DAY 15

CHRIST HAS MADE ME HIS

"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own."

// Philippians 3:8-12

“I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own”—that is the motive behind all we do, believe, and become in Christ. We are always pressing on, to attain the fullest expression of Christ’s life in us, never being content with our present expression but always pushing in for more; because of this, we are willing to consign to the rubbish heap anything that keeps us from running the race set before us. Whatever would sap the strength of our faith, this we violently abandon. Whatever would entangle us, whatever would hold us back in sin or unbelief, whatever would slow us down—these are the things we gladly abandon so that we can run in pursuit of the One who pursued us, who made us His own.

Let us not be those who begin to run by faith and then, in trying to be clever, exert our own efforts or lean on our own understanding to attain the likeness of Christ to which we are destined. Let us be those who stay the course by faith, who run alongside the Holy Spirit, who are invigorated by the strength and might of His power at work in our lives, who hear the cheers and encouragement of the Father, who live for the beaming smile of Jesus. Let us be those who press, who press hard, and who press in for the length of the race set before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Christ, the Author and Completer of our faith. Let’s stay in step with God by making every step a step of faith, as we run the course of the ascended life whilst here on earth.

Let’s make this final thought the maxim and guiding principle for our race run by faith: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.”

DAY 14

ABBA FATHER

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!' So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God."

// Galatians 4:4-7

As sons and daughters of the King, we have the right to live the life of Christ. Exercising this right will always be a choice, and we must daily choose to deny our old self and to live above it, living the ascended life of Christ. We must remember that God buried our old self in the ground, under our feet, and raised us to sit in heavenly places with Christ, who Himself waits on God to make His enemies His footstool. Our old self was an enemy of God and was buried beneath our feet, and serves now only as Jesus’ footstool. Let’s keep it the way that God made things to be - let’s not exhume our old self and let a zombie loose in our lives.

Let’s keep our lives aligned to God’s design: we are sons, living life by the Spirit of God. Let’s live like the Gospel is true, like our old self is dead and buried, like we are raised up and sat with Christ above every enemy of God, including our old selves, which were at enmity with God. Let’s lean into the voice of the Holy Spirit who cries out “Abba! Father!”

Through this cry in our hearts, the Holy Spirit constantly reminds us of two things: we are children, and we are sons. “Abba” means “Papa” or “Daddy” and, with this phrase, the Holy Spirit reminds us that, like children, we can ask anything of God and He will give it to us. “Abba” encapsulates the part of our heart that will always be childlike to its Papa. We always get to call Him Daddy or Papa, no matter how mature we become in the Lord.

“Father” indicates that we are growing into fully mature sons. The Holy Spirit, by crying out “Father!” in our hearts, reminds us of His job to mature us, just like “Abba!” indicates His willingness to comfort us. “Father!” and the maturity that goes with that name, speaks of the rights we can exercise as sons, and the responsibilities we can assume in our walk with God as our Father—that is what Paul means by being heirs of God.

The ascended life in Christ lives the paradox between what “Abba!” means and what “Father!” prophesies. We will always be children to God, ever maturing in our faith in who He is. We don’t have to choose between either, but get to have both, because the Holy Spirit will cry out forever that God will always be both “Abba!” and “Father!” to us. That is some good news!

DAY 13

WE ARE FREE

"Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."

// Galatians 3:23-27

Paul reminds us of the two natures we’ve lived through: the slave and the son. The slave knows a life of fear, hardship, and works, for the slave is captive to the law of sin and death that holds him in bondage. But when we are born again, “now that faith has come” into our hearts by means of the new birth, we are sons and we are free. We who are sons of God are such because we have put on the Son of God by faith. We live this way because it is the ascended life; it is the higher way of God.

We are not designed to work for our daily bread; God gives it to us, and His bread feeds our whole being. We do not need to labor to feel loved, for we are freely loved by God; He calls us His beloved children because we now live inside the heart of the Beloved Son. We no longer live lives encumbered by fear, anxiety, or doubt because our hearts are filled up to the brim with faith, hope, and love. Truly, it is impossible to live lives of fear any longer. That does not mean we won’t feel fear, or make choices rooted in fear, but because we have been given an ascended life now, we have the right to choose. We can choose something other than fear if we want to live above it.

