Grace Defined #3: Power to Overcome

“But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it)” (James4:6).

What a powerful statement about God’s grace. Grace—God’s unmerited favor and spiritual blessing, flows to us in order to bring power to our lives that will equip us to overcome every evil tendency. Read this full passage, James 4:1-10, in the New American Standard Bible Version:

“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?

“Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.’

“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”

Wow, what promise this grace is. Here is what I know about God’s work of grace:

God desires us so much that He provided a way through Christ for salvation to come to us weak willed beings who falter and fail so constantly. Sending salvation to us through His grace found in Christ, as we humble ourselves to admit our need of it, He gives to us His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing. As we humble ourselves to receive His grace, He then places within us His Holy Spirit to teach us and to do a work of transformation, making us back into the image of God first placed there in creation. But this work of transformation is not instantaneous, though some may have more instantaneously obvious results than others, all will have a lifetime of work yet to accomplish. We become a work of art, God bringing healing to us a little at a time as we are ready and able to humbly submit ourselves to Him and receive it.

Step by step, God reveals to us our ungodly pleasures, our self-centered motives, our murderous adulteries: all the while He jealously longs for more of His Spirit to be found in us. So He keeps heaping on grace as we will receive it, using the hope that grace brings to our struggling hearts to empower our victory. Equipping us to recognize our own need of His grace, He empowers us to receive His Spirit through Whom He equips us to stand against our every evil tendency, thus He is able to make you stand (Romans 14:14; Jude 1:24-25).

Is there an evil-issue you find yourself constantly struggling to overcome? Ask God to reveal the root of the problem to you and surrender to the grace He gives you to stand.

Second Corinthians 1:11-12 (AMP) encourages us further as we note this work of grace, “While you also cooperate by your prayers for us [helping and laboring together with us]. Thus [the lips of] many persons [turned toward God will eventually] give thanks on our behalf for the grace (the blessing of deliverance) granted us at the request of the many who have prayed. It is a reason for pride and exultation to which our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world [generally] and especially toward you, with devout and pure motives and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God (the unmerited favor and merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, and keeps, strengthens, and increases them in Christian virtues).”

This is the work of God’s grace, found in Christ Jesus, and brought to bear in our souls by the power of His Spirit. All things are possible for me, for nothing shall be impossible with God. Therefore I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me through the power of His Spirit working within a humbled and submissive me, as I stand in agreement and surrender to my All Knowing, Almighty, and Omniscient God.

GraceDifined#2: Spiritual Blessing

Returning finally to my focus on grace, in our last session we defined God’s grace that is found in His unmerited favor. That unmerited favor is “free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving-kindness” expressed toward us because of who He is and because of His purpose toward us. This grace is “unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing.” It is the mercy of God toward His chosen people, chosen for a sincere love relationship with Him and to be useful in the accomplishing of His good will and purpose in this life. It is His provision of spiritual blessing and saving grace through Jesus Christ; and by it He gifts us for service (Romans 3:24, 5:20-21; 1Peter 5:12).

This review of the first blog on grace as unmerited favor reveals one aspect of God’s grace as being spiritual blessing. In the Amplified Bible, several passages use the term spiritual blessing, divine blessing or divine favor as the defining characteristic of God’s grace. That definition qualifies the grace spoken of as originating from God in the power of His Spirit. When we truly walk in the knowledge of that grace, being affected by its work in our life, that grace is coming to us from God. It is only through the flow of grace from God to us in the power of the Spirit that we can give true grace to others.

One thing I note as I look at these passages is the expression of that grace found in the recipient. We often see Paul and others write a greeting that expresses hope for those receiving their word to walk in God’s grace (spiritual blessing) and peace. Peace accompanies this grace in the life of the recipient of God’s spiritual blessing and divine favor. One verse stands out to me in which we find this union of spiritual blessing with peace, as it defines this work of grace in the recipient.

According to 1 Peter 1:2 in the Amplified Bible, those who walk in the spiritual blessing and divine favor of God experience Christ in ways that bring ever increasing measures of His grace with peace. This grace mixture at work in our lives is expressed in us through many degrees of freedom: freedom from fears; freedom from agitating passions; and freedom from moral conflicts being listed in this passage. When we are walking in constant fear, constantly struggling with ungodly passions agitating our souls, wavering on moral issues, most likely it is because we fail to fully receive by faith this grace mix in ways that cause us to walk it out.

