Today’s Reading: 2 Chronicles 35:10-36:23
Find You on My Knees by Kari Jobe & Lead Me to the Cross by Francesca Battastelli
I had a dream last night that I just have to share with you! I was trapped in a house and I couldn’t find my way out when I walked up to the attic of the house, came around the corner and there was Jesus! He was dressed completely in white, His dazzling eyes just danced with excitement when He saw me and promptly stood up and held His arms out to me. I cried “Yeshua!” (the Hebrew pronunciation of His name) and was instantly in His arms with my arms around His neck. With my head on His shoulder like a child and my hands in His hair (which was the softest hair I’ve ever felt) He held me firmly in His grip, picked me up off the ground and spun me around in a little jig. When He stopped spinning me from the joy of my coming to Him, He just stood there and held me letting my feet dangle in the air by a couple inches. As I hung there limp in His arms and clinging to Him with my arms it felt like I was floating in the air because my feet weren’t touching the ground. Then just as I decided I didn’t want to leave that moment The Dragon came up the stairs and saw us there hugging. Jesus quickly put me down and stepped in front of me, shielding me from the Dragon’s fiery breath with His own body. His body was big enough to completely shield me from the Dragon. Somehow in all the fighting I was separated from Jesus and was hiding in the house from the Dragon and his people. They kept finding me, but somehow I kept getting away from them and would find a new spot to hide until the next one would find me. Finally I found a closet and opened it to find a life size skeleton staring me in the face, death. And then I woke up.
I Choose Jesus by Moriah Peters
Dreams are interesting things my friends. I am a dreamer, which you have probably noticed if you’ve followed my blog for very long. I have very prophetic dreams, most nights, but Jesus Himself has never been in one, He has always represented Himself in my dreams by my husband Sean. So just the fact that He came to me Himself last night thrills beyond belief!!! God speaks to us in our dreams so I suggest you pay close attention to them. They aren’t always from God, they can be from other sources like the Enemy, those are terrible dreams – his voice is the most evil thing I’ve ever heard! But most of the time they are, especially when you pray before you fall asleep and ask God for your dreams to only be from Him (that’s what we do). This dream is one of my most precious, for obvious reasons, but right now it’s precious to me because it’s given me a perfect illustration of the story I am about to unfold to you. It’s a story that is hard for me to tell because it contradicts what I’ve always been taught through religion, but God has shown me over and over through life, scripture and now two dreams that it is the truth that the Holy Spirit is revealing to me. I encourage you to read this entire entry before jumping to any conclusions of your own. I also encourage you to pray and seek Him first for yourself to discover is this something that He desires for you to put into practice. I can’t tell you what to do or what He wants for you, but I know that for me finding His grace has set me free and made me feel like I was firmly in His arms and floating while stroking the softest hair I’ve ever felt. Through His grace He has stepped in front of me to protect me from the fire breathing Dragon and protects me from all harm. Jesus loves me and through seeking Him and His goodness I am quickly discovering that He is so much sweeter and more good and kind than I EVER gave Him credit for before now.
My friends, God is good. And not the kind of good where He’s good some of the time but the kind of good where He is good ALL of the time. I have to tell you, for almost a year now I have been hooked and bound in chains of bronze. And the worst part of it was, they were the chains of religion that bound me! I had gotten hooked by the lie that I had to continually ask God to forgive me for the sins I continually commit in order for me to have an ongoing relationship with Him. For example, whenever I would have a mean thought about someone I would feel like I would need to spend half an hour in tears on my knees in penance for my sin, begging God to forgive me for my human nature. The accuser was camped out on my shoulder pointing out anything and everything that I did or thought that was “ungodly” and “unbecoming” for a Christian. If there was a scripture in the Bible that said a woman should have long hair, then I grew my hair out (check out the cover of True Intimacy). If there was a verse that said women shouldn’t wear men’s clothing (in other words pants), then I stopped wearing pants. (And consequently fell in love with skirts – in the summer when it’s warm!) I was very literal with my faith. If I heard a sermon on family values and the importance of having dinner together then I would make sure that we would have dinner at the table with homemade food every single night. I was spending all my time listening to all the voices talking about Jesus without ever reading His Word asking Him how He felt about what all the voices were telling me to do. And the interesting thing to me is that the farther I go in this Bible in a year project, the more I’m realizing that that isn’t the abundant life! I was so completely hooked by all the religious rules and requirements that everyone was spouting off that I was literally tying myself up in knots! (Seriously, that’s why my massage last week was so painful! My body was filled with knots!!!) I am so in love with Christ and I want so desperately to please Him and I was doing anything and everything that I could to do just that. If His word said long hair then I had long hair, despite the fact that I look really cute with short hair that totally fits my personality. I was jumping to follow a direction that *might* not have been directed at me. And if I wasn’t following that direction then I felt horribly guilty and wrong. I felt condemned and dirty. Which made me feel the need to constantly confess those things and ask for God’s forgiveness so that I could once again be in right standing with Him and worthy of Him listening to my prayers. I really wasn’t understanding grace. And during that time I was begging God to help me understand grace, because I knew I wasn’t getting it. So you know what He did? He took me through it.
