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Limitless Life Devotional

Abiding Sweetly

John 15:5 (KJV)

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

Is your primary mode of living one of exertion, are you drowning in a sense of demand? Or are you soaking in the rest and supply of Christ’s finished work? In Christ, we are swallowed up into the good news that, one with the Godhead, our only job description is to abide in our new reality – the life of the Trinity (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). Abiding is the posture of rest and simple trust in the all-sufficient, practical nature of God’s love and kindness. Because Christ has enveloped us, engulfed us into union with him, and immersed us in a whole new world of unceasing glory, we know that this passive posture of just being loved by Father God is a canoe on paradise waters, where God carries us into every single one of our blessings. We are living eternally on the paradise honeymoon-island of God’s heart, discovering one blessing after another in this good news message of who we have become and what we have gained in and through Jesus Christ.

Just like a branch, we rest in our union with the divine – our inclusion in this good news that heaven is here now. This posture of abiding makes us to experience the nourishment of the Father’s love and provision, his grace, and we discover that we effortlessly behold and manifest glorious fruits in each aspect of our life. Our natural posture is one of fruitfulness in the good news – as we rest, his fruits flow through us, with vitality, life, glorified thoughts and emotions, miraculous blessings, honey-glory, security, comfort and so much more. Psalm 23:2 (KJV) tells us that ‘he maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.’ (emphasis mine), as the magnitude of this positive gospel message presses in on us from all sides, so that we are passive recipients of the Father’s beauty and grace (see 2 Corinthians 5:14). This is why John 15:16 (KJV) explains that we are ‘ordained’ to bear fruit. A branch does not strive or exert effort to produce or maintain fruit, it just abides in the healthy branch, simply remaining in reality, and sweet nectar flows and produces all kinds of pleasant fruit! We are carried along in the bliss-revelation of the good news. This is why the Greek word for ‘ordained’ used in John 15:16, tithēmi,  is also translated ‘established’. God has established us in heaven on earth in the here and now (see Mark 1:14-15), so that our effortless, natural existence is pure, heavenly vitality. The heavens are already open and are flowing consistently to and through us, in our union with the Trinity (see 1 Corinthians 6:17). Sink deeper into this reality, continually abide…

Psalm 46:10 (KJV) tells us that we are to ‘Be still, and know that I am God:’ We have permission to be conscious of nothing but the heavenly reality (see Colossians 3:1-3).  All and every gift of heaven is freely ours; we can simply relax into and enjoy the honey-pot of God’s glory through abiding. It will begin to captivate us and articulate itself through our daily life, in our emotions and through our imagination, as this good news message, whilst being completely relational, organic, and simple, is truly not shallow. It has endless depths of glory, wonder, inspiration, and delight. It is an entirely new world. In Christ, Romans 6:4 (PHILLIPS) describes to us that we have risen to life ‘on a new plane altogether’. As we know this, the old problems, the bitter circumstances, are completely destroyed, without us having to figure anything out, lift a finger, or even understand how the situations worked themselves out. Christ is all and in all, in and through our lives, so we can enjoy the life of the Godhead in all things (see Colossians 3:11). This is why Meister Eckhart, a Christian mystic, has declared that “nothing in all creation is so like God as stillness”. We can be still, simply abide, and recognise that the old has gone, and the glory of God is here in Christ! (see 2 Corinthians 5:17)

 

 

 

 

 

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Limitless Life Devotional

Experiencing Jesus!

Psalm 34:8 (KJV)

“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him”

Faith is a substance – God’s tangible opinion of the reality of your co-resurrection in Christ – to be drunk down and enjoyed (see Song of Solomon 5:1)! It isn’t a stoic intellectual ascent; rather, it is a moment-by-moment experience of being loved by God, as His holy excitement, his exotic, enjoyable emotions, flow through us, filling our heart and enlightening our imagination so we effortlessly enjoy and recline into the reality of realities: the Gospel of wonder!  In Christ, through your co-resurrection with Him, you have been immersed into the glory realm and share in everything – and I mean absolutely everything – that the doting, bliss-filled Trinity are and have (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). Of course, it is good for us to remember that experience of the Gospel, of the emotions of God, is not the pathway to intimacy and union with Jesus. Rather, your experience of the Gospel is secured through Jesus: it is the effortless result of the intimacy that we share through being grafted into the Godhead, cut from the same cloth as them, through Christ’s finished work. We are encompassed by favor, seated in the beloved! (see Psalm 5:12; Ephesians 2:6). Scripture clearly reveals to us that it is the works of Christ, and not our own works, which ushers us into the experience of the Gospel. Therefore, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to manage and manifest our emotional climate (see Galatians 5:22).Our responsibility is to simply recline into the good news and enjoy wave upon wave of God’s affectionate, cosy, warm love, being soaked by His perspective of the ‘in Christ’ reality (see John 1:16).

