God’s Plans—Who Me? What? Why?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

Rain Princess by By Leonid Afremov (Etsy.com)

Rain Princess by By Leonid Afremov (Etsy.com)

God—master artist, architect, builder, designer—knows exactly where and how to apply His creative techniques on us, His canvas. I like Chip Ingram’s analogy (Your Divine Design, Living on the Edge): “Believers [in Christ] are in process . . . process of an extreme makeover.”

In order to understand God’s plan/purpose in giving believers spiritual gifts, we need to first understand the context.

Who? What?

Ephesians 2:1-3 explains who we used to be:

  • As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts [prisoners of the world system].  Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

 Ephesians 2:4-6 explains who we are now in Christ:

  • But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.

Why an extreme makeover?

Ephesians 2:7-10 explains God’s purpose:

  • . . . in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
  • For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  (vs. 10)

Is your life different now because of Jesus? How?

What work is God doing in you?

More to come: “Where and how does God do extreme makeovers?”

The Holy Spirit—A Purposeful Person

I love the changes fall brings. Farmers’ Markets boast fresh produce. Traces of winter wheat peek their green blades through fertile fields. Bright pumpkins adorn porches. Sweet plum jam, pear cobbler, and wafts of cinnamon spiced cider linger in the kitchen. The extra hour of sleep is also nice. 🙂

K.D. Manes

(K.D. Manes)

But perhaps fall’s crowning splendor is the glowing foliage. It seems an oxymoron that these color-dyed leaves peak in beauty while simultaneously dying (fading away).

Likewise, when the believer dies by saying “no” to sin and instead follows God’s leading, the Holy Spirit’s beauty is released in that person’s life.

The Holy Spirit—A Unique Person

Like the wind, the Holy Spirit—the third Person of the Trinity—is invisible and intangible. Spirit in the Hebrew and Greek means “wind, breath.” He is the very wind, breath of God who exerts incredible power (Ephesians 3:16-20). But, unlike the wind, He is more than a powerful force just to be used. He is the invisible presence of the perfect loving God—whom we can know and relate to—residing in the believer. (Source: The Promise and Scripture)

The Holy Spirit’s Attributes

  • Intellect: He knows things with His mind (Romans 8:27; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11)
  • Emotions: He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30); we are not to sin against Him (Matthew 12:31; Acts 5:3)
  • Will: He acts with purpose (1 Corinthians 12:11)

The Holy Spirit’s Primary Goal

The Holy Spirit isn’t here to bring attention to Himself, or to ourselves, but to glorify Christ (John 14:16). He desires to glorify God through our words and actions.

The Holy Spirit’s Method  

One role of the Spirit is to progressively conform the believer into Christ’s character (sanctification) from the inside-out. He’s in the business of disciplining, refining, and removing sin’s impurities. He prepares us for service here and for living eternally with Him. How does He do this? Tony Evans writes: “God will deal with us in a way that cracks open the hard shell of our sin-scarred soul to release our spirits to live under the control of His Holy Spirit.”
Ouch! But it’s for our own good. And, we have access to . . .

The Holy Spirit’s Limitless Reservoir

Trials are exhausting, but we can be encouraged because He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). But if we want the Spirit’s help maneuvering through life’s obstacle courses, we need to prioritize glorifying Christ since this is the Spirit’s main objective. The Spirit’s presence in the believer is ongoing. He is the source of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:23). He is in the business of change—changing our sin hardened hearts into an oasis of abundant life and freedom in Christ. Verses 23b-24 state: “Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  – vs. 25

Is anything holding you back from experiencing the Holy Spirit’s release in your life?

Related articles

Me, A Saint?

When I think of “saints,” the following thoughts surface: 1) the song, When the Saints Go Marching In; 2) Saint Patrick’s Day; 3) Mother Teresa; 4) martyrs who have died for their faith, (and last, but not least); 5) I know I’m saved and am trying to become more Christ-like, but I am not a saint.

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I admit, the fact that God calls His children “saints” causes me to squirm. I’m well aware of my shortcomings. Maybe that’s why God prods me to explore this topic more in depth.

“Saints” appear 95 times in the Bible. The Greek word for saints is hagios, which signifies being separated from sin and consecrated to God. It is used of people and things concerning their devotion to God―divine demands upon the conduct of believers who are called hagioi, “saints,” “sanctified,” or “holy” ones.

This sainthood is not by achievement or attainment, but is rather a state into which God in grace calls people (2 Timothy 1:9); yet believers are called to confess sin, become cleansed, and forsake sin. We are admonished to live a holy life so we might experience fellowship with our holy God (1 Peter 1:15; 2 Peter 3:11).

When a person is spiritually reborn into God’s family he/she has the greatest experience of love and the greatest inheritance. Those who become Christians are purposed to be His holy children―saints―that are set apart for His service.

God views us as righteous only through our union and identification with His Son, Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:30).

