Enclosed and Surrounded!

Have you ever thought about what Jesus meant when He said, “I am in the Father,” “you are in Me,” and “I am in you”? Jesus used those phrases several times when He told His disciples that He would be going away and gave them some instructions about living without Him personally walking and talking with them.

“When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” John 14:20-21

I pondered what Jesus meant by the word “in.” What does that look like? What does that mean? And so, yes, I actually looked up the meaning of “in”.

“Expressing the situation of something that is or appears to be enclosed or surrounded by something else.”
So, Jesus is enclosed and surrounded by God.
And so I am enclosed and surrounded by Jesus. 
And I enclose and surround the Holy Spirit.
And yes, I drew a picture of it!
When I see it and consider the truth of what it means; that Jesus is “in” God, and I am “in” Jesus, and His Spirit dwells “in” me, I realize what an amazing position I have been placed into!
“For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3
My position is one of protection, privilege, and power! I’m not just left on my own to live out the Christian life by myself.
The disciples didn’t understand what Jesus meant when He said He was going back to the Father. For three years they followed Jesus, learned from Him, and were encouraged by Him. Now, the thought of Him leaving brought fears and doubts that they could make it on their own. Jesus knew the trials, the difficulties, and the persecution they would face, and He knew exactly what they needed to know to prepare, encourage and strengthen them for the days, months, and years ahead.
While walking and talking with His disciples Jesus set the example of what it looked like to be “in” the Father. Jesus only did and said what His Father told Him to. He listened to and obeyed everything the Father said, even when His will didn’t want to.
Jesus was fully God, yet fully man. Something I can’t really wrap my brain around, but I believe the fully man part was the part that was “in” the Father.
Jesus demonstrated to us what a life lived “in” looked like.
Jesus’ love for His Father and joy “in” the presence  of His Father, allowed God’s power and love to flow through Him to meet the physical and spiritual needs of everyone He encountered.
Jesus’ passion “in” the Father fueled His righteous anger against the hypocritical attitudes of the Pharisees.
Jesus’ trust “in” His Father empowered Him to completely obey His Father’s will.
Jesus didn’t live life on his own.
And He knew the disciples couldn’t live life on their own.
Jesus entrusted those twelve men with His example and with His words of instruction, expecting them to believe Him, to trust Him, and to obey Him so that the Gospel would be lived and spread throughout the world for generations. Jesus knew it would require they lived “in” Him, filled with the Holy Spirit, to carry forth their mission.
We can’t live life on our own either!
Jesus’ voice speaks to us today, just as it did to His disciples. May we not take our position “in” Jesus for granted, but earnestly seek out what that means in our every day lives.
What would your days look like if you woke up each morning, looked in the mirror, and saw yourself fully enclosed “in” the sovereignty and love of God, completely surrounded “in” the peace of Jesus our Savior, and saw “in” you all the fruit of the Holy Spirit?
It would change your thoughts completely!
It would change your behavior completely!
You would see the attributes of God that would bring awe and appreciation of who God is and you couldn’t help but start your day by praising  and thanking Him! You would see God’s power and love and they would dispel all your fears and insecurities! You would feel safe and protected by Him. You would have a confidence in your very core that you are a child of God and that no matter what happens that day, God will work it out for your good!
You would see the peace of Jesus and be compelled to lay down all your cares and worries at His feet. You would no longer see your sin and shame, but you would hear His voice pronounce, “It is finished!” and you would see yourself as He sees you, dressed in His robe of righteousness. And standing there in front of the mirror wearing His robe of righteousness, you would realize you have been given the gift of this day to take up your cross and follow Him, and to make a difference to those around you.
You would see you really are a temple of God, because right there living inside you is the Holy Spirit! You would see His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control all radiating inside you; ready and waiting to be poured out on those around you that need to know how amazing God is!
Oh to be enclosed “in” the love of the Father, surrounded “in” the peace of Jesus, and filled with the joy of the Spirit!
May this be the truth that sets you free from the fears, doubts, and challenges of living the Christian life on your own, and may you discover the protection, the privilege, and the power that is found “in” Jesus so that you do the works of God here on earth!

