Grace with Attitude – Gratitude

I recently came across this clip that gives a great example of the practical application of grace in our daily lives.  I trust that you’ll gain much from it and be able to apply its simple formula in your interactions with others.

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The Book – My Grace to You

grace2u-epub-coverRecently I have assembled all the teachings that I’ve produced here and elsewhere, and put them in one book entitles appropriately, My Grace to You.  This book creates a handy reference to the Greek concept of charis which I’ve uncovered in its use in the Bible.  Here is the book description:

Most people study grace from the position of the fall of man. This makes grace an escape mechanism to get you into Heaven. But what if that wasn’t the original intent of grace for you?

In My Grace to You, author mike hillebrecht takes a fresh look at grace from the Kingdom of God viewpoint before the foundation of the world. In this insightful reading you will discover why understanding how the New Testament writers use of grace in their daily social structures gave them an ability to activate the truths and power of the Kingdom of God quickly within their communities.

Drawing from a variety of sources, mike takes you on a well rounded tour of the meaning of grace that will open up possibilities which you may never knew existed. You can be certain that this isn’t the grace your grandma knew – and it sure is a whole lot more exciting too!

Here is one endorsement that it has already received.

This book, “My Grace to You” is a must read for anyone that is serious about their walk with God.  As an Ambassador of a nation, and my extensive travels around the world, I have not found a more important book to aid the Kingdom of God then this one. – Ambassador Clyde Rivers, Republic of Burundi

The book is available on Amazon located here.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

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What is Grace? Revisited

In this post today I wanted to provide you with an update about what is grace.  An update which will be administrated by the use of podcasting.  I trust that it will answer a few more questions while providing the stimulus to create several more.  Enjoy and I’ll be back soon to provide you with more.

Charis and shalom to you

 

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Grace Unplugged

The Source of PowerA number of years ago the music industry became fascinated with the aspect of “unplugged” performances.  It became a new medium of entertainment to well established musicians as they switched from the “electrical” format to an acoustical format.  The natural, simplistic format that acoustic sound provided to standard pieces these artists had previously performed lent a whole new level of respect to the artistic quality to many of the performers.  Today we are going to look at what happened when grace went acoustical and the sight and sound that it produced.

Grace Plugged In

The first two chapters of Genesis depict the fullest manifestation of grace in operation that we have record of prior to Jesus.  In these chapters we catch a glimpse of what the Father’s original intent was and is for man and how we are to operate through the grace that comes from the kingdom.  In the previous post I bought out that the first grace gift from God to man was in the form of woman.  In that post I made the following statement:

An important aspect of grace that many overlook has to do with honor.  This honor is evident in the kingdom by the presence of the throne of grace.  As grace operated in the creation event, the highest honor is given to each object that reflects the fullness of the elements it came from.  Man received the highest honor being the fullness of not only the dust of the earth but the image of God also.  In this same manner, the woman receives the highest honor being made from man.  This is not an honor of authority over man but honor as a crown upon man.

At the end of six days of grace’s creative expression, man and woman stood as its apex.  Their first day functioning in the grace that God had deposited in the earth was to be spent in the rest of the Father.  Their purpose upon this earth began in a rest ordained by the Father.  In that day of rest they experienced the fullness of the creator in ways that we can only imagine as they explored the realm that had been established for them.  Fully man, the image and likeness of the living God, eternal, and empowered with the grace and honor that befits a royal line, Adam and the woman stand to many as the figurehead of what mankind lost rather than what we are supposed to be like prior to the fall.

What happened to the Power?

Power LostThe third chapter of Genesis provides us with the events that caused what everyone refers to as “the fall of man.”  I have come to recognize these events are what caused the “disconnect” from the grace of the kingdom of God which affected his ability to access the kingdom of God.

When I began this whole study of grace I was focused entirely upon what have we missed in the definition of grace and how it is supposed to function in our live beyond the standard “saved by grace” mentality.  Over the weeks and months I have found there is also a facet that needs to be explored in order to fully explain what is missing.  That facet is what the affect of the loss of grace was.  Sure, we have all some understanding of it, but according to its truest meaning, we have no clue what it means to be out of grace or even recognize when we are.  In other words, if you know what God knows about being disconnected from grace, or disgrace, then you’ll be able to know what the enemy will use to keep you out of the kingdom of God.

The First Fall from Grace

This study would not be complete if I didn’t mention the enemy of God.  satan, or lucifer, was an anointed cherub created by God and responsible for leading the angelic realm in the worship of God.  Ezekiel 28:12-16 and Isaiah 14:12-14 tell of what led to his fall from the kingdom.  These verses do not provide us with a timeframe of when the fall occurred in relation to the creation of man.  But what they do provide is a description of what he looked like before the fall and how his pride for the position that he held led to his expulsion.  I want to draw your attention to a part of the description to out of Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 28:13-14 

(13)  Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou was created.

(14)  Thou art the anointed cherub that covers; and I have set thee so: thou was upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.

In this passage is a reference to him being in the Garden of Eden.  Also I want you to see the description of the covering that clothed him in his position as the anointed cherub.  Lastly, notice in verse 14 that he was a cherub that “covers”.  This was his purpose, to cover God, or protect and defend the King of Grace.  Whenever God moved this anointed cherub would proceed before Him with the angelic host of worshipers in a posture of protection.  The passage from Isaiah informs us that his pride to be exalted above God was the factor that expelled him from his vaulted position.  Additionally, the sixteenth verse from the Ezekiel passage informs us that the unjust, violent manner that he conducted his business matters also led to his expulsion.  This backdrop of the enemy gives us a look at the tactics he will employ in the garden to wrestle the earth from out of the hands of man.

Paradise Lost

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” 

(Genesis 3:1)

This first verse in chapter three is very distinct in a number of ways.  We see here that the enemy comes as a serpent in the Garden but that his appearance is radically different from what is recorded in Ezekiel.  Obviously a snake is a radical departure from a cherub, but what is significant is the term “cunning” used in this passage.  While it does mean “crafty and cunning” its primary meaning in Hebrew is “to be or make bare.”  In this description we see that the enemy has lost all of his covering and is bare before the woman.

Another distinction to be made here is that the snake speaks.  This is not something that many believe could have happened simply because it doesn’t happen today.  I want you to understand this one thing:  The kingdom of God is not like anything that we’ve ever experienced: Donkeys talk, ax heads float, and virgins give birth are just a few of the “normal” occurrences we discount as “unbelievable” a matter which will be addressed in a moment.

Consider this:  The person that the enemy speaks to in this drama is the crown jewel of God’s creation, a similar position that he once occupied in the kingdom.  The woman, as I stated above, held the highest honorable position in the creation, a position that if compromised would mean the subjection of all things below it.  Tarnish the crown and it affects the entire kingdom.  Many miss this very fine point by thinking that the enemy’s attack is on the “weaker” vessel.  It had nothing to do with strength but everything to do with a position lost wanting to be regained.  The enemy has only been concerned with one thing – being worshipped – nothing else matters to him.  He will use whatever means necessary to make this occur.

So we now have in place an understanding of the condition of the enemy and what he intends to accomplish in this dialogue.  He understands that there is no authority for him to do anything on the earth since God has placed it in the hands of man.  He has to get the man to willfully turn over his realm if he is to have any power.  This can only be done by disconnecting the link that man has with the eternal kingdom; a disconnect that has been clearly specified by God himself in commissioning man’s work in the garden, “. . . for in the day that you eat of it (tree of the knowledge of good and evil) you shall surely die.”

Genesis 3:2-5 

(2)  And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;

(3)  but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”

(4)  Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.

(5)  For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

If you’ve been around any teaching of these events in the past there is always mention of what the woman added to the condition that God set before man about the fruit of the tree.  The Hebrew scholars state that the additional information the woman provided is due to the fact that the enemy had pushed the woman next to the tree and by forcing her to touch it he was able to demonstrate that death wouldn’t occur, making the woman to doubt if what God had said was true.

Belief to Doubt – a road most traveled

The number one tool that the enemy uses against everyone on the face of this earth is the tool of doubt.  He knows that if the seed of doubt can be planted it will grow on its own fed entirely on circumstances.  I mentioned a moment ago about the unique characteristics of the Kingdom of God and you were given a number of instances from the operations of the kingdom that you either believe or doubt.  There is no middle ground, either yes or no.  The enemy operates more in the “middle ground” than at either of the other two poles.  He knows God’s truth and if you align with it, you are aligning with God, something that he hates.  He knows that he cannot get you to shift from knowing a truth to denying it in one move.  So he strategically uses doubt to subtly move you from belief to unbelief.

Let me give you an example: The word of God states that we are healed by the stripes that Jesus bore on his back.  This is a kingdom truth.  This is how God sees you today, right now.  If you have never been sick a day in your life, you align with this truth.  But most of us have at one time or another been sick.  These circumstances never negate the truth of the kingdom yet the enemy uses them to build a case of doubt about the truth in God’s word.  Every sickness, disease or ailment acts as another seed of doubt.  The enemy uses this principle for every truth and promise God has given to us.  He knows that time is on his side simply because it reinforces the doubt when things don’t happen when we expect them to happen.

In these few verses we see this very principle in action.  The serpent has planted the thought that runs contrary to the truth that God has spoken.  This was accomplished in verse one with the statement “Has God indeed said,” which begins the cycle of you having to prove the truth.  Truth doesn’t need to be proven for it to be truth, but our insecurities in truly knowing and living a truth causes us to over-extend ourselves and try to prove a truth we haven’t fully assimilated. This is what is occurring in verses 2 and 3 as the woman conveys what she knows about the restrictions that have been placed upon the trees in the garden.

For doubt to function it has to create a thought in you that is different from the one thought that you have been fixated on.  The thought has to be equal to or greater in value to what you presently obtain from your original thought.  The enemy knows that thoughts of equal value are the hardest to establish a basis of doubt with.  So the ploy that is often used is to accentuate a difference – even if it has no bearing upon the matter at hand – and then places the difference between the similarities and establishes a greater reward available in the second thought due to its difference.   This takes place in verses 4 and 5.

So can you spot the similarities and the one difference?  The similarity is that Adam and the woman are made in the likeness and image of God so they are eternal beings incapable of dying also.  The difference is in the eyes.  The eyes are known as “the windows to the soul” and this is what the enemy will use to thwart any belief about the kingdom you possess.  But how is this possible you might ask?  Give me a brief moment and I’ll show you.

