Fear Not: a Conversation for Every Day of the Year

It's never too late to enter into this conversation. Hear your Lord speak to your heart: My child...

Fear not...you are never alone for I am with you!prayer

Fear not...you are never left out for you are one with Me !

Fear not...you are never condemned, but always accepted! I not only love you...I like you!

Fear not...you are always adequate with My adequacy...no matter how helpless and inadequate you feel!

Fear not...you are alive with my everlasting, indestructible life, no matter how dead you feel inside! I am your Life!

I AM in your "right here, right now," whether it be suffering in a hospital room or struggling over a wardrobe choice in your closet...and everything in between...I am with you!

Lord, I believe, help my unbelief...

You are my Courage, when I am afraid!

You are my Adequacy, when I am helpless and afraid of failing!

You are my Comfort Zone, and nothing You send me is outside of YOU, my Comfort Zone Christ!

You are my words, the Word, when my words fail me!

I invite you, O my King, my indwelling Lord...

into my fears...one by one...moment by moment...day by day...

into my mind and harassing thoughts...

into my nervous system and blood pressure that tends to be like the wind and waves being tossed to and fro...

into each and every thing I face today and for as many days as we walk together on this earth...

I chose YOU afresh this year... this day, my God.  Amen.

The Lord is ever present with us. Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.

Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy... and the God of peace will walk with you. Philippians 4:5b-9 VOICE

Straining at my Oars...

I've been preparing a devotional for a local home school support group. This message, which I have given many times before, always seems to hit home, no matter the age group. And it's not because I'm such a dynamic speaker (I go with fear and trembling).  It's because of the Lord's simple truth that we often miss, at least I did for many years...and apparently many others have also. The devotional is based on a story we find in the gospels when Jesus walks out on the stormy sea to His terrified and struggling disciples.  (If you would like to read more, pause right here and follow these two links: Inviting Jesus into my Boat  & Urging and Opening).

The basic message is that...

...the Lord wants us to invite Him into our "boat," our stuff, our mess, our upheaval--whether emotional, spiritual, or physical.

This is so simple, but so true: no matter how old we are humanly or spiritually...

The Lord wants to be wanted by each of us!

But in this post, I want to share a realization that the Lord awakened me with this morning...from a verse in that story that I had rehearsed for myself and many others.  This verse hit me right where I live in my today:

And when it was evening, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and He was alone on the land. And seeing them straining at the oars,... He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them.

With that verse creeping into my waking consciousness, I sensed the Holy Spirit's merciful, gentle, but insistent, nudge:

Jan, you are straining at your oars again!

Wow, You are right, O Lord!  I'm straining at

my "book oars,"

my "90 year old precious mom who is fragile and failing" oars,

my "needing to get on a plane and fly to help after just being home from a trip for not even two weeks" oars.

I'm struggling with

the oars of "blood pressure issues and allergies to the meds,"

the oars of "teaching a new group of students in my English class,"

the oars of "speaking in front of an unknown audience anxiety,"

and any other "oars" the enemy and my insecure humanness may drum up in my mind.

And so Lord, come into my boat, which holds each of these situations...don't walk past and let me strain at my own oars, O God!

I don't have the strength...You do!

I don't have the resources...You do!

I don't have the courage...You do!

I don't have the wisdom and discernment..You do!

In fact, You are all of those things and much more. 

I release to You!  I invite You in! I live from Your abiding Self...today...right now...for anything and everything! Amen and amen!

Fear Not: a Conversation (a.k.a. prayer) for the New Year

My child...

Fear not...you are never alone for I am with you!

Fear not...you are never left out for you are one with Me !

Fear not...you are never condemned, but always accepted! I not only love you...I like you!

Fear not...you are always adequate with My adequacy...no matter how helpless and inadequate you feel!

Fear not...you are alive with my everlasting, indestructible life, no matter how dead you feel inside! I am your Life!

I AM in your "right here, right now," whether it be suffering in a hospital room or struggling over a wardrobe choice in your closet...and everything in between...I am with you!

Lord, I believe, help my unbelief...

You are my Courage, when I am afraid!

You are my Adequacy, when I am helpless and afraid of failing!

You are my Comfort Zone, and nothing You send me is outside of YOU, my Comfort Zone Christ!

You are my words, the Word, when my words fail me!

I invite you, O my King, my indwelling Lord...

into my fears...one by one...moment by moment...day by day...

into my mind and harassing thoughts...

into my nervous system and blood pressure that tends to be like the wind and waves being tossed to and fro...

into each and every thing I face today and for as many days as we walk together on this earth...

I chose YOU afresh this year, my God.  Amen.

The Lord is ever present with us. Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.

Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy... and the God of peace will walk with you. Philippians 4:5b-9 VOICE

The Rest of the Gospel: Day of Reckoning

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:11 KJV

Today is a Day of Reckoning...but not how you think!  Usually we use that term to mean to give an accounting, a calculation, a settlement of accounts.  In fact according to Wikipedia, it can mean a host of things from the Final Judgment Day to heavy metal albums and Nintendo games.

