This series of posts pertains to our identity as members of the church, made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). They lift up Jesus as “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3).
“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet…”
Psalm 8:3-6 ESV
As the Almighty God, God has all authority to give, and authority operates according to His spiritual laws set in place before the creation of the universe.
God gave authority to men and women when He created them (Genesis 1:26), contingent on faith in Him, and they were tricked out of it when they lost faith (Matthew 4:8-10, John 12:31). After that point, God first gave it back in measure to His prophets and elders, the Spirit of God with them. King David, who was also a prophet, rejoiced in who God made us to be in the psalm cited above.
Baptized in the Holy Spirit (John 1:32), Christ Jesus was given authority as the Son of God, empowering His ministry. In spending time with Jesus, the faith of the disciples was ever increasing. When Jesus sent out His disciples to minister, first the 12 disciples (Matthew 10:1,7-8, Luke 9:1-43,57-62) and later the 72 that left everything to follow Him (Luke 10:1-24), He gave them authority to minister as He did, the Spirit of God with them, and they did.
At His resurrection, Jesus was given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18-20, Colossians 2:15). He has given it to His church—those who are in Christ—operating through the gift of faith, to carry on His mission to reach the world with the gospel (Mark 16:15-20,1 Corinthians 12:8-10).
Authority is great faith. As the church, this spiritual authority that Jesus taught his disciples (Mark 11:22-24) and expected his disciples to practice (Matthew 17:16-20) is part of our identity in Christ, although many of us are uncomfortable with it. Yet, when we cooperate with the Holy Spirit to be made into the image of Christ, we can put on the faith of the Son of God (Galatians 2:20, KJV; Ephesians 4:13-15,22-23). In this faith, the Spirit reminds us of God’s words: “All things are possible to one who believes” (Mark 9:23) and “greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
The Apostle Paul was one who had great faith, boldness, and the power of God (1 Corinthians 4:19-20), which enabled him to say, “...thanks be to God, who in Christ leads us in triumphal procession…” (2 Corinthians 2:14). Paul understood that all things are under Christ’s feet (1 Corinthians 15:25) and that he was hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3).
Prayer: Thank You for sharing who You are, Almighty God. Thank You for entrusting Your church to be Your ambassadors to take up Your will and Your mission. Thank You for equipping us with authority in faith given such responsibility. I praise You for putting the treasure of the Spirit of God in us as jars of clay. In Christ, I also take on Your strength, courage and determination for Your good work, the building up of Your church, and pray that everything I do would be done in tenderhearted love.
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
John 6:38 ESV
In His in-person ministry, Jesus was determined to do His Father’s will. He lived and died for this, and, in Christ, His will is also to become our will.
Jesus was determined to have victory, setting people free from every evil. In fulfillment of Scripture, His ministry freed all captives that came to Him (Luke 4:18-19), and He still frees every captive. He has always been determined to do good (Acts 10:38). Doing good is from God’s kind of love—love in action.
Jesus was determined to display the righteousness of God by physically healing all that came to Him believing. On one recorded occasion this took a little more work, and He finished it (Mark 8:24-25).
Jesus was determined to preach the kingdom of God and to teach truth. He taught truth from God so all would know what is right and how they were expected to live.
Despite occasions of frustration (e.g., see the account in Matthew 17:16-20 or Mark 9:18-29), Jesus was determined to disciple faith, renewed minds, and love into the apostles that would be the first to take on His mission to reach the world with God’s good news of the gospel. They were made ready to take on the fullness of His Spirit.
In determination for this sacred purpose, Jesus expected much of all of His followers. He expected them to forsake all to follow Him (Luke 9:23-24,57-62). He expected them to grow in faith and in love. He expected them to follow in His steps. He is still seeking those determined to follow, not fans.
Jesus was determined to obey His Father unto a painful, shameful death, setting an example of love and humility. Even in His suffering and death, Jesus was determined to turn every situation into glory for God, including those the devil meant for bad. He told His church to be of the same mind and purpose, empowered by the Holy Spirit in them, even as He was (John 14:12-13, Matthew 28:19). We are to be zealous for good works (Titus 2:14) that bring glory to God.
Prayer: I praise and thank You, God, for Your determination to pursue me and do good unto me and those You have enabled me to know and to love. Jesus, greater are You in me than he that is in the world. And so while I have Your Life in me, I will not stop living and proclaiming Your gospel that brings liberty and victory. I delight to do all of Your will, God. Thanks be to You, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession. Your love never fails.
