6) Rising Above
As a believer walks in the Spirit and their spirit matures and grows they become aware of how dark the world is. They see how fallen this world has become. It becomes clear how content people are with their sin and how normal sin has become. Believers who continue to grow realize they are in a foreign place. A place that they were never designed to walk. Man was made to walk with God in the garden. They were never designed to taste death, or experience fear, or feel angry. All of our cares were meant to be in God. He was meant to guide our every step in His Holy Sovereignty. Original sin went against that design. Sin created separation from a Holy God. The grace and mercy of God kept His heart for His creation in tact. He always looked to keep a living testimony in the lives of His people. He used laws to guide and protect His chosen and then became man to fulfill that law and reconcile everyone to Him who chooses to accept Him as Lord. His Spirit indwelling in us allows us to rise above this sinful world and walk in the process of sanctification with God. As growth occurs and the separation from the things of this world become so great we must fight the desire to return to the comfort of our past and continue to follow God into our greater purpose. Continue to rise above when friends and family can’t see your path and some may fall away. Look to God for your support because the things of this world can’t support the growth toward things that are above this fallen world. Learn to lean on God and continue to rise. Focus on the Father that created you, knows you, loves you, and looks to make you live above your greatest expectations.
We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do by sacrificing his body once and for all. (Hebrews 10:10)
For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness. (1 Thessalonians 4:7)
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2)
There are times when you read the Bible and the lessons of one passage reveal a larger truth in another. How true is it when God’s word is described as alive? Each time we read a passage the Holy Spirit speaks new truth to our heart.
Genesis 32 describes the story of Jacob wrestling with God. Genesis 35:10-12 describes the moment when God changed Jacob’s name (undermines, heel) to Israel (wrestles with God) and made a covenant with him for his offspring to inherit the land promised to his father and grandfather and for kings to come from his lineage. This story shows a moment every believer should strive toward. It’s the moment when knowing about God turns into a relationship where we know God personally. This truth from Genesis wasn’t made very clear until the Lord turned me to the book of Isaiah. I had been meaning to look into a passage from another thought but His timing was amazing as usual. We see repeatedly in the bible where Jacob and Israel are mentioned together but in slightly different ways. This made me think about the time spent in Genesis and made me think about what that might be trying to tell us.
Let’s begin with the best one and use a few others for support. (Isaiah 29:23) They will hallow My name, And hallow the Holy One of Jacob, And fear the God of Israel. Why would God be the Holy One to Jacob and God to Israel? It’s easy to run past this and think they are the same but I see a beautiful difference. God was the Holy One to Jacob because God was ‘handed down’ by Jacob’s father and grandfather. Jacob believed in God and would bounce between commands in his attempts at self-sufficiency. I wasn’t until Jacob wrestled with God that he demanded God’s blessing and lived a life leaning on his relationship with his Lord (symbolized in his hip injury where his leaning was on a crutch after that). It’s the difference between reverence and relationship, that is, what is handed down vs what is accepted. (Isaiah 44:23) For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, And glorified Himself in Israel. God is glorified in relationship with His chosen. When believers act in accordance with the will of God He leads them as they glorify Him and show His strength in their accepted weakness. (Isaiah 44:1) Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant, And Israel whom I have chosen. Serving God under His law is a shadow of living as one of God’s chosen in relationship. This desired relationship is shown in other places where both names occur together.
(1 Chronicles 16:17) And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel for an everlasting covenant. Think for a moment about the difference in a statute and a covenant. The covenant sounds more serious, and it is, but why? A statute is a rule or law handed down from a governing party to a submissive one. God gave laws to His people to both guide and protect them, as well as to keep their focus on His provision for them. When God decreed His will, they were expected to follow. A covenant is different, in that both sides agree on the decision made. In order to find mutual agreement, we have to be in relationship. All of the Old Testament covenants were made with men in close relationship with God. The new covenant with God involves relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s word made flesh. There has never been a variation in that premise.
God desires that all believers live in relationship. It is only in relationship with God through Jesus that we can truly glorify Him and fully receive His love. We all wrestle with God as we attempt self-sufficiency. God calls each of us to accept His covenant and walk in His provision and love. He may not dislocate our hip but our suffering should drive us to our knees, seeking God’s blessing, and accepting God and His Lordship.
Set Apart– Living a life led by God and fueled by His Spirit will make a person stand out. Being a reflection of God’s light in this dark world will cause people to notice the light. That may be in the form of either imitation of rejection, but that none of your concern. You are called to be set apart (holy) through sanctification by the Holy Spirit. Being different than this world insures you are working toward God. (Philippians 2:14-15) Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world
Gentleness is an inward quality. The outward manifestation of gentleness is kindness. Gentleness is defined to the world in terms like: tame, timid, and weak. This is what gentleness looks like to a world that is selfish and exceedingly prideful. Gentleness isn’t weak at all, it is quite the opposite. Gentleness is the awareness of true strength. In a follower of Christ, it is the awareness that all of the power of this universe belongs to your Father who supports you with His power as you act as His representative to this world. People with true power don’t have to show it, just like people confident in their knowledge don’t feel the need for many words. Gentleness is the harnessing of your abilities and focusing them in a world that doesn’t understand that kind of power. Because you know that the things this world holds dear are fading and temporary and that your true home is with God in heaven, you can approach every situation with humility and harnessed strength, being gentle to a dark, lost and frightened people.(1 Corinthians 4:20-21) For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness? (James 3:13) Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.
Faithfulness is when you are able to put God before everything else in your life. Pleasing God should stand before self-gratification. This speaks to putting things in God’s hands and not trying to take control of your life from Him. You must trust that God knows the best path and that His outcome is not only better than yours but far exceeds even what you can imagine. We should be loyal to God in our commitment to Him. The Old Testament is full of examples of how God has been loyal to His chosen since creation. (Romans 5:2) Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Kindness can be defined as a showing of compassion, and compassion defined as the concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others. We must realize that everyone is fighting a battle. Everyone is struggling. Compassions is the realization that the way you see life is part of a spectrum of viewpoints that all fall short of God’s perfect viewpoint. Think of viewpoints in terms of the light spectrum. Some viewpoints can make an issue un-noticeable (radio waves) which requires someone’s interpretation (radio receiver) for understanding. On the other end of the spectrum are the views that make a situation “life or death” (gamma rays). With compassion through the Holy Spirit we can center ourselves in God’s visible light spectrum and “see” what we need to learn, grow, and help others in the best and worst of situations. Without the Holy Spirit to anchor us, we can fly all over the spectrum, unable to deal with life’s curves.