Maintaining a Sense of His Presence

The Scripture teaches us that under the New Covenant the Spirit of the Living Christ is placed within each believer at the time we give our life to Him (John 17;21). The Scripture also teaches in John 16 that the Holy Spirit resides within us to teach, guide and lead us into all righteousness. Therefore, God can give us the promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Since we have the promise of God’s omnipresence in our life, we can live with the assurance that wherever we go, God is there. He fully understands the gravity of our situation. This distinguishes our Lord from all the false gods of the world. Our God is a personal god. He knows us by name, He knows all about our life and He allows us to commune with Him. What a wonderful privilege to be a child of the living God.

God wants to move us to the next level by growing in our degree of intimacy. I don’t think there is a theological word that adequately describes this level, but I like to refer to it as “Maintaining the Sense of His Presence.” Some may refer to this as Abiding.

As mentioned above, God is always with us and dwells in us, and He has promised to never leave nor forsake us. That’s a great truth that brings us comfort. However, beyond that knowledge, there is personal intimacy with the Father. We should always seek to maintain and enhance that personal intimacy.

This personal intimacy is not gotten by good works or acting more spiritual. Nor is it obtained by good works. It is realized by a deep longing to “know Him.” When we seek personal intimacy we turn our affections toward the Jesus within us, and have a deep longing to know and commune with Him. We begin to pass into another spiritual dimension. We are immediately challenged to have a fresh look at our sinfulness and examine our motives. We develop a longing for a deeper level of holiness. It’s like a thawing of our spiritually cold heart. We may even acknowledge that our outward spiritual activity has masked the inward coldness of our heart.

Madame Guyon says it best in her book Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ, where she comments on intimacy; “(For a believer) The Lord is found only within your spirit, in the recesses of your being, in the Holy of Holies; this is where He dwells. The Lord once promised to come and make His home within you. (John 14:23). He promised to there meet those who worship Him and who do His will. The Lord will meet you in your spirit. It was St Augustine who once said that he had lost much time in the beginning of the Christian experience by trying to find the Lord outwardly rather than by turning inwardly.”

All true believers have been to the place where they sense His abiding presence, but they have a difficult time staying there. In the busyness of life we let little things creep in that slowly hardens our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. When we lose this sensitivity our speech resembles the world’s language, our attitude reflects our culture and we slowly begin to lose the sense of the Lord’s presence. We become satisfied just to know that He will never forsake us, but give no thought to the fact we have lost the sense of His abiding presence.

Maintaining a sense of His presence is a deliberate and willful act of our will. It is an act of surrender and abandonment. Surrender is the willingness to surrender all those things that drive away the sense of God’s presence. It’s surrendering our worry, doubt and fear as well as those things that we know grieves the heart of God. It’s surrendering not only what the Lord allows to come your way but it’s also surrendering your reaction to what He allows to come your way.

Abandonment is forgetting your past and leaving the future in His hands. It is being satisfied with the present moment and laying all your concerns at Jesus’ feet. It is being fully immersed in His presence.

Bottom Line
Are you like me? I have a problem staying in that sense of His abiding presence. I know I am not there when my behavior and my thought life is inconsistent with my identity. I know that I have stepped out of that fellowship when I am full of fear, or when I snap back with cutting words to someone who was rude to me. Sometimes I quickly repent but sometimes, I’m sorry to admit, I enjoy my moment in the flesh too much to immediately confess my sin. But my desire is to live every moment guided by a sense of His daily presence. I think this is God’s intention for us, to continually dwell and live with a sense of imminent presence.

Do you long for a daily sense of His abiding presence? If so, make a deliberate turn toward the inward Savior. Ask Him to show you what is hindering you from having that daily sense of His abiding presence.

I am reminded of a gospel chorus that was written in 1972 by Stephen Adams, Where the Spirit of the Lord Is. It speaks to the subject of experiencing His presence. Perhaps you remember the little chorus.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is peace
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is love.
there is comfort in life’s darkest hour,
there is light and life,
there is help and power
in the spirit, in the spirit of the Lord.