“The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
Proverbs 28:1 ESV
What is it that you fear?
Jesus’ disciples feared for their lives and feared other men until they were changed from faith to faith by the Spirit of God living in them. In the Spirit, they were empowered to lead sanctified, consecrated and bold lives in obedience to Jesus’ command to them: “What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.” (Matthew 10:27)
In Christ, the Spirit of God makes us bold, not timid (2 Timothy 1:7). When it comes to stepping out in faith as an active part of the body of Christ, taking responsibility for those around us and the mission of God, day by day and week by week, we can take courage from the Spirit of God. We are not ashamed of the gospel.
When it comes to speaking up, we take courage. We can take Christ as our example, who spoke up and spoke openly (John 18:20). When we start to speak, the Spirit of God will speak through us as ambassadors (Matthew 10:19, Luke 12:12).
When it comes to opposition, we take heart, not fearing shame nor defeat nor death. Opposition is an opportunity to be built up in our faith.
With this courage, we don’t fear what anyone thinks of us. Like David, we may even feel free to dance with all our might throughout the streets in worship for our love and joy in the Lord. Driven by his love for God, it did not bother David even when he was criticized for it by his spouse (2 Samuel 6:14,21-22).
In Christ, we take courage. We can take up faith as a shield, knowing that with it we can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16). In Christ, God is with us and for us, so nothing can stand against us (Romans 8:31).
All of this is from faith to faith (Romans 1:17, KJV). If we no longer live except in Christ, we can live by the faith of the Son of God (Galatians 2:20), who was ever victorious, except for the persecution He willingly suffered unto His shame and death. Yet from this suffering He rose victorious.
In all things, we are to follow in His steps by the courage He imparts to us as those in Christ.
Prayer: In You, Christ, I take heart and do not fear what others think or what they can do to me. God, I love You first and I fear You alone, so I will let Your light shine before others. Thank You for making me bold like You, Jesus. I praise You with all that is within me. I bless Your Holy Name.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”
2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV
How do you seek renewal day by day?
In the Old Testament, those that were known to draw strength from the Spirit of God that was with them include Moses, Joshua, Caleb and David. Now the Spirit of God has been poured out on all flesh, sons and daughters, thanks to the finished work of Jesus, and the Spirit’s strength is available to renew us day by day for His work.
In Christ, the Spirit of God is our peace every day, our source of rest. Just because the Spirit of God brings us peace and rest, that does not mean that we are to continually seek physical comfort and rest. As the church, God has prepared good works for us to do as we grow up into Christ in all things (Ephesians 4:15). Resting in the finished work of Jesus, we are to be about doing all of God’s will as Jesus was. This work is not the basis of our salvation— salvation is by faith; but our salvation is just the beginning of our life in Christ.
The Spirit of God gives strength to any that draw it from Him in faith (Ephesians 3:16-17) to do the word of God and the will of God. God is a fountain of living waters (Jeremiah 2:13), and with His life comes strength to do the work, to stand firm, and to persevere. He invests His power into us, although we are jars of clay, His power being made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 4:7). While God has made us each to be channels of His life, He is the flowing river that brings the life. We are as branches to the Vine.
Jesus also drew strength from the Spirit of God to continue to preach, teach, and heal multitudes of people. It would have been exhausting in His own strength, but He was strengthened by the Holy Spirit, experiencing victory after victory. Jesus’ strength was His connection to our Father: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:11).
In Christ Jesus, we can carry on His ministry as the church, doing all things through Him who strengthens us (Phillipians 4:13). We are also strengthened when two or more of one mind and one purpose are gathered together for the work of God: to love, to give, and bless others. Our help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Prayer: Jesus, I thank You that I am in You and You are in me. I choose to abide in You for life. Spirit of God, lead me. I take in ideas and plans from You to do Your will. I breathe in strength from You. Thank You for equipping me with everything I need. I will walk in faith so You can walk in me.
'If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. '
Do people generally think of the God of the Bible as the Great I AM? Or perhaps more as the Great I WAS?
The Apostle Paul prophesied that in these last days which we are in, people would be lovers of self, having an appearance of godliness, but denying its power, led astray by various passions, always learning but not arriving at a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:1-7).
