16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
I’ve got to be honest, I was trying something new with this 50 Days of Promises season in my blogging. I had noticed (and been told) that my general focus was becoming heavy, convicting, kind of hard to read at times because it was becoming less feel good and more about how short I fall and the hurts of the past that fight with me in the present.
So I set off on this journey to just be a Good News blogger, God is amazing and there are no more worries.
I do have an underlying peace that that statement is very true, but I cannot escape the FACT that so many of the promises of God come with a caveat that this is a partnership and there is a “my side of the bargain” that I must hold up.
There are many evangelicals that just don’t want to hear that, they refuse to acknowledge that how we live our life matters. God is the Justifier, Sanctifier, and Savior. They would proudly and boldly proclaim “we are all co-heir with Christ” and let that statement stand on it’s own.
But this verse, like so many, comes with an IF statement: “Provided we suffer with Him”.
I love Joel Osteen, his message of hope, encouragement, life, salvation is all great stuff and draws thousands of disillusioned to God’s promises like a moth to flame. But I don’t know that I have EVER heard him preach that the promises of God comes with a sacrificial price.
Jesus did not promise a prosperous life of riches and increase in the flesh, it was a fullness of Spirit, and love, joy and serenity that comes from knowing our reward is in eternity.
Jesus many times warned people that following Him was not easy.
I have conscious behaviors in my life that I am wrestling with God over. When I try and remain in the “feel good” gospel 24×7 I seem to soften on the convictions that keep me from surrendering my will and that draw me to the foot of the cross.
Complacency to sin comes easier when I am solely focused on free grace. That doesn’t mean that grace isn’t the free gift of God, but that does not give me license to live my life as I chose. Quite the opposite, that begs for me to live my life differently in response to His mercy.
Yes God forgives me, and yes He is the one who is sanctifying me and making me that co-heir, but the witness that bears that change is a transformed heart, mind and body.
If I am not laying my head down on the pillow at the end of the day and thanking God for the things I did differently which I can only pray glorified His name, and asking for forgiveness and truly hating the things I did which I will do my best to not do tomorrow, then I am ignoring the Holy Spirit within who hates the sin in my life and offers me a new way through those convictions.
Our whole purpose as Christians is to learn to walk as Christ more each day, growth; to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, which to me means live differently!
No we will never attain that pure and perfect walk this side of glory, but does that mean then I am to ignore the calling to love others unconditionally, to love and forgive myself, to always recognize how short I fall and in that fully come to realize just how powerfully life-changing the Cross of Christ truly is and what an amazing gift grace is when it tells me I am free from condemnation?
And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?
but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the Lord.
but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever!
1 Kings 3:14
And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”
1 Kings 6:12
“Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father.
1 Kings 9:6
But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them,
1 Kings 11:38
And if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.
2 Kings 17:13
Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”
1 Chronicles 28:7
I will establish his kingdom forever if he continues strong in keeping my commandments and my rules, as he is today.’
1 Chronicles 29:19
Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision.”
but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’
if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments,
Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God.
[ Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart ] My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments,
he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.
[ Warning Against the Adulteress ] My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you;
keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye;
I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,
[ Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit ] “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
Like yesterday, this is not meant to be a dark and heavy post, it is just that I ache to look God in the face and say I love you Lord and have confidence I did my best to live out that statement.
And when I ask God to search my heart and reveal to me if I did in fact love Him this day I hear the response:
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
My sin does not make Him love me less, the same way that my obedience does not make Him love me more. But the blessing of knowing that I am in a mutually loving relationship, not just Him loving me but us loving each other I believe is what allows me to feel the most free, alive, and empowered to love myself and others as He loved me first.
I used to beg God to take my addictions, my hurts, my fears away and if He did then I would be free. But I’m starting to realize that in His great love He does not take them away, The Holy Spirit within convicts me of my sin and my freedom comes from now choosing life over death.
When I was dead in my inequities I didn’t have a choice, I was not convicted by my sin. I lived as I wanted feeding the flesh at will, my will. But now in Christ in me is that pang of anxiety that says I don’t have to yell in this moment, I don’t have to run to old behaviors, I don’t have to isolate or medicate.
It is that voice that says I am forgiven and loved and reminds me there is a new way to live and today I am given a choice, righteousness or sin. Having a choice is the very freedom He died for.
God gives us understanding of His word, and the laws of His love so that we are set free by the law. It is the law that reveals the true condition of our heart and the behaviors that point to whom we are following. I want my life to point to Christ.
God has clearly said to me, “I love you my child, and this thing that you are begging me to take away I will not, for it is yours to give me”. In that struggle to surrender my idols, my will, my flesh, my fears I grow stronger. He is my gym leader training me up in His ways.
It is through this wrestling with my will over His will that is making me a new man. It is keeping me humbled, continually drawing my eyes upward for strength and drawing me deeper in love each time I drive stakes deeper in His hand in my weakness and He simply responds “I love you, get up, press on, there is much work to do”.
Much like Jesus didn’t flinch when Peter fulfilled Jesus’ prophesy of denying Him 3 times. Peter held on to shame and Jesus rebuked that with 3 questions.
Do you love me Peter, do you love me, do you love me; then feed my sheep.
I do not believe God wants my groveling at the foot of the cross, acknowledge my sin and move on. But to not acknowledge is to become a hypocrite denying that it is Christ who lives in me and not my self perceived goodness that is at work.
What I speak of here is not condemnation but quite the opposite. It is the power plant of conviction that says “today I will rely on Christ more deeply in my walk”. I will praise Him when I am successful and acknowledge His grace, mercy and forgiveness when by owning up to my shortfalls and seek to make amends to those I have hurt and do my best to learn from the hurts my weaknesses causes me, others and God so that I may live in just a little bit more glory tomorrow.
Father God, I thank you for the Holy Spirit who points the way deep in my heart, who dwells in my conscience and says there is a different way to live that glorifies You and will bring me great joy and peace through fulfilling the calling You placed in my path before time. As I seek to know more of You and surrender more of me give me the heart and eyes to not miss those divine appointments which You place in all of our paths each day. Our ministry Lord I believe is to love others right where they are, just as you love me. To offer understanding and compassion, help for the walking wounded. Let this message you placed on my heart not be condemning Lord, for Satan has been doing that long enough in the hearts of those in recovery from past abuse, let instead it be a joyous journey of redemption that is filled with the core understanding that You set us on this path of healing so that we may feed Your sheep, and you will never give up on us until the time of Your return when glory is complete. You have ransomed us with a mighty price, help me to honor that cost by surrendering more of me this day. In Jesus’ precious name I pray…