness. With a few changes to this word, it could be phonetically pronounced “into me see”. Nothing is held back during intimacy. To spiritually define intimacy, I hear God saying “into-Me-see.” My response is “into-me-see.” God is a relational God and He desires intimacy. He created me for intimacy with Him. I am created in His image. So, I too, want intimacy.

Intimacy is often associated with love expressed between a husband and wife. I perceive four things transpiring in physical intimacy. There is penetration and receptivity. This results in consummation with the possibility of new life. I believe physical intimacy is a shadow of the spiritual intimacy God desires to have with me. These same steps apply. John 3:6 says, “Flesh is born of flesh but spirit is born of Spirit.

Do I hear Jesus saying, “Into-Me-see”? God is an open book when it comes to revealing Himself. In fact, His open book is known as the Bible. I want to dig into His written word and let it penetrate me. May I be receptive to God’s written word (logos) as well as the Holy Spirit’s pricks (rhema). Psalm 103:2 says, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and do not forget all His kind deeds.

The consummation of Jesus inviting me to “into-Me-see” and my response of “into-me-see” is known as faith. Ephesians 3:17 says that Christ dwells in our hearts through faith. There is new life according to II Corinthians 5:17. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Although there is new life, the need for intimacy continues. God invites me to “into-Me-see”. Am I receptive in allowing God to “into-me-see”? I want to consider how well my soul (mind, emotions and will) align with God’s plan. Do God and I become one?

My Mind: What thoughts do I think?
Are they predominately positive or negative? When I allow God to “into-me-see”, then He will give me the mind of Christ according to I Corinthians 2:16.

My Emotions: What emotions do I most experience?
Do I show more love or anger? In I John 4:8, I learn that God is love. I Corinthians 13:3-7 says, “Love is patient, love is kind,etc. Ephesians 4:6 warns, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.
Do I yield to God’s peace or do I worry? Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Do I feel more joy or sorrow?
Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Do I spend more time believing or doubting?
Mark 11:23 tells me not to doubt in my heart but to believe and it will be done.

My Will: How would I describe my will?
Am I strong willed? Do I want my will or Thy will to be accomplished? In
Matthew 6:10 NKJV, Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.”

Graham Cooke says that the mind will reason us out of what God desires. He also says that our emotions are not dependable feelings. We need our will to connect with faith.

Intimacy involves a knowing. When the “into-Me-see” and the “into-me-see” are consummated, there is a deeper knowing that occurs. Intimacy penetrates into the heart and does not stay in the head. Heart knowledge (knowing Him) is born rather than just head knowledge (knowing about Him). In Philippians 3:10 Paul says, “I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.

My intimacy (into-me-see) with Him is based upon His intimacy (into-Me-see) with me. In Manifesting Your Spirit, Graham Cooke says, “God loves to be close. He loves to declare who He is for me. His intention is always about a deeper relationship. He is totally committed to upgrading our experience of Him and to bringing us into a deeper place of rest, joy and assurance in Him. He seeks to develop the capacity in us for trust and faith at a high level.”

Cooke also points out that worship leads to deeper intimacy. Intimacy gives birth to trust and confidence. David says in Psalm 57:7, “My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.

Psalm 86:9 says, “Worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth.” This allows me to experience God’s “into-Me-see.” Psalm 22:3 says that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. This gives God the opportunity to “into-me-see”.

I want to draw near to the Lord in order to see things from His perspective (into-Me-see). I also want to know what He sees in me (into-me-see).

My Reader, do you want intimacy with God? Do you want to see into who God really is? Accept His invitation to “into-Me-see”. Are you willing to allow God to see intimately into who you are? Extend an invitation to Him to “into-me-see”. Intimacy is Christ in you and you in Christ.

Shake the Salt from the Salt Shaker

You are the salt of the earth.
Matthew 5:13

If I am salt, I picture myself being composed of little seasoning granules. My body is the salt shaker holding the granules of Christ in me.

As a believer, it is my responsibility to shake and share Christ-crystals upon those around me. In other words, I am to be a witness. In Isaiah 43:10, the Lord declares, “You are My witnesses.” Before Jesus’ ascension, He told His disciples in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” He still says this to me today.

I want to think about how some of the characteristics of salt teach me to be a witness for Christ.

Before refrigeration became available, the chemical compound known as salt was often used as a preservative. If people had eaten improperly stored meat, they could have died from food poisoning. As a believer, God allows me to shake the salt of salvation upon those around me. My salt comes from God’s Word. My saltiness proclaims John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.Proverbs 14:25 says, “A truthful witness saves lives.