What is there about this grace that allows us to walk in peace and freedom? First Peter 1:13, Amplified, says it is hope, but hope in what? “…the grace (divine favor) that is coming to you when Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is revealed.”

It is hope in the Divine favor of God found in the work of Christ’s completed ministry in us, faith in the finished work of His coming again to rule for all eternity, that brings this grace with peace to work freedom in us. It is trusting that whatever is tempting us to leave our freedom is there with a purpose that will make us more Christlike. It is such a faith and hope in our eternity with God through Christ that no threat to our freedom can cause us to waver in fear, ungodly passion or moral conflict. This verse instructs us to brace our minds on this hope, being sober, circumspect, morally alert to the returning Christ and His work in us as we wait. Our hope set wholly and unchangeably on this provision of God’s grace found in Christ is what allows us to receive His grace with peace that sets us free.

The following quote fits here to explain this truth. Speaking of Christians, Rev. Rick Parnell said, “In this life you and I live by promises, not by explanation.” We must trust God’s promises, taking Him at His word if we are to walk in the full freedom of His grace.

Speaking with regard to suffering brought to us by the work of God’s enemy, 1 Peter 5:10 tells us that by this spiritual blessing and Divine favor found in Christ’s work in us, God Himself uses our suffering to complete and make us what we each ought to be, establishing and grounding us securely, strengthening and settling us into this grace more fully and surely.

And in passages like 1 Peter 5:5 we see the coupling of humility with this work of God’s grace. God’s grace comes to the humble. The humility called for is pictured for us in Christ, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Christ chose to be of lower stature than the Father in His triune manifestation, showing us the way of God’s work of grace to the humble.

As I read that description of Christ, realizing that we are to walk in the same spiritual blessing He had—that grace of God that provides peace and freedom from fear, ungodly passion and moral conflict—we too can be loosed into bond-service that can face any insult, even threat of death, with God’s power in play. We can walk in victory, because of the hope of grace sufficient to overcome every difficulty.

Dying to self and living to Him, we find grace, sufficient and working in us to bring us into His glory and peace. May we each find God’s saving grace working freedom in us to the filling of His purpose and plan at work in us (1 Peter 1:10).

The Secret Place – Clarified

The following is response to a dear sister that was concerned that I was teaching and believing falsehood about Jesus’ deity. I know if one is brave enough to ask, others are wondering silently. So I share this response with you in its entirety.

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Thank you,Darlene, for giving me opportunity to clarify. I hope I can do so in a way that will increase understanding of what I am trying to say in my article titled, The Secret Place.

Yes, the use of the word “pre-Christ” is before His time in the earth. And yes, God, in all of His person, is one: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and Jesus is fully God and fully man. They are fully God together, three aspects of the one God, but they are distinct in their own revelation.

In trying to understand what I am saying, let’s look at this from our relationship with others. I am Darlene. You are Darlene. We have the same name, and, by another unfathomable truth, we are one together in Christ, but we each are individual beings. I have a power and ability to reach into your life, touching you, hugging you, influencing your life, and you mine. That power is a picture of the Holy Spirit. But that power is not my fullness, nor is it yours. I know of you by that power reaching out to touch me, and me you. But we only know one another in part. To say I KNOW you, fully, because of your touch in my life would be false. That is only a part of you, as the Holy Spirit is only one manifestation of God in all His glory.

We have the same given name, Darlene, but I have a body that does not look like your body. Our faces are different. We can sit together and be together because we have a separate body that allows us to do so. I can reach out and touch you, and you me. We can hug. We can know one another’s face. But we are distinctly different people. Our bodies allow us distinction and movement. Our bodies allow us to know one another better, but just because we can touch one another, sit together, and recognize one another’s face does not mean that we KNOW one another. I am deeper than that. You are deeper than that. And even beyond that, what is it that Paul said, “I do not even examine myself” (1 Corinthians 4). Why? Because I don’t fully know myself and can even deceive myself. Each of us can have subconscious things going on that even hinder us fully knowing ourselves, much less one another. We have need of the Father to help us.

Like with our power to move and influence our world, our bodies are not us, they are but a part of who we are. Jesus is the Body of God that can reach out to touch and interact with sinful man. But Jesus Himself made it clear that He in His humanity was not privy to all the knowledge and fullness of God. That is beyond our human comprehension how Jesus can be fully God but not privy to all the knowledge and fullness of God. But He made it clear in setting an example for us to follow that human flesh needs constant communion and direction from the God-head called “Father.”