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

Radical Christianty


“Do not act like the other nations, who try to read their future in the stars. Do not be afraid of their predictions, even though other nations are terrified by them. Their ways are futile and foolish. They cut down a tree, and a craftsman carves an idol. They decorate it with gold and silver and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails so it won’t fall over. Their gods are like helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field! They cannot speak, and they need to be carried because they cannot walk.” (Jeremiah 10  New Living Translation)

The above verse is an account of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah telling Israel to turn from the false wooden and stone idols and return to Jehovah, the only true God.

When I read the accounts of the Israelites constant turning from the one true God and worshiping wooden and stone idols, my first response is “what’s wrong with these people?” Have they forgotten their rich history of God’s faithfulness? Have they erased the memory of His multiple, miraculous deliverance? How could they snub God for a wooden or stone idol?

However, when I think of our present day society, aren’t we guilty of a similar thing? No, we may not be erecting wooden and stone idols, but we are guilty of turning to other things that become our gods. Our hobbies, possessions or even our recreation can replace our affection and devotion to the supremacy of Christ in our lives.

The Christian life is not about how many times you attend church in a week, nor how many hours you spend in prayer and Bible study. Even though it may include those things, the Christian life is about personal intimacy. It’s about developing a continual and constant dependency on the sufficiency of Christ. It’s about abandonment and surrender to the supremacy of Christ in all things. It’s giving God permission to lead, guide and develop every aspect of our life.

Total surrender is not giving God 10% of your money, time and talents; it’s giving Him 100% control of all you have and all you are. It’s yielding everything to the Holy Spirit’s control. It’s metaphorically laying every aspect of your life at Jesus feet and acknowledging that all you are, all you have and all you will ever be is vested in Him.

You see, God’s point in our utter abandonment is for us to acknowledge that we are created for a purpose. We are not just a biological happenstance created to wander about on the earth. As committed followers of Christ, we become “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 4:20) We really do figure into God’s grand scheme of things. We are created for this moment in history to be a demonstration of what God is like to your world.

The Bottom Line

You may be thinking, “This is radical stuff.” Yep, you are correct; this is radical Christianity, designed by God to impact our cultural for eternity. Anything less could be a form of idolatry. Will you take the challenge to lay your life at Jesus feet and be a radical follower of Christ and change your world for eternity?

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” ( Jim Elliot, Martyred Missionary)

Light Your World

“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.” (Ephesians 5:8-9 NLT)

I have to admit, I am a movie buff. I like all sorts of movies but my preferences fall into two categories, true life stories and, believe it or not, animation. Talking animals just crack me up. I guess that is why I laugh every time I read the story of Balaam’s donkey looking back at Balaam and asking him, “What have I done to you that deserves you beating me three times? (Numbers 22 NLT)

However, there is one thing about animation that cannot be duplicated; it’s the light in the eyes. This last weekend I was watching an animated movie with my granddaughter. I said to her, “Look at the eyes of the animated adults. The animators can reproduce everything just like a live person but the light in the eyes. That can only be given by God.”

But this principle of the “light in the eyes” goes even deeper. God gives every living creature life and it is demonstrated by the light of life that is in their eyes. But He goes even further with His children. He gives us a light that is different from the average creature. “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:7)

The light we now have within us is the light of Christ. It is His life in us that draws others to want to know Him. It’s Christ’s life shown through our eyes that the Holy Spirit uses to draw people to Himself. As the Scripture explains, God could use the rocks to cry out or the trees to sing His glory. But God, in His infinite wisdom, chooses to use us to display “the Light” to the world.

It is the love of Christ in us that is displayed through our life and shown through our eyes that makes us different. It is not our religious performance, Bible knowledge or debate skills that will draw someone to Christ. It is the light of Christ shown through our eyes that will cause someone to get a glimpse of God’s character and nature.