Through our new births, we are granted the right to choose between fear and love, unbelief and faith, again. If we want to live enslaved to fear, we can certainly do that, but that just seems foolish, doesn’t it? If we want to try to add our efforts to all God is doing, and add more foolishness to our lives, we can choose to do so, but it’s a lower choice. The higher choice we have been given in the ascended life is to exercise our right to live above fear, foolishness, and fatiguing self-efforts. We get to exercise our right to live in peace, in faith, by love, according to God’s strength alone.

As sons and daughters of God, we have rights, and we have the right to live out the same life that Jesus lives in heaven. We have a right to trump fear in our lives simply by choosing to believe God’s love for us, which casts out fear. Jesus has a right to live peaceful, content, loved, and faith-filled, and so do we because He is in us and we are in Him. Let’s exercise our rights to live by faith, hope, and love alone!

DAY 12

A LIFE OF FAITH

"Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith."

// Galatians 3:6-9

Faith alone is what we can add to all that God is doing in our lives, for by faith we partner with God in all that He does. He doesn’t want or ask for our efforts or ideas about how we need to change. He doesn’t need ideas; He sees who He is making us into. He is the grand designer of the universe and, truth be told, we think way too small for His liking, so nope, He certainly isn’t asking for our input about who or what we should become.

But He does most certainly want our input, and that input is radically simple: “Yes, Lord, I want that too!” That’s it. That is the profession of our faith. When He says, “I will make you this” we need only respond, “Do it! Just do it! I completely agree that that idea is the best idea for who you want me to become. So go ahead and make it happen!” That is faith; the faith of one who knows they are the beloved child of a loving, good God.

God came to Abram and said He would give Him a son and change his name to “Abraham,” which means “the father of many nations.” God didn’t ask Abraham to add anything to it, or to limit God’s way of making it happen. Truth be told, when Abraham and Sarah rationalized how the promise would be fulfilled, they ended up making a mess, for which Hagar and her son by Abraham, Ishmael, paid the price of exile (you can read the story in Genesis). But when God realigned Abraham with His original design, getting Abraham to believe the promise He had made him, then God was able to bring forth the blessings He promised him.

God makes promises to us about who He is making us into, and we need to, by faith and patience, expect the promises of God. He promised us the ascended life, the life of His own Son. Each of us has specific promises from God about what the life of the Son is going to look like throughout the course of our lives. So, to see that all the way through, the Father offers us His hand and asks us to walk with Him by faith, staying in step with the pace, rhythm, and stride of His gait. A life of faith is a life that stays in step with God, keeps eyes on Him, and walks with gratitude and praise pouring forth from the depths of the heart.

And as Paul affirms, “those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” When Paul calls Abraham “the man of faith,” he is thinking of the “new self” that God put into each of us when we are born again. In other words, the recreated “new man” is a “man of faith,” and it’s natural for the “new self” to believe God. So let’s stay natural with God—let’s believe Him!

DAY 11

THE GOSPEL OPENS OUR EYES

"O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham 'believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness'?"

// Galatians 3:1-6

As the power of the grace of this glorious Gospel opens our eyes, it can be tempting to dilute what’s happening in our hearts with a dose of foolishness. Yes, foolishness.

When we are feeling the energy and movement of God’s power exerting itself in our hearts, transforming us, we can be tempted to “help” God by adding our own efforts and strength. This is foolishness. The desire to meddle with God’s power stems from our old slave mindset, and it’s at this point that we need to run to our Father and ask Him to divest us of that mentality. That kind of thinking - that we can add a little effort of our own here or there to help things along a bit further - has a bewitching effect. It mesmerizes us; it captivates us and makes us think that somehow, because of our desires or efforts alone, we have gotten for ourselves, by “the arm of the flesh,” what only was accomplishable by the arm of the Lord.

To quote Paul, who puts it most poignantly: “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?” Do we want to be fools who stymie and stunt the growth of our spirits by imposing carnal, fleshly efforts into what God is doing in our hearts? Do we want to think that our energy or will alone can do what only God can do? Do we want to be so utterly stupid as to go there, to think that way? That would leave us spinning our wheels in vain, thinking we were going somewhere because we can hear the tires grind and see them smoke — all whilst we sit on the blocks, going nowhere.