But in the Bible sense, EVERY day is a Day of Reckoning.  This word reckon in the Greek is often rendered consider.  In other words, "count on something to be true".  My reckoning doesn't MAKE it true.  It already IS true, so I count on it and live from it.  So each day is THE day to reckon to be true what God says is true...because it IS true.  I can take it to the bank and live from it :)

Last week, I described how I got free from the LIE that held me captive.  As you may remember, it was by considering myself (reckoning) to be dead to it, because I AM dead to it through my union with Christ in death, burial, and resurrection.

For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1

How this can play out in the life of a believer in a practical way is found in Paul's letters, especially to the Colossians and Ephesians.  There he uses the imagery of clothing to show what reckoning yourself dead to sin, self, flesh, legalism, and the lies of the enemy looks like in real life.   Paul then shows what it looks like to live alive to God.  It's all wrapped up in the key words put off and put on.

Taking off clothing and putting on other clothing are things we do everyday.  We hardly even think about it (except to chose our outfits ).  Let's compare this to the spiritual activity of living from the life of the indwelling Christ each day.

from the ragbag 2009
Let me illustrate from my own "world of fashion".  About 15-20 years ago, I bought a beautiful nightgown to keep me warm and feminine in the cold Ohio winters.  I've loved that nightgown!  I could wrap myself in it and be cozy and comfortable.   And despite the fact that it's faded and worn, I've had a hard time giving it up to the ragbag.  Every year as the weather has turned colder I've taken it out of said bag to put it on "just one more year".

Now my husband is not a rich man, but he is a good provider and has enabled me to have other beautiful options.  But they are not as comfortable to my "flesh" as that old "friend".

one of my beautiful "options"

Yet in reality, that old rag is not consistent with who I am as John's wife...a well-loved and cared for woman.  I just have a hard time putting on those new gowns.  So out "she" comes for yet another season.

It's kind of the same way with our spiritual clothing as beloved believers united to our True Lover Jesus Christ.  He has provided His own beautiful character as clothing for our human life on this earth:  love, forgiveness, kindness, truth, compassion, peace, self-control...

But what do we do?  We continually go back into the "ragbag" of our fleshly life before Christ and put on those comfortable characteristics that are inconsistent with who we are in Christ:  things such as sexual immorality & impurity, pride, greed, jealousy & competition, unforgiveness,... [For further study look at these passages:  Ephesians 4:17-5:21; Col 3:1-16; Gal 5:16-26; Rom 12:1-3,9-20; Rom 13:8-14; 2Tim 2:22]

God says to put those off!  Every time we are tempted to live out of the ragbag, we can chose to

put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires. Romans 13:14

After all, the indwelling Lord Jesus Christ IS our wardrobe!  In fact, by choosing Christ in all His fulness of character, we are at the same time laying aside the ragbag characteristics of life without Christ.*

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life...is with Christ in God. He is your life.

And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That's a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God...bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Colossians 3:3-14  MESSAGE

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*For an inspiring, though challenging sermon on this very point, read The Expulsive Power of a New Affection by Thomas Chalmers.  This is not for the faint of heart, but you will be incredibly blessed!

 

 

 

The Rest of the Gospel: C-c-courage and so much MORE

Dorothy, wizard of oz
Dorothy, wizard of oz

In this world, you will have trouble,But take courage, I have overcome the world!John 16:33

Who doesn't love the classic movie The Wizard of Oz?  And of all the characters, the Cowardly Lion is a favorite!  Why is that, I wonder?  Could it be that we see ourselves in him -- while putting on a brave front to face life, we find that, in reality, we are scared little "kitties" inside?

cowardly lion
cowardly lion

I especially love the lion's "courage monologue":

COWARDLY LION:  Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got? DOROTHY, SCARECROW, TINMAN: Courage! COWARDLY LION: You can say that again!

Can you identify?I can...

And that's how I felt with teaching and speaking in front of people.  I was inwardly terrified!  I felt a lot of shame about this, because I wanted to trust God completely.  (I've since found out, though, that speaking in public is one of the top fears among women -- go figure!)  Anyway, this fear was debilitating...often to the point of physical illness.

This was especially true when it came to a big meeting connected to my job with a local Christian school.  I used to be a home school coordinator, and in those early days, I had a very large group of families to help.  At the end of the summer each year, we would meet as a group with all our families -- new and returning.  At that time, we would tell them about ourselves, encourage them, and explain how the program ran.

Well, I dreaded it!  Not because they were a hostile group...in fact the opposite was true!  And they loved me to boot!

DCS homeschool moms 2009
DCS homeschool moms 2009

DCS homeschool moms

So in my mind, this fear was totally illogical and unfounded!  I talked to myself and the Lord about it...but to no avail.  It would ruin my whole summer every year!  UNTIL...

One summer, I was agonizing as usual over the big home school meeting. In the midst of my agony, I thought to myself, "I need courage!"  So I proceeded to beg, plead, pray for courage.  I tried to do my best "courage self-talk".  All to no avail!  I was still a wreck!

In the meantime, that summer I happened to be teaching the little book of Colossians...for the 2nd time (I'm a slow learner!).  As I was preparing to teach the second chapter, the Holy Spirit highlighted two verses to my mind and heart:

For in Him [Christ] the whole fulness of deity [God] dwells bodily, and you have been filled in Him... Colossians 2:9-10 ESV

All of a sudden the realization came crashing through:  Jesus wasn't a wimp! Remember how He stood up to the Pharisees -- not exactly a friendly audience!  Courage is part of the fulness of God in Christ.   And the courageous God Christ lives within me.  He will live His courageous life through me as I trust Him! That's what being filled in Him means.  No more begging, pleading, self-talk, Christian mental mind games!  No more shame & despair!

