Thursday, February 4, 2016

“Upward, Outward, and Away”

"Upward, Outward, and Away"  

    The first response to God after Adam and Eve sinned revealed the utterly destructive nature of their unbelief and disobedience to God.

    "The eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself" (Genesis 3:7-10).

    Self awareness.  Self preservation.  Self deception.  Self-centeredness.  Originally created in the image of the God whose nature comprises loving unselfishness, our original forbears descended into the black hole of narcissistic self devotion.  Rather than the upward, outward, and away perspective of love, Adam and Eve turned inward in their perception of God, of themselves, of others, and of the world.  "Me" rather than "Thee" became their focus, and every human misery proceeds from the chosen and willful blindness.  Indeed, according to the Divine definition, this constituted a literal death in the spiritual and moral sense (Genesis 2:17).

   Salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ initiates our deliverance, turning us inside out by the entrance of the Holy Spirit into our spirits.  "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).  The Christian life involves our Heavenly Father's ongoing determination and process whereby He changes us into the spiritual and moral image of the Son who declared, "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).  As we realize and submit ourselves to the revolutionary transformation, the joy of God becomes our joy.  We find our greatest pleasure in pleasing Him, and in meeting the needs of others.  We increasingly realize the oppression and darkness of the black hole from which Christ delivered us, and the wondrous glory of light and life in Him.  "Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor" (Ephesians 5:2).

    Rather than self awareness, the Holy Spirit directs our hearts to the knowledge of God and devotion to people.  Rather than self preservation, He enables the heart fulfilling joy of self sacrifice.  Rather than self deception, He illuminates the path of light, truth, and reality.  Rather than self centeredness, He centralizes the glory of God and the blessing of others in our hearts.  The presence of His Spirit makes possible and actual our redemption from the selfish emptiness and pettiness foreign to our nature as sons and daughters of the God who "is love" (I John 4:8).  He could give us no greater gift, and the great wonder  of our salvation in Christ is that "we shall be like Him" (I John 3:2).  Like Him in devotion to His Father and to people - such "hope of glory" beckons us ever further from the black hole of narcissism unto the Light that calls us to come to the upward, outward, and away journey that began in the new birth, and will have no end…

"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; 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. Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
(Ephesians 3:14-21)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   One thing have I desire of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.
(Psalm 27:4)


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