Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Hooked On Treasure

When we have treasure no higher than the stuff of this world, we can become nothing better than what has our value. But when we discover that our greatest treasure—God Himself—actually treasures us, our otherwise crazy search for fulfillment comes to a satisfying end.

To watch the 5 minute video, click http://ralphharris.org/hooked-on-treasure/

To read the post, click http://ralphharris.org/hooked-on-treasure-4/

Friday, September 07, 2018

Is Intercession Difficult?

(There’s a video link at the end if you’d rather watch.)

Is intercession difficult? Do you have to study it, do you have a lot of knowledge about it in order to do it right?
 
A supporter-friend of mine recently asked for my thoughts about the New Testament word “intercession.”

The word “intercede” has unfortunately come to mean something that we’re supposed to do by ourselves—“Ralph, go intercede for so and so”—rather than something that happens to us and for us.

On a small scale, perhaps you know what it’s like to be praying along in a sort of “minding-your-own-business” kind of way, when suddenly a care, a concern or a godly desire rises up in you—it happens to you—and “leads you” in feelings and words that you had no prior intention of praying. This is intercession granted or caused by God, who intercedes with you.

He shares his cares, concerns and desires with you because, 1) you’re a son, and you’re like Him; 2) He wants you to know Him; 3) He wants to get something done through you. Paul wrote about this happening to him in Colossians 1:29 – 2:3. (Please read that.) In that passage, Paul was literally “being labored,” and “being struggled” in those verses by God for a result. In other words, the Holy Spirit was doing something with Paul in order to prove the perfect ability of God for someone else.

That’s exciting.

Paul wrote that the same thing happened to his friend, Epaphras, in Colossians 4:12-13, where he was literally “being wrestled” and “being worked hard” by the Spirit in order that the Colossian believers would stand firm in all the will of God. How important is that? This was an amazing evidence of Christ in Epaphras and, as it happens to us, an amazing evidence of Christ in us. Christ in you!

On a grand scale, Jesus is interceding for us. We are in Him, so everything that “comes at us” or is “done to us” or “by us” affects Him. In that way, He intercedes for us by being our innocence, our righteousness, holiness and redemption, our strength, courage, comfort, love, patience, peace, kindness, self-control, and more. Nothing can separate us from Him because He lives perfectly for us in a way we cannot. As we grow in believing and trusting Him “in whom we live and move and have our being”, so His security, His defense, His ability and grace become more and more evident to us—and to everyone else because of it.

That’s freedom because He is doing it with us! And that’s powerful.

This intercession, this miraculous evidence of Christ in us, for us and through us is described in my new book, “Life According to Perfect.” Maybe you’ve been listening to me in this video or reading the text and thinking, “Hey! That sounds like what happens in your new book!” Well, you’re right. It is. This is one of the thrill rides of Christianity that too many of us are missing—we don’t understand it, we don’t recognize what’s happening in us. So because we don’t trust that God is doing it, we take another avenue, another way of praying that all too often is boring and uneventful. We forsake the adventure and mystery of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27), and choose template prayers. “Just get it done” prayers. For that reason, many of us give up on prayer altogether. But I don’t want anyone to miss “Christ in you, the hope of glory”.

FEAR is the biggest “ripper-offer” that keeps us from looking to Christ in us because we’re afraid that something out of control, something dangerous might happen. And, actually, that’s the truth! It might. This is when the grace of God in you and the grace of God for you and through you is beautifully evident, most powerful and most beneficial—and you’ll know it! You must know that your enemy, the devil, fights aggressively against this happening in us and through us, because it is dangerous to him.

This is one of the most fun, most incredible aspects of Christianity. You have it by new birth—He is in you and you are in Him. And He loves for you to know the fullness you have been given. (See Colossians 1:9-10.)

That is the Plan. It’s not something you have to do, it’s what He is already doing with you and for others. He is busy, so simply pay attention. That brings about Christ’s intercession for you and through you . . . and I hope this helps.

(To watch the video, click: http://ralphharris.org/is-intercession-difficult/.)