We are to sink into the expectancy and all of the emotions of Christ’s faith on our behalf, letting God do the ‘serious’, ‘responsible’ work (solving any circumstantial, personal, and relational issues), as we drink up the imaginative, positive-limitless implications of our union with the Godhead. You could never out-imagine God’s goodness. He is so wildly glorious that even our best attempts to over-exaggerate His goodness and joy do not scratch the surface! He is the source of all creativity and wonder, the great, epic fantasy adventure of the soul. This is why we can rest assured that through Christ, the fruits of our lives will be emotional wholeness and joy! Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22). This is why Psalm 34:8 describes to us that we taste and see (experiencing and knowing in every facet of our existence, including our emotions) that God is truly good through simply trusting Him! Song of Solomon 8:9 (NASV) also writes this same truth: “And your mouth like the best wine! It goes down smoothly for my beloved, flowing gently through the lips of those who fall asleep” – This verse may sound confusing, but it highlights that as we ‘fall asleep’ to our own efforts, allowing ourselves to be loved on, adored, provided for, and encouraged by the Gospel message – becoming recipients of God’s sweet perspective, His good news and love – we discover ourselves ‘tasting’ delicious experiences of God’s love! (see Song of Solomon 1:2).

The delights of Christ, the wine of God’s wisdom, transforms everything about our world, intoxicating us with positive, delight-filled emotions. As we allow our imagination to take a tour of the realities of faith, we discover ourselves filled with a tangible sense of God’s blessings, love, and affectionate, intimate delights. Song of Solomon 6:11-12 (MSG) describes this as such: “I went down to the nut orchard to look at the blossoms of the valley, to see whether the vines had budded, whether the pomegranates were in bloom. Before I was aware, my desire set me among the chariots of my kinsman, a prince” – The delight-infused reality of faith carries you into various emotional experiences, enabling you to perceive in many ways the realities of your inheritance in Christ. The details of the Gospel truly set you free in the area of your emotions, so that the dynamics of faith express themselves not only through your mind and material world, but also become tangible in your physical body. This is why disciples in Acts 22:17 and 10:10 ‘fell’ into a trance (ESV). This speaks of an emotional experience of the Good News!  You were created to experience Jesus – to taste and see that your inheritance and reality in the Godhead is good!

 

How Does Obedience Fit Into the New Covenant – Part Two

By Paige Hunt

In our last article we spoke about how obedience fits into the New Covenant – it is the effortless result of receiving the love of God, and abiding in the revelation of the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is natural to conclude, then, that just as obedience is the fruit of right believing, disobedience is caused by unbelief.

Sin and disobedience are not the problem, and God is not an angry judge waiting to punish and harm people who are living in sin and disobedience. 1Rather, God looks upon those in messy lifestyles of sin and disobedience with love and compassion, understanding that the root of these issues is unbelief, and people’s behaviour is merely a result of that. The deepest issue is not sin and disobedience, but unbelief in Christ, His love, and His finished work.

Did you hear that? Sin and disobedience are not the issue. God has already dealt with those things through the obedience of Christ (see Romans 5:19), and has ‘sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again.’ (Isaiah 54:9, NIV). Christ has already dealt with our sins on the cross, and he desires for all men to come to the knowledge of this through a full revelation of the New Covenant. Scripture declares that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4. ESV). Interesting to note is that the word for ‘desires’ used in this verse denotes not only a resolve to save, but a love and fondness for restoring, healing, and saving people. It is an emotional-filled word that speaks of the Father’s unconditional compassion and limitless grace.

This is our God, who Jesus revealed as ‘Father’. This is an intimate picture of life-transforming security, cherished relationship, and dependence. 562It is the relational Fatherhood of God that saves us from our disobedience, and not our own works and efforts, which in fact have the opposite effect and stir up more sin in our lives (see 1 Corinthians 15:56; Romans 3:20; Romans 7:8).

“The pattern of Jesus’ life on earth gives insight into God’s method of transformation. He knows that you, like Zacchaeus (see Luke 19), will not be changed by performance, but by His Presence. The power of His love, the joy of His Presence, and the peace coming from His acceptance are far more capable of changing the human heart than rebuke, censure, condemnation, and rejection…” – John Sheasby, ‘The Birthright’: ‘Out of the Servant’s Quarters into the Father’s House’, p.93, bracket insert mine.

