Spiritually-Minded

Romans 8:6   (KJV)  6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

As God’s children, we think godly thoughts. We enjoy life and peace now, and we’re looking forward to life and peace with our Father for eternity. We understand we still have choices. We believers don’t lose our free will even after surrendering the throne of Competitionour lives to our Lord Jesus. We choose the focus of our thoughts. We’re also very much aware of the huge implications and repercussions of our choices. Our heavenly Father doesn’t spoil His children.

I pray that this won’t be an issue of intrigue; my prayer rather is that it will be a thought to at least ponder on. Jesus has already borne the penalty of our sins on the cross. In fact He Who knew no sin was made sin for us. That Jesus has taken the death penalty for us is an absolute truth. What is this death then that results from being carnally minded? It’s easy to choose one and reject the other. In doing so, others explain away whatever they prefer to reject.

Forbid the thought that they would question the efficacy of the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice, so the trend is to deal with the death that results from carnal-mindedness. We’ve heard others interpret and teach that as death of a physical kind. And there’s no doubt, some sinful or even wrong choices can reap physical death as a consequence. But although there’s truth in it, it also misses the fact that physical death also comes even to the spiritually-minded people.

On the other hand, if the consequence of our godly thinking is life of the physical kind, what’s the necessity since we’re already physically alive? Unless it simply means continuation of our physical existence in our present condition, the other and I believe the more logical conclusion is that it also refers to life of spiritual kind. This becomes obvious when looking at the context of the passage. The entire chapter deals very much with our spirits. Without disrespect or preference of any denominational distinctive, we can safely conclude: 1. It’s absolutely and undeniably true that Jesus paid the sin-penalty of death; 2. It is also absolutely true that to be carnally minded—having our sinful nature control our mind—is or leads to death.

Whatever each of us believe; we may not all agree on one line of understanding, but the non-negotiable mandate or exhortation we can all agree and focus on is this: shun sinful nature that produces sinful thoughts, and yield to the precious Holy Spirit Who produces good, spiritual, right, and godly thoughts.

Reign

Romans 5.17 - Reign

Romans 5:17   (KJV)   17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

We look at Adam with mercy despite the fact that he ushered sin and death into the world by one wrong and sinful choice that brought devastating consequences.  I personally admit, I most probably would not have done any better.  This is a truth I can’t disregard, nor escape, although escaping it is farthest from my mind.  I humbly admit my obvious imperfections.  With that, I humbly and even more greatly praise our God for the abundance of His grace.

As in many occasions, a quick clarification is necessary.  Praising the immeasurable greatness of His grace isn’t an endorsement of irresponsible and sinful Christian living.  “Where sin abounds, grace abounds” is a true statement we as believers are immensely grateful for, but we don’t ever take those words as a rallying cheer for believers to increase sinning.  That’s a very awful, unscriptural, and ungodly understanding of a very sacred truth.

God has so generously and freely gifted us with His abundant grace and righteousness. These same wonderful gifts empower us to “reign in life.”  We live triumphantly over sin and death—all courtesy of our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It’s our heavenly Father’s pleasure to see us living victoriously, to see us living freely from the shackles of sin, to see us living above its rule and authority. He is our victorious Father; He lives in us through His Spirit, He has never lost once to the power of sin and Satan, and He never will; He wants us to enjoy the same.  When we glean the victories His weapons of righteousness open up for us, it brings great joy to His heart, and we live well before others, blessing God and His creation all at the same time.

Redeemed from Death

Psalm 49:15   (KJV)   15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.

Everyone needs redemption—physically and spiritually, except the saints who will be alive when our Lord Jesus returns. There are at least two major pernicious human conditions that Jesus alone can remedy: sin and death; one is a result of the other. God alone can Psalm 49.15 - Redeemed from Deathforgive and erase our sins. He already paid for them through the death of the Lord Jesus on the cross. In and through Him, although we die, we will live again,

We’re not the ones without hope and assurance of forgiveness and salvation. Although it’s true that there will still be times when we sin, even as believers, even as saints, we’ve already placed the hope for out eternal salvation in Him. He’s perfect and will forever be perfect. He loves us so much that He gave us His Son Jesus Who willingly let go of His glorious existence to live a perfect life and die a sacrificial death—for us. We continue to depend on Him and Him alone.

We have peace because we know our Lord won’t fail. When the time comes, He will call us from the grave, and up from there we will rise to die no more. That’s a reality based on His dependability. Our total and absolute redemption through our bodily resurrection is more valuable than anything this world offers. Others pursue riches, fame, relationships, and even the fountain of youth. They even succeed in some. But everything here is fleeting—like a flower: no matter how pretty, they eventually wilt away.

We don’t envy them; those things may be important from the perspective of a temporal life, but we possess the greatest riches in eternity, or shall we say, the true riches.

Unshaken

Psalm 16:8   (KJV)   8 I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

The Lord is in control of all things; that’s absolutely true; He isn’t at our beck and call. We don’t dictate to Him how to conduct Himself. We don’t tell Him where He should position Himself. To set the Lord always before us isn’t to give Him a mandate; it’s to psalm-16-8-unshakenconscientiously think about the continuing abiding presence of the Lord. He’s always before us—guiding: He’s always beside us—protecting; He’s with us; He’s in us.

In God, we’re always protected. It’s not a question of whether or not He can; it’s a given—He’s able. It’s Him we go to. He powerfully protects; He sufficiently provides. I admire godly people; I follow their examples as they follow Jesus; they know what they’re doing; they’re wise; I love watching them as they go about their Christian journey—often quietly—in fear of the Lord, without fear or men, as the Lord prospers the works of their hands and blesses their every step. They walk without paralyzing trepidation.

