Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Tag: child of God

One And The Same?

Paul writes verse 1 of Philippians 2 as if it’s a done deal:

If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy…

The assumption is that we have these beautiful and lovely things in Jesus. So with that truth as a foundation, Paul urges all believers to be united:

.…complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord, and of one mind.

Hmmm…. does it complete my joy when believers are united? I like it, it’s a nice thing. But in all honesty it doesn’t get me bouncing around. I need to grow in this area. I so want it to be more than a nice thing to which I pay lip service. Because it’s important.

When I’m facing something challenging, it pretty-much becomes my sole focus and my prayers reflect that. What about Jesus? You can’t get any more challenging that being the Son of God facing unjust death by crucifixion and the horror of becoming the sin of the world. Yet what was Jesus’ last recorded prayer hours before He died? That His followers be united and that we would see His glory.

Wow.

Unity. It’s vital. It’s a God-thing.

When a group of people are united, others take notice. There’s a beauty about it.

When believers are united, we display God’s wisdom and glory. It’s attractive.

To follow Jesus is the highest calling. To be a child of God is the highest status.

I wonder… if we realised what we have in Christ and who we truly are, surely we would be much more likely to make allowances for one another and be loving and kind without being critical and judging. There are times when the truth needs to be spoken, but in a loving way that builds up rather than destroys.

If our gaze was completely taken up with Jesus, I’m sure we wouldn’t be so quick to tag people and write them off because they do things a bit differently to us.

We’re all works in progress. None of us have got it together. And that’s okay: our Daddy-God has promised that the work He has started in each of us He will complete.

So look at our amazing gracious wonderful God and be thankful. The more we appreciate His grace in our hearts, the more we will show grace to others.

Thankful hearts are united hearts.

 

 

*Photo by William White on Unsplash

Participation

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy….

To participate is to be involved with or take part in, or to possess a particular quality. So participation in the Spirit is a big deal.

I both engage with and have the Spirit of God. He lives inside me. The Father has lavishly poured the Spirit of Jesus into my life.

…and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor 13:14).

This is an active thing on both my part and the Spirit’s. We engage and enjoy fellowship with one another.

I have a relationship with God!

I have what the Old Testament saints could not have: participation in the Spirit. He came on some of them on odd occasions, but He didn’t live with them like He does in me. They had the tabernacle and then the temple where they could experience God’s presence. But – thanks to Jesus’ mighty work on the cross – God now tabernacles or lives in me. I am a temple of His Holy Spirit. Wow.

I love the Holy Spirit. He opens my eyes to what God is doing (in me and in others) and He opens my spiritual ears to ‘hear’ what He is saying. He makes me see the unseen so it becomes real to me.

For years I read in Romans 8 that I am a child of God. And for years they were just words on a page. My mind acknowledged they were true but it made no real difference to my life. But then, at a low point one summer I noticed that it is God’s Spirit who tells my spirit that I am a child of God. In desperation I cried out to Him to tell this truth to my spirit. He did. He made this unseen truth a glorious reality in my heart and I now know with certainty that I am indeed a child of the Most High. Wow, wow, wow!

I have participation with the Spirit. This truth makes my heart skip a beat and my body tingle all over. What an honour. How beautiful and generous is the Father to pour out the Spirit of Jesus into my life. Whoop!

Believe

More and more, I’m coming to the conclusion that believing God is the most important thing we can do. It’s more than believing on Him – for salvation. Or believing in Him which may not have any impact on your life.

Believing God. Beth Moore, in her book Believing God, has five statements that I’ve found useful to speak aloud regularly. It helps me to think aright about God and myself, and faith rises up in me as I speak them out.

I believe that God is who He says He is.
I believe that God can do everything He says He can do.
I believe I am who God says I am.
I believe I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
I believe His Word is alive and active in me.

Without faith, it’s impossible to please God. Which means that faith pleases Him. Jesus loved it when He found someone with extraordinary faith in Him in the gospels, and He commended those people. I want to be someone who has extraordinary faith in my God.

Jesus said that for everyone who believes in His name, He gives the right to become a child of God. That’s utterly astounding. It means putting our trust in His faithful character and staking everything on Him being who He says He is.

I’m not sure whether I’m really expressing what’s in my heart. But believing God – truly holding fast to Him because He is steadfast love and faithful and righteous – is the greatest honour we can do for Him. And I think the more I believe God, the more I will grow towards extraordinary faith in Him. Because it will impact my life more and more. How could it not?