The 11th chapter of the book of Hebrews is known at the “Hall of Faith.”  Recorded in this chapter are all the great and mighty people of the bible that had faith, or belief, in God.  A foundational principle in the chapter is that it is impossible to please God without faith (belief).  In 2 Corinthians chapter 5 Paul tells us that, “we live by faith and not by sight.”  Put another way, we live by what we believe in not by what our eyes see around us.  Link this to the prior verse I mentioned and it is expanded like this: God is happy with us when we live by what we believe in rather than what our eyes see about us.

What the enemy does in these verses in Genesis is cause the woman to doubt what she knows, or believes, about God’s words.  Knowing that her belief is what is pleasing to God, the enemy calls into question the woman’s ability to see correctly since any reliance on her natural sight to bolster her belief will work to his advantage of strengthen her doubt.  In order for her to rely more on her sight than her belief he creates a deficiency in her god-like character and links it to the use of her eyes.

The Eyes Have It.

Genesis 3:6  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

How many times have you seen something and said to yourself, “I’ve got to have that,” only to regret it latter?  This is the working of the enemy on your soul.  The woman, the crown of God’s creation, caught between belief and doubt, battles an attack on her soul.  The word “pleasant” and “desired” are two separate Hebrew words that both have the meaning of lusting, or covet for, the very actions that expelled the enemy from the kingdom of heaven.  Coveting any item is a direct attack on grace because its intent is not based on giving but on hoarding.  Hoarding often operates when there is a perceived sense of lack or where an item of value is limited.  In this verse we see both of these in operation: A single tree produces a fruit reported to increase wisdom.

Our greatest attacks from the enemy are those that pit our soul against the kingdom simply by allowing our eyes to create a picture contrary to the kingdom and then let our thoughts associate an intense desire to posses it.

What did Adam see?

In the latter portion of this verse we witness the progression of the woman’s actions: Seeing and coveting the fruit, she takes and eats it and then gave it to her husband and he ate it.  Many people just pass over this aspect of the narrative without considering what truly is happening here, but if you want to understand how grace operates even at this junction, there are few things that you had better recognize and they surround the actions of Adam.

Recall that God told Adam that in the day that he eats the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil he will surely die (Genesis 2:17).  We know that even though he ate it, he didn’t “die” that day, but 930 years later.  Some would take this and say that God is a liar, but while Adam didn’t die in body on that day, he did die in spirit.  It was their spirits that linked the man and woman to the kingdom of grace.  But it was the woman that ate the fruit first.  In that moment before Adam ate what did he see or witness in his wife?  Obviously, she did not die in body at that moment either, but something happened that he hadn’t expected.

Many bible scholars believe that Adam and the woman were clothed in the same glory that clouds God himself.  A vibrant, living light that also was characteristic of the glory that Moses experienced on Mount Sinai and subsequently wore upon him when he came down to the children of Israel.  Following this thought consider that when the woman ate of the fruit, this glory-clothing departed from her and for the first time she as “dark” in appearance to Adam.  She literally was turned off to Adam!  That also meant that for the first time, Adam no longer had communion with the woman’s spirit since it died when she ate the fruit.  He looks upon a being that resembles more the creatures of the earth rather than the pinnacle of God’s kingdom.

In that brief moment, Adam has got to be asking himself what is happening, nothing looks familiar except for one sign: A hand extended with giving.  Despite the loss of her connection to the kingdom of grace, the woman still responds with the characteristic that are the hallmark of the kingdom – the giving hand.  Adam still connected to the kingdom understood this gesture from a deep personal level.  At that moment Adam had a choice to make: Accept the gift or turn it away and with it the very essence that makes him whole.  Made in the image and likeness of God, Adam made the decision that a king of grace always makes: Adam took on sin for his bride.

When you make a claim like that it shocks people.  They have never looked at this matter from that perspective.  Certainly a king of grace would take on the sins of the world thousands of years later by claiming in a garden that he would follow the will of the Father but this isn’t what happened in this garden, even if Jesus is called the “last Adam” by Paul!  Right?

The Natural Effect

So both the woman and Adam have eaten the fruit that they were forbidden to partake of.  The result is immediate death to their spirits which means a disconnect from the realm of grace they were created from.  Do we have any idea what that disconnect feels like at that moment?  Let me give you two last verses that properly depict what that effect looks and feels like.

Genesis 2:25  And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. 

Genesis 3:7  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

In these two verses the word “naked” is different in the Hebrew.  They both have the same premise, bare or nude, but how you arrived in that condition is what makes the difference and shows us what the effect of the fall had upon the grace that they once knew.  The first word in verse 2:25 depicts the nakedness that defines a new born child.  The second word defines the nakedness that is associated with a whore, a person who sells themselves to receive a living wage.  You will find in the Hebrew language a number of words that have the term “disgrace, reprove or reproach” as one of their meanings.  For each of these words the root meaning is the same: to be made naked, just like Genesis 3:7.  Obviously, there is a great sense of shame that comes with the baggage of this form of nakedness.

What we need to be aware of is this: Whenever we feel shame, no matter what the situation, we have experienced the effect of being disconnected from grace.  Proverbs tells us that love covers a multitude of sins.  This is speaking directly to the nature of the kingdom.  Anyone who operates from the kingdom is expected to “cover” another from any potential shame the enemy brings.  Realize that Jesus endured the greatest shame known to mankind by being hung on a cross, naked, with the entire weight of the sins of man placed upon him for each and every one of us.  This was His grace gift to us so that we would be reconnected to the kingdom of grace not having to experience the weapon of shame that the enemy uses so effectively.

Finally, what is interesting is that their response to having their eyes opened and seeing their nakedness is to immediately work at obtaining a “living” covering to replace what had departed from them.  This tells me that the glory which clothed them was a living material that they could sense about them.  Because they sewed the fig leaves together it tells me that the glory clothing was tailored to fit the person exactly.  We, in like manner, will be fitted with the clothing that the Father has perfected for our eternal purpose.

So in this teaching we have seen how the enemy, a cherub created to protect God in worship, who was expelled from the kingdom grace due to his pride and covetness, devised a plan to regain the position that he sought after and used the highest expression of God’s creation, the woman, to usurp the kingdom from the man.  We have seen how the enemy uses doubt to works with circumstances in order to undermine your faith or belief.  Also in this we have revealed (no pun intended) what the disconnect from grace looks like and the emotional condition of shame that results from it.

When I pick this up again we will look more into the affects upon the woman in the fall and how God redeems her actions with the greatest curse of all.

Grace and Peace to You

Mike

 

 

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The Gift of Grace

Today I’m going to begin a deep perspective of the creation and how grace operated in that series of events.  This section will provide to us a basis of understanding the original intent of God and grace’s role in that intent.  We will have the opportunity to see man and woman in a completely different light also and how the enemy’s attack was purposeful and its affect even today.

Good Gifts

In the posting on the Goodness of Grace I elaborated on the creation events in regards to the nature of “good” and its association with pleasure.  I want at this time to bring a further point out about that term as it applies to our topic at hand.  There are a couple of passages I want to bring to your attention regarding “goodness.”

Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 

(Romans 2:4)

God’s goodness leads us to repentance.  I’m not going to get all religious here but do you understand by what it means to “repent”?  Religion has built up an edifice around the term that keeps people from its simple truth and unfortunately keeps a number of people out of the kingdom.  Obviously, the term means to show sorrow for sins committed, but there is something more in the word that should be revealed.  The suffix “re” has the meaning of returning back to the original condition or state of being.  The word “pent” has a number of meanings in its usage, one being the high place as in the term “penthouse”, and another being the Greek term that represents the numeric value of five, a number that bible scholars all agree represents “grace.”  So repenting means more than acting in a sorrowful state about a sin: It holds in it the ability to return us back to our original high position of grace.  Yet notice in this verse that only one thing leads us to this act of repenting – the goodness of God.

Now I want you to see something about this from the life of Moses.  In Exodus 33 God has brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and Moses has ascended up Mount Sinai for the second time.  In this chapter Moses encounters something very unique about the nature of God as he confirms that God will be them as they proceed into the promised land.

Exodus 33:12-20 

(12)  Then Moses said to the LORD, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’

(13)  Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”

(14)  And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

(15)  Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.

(16)  For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”

(17)  So the LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”

(18)  And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”

(19)  Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

(20)  But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”

I have stated before that the meaning of the Hebrew term for grace is different than the Greek term for grace.  It cannot be ignored but needs to be incorporated into the full meaning of grace (which will be developed in a later post).  In this passage we see that Moses found grace in the sight of God and he asks that God would show him the ways of God so that Moses would know God.  What occurs next is a fulfillment of Moses’ request.  Moses asks to see the glory of God.  He wants to see all of what defines the kingdom of God.  Recall that Moses when he was in Egypt as member of Pharaoh’s household was often in the display of a man’s kingdom glory.  His request here in verse 18 was a natural response to see the abundance of a kingdom in order to assurance the greatness of a king.

Don’t assume for a moment here that Moses is judging the kingdom of God.  When kings come in union with one another it is common for each to display the abundance that each realm contains because out of this abundance gifts will be presented one to another as display of the “grace” of the kingdom.  Moses’ request here is really a request to understand the protocol of the kingdom of God so that he may be able to properly represent the children of Israel in the Kingdom of God.  Yet notice what God’s response to Moses is: “I will make all My goodness pass before you.” This statement defines the ways of God.  His goodness, not His Glory, is how the kingdom is recognized and operates.  It is not defined by all of its wealth of material items but by the nature of the King Himself.

What is important here is that God clearly demonstrates that a kingdom display of any material objects does not make any reference to how those objects were obtained.  Things can be given, bought, or stolen yet once obtained no one truly knows how they arrived, let alone how they have been retained.  If we merely look upon things and say this is truly a king of many resources, we fail to know the true nature of the king and ultimately the kingdom itself.  By clearly distinguishing that His kingdom comes out of His goodness, God has declared that whatever “things” we see of Him, they all come from His nature of goodness.  So as the book of James tells us, “every good and perfect gift comes from the Father” not as indication of His wealth but out of His goodness towards us, a goodness which leads us back to the high place of grace.

Man’s Purpose in Grace

Now that you better understand the nature of “good” as you look at the creation event and the seven references to the term “good” you should be able to recognize that each event demonstrated not the capabilities of God merely to create but represented His nature in why and how He created.  In every occurrence when you read “It was good” you are reliving exactly what Moses experienced on the Mount as the goodness of God passed before him.  Understanding goodness also provides you with the ability to recognize when it is lacking.  Did you know the creation event provides an example of this?