When I first asked God to help me understand grace, I actually understood it, but only on a head level. Now, I understand it on a much deeper level because I’ve lived through it. God’s grace is so much deeper and farther reaching than I had ever given Him credit for. Before my journey through the Law I understood that God’s grace forgave us for our sins… when we asked Him to forgive us for those sins. But we had to ask. That’s not true. God’s grace forgave us for every single sin we have, are or ever will commit in one fell swoop – the cross. It was on the cross that God’s wrath was completely and totally exhausted. And when I accepted Christ’s sacrifice on my behalf I accepted God’s forgiveness for each and every one of my sins that I would ever commit my entire life long. Does God know what they all will be? You betcha He does! Does He forgive me for them today? No. He forgave me for them two thousand years ago when Christ suffered for them. So should I need to keep asking Him for something that He’s already given me? No!
About a month and a half ago my daughter and I visited Barnes and Noble where she found a little stuffed pink polka dot kitty that she absolutely loved and begged me to take it home. I said no and we left. Last week we walked back into that same Barnes and Noble and the first words out of her mouth were “Mommy, can I get the pink polka dot kitty?” We weren’t even IN the store yet! Right then and there I decided that if they still had the kitty I would get it for her. If it meant enough to her to remember it six weeks later then it was worth the eleven dollars it cost. We searched and searched and couldn’t find any pink polka dot kitties and we had pretty much given up the hope of finding one until a very helpful lady that works there came over and asked us what it was that we were looking for. I explained the little kitty to her, “pink with white polka dots”, I showed her where we had found it the first time, I even showed her where the kitty might be if they still had one, because they had others like it just we couldn’t find that one. But as I pointed to the shelf where the other animals were a little white face with a pink nose poked out from the corner of the shelf, it was the little pink kitty! They had two left! Anna snatched her up lovingly and snuggled her soft pink polka dot fur against her cheek, she was so happy. And I was so happy because I had made that moment possible for her. It brought me so much joy to see her that happy. That was three days ago and she’s barely put that kitty down since! And you know what, she may have told me thank you for the gift, she may not have, I don’t really remember and honestly it doesn’t matter to me. What matters is how much she loves that kitty and how I can tell she loves the kitty because it’s with her everywhere we go. She may put it down for a moment, but then it’s in her hands again the next moment. It’s gone all over Indianapolis with us on service calls with Daddy on Saturday, it went to church on Sunday morning, a birthday party on Sunday afternoon and it even went to Ms Peggy’s house with her this morning while I was at a prayer meeting. And even now it is lying next to her in bed and she’s reading a book to it before she falls asleep. The way she loves that kitty is all the thanks I need, watching her play with this beloved new pet that I got to give her delights me and makes me smile.
What’s interesting to me though is that not only has she not continued saying “thank you” she hasn’t continued asking me to give her the kitty either. It’s hers and she knows that. She knows that I’m not going to take it away if she thinks a bad thought or says “Mommy I’m mad at you!” In fact, just the opposite happened! When I told her it was time for nap. She, being VERY tired, kicked at me from the floor and very rudely said “I don’t want to lay down!” and then screamed at the top of her lungs. I tickled her and made her smile, playfully picked her up and carried her to her bed and plunked her down with a flop making the pillows and comforter bounce on her bed. And as I was getting her snuggled and settled in for her “rest”, not “nap, I noticed that she didn’t have “Pink Kitty” so I went and got her and brought Pink Kitty to her in bed so they could snuggle and read together. When my daughter was rude to me I could have disciplined her and taken her kitty away from her, but I knew that she was tired and that if I argued with her it would simply upset both of us. But instead to help her rest the way she needs to I brought her the object of her affection, Pink Polka dot Kitty.
