Remember, a rose in every stage of its blossoming, is perfect. So you are to love yourself in every stage of your soul's unfolding.
G. Richard Rieger
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Good morning! How do you get through suffering? Here's a tiny example, one that is quite easy to get through:
You just wince up a bit, and when you feel the prick you know it will be over soon and that later in the day the band-aid will fall off.
Part of the management of suffering is your capacity to slot the experience into the probably time the pain will last and imagine the time coming soon when it will stop.
Kids can't do this, so they howl when they see the syringe. But as we get older and more used to time, we can manage minor sufferings really well.
Listen to this:
18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Paul, and the persecuted Christians in Rome had huge suffering imposed on them, suffering they could have ended by leaving the faith. They dealt with that suffering by remembering that "this present time" isn't going to last. And they had a thrilling understanding of "the glory that is to be revealed."
By "this present time" Paul, following Jesus and agreeing with all the other New Testament writers, refers to the whole dispensation between the arrival of the Messiah and His Second Coming to establish God's Kingdom. They were far clearer than we are about all this, and therefore they had the power to withstand suffering, a power we can scarcely imagine. This understanding of our time is something for us to recover, and to recover through Scripture. We live in the season of harvest, during which there is a great conflict between the rule of this world and the rightful Kingdom of God. One of the great strategies of God's enemy is to completely obscure from our view the nature of the conflict and the great hope God wants us to have in His Kingdom. That hope is not about floating around so disembodied we can't sink through a cloud, each of us separated from one another, singing songs we don't like to a God we still can't see. Who would discount present suffering to get to that?
(Of course, if you're a secular person, you use the suffering of the present time as proof there isn't a personal God at all. When suffering comes there's nothing to do but just take it, until you are annihilated by death. That's why they're so sad, just below their success.)
Scripture actually reveals a great deal about Heaven, but our worldview just filters out all this information God wants us to have. I discover more about heaven on every page of the New Testament. It's a little like the experience of discovering evangelism in there, or the person and work of the Holy Spirit. We're blinded by the ruler of this age from seeing what lies on almost every page. The hope is about a resurrected Jesus coming to His resurrected people on a resurrected earth. A groaning earth will rejoice -- trees clapping their great arms and mountains skipping like rams -- when the sons and daughters of God are revealed at last and begin living the life God speaks into being, treasuring the garden He intends us to love.
Our capacity to endure the sufferings of this current mess is directly related to the clarity of our vision of the world to come. Explains a lot about current whining, doesn't it?
So may God bless you all and be sure we`ll be glad to hear from you.
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Good morning! It's good to be back. We're at table in the most amazing of spiritual restaurants, and today Paul serves us this verse, truly the bread of angels:
17and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Feel bold today? Me too. Come on then and let's believe this huge promise. We are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. There's more to the verse, which we will deal with tomorrow, but for today let's dare to believe the dazzling, hopeful part. If we can grasp this, our days as wet-noodle Christians will be over.
|The average congregation before hearing this verse.|
Much of our Christian life is a struggle just to understand that we have been forgiven, and that the various ways we use self-talk to beat ourselves up aren't necessary any longer. It's not as though there are a few real Christians who glow at night and then there's the lousy little me who's ever-so-barely inching along in my shell down here on the floor with the other slugs. I'm actually forgiven and entitled to live in the Kingdom. The phrase that we're adopted -- a phrase Paul has used so wonderfully in this chapter already -- shows that something far beyond forgiveness has been offered us. We actually belong in the family of God. Our Father has chosen to adopt me. To adopt you. That means I am here in the community of faith, and so are you, based not on a vote by the good people, still less on the qualifications I've managed to put together, but sheerly on the decision of the Father to adopt me. Hallelujah.
But it's even more than that! We are heirs of God. Really. The Bible says so. Heirs of God, and co-heirs with Christ. This is nuts, it's so extravagant. What in the world does it mean? Obviously God isn't going to die, so we get this inheritance a little differently than the world does this inheriting business.
Most of the commentators make a point I'm happy to make here. Paul was writing to a congregation that was a mix of Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus, but since they were in Rome, the secular law that the group would have been familiar with was Roman law, which differed from the Old Testament on the issue of family inheritance. In Israel the rule was that the oldest son inherited the largest share. In Rome, absent a will, the family assets were divided equally among all the children. Paul is saying that in Christ, this is the rule that prevails -- everyone is an heir. You too. Being adopted in is full entitlement to the family's richness.
But see that this is way beyond a financial thing. It's being a participant in the actual nature of the family itself, the atmosphere, the relational energy, the love, that is in God's most intimate family. A great verse to catch this is 2 Peter 1:4
. . . He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature,
"Partaker of the divine nature." That's the state you are in. On every baptized believer in Jesus, the license heaven sees has your state on it: "partaker of the divine nature." Head high, now. All day.