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Today's Fake News Sermon

Today’s fake news sermon: “Getting Rid of Your Bad Self” — The crazy-good fun of trying to crucify what Jesus already did.
(I say it a lot, but I’ll say it again: our problem is not doing, our problem is believing. “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin” Romans 6:6-7. Jesus crucified your bad self and gave you a new you; do you believe? Life works by believing.)

Friday, August 31, 2018

Life Together In Christ

(Video link at the end.)

Think of Jesus. Imagine Him. Imagine Perfect. Now imagine yourself actually in Him. What’s life like from there?

And think of this: Unless I see myself as God sees me, in Christ, actually in Him (it’s all over the New Testament), then whenever inexplicably difficult and odd things happen to me, I will wonder what has gone wrong and what I have to do to make things right.

For a lot of us, that’s how we think a lot of the time. “Why is this happening to me?” “Why do bad things happen to me?”

That thinking means endless days of pressure—or of trying to avoid it, which is essentially the same thing. Either way, I’ve got to educate myself, strategize and work to orchestrate my days so that weird and wrong stuff doesn’t happen.

And I will have been tricked into seeing myself as separate from God, with assessments and techniques for proper management always in demand. After all, I’ve got a lot to do. No wonder I’m nervous, no wonder I’m prone to anxiety. But I’ll give my self toward that—more than to anything—and I’ll think it’s the right way . . . the responsible way. The separate way.

But I am in Him. At all times. At every moment. He put me there (1 Corinthians 1:30). What happens to me or what goes on around me is for the two of us, not for one of us, but for both of us—together—united forever in everything. That’s the plan. Never separate! His life and His ability are always at the ready for me and through me, as the case may be. Obviously, it helps if I will believe we’re together—not just God over there and me doing my best to follow. I am in Him. He is in me. “Following” is not the issue; believing that He made this change happen is the issue.

Believing it’s true and enjoying it is how Christ is formed in me. That’s His agenda and now that’s my agenda. In other words, “Jesus, I am in you and you are in me. Make me aware of what you’d like to do in me and through me, your vessel. Let’s do this together. I would love that. Amen.”

This is the “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” life (Galatians 2:20), and that’s for me. And if you’re a Christian, it’s for you, too. How exciting is that life?

(To see the video, click http://ralphharris.org/life-together-in-christ/.)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

That's All, Folks

The way we take God’s grace for granted—the way we mistreat it—is to believe and act in a way that says we have to earn something from God, who thinks He has given us all things already for free. (See Ephesians 1:3-10.) In other words, if you want to really bother God, here’s how to do it: try to earn something from Him. (Good luck. Bon voyage.)

God’s grace never creates debt; it always pays debt. Otherwise, it would cease to be grace and instead become obligation. Oh, how that word bothers God! He’ll have none of it. Not with Abraham, not with the Galatians, not with you, and not with me. (See Romans 4:4-5.)

The apostle Paul got rightfully angry with the Galatian Christians who had fallen away from grace, because they were attempting to earn favor with God by their own behavior. The problem was, they already had perfect favor! They already had every blessing! Jesus had given it to them—in full. To believe otherwise was to believe a lie and to give themselves to that lie through their efforts. That’s how people get twisted and disappointed. Have you noticed?

Believing that we have to tithe, pray, worship, sing, witness, fast, or love in order to gain favor with God is anti-Christ. Doing something apart from Jesus in order to get what He presumably failed to secure is not only worthless, it is against the truth. That’s awful. For the Galatian Christians to add Jewish customs or ceremonies or rule-keeping to a supposed required mix was to put themselves under a curse!

Galatians 3:10-14 10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because ‘the righteous will live by faith.’ 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, ‘The person who does these things will live by them.’ 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’ 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles (That would be me, and most likely you) through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (Italics mine.)

In other words, by faith in Jesus, we get the Holy Spirit and everything that He brings with Him. You would be wise to assume that He doesn’t lack anything.

Every other hope with God, any other obligation-based hope with God is shadow living—it’s performing in the dark!—even though the reality has come (Colossians 2:16-17).