With this image of God as the Father of love and grace in our mind, let’s take deeper look at how God deals with disobedience in the New Covenant:

“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me;” – John 16:8-9 (NKJV)

What matters (as in the primary focus) is not your lifestyle, but your belief system, because what you believe will directly influence your behaviour. This is why Jesus in John 16:9 states that the Holy Spirit convicts non-Christians of unbelief. Another thing to note is that the word for convict used in this Scripture is the Greek word ‘elegcho’, which means ‘to convince’. God desires to convince non-Christians of their unbelief, so that they can come to believe and rest in the all-sufficiency of Jesus more and more, and find the successful, abundant life that God desires for them to have! (See Romans 2:4).

The solution to any and all areas of wrong behaviour, of toxic emotions, and of failure is the finished work of Jesus, and hearing of the beauty and love of God as displayed in Christ. Hearing the good news will always inspire faith in our hearts, transforming our beliefs and giving us the abundant life freely (Romans 10:17; John 10:10). 563Even as believers, we can sometimes believe, act, and live as if we were still in the domain of sin, but through the Good News message the Holy Spirit continually convinces us that in Christ, we have been rescued from the mess and mire of sinful, disobedient living (Colossians 1:12-13). Jesus has qualified us to live without sin and disobedience, to walk in step with His Spirit within us!

Another way that Jesus explained how God deals with those who are not producing healthy fruits (which many would view as disobedience) is in his metaphor of the vine and the branches in John 15:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” – John 15:1-5 (NIV)

Pruning and being cut off sounds pretty painful, and legalists love to use this verse to say that unless we are obedient, we will find ourselves under the punishment of God. However, Scripture says no such thing. In fact, the Greek term for cutting off these unfruitful branches is actually the word ‘airō’, which is better translated here as ‘lifts up’. This makes much more sense in the world of agriculture from which this imagery came. Paul Ellis explains this eloquently in his online article:

Unfruitful branches are lifted out of the dirt and re-dressed so they can be nourished by the sun. Sticking with that metaphor, the reason why some Christians are barren is that they’re facedown in the dirt and not looking at the Son. They’re busy, distracted, stressed, and have wandered from their protos agape, their primary love.” – Paul Ellis, ‘What Happens to Unfruitful Branches?’ [escapetoreality.org]

For believers and non-believers alike, sinful living is simply the result of not knowing how much God loves us, or how good this Good News message really is. Furthermore, pruning in our English terminology means ‘to remove unwanted parts’. However, God is our Creator and our Father, and he loves all that he has made! (See Psalm 145:9). No matter how disobedient you are, you will never be an unwanted or undesired part. In Greek, the word for pruning used in John 15 is ‘kathairō’, more accurately translated in this verse as ‘cleansed’. This is why Jesus declares to his disciples, who have been regularly hearing his words, ‘you are already clean (katharos) because of the word I have spoken to you’.

So God’s cure for disobedience is heaping upon us grace after grace! (John 1:14; John 1:16). 564God’s cure for disobedience is to speak the Good News over our lives, elevating us with the message of Christ’s obedience on our behalf! As we soak up this message, we begin to understand how much God loves us, and we effortlessly manifest the fruits of God’s Spirit and walk in His obedience. (See also Romans 1:16; Romans 10:17).

“Think about the relationship between a vine and a branch. Can a branch produce fruit? No. If you need proof, just cut a branch off a vine or fruit tree, and watch awhile to see how much fruit is produced. However, if a branch is attached to the source with a flow of life, it can bear fruit. The branch is incapable of producing fruit on its own….” – Steve McVey, ’52 Lies Heard in Church Every Sunday’

The Gospel message reveals to us the righteousness that we have obtained in Christ, and effortlessly produces God’s faith in our lives.

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:17 (KJV)

Jesus does not want us to be self-focused – to live by faith in ourselves, where we are constantly under the mentality of ‘right vs. wrong’, or ‘disobedience vs. obedience’. 565Instead, as we remain in an atmosphere of grace, where we can hear and believe the Good News, that Good News continually convinces us to rest in Christ’s all-sufficiency, eradicating unbelief from our lives. Scripture calls this ‘the obedience of faith’ (Romans 1:5).

Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith” – Romans 16:25-26 (NIV), emphasis mine.

How Does Obedience Fit Into the New Covenant? – Part One

By Paige Hunt

One of the questions that many people have when confronted with the Gospel of grace is ‘how does obedience fit into this new covenant?’ or ‘how will you stop people from being apathetic and irresponsible, if it’s all about God’s grace?’  – It can be a scary and daunting thing to trust in God over and above our own efforts. This is why some subscribe to the Old Covenant way of thinking, the belief that the substance and root of faith is obedience. However, the Gospel of grace declares to us that the substance and root of faith is God’s grace, God’s obedience, God’s favor, and God’s unconditional, irrevocable love towards us.

