And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full (1 John 1:4).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Two Robbers

"And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:39-43).

"Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him" (Mark 15:32).
Tuscarora, NV - Photo by Chrissy King

Greetings, fellow lost and found!

I was sitting here with a list of subjects to expand on, but with no definite direction from God. Then I realized it doesn't matter this time, because the list was given to me in the course of seeking His face. Just step in the water and let Him part it.

Have you ever noticed how one subject always ties you to another as we contemplate God's word and the Holy Spirit's teaching? Why is that? Maybe because that is completion; you can't have part of something without the one part existing and influencing the other part.

I don't believe that God wrote His word without every jott and tittle having a meaning or purpose. Nothing was written to fill space between two subjects.

That being said - let's step in!

As Jesus hangs on the Cross for the world's sin, there hang beside Him two men, both robbers. In Matthew 27:44 and Mark 15:32, scripture says that they reviled Him along with the multitude. Then in Luke 23:39-43, as one robber blasphemes Christ, the other rebukes him and asks him why he doesn't fear God when he himself is being put to death the same way. Then the good robber (if you could call him that) admits to their guilt and the justness of their punishment. Not only that, but he defends Jesus as being innocent, and then goes even further to ask the Lord to remember him.

What just happened? One minute this robber was a part of the crowd and the next he had set himself apart. I believe God allowed him to have a revelation. Remember, crucifixion wasn't a fast death. So he had been mocking Christ for probably hours with the crowd. I can imagine him getting quieter and quieter as his thoughts began to wander to what he had heard of this man beside him, this King of the Jews. Some time in those few hours there was an uprooting!

I'm sure there are many different ways this account could teach us. As I write this I see more of them.

Here is one thing God has revealed to me.

So how does this apply to us now?

On one side we have the old man representing our sinful, carnal nature, and on the other side we have the new man that just experienced a revelation. Jesus hangs between the two, the gateway to salvation and eternal life.

Those of you who know who Christ is, know what the old and new man are and the difference.

Romans 5:12 and Romans Chapter 6, speak of that. We often find ourselves struggling to keep from returning to the old man's ways. Paul talks about the battle between his flesh (the old man) and his redeemed new man, who walks according to the Spirit (Romans 7:13-25).

How do we crucify the old man as Paul talks about in Galatians 5:24? How do we nourish the new man Christ has made us?

We crucify one by feeding the other. Did you notice in Romans 7:23-25 that Paul talks of his mind? In Romans 8:7 it says that my carnal mind is enmity against God and is not subject to the law of God.

That tells me that I need to subject my mind to the things of God, because I'm not naturally going to do that.

You see, as we look at the two robbers, we see ourselves. We see on one side our natural, carnal nature, and on the other side, that self that had a revelation and became redeemed through Christ.

Does revelation stop there? It dare not! I believe we have to continue to have revelations of who God is and how He works in order to feed our new self. If revelation stops, the Spiritual growth stops.

Here is a revelation that God gave me as He began to mold me into something useful. My thoughts are not my own. They either come from the Trinity, my flesh, this world, or Satan (basically unbelief). Now if we go too far this could get complicated - for now, let's keep it simple. My thoughts are either from God or they are unbelief. I asked the Holy Spirit to reveal that unbelief to me and take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:4-6), and hold it up to the Cross. If it does not measure up to the Cross, I cast it down and move on. In doing so, I begin to subject my mind to the law of God. I set myself up for fresh revelation from the Holy Spirit.

What I put in my mind is what is on my heart and what comes out of my mouth. Jeremiah 11:20, 17:10, and Revelation 2:23 state that God will search our hearts and test our minds.

Matthew 12:34 states that out of the abundance of our heart our mouth speaks. If I don't fill my mind with the goodness of God, how can I have the mind of Christ? How can I have a sound mind? How then can I have that redeemed life that He has promised me? How can I experience Him in His fullness?