How can we make sure that Christ’s life is shown through our life? The light of Christ will be shown as we love Him with all our heart, our mind and our soul. (Matthew 22:37-39) It is a matter of surrender. As we surrender our rights and expectations, our dreams, and our plans to Him, we are changed into His likeness. It’s often called the great exchange. When we exchange our self-centered life for Christ’s life, a change occurs. The focus of our life is no longer “us”, but our new focus is Christ. We become a reflection of His glory.

That reminds me of the words of a beloved old hymn.

“Oh that will be, glory for me
Glory for me, glory for me.
When by His grace we shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me.”

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord, who is the Spirit,makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18 NLT)

The Believer and Conflict

After his resurrection Jesus appeared to his disciples several times. One of the encounters occurred on a beach, after they had been fishing all night. They were close to shore and noticed Jesus on the beach; he was cooking breakfast for them.

After they had finished eating Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Most of us are familiar with this discourse between Jesus and Peter. Peter responded all three times that he truly loved Jesus. Jesus told Peter to “tend my lambs, take care of my sheep, and feed my sheep.” (John 21)

There is plenty to learn from the three questions Jesus ask, but I think the deeper and more profound words of Jesus is what He said to Peter next.

“I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. (John 21:18-19 NLT)

Jesus’ point to Peter is that his life from this point forward was going to be difficult. Jesus is telling Peter that there will come a time that he will be taken where he doesn’t want to go, and he will be treated like he doesn’t want to be treated, and then he will die.

The deeper message behind this foretelling of Peter’s future is not just Jesus telling Peter how he is going to die. The deeper message is Jesus telling Peter how is going to live. In a way, Jesus was telling him that life is not all about “Peter”. His life now is about a bigger story. Peter’s life is now about his mission, his mission of bringing the gospel to the nations. With that task comes a life of “being led about where you don’t want to go.”

Life is not about being the main player, but it’s about being a part of the big picture. In other words, life is not about creating a plan and knowing what is going to happen every season of your life. Life is about conflict, difficult days, disappointment and failure. But God has a purpose in all of that. He wants to lead us to the point of “If you want to keep your life you must be willing to lose it.”

God wants us to get to the point of surrendering every aspect of our life to Him, so we can give our life away. That’s where radical Christianity comes in. When we let go of our life, we will find it.

That’s how a highly trained Physician can leave a financially lucrative career and become a missionary doctor in the bush of a 3rd world country. It’s how a professional school teacher can quit her secure job with a good salary and benefits and go teach at risk, inner city children in the ghetto of a major city.

The issue is not “are you willing to be a missionary.” The issue is are you willing to lay down your life, your dreams and your plans at Jesus’ feet and give him a blank pad, and have him write your story as He sees fit.

The Bottom Line
All good stories and movies have an unpredictable and unseen surprise ending. It’s that conflict and tension that etches the story in your mind. Our life is one big story being written by the God. That means we are going to be led into situations that are uncomfortable, unpredictable, and like Peter, we may be led to places that we don’t want to go.

As a committed follower of Christ we must remember that life is about faith and trust. It’s trusting God in every situation, and even sometimes, being led down a path where we don’t want to go. Be encouraged because God passionately loves you and He always has a purpose for everything He allows in your life.

The Blessing of Struggle

How often have you heard the phrase “trouble is your best friend”? No matter how often I hear that phrase; there is something within me that rebels to the very core of my being. Who in his right mind would welcome difficulty?

Whether we like it or not, there is perceived value in struggle. If you are a salesman you must hear an overwhelming number of “no’s” before you get to the “yes’s”. A baseball player endures more failure than successes at the plate. As a matter of fact, an all-star baseball player fails getting on base 70% of the time. I have read where Thomas Edison failed over one thousand times before he successfully invented the light bulb.

Life is about successfully dealing with failure. It’s about getting up off the ground, dusting yourself off and getting back to the task. It sometimes means you do those things you don’t naturally enjoy doing. I read a quote by Success Magazine’s editor Daren Hardy. He said, “If there is a job related task you really don’t want to do, it’s probably the very thing that you should be doing. “

Properly applying lessons learned from failure is a key element to our success. That is true in our day to day challenges, but it is especially true if we want consistent growth in our Christian life.