You and I are more than our movements. We are more than our flesh. We are deeply hidden persons. There are things about each of us that the other cannot know unless we reveal it. I hold myself back from you in areas of my essence because I do not know you well and know if I can trust you. My full personality is masked with you and you with me. And as I said, there can even be things about me that are hidden from my own conscious self because the timing is not right for it to be revealed and used or handled in a healthy way. So God, who knows me fully, blocks those things from me for my good and His glory, revealing them in His timing, for His purpose, to work some good in me at a time when I am better prepared through my growing relationship with Him to handle it and to use it for His glory.

This full essence of our being is a picture of the Father in the trinity of God. There were things that the Father is fully aware of within His depths that Jesus’ mind was not privy to, and would not be privy to until Father’s fullness of time made it available to His body’s mind.

I have friends that I am very close to, my husband being one. They know me as fully as any can. I feel I can be myself with them and trust that they will still love me. But even with them, there are things I hold to myself and God. God is the only one who knows either of us better than we even know ourselves. He knows everything about us and loves us unconditionally. The Father wants us to open ourselves up to that depth of relationship that only He and “I” can have. But Father also wants us to know the greater depths of HIS essence. And that essence is only found in the part of Him that is made known to us as The Father.

God chooses to hold back parts of Himself from us until we choose to pursue a deeper, more trustworthy, uncompromising, unconditional relationship; one that is completely surrendered to that pursuit and fully committed to that relationship becoming all it can be. That depth of God that is found in the Father is what God in all His person wants us to pursue. That depth of His essence, drowning ourselves in that deep relationship, is the Secret Place of God’s glory. And that is what I am trying to point us to in this, now, series of writings.

I hope this helps you to understand better what I am trying to say. God is incomprehensible. He is so deep that there is no way for human mind to fathom Him. Thus it is difficult to delve into that depth, human flesh to human flesh, without chancing misunderstanding. But try we must, because jumping in head first with faith in Him is the only way to go deeper. Your sharing makes sure of my understanding. And sharing our findings as we go deeper into Him is one way He helps us to find those deeper waters for ourselves.

Thank you, again, Darlene, for not just sitting in your concern that I was speaking falsely about the Christ. If you had questions, others did as well. Thank you for letting God use you to give opportunity for clarification. I hope and believe this will at least clear up the water a little, settling the mud of confusion and misunderstanding to bring clarity and the ability to catch the reflection of God and His glory.

“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah33:3).

THE SECRET PLACE

“The Secret Place of Most High” God, the place in which Psalm 91:1 calls us to dwell—our dwelling place of healing, strength, power, provision, protection, freedom, etc: What is The Secret Place? I’ve been thinking on this awhile and here are the thoughts rolling around in my head.

Is being “in the Spirit” theSecret Place? I don’t think so. However, The Spirit in us and us in Him is needful for entry into the Secret Place. The Spirit is the “third person” or revelation of God. He is palpable. We know when He is near. He opens up to us the truths of God, empowers us for service, and to overcome fears and failures. He is the seal of God’s approval and relationship with us for all eternity. His authority over us comes from both the Father and the Son. He speaks to us only what the Father instructs Him to. He is wholly God, but somehow limited in His authority and work by the will of the Father and the Son.

Is the Son theSecret Place? He is the Hiding Place, but I don’t think He is theSecret Place. We are completely hidden in Christ. He gives the Spirit charge to fill us and be our teacher in His stead, while He covers us. Jesus covers us with His blood of propitiation—the full price that covers our sin. He covers us in His robes of righteousness. Why? Because the Father cannot look on sin, so Jesus covers us, hiding our sin ridden flesh, so that we may have fellowship with the Father. But Jesus is not the Father—somehow, beyond my comprehension, they are one and the same but different.

Jesus worked hard in His earthly ministry to make a clear distinction between Himself and the Father. He told us that the Father has given Him all authority in heaven and earth, making Him King and giving Him power over His own life, to take it up or lay it down. He had the keys to Hades where He deposited all sin for all eternity; the debt is paid, and acceptance of His provision assures that we do not join our sin there for everlasting time. But He is not Father.

He made it clear when another called Him “good” that only the Most High God, our Father is good. Why would not the Sinless Lamb of God be considered good? Could it be that, in order to prove Himself sinless and able to withstand temptation, He had to be open to temptation? That says to me that there had to be a struggle of some sort there that was overcome, otherwise how would He truly know how we struggle in our flesh? How would He truly understand?

