Another of our titles, if we want to call them that, is "heirs of God" and "co-heirs with Christ." (See Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7; Ephesians 1:5.) We are heirs because we are sons (daughters) of God our Father. There is perhaps no greater designation than to be called a child of God because of the ramifications. Children grow up with their parents and take on their mannerisms and habits. Children benefit from the education and other things that parents provide because parents want their children to succeed in life. They benefit from their parents' place in society. Children inherit from their parents when the parents die.
God, as our Father, wants and provides the same for us and even more so because He is God. God made us in his image and likeness. We can, through the example of Jesus and applying the Word of God to our lives, grow up to be like him. Because of natural parents, we might say of someone, "She has her father's eyes and his smile." How much greater the compliment if we can say, "She has her Father's eyes and smile, his compassion and love of others." Or, "He has learned patience and self-control."
As children of God we hold a certain place in society. After all, our Father is the Supreme Godhead, Creator and Ruler of the Universe. If we know who He is, then we should know who we are. We can brag on our Father and bring people to meet him. People might look to us to be leaders and to grant favors which we would be able to offer through exercise of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
As children of the Father, co-heirs with Christ, we inherit all that he has. Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18) and he passed it on to his disciples. He said we could drive out demons, speak in new tongues, and heal the sick. And we will inherit the Kingdom. At the end He will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Come, enter into my joy (cf. Matthew 25:23).
That's what it means to be an heir.
God is love.
God lives in me.
Therefore love lives in me.
God is love.
I live in love.
Therefore God lives in me.
God lives in me.
I live in the world.
Therefore God lives in the world.
The evangelists Paul and John both used this kind of reasoning when arriving at teachable conclusions in their letters. The one that inspired the above examples is 1 John 4:16-17, "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him." God is complete love. Therefore complete love is in the world because we are like him.
Most days I think the amount of love in me varies on a sliding scale with complete on one end and none on the other. Or, as you see in surveys today, "Please rate on a scale of 1 - 10 where 10 is complete love and 1 is no love. . . ." And what does this rating indicate about what we really believe? Do we believe we only have a little bit of love in us, so we must only have a little bit of God in us? Can God be portioned out like that? It's a ridiculous thought.
If we have God in us, it would seem that we have the complete God in us and therefore complete love in us. (God is not incomplete, not imperfect in any way.) We, however, may be portioning out God's love, incompletely using it, not allowing God's complete love to work in the world. And the world is the poorer for it.
For Reflection: Where am I on that scale of 1 - 10? Can I let God's love shine through me more completely today?
Let us pray. You, Lord, are complete love. You are in me and I am in you. Help me to let your love shine through more completely today.
"The Lord never gives you more than you can handle," is a popular saying. But is it true? Honestly, it does seem like sometimes we have an awful lot to bear.
In 1 Kings 12, Rehoboam is taking over as king after his father Solomon dies. The people come to him and ask him to lighten the yoke, the heavy taxes and harsh labor, that Solomon had burdened them with. Following bad advice from friends, Rehoboam says, "No, I will increase the yoke." Rehoboam's stubbornness had disastrous results. The people rebelled and the kingdom was divided for centuries because of the heavy yoke he intended to place on them. This yoke was more than the people could handle, but it was not one placed on them by God. Solomon had initiated it and Rehoboam was going to increase it. He was not listening to God.
In the New Testament, Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). This is in stark contrast to what Rehoboam proposed and in contrast to the many restrictions that the Pharisees placed on people in Jesus' time. Who could know and observe all the laws and their interpretations that the Jewish leaders had come up with? It was another form of a heavy burden.
So, let's consider where our burdens come from today. They can come from others, as in our examples from the Old and New Testament. Today it might be our jobs that place such burdens upon us or our government in the form of taxes and laws. Burdens can come from ourselves in the guise of wanting more money, or greater recognition or a larger house. Another burden we can place on ourselves is sin.
But notice that these burdens don't come from God. Jesus said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." Anything that he gives us to do, any burden he places upon us, he will help us fulfill. He won't just give it to us and say, "Go. Do your thing. I'll check back on you later." No, if he gives us something to do he will help us do it.
For Reflection: Where do my burdens come from? From someone else, from me, or from God?
Let us pray with the song below.
(Image by Samo Trebizan)
"You yourselves are our letter (of recommendation), written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts" (2 Corinthians 3:2-3).
Paul could be quite the lyrical writer when offering encouragement and praise to the members of the church. So what is this idea of Christians being a "letter of recommendation?" Paul meant that when people saw the Christians of the local church who had been taught in the faith by Paul and his companions, their lives reflected on him, on the quality of his teaching and formation in the faith.
Paul was a teacher and evangelist. His students lived (and traveled) throughout the Mediterranean world. They were a reflection on the value, the thoroughness, the expertise of his teaching. There was no "standardized test" for being a Christian. Paul couldn't "teach to the test." He could only teach to their hearts and hope that his teachings were written there, on their hearts, as God has written his commandments on the stones at Mt. Sinai. And Paul is obviously satisfied that he has met that test - he has touched their hearts and they provide excellent letters of recommendation for him and his ministry.
For Reflection: There is an old saying: "Everything we do teaches." All of us teach in some way - whether we teach formally in a school setting, or at home with our children, or in the marketplace. People are always observing us. What type of letter of recommendation are we for those who taught us and, ultimately, for Jesus?