So I decided to trust the Courageous Christ.  And guess what?  He WAS courageous through me so that I could relax and be my charming :) self--to the glory of God!  And it broke the bondage for me in those situations...now I have normal levels of nervousness.  And I know that every situation is a new opportunity to trust the full Christ within to be who He is in and through me.

So do you need courage today?  The Courageous Christ will be courageous through you as you trust Him. Do you need love today?  The Loving Christ will love through you as you trust Him. Do you need to forgive today?  The Forgiving Christ will forgive through you as you trust Him. Do you need patience today?  The Patient Christ will be patient through you as you trust Him. Do you need _______ today?  (You fill in the blank)  The _________ Christ will be ________ through you as you trust Him.

If you are a child of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the full Christ lives within you.  He is full through you as you trust Him!  It's the devil's lie to get us to think of ourselves as separate from our Lord.  He's not up there, and we're down here, praying He throws down a little courage (or whatever) if we pray correctly!  NO!  We are one with Him...united in a way that nothing in heaven or earth can separate!

I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

So, dear sisters & brothers, look at whatever you are facing today as your opportunity to experience Him in His fulness!  Praise His Holy Name!

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. 2Peter 1:3 ESV

...that you may be filled with all the fulness of God. Eph 3:19b ESV


Findings in the Files: Get Up and Walk!

get up!

get up!

Have you ever heard the Lord say to your heart, "Enough already...get up and do this...trust Me!"

I have...when we were selling our house in Centerville, Ohio.  This is the house where we had raised our kids...all those milestones and memories tucked away in that little house, in that sweet little community!

I had been wallowing in so many conflicting emotions in the whole process of selling that house.  In fact, I had nixed the whole thing and then delayed it from going on the market!

But the Lord was carrying us through the whole process (remember "Footprints"?).  He provided a buyer quickly...by the end of the first week!  But I still wasn't ready...and was going over the edge!

Practically collapsing with grief, I was walking through my beautiful neighborhood (made even more beautiful by the fact that I was soon leaving it)!

I said to the Lord, "I can't do this!"

That's when He said to me,  "Enough!  Get up and do this!  You weren't even acting this way when I carried you through Jeremy's cancer surgery.  You did what I gave you to do...and it was good!  You can do this!  I will bring you to a good place!  Trust Me!"

So I turned the corner literally and emotionally, and started walking it out with HIM!

And guess what?  He walked me right into the beautiful place where we have lived for the past 12 years...our condo in Beavercreek.

Why do I tell this story?  To introduce my next "Finding in the Files."  I post this hesitatingly because I hope it's not offensive to anyone.  But I do think there's an element of truth here that can't be denied.

I often hear Christians say, "Well, I'm just waiting on the Lord to work it out."

And don't get me wrong, I believe that with my whole heart!  However, I've often seen it to be an excuse for inertia, fear of failure, laziness, or believe it or not, even continuing in sin.

So for what it's worth, here's a little piece I found in my file called...

Butt Prints In The Sand

butt prints in sand

butt prints in sand

One night I had a wondrous dream,One set of footprints there was seen,The footprints of my precious Lord,But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"Those prints are large and round and neat,"But Lord they are too big for feet."

"My child," He said in somber tones,"For miles I carried you alone.I challenged you to walk in faith,But you refused and made me wait."

"You disobeyed, you would not grow,The walk of faith, you would not know.So I got tired, I got fed up,and there I dropped you on your butt."

"Because in life, there comes a time,when one must fight, and one must climb.When one must rise and take a stand,or leave their butt prints in the sand."

Author unknown

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And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6 NIV

Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works... For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2:18, 26 ESV

 God...has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. ...we walk by faith, not by sight... we make it our aim to please him. 2 Cor 5:5-9 ESV

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QgdyllyM-s[/youtube]

By faith we see the hand of God In the light of creation's grand design In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness Who walk by faith and not by sight

By faith our fathers roamed the earth With the power of His promise in their hearts Of a holy city built by God's own hand A place where peace and justice reign

We will stand as children of the promise We will fix our eyes on Him our soul's reward Till the race is finished and the work is done We'll walk by faith and not by sight

By faith the prophets saw a day When the longed-for Messiah would appear With the power to break the chains of sin and death And rise triumphant from the grave

By faith the church was called to go In the power of the Spirit to the lost To deliver captives and to preach good news In every corner of the earth

We will stand as children of the promise We will fix our eyes on Him our soul's reward Till the race is finished and the work is done We'll walk by faith and not by sight

By faith this mountain shall be moved And the power of the gospel shall prevail For we know in Christ all things are possible For all who call upon His name

We will stand as children of the promise We will fix our eyes on Him our soul's reward Till the race is finished and the work is done We'll walk by faith and not by sight

Keith and Kristen Getty

Mystery of Christ in Colossians: the Grand Finale

cheru, Raphael
cheru, Raphael

Back in 1995 we lived in Centerville, Ohio.  Centerville had a wonderful little post office in those days right behind Bill's Donuts.  In February of that year I stopped by to buy some stamps, noticing a large poster of the current stamp. As I awaited my turn in line, I reflected on the picture of the cherub I saw on the wall.