Spirit

God sent Jesus to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law,
so that He could adopt us as His very own children.
And because we are His children,
God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts,
prompting us to call out, ‘Daddy Father.’
Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child.
And since you are His child, God has made you His heir.

These verses from Galatians are precious. They tell me how loved I am, how cherished by God.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all 100% committed to me.

I was a slave under God’s law but Jesus fulfilled the law for me. God the Son bought my freedom on the cross.

Why?

So that the Father could adopt me as His daughter. Imagine… the King of Kings wanted me in His family. Wow…. Just wow!

Father and Son were keen that I should know this in my heart, not just believe it in my head. So God sent the Spirit of Jesus to live inside me, and the Spirit tells me that this is true. God’s Spirit in me makes my heart leap for joy that God is my Daddy. Such knowledge sets my heart ablaze and powerfully changes the way I think.

I’m not a slave. He welcomes me into His palace and I get to sit on the best chairs. I belong.

As if that weren’t enough, I am a co-heir with Jesus. Everything He enjoys, I get to enjoy.

I love the Spirit. He gives me assurance. He brings me God’s presence. He gives me spiritual gifts. This glorious third Person of the Trinity loves me!

God’s Nice and He Likes Me

Last year I felt like a building that was being taken apart for renovation. Everything I thought I believed was challenged; it was as though God was stripping me right back to basics. As I said in my previous post, I had no real idea of who I was, or what God thought of me. Was I even a Christian?

God’s way of dealing with that was to remind me of the time when Moses asked God to show him His glory. God agreed, and He walked in front of Moses, saying:

The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
keeping steadfast love for thousands,
forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,
but who will by no means clear the guilty…

God wanted me to understand something important. He started with that small phrase: slow to anger.

For two weeks, the Holy Spirit kept repeating those words to me: God is slow to anger. SLOW to anger. SLOW to ANGER. SLOW TO ANGER. Then one day I realised: God isn’t angry with me.

As soon as I had got the hang of that, the Holy Spirit moved on to the phrase: abounding in steadfast love.

I struggled to accept that God loved me. I felt so worthless and unlovable that it was almost repulsive to even hint that He might love me. But He persistently repeated those words to me: ABOUNDING in STEADFAST LOVE.

Coming from a background of believing that although I was saved, I still had to earn God’s favour with an endless list of dos and don’ts, it was a monumental task to turn my thinking and accept that God loved me just because He wanted to. Nothing I could do would ever make Him love me more. Nothing I neglected to do would ever make Him love me less. As Adrian Plass is fond of saying: God is nice, and He likes me.

It was hard to take in and accept that God the Father sent Jesus to die for me because He delights in me and chose to adopt me long before creation.

ButterflyFor weeks, the truth that God loved me unconditionally – or to put it another way, He is nice and He likes me – was uncomfortable. It seemed to flitter near me, occasionally alighting for a few seconds before taking off again, rather like a butterfly briefly landing on a flower before fluttering away.

At the same time as God was using those phrases to rebuild the foundation of my life, I was devouring other passages from the New Testament. For years, I had arrogantly glossed over chapters like Romans 8, believing they had nothing to teach me. But now, my eyes were being opened and I was desperate to comprehend their powerful meaning.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
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 Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

The verses told me that I am a child of God. That He has adopted me. That is why I can call Him Dad (Abba). But they were just words. Although I have been a Christian since the age of ten, I had never really accepted that God is my Father and those words weren’t real for me.

In sheer desperation, I cried out: ‘Holy Spirit, it says here that You tell my spirit that I am a child of God. Please do that!’

And He did. The Holy Spirit is a wonderful Teacher. The best in fact. Ever since that desperate day last summer, He has been telling me daily that I am a child of God. Jesus’ Dad has adopted me! Jesus made it possible for His Dad to adopt me when He died so that I could be forgiven for rebelling against God and choosing to please myself instead of pleasing Him. Jesus is my Hero!

Knowing who I am – a child of God who is secure in Christ and that God has completely accepted me – has revolutionised my life. I no longer have to strive and put on a front with people. I can be myself, knowing that it doesn’t matter what they think. That is not to say that I don’t have my wobbles, but to know that I am accepted by God and that He truly loves me is more precious than anything else.

I think that calls for a bit of WOOOO HOOOO HOOOOO!!

Image used courtesy of tharkul at freedigitalphotos.net.

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