Genesis 2:4-8 

(4)  This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

(5)  before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground;

(6)  but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.

(7)  And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

(8)  The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.

Chapter 1 of Genesis describes the creation events from day one to six culminating with the proclamation that all that God had created was “very good.”  The second chapter starts with God setting apart and blessing the seventh day as a day of rest for man.  We pick up in verse 4 an expansion of the narrative of the sixth day, operating fully in the nature of grace, to see how things progressed towards that ultimate proclamation.  Verse 5 tells us that the plants were waiting for the creation of man in order for them to begin to grow since the ground hadn’t been tilled yet even though it was being watered from the mist that was coming up out of the earth.  In the seventh verse we discover that God formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.

The term “formed” in verse 7 describes a process similar to the manipulations that a potter performs when drawing out the desired form of a piece of clay through the use of pressure.  Considering that the man was created from the dust of the earth this is an appropriate description of how God formed man.  This is also the only indication in the creation that God used His hands to create an object.  All other elements appear to be created from God’s word or command.  This distinction can’t be stressed enough since God declared that man was to be like Him in image and likeness.  All other items were dictated as to their purpose and existence while man’s formation indicates the free will purpose that marks man’s existence.

Genesis 2:15-20 

(15)  Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

(16)  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;

(17)  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

(18)  And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

(19)  Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.

(20)  So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

We see in verse 8 that after man became a living being, God placed him in a garden east of where he was formed.  As ideal as the Garden of Eden is man was not created in it, he shares none of the properties of that environment.  In verse 15 we see that the man is contracted to be there for God’s purpose of tending and keeping it.  If the man had been originally created in the garden, he would have immediate dominion over that area and God would not be able to displace him from his “domain” except through battle.  By placing the man in the garden, God is indicating that the tending and keeping of the garden placed an expectation towards a moment of completion or subjection for dominion to be conferred.  Any failure in achieving this end would result in the delay of dominion.  Every kingdom must be fought for to be awarded and retained.  This is what Jesus meant when He said that the kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent take it by force.

So what does it mean that man was placed in the garden to “tend and keep it?”  Each of these words has separate and very distinct meaning as to the purpose that the man was to fulfill.  The Hebraic meaning of the word recorded as tend carries the meaning of to till the ground as a husbandman or laborer.  Much of society has lost its understanding of tilling as we have moved away from an agricultural social order towards a specialized, industrial social order.  We miss the nature of tilling to turn over and expose hidden matter; of the preparation of the soil to receive the seed; of the focus of keeping weeds from overtaking the crop; and of feeding the soil the nutrients required to promote the growth of the seed.  This same word also is used to describe a servant and worshiper.  So we see here that man’s job to till the garden was to uncover hidden things while preparing a place for the seed to be implanted and nourished acted as a service of worship towards God.

The Hebrew word for “keep” in this passage means to be a watchman, or a guard that watches with a very narrow, intent gaze.  It implies that the person is responsible for overseeing the life of the garden by restraining any invading force.  So we see that there were two functions that man was to perform while employed in the garden: Worshipful service to the seed of God’s creative word and protector of the environment that the seed was to produce its fruit in.  In verses 16 and 17 we see the contract restriction to man’s employment with God in the garden. It clearly defines that all of the work being performed in the garden had a limit upon man’s ability to enjoy all the rewards from those efforts.

God’s Gift to Man

But as great as the garden is please understand this was not a gift to man.  It was man’s work, duty, or service.  Today we often make the mistake of thanking God for the gift of our work.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t thank God for work, but that our employment whatever it may be is not a gift from the grace realm.  Yes, I realize that some of you may disagree with me about this but consider this.  Proverbs 10:22 tells us that the blessing of the Lord, while making you rich, does not add sorrow to it.  A job, while it can make you rich, it also will add sorrow.  If every good and perfect gift comes from the Father, contained in that gift is the blessing of the Father.  That blessing activates the abundant nature of grace in the gift making it a life-giving property to all that come in contact with it.  If you claim that God blessed you with a job as a gift of His grace, I simply have to ask you if that gift is giving life to all that come in contact with it and will that principle continue to operate if you’re not involved in it.  Employment is our worship to God where we demonstrate the nature of His kingdom to those that do not know Him.

So returning to our man in the garden verse 18 must stand out in this study, as well as any other study of God’s handiwork.  In this verse we hear God declare that something isn’t good, meaning it lacks the pleasure associated with the kingdom of grace.  Notice that God is declaring this about man, not about God’s kingdom.  Man was created to be in the likeness and image of God and yet God declares that man being alone is not good, or doesn’t align with the principle of a kingdom grace.  Throughout the entire creation event we have seen that “goodness” was God’s final declaration, yet man’s existence is deemed “not good” if he is alone.  Another way of saying this is the pleasure of grace is not complete in the life of man when there is no one to give to.

God’s decree of “not good” also contains within it the answer that will correct the matter and bring it to completion. God will make a helper comparable to the man.  But look what follows.  Adam names the animals.  No helper, just name the animals.  What gives here?  This is one of the examples of the ways of God.

As I stated a moment ago, God declared that it was not good for man to be alone.  Man did not make that observation, God did.  Man didn’t yet know that there was something amiss.  The Hebrew teachers say that the reason that God had Adam name the animals first was so that he could see for himself that there was something different between the pairings of the animals with the commission that God had placed upon them to be fruitful and multiply and himself with the same commission.  Only after he had completed this task could he fully recognize and understand that he did not have a partner to fulfill his commission.  We often are called to perform a task for God’s kingdom not recognizing that what we discover in our performance is the missing element in us fulfilling our commission.

Genesis 2:21-23 

(21)  And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.

(22)  Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

(23)  And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”

In the creation event we see the workings of abounding grace in that every thing that is made comes from the environment that it resides and abounds in: Stars made from the elements of space; birds from the elements of the sky; fish from the elements of the water; and beasts from the elements of the earth.  Man too is made from the earth, yet different from the animals since God formed him and breathed life into his body.  His body abounds upon the earth while his spirit abounds in the eternal realm.  But now we see the last creation act of God making a woman out of an element of man.  That element, the rib, tells us that the woman is to abound at the side of man, not at his foot, his head or his backside.  .

An important aspect of grace that many overlook has to do with honor.  This honor is evident in the kingdom by the presence of the throne of grace.  As grace operated in the creation event, the highest honor is given to each object that reflects the fullness of the elements it came from.  Man received the highest honor being the fullness of not only the dust of the earth but the image of God also.  In this same manner, the woman receives the highest honor being made from man.  This is not an honor of authority over man but honor as a crown upon man.

In verse 22 we find something unique about this creative act.  Here we find that God “made” the woman.  This word is entirely different from the word that described how God made man.  This word conveys the picture of God going away to a place to design and fashion the woman with serious intent.  Upon the completion of this creative act, we are told that God “brought” her to the man.  The word “brought” portrays the act of giving or setting down.  In this verse we witness the goodness and grace of the King giving a “crown” as a “gift” to the man. Said another way, the woman is the first grace-gift to man.  Yes, despite what you may feel or have heard in the past, a woman is a gift from God to man purposely designed and fashioned to work alongside and provide honor to man.

I feel it is best to stop here.  That last statement needs to be fully ingested before you go forward, since what occurs next is entirely dependent upon your understanding this truth.

Grace and Peace to You

Mike

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The Believing of Grace

Throughout this series I have been bring a new focus upon what grace truly looks like.  One of the 5 Grace Keys that I spoke about previously is that grace is about reciprocal giving.  We all know that the transaction of giving involves two or more parties and there is an object that transfers from party to the other party (parties) in the transaction.  One has an object that provides a benefit to the other upon its release.  Pretty standard stuff that you’re not going to get all worked up about, right?  What I mean by worked up is that you’re not the least bit excited right now; you’re not clinging on with anticipation; you’re not feeling adrenaline surge through your body with a heightened sense of awareness; you know, “worked up.”  Why not?

As you read this or any of the posts on this site, do you recognize the exchange?  Is there something you receive in these writings that you’re not receiving elsewhere? Is it possible that we have become so accustomed to “taking” that we have lost our ability to recognize the act of giving?

Before you go and think that I’m looking for affirmation here (I’m not) you should consider that our social structure today has conditioned us to “take.” We live in a limited-minded society so you had better take what is given to you because you don’t know when, or even if, there will be any more.  It is feast or famine out there so you better get while the getting is good!  Get what you can, can what you get and then sit on the can.  Do unto others before they do it to you.  Get the point?  We are accustomed to taking.

We are accustomed to taking for one reason: we believe and we trust in scarcity.  We even have a faith for scarcity.

Have you ever been to a buffet restaurant?  There is placed before you generous amounts and varieties of food.  If you watch the people that dine in these places you’ll see the affect of scarcity thinking.  Surrounded by unlimited resources they pile their plates high before “it’s all gone.”  Furthermore, they’ll watch their favorite dish from their table just so that they can make sure that they get another serving before it runs out.  It’s a buffet – food doesn’t run out!

The Kingdom of God is like a buffet restaurant – abounding grace and provision.  We can’t grasp that.  Scarcity has mothered us and we can’t pull ourselves off of the teat because we believe we’ll starve. It’s the only thing keeping us going right now.  One of the names of God is El Shaddai, the many breasted one.  This name speaks of abundant provision beyond compare.  But we have limited our belief to “there will always be feast and famine.”  Never do we consider the perspective of the kingdom – feast.  Consider this verse:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

Do you see any scarcity in this verse?  It is there as a condition of one thing: believing.  The question to answer is do you believe because of the scarcity in your life or because of the abundance in the kingdom?  How you believe determines how you interact with all of the facets of grace.  Did you believe because of the lack in perishing or in the abundance of a life everlasting?  Before you answer that question realize that you can’t answer it correctly simply because neither is what you are to believe in.  Yet these are what so many place their focus upon – the affect of grace.

In the kingdom of grace the one thing that you focus on, or believe on, is the gift – not the affect that happens from receiving the gift.  The gift creates the affects, life to those that trust it, death to those that reject it.  To operate in the kingdom of grace you have to believe in the gift in order to give it to others out of a reciprocal nature.  You have to believe that the gift will address every issue where scarcity exists.  You have to believe the gift doesn’t need to be added to or subtracted from in order to fulfill its purpose.  You have to believe that the gift answers all hopes and is the evidence to all its affects.