God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”  – 2 Corinthians 5:21

Thankfully, holiness is God’s master intrinsic work … phew!

Jesus is the fulfillment and culmination of God’s revelation through the centuries. When we know Him, we have all we need to be saved from our sin and to have a perfect relationship with God (Hebrews 1:1-2). If we are in Christ, God looks upon us as saints … I know, mind boggling, but exciting just the same! So, the question arises, are we saints in Christ? Or, are we trying to be saints by our own efforts? When I’ve strived apart from Christ, I’ve always wound up frustrated. How about you?

Below is Chris Tomlin’s song, Jesus Messiah. The corresponding video is graphic, but a good reminder of the extent Jesus suffered that we might have life.

God Bless,

K. D.

*This article is also posted in the Gospel Blog by FEBC at http://bit.ly/19BNQF0

Training or Trying?

Congratulations to the WA 1B State Champs―again! Their win marks five consecutive state championships. Although they possess much athletic talent, anyone who observes this team knows their success is crowned through their commitment to train.

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DISCIPLINE … TIME … SACRIFICE.

A discipline is something you do even when you don’t feel like it. These girls played 80-plus games each summer. Their time spent practicing has resulted in smooth, automatic teamwork during pressured game situations. They are a lot of fun to watch.

I don’t know of an easy road to success. Consistent, hard work of correct training builds a strong framework in any arena, including spiritual growth. The apostle Paul admonishes us to train ourselves to be godly.

Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”   – 1Timothy 4:7-8

How do we grow spiritually and pursue God’s holiness? Although God is never limited, He uses the following three things:

Circumstances – We will have trials. But …

In all things, God works for the good of those who love Him … to be conformed to the image of His Son.” – Romans 8:28-29

Relationships – (Hebrews 10:24-25)

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”   –  Proverbs 27:17

Spiritual Disciplines – Our growth isn’t automatic (Philippians 2:12). Our growth is:

  • intentional and incremental
  • personal and seasonal
  • relational and practical

What are the training habits of spiritual growth?

  •  PRAYER – Mark 1:35
  •   SCRIPTURE – Matthew 4:4
  •   INTENTIONAL RELATIONSHIPS – Mark 3:14
  •   FAITH – Matthew 9:29

God calls us to surrender to Him in order that we might become the person He desires. I love that, although we are told to “take up our cross and follow Christ” (Mark 8:34), His yoke is easy and His burden light (Matthew 11:30). And the blessings of being in Christ far outweigh being “out of Christ.”

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:5

Meek simply means to be under God’s control.

The following video shows a horse trainer taming a wild mustang, a great illustration of God’s gentleness and patience as He works with us and within us.

Have a wonderful week!

KD

*This post article is also posted in the Gospel Blog by FEBC at http://bit.ly/111JDXr.

Who Am I?

What was I writing? … oh yeah, forgetfulness.

The other night I raked through my bathroom drawer looking for my headband, (to keep my hair back when washing my face.) Where in the world is it? Then I glanced in the mirror. Oh brother, when did I slip that on? I really don’t have memory loss―or do I? I admit, however, to occasional absentmindedness.

Ah, forgetfulness…

Remember the movie, Home Alone?

c56a17f1fd3a81af4cfb8077a6d1ea6dThankfully, I haven’t forgotten my kids on a family vacation. However, I can relate to frenzied Mom moments. Busyness, multitasking, and/or juggling hats only intensifies the craziness. That’s when I ask … who am I?

I know better than to let my feelings dictate my identity. For they come and go like the winter fog. I don’t want to settle for people’s opinions that change like the wind. And I refuse to listen to Satan’s accusations.

So, who am I in Christ?

In Christ …

I am chosen (Romans 8:30; Ephesians 1:4-6; 1 Peter 2:9):

  • Hand-picked by God
  • Adopted as His child
  • Called and purposed for salvation, even though I don’t deserve it

I am called to a holy life (2 Timothy 1:9):

  • Because of God’s purpose and grace before the world began

God’s call on the believer’s life results in abundant blessing. I’m all for God’s blessings, aren’t you? Here are some more benefits for the believer in Christ:

  • I am blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3).
  • I am holy, blameless, and covered in God’s love (Eph. 1:4).
  • I am forgiven (Eph. 1:7).560ebc9fada38635237e35db3f9b9761
  • I am marked as belonging to God by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13).
  • I have been raised up to sit with Christ in glory (Eph. 2:6).
  • I am God’s work of art (Eph. 2:10) … wow!

Paul prayed that God would enlighten the eyes of (our) hearts so (we) may know the hope to which He has called (us), the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people.”     -Ephesians 1:18

If you―like me―forget who you are, look in the mirror and remember WHOSE YOU ARE. Here’s another great song by Casting Crowns, Who Am I? You can view it at this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7gfTYyLEHg.

Remember–you are blessed,

K. D.