If / Then

Do you remember anything from geometry class?  Do you remember the phrase if / then statements?   The basic idea in an if / then statement is that when the information following the “if” statement is true, what follows the “then” statement should also be true.  For example, “If a=b, then b=a.”

Relate this to living life in Christ.  My if / then statement is “If God’s Word is working in me, then my life will be changed to reflect Christ.”  This became reality to me recently when I saw the result of God’s Word working change in me – not the result of all my working to change.  It took place, little by little, as I continued dwelling in what the Bible reveals of His amazing love.  At some point, without my notice, His love overtook my limited human love, and began flowing more freely through me.  It was simply God’s Word of love working in me, and it changed my life to reflect Christ more.

I have not come close to completing this course, so I continue to fill up on Christ and His love.  I find, however, that I think about others differently now.  Because of His Word working in me, when the old thoughts about people show up, I realign my thinking with my Father’s thoughts towards them.  Thinking His thoughts changes my words about them.  With His thoughts and words, my actions are also changed, and I’m likely to go out of my way for someone I’d have ignored before.  Isn’t this what Jesus did when He walked on this earth?  It was because He dwelled in the Spirit of God, which allowed the Spirit to work in and through Him as a man.

1 John 2:6 AMP  Whoever says he abides in Him ought [as a personal debt] to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself.

It all comes back to that if / then statement.  If we truly abide in God’s love (for us and others), then Christ will be seen in our lives.  The opposite is also true.  If there is no difference in our lives (in our thoughts, words, or actions), then we must not be abiding in the agape love of God.  If we remain self-centered, judgmental, critical, etc., we do not really know (do not abide in) the reality of God’s love.  God’s love is a life-changer.  Living in God’s love equals a life radically changed.  No radical life change equals not living in and grasping God’s love.

Ephesians 3:17-19 AMP 17 May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, 18 that you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; 19 [that you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!

We can never change ourselves to look like Jesus, no matter how hard we try, but God’s Word will change us as we simply dwell in Him.  Likewise, we can never love with His perfect love by our efforts.  Since, however, His love was already poured into our hearts when we were born again (Rom. 5:5), when we dwell in Christ’s love, then the love of Christ will be reflected in us.

Is It The End?

Mark 15:46  “So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.”  NIV

As I meditated on this verse, I saw several things that helped me greatly, especially with what I was facing at that time.  When I read about what Joseph did, I realized he continued to respect and reverence Jesus, as well as giving to Him, even in His death.  This was despite the fact that everything he had hoped for and believed in concerning Jesus had just died, as far as he knew.  Picture it with me.  Joseph peacefully and methodically wrapped Jesus’ body in fine linen, and placed it in the new tomb he had purchased – after having brought it from Calvary.  This was the body, now dead, on which he had based his reason for hope and his reason for living.  Then he rolled a large stone against the opening.  He wasn’t going back in, but he also made sure others wouldn’t be able to go in either.  Who knows what they might do?  Joseph continued to respect Jesus in every way, even in what appeared to be the end.

What would he do now?  He was probably very confused.  We know what happened only three days later.  Three days later, so did he; but for those 3 days, he didn’t know.  Because of how he treated Jesus’ body upon His death, my assumption is that during this time, he only spoke of Jesus in terms of the wonderful things He did and said.  If he voiced his many questions, including what he was to do now, it was probably only to himself.  Underneath it all, he knew he could never be the same because of having known Jesus, even if he never understood what happened at His death.  Joseph made the decision that he would not go back to his old ways and pretend it never happened, pretend he never conversed with Jesus, never believed what He said was true.

Lest you think I’m making too much of this verse, the Lord directed me to it at a time when a ministry He had birthed through me five years earlier was in the final throes of ending – at His direction.  I chose to stay with it to the very end, giving my all to it as long as there was “breath” in it.  When it was finished, would I also choose to lovingly “wrap it up” and “secure it” so that no harm would come to it?  Would I walk away from it after it ended and forget all about it, forget about what I learned from it and how I was changed by it – not to mention the others who were touched and changed by it, as well?  Would I continue to trust the Lord to bring the vision to completion, even though this vehicle of ministry had come to its end?  Most importantly, just like Joseph, would I continue to trust God even when I didn’t know what I would do without this in my life?

The following, straight from my journal, is the answer that rose up in me and the declaration I recorded after considering these questions:  “Lord, I can’t / won’t go back.  I’ve been forever changed by You and Your work in my life.  You’ve done so much in me in the midst of this ministry.  So I will wait on You, Lord.  I may only have a day or 3 days.  But it may be 3 months or 3 years.  Lord, that’s hard to write, because my flesh screams that I must have some direction sooner than that.  But I’m just going to come back to trusting You when I can’t see.”

What about you?  What will you choose?  Consider the Amplified version of Proverbs 3:5-6.  “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.”  He is fully trustworthy!