"Wait a minute," I said to myself, "I've seen that cherub before, but in a bigger painting."

I had taken art history in college and loved it! So I was wracking my brain to try to remember what painting it was part of.

cherubs
cherubs

I couldn't let it rest...so it sent me to the library to those big, dusty art books.

Sure enough, here's the painting those little cherubs are part of:

sistine madonna
sistine madonna

The cherubs are hardly noticed in this painting.  The obvious focal point is the mother and child...but the mother, more than the child!

"Wow," I thought, "Isn't that just like what we do in our Christian life?  We loose our focal point -- the Lord Jesus Christ!  Rather we focus on all the peripheral Christian things, as good as many of them may be.

In the book of Colossians, we have had our focus sharpened to see that truly...

Jesus + nothing = Everything

Earlier today, my husband and I were driving along, listening to a collection of old songs by the Carpenters.  They were popular during our "courtship" in the 1970's.

One of Karen Carpenter's most romantic songs is I Won't Last a Day Without You.  As it began to play, I remembered using it in a ladies Bible study with the statement, "The only One we could really sing this to is our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lover of our Souls!"

Enjoy it with me, O Bride of Christ...sing it from your heart to your True Bridegroom:

I Won't Last A Day Without You

Day after day I must face a world of strangers Where I don't belong, I'm not that strong It's nice to know that there's someone I can turn to Who will always care, you're always there

When there's no getting over that rainbow When my smallest of dreams won't come true I can take all the madness the world has to give But I won't last a day without you

So many times when the city seems to be without a friendly face A lonely place It's nice to know that you'll be there if I need you And you'll always smile, it's all worthwhile

When there's no getting over that rainbow When my smallest of dreams won't come true I can take all the madness the world has to give But I won't last a day without you

Touch me and I end up singing Troubles seem to up and disappear You touch me with the love you're bringing I can't really lose when you're near

If all my friends have forgotten half their promises They're not unkind, just hard to find One look at you and I know that I could learn to live Without the rest, I found the best

When there's no getting over that rainbow When my smallest of dreams won't come true I can take all the madness the world has to give But I won't last a day without you

When there's no getting over that rainbow When my smallest of dreams won't come true I can take all the madness the world has to give But I won't last a day without you

Thank you, dear sisters and brothers, for journeying with me. May the Lord continue to use His Word and His Spirit to reveal Himself to us.

Mystery of Christ in Colossians: a Day of Reckoning / Put off, Put on

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:11 KJV

Today is a Day of Reckoning...but not how you think!  Usually we use that term to mean to give an accounting, a calculation, a settlement of accounts.  In fact according to Wikipedia, it can mean a host of things from the Final Judgment Day to heavy metal albums and Nintendo games.

But in the Bible sense, EVERY day is a Day of Reckoning.  This word reckon in the Greek is often rendered consider.  In other words, "count on something to be true".  My reckoning doesn't MAKE it true.  It already IS true, so I count on it and live from it.  So each day is THE day to reckon to be true what God says is true...because it IS true.  I can take it to the bank and live from it :)

In my last post, I described how I got free from the LIE that held me captive.  As you may remember, it was by considering myself (reckoning) to be dead to it, because I AM dead to it through my union with Christ in death, burial, and resurrection.

For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1

How this can play out in the life of a believer in a practical way is found in Paul's letters, especially to the Colossians and Ephesians.  There he uses the imagery of clothing to show what reckoning yourself dead to sin, self, flesh, legalism, and the lies of the enemy looks like in real life.   Paul then shows what it looks like to live alive to God.  It's all wrapped up in the key words put off and put on.

Taking off clothing and putting on other clothing are things we do everyday.  We hardly even think about it (except to chose our outfits ).  Let's compare this to the spiritual activity of living from the life of the indwelling Christ each day.

Let me illustrate from my own "world of fashion".  About 15-20 years ago, I bought a beautiful nightgown to keep me warm and feminine in the cold Ohio winters.  I've loved that nightgown!  I could wrap myself in it and be cozy and comfortable.   And despite the fact that it's faded and worn, I've had a hard time giving it up to the ragbag.  Every year as the weather has turned colder I've taken it out of said bag to put it on "just one more year".

Now my husband is not a rich man, but he is a good provider and has enabled me to have other beautiful options.  But they are not as comfortable to my "flesh" as that old "friend".

Yet in reality, that old rag is not consistent with who I am as John's wife...a well-loved and cared for woman.  I just have a hard time putting on those new gowns.  So out "she" comes for yet another season.

It's kind of the same way with our spiritual clothing as beloved believers united to our True Lover Jesus Christ.  He has provided His own beautiful character as clothing for our human life on this earth:  love, forgiveness, kindness, truth, compassion, peace, self-control...

But what do we do?  We continually go back into the "ragbag" of our fleshly life before Christ and put on those comfortable characteristics that are inconsistent with who we are in Christ:  things such as sexual immorality & impurity, pride, greed, jealousy & competition, unforgiveness,... [For further study look at these passages:  Ephesians 4:17-5:21; Col 3:1-16; Gal 5:16-26; Rom 12:1-3,9-20; Rom 13:8-14; 2Tim 2:22]

God says to put those off!  Every time we are tempted to live out of the ragbag, we can chose to

put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires. Romans 13:14

After all, the indwelling Lord Jesus Christ IS our wardrobe!  In fact, by choosing Christ in all His fulness of character, we are at the same time laying aside the ragbag characteristics of life without Christ.*

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life...is with Christ in God. He is your life.