Do you believe in the transaction of grace to this degree?  If you find it hard to do so, then you may want to take the admonishment of Jesus come to the kingdom as a little child.  Children don’t believe from a place of scarcity which means they don’t focus on affects.  Have you ever watched a small child open gifts either at a birthday or Christmas time?  The focus of every child during these events is on the gift – singular – while every other gift waits to be unwrapped.  When one gift is unwrapped the child will naturally play with that gift ignoring the other gifts around them for a time.

That is how we are to operate with the gift from the kingdom that we have received.  There is an abundance of other gifts for us to receive but our focus is to be pin-pointed on just this one gift – Jesus.  From Him all other gifts come, each abounding with the joyous, eternal life-giving, reciprocal nature of grace.

So with this understanding of the role of believing in grace, you are now ready for to see where the gift of grace first came upon this earth to man.  It all began . . .

Grace and Peace to You

Mike

 

 

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Grace is a verb – so act that way.

It is amazing how God will readjust your perceptions about a topic when you least expect it.  This past week has been one of those times for me and He has shown me a number of things about grace that I’m still trying to put into words for you.  Fortunately, this post is able to convey a very simple thought with vast implications for our future understanding.

I was reading recently a newsletter I receive from Michael Michalko who is known worldwide as an expert in creative thinking.  Michael made the following comment:

Few of us understand that creativity is not a noun. It is a verb. Verbs are thinking, creating, sculpting, painting, making, dancing, singing, acting, searching, seizing, preparing, growing, reaping, seeing, knowing. Now when you take a verb that is alive and vibrant and turn it into a dead noun or principle that reeks of rules: something living dies.

This statement jarred me!  The Holy Spirit then said to me, “Grace is a verb.”

Noun or Verb Tense

In school each of us is taught the proper designation for word as they appear in their many representations.  Nouns we were told are a person, place or thing, while verbs are action words.  We also are instructed in the use of modifiers like pronouns and adverbs which further describe the noun or verb it is associated with.  Much of the church has modified their salvation from a verb to a noun and then tries to live from the “place” rather than from the “movement” of grace.

Across the globe there are museums that house creative works by artists gifted with talents from a generous Father.  These works are monuments to a movement of creativity, nouns from a verb.  Israel in the wilderness often had to confront this very process.  They followed God’s movement until it stopped.  They would build the temple (noun) where it stopped and worship God in that place until they saw Him move (verb) again.  When David desired to build a house for God he modified the verb of God’s presence towards a noun of God’s habitation – he halted the kingdom of grace to a place rather than a lifestyle.  God still expects us to live “by grace” not “in grace.”

How many of you are waiting for the next “move” of God or seeking for a past monument to a movement?  Notice in that one question the verb/noun confusion that many have adopted.  “To wait” is not a verb but a noun – you are a statue watching life pass you by until God decides to move!  God is always moving which mean grace is always moving too.  “To seek” is what a verb represents – action.  You move, overturn things, look around, constantly in motion trying to perceive movement.  But seeking for something that looks like a past movement of God is not perceiving, it is recognizing.  (I realize that you teachers out there will have much concern about what I just claimed about “waiting” not being a verb, but in my mind statues don’t move.  So just go along with the metaphor.)

John tells us that we do not know what Jesus will look like when he returns but that we will be like him.  We will not recognize him.  John also tells us that the angels circle the throne of grace saying “Holy, Holy, Holy,” as new revelation of God unfolds before them.  If the angels can’t stop to “recognize” God why do we believe that we can?

As a wrap up, let me ask you these question: Are you saved by grace?  If so, is grace a noun or verb to you?  Do you know if your salvation is a noun or a verb? How would you shift from a noun to a verb?

Grace and Peace to You

Mike

 

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The Word of Grace III

We have been looking into the verse that began this study of grace from the book of Ephesians.

Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear.  Ephesians 4:29

In the first post we looked at what it means to let no corrupt speech out of your mouth.  The second post dealt with the concept of words that are building blocks.  In both of these messages the life giving nature of grace is the basis of their purpose.  In this post we look at the giving aspect.

A Gift of Grace from . . .

I am often asked how someone gives grace to another.  This is a tricky subject to address simply because it requires the person understanding that there are two levels of grace in operation at all times: The grace of this world and the grace of the Kingdom of God.  To ask how you give grace to someone requires you to know what the differences are between the two and then determine which you wish to deposit into someone.  In a previous post I stated:

Understand that when man fell in the garden he fell from the eternal kingdom of grace into a worldly time-based grace that he would control.  The grace of this world operates in the fashion of “I’ll give to you as long as it suits my needs and satisfaction,” or “I’ll be joyful as long as you don’t do something that offends me.”  Jesus came to give us the kingdom back and the grace that operates from it.  Hence, grace of this world for the true grace of the kingdom.  John even indicates the difference at the beginning of the verse with, “. . . his fullness have all we received,” speaking of the abundance that is produced from the kingdom of grace which is lacking in a worldly time-based system.

I recognize that most people asking the question don’t think that they are going to be giving grace that would be associated with the world system, yet when you explain the difference to them they suddenly become aware that the grace that they have grown up around has been conditional – a fact which violates the grace of the kingdom of God.  I know this from this passage out of Luke.

Luke 6:27-36 

(27)  “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
(28)  bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.
(29)  To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.
(30)  Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.
(31)  And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
(32)  “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
(33)  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
(34)  And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.
(35)  But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.
(36)  Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

When I spoke to you about the reciprocal nature of grace I brought verse 31 to you as an example of this nature knowing that I had pulled it out of the entire context of its passage.  My point in that article was to demonstrate what the Greeks understood about charis, or what we call grace.  Their understanding is the basis for our understanding of the grace from the kingdom yet on a higher level.  This entire passage from Luke demonstrates the giving nature of grace from the Kingdom perspective.  Grace given in the world system from the perspective of the Kingdom of God is characterized in verse 36 as being merciful.

I stated in Grace and Mercy – A Primer that mercy is the element from the kingdom that moves you back into its environ of grace.  Most people don’t operate from a position of kingdom grace so when you’re trying to impart this type of grace to them it just “flies over their head.”  In this passage from Luke, Jesus is telling us that not everyone is going to appreciate your “grace” effort.  He wants you to respond to these people just as your Father would – expecting nothing in return –full of mercy so that they may be able to move eventually into that realm of kingdom grace.  When you expect nothing in return you have just removed the conditional nature of the world’s grace out from underneath them.  This move will make an impact in their life – guaranteed.  The reciprocal nature of grace also insures that you will experience a similar impact, but on a different level.  If you doubt me on this matter, do the following:  The next time that you go to purchase a coffee or hamburger, lay down an additional $10.00 and tell the clerk that it is to pay for whoever is behind you for whatever they order until it runs out.  Then leave without saying anything to the person(s) behind you.  I assure you that what you will experience at that moment will be beyond anything that this world has given you.

The Gift from the Kingdom

Let no rotten, time-based, foul or abusive word proceed out of your mouth but that which is intrinsically good and beneficial, suitable, as adorning a building with a new addition, properly designed with respect to the occupant’s purpose and mission, in order that it may impart from the wealth of the abundance that you possess the joyously reciprocal gift of grace, thereby being and receiving encouragement to those that hear them. Ephesians 4:29 (amplified by mike)

My amplified version of our opening passage brings to light the nature of grace as it applies to another that is also operating from the kingdom perspective.  Notice that the gift of grace that you are imparting comes from the abundant quantity that has been deposited in you from the grace that you have received from the Father.  The joyous nature of the Father’s gift in you will produce encouragement in the person who hears the words that you speak.  The question that seems to be floating around is: What are the words that you speak to produce this result?  That is a future post!

Grace and Peace to You

Mike

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Living in Grace

Is it possible to live in the environment of grace like that environment which exists in heaven?  Yes.  Yet many think that it can’t happen until they arrive in heaven.  The question to ask about such a mind-set is why would Jesus direct the disciples to pray, “. . .your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” or “. . . seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness . . .” if it wasn’t possible?

The Kingdom of Grace is expected to return back to this earth – even the creation knows that it’s coming, which is why it is groaning for the manifestation of the sons of God.  To be given the title of a Son of God means that you have lived in the environment that surrounds God: breathed in its richness; seen its vastness; and experienced it overwhelming peace and joy.  As a Son you are able to bring that environment into every area of your life simply because you live there.  It is a vital part of your DNA.

I have spoken about the beginnings previously. Today I’m going to start unveiling the picture of the Kingdom of Grace and bringing it into our daily lives.  Many of us have heard or read about the Genesis account of creation and are familiar with the events leading up to the fall of man.  Too often we view these first couple of chapters through a lens that is filtered by the effects of the sin that man committed.  When we do this we miss out on the expressions and even the very environment that flows from grace.

The 5 Grace Keys

As I begin this multi-part lesson, I’m going to bring previous lessons together and use the following keys of grace as building blocks to expose how grace is all around us already.

  1. Grace is eternal.
  2. Grace is reciprocal giving.
  3. Grace produces pleasure.
  4. Grace abounds.
  5. Grace leaves thanksgiving in its wake.

In the Beginning

Every event starts with something.  What did creation start with?  If you jump in here and say that God spoke, then I must unfortunately tell you that you are wrong.  Yes, the opening passage say that God spoke but that is only a record of what transpired at the start of creation – it is not the beginning.  We are told that God knows the end from the beginning so that means that in order for God to start creation He had to see what the end looked like.  All of creation is subsequently manufactured to the specification of what part it will contribute to the final, complete picture.

We do not know the duration of “time” that it took God to design this project of creation but before the foundations it were laid the planning of all that we experience was being considered in the realm of grace.  Every thought, every intersection of eternity with time, every effect from the choices of free will was carefully taken into account with the environment of grace influencing it.

Long before a single word was spoken to start creation, grace was pulsating with life-giving potential.  This is the true meaning of Divine Grace, not the theological definition of unmerited favor we have been indoctrinated in.  We were in God’s thoughts long before sin entered this world.  His intention to have a family stands as the pinnacle within the realm of grace and is the operator behind all of creation.

We discover in Proverbs 8, John 1, and Colossians 2 the role Jesus played in the designing and construction process of creation.  He too operating from the realm of grace prepared a place for us that would serve towards the final, complete picture.  His declaration to the disciple that Holy Spirit would come upon them was not a “stop-gap” measure to a failed fulfillment of destiny on the part of Jesus but an act from the kingdom of grace made in eternity past.  Every salvation has been carefully and skillfully considered in a realm where the nature of living in abundance forever is “natural” not super-natural.