The Scriptures declare to us repeatedly that we do not need to live with a long religious to-do list in front of our noses anymorechecklist-1643784_1280, because in Christ, God has, will, and does take care of the details. In the New Covenant, obedience is a fruit of right believing, and not the root of faith – it is no longer about the tree of the knowledge of Good and evil, it is about the finished work of Jesus Christ, and our perfect, eternal union with him. Take 1 Peter 5:7 for example:

“casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].” (AMP)

This Scripture presents to us a covenant where God takes care of all of the details. Our job is to sink into his detailed, watchful care of us, trusting him with the essence, details, and fruits of our Salvation. apple-1717583_1280 After all, it takes no faith to follow rules and regulations, or to subscribe to outward forms of religious obedience such as reading the Bible, but it DOES take faith to trust that God cares for us, that God is a personal God of love, and that his grace is sufficient for us in all areas of life – in areas of strength, and particularly areas of weakness (See 2 Corinthians 12:9).

So let’s look at the topic of obedience today, and how this fits specifically into the Gospel of grace. In the book of John, Jesus declared, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments’ (John 14:15, KJV) This trips a lot of people up, as it sounds like a demand. However, we must look at the Bible as a whole. Although we are often much more able to imagine God as a deity of demand and requirement, Jesus in his perfect sacrifice revealed to us that God is not as was pictured in the Old Testament – in the Old Testamentviolinist-735413_1280 we saw fragments of the Father’s true nature, yet Christ came to reveal God as the God of grace and love, eradicating the impartial image of God as a Being of wrath, demand, and legalistic pleasure (see Matthew 11:27-30).  God is the God of supply. He is the Benefactor, and we are his thankful beneficiaries as we partake of the many blessings and riches of Christ’s finished work, and enjoy our union with his resurrection.

‘As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.’ – John 15:9-10, KJV

Let’s take another look at Jesus’ words about obedience. Here in John 15, Jesus clarifies that obedience is an overflow of receiving and abiding in God’s love. Jesus’ first words are: ‘As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love’. (KJV) In other words, we are able to cosy up in the Father’s unconditional, practical, detailed, lavish affections. As we do, we will effortlessly keep his commandments. Obedience is not a stoic demand; rather, it is all about recognising and partaking of our union with God through Jesus Christ, enjoying God’s limitless love and unconditional grace!

It is also interesting to note, as we allow the Bible to interpret the Bible, that God’s commandments are NOT the 10 Commandments depicted in the Old Testament. Without going into detail about this now, Jesus has completely shut down our obsession with being obedient to the Ten Commandments by declaring in John 6:29 that: ‘This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.’ (KJV) In other words, obeying God’s commandments, and doing the ‘work of God’, is all about resting and trusting in Jesus Christ and his finished work. It flows effortlessly from seeing and depending on his love and unmerited favour. Galatians 5:6 articulates this well:

‘For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.’ (KJV)

I hope you are beginning to grasp by now that obedience under the New Covenant is all about embracing grace. Every gift, blessing, and manifestation of our righteous, holy nature in the New Covenant comes through receiving, apresents-153926_1280nd not through achieving. Obedience is a gift of grace, springing forth from a revelation of how much the Father loves us. Obedience is received, not achieved, so, even our achievements are received by, in, and through the finished work of Christ! Our lives are composed of grace through our Union with the Godhead.

Many other Scriptures declare these same truths, such as:

  • ‘We love him, because he first loved us.’– 1 John 4:19, KJV
  • For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:’ – 2 Corinthians 5:14, KJV
  • ‘”I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.’ – Luke 7:47, NLT
  • ‘Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin’ – Romans 6:6, KJV

Obedience in the New Covenant is a fruit of receiving the love of God, and abiding in the revelation of the finished work of Jesus Christ. We were co-crucified and co-resurrected with him! (see Galatians 6:14).

One of the most powerful verses concerning the love of Christ is Ephesians 3:17-19:

‘That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.’ – Ephesians 3:17-19, KJV

It is not the degree to which you love God which determines the level of victory and power that you experience, or the level of obedience that you manifest.candy-1678933_1280 Rather, as you rest in how much God loves you, Scripture declares that you will be filled with all the manifest fullness of God. You do not have to depend on your own resources, on your love ‘for’ Christ, when God wants you to simply know and receive the love ‘of’ Christ. This is such good news!

[Look out for Part 2 next week. Subscribe to make sure you never miss a post]

 

 

 

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