Father, I lift up those of us struggling between the old man and the new. I pray that we would begin to subject our minds to you, Lord, so that you could bless us with that revelation that stills our mind and stirs our spirit. Thank you, Father, for your Word that is sharper than any two-edged sword. I pray that the power behind it may begin to sever the old man from the new man, so that we might walk with You in Paradise on a daily basis.

May God's revelation cause a revolution between our nature and our righteousness.

Ty Van Norman

Friday, August 7, 2009

My Brokenness

This is just my opinion, but I believe that we have to experience God before He truly becomes real to us.

How do we experience Him?

One way is through our own testimony of what He has done in our lives or through someone else's testimony. We begin to experience God when we start recognizing His activity in our lives and in the lives around us.

Tuscarora, NV - Photo by Chrissy King

Have you ever had those days that just seem to be a struggle? Some days are just a constant fight for me to stay out of my flesh and fill my mind with God's goodness!

July 23 was my birthday! "A glorious and joyful day?" you might ask.

That depends upon how you look at it, in the flesh or through the Spirit.

It seems that I spent most of the day sacrificing my will for those of others I love, a good thing, but I did it with a beaten attitude. In a sense serving someone else because I knew it would honor God, but with no joy inside of me. Trying to press in, but being distracted in my spirit.

Couldn't God give me His joy?!
Isn't that a fruit of the Spirit?
Couldn't He see me in need and impart that to me?

Aaah! There beginneth the lesson, that day, for me.

After struggling all day I was on the verge of being spiritually exhausted, to the point of wondering if I was becoming depressed. (I know, not a Godly thought, but satan is predictable and he had to try.)

On the way home my wife, Ronda, asked me what was bothering me and without hesitating something deep within my spirit answered with, "I don't know. I just feel alone."

Haaa, there it was! Where did that come from!?
Well, in the process of making a short story long, I'll tell you.

We all know that life is unpredictable; it is full of ups and downs, good times and bad, and life and death. Those life experiences either draw us closer to our Father or we seek comfort in the wisdom of the world and its ways consume us.

My family has been in the business of raising horses and cattle for at least 5 generations, but over the last 3 years my partners in this have gone to be with our Lord and Savior. Leaving me to be, at times, overwhelmed with my responsibilities. When my father died, my brother and I took over those responsibilities. In December 2008 my brother left me alone here to deal with this without him. But in that process he left me with everything that now, I pray, defines who I am. Troy put me in the presence of my God in an overwhelming and glorious way through his death. (You might think that was rather sick to see it that way, but flesh and blood did not reveal that to me. I won't pretend to know God's thoughts behind His timing, but I do know that His timing is everything, it is perfect!)

Troy is my brokenness! God was preparing me, with my son's death in February 2006 and my father's death in April 2006, for what He was about to do to me through my brother's life and death in December 2008.

You see!!!! God became real to me in a powerful and glorious, super natural way in that hospital room! Not because of where I was, but because my brother was a righteous!!, redeemed!!, lover of our God!!!

I believe that some time in our life we will all, every one of us, experience a form of brokenness in our life that defines who we are in Christ. When that time comes which way are you going to turn? The world has many definitions for depression, but do they stand up to the power of the Cross!!?

I find myself revisiting my brokenness at times. Why?
"Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty; And before honor is humility" (Proverbs 18:12).
I cannot honor my God without humility first!
My brokenness then becomes a twofold blessing:

First it brings me to this humility! The realization that I totally depend on my God for everything, even my next breath! When I realize that I am nothing without Him then I am in a place where He can use me. I become available to Him.

Second, I then experience His fullness and power and my spirit screams with boldness, "But as for me, I trust in YOU, O LORD; I say, "YOU ARE MY GOD!!!!" (Psalms 31:14).

My prayer for you, beloved brothers and sisters, is that you would recognize your brokenness for what it can be. Use it to get into the presence of our God so that you can experience His powerful touch in your life and create in you a deep hunger for more of Him.

May your brokenness define God's work in your life through your declaration of it!!


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