In this eternal realm of grace miracles never happen – wholeness is natural.  Consider that God has never experienced a miracle.  Miracle point to God and He doesn’t need to experience a miracle to confirm to Him that He is.  When you live in the realm of grace you don’t experience miracles – you experience the normal life of that realm.  Those that aren’t from that realm will see miracles occur in their lives as you intersect with them.  If you’re longing to experience a miracle that tells me that you don’t desire to live from the realm of grace but out of mercy.  The purpose of mercy is to point you to grace where you are to live continually rather than until you need your next “fix” of mercy.

Just as there are no miracles in the realm of grace we must also come to the understanding that needs and wants do not exist in this environment too.  A need and want represents a lack which is contradictory in a realm teaming with abundance.  This property of grace was figured into the plan of creation which it is continually supplied to us in Christ even unto the end of the age.

Consider that when you live from the realm of grace blind eyes open, food is multiplied, limbs grow back, fish become a purse to gold coins for you, you ruin every funeral you attend and so much more.  This is the pre-planned life that is backed from a realm that gets tremendous joy out of you being a part of it.  Those around you will think that because these things happen around you that you have the characteristic known as “favor.”  Favor denotes special consideration beyond “normal” conditions but they don’t know that this IS normal for you.

When you read “In the beginning. . .” from this point on realize that everything that I’ve just touched upon is contained in those words plus a whole lot more that is still being unfolded to us.  You and I were in the “In” where grace reigns.  To us, as heirs, abounds all that that realm contains and manifests not in a time to come but now, this very moment and every one that follows it.  This is what it means to live in the beginning, before the foundations of time, where grace undergirds the purpose you live. This is His gift to you.  Enjoy.

Grace and Peace to You

Mike

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Full of Grace and Truth

In this study of grace I’ve tried to show the facets of it that we have missed in our religious upbringing in order to prepare us to be able to rule and reign with Christ when the time comes.  That is after all what the Father is looking towards and His plan hasn’t changed since He enacted it before the foundations of the world.  Most people get all excited about the thought of ruling with Christ, but when the rubber meets the road, they don’t have a clue on how that will be done.  And if you don’t know how that will be done, how would you even know what the environment would look like to do it in?  That is the reason for these messages – to describe the environment so that you’ll know where you’ll be operating when that time comes.

When you understand the intention of the Father to see that you rule with Jesus, you’re going to have to recognize what it means to be “in Christ.” Yes, this is an identification issue that every believer must secure for themselves but it is also the manner by which all of your actions will be acknowledged both for and from the Kingdom.  Since Jesus is our pattern we need to look to him and see what the Father sees in Him that He also sees in us.

John 1:14-17 

(14)  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

(15)  John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

(16)  And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

(17)  For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

In a previous post I spoke about the Word, or logos in the Greek.  This passage is the identification of the manifestation of God’s spoken word in the bodily form that we recognize as Jesus.  What is unique about this identity is the connection of “full of grace and truth.”  No where is the bible do we have a description of what Jesus looks like but only the characteristics that he displayed.  I think that we need to look at the connection of “full of grace and truth” and how these influenced his actions both with people and the Father.

Notice in verse 14 we have what is called a parenthetical statement: A remark that is contained within parenthesis that can be viewed as independent of the main content or, for clarification purposes, added as a descriptor.  For the moment I want to remove it from the context of this matter and in doing so the verse would subsequently read, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.”

While I’m in a grammatical mode, let me briefly review the meaning of the word “and.”  This word is known as a conjunction with the purpose of joining two or more simple sentences together in order to make them flow better for the reader.  It also performs the function of joining elements together to provide a fuller description of the whole.  I mention this since I know that some one is going to take issue with my removing the parenthetical statement in order to advance the next element.

Two Graces

“Full of grace and truth” is a conjunctive description of grace, meaning that “full of grace” indicates quantity while “and truth” indicates the quality of the grace.  This means that the grace that Jesus demonstrated in his life was always full and of the purest form.  The notion of a grace that isn’t pure may seem odd but that is what verse 16 is indicating.  The phrase “grace for grace” indicates that there was a form of grace present that was replaced by the grace that Jesus possessed.

Understand that when man fell in the garden he fell from the eternal kingdom of grace into a worldly time-based grace that he would control.  The grace of this world operates in the fashion of “I’ll give to you as long as it suits my needs and satisfaction,” or “I’ll be joyful as long as you don’t do something that offends me.”  Jesus came to give us the kingdom back and the grace that operates from it.  Hence, grace of this world for the true grace of the kingdom.  John even indicates the difference at the beginning of the verse with, “. . . his fullness have all we received,” speaking of the abundance that is produced from the kingdom of grace which is lacking in a worldly time-based system.

The Picture of Grace

In the entire gospel of John these opening verses are the only places where the word “grace”, or charis in the Greek, is used.  What we have here is an overall depiction of Jesus which John will through the remaining chapters unfold bit by bit until we reach the end where John admits that he only wrote those things which would lead you to believe that Jesus is the son of God and have life in his name.

What is interesting in these verses that we have been examining is the picture that they create when brought all together.  In verse 14 the word “dwelt” represents a tent, or in Hebrew it would be called a tabernacle.  So when you look at the entire sentence, including the parenthetical statement, there is an amazing picture that John, by way of Holy Spirit is creating.  It harkens back to a time when Israel wandered in the wilderness and God communed with them everyday from the presence of His tabernacle which dwelt in their midst.  Everyone in the camp knew when God was in His tabernacle by the glory cloud that hovered over the tent of meeting.  In this tent Moses would speak to God and come back to the children of Israel and repeat what God had told him, conversations that would become known as the Law.

John tells us in these few verses that as great as it was for the children of Israel in the wilderness with God, Jesus provided something far greater – a tangible presence available to all, and with that presence, access to the kingdom of God that the children of Israel never knew.  Yes, the Law was important because it established the protocol of how to enter into the presence of God but it lacked the ability to instill the life essence that abounds in a kingdom established on grace.  All of the rituals and sacrifices point to the one who would give life rather than take it and this is the truth that God wanted all men to know.

This is the pattern that we seek to represent to the world: One that displays the fullness of grace and truth in our daily activities.  It is not a grace that many have deemed unmerited favor but a grace that is joyous and giving in all aspect of life.  It is abundant in its very nature and overwhelms the needs and lack that parade it.  This is our heritage.  This is where we reign from in Christ.  Are you up to the challenge?

Grace and Peace to You

Mike

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The Goodness of Grace

Today we go back to the beginning to look at the description of the nature to grace as it has been recorded in the Hebrew text.  Charis is the Greek term that in the New Testament is defined as grace and yet its definition is different from the Hebrew word of “chên” which is often listed as grace in the Old Testament.  Some would say that if there is going to be any teaching on grace that you should start with the definition from the Hebrew since it was first given to them through the Law of Moses.  I respect this position and yet it is the Greek writings in the New Testament that clearly state that grace existed before the foundations of the world (2 Tim. 1:9; Eph. 1:4-6).  I agree that both need to be addressed if not for their differences alone, at least for their similarities, but that is for a latter post.

What I believe is important is to be able to take what we have learned from the Greek text and see if we can identify similar signposts as they appear in another language.  If I was to ask you to describe the concept of light, an important factor throughout the entire bible, you would have to make mention of not only its property of brilliance and radiance it possesses but you would also have to contrast that property against darkness and shadows.  The same topic would still not be complete if you neglect to mention the nature of color and how it is produced by the interplay of light and the cellular structure of an object.  The manifold nature of Grace requires similar treatment when you begin looking at it from the perspective of the Kingdom of God and I’ve touched on some of this previously, but today I going to be focusing more on the patterns found in the Hebrew text.  But to establish a pattern we need to know what we’re looking for.

(31) But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
(32)  Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Luke 12:31-32

(9) Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure
which he hath purposed in himself:
Ephesians 1:9

Our pattern is the Father’s good pleasure and how that is displayed in the creation events.  Recall that charis has a root meaning which encompasses all the facets of joy.  I don’t ever recall a time in my life when joy was not pleasurable, do you?  I also don’t recall when something that I felt pleasure with wasn’t good, do you?  So if we can find “pleasure,” we’ll probably find “good” and conversely if we find “good” we’ll find “pleasure.”

I recognize that this concept is simple to articulate – most of the Kingdom is that way – but you’d be amazed at how many people have never thought this through for themselves and unfortunately miss so much of what the narrative is speaking to us about.  I think that the enemy has kept us so bound up in our “past sin nature” that we’re fearful of what God really has prepared for us.  We’re afraid that God is going to smack us with a heavenly baseball bat any time that we do anything that might be the least bit “unholy” (a definition that runs the gambit from drinking to wearing makeup).  This keeps us in “check” with the enemy but out of the vast wealth that the Father has laid up for us to inherit.  So today I’m going to set you free from the restrictions that you’ve allowed the enemy to place upon you.

Your Father’s Good Pleasure

The first two chapters of the Genesis account of creation is, along with the last chapter of Revelation, are best part of the Bible since only these chapters declare the intent of the Father for all of us.  Everything in between is how mankind messed it up and God fixed it.  So if you truly understand just these three chapters of the bible you know the intent of God for your life.  (I’m going to catch a lot of flack from certain people for that statement, so please don’t write me about it because I told you before hand and I won’t respond to what you have to say.)

In the first chapter we find the creative work of God being expressed through His words and how they fashion the universe and all of its contents.  It is here that we’re going to find if our pattern exists as I’ve established it.

Genesis 1:1-5(1)  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 

(2)  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

(3)  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

(4)  And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

(5)  And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Here are the opening verses from Genesis that most of us are familiar with.  In these we find a number of things but I’m focusing on the creation of light on the first day.  Even though this is originally Hebrew text we’re peering into you still can see that it has many of the same characteristics that every language has in trying to convey a message.  The signpost that we’re looking for in this text has to do with pleasure, so the question is do you see where that may be located?  If you did, how did you locate this pleasure of the Father?

For those of you that still are having some difficulty here allow me to open your eyes for understanding here.  The pleasure that the Father is having here is located in verse four, God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” The word that signifies that He is having pleasure is the word “good.”  (I said that this is simple!)

