Saturday, May 26, 2018

Home Church Video: Staking Our Claim on Freedom in Christ ~ Part 15B ~ The Valley of Freedom ~ Step Two: Comfort in Mourning

After our first look at Jesus words, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,”[1] I realized that the “comforted” part of the promise seems somewhat rare for many who profess faith in Jesus Christ. This is partially due to the fact that the “blessed are those who mourn” part is often resisted by church-going folk for the simple reason that it doesn’t sound promising enough to entertain.

In this home church video, we emphasize the comfort side of God’s promise in order to encourage us to open up our inner selves to the blessing of our freedom in Christ. As we have been doing for a while, we consider what comfort looks like when we try to keep our mourning limited to the external aspects of our lives, and how the comfort radically increases as we are willing to face the deepest truths of our soul-condition.

In a world that is doing its utmost to destroy hope at every turn, join our home church in exploring how facing ourselves honestly, including mourning anything that is wrong, will lead us into the deepest comforts we could ever experience this side of heaven.

We ended up having such a good time of fellowship around this truth of God’s word that this video gives a bit of a taste of the interactions we sometimes enjoy in our sharing of the word. Yes, there are real live people in the room when I am teaching from God’s word (just in case you were wondering), and sometimes they get quite lively in applying God’s words to their lives.

We trust and pray that God will enliven your heart with hope as you face anything in your life that may require the kind of mourning that leads to comfort in Jesus Christ.

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Matthew 5:4

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Boys and Girls of Being Human

Removing the wonderful distinctions of boys being boys and girls being girls just because some people struggle with gender dysphoria is like removing all references to the joyful, hopeful and beautiful experiences of life just because some people struggle with depression.[1]

In relating to someone with depression, we have every reason to hold before them what joy-filled lives they could experience if the root and cause of their worthlessness and hopelessness were met by the healing and liberating power of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the same way, we need to make such a big deal about maleness and femaleness that everyone who struggles with any confusion about anything to do with being human can hear of the God-designed measure that tells us who we are as humans, and in our distinctiveness as boys and girls.

At the same time, we need to make such a big deal about the God-man, Jesus the Christ, who will heal every nuance of confusion over what it means to be human and restore everyone who comes to him to his own image and likeness. And, yes, this includes what he originally meant by creating humanity in both the male and female version.

There is not one sin, or one expression of sinful brokenness, that Jesus will leave the way it is when he himself is the measure of what it means for us to be created in his own image and likeness.[2]

Yes, sin has corrupted everything in order to steal, kill and destroy what Jesus made so good.[3] However, sin has been defeated in the redemptive saving work of our Savior, and now the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ will be applied to whatever sin has ruined in our lives so that, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”[4]

The darker the world becomes, the more brightly the light of our Savior shines through his people.[5] The more confused people become about what it means to be human, the more gloriously the clarity of God’s will and his rescue-mission stand out as the beacon of hope to all who call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.[6]

The world, the flesh, and the devil, all want us to think that what it means to be human is so confusing that no one should be allowed to speak with any certainty at all about who we are. This is only because they despise God for making a creature like himself through whom he reveals his glory to all the world.

Thankfully, God our Creator doesn’t see it that way because the way he sees it is not only his view on the matter, but is the supreme and glorious reality of our creation by the Lord Jesus Christ, and our restoration to his will in the redemptive work of our Savior.

In other words, because God, “chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him,”[7] he will accomplish what he set out to do. The wonderful fact of life for every child of God is that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”[8]

What will that “completion” look like for those who are presently “being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another”?[9] That, “when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”[10]

No matter how hopelessly we may struggle with any confusion or brokenness about who we are as a human being created in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ, the issue is not what seems impossible to us, but what has been determined by God.[11] He has made clear that he has determined before the beginning of time to make all his people fully like his Son, and that is exactly what he will do.

Today, reach out to Jesus Christ for your salvation, deliverance, freedom and transformation. He will show you each day what he is doing to work all things “together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose,” and how he has predetermined that every one of his children would be “conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”[12]

God is not confused about who we are as human beings, or what it means to be male and female as he designed us in the first place. Neither is he confused about how to save us out of our sin and restore us to the image and likeness of his Son.