It is vain to think we can add anything, even our good-willed intentions, to the grace of God; and, truth be told, we do vain things like that only in order to stroke our own vanity. The moment we embrace pride and think ourselves (our efforts, our intentions) the source of our growth in God, is the very moment in which we stop receiving grace, for God only gives His grace to the humble. If we find ourselves there, in that place of prideful hearts puffed up with vain imaginations about what we can do for God in our own hearts, then we need only to humble ourselves, admit our pride to Him, and abandon our efforts by the wayside. Then the scales will fall from our eyes and we will see, again, the grace extended to us.

We cannot add our work or effort to that of God’s; it is with “all His energy that He powerfully works within” us that alone transforms who we are (see Colossians 1:29). Let us be wise by keeping our hands held out to receive the gift of grace, instead of becoming fools that meddle with the work of God by trying to add anything of our energy to it.

DAY 10

RENEWED IN KNOWLEDGE
AFTER THE IMAGE OF ITS CREATOR

"The mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to His saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator."

// Colossians 1:26-29, 3:10

The whole purpose of the Lord giving us a new birth was to create in us a brand “new self” — a self that reflects and mirrors Jesus Himself. The blessings and gifts of God are the aids by which we daily “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” The more we practice putting on the “new self,” or as Paul calls it elsewhere, “the hidden man of the heart,” the more we will see Christ within us — and to boot, the more others will see Him in us, too.

This is a vast and great mystery, as Paul says; one that was “hidden for ages and generations but [is] now revealed to His saints.” Did you ever notice that most every letter of the New Testament is addressed, not to sinners, but to saints? Part of the truth we practice when we put on the “new self” is that we must see ourselves as saints. If we are deceived about who or what we are—if we see ourselves as sinners—then we will become in our actions what we think ourselves to be in our hearts: we will sin. The moment we understand the power of putting on the new self, with its righteous practices, is the moment we understand ourselves in the same way God does; we are His saints.

The way out of sin is not to constantly confess ourselves as sinners, though there is a place for the confession of sin, and we must do that in order to put aside the ways and practices of our old selves. But the way into transformation, to living the ascended life, is to put on the opposite of that with which we struggle. Isaiah the prophet saw the power of the New Covenant and prophesied it hundreds of years before Jesus’ advent: we get beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, a garment of praise for a fatigued spirit (see Isaiah 61:3). Whatever is of sin or death in our lives, the Lord offers us its opposite in His outstretched hand. We need only take it and daily appropriate the grace given us, until we believe it and become what the Father sees us to be in His Son.

This is why Paul said, “Him we proclaim,” because the Gospel is not a message about Jesus, but rather Jesus is the message. For you and I, living the ascended life means living the very life of Christ, until of our lives it can be said, “Him we proclaim.” When people see purity where there was perversion in us, when they see joy where mourning once lived, they will see Jesus in us and our lives will be a living proclamation that He is alive — Christ in us, the hope of world seeing His glory.

DAY 9

HE CHOSE US

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved."

// Ephesians 1:3-6

By putting us into Christ and putting His Spirit into us, God has granted us a life that should prompt in us gratitude, praise, thanksgiving, and worship. When we see that God not only chose us, but chose us to live as His beloved ones, in His Beloved, then we cannot help but praise Him. Thanksgiving floods from our hearts, “to the praise of His glorious grace,” and we bless Him, and bless Him profusely. We have been gifted a grace so profound, so glorious, that our only response is to praise, is to see Him as He really is and to laud Him with honor.

It is His love for us, expressed to us in this “glorious grace,” that opens our eyes to see “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” that He has made available to us in Christ. Those blessings are the ones that render us “holy and blameless before Him.” When we’ve truly seen the magnitude of His glorious grace, it will stir us to arise, to seize hold of the gifts of grace extended to us in His hand, and to let Him establish us in holiness and blameless living.

We won’t want or desire sin anymore, as the deception that tied us to those things loses its hold and the magnificent vision of His glorious grace is revealed to the eyes of our hearts. We begin to understand that He chose us before we chose to sin; we begin to see that He predestined us before we sabotaged our destinies with sin; we begin to comprehend the purpose of His will over our lives before we ever had the chance to set our will against His.