In English term the word “good” is an adjective when associated with the word “pleasure” as shown in our passages out of the New Testament.  That means that “good” modifies, or intensifies, the nature of “pleasure”.  Yet here in the Hebrew text it is an adverb, modifying the nature of an action.  I make mention of this for one simple reason: The Hebrew language is very active in its construction.  Greek, and subsequently English, follows the pattern of noun/verb while the Hebrew text often follows the pattern of verb/noun.  So just what does this word mean in the Hebrew?  The adverb definition in the Strong’s Concordance says,

beautiful, best, better, bountiful, cheerful, at ease, fair, favour, fine, glad, good (deed, -lier, liest, -ly, -ness, -s), graciously, joyful, kindly, kindness, like (best), loving, merry, most, pleasant, pleaseth, pleasure, precious, prosperity, ready, sweet, wealth, welfare, well favoured.

So in this definition we begin to see the nature of grace with the words of pleasure, good, joyful, favour and of course, graciously, plus a whole wealth of other terms that we haven’t even begun to delve into.  Every occurrence of the word “good” in the Old Testament contains within it these terms, all of which define the word, and conversely one of these terms used in the text would also represent the nature of “good.”

The Cornerstone of Grace

While I’m highlighting these first few verses, I want to draw your attention of a very important aspect of the nature of grace, something that I can say is the cornerstone to how it operates.  Notice in verse 5 (numerically the value of grace!) that called the light day and the darkness night.  Pretty standard stuff, right?  But notice the way that God orders the day in the remaining part of the verse: The evening and the morning were the first day.  In our Western culture our days begin at the crack of dawn where we hustle off to do our business and end at sunset when we collapse from exhaustion, desperately seeking rest.  Grace operates from a place of rest first.  Instead of working to rest, grace rests so that you can work.  This is vital to understanding how the Kingdom operates in your life.  You cannot bring Western processes into this kingdom and expect them to produce.  This is why the writer of the book of Hebrews says in the fourth chapter that there is still a rest for the people of God.  They haven’t yet understood that they were created to operate from a place of rest.  Oops!  That is a later post!

The Serious Side to the Good of Grace

Let’s continue on for one further look at this pattern of pleasure in the Genesis account.

Genesis 1:6-13(6)  And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 

(7)  And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

(8)  And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

(9)  And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

(10)  And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas: and God saw that it was good.

(11)  And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

(12)  And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

(13)  And the evening and the morning were the third day.

Okay picking up where we left off we now have the verses that describe the next two days: The second day for the creation of the heavens and the third day for the creation of the seas, earth and the grasses.  Using the same question, do you see where the pleasure of God is listed? (Hint: good) How often did this pleasure occur for the Father? Here comes the real question: On what day did this pleasure occur on?

If you’ve followed along with me so far you’ve should have picked out that the word “good” is found in verses 10 and 12.  Both of these verses fall on the third day of creation and hold a special meaning for those who are Hebrew.  If you were to look into the marriage records of the Hebrew population you would discover that the vast majority of these couples were married on the same day of the week – the third day – because of the belief that there is a double blessing on that day by God and that anyone being married on that day will receive the benefit of this blessing.  Considering all the terms rolled into this blessing of good, it may well be something to keep in mind if you’re of the marrying persuasion.

“But what about the second day?” you may be asking.  I can’t tell you why there wasn’t anything good and pleasurable on that day.  But I have my thoughts.  Consider this for a moment: Our opening passage from Luke said that it was the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  I would conclude from this that if something was not good for me then He would not give it to me.  So what ever was created on the second day is something that I’m not suppose to have, or in kingdom terms, I’m not suppose to have dominion over.  What exactly did The Father keep from us on that second day? The Heavens – His domain.  Let me further this along a bit more.  Again this is just my thought.  If I’m not supposed to have dominion in the heavens, then if I die and go to heaven, I’m in a place that is not pleasing to the Father for me.  Could it be that the reason that the Father gives us the gift of eternal life is so that we wouldn’t have to be in the place that He knew wouldn’t be pleasing to Him for us?  If you think this too far fetched, read the last chapter of Revelation and see where all mankind ends up.  But again, this is just my thought, right?  Not anymore.

Good, like Grace, Abounds

In the opening chapter of Genesis you will find that there are no less than seven uses of the term “good.”  If you’re into the number thing in scriptures this represents completeness.  And what a way that it was completed!

Genesis 1:31 

(31)  Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

The word “very” in this passage carries a picture for its meaning of a rake that vehemently stirs up the coals of a fire to keep them burning brightly so that you can stay warm.  In six previous occasions the Father was pleased by the expression of His word’s work.  When the last thing was created and He looked over all that He had done and declared that there was a pleasure that burned deep within Him for what He had just done.  And what was that last thing that capped off His creation?  That is for a future post too!

Grace and Peace to You

Mike

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The Sons of Grace

We are in tumultuous times.  Wars and rumors of war splash across the screens of our computers and TV’s.  We have witnessed devastation on a scale that boggles the mind.  Local economies splinter into smaller units only to be eaten up by larger multi-national organizations.  There is unrest in nations that have never worried about it in the past.  People are concerned about their food, their health, and their very way of life.  The entire planet is straining for one thing: The manifestation of the Sons of God.

Sure I could quote a very familiar passage out of Romans 8 that speaks to the sons of God, but I want to go to a verse spoken by Jesus himself that address the matter I feel better than from Paul.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48

This statement comes from that portion of the beatitudes where Jesus has just described the nature of grace as the kingdom of God sees it. (This I will cover in a future post, but you can read ahead if you’re so inclined.)  The point I want to make here is that Jesus clearly states that we have the ability to be perfect in the same manner that our Father in heaven is perfect.  But what does that mean to be perfect?  The Greek word is teleios and it means to be of full age, mature.  The contrast to this term would be a babe in Christ.  It implies a goal or destination – it is not a pass to heaven.  I don’t for one moment want you to think that what Jesus is saying here is that you only become this when you get to heaven since that is where the Father is at.  No, this statement ends a very long passage about acts that are carried out here on earth, not in heaven.  So clearly we can be perfect as our Father is on this earth according to Jesus.

Son or Heir

I spoke about the sons of God position previously but I want to explore the two Greek words for son and what their difference is according to how John and Paul use them.  The first is the word teknon and this word describes the son that is birthed.  It can denote what disciples are called by their teacher.  This is the term that Mary used to describe Jesus.  The second Greek word is huios and its difference in meaning is that it is based upon a matter of relationship with the parent.  This is the term that Jesus used exclusively to describe his relationship with the Father and it is this type of son that Jesus is calling us to enter into from out of Matthew.

(11) He came unto his own, and his own received him not.  (12)  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  (13)  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  John 1:11-13

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.  (2)  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:1-2

In these passages John is describing our birth as teknon of God.  He sees us as small children born from the Father.  If you are born again you are describing yourself as teknon. Paul even employs this term in Romans 8 as he describes our birth in the Spirit.

(16) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:  (17)  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Romans 8:16-17

Being a teknon is our heritage in Christ through the work of rebirth in the Spirit.  Many believers unfortunately stay here, hanging out in their diapers crying out for God to put their binkie back in their mouth so they’ll feel safe again.  “God help me with . . .” and, “God, why am I . . .” and, God, you need to . . .” are the common cries of a teknon trying to fit into the world around them.  The dilemma is that a teknon hasn’t reached teleios to understand that you don’t fit into this world – you take authority over it.  As Paul said,

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Romans 8:14

For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
Romans 8:19

Each occurrence here is huios, a son that has a relationship with Holy Spirit and the Father.  That relationship provides to you all the benefits that Jesus declared when he stated that he only did what he saw the Father do or say what he heard the Father say.  It is out of that relationship, a relationship that is defined by Paul as “being in Christ” that you are to manifest yourself for all of creation.  A huios is someone that is teleios in the things of the Spirit, someone who knows the Father’s heart and operates in His ways.  When those people begin to appear on the earth, things will start to happen that most people will call miraculous but it really will be just the nature of the kingdom of grace being displayed on this earth as it is in heaven.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children,
Ephesians 5:1Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Luke 6:36

In these passages Paul starts off telling us that we are to imitate God as a teknon. This is the manner which all children do the things that they see their parents do.  Nothing is more adorable than watching your child put on your shoes or hat and pretend that they are you.  We all love it and there are a multitude of photo albums that have been produced to hold the records of such events.  Heaven has the same type of photo book that displays all the times that you acted like the Father.  If you maybe forgot what that might look like in your life, Jesus reminds us here what one of those pictures looks like.

Remember that if there is any mention of mercy, grace in standing right next to it.  The Father and all of creation are waiting for mature sons to manifest on this earth and begin demonstrating “on earth as it is in heaven.”  There will be no more need for the earth to groan for deliverance because the huios will be present with liberty.  So what are you waiting for? Teleios.

Grace and Peace to You

Mike

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The Word of Grace II

 All words have causative effect – written as well as spoken.  They create.  They take on life.  The form of that life is determined by the order or pattern of the words and the thought that they are trying to convey.  More words do not clarify – they abound around the nature of the life given in the original words.

Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear.  Ephesians 4:29

In the last post I began to breakdown the revelation that this one verse of scripture holds when handling the words of grace.  The open focus in that post was upon the first three words in this passages and how each word centered on an aspect of the eternal nature of life that comes from living in a grace-filled kingdom.  Today I want to delve into a deeper some of the other words in this passage.

Words as building blocks.

In this passage the word ”speech” is the Greek term logos.  Strong Concordance defines this word as:

Something said (including the thought); by implication a topic (subject of discourse), also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive; by extension a computation; specifically (with the article in John) the Divine Expression (that is, Christ)

Thayer’s Dictionary has a much more comprehensive definition for logos but as I’ve all ready stated, more words do not clarify.  So logos is a word, or words, that convey an intended, orderly thought in the course of speaking.  In the book of John we also discover that Jesus is described as the Word or logos. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God
John 1:1

(1) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  (2)  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  (3)  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Genesis 1:1-3

So in these two passages we see that logos created all things.  God ruling and reigning from the eternal real of grace issues a decree, speaks a word, utters a sound, whatever figure of speech you wish to employ, and things begin to come into order and alignment over the chaos that was upon the deep.  We are told in scripture that God cannot lie.  The reason is simple according to John 1:1 – God and His word are one, they are integrated.  Look at God and you see his Word; look at His word and you see God.  There is no space for anything else.  If God said that you will have a three-headed, blue Doberman dog outside your door in the morning, you can be certain that it will happen.  Why?  Because His word creates all that it says it will create. 

