just as....WE ARE ONE - by Tamra Dalbey

 

For this post, I initially set out to write on the Trinity, but was sensing the Spirit pulling me a different direction. He has a way of bringing such vitality to everything He touches…  that’s what we need. I’m not sure there needs to be yet another study on the Trinity (or if I could do it justice in under 1200 words!). There is, however, great application here that shouldn’t be missed: How can God’s Oneness impact us, so we can be better led by Him?

God is three separate persons— Father, Son, Holy Spirit. We have been shown in part how they relate to each other, but I’m sure the great mystery of the Trinity will be “unboxed” for us when we see the full glory of God in Heaven. What I do know is that the Trinity exemplifies the unity He desires for us: To be one with Him, and with other believers.  Before the fall, Adam and Eve were unified with God. They walked together in close communion in the garden. It was never His design to have them (or us) leave that place of intimacy. But then, the introduction of sin brought with it separation.  There it remained throughout the ages. Every year the same Band-Aid applied, through the gruesome work of animal sacrifice…

Until the perfect, atoning work was completed.  There’d be unity again “over His dead body”.

Before He went to the cross, Jesus prayed for our unity with Him to be restored (John 17). I’m so thankful His prayer has been preserved and documented for us! In it we have been given a gem— we get to hear His will and desire for us (read the entire chapter to glean His full heart).
Listen carefully:

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one, I in them and You In Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me.” (John 17:20-23)


Interesting that He doesn’t ask the Father to increase our faith or wisdom. His pleading is for us to be one with Him (He repeatedly asks this here). Our Lord knows what we need first is Him, and that all these other things will follow.  He has invited us into the same fellowship and oneness that He has with the Father.

What?!

This captivates my heart; and commands our attention. He doesn’t use the word “close” or “near”, He uses the word “one” and the phrase “perfectly one”. He prays for us to have an identity crisis. To start seeing Him in everything, as we take on His identity. A newness of life. That we would willingly be “hijacked” by the Renewer of our minds… to gain a Kingdom perspective. This is the change He prays for us to make/receive.  When we are overtaken by Him, hope for the future is claimed, not wished for. In a world of insecurities and instabilities, He becomes our secure and sure foundation.  We’ll never fully comprehend how present He wants to be in and through us. Yet it’s truth. He’s just that gracious and kind. 

Similarly, He wills for the church to be one. Notice how we aren’t called the brides of Christ, we are the bride. Singular, not plural. Jesus has chosen this way. Not so we’d benefit from a neat social club, but so that we’d be more useful. Many different parts, of one mind, effectively serving one direction. We are to stir up our fellow siblings in the Lord for the harvest.  This (unity) was integral to the growth of the early church. The Spirit came to them as fire when they were gathered together in the upper room; fueling the great commission (Acts 2:1-4). Fires spreading… a movement that darkness could not extinguish. Ordinary people used in extraordinary ways. All of them unified by the Head, which is Christ.  Hell would have us scattered. To snuff out our light—our purpose.  We tend to recoil and hide out when we get hurt. Insecurity and fear of rejection are heavily used tools in the kingdom of darkness; to keep us away from each other. This is a killer of unity. We can instead, allow God to use those upsets for His glory. Just as Jesus used the cross for salvation.

I wish I could shout it out: NO MORE ISOLATION FOR BELIEVERS!

I want to speak, for a moment, to the person who thinks they have nothing of value to offer (truthfully, hasn’t this been all of us at one time or another?). He’s looking to break down our walls of isolation and loneliness. Once for all, He’s done away with separation. You have a value that was great enough to die for. There is value when you testify of the Lord’s working in your life. He gets the glory when we worship… that is valuable.  We need to pray when we feel of little worth. He will answer us in truth: that He can take terribly unqualified people and use us to change the world, for His glory. We can take that truth and wear it, like a garment, bringing it with us wherever we go. He gives of His power so we’ll go unconflicted, confident in the role He’s calling us to.  He WILL restore you to be useful. He is a Master at redoing and completing things undone.  At first glance, this idea of being one with God sounded like total heresy to me. Now I see just how far He goes to share Himself with us. He’s shared with us His death, His resurrected life, His joy, His Heaven, and now this. He’s not the one in the relationship holding anything back.