There are blessings that establish us in grace, and they litter the heavenly places in which we are sat with Christ. There are blessings that make you and I understand ourselves as the beloveds of God, hidden in His Beloved Son. Every blessing is a gift of the Father to us, and each blessing’s express purpose is to reveal in us in the truth of who we are to Him, because of who He is in us and what He’s done for us in Christ. For every sin, struggle, trial, and even in the valley of the shadow of death, next to each sits a blessing that can root us in our true identity before the Father. Let’s be the wise children of God who abandon sin, fear, or anxiety, by arising to seize the blessings and gifts of God set before us, to establish us in His righteousness.

DAY 8

FREE TO CHANGE

"And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him. "

// Colossians 2:13-15

What about when we feel condemned or ashamed, at the memory of our past (distant or recent)? What about the pressure we feel to become “better Christians” or to change, to stop doing certain things or to start doing other things? Is this the transformation process, and are those things part-and-parcel of living the ascended life? Do we need condemnation and shame to motivate our growth and change, or do those things actually stunt our growth in God?

Paul states that God has forgiven “us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us.” All trespasses are forgiven by God. All means all. Nothing is held against us; God canceled the record of our debt. Elsewhere, Paul wrote, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (see Romans 8:31). In God’s mind, nothing stands against us — even the mistakes of yesterday or this morning. No trespass, no mistake, no debt big or small, can impede our growth in God. All is canceled.

It’s not just the record of debt that God canceled, but also all of “its legal demands.” The pressure to change, the demand to become a different person, the inward condemnation — all “this He set aside, nailing it to the cross.” All of it is gone, set aside, which means it cannot interrupt your growth in change. None of it has the right any longer to insert itself into our lives, like a wagging finger, and demand us to be better because we’ve been so bad. We are free to transform and change, to become like Jesus, because we are moved and motivated by God’s love for us. We are free to become the kind of men and women we want to become; those who look just like Jesus.

Oh, and the bonus? The enemy doesn’t get a say, either! The enemy, who once enslaved us, who once used all his power and tyranny to oppress us, to make demands on our hearts and minds, to grind us down with condemnation — that selfsame enslaver has no say anymore. Why? Because “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him.” God has shamed and triumphed over the one who used to shame you and triumph over you with his sadistic glee at your demise. God has shamed him, so that you and I don’t ever have to suffer at the hands of his shaming again.

God raised us up with Jesus, honoring us with His love as He does His Son, and put our enemy to an open shame while simultaneously nailing every record of debt and its legal demands onto His Son’s Cross. You and I are free to transform, to become the person God sees us to be, to be just like Jesus, all because we love Him and because we love freedom, truth, and righteousness! We are, now, already alive together with Christ, so let’s enjoy the life we have, the very life of Christ Himself!

DAY 7

YOU HAVE BEEN FILLED IN HIM

"For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in Him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised Him from the dead."

// Colossians 2:9-12

Paul writes that “the whole fullness of the deity” dwells in Christ, and we “have been filled in Him.” Whatever fills the heart, mind, spirit, and person of Jesus fills you, too. Don’t you just love this truth? You and I, like Him, are filled up with all the fullness of God, meaning we lack nothing. If Jesus is filled with love, then so are you—filled! If Jesus knows perfect peace, then so do you — full up to the brim with peace. If Jesus lives with the fullness of His Father’s joy, then so do we — no limits or lesser measures.

So, some might say, “Why isn’t that the case for me? Why do I struggle with fear or depression or hopelessness, if all the fullness of God fills me, as it does Jesus?” Faith and believing—that is always our answer. What do we believe about God, about His Gospel, about His Spirit who makes the life of Christ our own? If we have a mindset and a belief system structured around living like we are still alive to sin, still uncircumcised in our hearts, still struggling to come alive to God, then we will live and act according to what we believe. That’s why hearing the Gospel preached, being in community, reading the Scriptures, and prayer are so crucial, for by all of these things the Holy Spirit can challenge our faulty mindsets that keep us blind to the truth. We need to hear that we are already circumcised in our hearts, which means our hearts have been set apart and devoted to the Lord alone. We need to see that we have “been buried with Him in baptism” already, and we are now dead to sin and fully alive to God.

We might ask the question this way: does Jesus wrestle with depression? Does He struggle with anxiety, or has He misplaced His trust onto things or situations rather than onto His Father? Does Jesus live bound up with lust or gossip or rejection? The answer, of course, is a resounding no! So, if we are in Christ and He is in us, and if we are meant to live out, on earth, the heavenly life He lives now, then He alone is our standard for living. This means we can confront depression head-on by turning to Jesus and saying, “I am dead to this depression and fully alive to the joy I find in You!” We have the privilege and pleasure of partnering with Jesus to actively adjust our lives so that they align with His in heaven. This is how we yield to Him and bring heaven to earth.