As Jesus’ sheep hear his voice above all the confusion,[13] his peace about everything he is doing will permeate our lives as we accept that he has this all figured out, and our place is to trust him to handle whatever it takes to get where we are going.

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”[14]

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Yes, the hopelessness some people describe relating to their depression is just as real to them as the hopelessness other people describe relating to their gender dysphoria.
[2] Genesis 1:26-27; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17
[3] John 10:10
[4] Romans 8:37
[5] Matthew 5:14. Jesus clearly refers to his church as the light of the world. This was a prelude to everything he taught about ourselves as the branches through which he expresses his life as the vine, and us as his body through which he expresses himself as our head. We simply need to understand that, because we are in his image, he wants to express himself through us as the Father expresses himself through Jesus.
[6] Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13
[7] Ephesians 1:4
[8] Philippians 1:6
[9] II Corinthians 3:18
[10] I John 3:2
[11] Luke 18:27
[12] Romans 8:28-29, including Romans 8:30 as the glorious process by which he will do this.
[13] John 10:27
[14] I Thessalonians 5:24

Monday, May 21, 2018

A New Word (and Hope) For My Inner Self

I keep telling our home church that our growing up in Jesus requires us to look for God’s work in our inner selves.[1] God is seeking our attachment to him in love-relationship that fellowships with him from the deepest parts of our lives.

When we make this our encouragement, we have to be ready for God to shine his light into hidden places where we have buried sins, hurts, disappointments, regrets, traumatic experiences, and anything else we didn’t know how to handle at the time they occurred.

One of my favourite expressions in this regard is to look at it as God confronting us with ways we do not yet know him in order that we would ask him to satisfy our longing to know him in those ways.[2] Painful life-experiences typically shape our inner selves with wrong beliefs about who we are to God, and so God will lift the cover on our hurts to show us what is going on in relation to him.

This morning I came across a word in Father’s Book that I had never applied to myself (I mean, as best someone my age can remember, or to the extent to which it impacted me today!). This was the expression: “he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.”[3]

The word that stood out was “overwhelmed”. God was concerned that one of his children was in danger of becoming overwhelmed by excessive sorrow, and he was speaking to his family about how to rescue the situation.

It suddenly hit me that I did not know God as a Father who cared that his children could get overwhelmed.  

In a way, I didn’t even know that this was an issue with my inner self until it stood out to me. To see that God was concerned that someone in the church could become overwhelmed shone into a heart that had never recognized the touch of a Father caring about a child feeling that way.

There was an immediate expression of both sorrow and comfort in the promised blessing of, “blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”[4] The fact that I had been numb to God’s concern for my seasons of overwhelm means that I have missed out on the comfort I would have felt in so many experiences if I simply knew that my Father was concerned for me in this way.

I’m not sure all the differences this will make to the rest of my life (assuming I am a good student and will constantly apply this gift of grace to my relationship with God).

However, the way it touches me right now is as a little child who has just had my attachment-light turn on to something about God I have never attached to before. Now I feel in my innermost self a longing to find out what it is like to cry out to God in my overwhelm with the certainty that he already sees it, he already cares about me in the midst of it, and there is some way he is working both the overwhelm, and my seeking of him, for much greater good than my overwhelmed little heart can imagine.

For the moment, I am simply going to bask in the light of this wonderful truth, that my Father cares when I am overwhelmed. Perhaps he is preparing me for something that will require me knowing him in this way.

However, perhaps he is simply speaking to a wound within my soul that needs to be healed with the soothing ointment of his Fatherly love touching something within me I didn’t even know was there.

It is sad that little children become so used to life without something they need because they have no capacity to imagine that there are better things than what they have known.

It is such a comfortingly joyful discovery to find that Father-God has cared about our hidden needs before we even knew they were there, and gently leads us to know him better on a daily basis so that our orphan-minded little hearts constantly find new treasures of our adoption as his sons.

I am thankful for Father’s gift of grace to me today. Have you received yours?

