When we come to Christ we are no longer appointed to the same destiny as the rest of this world. We have a new appointment. We have new purpose. All things about our life, purpose and existence has now been made brand new. Yet so many Christians live as though unaware of what they have been appointed to. We live on with the same goals, fears, and motivations as the rest of the world as though we were still a part of this world.
We need to understand what we are appointed to, and what we are not appointed to in Christ. Our eternal life starts the moment we accept Christ. We need to understand what that eternal life is and what it consists of now. We have a joy unspeakable and full of glory, that no man can take from us, even in the face of multiple trials on this earth. Our life is hidden in Christ, not in this earth. Our happiness is not here, and until we quit trying to find it here, we will never find it in Christ.
We are not appointed to the same judgment and eternal condemnation that the world is. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Rom. 8:1
”Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24
We are not appointed to the wrath that will come on this world during the day of His wrath….. ”And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thess. 1:10
”For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” 1 Thess. 5:9,10
We are appointed unto everlasting life: ”He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life…” John 3:36a
We are appointed to grace… ”Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Heb. 4:14-16
”For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Rom. 6:14
”And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” John 1:16-17
“For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” Rom. 5:17
His grace is not only His unmerited favor, but His power in us to reign in life while in this body of death until our full redemption. It is promised to every believer to enable us to overcome our flesh and live in His Spirit and walk by faith. It is His very presence within us that is that grace.
We are appointed unto affliction and suffering in this body, in this world. ”For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Phil. 1:29
”That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.” 1 Thess. 3:3
”For as much then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” 1 Peter 4:1,2
Our suffering is not the same as the suffering of the world. In Christ all our suffering is unto Him. As we accept the work of His cross in our lives, we must yield to its work as it puts to death our flesh life, so that Christ may reign in us. In doing so there is suffering in our flesh as we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. But His promise to us is that the suffering we experience as result does not even compare to the glory we shall share with Him for all eternity. The suffering of the world leaves no hope. But the suffering in Christ produces life. The suffering in the world destroys. The suffering in Christ brings strength and joy.
”But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; Knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. Or our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:7-18
We are appointed unto joy!
But if we keep looking for that joy the way the world does, in the things, people, and experiences of this life we will never find it. We will miss it!
"Whom having not seen, ye love; in Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls" 1 Peter 1:8,9
We are not appointed to happiness in this world. There is a big difference. This world is not our home, our happiness, or our life. Our true life is hidden in Christ and our appointed joy is only in making Him our life. The trials we face in this life strip us of our dependence on them for our happiness, security and fulfillment. As we have the "rug pulled out from under our feet" so to speak, we find we must cling to Christ and find our security, significance and happiness in Him alone. This is joy eternal, full of glory and undefeated. It is dependant on nothing in this world. Christian prisoners stripped of all they own, sitting in a dingy jail cell, sharing Christ with others have been noted for the joy in them that shines through them and brightens up the darkest places. We are all prisoners in this dark world as it grows increasingly more evil around us, and more of our happiness is threatened here. But we must remember and focus on our true appointment and joy, and we will find the strength to endure what we must.
In my next devotional I will continue on this theme…Our appointment in Christ. Study His Word and discover the many blessings He has appointed us unto!
Abba, thank You for what You have saved us from and what You have appointed us unto in Christ Jesus, though we were not worthy of it. Open our eyes to see the hope to which You have called us and the eternal blessings You have for us right now and forever.
We are appointed, as Christian, to the death of Jesus Christ.
"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized in His death?" Rom. 6:3
We think of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, so that we might be forgiven, but there is more. We have been united with Him in His death on the cross. His death is ours. His cross is ours. This is our appointment. If you accept His sacrifice you must be united with Him in it. You cannot accept Him without accepting His cross in your life as your cross.
"Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin." Rom. 6:7,8
This death does not come about by our trying to "die to self". It has been accomplished by Jesus when we put our faith in Him to be our Savior and were born of His Spirit. It's He that has united us with Him in His death. It's He that will work that death to sin, to the world, and to self in you as you walk in faith in what He has already accomplished, yielding to Him daily.
We are also appointed to His resurrection...
"Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection." Rom. 6:4,5
"Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. Likewise, you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom. 6:8-11
His resurrection is a living power within us now, enabling us now to experience our eternal life. It doesn't wait until we die. It is always at work in us, raising us out of this body of death, enabling us to overcome sin, the world and the devil. It is Christ's life within us. Let us pray with Paul his prayer, so that we may understand this hope He has called us to..."that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of our understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places." Eph. 1:17-20
This is the resurrection power that lives in each one of us as Christians. It is this Paul meant when He said, "For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." Gal. 2:19,20
It is because of this being united with Christ in His death and resurrection that we are not appointed to the law of sin and death, but we are appointed to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Rom. 8:2
The law could not crucify our flesh. It could not free us from sin. It could only show us our sinfulness, and condemn us. But..."what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, (deprived it of its power), that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." Rom. 8:3,4
So that now we are.."become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." Rom. 7:4
For the Christian then, Jesus Christ is our law, our life, our righteousness, fulfilled in us, and living through us. We live by complete dependence on Him alone to be all in us, and through us.
Dear Abba, our Father, teach us what it truly is to live by faith, in complete dependence on You every day, moment by moment for every part of our lives. Help us to remember what we are appointed to. Help us remember what You have already fulfilled in us. Teach us then to walk by Your Spirit that You so graciously have given us.
One of the appointments of our Chirstian walk that is so sorely overlooked, and neglected is thee calling that is the greatest of all given to us by our Lord and Savior. Continuing with the theme in my past two devotionals I would like to talk about our appointment to love - not the wishy washy, feel good love of the world, but God's agape love.
Besides being appointed to receive God's perfect, sacrificial love, we are also called to walk in it.
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matt. 22:36-40
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." John 15:12-13
"and now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Cor. 13:13
"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not covet, and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Rom. 13:8-10
As I come before you with this devotional, I realize my own failure all to often to love the Lord and others above myself. It is natural always to put ourselves first, our own interests, self- protection, self-exhaltation, and self-love above loving God and loving others. We aren't even really aware how often we do it every day until the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see it. We may think we would lay down our lives for God at a moment. But will you lay down your pride for Him in order to share in His humiliation? Will you let someone else have the last word even if you know you are right? Will you lay down your will in order to minister to someone else's need when you have other plans? There are so many subtle ways every day we are called on to lay down our lives and love God and love others that we miss, as we live for our own self-interests. How many times I have had to confess, "Lord, I have failed to love you enough, and I have failed to love my brother or sister enough." Oh! if only we would ask God daily, "Father, let your love fill me and have its way in and through me."
Love and truth are yoked along with humility. You cannot separate them or any one of them will be deficient without the other. God's love cannot stand any form of lie or falsehood. And it is completely humble. If you have God's love you are a lover of truth. If you have God's love you cannot be a lover of self. Pride is something you will despise in yourself. As we grow in His love and seek to be mature in it, we also should be praying for humility and more knowledge and understanding in all His ways.
I see so much strife today among the church. Everyone is sure they are right. One claims to love truth and pounces all over those who disregard it, but are lacking in their love for God and fellow man. Remember the warning Jesus gave in His letter to the church of Ephesus who certainly loved the truth:
"I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted."
Sounds like a perfect church huh? But what were they lacking?
"Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." Rev. 2:2-5
Truth must be truly known and experienced out of love, and brokeness of the Holy Spirit's work in our lives, and spoken with love and meekness, or it is not glorifying to God.
Brother #1 sees the importance of upholding the truth of the Word, but is blind to the lack of love and the haughtiness in his spirit. Brother #2 sees the haughtiness and lack of love in brother #1 and reacts to that, missing the truth he is sharing which is important and something brother #2 really needs to hear. Both are right and both are blind. But because of their lack of love and humility, they won't learn from each other the lesson God has for each of them, and miss the purpose God has brought them together. They won't grow, they won't listen and take what's said before the Lord. Instead they will stubbornly react to each other's flesh and defend their position, because, after all, they are sure of what they see in the other and they are sure they are right. Each goes away with a martyr complex feeling they were wronged by their brother, and suffering for the Lord.
God meant them to be strengthened and admonished by one another. He meant them to see their flesh and surrender it to the cross, and let it be crucified. All of us have our blind spots. We can't possibly see them! That's why they are called blind spots. We are all a little right and a little wrong at times.