In Christ—which is where we are now—we have how many things? All things. That’s the incredible gospel we love! That’s the stunning New Covenant. And that’s why we’re crazy in love with Jesus. We’re out in the open about it! No one’s hiding this. We want to tell everyone, and we want to remind those who have forgotten and been lured back into the shadows. Come on out of there! No more performing in the darkness! Lies will have you there, and we won’t be a part of that; neither will God.

Because of Jesus, we have it all. And that’s all, folks.

To watch the 5 minute video: http://ralphharris.org/thats-all-folks/

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Freedom Walk

Some of my favorite people will be gathering together in October for a terrific conference—Freedom Walk. I suspect that more than a few of us will also be popping over to nearby Napa to inspect some of those grapes they’ve got there. In other words, I sure hope you can join me and these great speakers for an awesome few days of sharing in the grace and love of God. Register by this Friday to get the early bird special of only $99! Click the link to get more info and to register.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/freedom-walk-tickets-48103929147

Life By God

When someone discovers the love of God—the real deal—that discovery immediately becomes the most defining aspect of her life. He makes sure of it. Remaining in the knowing—“He loves me!”—will eclipse all other goals, and become the director and authenticator of what she does, what she reads and watches, what she says and writes, where she goes and what she gives herself to, and how she interacts with the people and stuff of this world. No one will have to tell her to “obey the commandments” because she knows and has the One who needs no such commands living within. Her life will be by the Spirit and not by the law. She will be tempted to live by other means, for sure, but always the love of God—even a temporary not-knowing of it—will re-animate and love her awake. And life by God, who is love, will resume.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

That's All, Folks

Have you ever felt like you’re wasting your time with God? Like the things you’re trying to do aren’t working with Him? Well, maybe you are wasting your time, and maybe that’s the best news you could get. (New. 5 minutes.)



Tuesday, August 21, 2018

What is Discipleship?

A disciple is not one who pursues or follows Jesus in order to become like Him. After the cross, after the resurrection and after the New Covenant began, a disciple is one who believes in Christ and who has been changed by God, is now compatible with God, and who is now led by God from within. The work upon the disciple is done; it is complete. The work within the disciple—where the kingdom is—goes on. Discipleship, then, is helping each other to better know God so as to be more confidently led by the Spirit.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

God Is Not Missing Anything

You will never have to wonder if God is with you. Never ever. You won’t have to invite Him to come over or to get involved in a situation that He otherwise might miss. God is never missing. In fact, He thinks you’re with Him. That might be difficult to imagine, seeing as how it’s from His point of view, which might be a tad better than yours. But go ahead—imagine.

Ephesians 2:6-7 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Think how secure you are, having been seated in Christ. You’re in. You don’t have to ask God to be anywhere He isn’t. Wherever you are, there He is. More accurately, wherever He is, there you are. Nothing to worry about, nothing to make happen—it’s all on Him because you’re seated. You might as well relax and enjoy the view with Him. Think of the scenery and landmarks He knows all about. He has a lot to share with you.

God did that, and that’s what He thinks of you. What do you think?

(For more from this view of things, get my new book, “Life According to Perfect”. https://tinyurl.com/ycja3mzv.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Good Walk Together

God thinks you’re complete in Him (Colossians 2:10). Think of that. You’ve got it all, and you’re all done. You've just got some walking out to do.

But what do you think? If God’s opinion is that you’re already holy, righteous and majestic as you walk about the planet (Colossians 1:22), but you think you’re something else, something less, might that affect your interaction with Him? Might that affect your interaction with others?

It does.

But when you discover what God thinks about you—how incredibly good it is—you’ll be intensely attracted to Him, and the pale attractions of this world will grow dim. He's right about you! To become increasingly convinced that He is correct is one of the most worthwhile adventures there is. It's the adventure He's putting all of His effort into with you.

And He never changes His mind because He has the facts—He is responsible for them! That's why His thoughts and love for you never change. Never. He thinks more highly of you than anyone else thinks, and He's right.

As He increasingly wins you over to His way of thinking, your behavior will come together with who you are. And won't that be wonderful?

(For more about this, check out my books and free videos at: ralphharris.org.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Freedom!

