Depth of Our Love

“I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels. (Luke 12:8 NLT)

The above verse is not just about publicly declaring our faith, but its about the depth of our love and commitment. Our love for God must transcend the expression of a vocal witness because it goes beyond mere words.

The depth of our love is measured by the inward response to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. It’s not enough to just have our “elevator speech” ready when someone is inquiring about our faith. We must be willing and ready to speak from the depth of our personal fellowship with the Lord.

It’s is not about knowing Bible facts and memorized witnessing plans. It is about being able to reach into the well of our transformed heart and pour out living water to those we encounter. It’s being transparent to the point that what we share comes from the depths of our spiritual well. Our heart is full and running over because we have been drinking from God’s well and passionately seeking after Him.

Drinking from God’s well helps us deal with the deception about ourselves. That’s the reason searching the scriptures is so important. The Word becomes a two edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), it wounds us, it reveals our weakness and exposes our self-centeredness.

The Lord desires to move us beyond the need to openly declare that we are “just an ole sinner saved by grace”. This declaration sounds spiritual but it can be a barrier that hinders us from allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal the deception about ourselves.

“Confessing me before men” is more than a verbal acknowledgment, it’s evidence that we are letting go of our life in order that Christ’s life may be prevalent. This is God’s intention for His children, that we manifest Christ’s life to the world. This is the element that causes the world to recognize that there is something different about us, something that attracts them to our quality of life.

Bottom Line

How do we make sure that our life is manifesting Christ’s life? Here are three things that may help us toward that goal.

Meditate regularly on the Scripture, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal our sin and our attitude. – I know, its not PC to talk about sin. But that’s the unique aspect of Scripture, it’s ability to expose our sin. Often it’s not the big sins that make us stumble, but those little sins that cause us to grow cold toward the Holy Spirit’s prompting and leadership. The Scripture, properly applied, penetrates our sensitivities and enables us to destroy the barriers that keep us from intimacy with the Father.

Intentional and targeted prayer – This is moving beyond the typical believer’s prayer of “bless me and my family and watch over and protect us today”. It’s prayer that is focused on asking the Lord to reveal our self-centeredness, selfishness, pride, anger, and most of all, our level of unbelief.

Trust God – Trusting God is a faith issue. Do we really believe that God is greater than our situation or dilemma? Do we believe that He can deliver us when we have no way out or no options left?

When we are depressed, can we believe that we can cast our care and depression on Him and He will change our thinking and deliver us from our depression? The answer is a resounding YES!

“Trust in the Lord with your whole heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

If we let God’s Word shape our spiritual character, and we develop a prayer life that seeks to act like a search light on our soul, then we will develop a depth of trust that will carry us through every situation.

 

Seeing God in All Things

Over twenty years ago I had the privilege of spending a couple of weeks in China. While there I was taken by one of the Chinese church leaders to visit several underground house churches. When I began to teach these dear brothers and sisters I felt an overwhelming sense of unworthiness. Just the act of meeting together for a Bible study was risky. For me the risk was minimal. I would merely be taken to the airport and deported if caught by the officials. For them it meant years of jail time and multiple beatings and torture.

While I was visiting various house churches, another group had the privilege of visiting the famous Chinese Pastor Samuel Lamb. Pastor Lamb had been imprisoned for over 20 years and suffered physical and mental abuse. When someone in the group mentioned to him that they were praying for the persecution of the church to stop in China, Pastor Lamb quickly rebuked them and gave his famous quote, “ More persecution more growth of the church.” In other words, the seed of the church is the blood of the saints.

This event, coupled with many other visits to persecuted church countries, has deeply impacted my view of the normal Christian life. Could it be that the Western Church has had it wrong all along? Our view of safety, comfort, persecution free life has produced a powerless church that has little impact on our culture. Over the past 200 years the church has served as the moral conscience of our great country. Now because of lack of spiritual power and influence in the church, the moral decline in our country is moving at warp speed.

A closer look at Scripture

My experience with the persecuted church and observation of the the early church in Scripture has led me to have a very different view of the the Christian life. A trouble free life is not necessarily a sign of God’s blessings. We can all agree that God has blessed us in many ways and one of those elements is our generally trouble free life. However being trouble free could also be because we are not doing much to disturb the kingdom of darkness.

I am not suggesting that we become someone who intentionally stirs up trouble by in-your-face confrontation, but I am merely suggesting that we evaluate our view of trouble and suffering, and how we deal with difficult circumstances.