Why then would we?

Lord of the Harvest, I pray we would let You gather us together, so that witnesses would be effective and joy would be full. That your Spirit would break down any walls that are hedging us in and keeping You, or others, out. Even reveal the walls we aren’t yet aware of.
I ask that our self-sufficiency would burn to the ground. That Your Spirit would rebuild; completing Your work of perfect oneness in us. Making everything new… even and especially for the Christian who has been serving and loving You for years. That as we fix our gaze on You, All–Consuming Fire, we couldn’t help but catch fire ourselves.  We’re so thankful You have bought and brought us back into unity. That you call us deeper, and deeper still. I pray souls would respond so much “louder” than before, realizing that God—who carved them from the ground—desires oneness with them.  Have Your way in us!


One With Him
[A response to John 17]

Why do You seek unity with me?
You know I am but dust.
Yet, You make it so personal for me.
You don’t compare me to any other.
Blotted out my crimson shame.
Raised this death to leaping praise.
Paid full price for something ruined;
You have loved me to death.
Let nothing steal my attention;
No inadequacy, doubt or fear.
If You’re the Vine, make me Your branch.
There’s no life without You here.
I take full advantage of Your offer:
To know You and be known.
Closer than my very skin;
God who moves mighty within.
Overtake this place, come invade;
Great joy in this surrender!
Fan this flame, rewrite my name.
Make it that we’re one.
And when at last I see Your face,
You’ll be so familiar.
Jesus, You’re my home.
“One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may 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)

Written by Tamra Dalbey

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Heaven knows my name- By Peter Griffith

In our world we are often greeted by blanket statements about groups. We are separated by our class, race, and our interests.  We see this all the time in media; attempting, reaching, begging to hit some sort of familiar nerve in their audience while they desperately try to sell us their product.  Once in these perfectly separated bins, the world has begun to try to tell us how we should feel. "well because you are a _______, you clearly like _____ products, which means you support ______, and therefore cannot stray outside of your respective group." 

It doesn't help that on all sides we are bombarded by the fake and generic. The fake being the perfectly plastic pretend people of Hollywood. Showcased in supposed stardom, bathed in their blissful billions, blathering bombast we are to believe they have everything in order.

On the other hand you have the generic; being the rhetoric that we are just a number in the crowd, randomly spawned from cosmic ooze, no purpose, no direction and no reason.  Between these two awful images it is no wonder people in record numbers are struggling with depression, anxiety and suicide. After the assault, the pied piper of complacency draws us almost willingly into our labelled groups in order for us to finally feel some sort of comfort with others who are supposedly "like us".

While the world is loudly playing this sad sadistic music, lulling us into our labels, a melody of a another nature seems to soar above the noise. You see, contrary to the common song of desperation, despair and generalities are a voice that has been echoing since before the foundations of the earth were lain.  A voice which harmonizes with all creation, breaking up the black and white monotony with a cascade of spilling, brilliant color over it all. It's a sound that shakes the foundations of society, screaming a message of individuality that confounds even the most crafty sales pitch. It is the message that you don't perfectly fit into any bin or group. It is the sound of the Lord of all creation, who rules heaven and earth, declaring that He knows your name. 

I believe the reason our hearts long for individuality is because we are created to be loved unlike anyone else. There is a specific need for value, love, and relationship in all of us that can't be satisfied or quieted with a generic label. In Psalm 139 David hammers this need home, saying: 

 13For You formed my inward parts;
            You wove me in my mother’s womb.

      14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
            Wonderful are Your works,
            And my soul knows it very well.

      15My frame was not hidden from You,
            When I was made in secret,
            And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

And when the Lord speaks to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:5 He says:

 5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."

The truth always sets us free, it rings loud and clear here. You were fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving Father. You were pieced together intentionally for a purpose. There is no one else exactly like you in all of existence. God saw all creation and thought that you were a perfect addition. You are unique, beautiful, and wonderful in your own way--and God loves that about you. 

