God, live and in person

“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son” (John 1:14, NLT).

Jesus and the two disciples On the Road to Emm...

Most of us won’t get a chance to see celebrities in person, although from time to time at an airport or on a plane, you can spot one. I’ve seen a few on my travels but have probably missed some as they tend to look rather ordinary in real life, especially if they try to blend in by dressing like the rest of us.

When Jesus walked the earth as a human being, most didn’t recognize the most important celebrity in history. Even those closest to him didn’t understand exactly who he was until after the resurrection. He couldn’t help but draw attention because of his miracles and teaching, but he was just like us in every way except one—he was also God. During his time on earth God was live and in person and he still is today, though many don’t recognize him because he looks like you and me: he is God the Holy Spirit, living in us.

God our adopted father

“We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us” (Romans 8:23b, NLT).

Deutsch: Grabstein einer römischen Familie aus...

In ancient Roman times, a young man came of age when his father decided he was ready, at which time he was fully adopted as a son and given all the rights and privileges of an heir. Until that time, he was no better than a slave, had no freedoms and made no decisions. No doubt boys looked forward to the celebration and realization of their entry into adulthood.

Christians, by virtue of being united with Christ, are already God’s sons and daughters, but as I’ve mentioned before, we realize this in a now-but-not-yet way. We are a bit like the Roman boys who, though members of the family, were still under the protection and authority of their fathers and didn’t yet function as adults, even as older teenagers. Our adoption by a loving Father is already final, and with eager hope and anticipation, we have many good things to look forward to, including bodies as glorious as that of the risen Christ.

God dresses us

“I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10, NLT).

English: A clothes merchant in Porto, Portugal
A clothes merchant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The clothing industry is one of the biggest businesses in the world. From the manufacture of cloth, to designing and sewing, to marketing and selling, clothing the world employs a lot of people and takes a lot of energy. Whether we like it or not, how we dress projects an image (accurate or not) of who we are.

When we become new creatures in Christ, we are given a new set of clothing, more wonderful than any we have ever worn before. God himself clothes us with salvation and a robe of righteousness—the righteousness of Christ, which we share through the working of the Holy Spirit within us. The clothing we receive from God projects a new image, Christ’s image in us. We can never go wrong when we are dressed by God—it will never go out of style.

God the Paraclete

“But when the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth Who comes (proceeds) from the Father, He [Himself] will testify regarding Me” (John 15:26, AMP).

Triquetra composed exactly of three overlappin...
Triquetra (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus’ life on earth was a short one. Only a few people saw him, touched him and got to know him. As he prepared his disciples for his death, he told them the Holy Spirit would come, not to take his place, but to be the Paraclete who is “called to one’s side.” He knew they would feel deserted and alone and would need a lot of help. The Holy Spirit was to “make vital and actual Christ’s spiritual presence” (bibleencyclopedia.com).

Because we can’t experience Jesus’ physical presence, we sometimes have difficulty understanding, relating, even believing (“I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24). God as the Paraclete is the one who makes Jesus known to us, helps us come to the truth about him and is always by our side, ministering to us as we make our way through the maze of our lives. He is our Helper, but this designation and all other words used to describe what he does are inadequate as he does so much more than we know. He truly is our everything!

God’s freedom

“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17, NLT).

Freedom is a precious commodity. Wars have been and continue to be fought over it, mainly because there’s always a group of people who want to take it away from another group. Even today, when you would think no one would have to be in slavery to anyone, the battle still rages. Slavery takes many forms however and to some degree, most of us would have to say we’re not completely free.

God is the only being in the whole universe who is completely, totally and unequivocally free in every way. The freedom he enjoys is hard for us to understand, because even the most free human being is still limited by a human body, a human mind and the confines of living in three-dimensional space and time. The beautiful thing about God is he wants to share his freedom with us. Because he loves us so much, he’s not happy to see us entrenched in any kind of slavery. He even sent his one and only son to die for us, to set us free forever!

Emmanuel, God with us

This article I wrote back in 2009 goes along with the verse from yesterday.

Anyone who has been to my home knows I love flowers. They are everywhere—in the backyard, in the front yard and in pots wherever I can find space. I love everything about them from planting them, watching them grow, and enjoying their fragrances and colors, to how they attract butterflies and hummingbirds. I wait all year for spring bulbs and I’m sad when they finish blooming. When a piece of a plant breaks off, instead of throwing it out I stick it in dirt and hope it grows. I talk to my roses.

I’ve always thought my love of flowers was genetic as my parents came from farming backgrounds. My dad was an avid gardener who also loved flowers. My mom’s yard is full of them and she loves them as much as me, or rather, as much as I do. I read a booklet by Baxter Kruger that changed my perspective on my passion for flowers, as well as my other hobbies and predilections. The booklet (available in e-book form on his website,www.perichoresis.org) is titled The Secret, not to be confused with the new age book of the same name.

Kruger tells the story of his encounter on a plane with a biologist. This man was enthusiastic about plants, so much so Kruger received an impromptu botany lesson. That prompted him to ask the biologist where he got his passion for plants. The man said he’d not really thought about it, so Kruger showed him a diagram depicting Father, Son and Holy Spirit and explained that his passion came from God’s passion. He didn’t say what the biologist thought, but I know what my reaction was: Aha!

That’s why I love flowers so much! That’s why artists paint, musicians play, singers sing, architects build, athletes play and compete, writers write and pilots fly. Our passion and creativity come from the passion and creativity of God, through the Son, in and through the Spirit. I was right, my love of flowers is genetic, but it’s DNA passed on to me through the shared life of Father, Son and Spirit.

So when the biologist who loves plants goes on a research trip or I plant yet another bulb or a poet writes a poem, we are expressing the image of God. Why is this important? It means, as many of us have suspected, our lives are not separate from God. As Paul said in Acts 17:28, “In him we live and move and have our being” (NIV). In Christ, all of life is shared life with the Trinity.

As I write, occasionally looking out the window at my flowers and fruit trees (and running out to chase the birds away), I am living “in the circle of the Triune life of God” (The Secret). All people, as we live out our passions or dream of living them, participate with God as he lives in us. He is Emmanuel. Our lives are in him. He is with us in everything we do. I think I’ll go plant something in celebration of God with us!

God builds us up

Rainbow over Victoria Falls

“And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself” (Acts 20:32, NLT).

The world seems to be in the business of tearing down. It happens on every level, from governments that don’t care about their people, to businesses that take advantage of employees and customers, to family members who insult and denigrate each other, or worse.

God’s way is to build up, through grace and the loving guidance of the Holy Spirit. Grace teaches us the way of peace and gentleness. Grace shows us that even though we are deserving of death, we are forgiven, loved and valued simply because of who God is. Every spiritual gift is for the purpose of lifting up the church. Rainbows, sunsets and sunrises remind us of our merciful Creator. Everything he does and everything he’s given us encourages us to keep going and builds our faith in Jesus, our faithful Savior.