There is an important caveat to this explanation that must be understood: This dog will only show up if it is in the plan and purpose that God has intended for your life.  God issues a word that has only been carefully created to follow a predetermined purpose, a purpose that always reflects the nature of His kingdom and conversely, His nature also.  His inability to lie is only because if He did, He being associated with a lie would make Himself to be a lie too.  Therein lies the strength of the word of God – it lives just as He lives, and why He declares in the book of Isaiah that His word shall not come back to Him void, or useless.  Coming from a realm of grace that is full of abundant life, every single word produces.  So let’s look at my amplified version to our main passage again.

Let no rotten, time-based, foul or abusive word proceed out of your mouth but that which is intrinsically good and beneficial, suitable, as adorning a building with a new addition, properly designed with respect to the occupant’s purpose and mission, in order that it may impart from the wealth of the abundance that you possess the joyously reciprocal gift of grace, thereby being and receiving encouragement to those that hear them. Ephesians 4:29 (amplified by mike)

I want to take a moment here to explain the word in the original that is “edify” and compare it with my version.  The Greek word that we see as “edify” is oikodomē” and it is a compound word that has the meaning of a dwelling with a roof.  Obviously, we don’t go around extolling the virtues of someone’s house and its roof, right? The point that Paul is trying to make here is that the thought and intention of words act the same way that walls and roofs do – they have to work together for a purpose.  Here are two examples of what I mean.

  The photo on the left appears to be two different buildings, yet it is not.  Yes they are two different structures, but they house the same occupant.  This is the life of most believers.  On one side they want to look like the world in all of its majestic splendor so that they “fit in,” while on the other side they’re saved into the traditions of “church.”  When someone speaks into their life they don’t know how to handle it and which side of their structure it should adorn so they just “stick it on.”

Notice that the photo on the right is taken inside of the building.  This is what Paul is trying to convey: The order of purpose comes to the believer from the inside by the work of Holy Spirit.  The design of the structure is intended to span across multiple conditions and be solidly anchored at critical points where the daily stress has been properly founded on the secure nature of stone pediments.

This latter example is what a word of grace does.  It builds from the inside out.  It is orderly yet life fulfilling.  A grace word will strip away a false façade but replace it with portico that welcomes others into the splendor of the kingdom. 

“That sounds eloquent, Mike, but I can’t see myself doing that.”  Well here is your choice then.

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 
John 10:10

Which do you chose?  Yes, you do have a choice – the picture on the left will be your result from the former part of John 10:10.  This is what your words will produce.  The picture on the right is what the latter part of this verse demonstrates that your words will produce.  An intuitive side note here:  If you were standing in the building on the right and spoke a word what do you think happen? Echo!

We need to understand that there is the same power in every word that we speak as in the very words that God spoke.  If you don’t believe that, then look at this very familiar passage.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:
and let them have dominion . . .
Genesis 1:26

Our creation, as I wrote about in the prior post, came with the word “Let. . .”  Our form and nature is based on the pattern of the God-head itself.  Our purpose is defined again with “let . . .” which clearly determines the strength of our words.  Dominion required the ability rule with words that can be followed.  All of our words carry the same power that God’s words possess since we are made in His image and likeness.  “Are you say that we’re God?!!!”  That is for a much later posting, but for now, if you are made in His image and likeness, if your purpose is to have dominion on the earth, if His Spirit lives inside of you evidenced with the speaking of a heavenly language, if you are seated in heavenly places while being the temple of God on this earth, THEN there is a power to your words that grace has influenced.  Whether you believe it . . . oh! That’s a future post too!

Grace and Peace to You

Mike

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Grace and Mercy – A Primer

While I was preparing my follow up to the previous post on the word of grace, I was asked what the difference between grace and mercy is.  I’ve mentioned this briefly in the past but with this person I didn’t have the luxury of directing them to what I have written about the matter.  Furthermore, to go into a proper teaching it would have gone on for more time than either one of us could afford at the moment.  Thank goodness for a Holy Spirit leading that provided to me a grand example that quickly conveyed the entire teaching into an illustration that this person could readily identify with and use as a basis for future development.  What I present to you today is that illustration to assist you in any uncertainty that you may too have about their differences.

Basketball DunkWe are in the midst of March madness so this example is rather fitting. Most people are familiar with Michael Jordan, the professional basketball player.  During the days that he was playing most everyone agreed that he was the best player on the court.  Even today, years after his career ended, he is considered still to be one of the three best players ever.  For my example here I would say that Mr. Jordan was, is and will continue to be the king of the court.

I am the first person to confess that I have no basketball skills.  Sure I can hold a basketball in my hands, bounce it (or should that be “dribble it”), and even toss it (or is that “shoot it”) at the basket, but the labor I have in even writing down those steps doesn’t truly define the awkwardness that those action look like when they are combined on the court.  I am not a “natural” like Mike even though we share the same name.  So consider what would be the outcome of Mr. Jordan challenging me to a game of one-on-one and I accepted.  Some would respond that I would be “schooled” by the king, and rightfully so.  But I want you to see the lesson that this post is about from my “teaching.”

So the first question when faced with this event is: How do you enter the arena to face a legend?  “Mr. Jordan, I want to thank you for this opportunity to have my head handed to me,” seems a little pretentious at the beginning.  “I’ve always been a big fan and really think that you’re the best player of all times,” is possibly the best answer, even though he has probably heard that more times than he wants to recall.  Of course, it goes without saying that that line must be delivered with the utmost humility because any hint of pride or ego means that my decapitation is going to be all that more humiliating.  (Important life lesson: Public humiliation is in direct proportion to personal humility.)

With the preliminary introductions out of the way, obviously there will need to be the “warm up” shots to loosen up the ol’ muscles.  The difficulty here is two-fold:  1) Try not to gawk at the master when he gracefully flies through the air to dunk the ball or effortlessly swishes consecutive 3-pointers; 2) Look ridiculous trying to pretend that you can do the same thing.  Again, I’m not gifted in this area and know it.  The best approach during this time frame would be to commend him for his talents and possibly make mention of past events where you witnessed his prowess on the court against an opponent.  You might even ask him what was his most memorable moment or most thrilling victory, or even more conducive to aid you, how is his son doing in following after him in a profession he so clearly loves.  To some these might appear as stall tactics but truly there is purpose in employing them – you’re trying to save your hide.

Now the moment comes where the “lesson” must begin.  So how do you think it will begin?  I believe based upon my activities and demeanor prior to this that Mr. Jordan will “permit” me to take the ball first and then he will selectively test my abilities with ball control and pressure skills I have absolutely no ability to defend against.  He might let me drive to the basket but I know the outcome from this maneuver will be painful more on my part than his.  I will potentially console myself with trying to make shots from the perimeter with lackluster success.  There will come a point in this lesson that I know Mr. Jordan will get tired of my half-hearted attempts to score and he will take over, displaying his natural tendencies to “get into the moment” and suddenly I’m being left standing in my shoes with slackened jaw watching poetry in motion.  There will come a moment in this exchange that I realize that this contest is not about me versus Mr. Jordan but that it really is all about Mr. Jordan and who he is as a player.

With this new perspective the severity of my lesson came be hampered by doing one thing: Ask Mr. Jordan to teach me how to do better in any of the number of areas where I am lacking.  I must be sincere in my request and realize that instantaneous results are highly unlikely but that even a small improvement will possibly endear him to me in the final conquest.  If I can show him that I am trying to make this experience more pleasing to him by trying to increase my effectiveness then the rewards at the end will be more memorable.  In the end I will have submitted to his excellence in the arena and hopefully made a friend.

So my question to you is, can you see the kingdom of God and distinguish the difference between grace and mercy in this illustration?  Recall that Jesus often followed a similar pattern in making a point about the kingdom by saying, “The kingdom of God is like . . .” If you can’t yet make the connection, let me offer this passage as a starting point.

Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  (4)  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  (5)  For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.  Psalms 100:3-5

What are the truths found in this illustration?

  1. In a kingdom our posture determines our position. I could go into this match either as a foe or as a fan.  Our ego determines our position – are you trying to make a point or be the point.
  2. You don’t remind a king of his position for his sake, but for your own sake. Thanksgiving and praise are evidence of your posture.  Greatness never needs affirmation to be great. We need to recognize greatness and express gratitude for being next to it.  Proximity to position demands recognition.
  3. Grace is easy to recognize when you’re not in it. Mr. Jordan on a court with a basketball is grace.  He is performing his intended purpose and plan.  Everything that leads to the success of a king completing his purpose is the environment of grace.
  4. Mercy is the response of grace. Mr. Jordan could have “bulled” through me from the very beginning – that is his right from his position of authority.  Any response that differs from “bulling” is mercy given due to my lack either in skill, intelligence, or position.
  5. The purpose of mercy is to move you into grace. Any instruction that Mr. Jordan provides me that enhances my capabilities on “his” court is intended to move me into “his” grace and experience the fullness of that environment from his perspective.  Mercy continues to flow until grace is reached in every area of our lives.
  6. The result of grace is relationship. Being a friend with a king means that you both operate in grace one to another.  Mercy isn’t offered to equals – righteousness is.

There are additional facets of mercy’s relationship with grace which I’ll cover in a later post but for now I trust that you will be able to see the difference between them and how they operate together in the Kingdom of God.  Until next time . . .

Grace and Peace to You

Mike

 

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The Word of Grace

Are you a “word” person?  Do you get all goose-pimply when going through the reference section of a book store?  Is your favorite game 5+ letter Scrabble?  Do you swoon at the thought of buying a new thesaurus?  Do you have at least seven dictionaries bookmarked in your “favorites” folder on your computer or at least two word apps on your mobile phone?  Let me take it to the next level: Do you own more than four bibles?  Do you find your self highlighting passages out of the Strong’s Concordance?  Is your favorite biblical author W.E. Vines?  If this describes you then today’s post will be a treat to you.  Yet if you don’t display any of these characteristics, fret not; you’re still young, and “He is faithful to complete that work which He started in you.”