Salt is often added to food to enhance flavor. Some people’s taste buds are tantalized by a saltier flavor than others. Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the LORD is good.Reading God’s Word is never bland. However, sometimes one needs a little extra flavor sprinkled upon the written Word. Maybe I can add a little extra saltiness to scripture by sharing how I have applied a specific verse to a personal problem.

I can strive to add flavor by sharing God’s favor. God’s favor is His grace. According to
I Corinthians 15:10, I know that the grace of God is with me. And, I Corinthians 12:9 assures me that God’s grace is sufficient. The presence of God’s favor is part of my tasty testimony. I can assure others that they too can have God’s flavorful favor according to Ephesians 4:7, “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

After eating something extremely salty, like potato chips or peanuts, I want a drink of water. God’s purpose for me as salt is to create a thirst in others for spiritual water. In John 7:37 Jesus says, If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” I desire to shake enough salty Christ-crystals upon others to create a spiritual thirst.

I like the fact that I am salt according to Matthew 5:13. However, I do not want to be a salt shaker that never distributes the salt within me. Colossians 4:6 encourages me to be a witness by saying, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” David says in Psalm 1914,May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” May my words be palatable granules of glory to God and the flavor of favor to those around me.

My Reader, are you salt?  Think about it each time you use a salt shaker.

The Ins and Outs

Although we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ this past Sunday, today I want to revisit the tomb where Jesus’ followers expected to find His body.

stone-at-tombAnd they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

Luke 24:2-3

While visualizing this scene in my mind, I focus my attention upon the open entrance to the tomb where Jesus had been buried. Not only was the stone rolled away from the opening, but the body of Jesus was no longer inside the tomb. The power of God would not have been hindered from raising Jesus back to life by a stone. However, a sealed tomb could have been a stumbling block for His followers and me.

I have always been intrigued by the statement that the stone was rolled away to let others in rather than to let Jesus out. Without visual proof, I would have been blinded from seeing that the tomb was no longer occupied by the body of Jesus. The rolled away stone was proof to Jesus’ followers and to me that He had risen from the grave. Jesus did not need an open door to get out but His followers needed to enter through this open door to experience the empty grave. Not only did the disciples discover that Jesus’ body was no longer there, but they also saw His grave cloths folded and left in the tomb.

stoney-heartI will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26

My imaginary journey now takes me from the entrance of the tomb to the entrance of my heart. Just as the tomb was the enclosure for Jesus’ body, my heart is the enclosure of my life. Physically, my heart pumps blood throughout my body so that I can live. Spiritually, my heart is the center of my being where my spirit dwells and where Jesus lives.

When difficulties occur in my life, I can allow my heart to become hardened to things of the Spirit. Consequently, I like the promise of scripture that God will remove my heart of stone so that His Spirit can live within me. Does the stoniness of my heart need to be removed to let me out or to let Jesus in? I am concerned if I look upon this stone removal as only an opportunity for me to be let out, I will become self-centered. I prefer that the hardness of my heart be removed to allow Jesus to live within me. I want out so Jesus can come in! We learn from Paul in Ephesians 3:17 thatChrist may dwell in your hearts through faith.” We often hear the phrase “I asked Jesus into my heart” articulated to describe what happens at the time of salvation. With this in mind, we can be assured of what scripture says in Colossians 1:27, “Christ lives in you.” It is not about me, it is about the Lord!

arrow-and-heart

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.”
Galatians 2:20

As I near the end of my imaginary journey, I want to reiterate the comparisons I have made.

Last week we observed and celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus. Today, in a sense, I have shared how a person is crucified with Christ whenever one chooses to put to death the desires of the flesh.

Last Sunday at church we most likely heard the scriptural account about the stone rolled away from the enclosure where Jesus body had been buried. Today, I have pointed out that a stone may need to be rolled away from the enclosure of a human heart, the center of life.

Jesus arose from the grave and through scripture we have been allowed to hear first hand accounts of those who entered the empty tomb. Today, we have the option of having our lives emptied of ourselves so Jesus can come into our hearts. Jesus is able to reside in our hearts because He is no longer in the tomb. Because we believe in the resurrected Christ and the empty tomb, Jesus lives in us. The rolled away stone made it possible for anyone on the outside to go into the empty tomb. Today, the removal of the hardened stoniness of our hearts allows Jesus to come into our empty lives.

