power

Renewed Strength

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Thinking today of Isaiah 40. Check out this passage in verses 28-31

28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

I’m struck with the awesome fact that God will not grow tired or weary. His unending strength is the source for those of us who clearly do! Isaiah says that even young men get tired. So, there is no shame in growing weary. But, God’s strength is available to those who hope in the Lord and wait on Him. For those, he will renew their strength. Let us hope in the Lord and wait in Him so that we can run and not grow weary, walk and not faint! Blessings to you today as you run and fly with Him!

On Power and Authority

Friends, I received another question that I wanted to respond to on here. On power and authority.

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Jesus said he has all power and authority in Earth and Heaven, yet I’ve also heard Satan the “The Prince of this world” or is in control of Earth.  When Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days fasting, Satan told him he would give Jesus the Earth if Jesus would kneel to Satan, reinforcing that Satan has control over Earth.  I’ve also read that we humans were given Earth to have domain over.  It seems confusing.  If Earth’s domain is our gift from God, why can’t we cast out Satan.  If Jesus has all power over Earth, what is stopping him from booting the devil out now?  I’m not sure if there is an answer or not but would love to hear your thoughts.

God, as Creator of the universe has authority over all of the universe. We learn that all things were made through Jesus in John 1:3. As such, He is Lord over Creation. God (meaning the Father, Son, and Spirit: one God, three Persons) has supreme authority over all Creation and all creatures. By nature, Creation worships (obeys) the Creature. Psalm 19:1 says “the heavens declare the glory of God.” But, creation does not worship/obey (the words are often connected) by God controlling or dictating. He is not a tyrant. There is choice involved and Satan chose against the Lord. In doing so, Satan removed himself from participating in the authority of God and instead simply became under his authority. When Adam and Eve sinned against God (and chose against his authority), the human race also removed themselves from participating in the authority of God and simply became under His authority. God did not lose authority over Creation, over Satan, or over humanity. But, Satan, a third of the demons, and humanity chose to operate outside the authority of God. God, being a good and loving God, gave the option for this choice.

I hope you are seeing the picture here: you can operate in the authority of God (as part of His authority) or you can operate outside (against) His authority. Either way, He does not lose His authority, but He allows for choice to operate in His authority or not. So, Satan is cast out of heaven and allowed to roam the Earth. Again, God does this lovingly, knowing that He will give humans the same choice. Ultimately, this is to display not only His power and His authority, but also his love.

When Jesus comes, we are told in Philippians 2 and John 17 that he had the glory as God prior to being born as human. He was fully God already, which means that He fully had authority as God. But, He didn’t consider it something to be grasped. Or, in other words, He didn’t see being God as something to be used for His own benefit, but for ours. And so, He placed Himself under the authority of the Father and submitted to His authority throughout His life. He said, I only do what I see the Father doing. He said, not my will but yours be done. He was the perfect example of acting in the authority of God. And so, it makes perfect sense that He says, I have been given all authority on heaven and earth. Yes, Satan has been given the option to operate outside (against) the authority of God on this earth. As such, any authority that Satan has comes from what God has allowed in His lovingkindness to give people choice. When Satan temped Jesus, the actual temptation was for Jesus to operate outside (against) the authority of God and join Satan. This is why Jesus responds that you should only worship (obey – remember the words are connected) the Lord your God. Jesus chose to continue to participate in the authority of God, rather than operate outside the authority. Now, we have the same choice. God gave the Adam and Eve authority over the earth, but it is only rooted in participation with God’s authority. As soon as we act outside (against) that authority, we are no longer participating with God. In reality, we are now participating with Satan. This is why Jesus says you are with me or you are against me.

If we choose to operate in God’s authority, following in the footsteps of Jesus, we participate with him. We reign with Christ (see 2 Timothy 2:12)! That is why Jesus says that all authority has been given to Him (in Matthew 28) and why the disciples were told they would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on them (Acts 1:8). It is by the power of the Spirit that we are able to operate in the authority of God continually. So, Jesus saves from the effect of sin but also from the power of sin. We are not under the power (authority) of sin, but rather under the power (authority) of God. 1 Peter 5, John 16, and Hebrews 10 note that this situation on the Earth and its battle regarding authority will only go on for “a little while.” This is because God has not lost any of His authority in the process. He is instead “patience toward you not wanting any to perish (2 Peter 3:9).

Glowing Faces

“Only when we perceive the face of the One in whose image we were made do we come to know who we are and the One for whom we were made. And because of who He is, to behold Him and remain unchanged is impossible.” – Bill Johnson

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This past weekend, my family and I attended Greenwood Community Church’s Family Camp at Camp Timberline in Estes Park, Colorado. I’ll take several things away from the weekend, but one of the most fun takeaways will be remembering my daughters’ glowing faces. Savannah’s face was glowing because this was her first real experience in the great outdoors, she was amazed at how big the world was, and there were so many people that she had never seen before then. Charlotte’s face was glowing because she had more adventure in this weekend than any other weekend, including the camp’s zip-line, climbing wall, gut-check plank, silencer swing, and blob in the lake.

Liz and I had glowing faces due to the consistent reflection of God’s glory in this place. We saw it in the vast beauty of the mountains. We see it as God’s people sang praises to his name. We saw it in the passages of Scripture that were our guide for the weekend and we saw it in the way the Spirit led us as a body together.

It was beautiful to see God’s glory reflected on the faces of my family and the other attendees of the family camp this weekend. It made me think about the way that God can be mirrored in this life and the way that we can contribute to that reflection.

Jewish rabbis have a word for what we experience in glowing faces and that word was shekinah. Though the word is not found in the Bible, there is, in fact, a clear pattern of God’s glory being reflected on his creation.

Take for example, Moses’ face in Exodus 34:29. The verse says, “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.” In other words, there was a visual effect that God’s presence had on Moses’ physicality. Have you ever been around someone so radiant that it was clear God’s presence resided with him or her and that God’s beauty and majesty was being reflected. It occurred to me that if we take seriously the invitation to come near to the Lord (James 4:8), it is possible that our actual physical appearance could be altered.

Now, clearly when the Bible talks about God’s children being transformed into his likeness, the emphasis is not on a physical appearance. When Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that “we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes form the Lord, who is the Spirit,” it is clear that he is talking about spiritual transformation. Truly, the more we see God’s glory, the more He transforms us into His likeness through the power of the Spirit. But, why would we be surprised if spiritual transformation and renewal had a physical effect? Doesn’t the Bible contain story after story of ways that the spiritual realm impacts the physical world?

In the days following the camp, we began to realize that our faces were not glowing quite as much as they had been. Further, when confronted with the daily routine, difficulties that arose, and the need to return work (and first days of schoolwork for Charlotte), our faces began to take on other, darker forms. But, we pause today to recall the glory we see on the mountain and recognize that the Spirit of God did not stay there. Instead, he brings his people through an ever-increasing glory (or, as some say, from glory to glory) so that we might better reflect his beauty and majesty. May you enjoy good health today, even as your soul is getting well (3 John 2)!