We’re not moved; we’re steadfast. Life-threatening dangers obviously abound; persecutions against believers are real—they’re increasing. The voices of those who dislike us are bold and loud. They call us intolerant and hateful as they cowardly attack us from behind—no longer just with words but physically—openly. But with all these, we rest in the fact that God allows only what we can bear. Death itself isn’t defeat for us. How can those who hate us truly hurt us? Often, God surprises us by raising people of influence, authority, and power who fights for us.

We won’t be coaxed into violence; we won’t give in to their call to unrighteousness—we won’t be intimidated into it. God alone is our choice. He is the right choice. I pray for people to realize this so they too can enjoy His precious presence—a presence that brings protection, provision, and peace.

Life and Legacy

Genesis 49:33   (KJV)   33 And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.

Before he passed away, Jacob pronounced blessings upon his sons and commanded them some. He’s one of the most named patriarchs—often mentioned in identifying our Lord. We hear it often written or said: “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”  With this genesis-49-33-life-and-legacynobility, he’s still just a man; with his humanity, he was godly, and that matters. He acknowledged God, and passed that knowledge on to his children.

We all share in this appointment with death, at different times, and different ways—except those who will be alive when the Lord Jesus returns. We’re all given this wonderful treasure of time. We have great opportunities to fill it up with good and beautiful things, great experiences and memories. The part we’re entrusted to occupy is very different from each other. Some find theirs more difficult than others. Not all are born with a silver spoon in their mouths.

With all the differences and similarities, we are all blessed with opportunities to be a blessing—to invest in other people’s lives, dreams, and destinies. We don’t always receive all we pray for; we don’t always get the life we aim for, but we all enjoy God’s undeserved and priceless blessings—the most precious of which is He Himself. He is the greatest “Possession” we ought to not miss and the greatest “Legacy” to leave to our children and others. We obviously don’t own the most luxurious palaces in the world—we don’t need to, but we, as treasures of clay, are possessors of the greatest Gift all of us have or ought to have. He’s the Gift that keeps on giving. With the golden but limited time and space we and our children have, we fill these sacred endowments with the most and best: Him. We continue learning, living, and teaching. And the Gift goes on.

Intentional “Defeat”

Luke 13:33   (KJV)   33 Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem

Our Lord Jesus is intentional and purposeful in everything He does. He knew why He came. He came to seek and to save the lost, to give His life as a ransom for us. He kept going from place to place, preaching the Good News, healing the sick, delivering the oppressed. His luke-13-33-intentional-defeatplans are perfect. Even His death came at a perfect time, at a perfect place—Jerusalem. He’s never out of control. What was seemingly a very pitiful experience turned out to be surprisingly powerful.

God knows us; He knows our frame: our strength, our weaknesses; He knows our needs. He adjusts according to what’s necessary. In His plans, in God’s Kingdom, we never underestimate what may appear very small, and weak. Our patriarch Jacob, in wrestling with an interestingly “random” being who appeared out of nowhere got the blessing he demanded: “And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed” (Genesis 32:28).

Many believe the Jacob encounter to be one of our Lord Jesus’ theophanies. God had a purpose; He made the necessary “accommodations” so as to allow Jacob to win. There, the “deceiver, heel-grabber, or supplanter” was turned to one “who prevails with God,” or “God fights,” or “God prevails.” There was something way much bigger than the “small” man Jacob. And the man Jacob wrestled with and beat; don’t be deceived, a simple touch on Jacob’s hips wrenched it out of its socket. Jacob knew this: “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved (Genesis 32:30).

That’s how it is in the Kingdom, it’s not always as it appears. Jesus likened it to a mustard seed that becomes a huge tree; a yeast that permeates every part of the dough; a seed that continues to grow even while the farmer sleeps. Jesus resolutely faithfully ministered, and resolutely walked towards His destiny, a seeming defeat that we now know was a public display of His triumph over His enemies.

Lambs Among Wolves

 Luke 10:3   (KJV)   3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

We are to go share and spread the Good News of salvation to the lost, and to make disciples of all those who believe. Each has a calling; each has a race to run; each has responsibility. But we all are sent to the same hostile world. We are sent out as lambs luke-10-3-lambs-among-wolvesamong wolves. There’s no mandate to change our nature; we’re not called to be like wolves. Our difference will be obvious; it’s natural for wolves to try to hunt, attack, and devour us, but we are to stay our course.

Hostility is real; persecution is real, but God’s presence is more real. He promises to deliver us all the time. He may deliver us from them; He may deliver us through them, but He will deliver us. Others may question this. Martyrs abound. Where is God’s deliverance in this? These are legitimate questions, especially when asked from a perspective void of the eternal. Praise God for His light that shines in our understanding. We see better; we see clearer; we see more.

We’re aware of the supernatural and the eternal. This helps navigate through the world of the wolves better. We reach out to them without becoming like them. Many times they mistreat us. I remember a Middle Eastern sister in the Lord who was asked by some fanatical religious zealots to vacate their house at 12 midnight that same day, or they will be killed. They left everything they worked so hard for. That in itself was difficult, but even their journey of leaving their home became a dangerous escape attempt. They had to take unfamiliar paths because death also waited along the main thoroughfares. She shook as she shared the experience.

Some of us aren’t spared. That doesn’t spell failure on the part of God. He never fails. Death for us in the grand scheme of things isn’t tragic; it isn’t the end; it’s a passageway ushering us into an indescribable, incomparable, most blissful experience ever—right in the presence of our Father—He Who loves us most, He who we love most. That’s why although we fully appreciate God’s earthly blessings; we’re not attached to them; we understand that our real citizenship is dual: temporal and eternal, and our eternal home far outweighs what we now have.

So we go—lambs among wolves, lovingly, carefully, fearlessly, faithfully, empowered by God, changing this world, while longingly waiting for the next.