I have a hunch that most believers think the primary struggle in the Christian life is learning to overcome the devil. But the real battle is surrendering our life to Christ’s control. The ultimate goal is to allow Jesus to live His life through us.

Listed below are four areas of personal struggle that leads us to personal growth. Successfully navigating these four areas of conflict allows us to let go of our “self-effort” mentality and live a more Christ-centered life.

Opposition – Grace can only be experienced when we encounter opposition. How do you respond when someone says something critical or unkind? Or as we like to say in the South, how do you respond when someone “smarts off to you?” Are you reactive, and let them have it, or do you draw on God’s grace in those moments of conflict? Roy Hession writes:

“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 for God to bring our life constantly to death.”

Conflict is God’s way of revealing our flesh. When backed in a corner, what’s inside will come to the surface.

Forgiveness – In order for us to practice forgiveness there must first be hurt or betrayal. Even though God does not create conflict, He allows it in our life to learn the grace of forgiveness. Without practicing the continual act of forgiveness we can never experience the depths of Jesus Christ. Biblical forgiveness says, “I forgive you and release you from the debt of ever making it right with me. “

Hurt – We can never know healing until we have been hurt. The deeper the personal hurt, the deeper the healing. God’s touch goes deeper than the forgiveness of the offender; it creates a healing in us that can only happen when hurt is present. When God allows us to experience deep hurt, He is preparing to do a work deep within us that will result in a new level of intimacy with Him.

Weakness – The opposite of strength is weakness. Weakness must be present in order for us to realize that in and of ourselves we have no strength. As the Scripture says, “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) When we live out of our weakness we have an unseen strength that allows us to do “all things through Christ that strengthens us. “ (Philippians 4:13)

Weakness does not mean that we are weak and impotent people, it means we are willing to lay down our self-strength for Christ’s strength. I like to describe this kind of strength as “an iron fist wrapped in a velvet glove.”

The Bottom line
Yes indeed, trouble is your best friend. Trouble properly received allows us to practice God’s grace and eventually come to the place that nothing or no one can offend us. Trouble allows us to forgive our offenders and keep the debt account at zero. Trouble gives God the opportunity to go deep in the healing process when we are hurt or betrayed. And then the Lord caps off the process by giving us the opportunity to trade in our weakness for His strength.

God in His mercy allows us to go through trouble, and when we do, we are never alone. He is always walking through the process with us. He lovingly endures the suffering with us in order that we might have a greater capacity for His life. During this process we realize that Christ in us makes us complete. He is truly all we need.

Brokenness 101

If you are a committed follower of Jesus you have probably discovered by now that Brokenness is your friend not your enemy. Brokenness removes all those things from our life that hinders the indwelling life of Christ from being manifested in our life. Brokenness is a position of spiritual weakness that enables us to be fully engaged in God’s strength.

Brokenness is both an act and a position. It becomes an act when we intentionally and deliberately surrender our rights and expectations. It is the process of giving up on our own strength and placing our trust in the living Christ within us. It becomes a position when we experientially begin to realize that we are “made complete in Christ.” (Colossians 2:10) It is coming to an understanding that Christ is enough.

Brokenness teaches us that we no longer have to impress people with who we are, where we have been and what we can do. It is being able to rest, and be so confident in our identity that we don’t have to dominate the conversation. Or, in the case of a passive person, we don’t have to feel so insecure that we remain silent.

Frequently, during an Exchanged Life Conference , one of the most often asked questions would go something like this; “If I surrender my children or my job to the Lord, does that mean I am giving Him permission to take this from me? ” My obvious answer to the question was “yes”. To some, this answer would drive them further away from accepting the virtues of brokenness. To others, the “lights would come on.” They understood that giving God every aspect of our life was in their best interest.

Brokenness becomes a paradox because you “must give up in order to receive”, you must “let go in order to keep”. In God’s economy of things, trusting Him means that we surrender all our goals, dreams, and plans to Him. It’s embracing the biblical principle that God has a plan and destiny for us, and it begins with laying our lives at His feet.