God has taught me some valuable lessons that I want to pass on to you. Maybe it will change how you view trouble in your life.

God is fully aware of every element of our life. If it’s true that the living Christ indwells every believer, then God is fully aware of every element of our life. He is even aware of those times when our dumb decisions bring us unwelcome consequences. This knowledge of the indwelling Christ reminds me of the truths of Romans 8:28 – “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and called according to his purpose for them.” (NLT)

There are two key elements to this passage of Scripture. One, “God causes all things to work together”. Rather than changing our present circumstances, more often than not, God uses the things that are presently happening in our life to accomplish His plan. Secondly, these things will work together for those “who love God”. Notice that is active tense. Those who are presently, actively loving/serving God and pursuing His purpose will experience things all working out.

See God in everything. Since God is ever present in our life then we should examine every event, disappointment and present challenge as a God moment. We must keep in mind that God is fully aware of our predicament. Instead of trying to escape our circumstances, stop and ask God “what He is up to and what is He saying to us?” Ask, “What do you want me to learn through this situation?” That’s because God is more concerned about your response to the situation than He is about how He’s going to deliver or rescue you from the situation.

Change the way you pray in difficult situations. “ And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Sprit prays for us with groaning that cannot be expressed in words. The Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers.” (Romans 8:26-27 NLT)

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to pray. That’s the reason the Holy Sprit was given to us to guide and teach us all things. Instead of first praying “Lord deliver me”, pray “Lord show me the greater purpose, help me not to seek deliverance if the greater lesson and glory is for me to endure the course.”

Bottom Line

We must keep in mind that God’s glory and His best for you is the end game, not necessarily deliverance. Remember that suffering and endurance is a spiritual virtue. It may be that God wants to demonstrate His power in deliverance. But it also may be that He wants to show you what He can do in the midst of the storm.

Holy Spirit Remembrance

Can you imagine how overwhelmed the disciples must have been when Jesus gave them the great commission? Jesus’ parting words were, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations (people groups)…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded” (Matthew 28:19).

For the most part, they were uneducated tradesmen. They were now being sent out to teach all the known world the things which Jesus had taught them. They weren’t trained or schooled teachers, but ordinary blue collar laborers. The sheer volume of what Jesus said and did during the 3 years they spent with him were overwhelming. John even wrote a few chapters later:

“And there are many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written
in detail I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books
which were written.” (John 21:25 NAS)

I’m sure they must have been thinking, ‘I wish I had taken better notes or asked more clarifying questions. How are we ever going to remember those things we have heard and seen?’

Jesus knew this question would come up so He told them earlier, “When the Spirit of truth comes He will bring to your remembrance everything I have told you.” (John 16) We know this happened because we can read about the ministry of Jesus and his disciples in the Gospels. Jesus’ words and deeds are accurately recorded by his disciples through divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit.(2 Timothy 3:16 )

The same Holy Spirit who brought the teachings and events of Jesus to the disciples memory, is the same Holy Spirit who brings to our mind the things we need to know and remember. That’s the reason it’s important to read and memorize the Word, as well as, read good books written by Spiritual men and women.

I have often thought, why has remembering the things I have learned been so difficult for me to retain? I have anxiously prayed for the Lord to help me remember what to say before a speaking engagement. Matter of fact, my wife has often said to me, “How do you remember your sermon and all those scriptures when you can’t even remember what I asked you to pickup at the grocery store?” I have to admit she has a point.

However, I am acutely aware of Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit “will bring to remembrance” those things that have been stored in my mind. The Holy Spirit’s role in our life is one of the most amazing aspects of the Christian life. Over my lifetime I have taught, preached or counseled hundreds of times. Often I entered the event sensing a deep degree of inadequacy. Some of those events, I had no idea what I was going to say or how I was going to respond to a hurting person. But as I yielded myself to the Spirit’s control, the words and scriptures began to flow. Sometimes I would leave the speaking event or counseling session stunned and surprised at the words that came out of my mouth.

I could never take credit for the Spirit’s work. It was Him that brought those things to my memory. There is no explanation other than the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit would bring to our remembrance the Scripture and the teachings of Jesus. It’s an example of the life of Jesus being manifest through us. It’s the Holy Spirit manifesting Jesus to those around us.