A living, breathing miracle!

I know a man who needed for someone to die that he might live. He was diagnosed with a lung disorder that threatened his life. His only hope was a lung transplant.

I saw him several days ago and was amazed at the miracle God did  through the knowledge of medical science, and the skilled hands of doctors.

He is a living, breathing miracle!

It caused me to consider…

I too had the diagnosis of death upon me. My life was threatened with the guilt of sin. My only hope was salvation through the forgiveness of sin.

“For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22

I too needed Someone to die that I might live.

This is exactly what Jesus did on the cross, He died, that I might live!

“But now, once for all time, he (Jesus) has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.” Hebrews 9:26

The love of God poured out on the cross as Jesus’ blood was shed for the forgiveness of my sin is truly amazing! The power of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead so that I too have the promise of everlasting life is absolutely miraculous!

I am a living, breathing miracle…forgiven, and alive for eternity!

I wonder if the man with the new lungs wakes up each day with the thought that he is alive today because someone died? I wonder if he embraces each day as a gift to be thankful for; to be treasured and lived fully?

But then I consider…

Do I wake up each day aware that I am truly alive because Jesus died for me? Am I thankful for each day as a gift from God to be treasured and lived fully for Him?

Each new day is filled with possibilities, potential, and promises! The God who spoke light into darkness, and order into chaos, continues to speak creative ideas, unimaginable desires, and impossible dreams, into the hearts and minds of all  His living, breathing miracles!

He is a God of miracles and He intends to use us to display His supernatural power here on earth!

The amazing love, intense sacrifice, and supernatural power demonstrated in sending His Son to live, die, and rise again must not be taken for granted.

I’m sure the man who went through the pain of lung disease, the agony of hoping for lungs to become available in time, then finally undergoing successful surgery, will never forget his experience.

It was truly life changing! 

The miraculous experience of the new life we have been given through faith in Jesus was never intended to be taken for granted.

We are living, breathing miracles of God, filled with His Holy Spirit, set apart for His glory!

The power and love of God is within us so that we live differently than the world around us. We aren’t like those of the world and we aren’t to blend in with them.

Living, breathing miracles are intended to live miraculous lives!

We are meant to live beyond ourselves, supernaturally, so that those around us who are in pain from the disease of sin, who are hoping for an answer, who need surgery, will finally realize there is a cure, and His name is Jesus!

“These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.” Mark 16:17-18

You are a miracle…live the life!

 

 

Life, “Death,” New Life

There is a cycle of life, “death,” and new life God intends for your good!

The other day I walked past my flower garden and saw three monarch butterflies enjoying the nectar from the marigolds and mums. I marveled at their beauty and took tons of pictures! I love the life cycle butterflies go through. There is so much to learn and ponder from it. From a tiny egg, to a caterpillar, to a cocoon, to a butterfly!

The life, “death,” and new life the butterfly experiences can be applied to so many situations you face in life as well.

In writing my story I’ve felt like a caterpillar creeping along. It has been a struggle to make it a priority in my life. I realize the struggle is in my thoughts, the battle between believing that I really have something important to write and believing it’s a waste of time. My doubt gives reason to fill my time with other things that seem to be more important. Other things that have quicker results.

Those butterflies were a reminder that God uses a similar cycle in my life to accomplish His will.

Life, “Death,” New Life!

And that cycle reminds me of Jonah.

When God called him to go and announce His judgement on the city of Nineveh, he didn’t want to do what God asked him to and boarded a ship sailing in the opposite direction.

Jonah thought he could out run God.

Jonah thought he could escape God’s calling.

But, the relentless love of God chased after Jonah!

God caused a powerful storm that threatened to break the ship apart and all the sailors prayed to their gods for help and lightened the ship by throwing cargo into the sea.