When we lash out at God and when we make a mis-step in our walk He doesn’t remove His forgiveness from us! He brings it to us! He reminds us that we are already forgiven. So why was I asking Him for something that I already have? It’s not like He brings His forgiveness to the side of my bed and holds it out and says “You have to say you’re sorry first before I will forgive you…” Only humans do that! God isn’t like that.
When my husband confessed his adultery to me I was crushed, but I forgave him. When he confessed his masturbation issues to me I was crushed, but I forgave him. And what’s more, I knew that the battle with the masturbation would be an ongoing battle. I knew that he wouldn’t be able to kick that habit cold turkey – and he didn’t. And you know what I did? I forgave him before he ever fell. That’s right! I knew that there would come a time when he would come to me again and confess that he had been masturbating again and I decided right then and there that I would forgive him 7×70. That together we would work through that struggle with the flesh and that together with Christ we would win. But I knew that it would take time. I knew that there would be times when I would be called to forgive him and decided that I would.
We still fall, we still struggle, we still battle the enemy of Temptation, as human beings we’re not perfect! But God is! He knows that we’re not always going to be able to choose the escape route that He provides and that there will be times when we will need to be forgiven. He’s already made the choice and the provision to make that happen. But if we’re continually asking for God to forgive us when He’s already done it then doesn’t that prove our lack of faith in the fact that He’s already done it? If my daughter was still asking me for that kitty wouldn’t that prove that she doesn’t believe that it’s hers? I’ll be honest; I’ve been battling with this concept for five months, well longer than that really, but actively battling it in my brain for five months anyway. But Sunday morning God finally broke through to me. I was going back and forth about the idea because all I’ve ever been taught my entire life is that I needed to be asking God to forgive me for my sins. So this new information that God had placed in front of me was really hard for me to accept. I tried grasping onto it back in October when I was first told the truth, and for three days I lived in that freedom that came from accepting the idea that I’ve been forgiven. Not just for the moment but for life. But then on day four the Enemy hooked me again, and the old deceiver is sly because he even used scripture to do it. Contorted scripture, but still it was enough to wrap me back up into those bronze chains all over again. But I had tasted that freedom in Christ, I had tasted and it and knew that it was good and it was pure light. A pure light like nothing else on this planet! It was a light where I was free to be ME. I didn’t have to be who all these other godly people told me I should be, I could be who God made me to be. I could be who GOD told me I was. I could see myself through His eyes and I was radiantly beautiful. And I wanted that again, desperately, but my brain just wouldn’t let me accept the truth for what it really is. God is that good. So, since the Winter Jam concert I’ve really been “getting it” and living that freedom every day. Every time I’ve tried to ask God to forgive me I can feel Him giving me that look like “why are you doing that?” And I’ve moved on.
Before I was seeing Him as my shepherd, with His rod and His staff they’re supposed to comfort me… except I felt like He was beating me with them. He wasn’t, but that’s how I was receiving it all. His rod and His staff are my guidelines. When I am beginning to get near the edge of the cliff He takes His rod and places it in front of my little sheep chest and says “Don’t go any farther”. But I was receiving it as a smack to my face with an angry “This is the wrong way you idiot go back, you’re doing it all wrong”. So yesterday morning I was feeling that hook from the Enemy trying to sink in again and I was struggling to release it from my tender skin when we walked into church. I wanted so desperately to believe that His grace has covered me for all time but I was struggling with it still when I decided I wasn’t going to think about it anymore I was just going to worship Him and be in the moment with my family. We sang the first song “Open the eyes of my heart Lord” and I only got through the first verse before God opened the eyes of my heart and spoke straight to my spirit.