-- Jan Dadák phone #: +420 530 334 630 Cell # : +420 731 576 030 U:Fon #: +420 910 040 375 www.honzadadak.ic.cz
The more I think about the nature of the truth, the more I become convinced that it is not a «thing» which can be put in a tidy box of a certain formula. We already said that the truth is that which is real. But reality is not fixed: it is transient and fluid. The only constant in our world is change. We are slow to recognize this fact only because of our limited perception.
For instance, changes at the cosmic level are too slow, and changes at subatomic levels are too fast for us to detect them. Only the development of science in recent centuries gave us some glimpses of this universal fluidity. So, the truth we seek is not something fixed as well. Although we talk about the universal laws which we study and apply, it is essential to recognize that these laws aren’t final truths, but only approximations. We always discover more inclusive laws and new dimensions of the same reality.
To know the truth, therefore, is not to arrive at some point and to «abide» there. Knowledge of the truth is a never-ending quest. In the process of this search, we cannot afford ourselves to be complacent or dogmatic. As Rabbi Tzvi Freeman wisely said,
You don’t learn by having faith. You learn by questioning, by challenging, by re-examining everything you’ve ever believed. And yet, all this is a matter of faith – the faith that there is a truth to be found. It is another paradox: To truly question, you must truly have faith.
This is a scientific approach to reality. To practice it, we don’t actually have to become scientists. We don’t even need to have a lot of formal education. Education is helpful in many ways, but to some people it brings confusions rather than clarity. Instead of becoming searchers, these individuals turn into collectors of facts and opinions of others, or dogmatic believers in some scientific theory. But dogmatic science is just as misleading as a dogmatic religion.
As we seek, we will find. As we continue to seek, we will continue to find. That is about the most important thing we need to have in our minds. No one will ever know our inner world and the truth which concerns our life, save ourselves. All we need to realize will be readily revealed to us directly, no matter what language we may adopt to describe these revelations.
As we study our inner processes, let us not to label and not to suppress them. Let us not try to change certain things before we understand their meaning and purpose. This might be different from what we were taught to do: to call things either “good” or “bad”, and then to eradicate that which is “bad”. However, this is not what a scientific approach is about.
When we struggle and fight against some thing, it makes us naturally biased. It becomes almost impossible for is to be objective and to know the truth of that thing, especially if it isn’t evident.
Let us become quiet, watchful, and observant. Let us try to understand what causes us to think and to respond in certain ways. Why do we react the way we react? Why do we think there is only one way to respond to certain stimulus, such as to be offended when we hear unkind words, to rejoice when someone compliments us, to be confused when we encounter something unknown, and to be afraid when something seem to overpower us?
Even if we are accustomed to some course of action, that doesn’t mean that a habitual reaction is the only possible one. That doesn’t mean that it is predetermined. As we become observant, we will notice that there is always a point when we make a decision. We are not angry or joyful or fearful because we have to, but because we choose to be that way. And when we fully understand this, we are highly likely to make alternative choices – because we would not want to feel victims of circumstances. We will move on to true self-mastery and freedom.
I think of the things which are pure, noble, and worthy of love.
Realization of the truth of my being sets me free, in my mind and in all of my affairs.
The whole world responds to mental pictures which I hold in my consciousness.
Thought by thought, I change my life.
We continue with the great verse from Romans about being filled with the Holy Spirit:
16The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
This is a big experience Paul is describing here, so let me list a few of the ways people have reported it.
Thomas Aquinas, the greatest of medieval Christian teachers, had published huge works reasoning from both nature and Scriptures to refute the aggressive Islam of his day and to help sceptical Westerners to believe. And then one day the abstract philosophical writings stopped and he began publishing love songs about God and about the Lord Jesus, lyrics we still sing at communion. When his friends asked him why the big change (it was when he was still at the height of his powers) Thomas said, "I have seen things that have made all my previous writings seem like so much straw."
One day D. L. Moody was preaching and then greeting the people as they left the service. Three elderly women shook his hand and brightly told him they would be praying for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He was a talented and committed guy, so this annoyed him for several days. He realized that something was missing however, partly because he got so annoyed. So he went and asked them to keep praying. About a month later he was walking down Wall Street when suddenly the love of God for him became so overwhelming that eventually he had to ask God to stop because he felt he was going to fall flat on the street if God kept loving him so.
As she lay dying, Mrs. Hugh Bryan (we don't know her first name) a person converted by Whitfield, called out, "I see HIm! I see Him! Now I see light!" Then later she called out, "I have seen things that would not be believed if told. Who would die without Christ?"