Meanwhile, Jonah slept in the hold of the ship! 

The captain couldn’t believe Jonah was sleeping through all the commotion and told him to pray to his god for help.

Jonah’s disobedience to God didn’t only affect him, it affected those who were near him.

Once lots were drawn and Jonah was found out the sailors didn’t know what to do with him. They were in danger of losing their lives all because Jonah was running from God.

“What should we do with you to stop this storm?”

Jonah realized he needed to die so they would live.

He told them to throw him overboard and the storm would calm.

The sailors didn’t want to throw him to his death. They tried rowing harder, they prayed to the Lord, Jonah’s God. They pleaded that they not die for Jonah’s sins, but also, that God wouldn’t hold them responsible for his death.

What the enemy means for harm, God intends for good!

And so, they picked Jonah up and threw him over board and at once the storm stopped. They immediately believed in God, offered Him sacrifices, and promised to serve Him.

If the story ended there Jonah’s life had purpose. He gave testimony that his God was the True God, maker of land and sea. He told his story that he was running from God and the storm was because of his disobedience. And Jonah prophesied that by throwing him into the sea, the storm would stop.

And because of Jonah’s message all the sailors put their faith in the One True God!

The very message God sent him to tell Nineveh; God’s judgement was coming to destroy them, came upon Jonah.

God is a just God.

Disobedience must be dealt with.

But the story doesn’t end there…

Jonah was sinking under the raging waves to certain death on the ocean floor. It was there in the midst of his trouble he remembered God and he cried out for help.

God is a gracious God who is attentive to all who cry out to him!

God arranged for a fish to swallow Jonah!

Realizing he was rescued, at least for the time being, he continued his prayer to God. There in the belly of the fish Jonah acknowledged it was God who saved him and he offered up praise and thanksgiving to God. Then he promised to fulfill his vows, which I believe was his promise to go to Nineveh as God had called him to.

Jonah was in the belly of a fish for three days and three nights.

God ordered the fish to spit Jonah out of its mouth, onto dry land.

Life, “Death,” New Life!

When God told Jonah the second time to take His message to Nineveh, Jonah obeyed! And when Jonah walked the streets of Nineveh, shouting of the judgement of God, the people, from the least to the greatest, repented and turned from their evil ways.

“When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.” Jonah 3:10

The evil deeds being done in the city of Nineveh deserved the punishment of God’s judgement.

The disobedience of Jonah deserved God’s judgement.

Jonah was “dead” in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights, and was brought back to “life” as the fish spit him out on dry land. What looked like God’s judgement for disobedience upon Jonah worked together for the good as a sign to the people of Nineveh that he was sent by God with a message from God.

What happened to him (Jonah) was a sign to the people of Nineveh that God had sent him. What happens to the Son of Man will be a sign to these people that he was sent by God.” Luke 11:30

Jesus used Jonah’s story to validate His purpose here on earth. Jesus was sent to earth by God with a message from God. “Repeat for the kingdom of God is near!” But where Jonah’s “death” and “life” saved the people of Nineveh from God’s judgement while here on earth, the death and life of Jesus saved all the people of the world from God’s judgement while here on earth, and for all eternity!

I love the stories God has recorded in His word of those who didn’t get it right, but through their “mistakes” I learn of God’s grace and I understand that God truly does intend to work everything together for the good. This story of Jonah reminds me there is a much bigger picture to my life than what I realize. Though I may not have been running from God’s calling, I have put off and avoided writing my story. I have “run the other way” doing things I’ve wanted to do.

There is a certain dying to self that is required in fulfilling God’s calling!

I will only experience the joy of new life when I am willing to die to the life I have now.

My story is a story of this cycle; life, “death,” new life, and I realize that even the writing of it requires I stop running from the calling of God, choose to die to self, and surrender to the new life He has given me.

May my story be God’s message to bring truth, conviction, and new life to those who will read it.