Bottom Line

God is faithful to honor His word. He has promised to bring to our mind the things to say, just when we need it. However, there is an “if” at play here. The “if” is we must first put the truths in our mind. That’s why I like to have an annual Bible reading plan. Sometimes it’s to read the whole Bible through in a year, sometime it’s to read just the New Testament. Often I will select a devotional plan to come alongside my Bible reading. The point is to be intentional.

Do I remember every word I read, absolutely not. But I rely on God’s promise to bring to my mind those truths when I need them. But He can’t bring it to your present memory if the Word hasn’t been put there in the first place.

Don’t forget, what we have read in Scripture and been taught through teaching, preaching and reading good books is in our mind. We might not be able to locate it at will, but if we will be “Holy Spirit sensitive”, and be careful not to quench or grieve the Holy Spirit by our unconfessed sin, then He will be sure to bring to your mind all those truths that will become salt and light to a needy soul.

Resting and Trust

“So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9 NLT)

The context of the book of Hebrews has to do with convincing the unbelieving Jews of the superiority of Christ. Jesus is the fulfillment of all that they hold dear. Jesus is better than Angels, Moses, and the Law because He is the fulfillment of all of those things. So the writer of the book is admonishing them to not harden their heart in unbelief like their ancestors, but enter into the rest that salvation can give them.

This message of rest is also for us today. Because of the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross we can enter into a Spiritual rest for salvation.

This rest not only applies to salvation, but also to everyday life. Our salvation is so complete that it not only deals with our eternal destiny, but it can offer us rest in the midst of every problem. The same rest that is available for the salvation of our souls is also available for every challenge of life.

Learning how to rest is an important element of victorious living. Saying, “I’m resting” is not some spiritual incantation that enters us into the resting mode, but rather it’s a lifestyle based on absolute truth. As the invitation in Hebrews states, “therefore be diligent to enter into that rest” (V 11). Entering into God’s rest is an exercise of the will, trusting in the authority of His Word.

It’s a deliberate acknowledgment that God is fully aware of your situation and He understands the severity, the timing and the gravity of your problem. In other words, resting is agreeing to allow God to “fix it” in His way, on His terms, and in His timing. Its the act of “casting all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7)

Bottom Line
When my daughter Leslie was a toddler she was a trusting soul. I would lift her up and put her on the kitchen counter. She would leap off the counter with enthusiasm into my arms. No matter how far I got from the counters edge she would leap with complete trust that I was going to catch her. After each jump she would say, “again,again”.

That’s how God wants us to experience Him. He wants us to take the leap of faith and learn to rest in Him, again and again. He will, without fail, catch us when we take the leap of faith and give all our anxiety to Him.

There is a song written in 1920 by a Englishman named Edward Henry Joy called “All our Anxiety”. I believe the song echoes the message of rest in Hebrews 4.

Is there a heart bound by sorrow?
Is there a life weighed down by care?
Come to the cross each burden bearing
All you anxiety leave it there

All our anxiety all our care
Bring to the mercy seat, leave it there.
Never a burden He cannot bear,
Never a friend like Jesus”.

Courage For the New Year

Throughout the Scripture Jesus continually reminds his disciples to be courageous in approaching whatever they may face in life. Was he attempting to pump up the troops to help them accomplish their goals in life or was there something deeper he was conveying?

I think there was a deeper, life changing truth he was trying to instill in his disciples. Jesus was teaching the simple truth of trust. He desires that all of his children would live in the light of absolute dependence upon Him. Trusting in His finished work of the cross for our salvation is just the beginning of our trust journey.

If I could use one word to describe a “super believer” it would be the word TRUST. The ultimate attribute and quality of a follower of Jesus is our ability to fully trust him with every event, situation and aspect of our life. The Scripture says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart (our mind, will and emotions) and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.“ (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Whatever comes our way we are to give it to the Lord and trust Him to work it all out for our good and His glory. When we stress out over a situation we are choosing to withhold our heart from Him. We are choosing to not trust Jesus and our Heavenly Father. How is it that in stressful situations we often forget that God is already fully aware of our situation, and knows the severity of our circumstance? God is never surprised at what happens to us, matter of fact, he knows in advance. That means that every situation is a test of our willingness and ability to fully trust in Him.

That reminds me of a phrase I heard an evangelist give over thirty years ago regarding how God is never surprised at what happens to us. He said, “Has it every occurred to you that nothing ever occurs to God?” It would be good for us to ponder that statement.

