Where Shall Our Hearts Look?

“The Thirteenth Resurrection Appearance” by Del Parson

And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired of him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. (John 12:20-21 KJ2000)

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:2 KJV)

Looking unto Jesus… Why should we be looking to Him? Didn’t He despise the shame of the cross? Why not be looking at our own sin and failings or lack of faith? Jesus did not continue to look at His own death, but went on to sit down at the right hand of the Father. Looking at our own sin and short comings only draws our attention away from the One who is doing the real work in us. Then why not be looking at all our “good deeds” we have done? No, that will only feed our pride. Jesus made it clear that no one is good except our Father who is in heaven and anything good comes from Him alone.

What Jesus has started in us by His Spirit, Who came into us when we first believed into Him, He will finish! It is not up to us. Paul wrote:

May the God of peace himself make you holy in every way. And may your whole being–spirit, soul, and body–be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 ISV)

Notice first that the God of peace makes us holy in every way, not the god of anxiety and striving, who is the devil. We are to be anxious for nothing and in everything give thanks to our Father, knowing that He works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure. Our task is to rest in Him alone and He does all the work. Holiness in us is the work of God. We can not make ourselves holy by changing our outward appearance or by gritting our teeth and doing the “right things” by the power of our wills. We rest in Him and He does the transformation in us by giving us a new heart and writing His desires on that heart (read Hebrews chapter eight). With His will in us, we will do what is right in the eyes of God. Everything in the economy of God is by faith in His Son, Jesus Christ! Our Father sanctifies us body, soul and spirit. He was faithful to call us and give us the faith of Jesus Christ, and He is faithful to finish this perfecting work in us. Praise His name! He will do it!

Putting on Christ

For ye are all sons [and daughters] of God through faith in Christ Jesus; for as many of you as were immersed into Christ, did put on Christ. (Galatians 3:26-27 WAS)

For in him we live, and move, and have our being…(Acts 17:28 KJ2000)

Through faith in Christ we are immersed into Christ and His Spirit, not just the waters of baptism. This immersion is the one baptism that Paul was writing about. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6 KJ2000). Being immersed into Jesus brings about our total unity with the Father and the Son and with each other (See John 17:21-24).

As many of us who have been immersed into Christ have put on Christ. Just as we “put on” the water when we were baptized, we also have put on Christ as we have been immersed into Him. We are literally in Christ and we now dwell in heavenly places in Him! Do you believe it? Seeing this truth in our hearts is what makes all the difference in our Christian walks. We spend far too much time looking at ourselves, and it pulls us down from living in our heavenly position that Jesus gained for us when He rose from the dead. He took our captivity to the flesh captive and gave us the greatest gift of all, making us sons and daughters who live before our loving Father in heaven.

For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they who live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again. Therefore from now on know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet from now on know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:14-17 KJ2000)

In Christ’s death, we all died! But it does not end there, because the lives we now live are lived by His life in us. This is the Good News–no more law (see 1 Cor. 15:56-57), no more sin consciousness, and no more striving to be holy. We now have our lives in Him and His power, not in ourselves and our weakness. In Him we live and move and have our being. The problem with many of us is in the reckoning (see Romans 6:11). Do we continue to know ourselves after the flesh? Christ is no longer in the grave. He is risen and so are we! Paul was tutored by the risen Christ for three years in the Damascus wilderness, and he had a much clearer vision of heavenly things than most of the disciples who only knew Him after the flesh. Paul knew Jesus Christ after the Spirit!

Focusing on ourselves as if we are in ourselves instead of in Christ, knowing ourselves after the flesh with all its failings, and not forgiving ourselves is a real problem that holds many people back. We need to get our eyes off ourselves (good or bad) and behold Him Who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. But if any man is in Christ he is a new creation and the old things are passed away. All things are become new. Thank God that our lives are all about us living in Christ and He in us. They are not about us.

“Father, please let the depth of these truths go deep into our hearts that we might see with new eyes and see ourselves as you see us. Amen.”

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19 comments on “Where Shall Our Hearts Look?

