These are just a few of the questions that I have been thinking about lately. I’ve got spring fever and my brain is spinning in a million different directions. It’s been really difficult for me to get it under control. It’s a week into spring and with it comes those tendencies for me to clean out, get it in order, redirect, start over, and get new! I think for me, it is worse than January 1st and the beginning of a new year.
Along with spring also come thoughts of new life and Easter. I always get extra happy because it’s the season of my spiritual birthday! I’m very old! And then, of course, that thought sends me into a time of reflection and questions such as the ones above along with a voice in my head saying, “If you’re so old, why haven’t you done more for The Lord?” STOP IT! I have to remind myself of Romans Chapter 8. However, it’s good sometimes to ask yourself some of these questions to nudge you back on the right track. But when they lead to self-condemnation, then there’s a problem!
How deep is your commitment? At what level do you consider yourself loyal? What do you think about constantly? What is driving you? What is hindering you? At what cost is your devotion? Do your actions display your passion? Is your name associated or connected with a term or characteristic that brings honor and glory to God? If you lost it all, how would your respond? How are you investing into things of a spiritual matter, how much, and in what? Are others drawn to you or away from you? Would you be happy if you “started over?” Do you really want to “begin again?”
Life in the Spirit - Romans 8: 1-17 ESV
8: 1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a] 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Heirs with Christ
12 So then, brothers,[e] we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[f] of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Because it’s my spiritual birthday season, I re-visit the moment I yielded my life to Christ. My conversion experience was very vivid and I remember every detail…except the actual date! I recall the pronounced emotion I had of imagining Christ on the cross, paying for my sin and realizing my need for Him. I recollect the flood of His love that swept over my heart. It is still unexplainable! The memory of the raging war for my soul that night and the intensity of deciding to taking a step of faith is just as real now as it was then. When I tell you that it was a war, it truly was…a tug of war! As I stood there in the church pew with tear filled eyes, I battled, questioned, and fought (I’m quite strong-willed) as Satan pulled and tugged me away from God, while on the other hand, Christ and His army fought to save me; to save me from sin and death. I stepped out and then back, time and time again! The next step I took was the last step I remember, for all other steps seemed as though I was briskly carried to the altar by a force that was not in my own strength. I remember imagining Christ scooping me up into His arms, flying me to the altar and standing me securely as I asked for new life in Him. On my knees I repented and as I arose, my insides felt as though they had been polished clean! Such joy! Such excitement! I had to share this event with others for I could not contain it! I wanted others to experience the love and cleanness that I had found in Christ. All was made new and I had received the gift of new life with Him.
What a great passage to read over and over again. I encourage you to do it. Read it again! Did you get it? So much to recognize. So much to learn. So much to believe. What is the Spirit speaking to you? But please take notice of the latter part of verse 17 that reads, “provided we suffer with him…”
This past week The Lord allowed me to peek in to this spiritual truth.
I tell you all this because of my abiding love for my Savior.
I will forever tell of His great deeds among the people. (Ps. 105:1)
The King of kings suffered for me.
He was persecuted, made lower than the angels for a little time and he tasted death…for me! (Heb. 2:9)
My peek this week was just that! A re-visiting of Him descending to earth, a life in human flesh, His teachings, His relationships, His love for people, Him serving, His persecution, suffering, and ultimately His death on the cross and resurrection so that we can become joint heirs with Him.
As believers, we are made heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. I have seen this played out in the pages of the Bible and also through the persecutions and suffering of some of my dearest friends. As I have witnessed personal incidents of suffering, it never seems as daunting to me as that of watching someone you love experience the same kinds of sufferings of Christ because of their love for people. My heart breaks for them! So as I keenly watch, I see wounded hearts made stronger, humbleness grows more humble and is laced with deeper servant hood. Prayers are authentic and selfless. Forgiveness is more rich and free flowing. More than anything, the glory of God is revealed in and through their lives. They are vested in Christ. To me, they are living examples of Christ and hold a level of spiritual maturity that is evident because of love for others.
The definition of vested is very interesting. It means secured in the possession of or an assigned person, protected, established by law or contract, and entitled to a future benefit. As children of God, He secures us, protects us, establishes us, and entitles us to all that is His, including immortality along with a place that Jesus is preparing for especially us!
Now, let’s go back to those questions that seem to rush through my mind and answer them through a Jesus lens.
His level of commitment and loyalty to me was so high that He yielded His own life for mine. He was constantly thinking about relationships and pursuing others to know the Father. He did that for me! He was driven by love and his devotion to us cost Him everything. His passion caused Him to seek, heal, reveal, and provide hope. All that He did brought glory to the Father. And when He seemingly lost everything, even hanging bare – clothes stripped away and skin and flesh stripped away, He completed the Father’s will by freely giving His life when He cried aloud, “Into thy hands I commit my spirit.”
When I look at those questions and wonder of my “maturity” as a Christian, a little fear begins to set in.
Then I re-read verse 15.
15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
The Father has redeemed me. I am His own. All that He has He freely gives to me because of His perfect love for me. No one can remove me from the palm of His hand. (Jn. 10:28,29)
In the physical realm, I reproduce characteristics of my parents. Unknowingly, I have walked in the steps of my dad. Some of my “ways of thinking,” are like my mothers. I am, in a sense, a reflection of the two combined. As a daughter of the King, I have taken on the characteristics of Christ. It’s what happens when we become His! So as I think about my “spiritual birthday,” and how old or mature I am, I am reminded that spiritual maturity begins with loving one another…no matter what…or who! This is how others will know that I am a disciple of Christ. (Jn. 13:34,35) It’s not what I have done for Him, how devoted, committed, and whether I do Bible study first thing in the morning, or how strong my prayer life seems. It’s all about loving others in the same manner that He did…even in the midst of persecution and suffering. Would I want to go back and start over? Absolutely not! It is His faithfulness of the past that gives me hope for tomorrow!
Becoming another year older in my faith is a time for celebration! As a new believer, I so often quoted, “old things are past away, behold, all things become new.” (2 Corin. 5:17) Today I must remember that old things continue to pass away, He is making all things new! (Rev.21:5) And in the words of Thomas Obediah Chisholm, “Morning by morning new mercies I see!” He provides all I need to face each day and I, too, am vested!
Rejoicing in His Tender Mercies, Sherry
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