In the burial garden, it was Jesus out and us in! Today in our hearts, it is us out and Jesus in!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Song for the Week: My Reader, would you like to join me in singing the chorus of the hymn He Lives, I Serve a Risen Savior, by Alfred Ackley today? I find myself singing this song today and it seems appropriate for the message of this blog.

He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives,
Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

Water and a Sponge – A Pictorial Parable

sponge mf

While washing dishes with a sponge in a sink full of warm sudsy water, I began to think about the sponge I was using. Before I could wash the first dish, I had to retrieve the dry, hard sponge from the corner of the sink. Once the sponge was in the water, it became soft and pliable as it soaked up the sudsy water. Two scriptural phrases that are similar, yet different came to my mind as the sponge was in my hand. The first phrase tells me that I am “in Christ” while the second one says “Christ in you.” What is the difference between these two phrases? Is not the end result the same with Christ and me becoming one? What difference does it make if I am in Christ or Christ is in me? While pondering these questions, God gave me a pictorial parable with physical facts for the mind and spiritual facts for the soul to help answer my questions. Let me share with you what I learned. I will write the spiritual facts in regular type and the physical facts will be noted in italics within parentheses.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
II Corinthians 5:17

 The “in Christ” scripture from II Corinthians 5:17 is the first one that comes to my mind. However, I have read that “in Christ” is used by Paul in his epistles 172 times, so this is not the only “in Christ” reference in scripture. When Paul uses the phrase “in Christ,” he is referring to the relationship that occurs when I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior. At the moment of salvation, there is a blending of the life of God into my life. A oneness in will and purpose results in a vital union between Christ and me. I am now known as a Christian because my life is Christlike with Christ living in me and not just influencing me from the outside. Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Christ and sin cannot occupy the same space. Consequently, my sins were forgiven and forgotten when I accepted Christ as my savior and He now is in me.

 (A dry sponge is placed into a sink of water and it then has the position of being in the water. This is similar to my being “in Christ”.)

 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

According to Galatians 2:20, now as a believer in Christ I am not only “in Christ” but “Christ is in me” and I exemplify this when I live by faith and not by sight. Christ as the Holy Spirit now dwells in me and has the power to mold my character into the likeness of Christ. Acts 17:28 says, “for in Him (in Christ) we live and move and have our being.” However, the extent to which this happens depends upon how much I allow the “Christ in me” to have control of my life. Ephesians 5:18 concludes by saying “be filled with the Spirit.” The Greek word for filled means “to fill and disperse throughout one’s soul.” This word also implies that the filling is an ongoing process rather than a one time experience.I like the Amplified Bible translation that says, “ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit.” The ongoing experience of being filled with the Spirit infuses me with everything I need to live like Christ!

(The water is in the sponge only to the extent that the sponge soaks up the water. If the water is squeezed out of the sponge, it may be damp but it does not contain as much water as when it remained totally immersed. If the sponge is left on the edge of the sink where there is no water, it can completely dry out. In order for the sponge to be wet, it must be in water that it can absorb. This can be applied to the phrase “Christ in you”.)

Remain in me (Christ), and I (Christ) will remain in you.
John 15:4

John 15:4 is a scripture verse spoken by Jesus Christ that combines the two phrases of “in Christ” and “Christ in you.” I found a personal place “in Christ” when I accepted Jesus as my Savior and now I am in Christ who is immeasurably bigger than I am. However, at the same time, I know Christ is in me. Since Christ is so much bigger than I am, I can only have a fraction of who Christ is actually living in me. I need to be constantly filled with Christ so I can be more like Him.In order for my life to be fruitful, I need both positions of “me in Christ” as well as “Christ in me.” In John 15:5 Jesus goes on to say, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus created me for a partnership with Him just as there was a union between Jesus and His Heavenly Father. Jesus says in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” Then listen to these words of Jesus found in John 15:9-11: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” It amazes me that Christ wants to be a part of me whether it be that I am “in Christ” or “Christ is in me”.However, scripture proves this to be true!

(The sink full of water is much larger than the little sponge. When the sponge is in the sink full of water, it is comparable to being “in Christ”. The sponge can only absorb a certain amount of the water at a given time which determines how much there is of “Christ in you.” If the sponge is out of the water it will dry out. If the sponge were a person, I could say that the sponge was thirsty for water. In John 4:10, Jesus refers to Himself as being living water. This is further developed in John 7:37-40The sponge can absorb liquid water.)