  1. Jennifer Lawson says:

    Amen…Father laid on my heart a few years back that I needed to appropriate
    Eph. 2: 6.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Michael says:

    Me too, Jennifer. “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come.”
    (Hebrews 13:14 RSVA) Thanks for your comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pat Orr says:

    I love the title, “Where Shall Our Hearts Look? So often, I look, but not with my heart. Your title and the message bring a welcome and needed correction to me. Thank you for the reminder that we are immersed into Jesus. Glory to God for all His provision for us. Thank you for this good word.
    Love,
    Pat Orr

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Hi Pat! Good to hear from you again and that God used this message to speak to you. Yes, it means all the difference in how we approach life when we see that we are IN Christ and that He is never far away from the members of his body. Like Paul said, “So let no one boast of men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apol’los or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; and you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23 RSVA)
      We love you, too!
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mia says:

    Dear Michael
    I was totally unable to forgive myself for many years until I read in one of James Fowler’s articles that to be unforgiving towards yourself, actually makes you an idolater in our Pappa’s eyes. He assures us that we are forgiven, so refusing to forgive ourselves, is actually telling God that what He did, is not right. Sort of considering your opinions higher and more valid than God’s. That pierced to my heart and I had to repent. Afterwards I was completely able to forgive myself.
    Keep well, dear brother.
    Love XX
    Mia

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Dear Mia,
      Yes, Fowler is right. When God has forgiven us and accepted us totally IN Christ and we refuse to forgive ourselves, we put ourselves above God and throw His great gift of forgiveness and salvation back in His face. We put ourselves above God. What an insult to Him. I am glad that Fowler had the words that you could hear, dear sister. We are more than overcomers in Christ Jesus… we are sons and daughters in full standing as members of his kingdom family and it is all by His grace. It is wonderful to be in this family with you and Andre, my sister.
      Love you too,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello Michael ! Great article , it is always a blessing to read !
    Understand that the gospel is Jesus and I , it’s really a process. it is Christ alone . No more looking at us themselves , only Him to walk as Jesus did . because when we look at ourselves and see that we have not managed to grow, frustrates us , or if we see that we have grown much ennoble us , and this is not pleasant . It’s not about us, it’s him! brother thanks for remembering . Have a good weekend. (using google translator 😉 )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Marta, So sorry that it has take me so long to get back to your comment! I found it in a WordPress spam folder! Yikes! I never check that, but I will have to start doing so from now on!
      Yes, you got it, “Looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.” He has everything we need.
      God bless you, dear sister!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. If you have ever watched a seedling unfurl, you will have noticed that it is at first curled in upon itself. Only slowly does it stretch out toward the sun, spreading first its leaves, then its petals.

    So, too, are we at first focused on ourselves. An infant is incapable of unselfishness. Whatever potential that tender baby may hold for the future, at the outset of life there is only need — for nourishment, for comfort, for engagement, for love.

    Abuse, when it is present, reinforces the need to remain focused on ourselves. Imagine a child attempting to shield himself/herself against the blows of an adult — often, sadly, a loved one. We may focus on those harming us (whether physically or emotionally), in an effort to placate them. But that is merely an ineffective attempt to protect ourselves against them. The process warps our growth, rather than encouraging it.

    Christ’s love draws us out of ourselves. We are made whole. Like the seedling, we are drawn upward by the Son, unfurling to become who we were meant by God to be.

    Thank you for another profound message, Michael. Your love for Christ (and all the rest of us) is abundantly clear and always a blessing.

    Your sister in Christ,

    Anna ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Dear Anna, I have a “larger than life” example of what you wrote about and this unfolding is going on in my flower garden right now. We planted three elephant ear bulbs this spring and they have taken their sweet time about coming up, one at a time. The third one I had given up on, but something told me to keep watering finally, yesterday, it also poked a spire above the ground. Each sprout gets about four inches long and then starts to unfold, forming a leaf. I was looking on the internet and the leaves on these babies not only look like an elephant ear, but they get just as big as one! They even have a long spire shaped flower that is a seed pod.

      The delay in a child unfolding like my third plant I mentioned is interesting to note. This third bulb, I lost track of and did not water it as much as the other two. Because of abuse and rejection their is a delay in their unfolding like you said. That explains why it took me so long to develop any social skills and was such an introvert. My best efforts only showed me that I was unacceptable and was never going to be part of the “in crowd.”

