Chapter-6.5   Eight Irresistible Characteristics Of God

 
Because of The Cross He is Very Sympathetic
(The Concentration of Becoming)
 
Contrary to the beliefs of some of our extreme friends, as hard as I might concentrate on it, I cannot become a Bluejay or a Woodpecker. And even if I could, I’m not so sure which one I would want to be *1*.   🙂
 
During our childhood years, we typically try to experience a variety of identities as we play the parts of our favorite heroes.
 
This mystical urning in all of us is one of the core elements of destiny, but for many, it never transitions from our field of dreams to reality.  Let’s face it, the seeds of inspiration that are sown in the hearts of thousands of young boys (girls?) just starting on little league fields across our nation this Spring, will reap a very small harvest of major league rookies thirteen to fourteen years from now. But clearly not everyone who has had the desire (or work ethic) becomes a professional baseball player.
 
Obviously, there are many factors that contribute to achieving our goals and having success. And many great writers and speakers have weighed in on this topic. A favorite motivational speech (of mine) is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s short speech “Success & Changing the World!” – available here:
 
The Bible weighs in on this topic as well. God promises Joshua ‘success’ if he will meditate upon the Word of God (as given in the Torah – the first 5 books of the Bible, recorded by Moses – (the only books of the Bible that existed at the time). I believe these promises of success are certainly available to us all, today. *2*
 
My first conclusion in all of this is that true Biblical success is the alignment of our desires with God’s plan for our lives, and pursuing that vision (not just any dream that suits our fancy).
 
But, there is a very unique distinction between reaching for a goal and attaining ‘hero’ status – like hitting the game winning homer, or sinking the 3-point buzzer beater to win the game! One is sought, the other is confirred.
 
Obviously, there are different types of ‘heros’ as well. I hardly think Arland D. Williams Jr. spent his youth fantasizing about how, to his own peril, he would repeatedly pass (to others in need), the lifeline that was dropped to him in the ice cold waters of the Potomac River that ill-fated morning of January 13, 1982, (when Air Florida flight 90 struck the 14th street bridge and plunged into the freezing river). When the others clinging to the tail section had been helped and saved by his heroism, and they circled back to rescue him, he had succumbed to the chilling waters, and could not be found. *3*
 
There are a lot of people in this world (I think), who in a moment of crisis would make the decision to place themselves in harm’s way for the benefit of others. But in reality, I don’t think any of us know what we would do, until the instant such a decision is called for. Certainly Peter thought he knew, but he really didn’t. *4*
 
In every sense of the word, Jesus was a hero. So if heroes typically emerge on impulse, (in the twinkling of an eye – throwing themselves at harm, for the benefit of others, in a moment of inspiration), how was Jesus able to go to the cross in our place, and experience such horrific treatment, having that knowledge from a very early age, and progressively move in that direction?
 
I believe he was able to walk his journey through intense ‘concentration of becoming’. For starters, he is the only preacher that has ever lived who practiced 100% of what he preached! (1) So the first element of concentration was on his Father. Jesus sought the will of his Father in everything he did. The second element of concentration (2) was to live in the day at hand. When Jesus said, “Take no thought for tomorrow…” I believe he gives us a glimpse of how he made his epic journey. He did not spend his time thinking about how it would feel when he would be whipped by the Roman Soldiers — “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”. I believe that Jesus (as the ‘lamb sleign from the foundation of the world’) knew he would die a sacrificial death – the worst part of it being the separation from the Father that he would have to experience on our behalf. *5*
 
The third element of concentration (3) was to place himself where he needed to be, so that the Father could bring upon him what the Father alone could do! While Jesus indicates on more than one occasion that he would die on a cross, the Scriptures never quote him as saying he needed to go “to the Cross”, – rather it repeatedly quotes him as saying, “I must go to Jerusalem!”. Jesus concentrated on getting himself to Jerusalem where sinners would nail him to the cross (according to the Father’s will).
 
The fourth element of concentration (4) was through focused endurance, to allow the cross to do its thing, while at the same time, allowing the Father to do his thing! We have all thought for the most part that the temptations from the devil took place in the wilderness. Actually, the most challenging temptations took place on the cross! In the wilderness the devil said, “If you are the Son of God, change this stone into bread.” Or, “Jump from this tower!” *6*. On the cross, the worst temptations came through his taunters, through whom the devil said, “If you are the Son of God, come down from this cross, save yourself and save us!” *7*. Same old voice, same old hook in the temptation – an affront to the very IDENTITY of Jesus – an attempt to get him to prove who he was and thus thwart his very mission – to become our SIN! But, thank God, through his “Concentration On Becoming”, Jesus was able to endure these temptations and fulfill the verse: 2 Corinthians 5:21 which says, “God made him who had no sin to be [King James Version says ‘to become‘] sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” *8*
 
So, what must we do to “become the righteousness of God”?
 
