Rhema Grace February 2017

Most everyone has someone that they favor in life or in certain areas of life, depending on what your interests are.  We have a favorite sports figure, a favorite actor or actress, a favorite chef, a favorite singer, a favorite author, and many more favorites could be listed.  Much of the time, we choose a favorite due to their talents, abilities, or their personality.  There is nothing wrong with having a favorite as long as we do not idolize them and prioritize them above what or who is most important in our life.  There is a value of entertainment and enjoyment we can find in our favorites, but most of the time, it is of no spiritual value to us.  It is possible to even have a favorite spiritual figure and not gain any spiritual value in our life. If I may, I would like to state early in this Devotional that there is only one that must be our Ultimate Favorite and that is Jesus Christ.  We can have as many favorites in the world that we want and all the entertainment from the world that our eyes and ears can handle, but if our life is not founded on Christ, we will never ever be satisfied spiritually.  And if we are not satisfied spiritually, then we will not be satisfied at all.  Only Christ living in our heart will bring satisfaction.  And once Christ lives in our heart, then there is a continual need for us to live in Christ.
That phrase, “in Christ,” is buried in my spirit.  Throughout Paul’s writings, he refers to living in Christ.  What does it mean to live “in Christ?”  Since the first of the year, I have engulfed myself in Scripture, prayer, and meditation concerning what it means for someone to be “in Christ.”  Rather than reach a definitive, single statement answer, I have discovered that the description of living in Christ is beyond explanation.  The necessity of living in Christ is priceless.  The wisdom of living in Christ is personal.  So with that in mind, allow me to jot down a few thoughts that may be the catalyst of your own search.
The first, and I believe essential  point to be made is what kind of life do we have when we are “without” Christ?  Paul was speaking to a group of Gentiles in Ephesians 2:12-13.  As often was the case, they did not think that Christ came to save them, but only to save the Jewish people of Israel.  By the way, I see a lot of irony in that because many Jewish people today do not believe Jesus came to save them.  In any event, Paul cut right to the chase and says this to them:

“At one time you were without Christ being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and you were strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”  So we see the word “without” twice in this Scripture.  At one time, these people were living in this world without Christ and without God.
Do you know what Paul is talking about?  Have you lived your life without Christ and without God?  What does it feel like to open your eyes in the morning and know you are without Christ?  What is it like laying your head on the pillow at night knowing you are without God? I was there for several years in my life and I can tell you I had moments in which I felt grief in my soul knowing I was not in Christ.  Somehow though we have the uncanny ability in our soul to shut off the Holy Spirit’s compassionate tugging of our heart.  Even in the midst of our lost condition, we find physical sleep while in spiritual slumber.  The danger of that is beyond description because it can result in eternal spiritual consequences beyond description.
Without Christ.  These are two of the most sobering words ever said and ever written.  Jesus said these two words in John 15:8.  As He was teaching His followers the principles of abiding in Him or living in Christ, He said, “Without Me you can do nothing.”  I have no doubt that many people in this world would refute that statement and proclaim that they are living proof that Jesus, in fact, was a liar.  “Look at me,” they would say.  “Look at all I am doing and I am not abiding in Him!”  My first inclination would be to back away from them expecting a lightning bolt to strike at any moment.  Yes, even in February in Ohio.  But then I realize that it is only by the grace of God that they still breathe despite their claims of being able to live without Christ.
Again, I was there.  I look back to the days I was without Christ and only see grace.  This is why Paul said, “I am the least of the apostles, not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1st Corinthians 15:9,10).  This is the cry of all those who were once without Christ and are now in Him: “By the grace of God I am what I am!”

To those who are not believers in Christ and  think that you are living without Him, let me quote what Paul said to the city council of Athens.  The city was full of idols and those that lived there were always looking for a new belief and a new doctrine that would satisfy their spiritual longing.  Keep in mind Paul is speaking to those who were without Christ.  “For it is in Him (Christ) we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).  Notice He said “we.”  He was including the believer and unbeliever alike.  How could Paul say that even those without Christ lived and moved and had their being in Christ?  I will answer that with five words found in Colossians 1:17:  “By Him (Christ) all things consist.”  That word “consist” means “cohere” or “are held together.”  If Christ would lift His hands off of this earth, it would be destroyed.  If Christ would lift His hands of grace off of the life of any man or woman or child, believer or unbeliever, they would cease to exist.  Life is a gift of God.  Sustaining life is only in Christ.  It is only in Him that we will truly live, move and have our being. Once again it is only by His grace that anyone who does not believe in Him continues to take their next breath.
Now lets go back to Ephesians 2.  Verse 12 says we were once without Christ and without God, but Verse 13 is where our hope to being in Christ is founded:  “But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”  This is the truth that sets men free.  This is the only way to transition from being without Christ to in Christ.  It is not dependent upon works, education, or what you do.  “By grace are you saved through faith and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.  Not of works lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
It is a chosen step of surrender to the One Who shed His blood for you and has brought you near to Him.  When Paul was speaking to those without Christ in Acts 17:27, he said, “Seek the Lord and there is hope that you will find Him because He is not far from any of us.”  I often encounter men and women that feel like God is far from them due to their faults and failures in life.  Let me identify that as a false statement directly from the enemy of your soul.  Jesus is as close to you as the mention of His name.  The enemy can  use this strategy against those who are in Christ as well.  Let me say it again.  Jesus is as close as the mention of His name.  You can speak the name of your favorite sport’s hero, actor, actress, chef, singer, or author and their name will do nothing for you.

If you speak from your heart the name of Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith,  will transition your life into a life in Christ.
This is such a simple statement, but I have to write it.  “There is absolutely nothing that compares or comes close to living a life that is in Christ!”  Why?  Because He is Life.  He is Peace.  He is Hope.  He is Joy.  The list goes on and on.  He is the I Am.  The woman at the well was uncertain who Christ was until He said, “I that speak unto thee am He.”  The One speaking to your heart now is He, the Christ, the Great I Am.  He has drawn near to you at this moment so that you would choose to live in Him.  You are only complete in Him (Colossians 2:10).  This is a clarion call to all.  No one is excluded.  We are all “whosoevers.”  Whosoever calls upon the Lord shall be saved.
Unbeliever, call upon Him.  You’re not sure?  Call upon Him.  Believer, call upon Him.  Let us all, without doubt, be assured that our life is in Christ.  And oh what a joy it is to discover each and every day what it means to live in Christ.  It is an everyday experience that will bring satisfaction to your spirit.  Let us together walk in Christ and discover His goodness that pours out upon us.

For those who desire to continue your search on what it means to be in Christ, I would suggest reading Ephesians Chapters 1 and 2 and Colossians Chapters 1 and 2.  As you do, ask Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you and allow that truth to be settled in your heart. As the truth settles in your heart, then apply it to your every day walk in life.

“God has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).  Amen!

Pastor Wes