      Yes, my dear Anna, it was the love of God that I never found with my parents that finally drew me out of my shell so that I could begin to unfold and grow. Thank God that our Father put me in a group after I came to Christ of dear saints that loved me in spite of all my awkwardness. Since then I have seen under a lot of abusive church leaders, but like my friend says, “God rubbed my nose into everything He wanted me to NEVER do!” 🙂

      Anna, you are welcome, dear friend. We can thank Him for any unselfish love that pours out through me for others. I surely did not start out that way. It is the love of God that opens us up and allow His Son to shine forth from us for sure. ❤

      Your brother IN the Son,
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  7. David Lee says:

    Thank you for this. I was brought up on this teaching as a young Christian and I continue to believe it, even though many of my Christian friends still believe they have to keep on asking God for forgiveness every day, in case they have sinned.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thanks David. I was raised Catholic and had to do the sacraments of Confession and Communion every week to be absolved of my sins. Then I married a girl that was raised in an Evangelical church only to find out that she was in the same trap! She would have to go forward to the “altar call” every Sunday to “recommit” her life to Christ because of some perceived sin committed during the week. My wife grew up with an image of God as a stern man with a fly swatter in his hand, just waiting for her to light down for a moment so He could squash her. A religion that leaves us “committed” to God, but helpless to live out that commitment is dead. The radical change that came over me when I became Spirit filled was not that I had some spiritual gift to flaunt before others, but that I finally had power over sin in my life and could chose NOT to sin for the first time. I thank the Father that He not only has the power to save us, but also has the power to keep us saved. It it was up to me to do that, I would be toast.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Bernie Orr says:

    …..” LOOKING TO JESUS, THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH. WHO FOR (JOY), ENDURED THE CROSS, DESPISING THE SHAME…”
    JOY IN CRUCIFIXION? How can this be? SHAME: Was He not naked?
    It just occurred to me recently, why, JOY. OVER AND OVER JESUS SAID: “I ONLY DO
    WHAT THE FATHER WANTS ME TO DO. In Isaiah 53 v 10: ” IT PLEASED THE FATHER
    TO BRUISE HIM.
    Now as I consider “JOY” in my life, I remember 1st Peter 2 vs 21-24. ” with Jesus my
    example: “WHEN HE WAS REVILED (criticized) HE DID NOT RETURN IT BUT
    COMMITTED HIMSELF TO HIM WHO JUDGES” (His Father)
    So, when I suffer, I want to look to Jesus for JOY and not be critical of the one who
    caused me suffering. Therefore, I hope I can face suffering like: “James 1 v 2 “COUNT
    IT ALL JOY WHEN YOU ENCOUNTER SUFFERING.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thank you, Bernie. You did a great job of bringing out the joy that Jesus took in obeying His Father, even when it cost Him all His earthly position as a man. I think that this kind of joy that comes from pleasing our Father no matter what it costs is a sign of real maturity as the sons of God. So many of us are still looking at the instruments of our pain while we suffer and we are missing the point of the lesson. Like you said so well, “So, when I suffer, I want to look to Jesus for JOY and not be critical of the one who caused me suffering.” Like Jesus said,

      “You have heard that it has been said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven…” (Matthew 5:43-45 KJ2000)

      And then He prayed on the cross for His persecutors, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” This truly is a sign to those who are His sons and daughters… love for our enemies.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. “Notice first that the God of peace makes us holy in every way, not the god of anxiety and striving, who is the devil.”

    I love that sentence, Michael, since it’s a very good reminder for me. Although I cannot free myself from anxiety, I know He can. And when I feel restless, I know that He alone can give me His peace. May He help me to look at Him when I am unable to so, which is always unless He draws me closer to Himself. Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Yes, Susanne, that is what this is all about, that apart from Christ, we can do NOTHING! “God of Peace, keep working ever deeper in Susanne until she is conformed into the image of Christ. Amen.”

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Ken Dawson says:

    From me to everyone who has read this great article by Michael I bid you this–YHWH bless you and keep you-YHWH make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you-YHWH lift up His face upon you and give you SHALOM-In the name of Yeshua haMashlyach SAR SHALOM= the Prince of Peace.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Thank you, Kenneth. God’s peace be upon you as well.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Ken! That was exactly what I needed to hear from God right now. Made me weep… To be honest, these Bible verses were given to me by God as I had come to know Jesus more than 20 years ago. Reading your comment, it felt ALIVE in my heart again which is a miracle since I have felt like a walking dead for months now. Dying to self, you know… 😛

      Every divine blessing to you,
      Your sister Sue

      Liked by 1 person

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