Recall that Paul stated, “You were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” We are dead to what we were and fully alive to what we are now in Christ. We get to choose how much of His life gets lived out through ours, but that’s the fun of it, for we can spend our lives beholding how, “through faith in the powerful working of God,” the Father makes our lives match the resurrected and ascended life of His own Son.

DAY 6

WALK AS CHILDREN OF THE LIGHT

"For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord."

// Ephesians 5:8-10

Our minds and souls seem so wired to do, do, do, that we tend to read things into the Word that aren’t there at all. “…And try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord,” is one such example; a first look would make us think that we have to do things that please Him. But the trouble with that thought is it puts emphasis on what we do rather than where the weight of Paul’s statement actually falls: “what is pleasing to the Lord.” And notice in those verses that Paul never says that we have to do anything to please the Lord! He says, “try to discern,” not “try to do.”

Paul asks us to discern what pleases the Lord, but now we aren’t discerning it from a place of darkness but of light. Recall that, in the darkness of our ignorance and sin, we labored and worked and toiled as slaves? Well, why would Paul, who wrote that God delivered us from that slave world, ever want to imply that we had to do anything to please the Lord?

In his gospel, Luke records that when Jesus emerged out of the water at His baptism, the heavens opened around Him, the Spirit descended to rest on Him, and the Father boomed out, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (see Matthew 3:13-17). Jesus hadn’t done anything at all — He had not performed one miracle or delivered one sermon yet — and yet God already declared His pleasure in Christ.

Christ’s baptism tells us that, in order to be pleased with us, all God requires of us is our faith. We are born again by faith, and that alone pleases God. Jesus didn’t need to be baptized for repentance of sins, because He was sinless, but He did it for us, so that when we are born again by faith, we’d understand that what God said over Jesus that day is what He’d say over us the day we are born again (and every day thereafter)!

Because it’s faith that pleases God, when Paul tells us “to try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord,” it’s really an invitation to explore what life in the Light of His pleasure looks like. Paul is saying, “Take faith out for a spin and see what it can do! Push your faith to its limits and find out just how pleased He already is with you. Live in the light, live like what He did is enough—that is the true life, one lived only to please God!”

I bet we would live very differently if we lived like the Gospel is true, if we lived like He is already pleased with us, don’t you? I don’t think we’d find fear comfortable anymore, because faith fits us so much better. I don’t think we’d find sin and darkness worth staying in, since living life bathed in the light of His pleasing smile over us means walking in the fullness of the Son’s love. “Walk as children of light.”

DAY 5

RECONCILED IN HIS BODY

"And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him "

// Colossians 1:21-23

When Jesus arose from death and exited the tomb to ascend to the Father, He carried you and I with Him. He stood before the Father, poured out His blood on the mercy seat, and presented “you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him.” So, now, the Father’s experience of you and me is only found in Christ. He is not looking at us outside of Christ, so He cannot find our sins, our stuff-ups, our failures, our transgressions or iniquities.

Not only did He bury those things in Jesus’ tomb, but any memory of them He blotted out with Jesus’ blood. When you blot something out on a piece of paper, you pour ink onto the words you intend to blot, and then you use another piece of paper to press it down so those words become illegible. God blotted out the very record of our sins and they are illegible to Him—He cannot read past the blood of His Son.

So when Paul says that Jesus presented “you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him,” He isn’t kidding or just saying a flowery nicety. He means it. In God’s experience of us, we are already holy and blameless and above reproach — already. Why then does it feel like we aren’t living in such good news, because hey, that is good news if it’s really true! What gives?

The trouble with being born again is, when we experience the new birth, we get raised up with our memories and habits intact. We certainly felt God put a new heart into us, and we feel fresh and clean, but we get raised up in the clothes in which we were buried. If we think of our memories and habits like that, we realize they are just the old clothes tailored for our old man, but they don’t fit the new man we were raised up to be in Christ.