Yes, even our flesh can appear very holy at times, because the Lord has shown us some great truths and worked some great things in us, but we, with our flesh try to take them to others, instead of letting the Holy Spirit do this through us. It may not be that the person you wish to bring your truth to is in the place where he is able to fully receive it yet, as the Lord has not brought him to that brokeness and maturity. That is why we need to let His Spirit lead, and to share in true love, humility, and gentleness, and if they are not ready, to wait and let the Lord work. But if we argue and insist that they see it our way, we only drive them further from seeing what God wants them to see. We have given them a wall of defensiveness.
By doing this, we do a great diservice to the character of God that we are suppose to be an example of in this world. We mis-represent our beloved Savior. We present His Word in our flesh, in a way that is contrary to His Spirit. Our flesh can never do what the Holy Spirit can do. But if we lay down our flesh for our brother, in loving sacrifice, he is able to see God's love and truth and his heart is softened.
I have seen many try to present the truth in such an offensive and haughty way that the whole message, and character of God is maligned by it. Then they wonder why others are so offended by them. It's often that others are offended by the gospel itself, because of their hard, sinful hearts. But if they are offended by our flesh, then how will they ever truly be convicted of God's truth?
"A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city" Prov. 18:19a
God has a better way. That is His love - his agape love. Just think if we all gave ourself to seek that love, which... endures long and is patient and kind, that never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vain-glorious, does not display itself haughtily, is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly, does not insist on its own rights or its own way, is not self-seeking, is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it, [pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice in injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. It bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person. Its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and it endures everything [without weakening]. It never fails! (from 1 cor. 13:4-8)
So often in these conflicts nobody wins, the devil gets the blame, and all go away with a martyr complex. Yet the devil does not have to have a foothold at all if our flesh and self-love is surrendered to the cross.
Then there is the "holier than thou" scenario. Brother #1 has been a Christian for many years and has been through the valleys, the mountains, and the fire with God. He is one who has a heart for God, who sits at God's feet and yearns to know the heart and will of God and understand His ways. He has been in God's secret place. He is extremely sensitive to what offends God and what is contrary to God's truth and misleads people from His ways. He can discern what is of man and what is of God. Brother #2 is your everyday Joe Christian. He goes to church on Sunday. He reads his Bible once in a while in a hasty sort of quick devotional way. He may even teach Sunday school and just really goes with the flow in Christian cirlces. He's content, and sees no need to seek more of God. In fact he's rather irritated with people like Brother #1 because they seem so "holier than thou" and always are critical of certain movements in the church and seem to be troubled by things too much. When Brother #1 points out an area that he has been shown God's heart and discernment out of deep concern and love for God and man, and is deeply trouble by it, Brother #2 only sees him as being "self-righteous" and "holier than thou" and refuses to listen. It makes him uncomfortable and he would rather follow the mainstreem where he is more comfortable and everyone gets along. If he was willing to lay down his life in love, even though not understanding, and bring it before the Lord and seek Him, he would find growth. But he has robbed himself and the body of Christ by not doing so.
If we are sure we are "right", let us take the time to listen to our brother in humility, and ask God to show us where we are blind and cannot see. Lets allow Him to show what is right to our brother, by laying down our life for him. Others will show us our blindspots if we submit ourselves to one another, laying down our lives for one another in love and humility that God intended. Especially, those of us in leadership positions need to listen with teachable and humble hearts those under us, as our very "authority" can exasperate those under us when we don't listen, causing disharmony and resentment. All of us, then, miss out in the growth God intended. How do you know if that person "under" you was not sent by God with a truth you needed to hear. Spiritual pride robs our hearts of God's love. Be still and listen!
I hope we will all make God's agape love a priority in our hearts, seeking it diligently each day, and giving it the first place in our lives, as it is the first and greatest commandment. If we do not obey Him, how can we say we love Him? Seek Him to let His commandment of love be fulfilled in you by His Spirit alone. Shalom!
Where will love take you if you give yourself fully to it? Sometimes we’re afraid to find out. Love, to us, has been - “wanting to be loved,” and even our giving it out has been for that purpose. The kind of agape love we see in Jesus scares us and we shy away from it, when it comes to our being called to it. Yet, if we want the fullness of God then we must let Him take us all the way, with Him, to where His love has led Him – to the cross. Will you go with Him wherever His love leads?