And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That's a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God...bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Colossians 3:3-14  MESSAGE

[*For an inspiring, though challenging sermon on this very point, read The Expulsive Power of a New Affection by Thomas Chalmers.  This is not for the faint of heart, but you will be incredibly blessed!]

 

Mystery of Christ in Colossians: Lesson from a family vacation

ibarnegat lighthouse
ibarnegat lighthouse

LBI...Long Beach Island, New Jersey -- sun, surf, and sweet memories.  Home of Surf City and Barnegat Lighthouse!   LBI was a favorite place for us Renners to vacation in our growing up years in the 1950's & 60's -- not every year but as many years as our family of 6 (and later 7) kids and 2 parents, living on one income, could afford. It was such a beloved place that my brother Conrad and family bought a beach house there in 1998...within a block from the beach, no less!

One year, when our kids were grown but not yet married and out of the nest, we had the most wonderful Renner family reunion at LBI.  Conrad scouted out other houses on his street that were for rent. And so several of us rented for the same week, and we all (along with in-laws, friends, and pets) descended upon that little beach community.

Family reunion at LBI 2000
Family reunion at LBI 2000

Renner Family Reunion 2000

Vacation Blog
Vacation Blog

It was a glorious week, filled with swimming, sun-bathing, sunrise watching, etc etc.  But the best thing was the love and togetherness and community that "happened".  We shared meals together, each family taking a turn.

A year or two later, some of us rented houses again at LBI.  I was hoping to recapture the same experience of that previous vacation together.  Well, you know how that goes.  Recapturing "glory" usually never happens.  And it certainly didn't happen this time...or so I thought!

For one thing, we all couldn't make it...for various valid reasons.  On top of that, my brother Paul's family, including his sister-in-law's family, rented a house that was germ infested (probably from the previous renters).  Everyday other members of their families "would drop like flies" with a terrible flu-bug.  So there was often a "skeletal crew" on the beach from that household.

Vacation Blog06
Vacation Blog06

Renner Reunion 2002..."a skeletal crew"

We didn't eat together like the other year.  There was little to no fellowship or community because of struggles going on in individual lives.  My widowed mom, then in her mid-70"s, was staying with us. (Remember her?  My hero in a previous post!)  She was frustrated with issues related to our family house, which was too much for her to handle at that stage of her life!  (We probably had waited too long to move her elsewhere.)  So our conversations were largely negative.  She had to get it off her chest, but with my expectations for a nice relaxed vacation, I was hardly as sympathetic as I could have been.

Not to bore you with too many negative details, let's just say that to me the vacation was a total bust!  And I left LBI mad, mad, mad...and feeling cheated!  For the 11 hour drive home from NJ to OH, I seethed.  I couldn't sleep that night!  And I stayed stuck for days despite dealing with some issues I needed to deal with.   Until...

Until the Lord broke through, "Enough!  It's done!  NOW when you think of this vacation, I want you to focus on the one hour of joyful bliss we had together."

Oh my goodness!  I had forgotten about that because of my absorption with my disappointment!

Bageleddi's at LBI
Bageleddi's at LBI

It was the Wednesday of vacation week.  I woke up at 5:45 am totally awake.  Grabbing a cup of coffee at Bageleddi's (the local favorite), I walked alone to the beach.  It was warm, and the sun had just started to come up but was not yet visible.

sunrise over ocean
sunrise over ocean

The cloud bank above the ocean was turning shades of pink, purple, and blue...and then the sliver of sun started to appear on the horizon. I opened my Bible and read in the Psalms,

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship... God has made a home in the heavens for the sun. It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race. The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Psalm 19:1,4-6

So Jesus and I walked and talked together that glorious morning -- perfect rest in Him, enjoying together the most gorgeous sunrise I had truly ever seen.  And I had forgotten it all!

So whenever negative thoughts about vacation would start to again flood my mind, I remembered this one joyful hour of bliss with my Lord.

As the days went by, something amazing started to happen.

Vacation Blog01
Vacation Blog01

Jeremy, Cortney, Beth, Jan and John @ Mud Hut 2002

Other pleasant memories of our vacation started to surface:  like my early morning walk to the beach only to discover a delightful sight -- my brothers and nephews fishing in the surf; and the fun supper at the Mud Hut with my husband and adult children; and a surprisingly wonderful conversation with an in-law that I didn't typically connect with.

By God's grace, He saved me from a root of bitterness in my heart.  As I began to reflect on what had happened in me, I started to realize what I've come to believe is a spiritual principle:  We become like what we focus on.

I remembered some of my favorite passages of Scripture:

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another... For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Cor 3:18: 4:6 ESV

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Col 3:1-4 NIV

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things... And the God of peace will be with you. Phil 4:8

So here's the question, dear friends:  What are you focusing on right now?

Maybe you need to hear the Lord say (as I did), "Focus on Me and remember joy!"