He wants our natural reflex to be that we immediately trust Him. We already have a head knowledge that God is bigger than any situation, but he wants us to move that trust from our head to our heart.

Bottom Line

My challenge to you for 2016 is to set a goal to ‘up your level of trust’ . When you get stressed -out about a situation, give it to God, and practice trusting Him to see you through. Then begin to see every trial as a divine test by the heavenly Father to ‘up your level of trust’.

When something occurs that gets you stressed, worried, or out of control, remember this quote, “Don’t be guilty of mistaking the middle of the chapter for the end of your story.” (Jake Colsen)

Maturity Barometer

I don’t know about you, but I like “measurables”. In other words, I like indicators that tell me how I am doing in a certain areas of my life. I am not talking about legalism that’s based on a performance base acceptance model. I am referring to matters of the heart. Indicators that your heart is maturing and conforming to a Christ likeness.

Spiritual maturity is not about “what you do for God”, but it’s about how much your heart (your mind, will and emotions) is conforming to the character of Christ. When we are allowing Christ to be our life then we will automatically move toward spiritual maturity.

However, maturity is not just a subjective thing, there are some measurables that serve as our spiritual barometer. Listed below are a few signs or indicators that we are moving toward maturity.

1. You are maturing when you acknowledge that your life is not your own. The Scripture tells us that “…and you are not your own, for you have been bought with a price.” ( 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This requires an intentional act of the will where you put your life in God’s hands and desire to be fully obedient to God’s plan, wherever that may lead. It is taking your dreams, plans and goals and present circumstances and placing them in God’s hand. It’s admitting that you can’t do life successfully unless God leads and directs your life.

2. You are maturing when you realize you don’t have to respond when challenged. This is a major indicator of maturity and it’s probably one of the most difficult things to grasp. It was difficult for me for several reasons. First, I had the need to be right, especially if someone challenged me. I just couldn’t let it go. I guess it was tied to my need to be validated. However, when I understood that abandonment to the supremacy of Christ involved surrendering rights and expectations then my need to “be right” diminished.

Secondly, being right gave me a sense of worth. When I discovered that my security is in “who I am in Christ” and not in “proving that I was “right”, then I was able to let those challenges go. It didn’t matter anymore, because I no longer had to validate my worth by proving I was right. My worth and acceptance was based solely on “who I am in Christ”, His life is enough.

3. You are maturing when you realize that every difficulty is God’s way of breaking us. Every mature believer will point to difficult times and/or encounters with difficult people as a time of spiritual growth. In God’s economy of things, brokenness moments and events are God’s method of maturing us. Maturity is seldom a result of mountain top experiences, but rather a compilation of valley experiences.

“Every person who crosses us, every person who discourages us is God’s way of breaking us. It creates a deeper channel in us for the life of Christ. The only life that pleases God is His life, never our life. Our self-centered life is the exact opposite of His. We can never be filled with His life unless we are prepared to bring our life constantly to death.” ( Quote from Roy Hession)

Bottom Line
Spiritual maturity is not about performance, but about the level of our submission and obedience to the Lord. God never intended for our relationship with Him to be based on our self-effort. That’s the reason that the Scripture tells us “that we are made complete in Him.” (Colossians 2).

Living in the Father’s Love

Love trumps every human emotion. Anger separates and alienates us from those we care about the most. Jealousy becomes possessive behavior that drives our loved ones away. Pride keeps us from being real, and it sets up a wall that prevents us from developing transparent relationships. But our Heavenly Father’s love sets us free and breaks down all those barriers. God’s love helps us establish lasting relationships that binds our hearts with others.

However, administering this love has a divine order. First, we must be able to receive love before we can adequately give it to others. God wired us to be purveyors of His love, but he knew in and of ourselves that we lack the capacity to give continual love. That’s the reason He sent Jesus to provide the ultimate act of love. Jesus died in our place on the cross in order that we can become a child of God and then be a receiver of the Father’s love.

God not only wants us to be continual recipients of the Father’s love, but He wants us to learn to live and walk in His love. How do we do that? We must be a willing receiver of His divine love. It’s more than accepting Jesus as your Savior. It involves an act of the will. We go the next step in our spiritual growth by abandoning our life to Him we are declaring “I am all in, and committed to serving God all the days of my life.” When you do that, there is an exchange that takes place, you exchange your self-centered, self-directed life for His life. It’s an acknowledgement that you can’t live your life in your own strength. You need Christ’s divine life in you for direction, wisdom and guidance.