Let us pray. Jesus, I thank you for my parents, teachers and pastors and all who taught me to know you, the living and true God. I strive to be a good letter of recommendation for them and for you. May I always reflect you well in all that I do.
Jesus never traveled outside of a small geographical area, yet his life changed the world. Today we have the opportunity not only for physical travel around the world but also for virtual travel around the globe through social media. I know, for example, that people in varied countries have read this blog and contacted me by email. So, how many people can we touch?
We can touch the people in our daily lives just by smiling and being pleasant. Do you know how unusual this is today? Look around you. How many people look happy? Perhaps very few. But I think that Christians should look happy, and I know it is easier said than done. We know that our Redeemer lives; we know that everything works together for good for those who love Jesus; we know that we are going from glory to glory. Given what we know, we should be happy and that happiness should be reflected on our faces.
For Reflection: In my world today, what difference can I make by smiling and being pleasant?
Sometimes when we read the Scriptures it is easy to think that one verse doesn't follow another, or a paragraph is out of place. Perhaps the author was interrupted and forgot where he was going with that thought. Perhaps not and we need to try to get into the mind of the author.
One such passage for me (and there are many!) is Isaiah 40:10-11. "Here comes with power the Lord God, who rules by his strong arm; here is his reward with him, his recompense before him. Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care." My first thought is, "What does being a shepherd have to do with God ruling with power?" But it seems that being a shepherd goes with the second part of verse 10, "here is his reward with him, his recompense before him." The flock is his reward and he guards it with his strong arm, particularly the ewes and the baby lambs.
We know that we are that flock. He guards us, especially the mothers and young children, with his strength, his power. And he who created the world and all that is in it (vv. 12-14) is eminently capable of providing for the flock.
What is there that we need that God cannot provide? Nothing.
Let us pray. You measured the waters in the hollow of your hand. You marked off the heavens with the breadth of your hand. You held the dust of the earth in a basket and weighed the mountains on scales. You call each star by name. We are like a drop in a bucket, like grasshoppers, yet we cannot hide from you. You are the everlasting God, the Creator who does not grow tired but gives strength to the weary and power to the weak. You renew our strength through hope in you and we soar on wings like eagles.
(based on Isaiah 40)
From Psalm 29
Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name.
He sits enthroned over the flood as King forever.
His voice thunders over the mighty waters,
powerful and majestic.
His voice breaks the cedars of Lebanon into pieces.
His voice twists the oaks and strips the forests bare.
His voice is lightening, shaking the desert.
His voice blesses the people with peace and gives them strength.
In his temple all cry, "Glory!"
This new creation that we have become can conquer! We are more than conquerors according to Paul in Romans 9:37. We may have heard this statement used often among Christians when trials come, but we need to look at the context in Paul's letter (9:26-39). We who have answered God's call are conformed to the likeness of Jesus (We have been made in the image and likeness of God.). We are also justified. Therefore no one can bring any charge against us for we have been declared "not guilty" because Jesus died and rose for us. We are then glorified by the impartation of the Holy Spirit who "helps us in our weakness", who "intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express . . in accordance with God's will."
Because of all this nothing can separate us from God's love; nothing can come between us and God. It is more than just standing beside God or being attached to God. We are not just "two peas in a pod" or "attached at the hip." No, we have God within us. How can we be separated from something which is within us? We can't. And since we are united with him we can conquer anything.
For Reflection: What needs to be conquered in my life? In the world around me?
Let us pray. Lord Jesus, I believe that you live within me, that we are united by the work of the Father, your death and resurrection and the indwelling of your Spirit. I always want to act in union with you to conquer whatever needs to be defeated according to your will.
On Monday I mentioned thinking and making positive statements about ourselves. I wasn't thinking about making just any positive statement about ourselves. We could say for years that we are excellent car mechanics, but, if we know nothing about cars, saying it doesn't make it come true. No, the statements I envisioned are based in Scripture.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17 it says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (See also Galatians 6:15.) Therefore, if we are "in Christ", if we are baptized, we are a new creation. So, let us say, "I am a new creation." We can also say, "The old me has passed away, the new me has come!"
Let us pray. Jesus, I thank you for making me a new creation through baptism. I thank you that the old me has passed away and the new has come. With you all good things are possible.
The last few weeks, in preparation for Christmas, we have looked at titles of Jesus. Although we didn't look at many of the "I am" titles from John's gospel, we did look at a few. Perhaps we will explore more of these in the coming days. But today I want to propose something along the lines of a "New Year's Resolution." And it is this: that we be very careful this year about how we think of ourselves.
Jesus said of himself, "I am the Good Shepherd," "I am the bread of life," "I am the light of the world." All of these are very positive statements. And, as I pointed out earlier, they use nouns not adjectives. The nouns are shepherd, bread, light, etc. Could we not come up with similar positive statements to make about ourselves? "I am a child of God." "I am the recipient of God's love." "I am a co-heir with Jesus Christ."
Further, can we limit the negative adjectives we use with reference to ourselves? Could we stop saying, "I am tired," "I am lonely," "I am afraid?" For Luke 6:45 says, "The mouth speaks what the heart is full of." Can we keep our hearts full of the positive, rather than the negative? Can we keep our hearts full of the promises of God? Might we look at what we have, rather than what we don't have? Shall we try it? I'd be interested in your feedback.
(I apologize for not posting regularly over the last week. If God does not inspire me, I cannot write. So there were a few days of waiting for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Inspirer.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.