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

 

Mystery of Christ in Colossians: Focusing Week

Carter in car
Carter in car
Evan in car
Evan in car

I have 4 adorable grandsons!  Two of them live close enough for me to see often. About a month ago, I had 5 year old Evan and 4 year old Carter for the day.  We decided to go visit G-G.  G-G is my 89 year old mother in law who lives at Trinity Retirement Community not too far away.

When we had visited before, I couldn't help but notice how the typically serious and sad looking residents seemed to "come alive!"  So as we were driving over to Trinity, I was preparing the boys to be greeted by many older people longing to, in a sense, "get a piece of them!"

"You boys are so special!  The older people here just love when you come!"  I told them.

"Why, Babci (my Polish name for "G'ma)?

"Because you're little (and not scarey) and loving and fun and friendly.  These people are lonely and sad and afraid."

So sure enough, as Rock Stars Evan and Carter walked in, the place came alive!  Every aged face was glowing and longing for a smile, a touch, a handshake, a hello...

Evan & carter in car
Evan & carter in car

Later as we were driving away after our visit, I said,  "Didn't I tell you?  You boys are so special!"

Younger brother Carter replied, "THAT boy (pointing to older brother Evan) is NOT special!!!"

"Why do you say that?" I ask somewhat taken aback.

"Because he's mean to me!"

Catching my breath, I respond,  "Oh Evan IS still special.  He's just not acting like the special boy that he is!"

And later I thought, what a good metaphor for how we "new creatures in Christ," filled with His fulness, still don't act like the special people we are in Him!

So far in our journey through Colossians, we've basically seen the truths summarized in this big idea:

Because of the mystery of Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ lives His full, divine, resurrection life in and through me, as me.

1.  He livesunited to me in His fulness(chapters 1 & 2).

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. Col 2:9-10 ESV

2.  He lives united to me for myfreedom (especially chapter 2).

In him also you were circumcised ...by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith... And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities...by triumphing over them in him. Col 2:11-15 ESV

And now...this week is Focusing Week (and our final week) in our continuing, restful, summer study in the book of Colossians.  And so this third point...

3.  He lives united to me as myfocus (chapters 3 & 4).

 In the last two chapters in this glorious epistle, Paul starts out...

If [Since...] then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Col 3:1-4 ESV

Look for the key exhortations in Col 3:1-4.  Write them in your journal.  After that, look for the reasons, right in the same four verses.  List them also.

Then look for the metaphor of "clothing," starting in Col 3:5 through Col 4.  Make two columns in your journal titled Lay aside/Put off and Put on. List each of the exhortations in chapters 3 and 4 in one of those two columns.

Because of our indwelling Christ, we can live a holy, God-filled life...a life consistent with the special people we are in Him.  This is not because He "helps us" live it.  Rather He lives it through us as we let Him [faith].

In the next post in this series, we'll look at a principle that I wholeheartedly believe: 

We become like what we focus on!  Colossians 3:1-4

And then in our final post of our study in Colossians, we will explore Paul's metaphor of clothing and the principle of faith [reckoning].  Colossians 3:5ff

Then the Grand Finale :)

Thank you so much for journeying with me through this marvelous treasure of Scripture called the epistle to the Colossians.  We have barely scratched the surface, so keep reading and meditating and praying!

My prayer has been that in the course of these weeks together, our equations may have changed to be closer to that of our Father God:

Our Lord Jesus Christ (His glorious Son) +Nothing (not religion, wealth, pleasure, fame,...)  = Everything...LIFE itself!!!!!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The rest of th gospel
The rest of th gospel

I highly recommend this life-changing book:

The Rest of the Gospel by Dan Stone

It speaks to the issues found in Colossians 3 & 4.

For excerpts of Dan Stone's writings, click here.

Mystery of Christ in Colossians: Caught in the Web

LOOK carefully!  Can you see it?  A perfectly formed circular spider web hanging across a path...suspended by a "thread"!  This is the amazing sight my friend Penny and I happened upon early one morning as we were walking down some little-traveled paths in a wooded area in my neighborhood. Here was one spider who was serious!   She was ready to get a "good catch" that day!

There was a period of my life when I was a "good catch" in a craftily constructed web -- not made by earthly designs but that of the father of lies (John 8:44).

It started out with a series of real, and perhaps imagined, rejections...which then developed into a LIE.  It wouldn't have been so bad if I had recognized it for what it was...but I didn't.  And so I embraced it as truth and struggled for many years.

It caused me much pain, along with fear and confusion!  It influenced my behavior!  And it even started to poison other areas and relationships.

Finally, by the time I recognized it as a LIE, I was so bound up in it, that I couldn't get free.  I prayed!  I cried!  I tried to act against it!  I attempted the mental mind games!  I asked my praying friends to pray!  I asked my husband to pray!  All in vain!  UNTIL last summer...

I was reading & meditating in the little book of Colossians...preparing to teach it for the third time.  (I told you I was a slow learner!) I read,

Since you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God... For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God... Colossians 3:1-3

All of a sudden in that moment, the Spirit of God brought the LIE to my mind, and with it came the realization: "Wait a minute!  I DIED to that LIE!"

That very moment, the power of that LIE was broken in my experience!  Here I had been begging and pleading for the Lord to do something that He had already done through the Cross of Christ.  But I had not recognized it by faith in my particular situation.  Once I did, everything changed :)  I was set free from the fear, confusion, the agonizing emotions that the LIE produced in me.