When we learn to live “in the Father’s love” several things happen.

1. We give up the idea that our goodness controls the way God treats us. You abandon the idea that if you do your part, then He will do His part. God always does His part because He always has His hand in your life. God promises us that “He will never leave nor forsake us.” (Hebrews 13:5)

2. We would let Him have His way with us so that we can become more like Him. He always knows what is best for us. “ God causes all things to work together…” (Romans 8:28)

3. God will set us free from those things in which we get our security. “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)

4. You will see that suffering is God’s way of setting us free so we can follow Him at a deeper level. ”Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself alone” (John 12:24)

5. You will learn that walking in God’s love is enough. “We are made complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10)

6. God will increase your “love capacity” so you can become a giver of His love to others.

Bottom Line

God loves you more than the world could ever love you. His love is pure, unconditional and abundant. Living and resting in His love is the best place a follower of Jesus can dwell. Abiding in His love is not a formula or a religious ritual. It is not a list of “do’s and don’ts”. But its a gift from God as we yield every aspect of our lives to His control. So give up, surrender and then abide and walk in His sweet love.

Thanksgiving and Attitude

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:13)

One of the instinctive elements of a true believer is a thankful heart. We realize that a normal part of our daily life should include a continual attitude of thankfulness. It’s more than just saying “Thank You” to someone who does something nice for us. It’s displaying an attitude to those around us that whatever happens in life, I am going to respond as someone who sees God in every aspect of life.

There is a difference in “being thankful” and “giving thanks”. Being thankful is a result of a giving thanks. Being thankful is an act of the will regardless of how we feel. It is also an act of trust and obedience. Being thankful is a result of, and prerequisite to, having a thankful heart. Being thankful is an overt act of obedience, and the sweet result is having a thankful heart.

Does that mean we are to be thankful when we receive tragic news like, “You have cancer” or “You have lost your job”, or when we lose a friend or loved one through death? Yes, we are to be thankful – but not how you might think. No one in his right mind would say, “Praise the Lord, I have cancer.” Or would they say, “Hallelujah, my close friend has died.” That would be delusional.

But what it does mean is that we are to be so dependent upon a sovereign God for every event and circumstance in our life that we look for God’s hand and blessings in the midst of the trial. What God really desires is for us to be so “other-worldly” that nothing can shake our confidence and trust in Him. He wants us living at the level where we know that God knows best, even though in the midst of our problem we can’t see the blue sky for the fog.

It’s all about attitude

Whether we realize it or not, all our attitudes spring from some sort of belief system. For example, when our attitude takes a nosedive and we become discouraged or angry, it’s a result of a “belief system breakdown”. Our crisis of belief becomes, “do we trust God with this or are we doubting His ability to “work all things for our good?”

They have a saying in the Air Force, “Your attitude will determine your altitude”. So if you want to have an thankful heart that soars, then you must maintain a great attitude. That’s because having a thankful heart is all about “attitude”. It’s an attitude that gets its confidence from God’s love and care.

Bottom Line
You can gauge the depth of a thankful heart by observing attitude. Does your attitude reflect “God’s got this problem” or does it reflect doubt, fear and anger. Remember that our attitude often notifies our face.

Well of the Heart

“What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me? Says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them…So when you spread out your hands in prayer,I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen.” (Isaiah 1:11)

During my counseling days I did a great deal of marital counseling with Christian couples. In the beginning of the counseling process each person would tell in great detail what they thought was wrong with the marriage. After a few minutes of listening to their complaints, you could tell they thought if their mate could change their behavior then the marriage problems would be solved.

Bad behavior and wrong attitudes need to be addressed, but if there is going to be lasting resolution the root cause of the bad behavior had to be dealt with first. That’s because wrong behavior and attitudes are usually connected to a belief system that is part of a much deeper problem.

For example, if someone is angry all the time and they suddenly change their behavior of anger outburst, it’s not going to bring long lasting change. While they are controlling outbursts of anger by self-discipline, inside there is a volcano of anger waiting to erupt. Without first discovering and dealing with why they are always angry, the greater anger building up inside is just waiting to explode.

Couples were often surprised that I seemingly ignored the wrong behavior and started addressing their individual spiritual relationship with God instead. I encouraged them to trust me that their problem was really a symptom and until they dealt with the core spiritual issue there would never be lasting resolution.