There are two phases to becoming the righteousness of God. The first is the ‘salvation’ phase, or ‘coming to faith’ phase. This is what happens when God applies the atoning blood of Christ to us, based on our request – this is ‘redemption’. This is the infusion of the the very life of Christ into our beings – we are saved! At this point, God has credited to our accounts, the righteousness of Christ and has canceled forever the debt of our sins!
 
The second, the ‘sanctification’ phase, is where we are called to ‘work out our salvation (that righteousness) with fear and trembling’. It is in this phase that we are challenged to overcome the habitual sins in our lives, and the compelling circumstances that not only cripple our dreams, but lure us away from the Father’s ultimate, individual and very personal plans for our lives.
 
This latter aspect is what I believe the Bible is referring to when it says ‘…that we might become the righteousness of God’. Here, out of grateful hearts, we begin to allow that righteousness to shape the things we do! And we must be careful to remember that according to the beloved 23rd Psalm, the good Shepherd leads us in the path of ‘righteousness’. (Not the path of ‘prosperity’, the path of ‘faithfulness’, or the path of ‘inspiration’) – although these attributes all come to us when we walk the path of righteousness.
 
So how do we bring this home?
 
I believe we respond to this ROYAL invitation by adopting the same “Concentration Of Becoming” that Jesus maintained.(1) we are told that we should be “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer 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.” *9*
 
We too are told (2) to live in the day at hand. Matthew 6:34 NIV says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” *10*
 
We need to (3) position ourselves so that God can do in our lives all he wants to do. This includes reading the Bible, praying, going to church, etc., etc. Romans 10:17 NIV says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” *11*
 
Finally, in our own lives, (4) through focused endurance, we must allow the cross to do its thing, while at the same time, allowing the Father to do his thing! Christ’s cross becomes a segue through which I realize my ultimate desires cannot be satisfied in this world, I am created with an eternal purpose that constantly calls me toward heaven. And as this saving and powerful realization starts to transform my soul, I am ready for the mind blowing realization that the Father has already DONE HIS THING – he has already “…seated me (us) in the heavenly realms – in Christ Jesus!” *12*. Please reread this paragraph realizing it applies to you every bit as much as it applies to me!
 
Niagara Falls has a powerful downward force. A piece of driftwood, bobbing along the river above the falls, is about to get thrust downward! The Resurrection power of God is a much more powerful river that flows in a heavenly direction! It thrusts us upward towed heaven! All I have to do in this mighty heavenly thrust, is learn to relax my grip on the things of this world that so strongly vie for the affections of my heart, and I am immediately translated to that place where I am (already) seated in the heavenly realms in Christ! So begin to visualize yourself as a person saved by God’s amazing love and grace who is continually being thrust toward your home in heaven (where you are already “seated in Christ!)”
 
Galatians 2:20 NIV says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” *13*
 
Ephesians 1:19-20 NIV
[19] and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength [20] he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, *14*
 
Ephesians 2:6 NIV
[6] And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, *12a*  (Please notice this is in the PAST TENSE – it has already been accomplished – we simply need to enter into this reality).
 
WOW! THANK YOU JESUS!
 
The Bible ascribes a level of compassion to Christ, because he was tempted in every way just like us, yet he remained without sin. Thus, being fully human and tasting temptation, he experienced all of the trials and struggles we people face — OUR loneliness, OUR pain, even OUR rejection.  However, I think his level of compassion for us was enhanced by his experience on the cross of “becoming our sin.”   In that state, he tasted OUR individual and personal bitterness and the hatred and resentment WE have sometimes felt toward God, and all of the sins we have pursued to fill the empty holes in our hearts – without he himself ever having personally committing those sins. And through this experience, he truly is the perfect high priest for us – he knows first hand how we as individuals have personally felt and sometimes do feel because he became it!  (But please remember, in becoming our ‘sin’ he was completely cut off from his Father who refuses to ultimately have any association with ‘SIN’!  Please consider Jerry Bridges’ statement on page 33 of his book, The Pursuit of Holiness, “In the deceitfulness of our hearts, we sometimes play with temptation by entertaining the thought that we can always confess and later ask forgiveness.  Such thinking is exceedingly dangerous.  God’s judgment is without partiality.  He never decides not to bother, since the sin is only a small one.  No, God hates sin intensely whenever and wherever He finds it.”  *12b*
 
I believe and am learning that these keys discussed here in the “Concentration Of Becoming”, in our case, “becoming his righteousness”, are the very keys to enduring and overcoming the temptations we face in our daily lives. And thus we become those who have ‘OVERCOME’ as discussed in Revelation chapters 2-3. Great rewards await us for our striving! *13*
 
He knows me and the compelling power of my sin, that like the Apostle Paul, I may know him, and the GREATER power of his Resurrection — thus fulfilling my eternal purpose that continually calls to me toward heaven!  *15*  
 
Thus, every day becomes for us, a Very Happy Easter! Praise His Name Forever!
 