Beyond the revelation of individuality and design by a good Father, it is also important to understand that our actions and choices on this earth matter immensely. We are created by an all powerful God in His image, which means we are also supposed to be powerful people as we partner with the Holy spirit.  This means our words, actions, thoughts and choices can have a greater impact than our mainstream labels would like us to believe.

We know that in a community you can gain a reputation and fame, however I also strongly believe that heaven knows our names. I admit, the thought of a heavenly host having an opinion on my reputation is worrisome at first. However, Proverbs 12:3 puts my heart at ease.

Proverbs 12:3

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3 A man shall not be established by wickedness;
But the root of the righteous shall not be moved.

 To me this means that not only will a wicked men never be able to build their kingdom in heaven, but by the mercy and sacrifice of Jesus, my transgressions are blotted out. God doesn't remember my sins! He won't hold them against me when I come to Him in repentance. Instead, He comes running like the extravagant Father of the prodigal son. The root of the righteous is what He has placed in our hearts from eternity, and that beautiful foundation is how we are recognized in heavenly places. His grace, mercy and goodness poured a seed into all of us.  If we water it with Christlike choices in this life,  it will then blossom, and take hold into a tree of life that will bear enough fruit to impact cultures and feed nations. 

Daniel had a crazy childhood. He was brought up in a nation under constant assault.  Eventually he was taken from his home as a prisoner of war to a foreign land. Daniel was brought before the king who destroyed his city and killed the people he loved. Instead of harboring evil, giving way to anger, and being poisoned by bitterness, Daniel chooses to do all things unto the Lord.  He took it upon himself to advise the King in the ways of God. During his time as a slave, he rose in the ranks to eventually be put in charge of an entire province of Babylon and leader over all other spiritual advisers. The Lord elevated him in the courts of his enemies because Daniel continued to be faithful to God, and honor the root of righteousness in his heart.  Through trial, turmoil, multiple rulers, slander, lions-dens and persecution Daniel refuses to stop pursuing the Lord and living his life as a powerful man of God.

Daniel knew he was fearfully and wonderfully made for a powerful purpose and went after it regardless of the situation. Daniel's reputation on the earth among the righteous and the wicked was unwavering and solid. But even in heavenly places the inhabitants of the kingdom of God acknowledge his reputation.  When the angel Gabriel first appears to speak with Daniel in 8:17, Gabriel refers to Daniel as "son of man", pretty typical greeting when the angelic communicates with humans. But later we see a second encounter between Daniel and Gabriel, that comes after Daniel is moved by prophecy to intercede for the nation. In this encounter in 9:20-25 Gabriel tells Daniel that as soon as he began to pray God heard his prayers and sent him. Gabriel tells him it is because "you are highly esteemed", quite a change since their first meeting. Upon this meeting Daniel is moved even more and sets himself to fast, repent, and pray for 21 days for his nation and people. Armed with conviction and zeal, dressed in sackcloth and ashes, one man cries out amidst the masses. One voice among the whole earth, and yet the God who knows every hair on our heads hears his cry. Gabriel appears before Daniel yet again in verse 10:11 and seems to treat him differently than their first encounter.  This time Gabriel tells him that because Daniel partnered with God in prayer and fasting angels have been moved so that the message of God could be explained to him personally. During their encounter Gabriel refers to Daniel again as "you who are highly esteemed." Gabriel then grants Daniel strength and encourages him.  

To me the story of Daniel is an encouragement that I have a purpose in life, and my actions can move heaven and earth when I partner with God and follow Him. It's a reminder that our reputation is being established by the root of righteousness God has placed in us and it's up to us to choose how to nourish it.  Of all the lessons in the scriptures this is one of my favorites because not only does it tell us of the potential power each of us can have in our lives, but also that heaven knows our names. We were specifically made by a good Father who knows, loves, and calls to us by name, in a way no type of counterfeit group, label, or slogan can ever hope to match--and that is music to my individually hand crafted ears.