In fact these testimonies of the visit of the Holy Spirit assuring our own hearts that God loves us as His children fill volumes and keep being shared today. Each visit is a gift and is different. This experience can happen again and again to the same person, but there's no formula for it. Last night I was called to the hospital where a fabulous elderly woman was lying. Her knee had been replaced and wasn't healing well, her dog had died, her cat had died, and she had just broken her arm. She was in such pain she spoke of wanting to go to the Lord. Others had scolded her for wanting to give up and die. I just looked at her and let our eyes gaze easily into each other and said I understood. And then I told her how good it was that she had her hope of being with the Lord. And joy filled us both, and the Holy Spirit assured her that she was the daughter of God and would always be well.
People who experience the visitation of the Holy Spirit don't stay on some high. But they remember the moments when He comes with such tenderness and power. The first time this happened to me I was in a seminary chapel, listening to a sermon I didn't espeically like. My father had died a few years earlier and I had been pondering that a lot with the help of a counsellor. The death had happened when I was 16 and most of the grief had gone unexpressed for about 10 years. The preacher mentioned something about fathers, and suddenly I became just flooded with an awareness of the Father's care and love for me. I've remembered that moment ever since, and I know that it was the reason God called me to the whole seminary experience -- because He had something He wanted to tell me and that is what it took for me to hear Him.
Jesus urges us to ask and seek and knock until God gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit. I think this is why. When the Spirit testifies to us, then our being is warmed by His love, just as the skin on our arm is warmed by the sun coming through the window. He spent His whole life moving with freedom and grace because He was fully opened to Abba Father, and He wants for our hearts to know the same love. So ask and seek and knock, as I still do these thirty five years later.
-- Jan Dadák Tel: +420 530 334 630 Mobil: +420 731 576 030 web: www.jandadak.com
According to Jewish tradition, Abraham was born under the name Abram in the city of Ur in Babylonia in the year 1948 from Creation (circa 1800 BCE). He was the son of Terach, an idol merchant, but from his early childhood, he questioned the faith of his father and sought the truth. He came to believe that the entire universe was the work of a single Creator, and he began to teach this belief to others.
Abram tried to convince his father, Terach, of the folly of idol worship. One day, when Abram was left alone to mind the store, he took a hammer and smashed all of the idols except the largest one. He placed the hammer in the hand of the largest idol. When his father returned and asked what happened, Abram said, "The idols got into a fight, and the big one smashed all the other ones." His father said, "Don't be ridiculous. These idols have no life or power. They can't do anything." Abram replied, "Then why do you worship them?"
Eventually, the one true Creator that Abram had worshipped called to him, and made him an offer: if Abram would leave his home and his family, then G-d would make him a great nation and bless him. Abram accepted this offer, and the b'rit (covenant) between G-d and the Jewish people was established. (Gen. 12).
The idea of b'rit is fundamental to traditional Judaism: we have a covenant, a contract, with G-d, which involves rights and obligations on both sides. We have certain obligations to G-d, and G-d has certain obligations to us. The terms of this b'rit became more explicit over time, until the time of the Giving of the Torah. Abram was subjected to ten tests of faith to prove his worthiness for this covenant. Leaving his home is one of these trials.
Abram, raised as a city-dweller, adopted a nomadic lifestyle, traveling through what is now the land of Israel for many years. G-d promised this land to Abram's descendants. Abram is referred to as a Hebrew (Ivri), possibly because he was descended from Eber or possibly because he came from the "other side" (eber) of the Euphrates River.
But Abram was concerned, because he had no children and he was growing old. Abram's beloved wife, Sarai, knew that she was past child-bearing years, so she offered her maidservant, Hagar, as a wife to Abram. This was a common practice in the region at the time. According to tradition, Hagar was a daughter of Pharaoh, given to Abram during his travels in Egypt. She bore Abram a son, Ishmael, who, according to both Muslim and Jewish tradition, is the ancestor of the Arabs. (Gen 16)
When Abram was 100 and Sarai 90, G-d promised Abram a son by Sarai. G-d changed Abram's name to Abraham (father of many), and Sarai's to Sarah (from "my princess" to "princess"). Sarah bore Abraham a son, Isaac (in Hebrew, Yitzchak), a name derived from the word "laughter," expressing Abraham's joy at having a son in his old age. (Gen 17-18). Isaac was the ancestor of the Jewish people.
[Abraham died at the age of 175.]
-- Jan Dadák Tel: +420 530 334 630 Mobil: +420 731 576 030 web: www.jandadak.com
There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer; no disease that enough love will not heal; no door that enough love will not open; no gulf that enough love will not bridge; no wall that enough love will not throw down, no sin that enough love will not redeem.
-- Jan Dadák Tel: +420 530 334 630 Mobil: +420 731 576 030 web: www.jandadak.com
To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endless.
Henri L. Bergson