Run Into His Abundance

Philippians chapter three feels like a gauntlet thrown down with a challenge. “Will you run until you have finished the race?” it asks. And then we are shown how to respond to the call. Passion to go for what is ahead activates endurance for a journey that draws strength from Holy Spirit to cross the finish line.

“I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Christ has called me to fulfill and wants me to discover. I don’t depend on my own strength to accomplish this; however I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead.” [vs. 12-13]

There is a reward in running the adventure of faith; a crown of life (James 1:12, Rev. 2:10), a crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4), a crown of rejoicing (1 Thess. 2:19), and a crown of righteousness (1 Tim. 4:8). And that is only the beginning.

Suffering? Come on!

Philippians chapter one has an inescapable point its making. Verse 30 says, “For you have been called by him to endure the conflict in the same way I have endured it—for you know I’m not giving up.”

As a former “quitter,” I used to give up when opportunities I had been given demanded more than I had to give them. Several key opportunities were lost in the early days of my walk with the Lord for the lack of tenacity. Those points of suffering were designed to increase capacity. Oh, I could describe occasions of tears and screaming, “It’s too hard.” But I know I’m the only one who’s ever been there. Right?

Romans 5:3-4 speaks of the Greek work thlipsis. Trouble, distress, oppression, tribulation; they’re strong words for tough situations. But these things produce something that nothing else can; perseverance, proven character and hope.

Winston Churchill encouraged me on many circumstance. Never give up, never give up, never give up. Maybe those words will help someone today.

Who or What

Twice in Romans eight it forges the idea that nothing can separate us from the love of God. The two lists represent both who and what of the idea of those things that could potentially separate us from that love. Within the context of our very constitutionally protected American lifestyle, most of those things appear very distant, even insular.

Yet within those same verses (28-39) is the overwhelming force that conquers the who and what of those influences; the gift of the love of God’s son.

“If God has determined to stand with us, tell me, who (or what) then could ever stand against us? (vs. 31, TPT)

 “Yet even in the midst of all these things, we triumph over them all, for God has made us to be more than conquerors, and his demonstrated love is our glorious victory over everything!” (vs. 37)

Also see Eph. 3:14-21, Phil. 1:6-11

Loving Romans

I love Romans. It has the unique distinction of being both complex and simple. If one drills down through its complexity, the simplicity can be realized. Romans four is one example. The very last verse states, “Jesus was handed over to be crucified for the forgiveness of sins and raised back to life to prove that he made us right with God!” (TPT) It’s that simple.

We cannot be punished for violations of rules that were nailed to a cross (vs. 15). We cannot work for a higher level of righteousness when we’ve been given the highest level of right standing with God there is. We cannot incrementally lose what has been completely and freely given.

Then where’s the complexity? Faith. When earning any aspect of the promises of God becomes a part of our thinking, faith loses its power. Abraham believed (key word) the promise and expected (key word) God to fulfill it. He took God at his word. He never stopped believing God’s promise. We cannot fulfill promises that God has given us.

Like Abraham, we can stay the course; walk where he leads. Keep it simple. Keep believing and never give up. He said he would bring his promises to pass.

Are You Hidden?

There is as much substance between the lines of Psalm 91 as there is in each verse because of the pictorial similes. The Passion Translation captures it well. “When you sit enthroned (dwell) under the shadow (protection) of Shaddai (the one who has power to complete promises of blessing and prosperity), you are hidden (safe from harm) in the strength of God Most High (the one positioned above everything).”

Colossians 3 says: “Therefore if you have been raised up (to life) with Christ, keep seeking (desire, try to obtain) the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died (completely dead to the old nature) and your life is hidden (kept safe, made invisible) with Christ in God.” [My emphasis added]

“He’s the hope that holds me and the Stronghold that shelters me, the only God for me, and my great confidence. He will rescue you from every hidden trap of the enemy, and he will protect you from false accusation and any deadly curse.”

How would my life be different if I believed these things wholeheartedly?

The Kingdom of Heaven is Compared . . .

The Kingdom of Heaven is compared . . . is the beginning of Jesus’ parable in Matthew 22. He tells of a king who arranges a marriage for his son and prepares an extravagant wedding feast. Invitations are sent to those aware of the king’s marriage arrangement and the king’s servants are forced to return with reports of indifference and hostility toward his gracious offer. They did not understand that the king had a much larger design. Had they honored the king, they would have become the object of the marriage and partakers of the king’s realm.

Ephesians 5 tells us that marriage is the mystery of the church becoming one (a composite single person) with Messiah Jesus.

Jesus prays in John 17 for those who have believed the truth of the king’s passionate invitation to join him in an eternal relationship. Jesus prays, “that may they may be one; even 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 sent me.”

We may well spend the rest of our lives apprehending the enormity of that potential. But first of all, our oneness and singular devotion to him is that the world may see that he has truly come, and we are on display as proof.

Our Vindication

He will make your vindication shine like the light, and the justice of your cause like the noonday. [Psalm 37:6, NRSV]

Following Jesus will at some point require actions and decisions that won’t synchronize with popular thought or opinion as we press forward in our pursuit of the Kingdom. It’s a test of the fear of man and the fears in our hearts that each one of us should face as believers at least once in our lifetime. More often than not, as we gain the wisdom of heaven, it will be counter to the wisdom of man and reveal the issues preventing obedience to his voice.

It affords us the opportunities of trusting Papa for vindication, facing our fears, learning to field criticism with love, honor and dignity and facing other assorted issues that deepen our maturity.

For the sake of clarity, what I am not saying is that we should be given to careless independence and doing what we please. That’s an entirely different heart.

What I am saying is, is we can be faced with direction from the Spirit and even scripture that rings inside as truth and right action, but seems risky, difficult, even scary when presented for peer feedback. But our love for Papa won’t let us back down.

Stepping into obedience with a single-minded focus takes courage. There’s no back door; no turning back. Even when good excuses come to mind, commitment propels us forward. “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

Although we are never alone in the family of God, we may be faced with the occurrence of standing alone when all other voices aren’t in agreement. It’s an opportunity to see what’s in our hearts, understand what Papa God wants to change, make certain our love is turned on to its fullest measure and walk through a season of life that will require time to vindicate our walk.

We live in a day when living for the Kingdom and worshiping the Father in Spirit and in truth will cost us everything. Are we ready?