The remedy for this outcome is the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God for salvation (sozo) to everyone that believes (Romans 1:16). This is a full salvation from the fullness of Jesus Christ and His finished work. Jesus gives the Spirit of God to indwell believers, quickening them until they are made fully alive in His resurrection life-– spirit, soul and body— and overflowing with this resurrection life.
In order to carry out the Great Commission (recorded in Matthew, Mark, John, and Acts), Jesus gave His power to the church by way of God’s Spirit working with them.
This is the power of God in action through the kingdom of God, which does not consist in talk but in power, according to Paul (1 Corinthians 4:19-20). The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in believers and causes rivers of living water to flow out of them (John 7:38) so that they may do the things Jesus did as they go and make disciples (John 14:12) in His stead! Cooperating with the Spirit of God, they multiply God’s grace and peace in God’s supernatural ways.
Just as in the ministry of Jesus, the preaching and teaching of the apostles, Paul included, were accompanied by signs and wonders done by the power of the Spirit of God (Romans 15:18-19), the Lord working with them and confirming their message (Mark 16:20; Acts 4:29-30,33). When God’s power mixes with His abundant love for people, the miraculous ensues.
Jesus preached, taught about, and demonstrated the kingdom of God. He instructed and expected His followers to do the same (Luke 9, Luke 10:1-24, Acts 1:8) as they learned to minister and carry on His ministry because the world needs to know both the love of God and the power of God. The Spirit of God confirms His word about the finished work of Christ to the extent that its fullness is preached and taught.
Jesus isn’t different now that He was then. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and, as His church, we live in Him and He in us. Jesus said I AM the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
Prayer: Thank You, Jesus for Your finished work for me. Thank You for Your resurrection life that fills me and flows through me, Spirit of God. I praise You that all things are possible for You, Almighty God, and also through faith for we that believe. Thank You for Your trust in me to make me a co-worker with You. Thank You for your Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. I will not fear. Instead, God, I follow Christ in triumphal procession until everything not of You is put under His feet.
'So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. '
Do you know anyone who is particularly selfless?
Jesus Christ is our example of selflessness, and by participation in the Spirit, we are to walk in His steps (1 Peter 2:21), being of the same mind. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was humble.
What is this character of humility in Jesus that God enables and encourages in His sons and daughters?
Humility rejects pride in all of its forms, even the subtle ones.
Humility counts others to be more significant than oneself—one’s spouse, children, parents, neighbors, coworkers, church members, those who serve, the poor, widows and orphans, the homeless, the drug addicted, those in prison, foreigners…
Each of these are valuable to God, each of them image bearers. Redemption has made possible for them just what it has made possible for you. In these other sons and daughters, we are to see Jesus.
Humility looks after the interests of others and the things of others.
In humility, we are to be servants to all men and women.
Humility says, like Christ, not my own will but Your will I do.
Nothing was beneath Him— not the servant’s job of washing dirty feet, and not even being wrongly subjected to the humiliation of death on a cross.
In humility, we forget ourselves, hiding ourselves in Christ so His Spirit may live through us.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for becoming a curse for me and for Your amazing example of humility and servanthood! Thank You for the earnest of Your Holy Spirit that empowers me to walk in Your steps. Spirit of God, change my thoughts and renew my mind. Remove all remaining selfishness and pride, causing me to see with Your eyes and experience Your emotions for others. This life is not about me; it’s about You and those You dearly love. Father, I embrace the role You have given me here as a servant of all. Your kingdom ways are right.
“And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”
Luke 15:20 ESV
About what are you passionate?
God’s passion is shown in the abundant love He shows when beloved children return to Him from their sin. This is illustrated well in the parable of the Prodigal Son. The son had squandered his inheritance, and yet when his father saw him returning, although far away, the father, in his compassion, ran to him, hugged him and kissed him. Then he threw a huge party.
That is passion!
Do you like to be around passionate people?
God is the author of passion. His love is so big that He made a way, a wide channel for His beloved ones to be loved and blessed in Jesus Christ. According to the law of God, it required God to give His only Son to become a sacrifice to His enemy. God had to turn His back, and watch Jesus be beaten, humiliated, suffer and die for the joy set before Him— you and I. God is a giver!