“What? You don’t believe I can be that good? You don’t believe that My grace has covered your future sins as well as the past ones? Just as you are – come – give Me your heart. Believe in My goodness. Believe that I don’t just forgive you in the moment, I HAVE forgiven you COMPLETELY, past, present and future. I made you who you are, faults, shortcomings and all. I made you and you are not a mistake. Period. I don’t make mistakes I make miracles! Yes, you have imperfections, but that’s OK because when you are filled with Me I fill in your imperfections with My perfection. With My Spirit. Child listen to My Words, listen to My voice of Truth, you are forgiven. I am enough. My sacrifice is adequate, my grace is sufficient. Abraham’s righteousness came through faith not through any work or effort on his part. Including asking Me to forgive him over and over again. That’s not righteousness, that’s work and unbelief! I forgive you, now move on! Walk in that forgiveness, embrace that forgiveness, LIVE abundantly in that forgiveness!!! Yes, you make mistakes, lean on Me and they’re no longer mistakes their opportunities! Do NOT conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind! Be washed by the word, MY word every day and let Me tell you what I think of you, who I want you to be, who I made you to be. Stop listening to all those voices out there that are telling you you aren’t good enough for Me and My grace, they’re LYING TO YOU! My sacrifice makes you righteous, My goodness sets you free, My truth is the way to the Father and it’s the way to Me. Let the Holy Spirit pour out over you like honey drenching you in Our sweetness, covering you like a pair footie pajamas in our love. In us there is no darkness there is no captivity there is no condemnation or guilt, only light and freedom and love! Tamar, do not spend your time telling them how bad they are – that’s the accuser’s job and you don’t work for him, you work for us. I died for you so that you could draw near to Me, so that I could tell you how much I love you. How I don’t care about what you’ve done wrong I only care about you. I care about how you see Me. On the cross I cried out “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani” or “My God, My God why have you forsaken me”. I was forsaken… for YOU! In that moment on the cross the entirety of your past, present and future sins were poured out over My holy shoulders and I took it all and bore the punishment for you. My Beloved, there is nothing wrong with you. You are the way I made you to be. You are the creation the Father’s hands made, how dare you judge against His creation! How dare you condemn yourself when I’m not even condemning you. Who do you think you are? God?”
God has taken me on a journey of faith through His word.
Romans 3:23 I’ve heard since birth “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” but you know what I’ve missed? The comma. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God COMMA, not a period. That’s not the end of the sentence, that’s not the end of the story, it’s the beginning! Romans 3:23-26 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, AND ARE JUSTIFIED BY HIS GRACE AS A GIFT, THROUGH THE REDEMPTION THAT IS IN Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Yes, we all have sinned and will sin. Yes, we all have fallen oh so short of the glory of God BUT we are JUSTIFIED. Do you know what justified means? It means that God has made it just-as-if-I’d never sinned. And that justification, it’s not something that we earn, it’s a GIFT. Just like the little pink kitty, my daughter didn’t earn that cat, she didn’t do anything special or say some special prayer to get it, I gave it to her because I love her and she loves it. End of story. It was a gift with no strings attached what so ever. That’s justifying grace. No strings attached. You are sinless in Christ. He took your sin away at the cross; don’t even think about taking it back, that would just be stupid! But wait, there’s more! God in His divine forbearance passed over former sins to show His righteousness at the present time so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. When I read this part of the verse the Holy Spirit pointed out to me, if He is good enough to “pass over” the former sins why is He not then good enough to “pass over” the future sins as well. If Christ has truly paid the total amount due for the bill why do we feel like we have to keep paying? It’s not like a tip for the waitress! He paid that too! God’s wrath has been poured out on Jesus and there is none left for us!
But then there’s Romans 11:29 the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Did you catch that? Just in case, I’ll say it again, the gifts of God are irrevocable. The gift of justification is non-refundable it’s not returnable; He refuses to take it back from you. It’s yours to use and to love and to live in as much as you want. Be that a little or be that a lot, it’s yours. God’s grace is abundant and sufficient and it’s a gift for YOU. It’s up to you to USE that gift, to live in and clothe yourself with the righteousness of Christ! You are forgiven my friend, for all time! Now live like you’ve been forgiven.
1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV) Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. You have received the gift of being “just-as-if-I’d” (never sinned), USE that gift! Use it to serve and to FORGIVE OTHERS! People can be cruel to one another, forgive them. People can hurt each other without ever realizing it, forgive them. God has forgiven you for all time, pass that forgiveness on!!! You certainly don’t deserve an ounce of that forgiveness that Jesus provided for you, and neither does that person you’re holding the grudge against, but you know what, God has forgiven you both. And if God has forgiven that person then don’t you think maybe you should forgive them too?
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