Jesus also made it clear that only the Most High God and Father knows all, for He said, “But of that day and hour (of His return) no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36).

So God is one, but He reveals Himself to us in three distinct personalities: the all powerful Spirit who is sent out to do the bidding of Father and Son; the Son who, according to inklings throughout Scripture is the part of God that can relate with sinful man and has done so throughout the ages in the form of “The Angel of the Lord” and in the body and work of the Son of God and Savior of man, and in the Father. We don’t fully understand all this, but this is the picture we get throughout scripture, and it is glory to behold. God, who cannot look on sin, made provision through His seeming Split Personality that is beyond our full comprehension, so that He could fulfill His promise to be with us always and so that He could bring about the fullness of His purpose and plan in the completeness of time.

But there is a part of God—the part that Jesus calls “Father” and instructs us who are His children-in-Christ to call Him that as well—that is kept in holiness, separate from man. He is the One who has all authority in Himself. No one gives it to Him. No one can take it away. It is Who He is. Father is the one who has all knowledge and understanding in Himself; amazingly and unfathomably holding some things even from the conscious understanding of His Son—who is somehow Himself in the flesh of a Man. The Father is the One part of God’s wholeness who cannot even look on evil; The One whose holy essence is the cause of any inkling of evil trying to enter His presence being laid out in instant death upon entering His sanctuary. He is the one who is only found in the Holy of Holies. This is the part of God that Jesus and the Spirit constantly call us to draw near to and know. Could this be the Secret Place of the Most High God?

In pre-Christ days, God poured forth His presence into the tabernacle area known as the Holy of Holies. This is where Moses and the spiritual heads that followed him entered in to the very presence and fellowship of God. As the days of the priests came in, it was permitted for the high priest to enter the Holy of Holies once each year to make atonement for the sins of the people. But it was required for that high priest to be thoroughly washed of all sin before he could enter. He went through spiritual cleansing for days before his entry, then was washed physically and placed in specific robes for his entry into the presence of God. Before he entered, the priests serving alongside him would tie a rope around his ankle, for if he failed to repent of even what man would deem to be a “small sin,” he would drop dead in the presence of God’s holiness. The rope allowed for the body to be removed without endangering those who would retrieve him.

Then enters Jesus, the High Priest ordained by God, the last one ever needed. He paid the price for all sin, and in the instant of that debt being fully covered, God tore open the Holy place of His dwelling. Now it makes sense to me why Jesus is somehow the housing of only a part of God’s wholeness, for if all of God was in the Lamb, all mankind would be dead from the touch of His holiness, and He would have no need to get on that cross.

Jesus came in the power of God’s Spirit and paid the full price of sin, and the Father tore open the Holy of Holies, inviting all in who will receive the covering of the Price and walk in the Power. In His earthly ministry, Jesus constantly pointed all who would listen to God the Father and His ways, instructing us to worship The Most High God and Father in Spirit and in truth. And He taught us to pray, not to Himself, but to the Father in the name of the Son—as representing Him and His interests and in His authority and covering; thus, fulfilling our earthly role in Christ as His priest unto God for mankind; His representative in the earth; His body, having His authority to enter into the holiness of God by the blood of the Lamb who is our High Priest and has made the way open to us.

The Secret Place: the place where God in all His fullness is made available to us. The place where we find healing and power and provision and protection and peace and all that God is, as He reveals Himself more and more to each individual member of Christ. It is said of Joshua, the son of Nun, that when Moses left the tent of meeting , Joshua would remain there. He was seeking to dwell in that Secret Place, the inner sanctum of God. This is our calling. This is our aim.

“He who DWELLS in (the shelter of) the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty, Whose power no foe can withstand” [Psalm 91:1, AMP (NASB)].

GraceDefined #1: Unmerited Favor

Using the Amplified version of scripture in her sermons, a verse used by Joyce Meyer stands out to me one day, as it brought greater refinement to my understanding of what God’s grace is and how it works. Hearing that verse read aloud started me on a personal journey to discover the greater depths of God’s grace toward us. Digging out every scripture I could find using the word “grace” in the Amplified, what better place to start than with what is already known.

The most common definition of grace I know of is “unmerited favor.” It is undeserved favor that God chooses to give, not because of who we are or what we do and don’t do, but because of who He is and because of His own desire toward and for us. God is the giver of grace.