God’s steadfast, passionate love pursues, waits, forgives, rejoices. He made us to share His passion. He made us to be people passionate for Him and for those He loves — every one of them.
Prayer: I praise You for the richness of Your love, Lord God. Thank You for Your great love for me, Jesus. In Gethsemane, You knew what was coming, and yet You gave Yourself for the joy set before You. You are my joy. Spirit of God, fill me with passion and compassion for all of those You love. Jesus, may the flame of God burn in my heart as it always has in Yours.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV
For what are you thankful?
To be filled with the Spirit is to also be full of thanks and praise, always maintaining connection and communication with God via the channel opened by Jesus Christ.
Since God is also the source of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17), this is a reason for continued thanksgiving. Out of thankful hearts, we should speak thanks. An attitude and a practice of thanksgiving also leads to the renewed mind that we are to develop (Ephesians 4:23), for thinking leads to action, continued thinking with accompanying action to habit, and all of this establishes character (Philippians 4:5-9), or fruit (John 15:1-8).
Giving thanks helps us to set our mind on things that are above (Colossians 3:1-3).
Thanks is also to be part of the asking portion of our prayers. In Jesus’ model prayer of faith, He thanks our Father for having heard His prayer, then He makes a demand for the thing He knows God has granted (John 11:41-43). On another occasion, He thanks our Father before use of His faith in God to multiply food for 5,000 (John 6:11). He did not teach that we should pray to the Father, “if it be Your will,” but instead “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13)
This is cause for thanksgiving after having made our request in Jesus’ name: thank You that You have heard my prayer.
Giving thanks is characteristic of the mind of Christ. In Christ, we have that mind (1 Corinthians 2:16).
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for every good and perfect gift. Thank you for making me an agent of Your grace and compassion. Thank You for revealing Your will in Christ. Speak to me about how today I may bring You glory and thanksgiving through exercising generosity.
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.”
Acts 16:25-26 ESV
The love for God that Apostle Paul and Silas had caused them to sing for joy, even when they had just been beaten and imprisoned for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in Macedonia. Filled with the Spirit, their faith expressed through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs brought heaven to their souls (Ephesians 5:18-20). In the midst of their chains, they entered God’s gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, blessing God’s name (Psalm 100:4).
Their prayer and thanks stirred up the Holy Spirit, unleashing the power of God. This power was manifested in an earthquake, the prison doors opening, and everyone’s chains being unfastened! They were set free by the God who delights to bring freedom. Moreover, the jailer and his whole family were saved, and they rejoiced (Acts 16:34).
Having created all men and women in His image to be in an intimate, covenant relationship with Him, God loves us so much that He rejoices over each one of us with gladness and loud singing, according to Zephaniah 3:17!
We are made to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). The truth is that He is such a good, loving Father, and we have misunderstood Him at times. He wants to be known in truth just as we seek to be truly seen and known. Having created every part of us, He does know us better than anyone; He knows our every thought. He is the God who sees you (El Roi, Genesis 16:13).
King David understood God’s good nature, and it caused David to write and sing Him many, many songs (psalms). It caused him to dance and leap before the Lord in public with all his might, not caring who saw him or what people thought (2 Samuel 6:14-22).
Likewise, there are innumerable reasons for us to praise our God, rich in mercy, who loves big, as only love’s author can. And so we join the chorus of praise to the One who has made us eternally alive and seated us in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us (Ephesians 2:4-7)!
Prayer: Blessed be Your Name, Lord God. Who am I that You love me so? I will sing You a new song, for You are my joy, the source of every good and perfect thing! You are my Creator, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. I praise You for having set me free, having joined me to Your eternal kingdom, having prepared good works for me to do, and having made me an heir of Your generous giving for all time.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing... If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you... These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
John 15:5, 7, 11 ESV
The joy of the Lord comes from our choice in faith to follow Christ and then to abide in Him. Since members of Christ’s body are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17,19), this means we invite the Holy Spirit to settle down and make Himself at home in us—in any room, i.e., in every part of our lives.
The living Jesus is the True Vine. Our new life in Him connects us to God through the inflow of the Holy Spirit. We are as branches to the Vine, if we will allow it. The condition for inflow and for growth of God’s living word within must be right.
Apart from God, we have only our natural ability, so we can do nothing, which may bring frustration but not joy.