Does that mean we have no choices in life? No, just the contrary, the Holy Spirit now directs our decisions, anoints our plans and then goes before us preparing our way. It’s living day by day with the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:16, Ephesians 4:24).

What’s the point? You have heard the old saying, “You may be the only Christ someone ever sees”. Brokenness releases the life of the risen Savior so that the world will get a glimpse of the Christ in you.

When I am lifted up from the earth, then all of humanity will be drawn to Me. (John 12:32 (The Voice)

Waiting on God

I think one of the most difficult areas for Christians to grasp is learning to wait on God. In our world of “instant everything”, waiting on God doesn’t fit into our culture and lifestyle. When we are waiting on God to answer our prayer our attitude is often, “Oh God, give me patience, hurry up, right now.”

In some ways, I feel a great sense of inadequacy writing about waiting on God. Much of my Christian walk has exhibited a life of impatience. There have been times when waiting just wasn’t an option because I needed an answer or solution now. I now realize that most of the situations were not that urgent, it was my impatience that was being exposed.

But as I have grown older, and I hope a bit wiser, I am realizing the advantages of learning to wait on God. I think you will agree that instant gratification is not always the best thing for us. Listed below are 3 things I have learned about the importance of learning to wait on God.

1. Learning to wait on God causes us to reevaluate our prayer. How many times during the process of praying through a matter, have you changed how you’ve prayed? Often, my prayer at the beginning of the process was much different than the prayer when God answered. During my journey of praying and waiting the Holy Spirit refined my request and was able to give me the heart of God in the matter. By waiting on the Lord he had refined my prayer to line up with what he wanted to do. Prayer is not about thinking up something to pray, but prayer is getting to the point where we agree with God about what he wants to do in the matter.

2. Learning to wait allows us to realize God’s timing. One of the basic tenets of our faith is that God’s timing is always the best time. God has the ability to do multiple things just from one answered prayer. By waiting on his timing others could be eternally affected by an answered prayer at the right moment.

A great example of this principle is the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. Lazarus’s sisters wanted Jesus to come immediately and pray for Lazarus so he wouldn’t die. It was an urgent need that meant death if he wasn’t healed.

But Jesus had a far reaching and even greater miracle in mind. By waiting Jesus did something even more sensational. He raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus had been dead and in the tomb for several days. The whole town knew Lazarus had died and many had observed and witnessed his burial. Now the town was buzzing about Lazarus being raised from the dead. Jesus had received greater glory because at just the right time his sister‘s prayer were answered. (John 11)

3. Learning to wait strengthens our faith. When doubting Thomas saw the nail prints in Jesus’ hands and the wound in his side, he quickly declared, “I believe.” But then Jesus responded with an important principle. Jesus said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me you have believed? Blessed are those did not see, yet believed.”(John 20:29)

Great faith is measured by believing God even though we see no physical evidence of answered prayer. It’s to believe that God will answer in his time and in his way. When we wait on God and he answers prayer our faith is strengthened and we can now believe him for greater things.

Waiting on God to answer a prayer or “come through for you” is sometimes very difficult. If we don’t have the right attitude toward “waiting” we create an atmosphere of doubt, fear and despair.

I am reminded of the story of Peter denying the Lord. After he had denied Jesus three times and the rooster crowed, Jesus looked over at Peter and looked into his eyes and into his heart. The scripture tells us that “Peter then wept bitterly.” That means that Peter was pierced to the heart with shame and conviction with one look into Jesus’ eyes. I don’t think it was a look of judgment, but it was a look of unconditional love. It was the love in Jesus’ eyes that brought brokenness and conviction to Peter.

I guess because of Peter’s story, I have this image in my mind that the moment I step into the portals of heaven the first thing I will see is the face of Jesus. I will look into his eyes and I will be overwhelmed with his love for me. A peace like I have never experienced will come over me and I will have the confidence that I am now finally home.

To me, learning to wait is taking the opportunity to spiritually look into his eyes, sense his overwhelming love, and then to have the assurance that he is working out all things for our good and his glory as we are learning to wait on Him.