You may ask me how I know that this is true?  The key is found in the little Scriptural word with.  This little particular word in the Greek has the idea of intimate union--a union that nothing can break. Devotional writers of previous generations called this "the believer's mystical union with Christ" of which marriage is a picture (Ephesians 5:25-32).

One of my favorite Bible teachers Wayne Barber (of Precept Bible Studies fame) illustrates this life union by what he calls "Biscuits for Jesus."  [I'm going to expand his illustration a bit to include all three words Greek words translated "with".]

There are certain ingredients that go into making biscuits:  flour, salt, baking powder, milk, sugar (if you're Polish like me), and shortening (namely butter, if you're Polish like me).  Anyway, as you gather the ingredients and place them next to each other on the kitchen counter, you could say that they are with each other (para, in the Greek), meaning alongside.

Then if you take them and place them in a bowl one by one, you might say that the ingredients are with each other (meta, in the Greek), meaning closely associated with.  At this point, each of the ingredients is separate from each other.  Even in the bowl, you could skillfully separate the ingredients from each other to some extent.

BUT once you mix those ingredients together, roll them out and cut them, place them on the cookie sheet and bake them, there is no way you can separate those ingredients from each other.  There is a mysterious union of ingredients called "biscuits"  :)  That's the Greek word sun, meaning united together with.  And this little word is our word found in Colossians 3 (above) as well as these significant Scriptures (and many more):

I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.... So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:3-11 ESV

So what does this mean?  It means that...

when Christ died, I died! when Christ was buried, I was buried! when Christ was raised, I was raised to newness of life!

And what did I die to?

I died to the world! (Col 2:8; Gal 6:14) I died to the flesh!  (Col 2:11-12; Rom 8:1-10) I died to self (old man)!  (Col 2:12; Gal 2:20; 2Cor 5:17; Rom 6:6-7) I died to sin!   (Col 2:13; Romans 6:1-14; Eph 2:1-7; 2Cor 5:21) I died to the Law ("to do list" religion)!  (Col 2:14; Rom 7:4,6; Gal 3:10,13,24-25) AND I died to the power of Satan, whose main tactics are lies and accusation!  (Col 2:15; Heb 2:14-15; Eph 1:19-21;6:10ff)

So now when that nasty LIE and related accusations and condemnations rear their ugly heads, I just say "Wait a minute!  I died to that!  And I'm alive united with my Lord...adequate in and through Him to be what He has made me to be in this situation." (2Cor 2:15-16; 3:5-6)

What lies, accusations, expectations, condemnations are you struggling with today, O child of God?  You died to those!  And now you live to walk in newness of life because of the One you are united with in His fulness!

So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. Colossians 3:1-4 MESSAGE

The Mystery of Christ in Colossians: C-C-Courage...and so much more

Unknown
Unknown

In this world, you will have trouble,But take courage, I have overcome the world!John 16:33

Who doesn't love the classic movie The Wizard of Oz?  And of all the characters, the Cowardly Lion is a favorite!  Why is that, I wonder?  Could it be that we see ourselves in him -- while putting on a brave front to face life, we find that, in reality, we are scared little "kitties" inside?

I especially love the lion's "courage monologue":

cowardly lion
cowardly lion

COWARDLY LION:  Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage!What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got? DOROTHY, SCARECROW, TINMAN: Courage! COWARDLY LION: You can say that again!

Can you identify?I can...

And that's how I felt with teaching and speaking in front of people.  I was inwardly terrified!  I felt a lot of shame about this, because I wanted to trust God completely.  (I've since found out, though, that speaking in public is one of the top fears among women -- go figure!)  Anyway, this fear was debilitating...often to the point of physical illness.

This was especially true when it came to a big meeting connected to my job with a local Christian school.  I used to be a home school coordinator, and in those early days, I had a very large group of families to help.  At the end of the summer each year, we would meet as a group with all our families -- new and returning.  At that time, we would tell them about ourselves, encourage them, and explain how the program ran.

Well, I dreaded it!  Not because they were a hostile group...in fact the opposite was true!  And they loved me to boot!

DCS homeschool moms 2009
DCS homeschool moms 2009

DCS homeschool moms

So in my mind, this fear was totally illogical and unfounded!  I talked to myself and the Lord about it...but to no avail.  It would ruin my whole summer every year!  UNTIL...

One summer, I was agonizing as usual over the big home school meeting. In the midst of my agony, I thought to myself, "I need courage!"  So I proceeded to beg, plead, pray for courage.  I tried to do my best "courage self-talk".  All to no avail!  I was still a wreck!

In the meantime, that summer I happened to be teaching the little book of Colossians...for the 2nd time (I'm a slow learner!).  As I was preparing to teach the second chapter, the Holy Spirit highlighted two verses to my mind and heart:

For in Him [Christ] the whole fulness of deity [God] dwells bodily, and you have been filled in Him... Colossians 2:9-10 ESV

All of a sudden the realization came crashing through:  Jesus wasn't a wimp! Remember how He stood up to the Pharisees -- not exactly a friendly audience!  Courage is part of the fulness of God in Christ.   And the courageous God Christ lives within me.  He will live His courageous life through me as I trust Him! That's what being filled in Him means.  No more begging, pleading, self-talk, Christian mental mind games!  No more shame & despair!