This grace is spoken of in such passages as 1 Peter 3:7, where husbands are called to honor their wives, realizing that though they may be physically weaker, they are joint heirs of equal standing in God’s grace. Paul says in Romans 12:3 that it is because of this grace, this unmerited favor, that he is able to give warning to others against thinking more highly of self than we ought. It sounds to me like this “unmerited favor” is important for us to understand and possess so that we can rightly relate to one another, and so as to think correctly about self and others. But what exactly does “unmerited favor” mean?

According to the angels words to Mary in the Amplified version of Luke 1:30, this unmerited favor means “free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving-kindness.” This grace toward Mary is what made her worthy of being God’s chosen mother of the Christ Child. This chapter of scripture states no particularly outstanding attributes that Mary had to make her favorable beyond the fact that she was a pure virgin. It was God’s grace toward her that chose her for the honor of service as the chosen one for birthing the King of kings and Lord of lords into this world.

John 1:17, Amplified, defines this grace as “unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing.” It is the mercy of God toward us that honors us as His chosen people, useful in the accomplishing of His good will and purpose in this life, providing us spiritual blessing and saving grace through Jesus Christ; and by it He gifts us for service (Romans 3:24, 5:20-21; 1 Peter 5:12).

So that means no worries, beloved, if you feel unworthy and inadequate for God’s use. God has you covered by grace—His unmerited favor and lovingkindness that gives to us the spiritual blessing of partnership with Him in His purpose and plan. One thing I noted that accompanies our receipt of this grace of our God is the heart-peace to walk in it (2 Timothy 1:2, 9-10). So go forth in peace and prosper the Kingdom. God’s grace has you covered.

“By Silvanus, a true, loyal, consistent, incorruptible brother, as I consider him, I have written briefly to you, to counsel and urge and stimulate you and to declare to you that this is the true account of the grace (the undeserved favor) of God. Be steadfast and persevere in it” (1Peter5:12).

Join me in my next blog session for more on grace.

(PS: My blogs have a tendency to run words together, when pasted in. Sometimes I forget to proof for that before posting. Please forgive when that happens.)

The Royal Wedding – by Adele Simpson

As I watched England’s Royal Wedding I kept being drawn to dwell on “The Marriage Supper of the Lamb” where the groom is Christ Himself and the bride is the Church.

There was great mystery and anticipation surrounding Catherine’s wedding gown.  In Revelation 19:7 & 8 NKJV we can understand how important the wedding garment is:   “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”

Prince Williamwas dressed in red which reminded me of the blood of the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

Catherine kept being referred to as a “commoner” and I thought about “gentiles” being grafted into Christ with Israel.

The music was beautiful ending with the hymn, “Jerusalem”. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  God is our song and has become our salvation.

Westminster Abbey was adorned with trees. JESUS is the Tree of Life.

The couple was exhorted from God’s Word throughout the wedding. Catherine’s brother read from Romans 12. May all the world know that heaven and earth are passing away but God’s Word abides forever.  May Prince William and Princess Catherine and all the world know that man is like the flowering grass.  The grass withers and the flowers fade but the Word of God abides forever.  May they and we build our lives on the eternal. 

England’s Royal Wedding cost millions of dollars and was a labor of love. We are purchased with God’s very own blood—THE ULTIMATE LABOR OF LOVE.

It is estimated that 2 billion people watched “The Royal Wedding” but someday every eye will SEE JESUS.

Only the Holy Spirit can prepare us for “THE DIVINE WEDDING”.  May we be putty in our Father’s hand allowing Him to make us like Christ.  May we be ready for the Wedding of all weddings where there will be unspeakable joy, full of glory for all of eternity.

People at the The Royal Wedding were from all walks of life from all over the world.  The Kingdom of God is made up of every tongue, tribe and nation. The invitation is open to all.  God is not willing that any should perish but all should have everlasting life.  He stands with open arms ready to receive unto Himself all who will repent of sin and receive Him as LORD.  He is LOVE.

Soldiers riding horses were prominent at the celebration of The Royal Wedding.  In Revevelation 19:11-14 NKJV we read: “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse.  And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.  His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns.  He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.  He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood and His name is called The Word of God.  And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.”

Yes, the King is coming—BE READY!!!

Take a righteous R & R with Romans and Revelation and BE BLESSED!!

Written by Adele Simpson, Pastor’s wife in Oklahoma. © 4/30/11. Used by permission.