“And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to [his] purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren; and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:28-31)

Praying through and Surrender

“Our God can deliver us — but even if he chooses not to, he’s still God!” Daniel 3

The above verse is a quote by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to the King Nebuchadnezzar. In the face of possible death these three men did not waver in their resolve to serve and obey God.

This moment of courage, faith and boldness was made possible by a life of surrender and obedience. They had already determined that God’s will was preeminent in their life.

Before their appearance before the King they had made the decision to surrender and abandon their lives to God. So when they stood before Nebuchadnezzar weakness was not an option. This was an opportunity to trust God to the max. The surrender they displayed was characteristic of the same strength that carried Jesus to the cross.

The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego reminds me of the importance of having the correct attitude toward prayer. Because of their response to the King, it is obvious that their concept of “praying through” was driven by surrender.

Many believers think that “praying through” means that “God comes through for you and answers your prayer.” Indeed, He may do that, but when we study the Scripture we know that the preeminent and overriding focus of every believer should be absolute surrender to God in everything, even our prayers.

The prayer of any mature believer includes “thy will be done.” This is not just a pious thing we are to add to prayer; it is a reflection of the heart. Absolute surrender includes even the surrender of our desires when we pray. God’s best for us always includes His perfect will, even in our prayers.

Prayer is our opportunity to bring our requests to God and then to demonstrate our willingness to submit ourselves and our desires to His will. So the next time you pray, remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and their submission to God’s will, even though it meant possible death in the fiery furnace.

“In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (Thessalonians 5:18)

Christ is Enough

Learning about your “Identity in Christ” is probably the single greatest discovery of a true follower of Christ. That’s because many believers wander through the Christian life like the children of Israel wandered through the wilderness.

They instinctively know that God has a plan for their life but they just can’t seem to put that puzzle together. Questions like, “What does the normal Christian life look like?” Or, “What am I supposed to do for God?” dominate their thinking.

I think most Christians believe that if they could just discover what God wants them to do, then they would have the key to the Christian life. After all, isn’t that what the Christian life is all about, doing things for God?

The Christian life is not about what we can do for God, but allowing Christ to live His life through us. He is the giver of divine life and we are the receiver of that life. Our journey is not one long test trying to measure up, but it’s all about rest – resting in Christ as enough.

God never meant for us to try to measure up to some imaginary standard of performance. His intention is to place a divine nature within us that becomes our very life. That divine life is Christ’s life. We become one with Him (John 17)

The moment we are saved we take on a new nature (2 Cor. 5:17). We become someone we have never been before. We are a new creation. Our righteousness is not something we obtain by good works, but it is imputed or given to us by God. So we could never do enough good works to earn God’s favor.

Therefore, God does not want us to “figure out what He wants us to do”, but rather He wants us to focus on the person of Christ, and in doing so allow Christ’s life to flow out through us.

God has provided everything we need to serve Him and bear spiritual fruit. (Col. 2) As we rest in Christ, and abide in Him, the will of God will automatically be done in our life. You can do more for God by resting in Him as enough, than you could ever do in a lifetime of striving to measure up to some religious standard.

The normal Christian life is acknowledging that “apart from Him I can do nothing” (John 15:5). It is totally and completely depending on Him to show you what, when and where. You don’t have to “help God out”.

Place your trust in the living Christ within you. Turn every area of your life over to Him and allow Him to lead you every step of the way. Be patient and wait on God. He has not forgotten you, forsaken you, nor is He neglecting you. He is always on time. When God speaks, you will know it, and so will those around you.

This reminds me of a song I that I use to sing as a child. I bet you know the song also.

Since I started for the Kingdom,
Since my life He controls,
Since I gave my heart to Jesus,
The longer I serve Him the sweeter He grows.

The longer I serve Him the sweeter He grows,
The more that I love Him, more love He bestows.
Each day is like heaven, my heart overflows,
The longer I serve Him the sweeter He grows.

Who is Jesus to you?