So I decided to trust the Courageous Christ.  And guess what?  He WAS courageous through me so that I could relax and be my charming :) self--to the glory of God!  And it broke the bondage for me in those situations...now I have normal levels of nervousness.  And I know that every situation is a new opportunity to trust the full Christ within to be who He is in and through me.

So do you need courage today?  The Courageous Christ will be courageous through you as you trust Him. Do you need love today?  The Loving Christ will love through you as you trust Him. Do you need to forgive today?  The Forgiving Christ will forgive through you as you trust Him. Do you need patience today?  The Patient Christ will be patient through you as you trust Him. Do you need _______ today?  (You fill in the blank)  The _________ Christ will be ________ through you as you trust Him.

If you are a child of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the full Christ lives within you.  He is full through you as you trust Him!  It's the devil's lie to get us to think of ourselves as separate from our Lord.  He's not up there, and we're down here, praying He throws down a little courage (or whatever) if we pray correctly!  NO!  We are one with Him...united in a way that nothing in heaven or earth can separate!

I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

So, dear sisters & brothers, look at whatever you are facing today as your opportunity to experience Him in His fulness!  Praise His Holy Name!

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. 2Peter 1:3 ESV

...that you may be filled with all the fulness of God. Eph 3:19b ESV

NEXT TIME: We are set free because of our union with our Savior in His death, burial, and resurrection to new life... See you then!


C-C-C-C-Courage...and So Much More

In this world, you will have trouble,But take courage, I have overcome the world!John 16:33

Who doesn't love the classic movie The Wizard of Oz?  And of all the characters, the Cowardly Lion is a favorite!  Why is that, I wonder?  Could it be that we see ourselves in him -- while putting on a brave front to face life, we find that, in reality, we are scared little "kitties" inside?

I especially love the lion's "courage monologue":

COWARDLY LION:  Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got?

DOROTHY, SCARECROW, TINMAN: Courage!

COWARDLY LION: You can say that again!

Can you identify? I can...

And that's how I felt with teaching and speaking in a front of people.  I was inwardly terrified!  I felt a lot of shame about this, because I wanted to trust God completely.  (I've since found out, though, that speaking in public is one of the top fears among women -- go figure!)  Anyway, this fear was debilitating...often to the point of physical illness.

This was especially true when it came to a big meeting connected to my job with a local Christian school.  I used to be a home school coordinator, and in those early days, I had a very large group of families to help.  At the end of the summer each year, we would meet as a group with all our families -- new and returning.  At that time, we would tell them about ourselves, encourage them, and explain how the program ran.

Well, I dreaded it!  Not because they were a hostile group...in fact the opposite was true!  And they loved me to boot!

DCS homeschool moms 2009
DCS homeschool moms 2009

So in my mind, this fear was totally illogical and unfounded!  I talked to myself and the Lord about it...but to no avail.  It would ruin my whole summer every year!  UNTIL...

One summer, I was agonizing as usual over the big home school meeting. In the midst of my agony, I thought to myself, "I need courage!"  So I proceeded to beg, plead, pray for courage.  I tried to do my best "courage self-talk".  All to no avail!  I was still a wreck!

In the meantime, that summer I happened to be teaching the little book of Colossians...for the 2nd time (I'm a slow learner!).  As I was preparing to teach the second chapter, the Holy Spirit highlighted two verses to my mind and heart:

For in Him [Christ] the whole fulness of deity [God] dwells bodily, and you have been filled in Him... Colossians 2:9-10 ESV

All of a sudden the realization came crashing through:  Jesus wasn't a wimp! Remember how He stood up to the Pharisees -- not exactly a friendly audience!  Courage is part of the fulness of God in Christ.   And the courageous God Christ lives within me.  He will live His courageous life through me as I trust Him! That's what being filled in Him means.  No more begging, pleading, self-talk, Christian mental mind games!  No more shame & despair!

So I decided to trust the Courageous Christ.  And guess what?  He WAS courageous through me so that I could relax and be my charming :) self--to the glory of God!  And it broke the bondage for me in those situations...now I have normal levels of nervousness.  And I know that every situation is a new opportunity to trust the full Christ within to be who He is in and through me.

So do you need courage today?  The Courageous Christ will be courageous through you as you trust Him. Do you need love today?  The Loving Christ will love through you as you trust Him. Do you need to forgive today?  The Forgiving Christ will forgive through you as you trust Him. Do you need patience today?  The Patient Christ will be patient through you as you trust Him. Do you need _______ today?  (You fill in the blank)  The _________ Christ will be ________ through you as you trust Him.

If you are a child of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the full Christ lives within you.  He is full through you as you trust Him!  It's the devil's lie to get us to think of ourselves as separate from our Lord.  He's not up there, and we're down here, praying He throws down a little courage (or whatever) if we pray correctly!  NO!  We are one with Him...united in a way that nothing in heaven or earth can separate!

I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

So, dear sisters & brothers, look at whatever you are facing today as your opportunity to experience Him in His fulness!  Praise His Holy Name!

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. 2Peter 1:3 ESV

...that you may be filled with all the fulness of God. Eph 3:19b ESV