Raised Up and Seated

Jesus-Bride006

Ephesians 2:4  But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Note the past tense in the words “raised” and “seated,” beloved. The spirit of your being, united with God’s Spirit in Christ Jesus, is already raised up and seated with Him. When the flesh, this world, demons, the stress of this life, and whatever else, tries to make you feel distant from God, don’t you believe it.

I am reading the book by Tony Evans, titled “The Battle is the Lord’s.” In the first chapter he points out that we may physically be here on this earth; but spiritually we are already raised to a position of victory in Christ, in the heavenly places with Him. So when we battle the spiritual battle in this life, we cannot fight it from a stance of physical position and win. However, if we remember where we are in Him spiritually, victory is assured. Why? Because we are translated to the position of a soldier in the Lord’s army and, as part of His army, we are assured everything we need.

First Corinthians 9:7 records these words, “Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense?” A soldier is provided all his needs by the government under which he serves. So it is with God. He supplies our food, our clothing, our weapons for war, and our ammunition. All that is needed, He supplies, even our strength. And strength is greatly plussed when we remember that though our bodies are of this earth for now, our spirits are already raised up and seated with Him. We are part of His army. And He supplies all we need for victory in the war of the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

Faith’s Endurance 3

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

“If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” ~ James 1:20-27.

People often think James and Paul contradict one another in their teachings. This is not the case. James and Paul are saying the same thing from different ends of the continuum.

Paul often stressed salvation by faith, not works, because those known as Judaizers were coming to where he was teaching mainly the Gentile believers, and they were trying to press the Gentiles into thinking that unless they received circumcision of the flesh of the foreskin, they could not be saved. So Paul stressed that it is faith in Christ that saves, not any work of the flesh. But he also stressed that, once having been saved and filled with the Spirit, those who are led by the Spirit will also follow the example of Christ in the keeping of the Laws and call of God on their personal lives.

James is dealing with a group that is tempted by the flip side of the issue—the other end of the continuum of faith. These he speaks to believed that if we are saved by faith in Christ, it doesn’t matter what we do from there on out; sin or not, we are still saved, so why care about the Law or the works of the flesh. James is teaching them, as he says, “Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works” ~ (See James 2:14-26). True faith in God through the saving faith of Jesus Christ always walks in the fullness of the Spirit to obey God in all things. True faith in God through saving faith of Jesus Christ brings the filling of His Spirit that empowers us to accomplish every good work in accord with the will and way of God.

Endurance in our faith does what is godly. Endurance, because of faith that believes in and trusts God through Christ and in likeness to Him, chooses to “be doers of the word and not merely hearers of it.” A person who hears the word, while not being changed and influenced by it to walk in God’s will and way, needs to seriously look at where his faith lies and whether it be true faith.

We learn of God through what He requires of us, for God requires of us what He Himself believes to be true; and what He requires us to do in the strength He supplies us for doing it, He Himself does, for He is faithful to His Word. Thus one whose faith endures the trials of life knows how to bridle his tongue to the glory of God, producing a wellspring of sweet Living Water; and by faith, he or she knows how to serve God through the works of their hands. When we grow strong in faith to believe God so we may endure temptation’s pull that leads away from the will and way of God, then we will endure to the finish and produce the works that prove the source of our faith and protect us from falling to the lusts of the flesh.

 

Faith’s Endurance 2-c

Begin by rereading our focal passage ~ James 1:12-20.

In our last post we covered the path to protection from temptation as we looked at watching our love walk, especially love for God; remembering secondly that evil is not God’s desire for us—evil being anything less than God’s desire, will and way; and third, God’s idea of good is His ideal for us, so follow the good. Continuing the seven guiding principles to victory in our endurance that withstands the trials and temptations of life, thus achieving the righteousness of God as we choose faith in Him, we press on to the fourth aid to our journey:

Fourth: God leads by the way of truth.

God’s truth sets free indeed. Those who hear His voice and follow Him will walk in the truth of God and be set free from the stress of trying to keep the laws in their own strength. My missionary friend said something the other day that struck me as odd until I thought about it and realized the truth of his words.

My daughter brought a cookie cake in with her. I said, “O, she is tempting us.” He said, “You tempt yourself.”

What he is saying is that though Satan sets something before us to bring temptation to us, it is only because he knows our lusts. It is our own lusts that tempt us. “…for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust….” It is a truth I needed to hear, and ponder. Satan sets traps intended to test our love of God, and/or challenge our emotional responses, and/or tempt us to our lusts. It is our choice whether we are tempted and given to fall into his trap.

“All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies” ~ Psalm 25:10.

“It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect” ~ Psalm 18:30-32.

Fifth: be quick to hear.

STOP when temptation comes:

S ~ Set your mind on the things of God

T ~ Take a moment to inhale Him and get His thoughts and His heart

O ~ Observe His ways by walking in Obedience to His leading

P ~ Pause to listen for Him before pressing forward, then do so with assurance of God’s will and way set before you

“…Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren…” our focal passage warns us. God’s desire for us is good. Therefore we must take time to hear Him and do the good. Just as we can avoid relational discord by taking time to listen with hearing ears, so we can avoid fleshly struggle that falls in the trials of life by taking time to hear from God. And God is not one to leave us in confusion. He desires our best and speaks clearly to the listening ear that is ready to receive.

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’ Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:33-34.

“…God is not a God of confusion but of peace…” ~ 1 Corinthians 14:33.

Sixth: be slow to speak.

One thing my missionary friend is working on is listening: listening to what others are saying while visiting with them, but also listening to the Spirit to know how, when and if he is to respond. It is a good practice to have when our desire is to encourage one another in the Lord. Why? Because…

“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well…” ~ James 3:1-3 (I highly recommend that you prayerfully read through James 3-4).