That’s why conviction becomes so important for us to really live out the new life we have in Christ, because the Holy Spirit comes to us and says: “Hey, those pants don’t fit you anymore, they are far too loose! And that shirt, why it’s far, far too tight! How can you even breathe in it? And look at your beat-up shoes! They do not go with these new clothes I brought you. Here, give me those old things and take these brand new clothes, put them on, and enjoy how good you look in them!”

Those clothes — holiness, blamelessness, life lived above reproach—are the new rhythms of grace that fit us, truly. Grace and truth always come to us through Jesus, handed to us by the Holy Spirit who lives within us. He lives in us to update our perspective, aligning our experience of the new birth with that of the Father’s. The Holy Spirit commits Himself to getting our experience of the Gospel to match the Father’s understanding of it, so that we become just like Jesus, “holy and blameless and above reproach” in how we live our lives.

Day 4

 

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED

"He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

// Colossians 1:13-14

Delivered. Transferred. Sounds like a done deal to me, what about you?

If the Gospel is true, if this good news of already having “redemption, the forgiveness of sins” is true, and we are already in Christ, what does that mean for our current struggles in life? If there’s a sin or character issue with which we struggle, are we struggling to obtain forgiveness and trying to change? Or are we believing the Gospel, believing in what is already ours, and stepping into freedom that’s already provided to us? See, sometimes the way we pray suggests we are trying to get God to do what He has already done. What if, instead of petitioning God to re-do what He has done, we instead open our eyes to see what has transpired, according to the goodness of His heart toward us?

When we struggle with darkness in our lives, we really are struggling to come into the grace and truth that has already delivered us, moving into the light of the Truth: Jesus’ very own life. We struggle into the faith that we are already forgiven, that we already have redemption in that area of our lives. The forgiveness has already been paid for, and the redemption has already been provided, so ours is truly a struggle simply to appropriate the truth about His grace to that area of our lives. We get out of sin and darkness, not by fighting against them head-on, but by turning to Jesus and believing the truth He speaks to us, submitting to the grace He already makes present to our lives.

“Where sin abounds, grace superabounds,” meaning that there is already grace, like a huge gift, set right in the area of our hearts where we presently struggle with sin. With the Holy Spirit, we learn to unpack that grace, opening up the truth it contains. Through that gift of grace and truth, we get a DNA download from the Father to become what He says is already true about us, in Christ. We displace sin by the superabounding grace already available to us. So God, in our experience of life, upgrades our lives to match the truth about us that He already knows to be true, for it’s true about us in Christ, and we are already in Christ, for God put us in Christ when we believed on Him.

This is how heaven invades the earth of our lives, advancing His kingdom and manifesting His will— that will being to show us His rich mercies and immeasurable grace, producing an indomitable joy in us.

DAY 3

IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD, NOT A RESULT OF WORKS

"…and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. "

// Ephesians 2:6-9

When Jesus died, your sins died with Him. When Christ died, you died with Him, because you were in Him when He carried you in His heart to His Cross. When both He and you died, your sins died. You died to your sins, and so did God, when Christ died on His cross.

Many of us imagine that we will have to wait until after death to live fully in blissful peace or know unending joy. But here’s the question: if you died to sin and death when Christ died, because you were in Him, then you’re already dead! Why wait until then to see those “immeasurable riches of His grace” which God, in His great kindness to us, wants to show to us? In Christ we already died and have been raised up to sit with Him, so we have access now.

When He sat down into the fullness of peace and joy, we sat down with Him, gaining full access now; there’s nothing to wait on. So, what if, right now, there’s a heap of “immeasurable riches of His grace” set beside you and I, in the invisible realm of the spirit, just waiting for us to pick up and give away to people — to give them a piece of heaven and invite them in, to join the party? So, what are we waiting on?

Don’t evangelism, church life, friendships, and family life all sound so much better to us when we think about giving pieces of heaven away in each realm of life? What are we waiting for? Notice that Paul says that God raised, seated, and saved us, already—past tense! You and I have believed in Jesus, and faith in Christ is the only qualifier to get into heaven; so what, again, are we waiting on? All we have in God is a gift given to us by Him. All of it is freely given to us, and it’s freely given away by us to others. He built the kingdom of Heaven on robust and limitless generosity.

We are already sitting with Christ, experiencing the fullness of His resurrected life. We have the privilege of not just experiencing His life for ourselves, but to be those who call others into the same experience. Grab some heavenly peace and joy, enjoy it yourself, and give it away to everyone, everyday!