If we align ourselves with God and His will, seeking first His kingdom and righteousness, God answers our prayers, yielding joy, peace, and other fruit, as He gives us more of what is His (Romans 14:17). It is joy to know God’s great love for us, to abide in Christ, and to join God as He makes things right.
Prayer: Father, communion with You in Christ is joy. Seeking your righteousness and seeing you come through has made my joy full. Thank You for the fullness of Life in Christ. I praise You, Spirit of God, for the good works You accomplish through Your church.
The spirit of unity
“…that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
John 17:21 ESV
Who do we see as your family?
Jesus saw His family as larger than His own biological family, including those in His church —those who do the word of God (Luke 8:21) — and yet He did not neglect to care for His own beloved mother. Jesus prayed for a spirit of unity in the church. Just as Jesus is in union with the Father, the church has been made for union with God. It is God’s will that the body of Christ be one united body in Christ, functioning together in Christ. God’s will is not done though when personal sin, corporate sin, self interest, self promotion, complacency, and division interfere.
God is calling His church back to unity. He calls His people to be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). This means loving one another as God loves, being careful about what we say (Ephesians 4:29), and striving to excel in building up the church (1 Corinthians 14:12). This means seeing other believers as brothers and sisters in Christ, as family that we pursue and value as we should.
By our own efforts, this unity is impossible. Yet, this kind of communion with God and others that seeks to build up and repair is made possible by the infilling of God’s Spirit. So let us together lift up Jesus and do His word, deciding to drop everything else. Let us take responsibility for those around us in the church, in our families and in the family of God, seeking God’s will for unity, by the power of the Holy Spirit. This unity is part of the rightness of God, bringing glory to God. And so we take the situations around us and join God in turning them into glory to Him.
Prayer: Forgive us, Lord, in the church for the division we have sowed and that which we have allowed to remain. God, as peacemakers we seek to do Your will concerning Your beloved church purchased with the blood of Your own. Lead us, Spirit of God, out of selfishness and complacency to unity and to action. Spirit of God, lead us into fellowships that function together in Christ as Your body was designed to function, united in a bond of love. May nothing hinder Your work.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
John 14:26-27 ESV
We all long for peace.
The living Jesus has given peace (shalom) to His disciples—those that have identified themselves with Him, fully consecrated, all in. He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 53:4-5). Only Christ can make us whole.
Just as with righteousness, peace is the state of one’s spirit when it has been made alive, infilled by the Holy Spirit, connecting one personally to God and His kingdom (Romans 14:17). The one who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him in a covenant relationship (1 Corinthians 6:17). One spirit!
This new connection causes the gates of heaven, the Holy of Holies, to come near. We become a temple of the living God (1 Corinthians 6:19). Being a temple of God means that the peace of God lies within, accessible to spirit, soul, and body at any moment through prayer.
Peace remains ours when we refuse to take offense at others (Matthew 5:44, Psalm 119:165, KJV), adapting our perception of people to what His redemption has made possible. When we have died to ourselves so we can put on Christ (Ephesians 4:22-23, Colossians 3:2-3), it does not matter if someone else has put a knife in our back or patted us on the back because we are dead—so we are not affected. Choosing to be led by God’s Spirit, we do not hold anything against anybody. Instead, we believe the best about everyone. Ever countercultural, Jesus taught love even for enemies, no matter what they may do to us, those we love, or our things. No one can take away the peace of God implanted within our spirits, and we refuse to give it away when tests come our way.
Peace is ours when we come to seek God’s will rather than our own will, because we trust in God, who answers our prayers. We trust Him in everything. This leaves no reason to be anxious or to fear (Isaiah 26:3). Instead, by prayer and supplication we can boldly let our requests be made known to God at His throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). We can do so with thanks and with praise, having faith in His promise that whatever we ask in His name, this He will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13). We can expect it to be answered at that very moment, truly believing it is done (Matthew 21:22, KJV; James 1:6), although the visible results may not be manifest until later. When God’s will becomes also our will (Matthew 6:10), whatever we desire for the glory of God, He will do it.
And so it is that great faith brings heaven to our souls, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guards our minds and hearts in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
Prayer: I praise You, God, for the mystery revealed, Christ in me, the hope of glory. Thank You for joining me to Your spirit and to Your kingdom. Jesus, You have left with me Your peace, and so I have it. In Your peace, I have rest, unaffected by circumstance. I trust You completely.