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] In II Corinthians 4:16, Paul differentiates between the outer self and the inner self. In Ephesians 3:16 he teaches what he prays for believers in relation to the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our inner beings (context is Paul’s prayer of Ephesians 3:14-21).
[2] The first four Beatitudes of Matthew 5:3-6 definitely show the progression from facing our poverty of spirit, mourning anything wrong with us (including what we lack in relationship to God), meekly accepting we are not the ones to fix ourselves, and so hungering and thirsting after the righteousness of God and his work in our lives. The fact that Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount in this way gives us ample encouragement to watch for how God exposes the poverty of something inside us in order to lead us to hunger for the fullest and richest experience of knowing him that is possible this side of heaven.
[3] II Corinthians 2:7 (context of II Corinthians 2:5-11).
[4] Matthew 5:4

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Home Church Video: Staking Our Claim on Freedom in Christ ~ Part 15A ~ The Valley of Freedom ~ Step Two: Mourning

Many people miss out on the benefits of good health because they are not willing to eat healthily or get out and exercise.

In a similar way, many of God’s children miss out on the blessings of their Father’s comfort because they are not willing to mourn the things that are wrong with them. They do not want to let go of bad mind-habits, like setting their minds on the sark/flesh.[1] Neither do they welcome the humbling experience of attachment to God in the fellowship of his Holy Spirit.[2]

In this home church video, we explore the first part of Jesus’ expression: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”[3] Our aim is to fully embrace whatever mourning we need to do in our inner selves in order to prepare the way to experience the comfort that is supremely found in God our Savior.

No matter what the Beatitudinal Journey brings up in your life, whether it be sins to confess, wounds to heal, sarky dependencies to crucify, or simply an emptiness in your inner self that does not know how to attach to your Father in heaven, join our home church in considering how mourning is a blessing because it opens our hearts to comfort as no denial of what is wrong with us could ever do.

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Paul makes clear why dependence on the sark/flesh is so hopeless in Romans 7.
[2] Our experience of the Holy Spirit is wonderfully described in Romans 8.
[3] Matthew 5:4

Friday, May 11, 2018

Home Church Video: Staking Our Claim on Freedom in Christ ~ Part 14 ~ “The Valley of Freedom: Step One ~ Facing Our Poverty”

Okay, so my titles are getting ridiculously long, but I hope that just makes it all seem endearing instead of troublesome!

Oh well, on with the show, as they say.

One reason many people fail to attach to the work of God is that they assume anything he does would be in an upward direction. Makes sense. We’re growing “up”, right?

Except that, when Jesus gave us the Beatitudes at the beginning of his Sermon on the Mount,[1] he began in a downward direction. Not downward in the sense of becoming less mature, but in the sense of humbling ourselves to see how immature we really are. Or how broken, or messed-up, or sinful, or spiritually bankrupt we are in relation to God.

There is a very clear picture in God’s word that we must, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”[2] This means that we can expect God’s work in our lives to begin with humbling ourselves in some area in order that he can do a work that lifts us up.

This is true in our salvation where we must humble ourselves in repentance and faith so God can exalt us into the adoption of sons[3] in which we are seated with Christ in the heavenly realm.[4] However, it is also true in our freedom where we must humble ourselves regarding who is in charge of our lives, and open our hearts to what God promises to do for us according to his good pleasure.

In this home church video, we consider how Jesus’ gracious declaration, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,”[5] invites us to experience the full freedoms of the kingdom through knowing our own poverty of spirit. The proud in spirit who cannot face anything that is wrong with them miss out. The poor in spirit who readily admit what is still not like Jesus, humble themselves under the mighty hand of God and experience his gracious work to daily transform them into the same image as their Savior from one degree of glory to another.[6]

Join us for a humbling consideration of our need for God that is saturated with blessing because it causes us to call on the name of the Lord and be delivered.[7]

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Matthew 5-7 is the Sermon on the Mount, with Matthew 5:1-12 the Beatitudes.
[2] James 4:10; I Peter 5:6
[3] Romans 8:15,23; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5
[4] Ephesians 2:6 (context: Ephesians 2:1-10)
[5] Matthew 5:3
[6] II Corinthians 3:18
[7] Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13