Learning to listen before we speak protects us from temptation to speak foolishly. And keeping self from speaking foolishly avoids a lot of the trials of life. It is a good habit to have at all times, protecting us from running into temptations trap wherever it may be found. Taking time to listen for God and align ourselves with Him gives us time to get our desires under control before we speak up to get something we really don’t need, including protecting us from setting a bad example in our actions and reactions.

Seventh: be slow to anger.

Here we are told to be slow to anger, especially over the words of others. Anger is but one emotion we can give ourselves to that will defeat God’s purpose for us, so I will add here to “be slow” to give yourself to emotional responses. Any emotional response in the leading of our flesh will quickly lead us to sin against God. Endurance, taking time to STOP with faith in God to lead us, getting hold on God’s heart and response to the issue at hand, saves us from giving ourselves over to the lordship of our fleshly emotions.

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” ~ James 3:13-18.

Beloved, faith-filled endurance perseveres under trial, and it practices these seven steps to successfully walk in victory over difficult times in life, thus enabling us to help others have knowledge of God and His ways. Without faith’s endurance in the midst of trials, our foolish hearts deceive us, our fleshly lusts temp us, and our ungodly emotions to easily rule us. Thus we must remember that we are His workmanship, created for good works, set in the places we find ourselves so we may be His ambassadors, the first fruits of His purpose in creating us; and part of that is to achieve the righteousness of God in the earth, thus bringing glory to His name.

 

Faith’s Endurance 2-b

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” ~ James

Today and tomorrow we will look at seven principles we can grasp hold of to help our endurance:

First is our love walk: love the Lord your God with all you are.

When we truly and deeply love the Lord, seeking Him first and foremost, we will stop when temptation comes, seek His heart, and walk away from what does not please Him or work His plan in us. My daughter came in with a cookie cake she made for her husband’s birthday. I said, “She is tempting us.” My missionary friend replied, “You are tempting yourself.” That struck me as odd until I reread our focal passage this morning and realized that is what this passage says. “Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” STOPing to love God enough to let Him inspire our path protects us from giving self to one’s own lusts.

“For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me as a vital necessity and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will release you from captivity” ~ Jeremiah 29:11-14, AMP.

Second: recognize that evil is not God’s desire for us.

“…God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone….” And I would add “to evil” to end that thought, for every opportunity to turn to evil given us by the flesh, the world, and demons has God in opposition to them, reaching out to us opportunity to choose good. The choice is ours.

“The Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. … this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. … the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. … See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them ~ Deuteronomy 30.

Third: good is God’s Ideal for us, not what we deem as good, but His evaluation scale.

Our thoughts are not His thoughts when we are walking in the flesh; our ways are not His ways without His Spirit leading us to His paths. Our missionary friend staying with us right now is an excellent example of someone who constantly seeks the Lord for every step of life and he will not move forward until he has assurance of God’s leading in the path ahead. I am constantly inspired by his seeking after God with the whole of his being. My own obedience and trust in God is inspired by his faith.

“…But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law…” ~ Galatians 5.

When we faithfully follow the lead of God’s Spirit, we will, in His power, keep the Law without being servant to it, instead, being surrendered to the God who keeps His own laws and empowers us to as well.

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” ~ Romans 8.

Think on these things beloved and consider your ways before God. I will see you back here tomorrow with four through seven.

Faith’s Endurance 2-a

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” ~ James 1:12-20.

Endurance achieves the righteousness of God. Faith to trust God and stand firm against that which tempts us away from the path He has for us increases righteousness to us. Temptation is not just the flesh being drawn to something less than the best for us. Temptation is there to call us away from following God on paths of righteousness.

God promises us the way of escape from temptation:

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13.

I see seven things in our James 1 passage that give us instruction on how to escape temptation and are important to our success in standing firm to endure the trials of life. In scripture, seven is the number of perfection – of completion. We complete our endurance and reach our destiny in achieving the righteousness of God by following this course we will cover over the next few days.

This got long, so it will be split into two or three posts. That said, I will see you back here tomorrow, when we will begin to look at the seven things that we can do to walk in the path of endurance that works the righteousness of God in our daily lives.

Faith’s Endurance

God has had me meditating on James 1:2-12 most of this week, with instruction to see the absolutes in Him and make them part of me: the guiding light, stepping stone, and solid rock of my journey; the assurance of His faithfulness being seen in my day to day walk of faith and hope. Here, as I meditate upon this passage, the first thing that stands out to me is the fact that faith, when tried and proven, produces endurance (steadfastness, and patience). But look at what we are told is the produce of this endurance, steadfastness, and patience:

“And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” ~ vs. 4.

Endurance, which is steadfast patience, having its perfect result, produces perfect completeness that lacks nothing. God will accomplish His purpose in, through, and toward us as we wait patiently upon Him with assurance of heart that trusts His hand.

Then, after proclaiming this perfecting work, God has James pen:

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting…” ~ Vs. 5-6.

Sometimes endurance has to wait for wisdom to produce a heart and mind and way that lacks nothing. Seeking wisdom requires faith to wait for it, trusting God to give it, knowing He is always on time with His instruction, realizing that the wait has the purpose of producing the perfecting work of endurance.

Beloved, if you are seeking wisdom and getting silence, it is not because God is not hearing. It is because He is not ready for you to take action yet. He is doing the work of endurance in you. Hangeth thou in there, O Baby ~ as Kay Arthur oft says ~ for those who wait upon the Lord in faith will find Him faithful to make sure they lack nothing.

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” ~ vs. 12.