Happy Juneteenth, everyone, a day when people celebrate the coming together of American ideals and American experience. On June 19, 1865, Union Army Major General Gordon Granger marched 2,000 soldiers into Galveston, Texas, in order to enforce Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that officially freed the slaves of the south on January 1, 1863. The celebrations that resulted and which continued each year thereafter, came to be known as “Juneteenth.”

Hooray, America!

A favorite economist, author and commentator of mine, Thomas Sowell, wrote, “what was peculiar about the West was not that it participated in the worldwide evil of slavery, but that it later abolished that evil, not only in Western societies but also in other societies subject to Western control or influence.”

Because the threat of slavery (even new forms of it) goes on and the ideal of freedom is not yet the experience of all, not here in the US and not globally, I applaud those who openly speak out for liberation.

As a Christian speaker and author, I am all about freedom, particularly the freedom that knowing the original liberator, Jesus Christ, has upon people. Satan’s desire and scheme is to incarcerate, harm and diminish people through deception, which sometimes comes through the teachings and actions of people. Jesus is the consummate opposite: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

So I stand with Jesus and with His apostle, Paul, who taught and offered to the Galatians a powerful freedom checkup, one that still echoes today in the likes of all who insist that humans are better when they are free: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1 NIV).

The terrible “yoke of slavery” was the ancient Law and Old Covenant, as well as anything and everything that implied that mankind had to earn a good standing with God by satisfying His presumed demand for perfection. But the gift, the fact remains: Perfection is what and who He is, and He offers Himself as that for all—especially you—for free. He is the gift of perfect freedom—the power and the benefit—to all who will have Him.

This freedom and this grace is what gospel fans have been equipped and enabled by the Spirit to hear and to share with everyone. Any other message leads us toward slavery—both the messenger and the hearer—because the Holy Spirit is always and only about life and freedom, not the loss of it.

“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6 NIV).

If you’ve been thinking or feeling anything other than life and freedom, no matter your circumstances, consider the source of the messages pointed at you: one is satanic and makes hijacked slaves, while the other is godly and makes freeborn sons. That’s heaven’s ideal, and it ought to be your experience.

Here’s to freedom, and to the One who makes and keeps us free.

(Freedom from the spiritual powers of slavery is what my new book, “Life According to Perfect” is all about. You’ll find it on amazon at: https://tinyurl.com/y8bobn33.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Blog Problems

I encountered some odd problems with this blog and found that two previous posts were empty of text. I don't know why it happened, but I apologize for that. I have since updated those two blog posts, and you may find them--for real--at the links below.

Life From God:
http://lifecourseministries.blogspot.com/2018/06/life-from-god.html

The Prize:
http://lifecourseministries.blogspot.com/2018/05/the-prize.html

God's Divine Hobby is...Me?

Have you ever thought that God is a show-off? I’m pretty sure He is. It’s a sort of divine hobby for Him. And He’s not going to stop anytime soon.

God wants everyone and everything to know how incomparably good and capable and faithful and loving and perfect He is. Why? So the truth about Him will be known, and so everyone will want Him—and get everything they’ve been looking for and everything they need. He is the source of life itself, and He has designed us to find our best longings for life satisfied in Him.

Figuring that out is difficult, I know! There’s so much that offers fractional satisfaction. A clear sign that I’ve been looking for satisfaction in the wrong place is that I fall to the ugly suggestion to pretend I’m satisfied. I hate that.

Fortunately, you and I are still God’s workmanship, which means He’s going to convince us—over and over and over again—that He is amazing toward us by doing good to us. And, much as I don’t like my many slips and repeated neediness, still His over and over again display isn’t a bad thing, at least not for Him. Sometimes I think I’m the vacuum of neediness—“Lord, please rescue/restore/renew me again!” And He does. And His riches are on display in me. Who sees? Everyone and everything, and all those watching on the big screen in heaven. “Wow. Look at God. He’s incredible with Ralph.

And with you.

"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:6-7)

If you’ve been suspicious that God has you on display, it’s not because He is asking you to be a good example for Him. He is bragging on you because He has made you a good example of Himself.

Brag on, God.

(For more about how perfect God is with you, get my new book, “Life According to Perfect.” You’ll find it on amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ya72p6t4.)