When I was a child we lived just outside the Naval Air Station, so I had contact with lots of sailors in our community. One thing I remember is thinking that part of being a sailor was having a tattoo. I didn’t realize until I was a teenager that tattoos were not standard Government Issue for sailors.

To me the most fascinating tattoos were the religious ones because most of them told a story or revealed a particular belief system about God. Today is no different. Many of the tattoos you see today reflect a religious belief and sometimes may also reveal a person’s concept of Jesus.

Regardless of what you think of tattoos every person has a belief system about Jesus that is reflected in their behavior. For instance, take the person who has never given any indication that they know or serve God. They suffer a tragedy and then blame God for allowing the tragedy to happen. It’s rather obvious that their view of God is “don’t bother me and I won’t bother you, but if I get in trouble I expect your help.”

Unfortunately, there are many concepts of Jesus that are outside of the biblical view of Him as God. In a recent article by Lee Grady he gives several examples of unscriptural concepts of Jesus.

1. The Rolex Jesus – This Jesus promises health, wealth, mansions and luxury cars.

2. The Santa Clause Jesus – He lives far away and visits rarely. He keeps a list and if you aren’t too naughty He gives you what you ask for.

3. The Rabbit Foot Jesus – Some people treat Jesus like a magic charm. They don’t know how to seek to know Him personally, but they figure if they show up for a church service a few times a year, or hang a picture of Him on their wall, they’ll be lucky when bad things happen.

4. The movie star Jesus – He is adaptable to your spiritual preferences. He lets you define your own morality. He’ll mix all religions.

5. The Rock Star Jesus – He doesn’t care how you live your life during the week. Words such as “sin” or “holiness” are off-limits because they are just not cool.

I think you get the picture. There are many false concepts of Jesus. But it’s not who we think Jesus is that’s important, but who does the Scripture say Jesus is?

Throughout Scripture the names of Jesus are revealed. But Revelation 19 best describes His name- “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”. This is His true identity but this title also reveals our intended relationship to Him. He is our “King and our Lord”. When we understand who He is we will better understand our role and our relationship to Him.

He is King of Kings
That means that He is sovereign and there is no one in the universe that He is subservient to. We are His subjects and He demands our loyalty, our obedience and our submission.

He is Lord of Lords
This is one of the most radical realities of Christianity. This describes Him as the Supreme Ruler over the universe. Proclaiming Jesus as Lord means we obey what He commands us to do.

What does it mean to recognize and acknowledge Jesus as ‘Lord and King’?
Simply put it means that Jesus is your master. He is the one that you obey and you willingly give Him power over all your life. Your overriding goal in life is to obey Him and do His will. His will and plan is preeminent in your life, nothing else should take precedent.

I would never judge anyone’s motive for a religious tattoo no more than I would judge anyone who wears a Christian tee shirt. But Jesus is more than a cool tattoo or a stylish tee shirt. He is Lord and King of the universe and desires to be Lord and King of our life. Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul reflects God’s intention for those who acknowledge Jesus as Lord and King.

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him; having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude…For in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.” (Colossians 2)

The Scripture says that “the mystery of Godliness is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1: 26-27) True godliness and biblical spirituality is wrapped up in the person of Christ. God thought the supremacy of Christ to be so important to the Spiritual health of the believer that He sent Jesus to not only die for our sin but to indwell and impart His very life to us.

God’s ultimate plan for mankind has always been for Christ to be preeminent in our life. He becomes preeminent when we acknowledge and receive that He not only died for us but as us. That picture is painted for us in Galatians 2:20:

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”

This judicial act was important in order that we might die to sin and no longer be slaves to sin. Allowing Christ life to reign in us allows us to experience continual victory over sin. (Romans 6:6-8)

Bottom line: Rest, victory, godliness, and holiness are not a result of what you do but are a by-product of who you are in Christ. By laying down your self-effort to “do things for God” and allowing Christ to live His life through you, the by-product will be rest and godliness. By resting in Christ and allowing Him to live His life through you, you will accomplish more for the kingdom than you ever thought possible.

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” (Col. 2:6)