Many times the Lord allows circumstances in our lives that show us - 1) our lack of love, 2) our need for love can never be met in a human being, and 3) God alone is our source of love and can not only satisfy our need, but He alone can be, in us, the love we are called on to give to others who are unlovable.
Through each of these circumstances in life we are learning to live in His love, and for His love, and by His love. Some of us have been rejected again and again by those who were suppose to love us. Some of us lost someone close we depended on for love. Some of us live with a selfish, hard to live with, person daily having to deal with their needs, while ours are never met in return.
In our hearts we dream of the perfect family. The perfect love relationship, the happy home, where on holidays we are all gathered in cheerful, loving, happy experiences with one another. We see others around us, perhaps in church, that seem to have that, and our grief and sense of loss is magnified. “Why couldn’t I have that?” We ask ourselves, and torture ourselves, feeling deprived. “Why can’t I have a “normal” family?” “Why can’t I have someone love me like I need?”
The more you want and search for love this way, looking and longing for what others have that you have somehow missed out on, the more it seems to escape you, and you are left feeling bitter, and empty, until finally, you realize that you are missing out on the greatest, most intimate love relationship of all. The love and intimacy between you and your Maker – Jesus Christ – the One Who gave up everything for you, and with complete selflessness gave even His life to purchase that relationship with you. He is able to fill up your heart to the full. He made you in such a way that only His love could truly satisfy that longing in you. There is a place for intimacy that no one else can fill but His Spirit. He longs to abide there in intimacy in your inner being, and to fill that longing for love.
It is our “self-life”, our “flesh” that keeps us from that intimacy. If we would say to Him, “Lord, remove from me everything in my flesh that hinders me from abiding moment by moment in your presence and your love,” and mean it, and let Him do that, God would be able to bring us to that place of intimacy with Him.
Make a surrender to Him – “Lord, all that I expected out of life and didn’t get, the family that didn’t turn out to be what I needed and expected, the friends that I didn’t have that I longed for, the love I never found in a mate, the loved one that I lost, etc. I surrender to You. All my dreams and hopes for love, I surrender to You. Take them! Thank You for the life You have chosen for me. I accept it and all the circumstances in my life. I give them all to You, just as You have allowed and brought all these things and people in my life now. Let it all be used for Your glory, and Your love. I choose to live for, in, and through Your love now, giving love to those You have given me. I surrender my “self-love”, my “longing to be loved,” and ask you to fill me with Your selfless love.”
This is when love will begin to be fulfilled in You.
Are you made perfect (complete) in His love?
”And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love, dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in Him.
In this [union and communion with Him] love is brought to completion and attains perfection with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment [with assurance and boldness to face Him], because as He is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].
We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:16:19 (amplified Bible)
We cannot love others if we aren’t first sure of God’s love for us. If we are living under a bondage of legalism, (trusting in our own works) then we will always be unsure of His perfect acceptance and love for us, because we will feel we must earn it, and we will always be trying to earn His love and approval, or introspecting and finding we are not good enough. But when we trust His grace alone we see that of course we are never going to be good enough in ourselves for this love! When we trust Him alone - His grace and His love alone, we are overwhelmed with a sense of humility knowing we never could earn it, and it is all of Him and not us, and we find rest in His perfect love. In that love, and that rest alone, are we able to love others who do not deserve our love either. We are able to freely give it to them with joy, knowing our source is continually filling us and will never leave or forsake us.
Have you lost your “want to” in life, in serving God? Do it for the love of Christ. Don’t feel like getting up in the morning? Get up for the love of Christ – whatever you do, do for the love of Christ and let His life flow through you. Let God take your self- life and fill you with His life and love until it overflows on those around you.
Dear Abba, our heavenly Father, help us to understand the message of love You have for us and enable us today to yield our members to that love, trusting it fully and all its working in our lives, whatever that brings and wherever that leads us. Bring us to that place where we no longer question or doubt Your goodness and mercy and love for us, so that we are able to be filled to overflowing with it. In the name of Your Son Jesus Christ we pray, amen. Let it be so.