 
My Reader, do you know your personal position “in Christ” and “Christ in you”? I don’t know about you, but I know there are times I feel like a dry sponge. I know I am “in Christ” but I do not always take the time for the Holy Spirit to fill me so that “Christ is in me” to the fullest extent possible. Some churches offer times of “soaking” when people can come simply to be in the presence of the Holy Spirit and be saturated through taking time to pray, read scripture and listen for the voice of God. Don’t be a dry sponge, jump into the Living Water with me! Remember, in John 13:20 Jesus says, “I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you!”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GRACE – What or Who? (Part 2)

WhatGRACE  Who?

bluebutterfly (MF)

(Part 2)

Last week I blogged about “Grace – Who or What?”  This week I will continue with  “Grace – What or Who?”.  M Reader, if you did not read last week’s post or would like to review what was shared, feel free to check out last week’s post before you continue reading here.

Gbluebutterfly (MF)race What?
Last week I developed my understanding of the definition of grace given by Don Meares.  Let me restate this definition for us this week to refresh our memories. 

Grace is the
empowering presence of God enabling you to be what God has
created you to be and to do what God has called you to do.”

Another explanation of grace that I like is defined by John Bevere in A Heart Ablaze.  He says (p.97),

Grace is His (God’s) bestowed ability to do what His truth demands.
  It empowers us to obey God’s words.” 

 What is God’s bestowed ability?  It is God’s empowering presence!  What does God’s truth demand?  It demands me to be who God created me to be and to do what He has called me to do!  These two definitions fit together perfectly.  I realize that God never asks me to do anything He does not equip me to do.  That is the fulfillment of grace.

 The other important fact about grace that I want to remember from last week is that grace is a gift.  I learned this in Ephesians 2:8:

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith –
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

 Ephesians 4:7NKJV tells me another fact about the gift of grace.  This verse states:

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

God’s gift of grace to me will differ from the gift of grace He gives to you, my Reader.  God gives each of us just the right amount of His power through His presence needed for each unique experience of life you or I will ever encounter.  In Matthew 28:20, Jesus says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  So, if Jesus is always with me, His presence will always be there to empower me to do what His truth demands.  When my desires are God’s desires, I cannot fail.  Wow!  That gives me confidence! However, my confidence must be in God and not in myself.  I like II Corinthians 12:9 that says,

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

As I continue to search the scriptures for references to grace, I find a warning about how I am to use grace in II Corinthians 6:1,

And working together with Him, we also urge you
not to receive the grace of God in vain.” 

Referring back to A Heart Ablaze, John Bevere further explains that to receive something in vain means not to use something to its full potential. (p. 97)  I certainly do not want to misuse or not use what God has placed within me!  I feel an accountability for God’s graciousness to me.  I not only want to utilize the gift of grace that He has given to me, but I also want to thank Him for this abounding gift that He has bestowed upon me!

bluebutterfly (MF)Grace – Who?
I began this two-part blog about the word spelled “g-r-a-c-e” by referring to two of our granddaughters, Grace Elizabeth and Anna Grace, who claim Grace as part of their names.  I would like to now suggest that, in a spiritual sense, each of us can proclaim Grace as  a part of our name because the Lord offers this gift to everyone. God is no respecter of persons; what He does for one of His children He will for all of us who call upon His name.  My Reader, Grace can be your name. Ask for it, receive it, and thank God for it!

candy 2 mfThe Sweetness of Grace
Again this week I make a comparison between grace and candy.  The giver of a gift of candy may choose to give a different piece of candy to different people.  It does not mean the giver likes one recipient better than another but chooses instead to make each gift similar yet unique according the to need of each individual. The giver of the gift may realize that one person needs more energy so gives that person a bigger piece of candy. The giver may know that another person likes one kind of candy better and would enjoy it more so this influences the kind of gift given.  The giver desires that the gift will not be received in vain, or without any benefit.  In turn, the recipient must remember to be thankful for whatever candy is received because it is a gift.  In relation to grace, have I not previously stressed that grace is a gift to be received?  Have I not commented about how God gives grace uniquely to each person according to the need?  Have I not shown that God bestows the ability to a person to do what His truth, or His Word, demands? Whether it be grace or candy, the giver of the gift should be shown appreciation and the gift should be used properly by the receiver.

My Reader, I close my blog today with the same words to you that John closed the last book of the Bible in Revelation 22:21,

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”

Joyfully,golden apple #2(MF)
Cheryl    

Challenge for this week: Sing the song Amazing Grace and think about the meaning of the words.