After several sessions, they began to see that the root problem of their marriage was not the behavior but a lack of intimacy and meaningful fellowship with God. When there is a lack of ongoing transparency, humility and deep repentance with God, there will be behavior issues that will cause self-centeredness, selfishness, self-destruction, and a general overall dissatisfaction with life.

As followers of Christ, when we are out of fellowship with God then our behavior is most often driven by our flesh. But when we start focusing on building our intimacy with God, repentance of our wrong behavior will soon follow. More often than not, the quality of your relationship with your spouse, friends or family is directly related to the quality and depth of the relationship you have with the Lord.

That’s the message that Isaiah is conveying from God to the tribe of Judah. God is telling his people, I am not interested in all your sacrifices, prayers and songs of praise until you show true repentance by start doing what is right. A right relationship with God always yields repentance from sinful behavior, attitudes and habits.

Bottom Line

When you became a follower of Jesus, you became someone your have never been before, a child of God. By a divine act of the Holy Spirit you were born into the family of God. You have a new nature, you are now in Christ. This nature is driven and directed by the Holy Spirit. We no longer have to “do life” on our own.

Because we have this new nature that is to be directed and driven by the Holy Spirit, all that we are, all that we do, and all that we aspire to be should spring forth from our fellowship with the Father. The quality of our relationships is directly proportionate to the quality of our regular fellowship with God.

When I was a kid there was a well known Bible teacher named Dr. J. Vernon McGee that had a daily radio teaching broadcast. My mom would listen to him every day. He would often quote Matthew 12:34. “…for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” He would usually follow that quote with his own practical translation of the verse. It went something like this; “Out of the well of the heart the bucket of the mouth spills forth.“

What comes out of your mouth is a reflection of what is in your heart. Are you living out of your identity “in Christ”, or are you living out of “being led by the flesh”? The bucket of your mouth will surely reveal which one.

God’s Economy of Things

I am not one to throw around theological jargon, but there is one phrase that I think is important for us to learn. The phrase is “ God’s economy of things”. The general meaning of the phrase has to do with how God works in our lives. Just as each society and culture has its own “economy” that drives its business model, God has an “economy” that drives how he deals and relates to his children.

For example, the Scripture teaches and implies that this world is not our home. (1 Peter 2:11) Therefore, in “God’s economy of things” our way of relating to our problems is “other-worldly”. That means we deal with every challenge, every failure, every out-of-control situation, and every opportunity in light of God’s economy of things.

As committed followers of Christ we now live with an awareness that God is, to some degree or another, involved with everything that happens in our life. No, He is not behind our sinfulness, even though He is there to forgive and restore us when we fail, but He is in the middle of every event. Because the Spirit of the living Christ indwells us, wherever we are, Jesus is also. He is fully aware of our plight including our anxiousness and fear.

In God’s economy of things there is often a perspective that is opposite to the world’s thinking. We could even call it paradoxical. For instance, the phrase in 2 Corinthians 12, “when I am weak I am strong” is opposite to the average human mindset. In our culture the one who is weak is portrayed as a loser. To survive and win in this world you don’t display or admit your weakness. You have to be strong, and overcome your weaknesses in order to succeed in life.

But we know that in God’s economy, weakness is a spiritual virtue. We understand that in the context of weakness we let go of our own life and Christ becomes our strength. It’s no longer “God and me make a majority”, but it’s “Christ in me is my strength”. I like the rendering of this verse in the Message when Paul is speaking of his thorn in the flesh:

“At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size – abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” (2 Corinthians 12, Message)

The above passage is our “other-worldly” perspective on our trouble. Because in God’s economy of things His intention for us is to allow the cares of this life to bring us to weakness. It is in our weakness that we will surrender control of our life and circumstances to Him. And in doing so, we can “cast all our anxiety on Him.” (I Peter 5:7)

Bottom Line

If you are a serious and committed follower of Christ, then seeing your life in light of God’s economy of things will allow you to live fully out of your new identity in Christ.

Just before Jesus went to the cross he prayed for us. He asked the Father to make us one with Him and one with the Father. (John 17:20-21) God desires that we live in our rightful position of oneness with Him. We can only do that if we are willing to change our thinking from a cultural perspective to a Christ-centered perspective that is driven by “God’s economy of things.”

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a Holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.“ (1 Peter 2:9 NAS)