DAY 2

BUT GOD, BEING RICH IN MERCY

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved." 
 

// Ephesians 2:4-5

We were “children of wrath.” That wrath came from our taskmasters, as they paid out cruel wages for our work. That wrath also welled up in our hearts, for we knew we were meant to live better than we were, to live with dignity and honor, to live with joy and ease, but the injustice we suffered under slavery robbed us of what we intuitively knew our design to be. We grew angrier and angrier, each one of us believing a lie whispered in our hearts: “this is God’s fault, He did this to you.” And we, in fury or despair, sink into the depths of our hearts’ rage, thinking God is angry with us and has set Himself against us.

But God was never angry with us. Never. Not once. 

We have to ponder the source of the idea that God is mad at us, that He is displeased with our behavior, because we all tend to feel it in our hearts. Where does this idea come from?  Can it be verified by Christ, the Incarnation of the Father’s heart? Jesus told His disciples, “if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” So, where in the Gospels do we see Jesus angry at sin? What sinner can you identify who came to Him and was turned away because their sin was too great, because their perversion was too abominable to the Lord Himself? Not one person.  

Isn’t it scary that so many of us think that God is mad, but if we look to the Person who “put a face to the Father,” we can find no evidence for it? Why then do we tend to believe something about God that is not evidenced in the Gospels? I smell a rat here, don’t you? I wonder if that former taskmaster of ours, that “old serpent, the Devil” as John calls him in the Book of Revelation, just might be engaged in a smear campaign against our good, good Father. I wonder if the ideas we have about God, that are so contrary to the truth of scriptures, arise from the slanderous mouth of the same one who tricked us into becoming his slaves in the first place.

But God. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,” stooped down, bowed His shoulder low, and lifted up the burden of our sin-slavery, took it off of us and carried it away to the Cross of Jesus. The sin which had killed us, and the death that reigned over us, all of this He hung on the Cross of His Son, forever removed from us. This is called grace. And the same grace — favor, inclination to help, empowerment, privileging — that removed our sin is the grace that empowers us to live the ascended life; the life of Jesus Himself.

Day 1

YOU WERE DEAD IN THE TRESPASSES

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind." 

// Ephesians 2:1-3

Throughout most of his letters to the early churches, Paul describes “following the course of this world” as a life of slavery that pays impoverishing wages—the wages of death. Paul imagines the lost as an enslaved people, living a life of mere subsistence, with just enough sinful pleasure and desire to keep us alive long enough for our diabolical slaveholder to eke out of us every last drop of work and sweat he could imagine. Paul depicts this life of slavery as hard toil, with sin and the world as cruel taskmasters motivated by great anger toward their slaves, the lost.

Under slavery, a person loses their will, their agency, their desire to live, their dignity and honor, their very humanity—this is why Paul uses the term “children of wrath,” for such a life enrages the human heart at the vast injustice it must endure at the hands of its slaveholders. Paul asserts that we “were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked,” to drive home the point that the more we labored under the yoke of slavery, and the more we worked to try and please our taskmasters (sin, the world, the devil), the more they repaid our efforts with death, destruction, and anger.

The “prince of the power of the air” was the lead slaveholder and we were following him into a living hell. We couldn’t work our way out, because at some point we each learned that the more we work, the more we die. Being a slave to sin is backbreaking, unbearable, toilsome work meant to drive us insane. We lose our minds and hearts to darkness, for we cannot say “no” to our slaveholders who demand more and more from us. We are thoroughly lost and cannot work out a means of escape for ourselves, nor can we work to buy our own freedom. Because the “wages of sin is death,” the more we work (sin), the more we die.

No amount of work would ever satisfy our taskmasters and no cleverly devised plan could spring us free from their deadly grip on our lives. In fact, most slaves of the world don’t even know they are slaves, ignorant to the fact that the seemingly ‘normal’ pursuits of “the course of this world,” with its temporal pleasures and desires, is a life of running the hamster wheel without getting anywhere but tired out. All the while, inwardly our hearts collapse into increasing fatigue, brokenness, and heartache, as our minds descend into confusion and rage—such is the slave’s lot in life, tending evermore to death, without escape.

We needed rescue. We needed a champion, a deliverer who, with mercy and compassion, would extract us from slavery. We needed Jesus.