So, America, where are you? Have you tasted His Resurrection Power that can lift you out of your sins?
 
 
 
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REFERENCES AND NOTES:
 
*1*. This is just me poking some light humor at theologians who profess ‘Name It And Claim It’ theology which obviously isn’t always true and the ‘Positive Thinker’ proponents in the world who claim that people can become anything they want to be. I rather believe: “…that true Biblical success is the alignment of our desires with God’s plan for our lives, and pursuing that vision (not just any dream that suits our fancy).” (6th paragraph above). Now that said, Jesus made it abundantly clear that FAITH is a very powerful element to moving mountains, being healed, and overcoming all kinds of obstacles. So that said, if I were to fail, I would rather fail attempting great ventures in FAITH (and miss the mark), than sit on a mustard seed of faith and attempt nothing for fear of failure. Let’s acknowledge the truth – when Jesus walked this earth, he repeatedly rewarded radical faith IN HIM!
 
*2*. Joshua 1:7-8 NIV:
[7] “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. [8] Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” / New International Version / Zondervan / Distributed through Tecarta Bible Study App / Tecarta, Inc. / ©️2019 Tecarta, Inc.
 
*3*. The Hidden Cost Of Heroism / NBC News / by Christopher McDougall / updated 11-26-2007 /http://www.nbcnews.com/id/21902983/ns/health-behavior/t/hidden-cost-heroism/
 
*4*. Luke 22:33-34 NIV:
[33] But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death .” [34] Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” / New International Version / Zondervan / Distributed through Tecarta Bible Study App / Tecarta, Inc. / ©️2019 Tecarta, Inc.
 
*5*. Point made in recent Lenten Sermon by Pastor Michael Carr, First United Methodist Church, Mount Holly, NC.
 
*6*. The Temptations In The Wilderness / Matthew 4:1-11 / New International Version / Zondervan / Distributed through Tecarta Bible Study App / Tecarta, Inc. / ©️2019 Tecarta, Inc.
 
*7*. The Temptations On The Cross / Luke 23:35 NIV: “The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One .” / New International Version / Zondervan / Distributed through Tecarta Bible Study App / Tecarta, Inc. / ©️2019 Tecarta, Inc.
 
*8*. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV / New International Version / Zondervan / Distributed through Tecarta Bible Study App / Tecarta, Inc. / ©️2019 Tecarta, Inc.
 
*9*. Hebrews 12:2 NIV / New International Version / Zondervan / Distributed through Tecarta Bible Study App / Tecarta, Inc. / ©️2019 Tecarta, Inc.
 
*10*. Matthew 6:34 NIV / New International Version / Zondervan / Distributed through Tecarta Bible Study App / Tecarta, Inc. / ©️2019 Tecarta, Inc.
 
*11*. Romans 10:17 NIV / New International Version / Zondervan / Distributed through Tecarta Bible Study App / Tecarta, Inc. / ©️2019 Tecarta, Inc.
 
*12a*. Ephesians 2:6 NIV / New International Version / Zondervan / Distributed through Tecarta Bible Study App / Tecarta, Inc. / ©️2019 Tecarta, Inc.
 
*12b*. Jerry Bridges / The Pursuit of Holiness / Navpress, A Ministry of The Navigators, PO Box 20, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80901 / ©️1978 The Navigators / Published 1979 / Page 33
 
*13*. The following verses from Revelation Chapters 2-3 are quoted from / New International Version / Zondervan / Distributed through Tecarta Bible Study App / Tecarta, Inc. / ©️2019 Tecarta, Inc:
 
*13-1*. Revelation 2:7 NIV (Ephesus):
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
 
*13-2*. Revelation 2:11 NIV (Smyrna):
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.”
 
*13-3*. Revelation 2:17 NIV (Pergamum):
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”
 
*13-4*. Revelation 2:26-29 NIV (Thyatira):
“[26] To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— [27] that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’ —just as I have received authority from my Father. [28] I will also give that one the morning star. [29] Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
 
*13-5*. Revelation 3:4-6 NIV (Sardis):
[4] Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. [5] The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. [6] Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
 
*13-6*. Revelation 3:11-13 NIV (Philadelphia):
“[11] I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. [12] The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. [13] Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
 
*13-7*. Revelation 3:18-22 NIV (Laodicea):
“[18] I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. [19] Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. [20] Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. [21] To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. [22] Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
 
*14*. Ephesians 1:19-20 NIV / New International Version / Zondervan / Distributed through Tecarta Bible Study App / Tecarta, Inc. / ©️2019 Tecarta, Inc.
 
*15*. Philippians 3:10:
“I want to know Christ — yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…”  / New International Version / Zondervan / Distributed through Tecarta Bible Study App / Tecarta, Inc. / ©️2019 Tecarta, Inc.
 
 
 
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–©️2019, Dale Petersen, all rights reserved. Published for Non-profit by Pleasepraywithus.info