Whenever I speak about grace the inevitable question arises as to how I became so consumed with studying the subject.  It came about from a giant prod from Holy Spirit one evening.  My wife and I were attending a conference in Redding, California (yes, we were at that church!) and it was the last night.  The speaker was about to teach us on the power of our decree.  I had no idea that I was about to be invited into an environment that would forever change my life and its purpose.  All that you’ve read up to this point has been a direct result of this invitation and I assure you that I haven’t begun to tap into the riches I’ve been revealed from it.  So what was the invitation?  It came in the form of this verse:

Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear.  Ephesians 4:29

When we read that passage, I instantly heard Holy Spirit respond, “Grace.  It is important.  Study.”  From that moment on I did not hear one more word that was spoken.  I had been commissioned.  My gifting is to teach and when you’re commanded to study, it’s like turning a pit bull loose on an 8-year old bully in a fenced yard.  (All right, maybe not the most pleasant thought but it clearly gets the point across.)  I had been spending the prior four months studying the scriptures on the various differences of time, specifically the Greek terms chronos and kairos, and what their differences were and where they occurred.  This passage built upon what I had just learned and now poured into me a realm which, at that moment, I had no point of reference for.  All I knew was that I was “saved by grace” and that was it. Obviously, as I stated, I have learned a few things about this matter of grace since then, so let me provide you with an amplified rendition of this verse as I have come to personally understand it.

Let no rotten, time-based, foul or abusive word proceed out of your mouth but that which is intrinsically good and beneficial, suitable, as adorning a building with a new addition, properly designed with respect to the occupant’s purpose and mission, in order that it may impart from the wealth of the abundance that you possess the joyously reciprocal gift of grace, thereby being and receiving encouragement to those that hear them. Ephesians 4:29 (amplified by mike)

So how many of you got that same translation from the first example when you read it?  Here is the bigger question: How many of you are fully realizing this amplified version in your communication?  (For your information, I’m still working towards this end too.  But I am closer today.) Contained within this one scripture is a treasure trove from the Kingdom of God.  So I’m going to take you through a walk in my field of immeasurable price and show you what I’ve uncovered.  This may take a few posts but at least you’ll know what the terrain looks like when I’m done.

Words of time

One of the first postings that I did on this subject of grace dealt with the “time” element of when grace began.  We found that from 2 Timothy 1:9 that grace actually comes from an eternal dimension and as such does not operate in the manner that time does.   Time as we recognize it today, and as it is defined in the New Testament, comes from the Greek Word “chronos” – it is the progressive passing of events in regulated intervals.  We get the term “chronological” from this word.  The sweeping of the second hand on your clock, the flickering of LED diodes on your wristwatch, VCR and microwave, even the pages in your day-timer or the bank entries from your checking account are representative of this word.

Grace is not attached to this realm, it is eternal.  That makes it an element of time known in the Greek as “kairos”, an intersection of the eternal realm into the chronos-based realm.  But what example do you use to describe a “kairos” time event?  They are varied but for our purposes here the most memorable one in each person’s life is the day that we were born-again.  At the moment that you said yes to the Lordship of Jesus, kairos intersected chronos and you became a new creature that operates in both time zones. Cool, huh!  Your word of agreement in a chronos environment opened the eternal realm and permitted the Father to reach into the earth and once again form a son and release the breath of His Spirit upon dust giving it the eternal life of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Welcome to grace in kairos!

Why is it vital to understand this point?  Look at the opening amplified version where it reads, “Let no rotten, time-based . . .” In the original it is the word “corrupt” which translated in the Greek means rotten.  When something is described as rotten that means that it is attached to chronos, or put another way, it has a date with death.  Rotten food is something that has passed its prime, it is decaying, and death is invading and consuming it.  Its source of life has been severed and time has attached an appointment with corruption and death to it.

The word “mortgage” is a Spanish word that in its original meaning is defined as “to the death.”  How many of your words are mortgaged?  Have you been trying to talk yourself out of situations that have been mortgaged by the very words you’ve spoken?  These are not grace words.  Any word that is tied to time is mortgaged and you don’t own it – it owns you and the life that is backing it.  Words filled with grace are timeless.  They have contained within them the ability to give life and give it in abundance.  How do I know this? From these two verses.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
John 10:10

Let’s talk about the word

The book of Proverbs tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue.  Notice that it doesn’t say one or the other but rather both.  The book of James tells us that we are the ones that control our tongue and if we don’t our tongue will control us like a bit in a horse’s mouth.  So we need to come to a proper kingdom understanding of our words and the power that they contain when we release them.  In order for that to occur, yes we need to go back to the beginning.  Oh! Wait a minute; we were just there in John 1

“In the beginning was the Word. . .” couple this with 2 Timothy 1:9 and we know that any word that was in the beginning was operating out of grace according to the purpose of the Father. So the question that begs to be asked is: What was the first recorded eternal word spoken in grace?  Do you know? Let’s go find out.

(1) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  (2)  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  (3)  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Genesis 1:1-3

(I admit that I have been leading you around in this for a while.) “Let. . .” is the first recorded word by God and isn’t it amazing that it is also the first word in this passage we’re addressing here.  Wouldn’t that mean that there is something significant about that word?  (If you don’t think so, play along just to entertain me.) This word has greatness backing it and we never even realized it.  Sure it might have triple word value in a game of Scrabble but I’m talking bigger meaning here.  Let (there it is again!) me take you to an explanation of this word’s meaning which I found:

“Let may imply a positive giving of permission but more often implies failure to prevent either through inadvertence and negligence or through lack of power or authority.”  Webster’s Seventh Collegiate Dictionary

In the use of this word we see that permission is given to carry out an order, yet this order is conducted on the basis of a purposeful act of power and authority.  The word has within it the nature to release any manner of restraint and give full, unhindered opportunity to carry out its assignment based on the authority behind its use.  So whenever God said, “Let . . .” He was releasing an authoritative word that would go unhindered and uninterrupted to accomplish its determined assignment.  That is what it means when God says in Isaiah that His word will not come back to Him void, it will accomplish that which it was sent to do.  This is the inherent nature of a grace-filled word – it cannot come back void.  “But how is that possible?” is what I’m hearing.

Look at Genesis 1:2 again.  Notice that the earth was without form and void. The void already was present.  Anything coming from a dimension that contains abundance is going to displace the emptiness in that void.  It can’t be stopped.  If the element that enters the void is full of life, it will by its very nature abound in the characteristics of life and produce after itself overwhelming the void until all that remains is abundant life.  We know from basic science that life does not progressively grow one upon another (i.e. 1+1+1+1+1) but grows geometrically (i.e. 1+1+2+4+8).  You’ve got to understand that the only thing that stood out in this void was the potential of a word to go to work since nothing else would.

When ever I read this passage I envision the Trinity tossing a football around creation.  Holy Spirit is hovering around preparing to run a route which is commenced at the Father’s word, “Let. . .”  Whatever follows that word is the passing of the football (Jesus) to Holy Spirit who will catch the word (Jesus) and see that the score is made.  The beauty of this is that there are no defenders trying to block Holy Spirit from receiving the football (Jesus).  The result is ALWAYS a score.  Do you now understand the power of a grace-filled word?

We not only need to recognize and understand the power of “Let. . .” but we need to live as it.  Why would I say that? Go to Genesis 1:26.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Genesis 1:26

Our very creation and purpose was established by the word “Let.”  Do not pull that, “This only applies to the creation of Adam,” excuse on me! It says in Ephesians that we were in Him before the foundations of the world, and it also says that God speaks those things that be not as though they were, and that He knows the end from the beginning.  So the very release of the word “Let. . .” in this verse set you and I into motion towards God’s purpose.  As a matter of truth, every one of us were a word in God’s mouth waiting for “Let. . .” to set us on an unhindered and uninterrupted journey towards the plan and purpose of God.

“But my life has been everything but unhindered and uninterrupted,” is what I’m hearing now.  Stop for a moment.  I’m serious, stop! Notice the last three words that you read.  What were they?

  1. I’m serious, stop!
  2. that you read
  3. What were they?
  4. You’ve lost me!

I pray that you didn’t answer this matter with number 4! The point of this small exercise is two-fold: 1.) Sometimes you need to stop and look to see the forest through the trees, metaphorically speaking; 2.) In each occurrence there is an underlying order or pattern for the words.  Is it possible that you’re life is not in alignment with the sentence that God spoke about you.  Put another way, maybe you’re not with the right set of words, or maybe the words that you’re associated with haven’t matured yet.

Consider this: Children when they are very young don’t speak like adults.  Their language skills display the exploratory nature of their world – basically they clunk around with language like they clunk around the yard.  As they experience more things their language develops to describe those occurrences better and more accurately.  Example: How often have you asked a five-year old what they did for the day and were then confronted with a detailed, moment by moment explanation of their experiences of the day, whereas when you ask the same question to a 15-year old, their response is, “Nothing?”

Associating with . . .LIFE!

In our example verse, we have a directive issued in “Let. . .” that is associated with life by the word “no”.  No, we have all recognized from a very early age is negative.  So anything that follows it is negative.  But remember in your math class when your teacher would ask you the most ridiculous question in the world, “What is the result when two negatives are put together?”  Two Negatives! Who ever heard of such a thing?  This is such a thing! No Corrupt.  Two negatives.  So the answer to the question your teacher asked is . . .Yes, a positive!  The mathematical answer is No Corrupt = Life!  “But I thought we were talking about words not math!”

Good point.  Words have the ability to have their meaning changed by associating with a prefix or suffix.  How can this change a living word?  Living can be cut short by an “ed” and become lived or lose its nature by “less” and be “lifeless”. The birth of a word can be terminated before its delivery and be “still born.”  Some words (people) feel limited.  Their meaning can changed instantly when they team up with a “un” and become “unlimited.”  Just look at the directive of “Let . . .” which is “unhindered” and “uninterrupted.” If you’re feeling either hindered or interrupted then you need to find a “un” to move you back into your purpose.  This is a very delicate situation though because a word that is “known” that teams up with a “un” suddenly becomes “unknown.”  So you have to ask yourself, “Self.  What prefix or suffix has attached a negative to my word?”

So let (there it is again!) me bring this to a close.  We have discovered that a grace-filled word expressed into a void will overwhelm the void with abundant life.  A grace-filled word is a word that isn’t attached to the chronos time of this world but to the kairos time of the eternal realm from which it comes.  “Let . . .” causes an event to occur that operates unhindered and uninterrupted with power and authority that stands behind the directive.  One negative word can be changed by attaching it to another negative word creating a positive change.  The word of grace has the nature to release all manner of restraint to carry out its assignment based on the authority behind its intended purpose.  All of us were a grace-word on the lips of God and we were released into His plan and purpose when He declared, “Let . . .” So I’ll ask the question asked me from a great man of God, Dr. Fizer: Are you living the “Let” yet?

Grace and Peace to You

Mike

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