DAILY DISCIPLINE #194
By Colleen Donahue
While most of us look like we have a fairly normal life on the outside, the truth might be very different if we could see inside. It’s a physical reality that someone can be walking around with cancer for years. They may feel a tinge of fatigue, or an occasional ache or pain -- easily explained away – until the day when something catastrophic happens.
Now it’s the same with our soul and our spirit. We can be living a seemingly normal life but with a dark undercurrent of sin that keeps us fighting for recognition and belonging. We might be tormented with secret failures, inferiorities, and a sense of worthlessness while at the same time exalting and promoting ourselves. We might be constantly comparing ourselves with others, feeling either jealous or superior, and it's emotional suicide. Let’s study together God’s truth that will answer the question:
DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU BELONG?
The verse this study will revolve around is Ephesians 2:6 if you’d like to look at it in three translations.
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” NIV
“For he (God) raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.” NLT
“And (God) hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” KJV
What is the reason that God was able to raise you and I up in Christ when Jesus rose from the dead?
2. In a cosmic miracle, God put the sinful nature, that all of us inherited from Adam -- into Jesus on the cross – and he destroyed it there.
3. This miracle, that God worked on our behalf, enabled the sinful nature in us to be “rendered inoperative” so that we no longer had to keep sinning, and instead could choose to receive Christ’s own Spirit into our dead spirit.
Romans 6:7-11 / Romans 8:1-2, 9-11
4. When we receive Christ’s Holy Spirit into our own, what happens to us?
And, what do we become?
2 Corinthians 5:17
5. The phrase “seated” or “seated in Christ” in Ephesians 2:6 translated from the Greek means “to make us sit down together in Christ”. In the world at that time, Jews didn't mix with Gentiles and vis versa. But God, in putting us in Christ, broke down all the barriers between people -- then and now -- so that we would all be one in Christ.
6. The idea that Jews and Gentiles would both have a seat at the same table was unthinkable at the time of Christ. But Jesus came to bring back the rule of God in men’s hearts (i.e., the Kingdom of God) to anyone who would receive the Holy Spirit into their own. He came to bring a new world order centered in a relationship with Himself, not in a religion.
John 14:20 / John 15:5 / Galatians 2:20 / 1 John 3:24
7. Therefore, having a “seat” with Christ at God’s table in the heavenlies denotes a place of honor with the root expression of “seat” meaning to “confer a kingdom upon”. It means we are at a royal table seated with the King!
1 Peter 2:9
8. Just imagine yourself seated at a royal table in the heavenly places despite what was actually happening in your physical realm on earth. It’s a place of rest and relaxation. Paul entered into this, and Jesus wanted us to know it’s our reality as well.
9. When Jesus finished his work on earth, scripture tells us that he sat down at the right hand of God. Why was this so important? The answer can be found in:
First notice in verse 11 that the priests always stood. There were no seats in the tabernacle. Their work of offering sacrifices for the people was continuous because those sacrifices could never take away sins once and for all.
Then in verse 12 we see that Jesus could sit down because the one sacrifice of Himself was sufficient to atone for every sin, by every man and woman, for all time. No more sacrifices were needed. Atonement was complete and Jesus having finished his task could sit down.
God himself has put us in Christ. We belong to Him and He to us.
1 Corinthians 1:30a
And so, even while physically walking through life on earth we are spiritually seated with Christ. We are at the greatest table in the universe, completely absorbed with Christ and no longer needing to make a name for ourselves. 10. It’s together with Christ that we have a seat at the King’s table. Scripture teaches us that “we” are more important than “me”.
John 11:52 / 1 Corinthians 3:17 / Ephesians 2:22 / Philippians 1:27
Do you know what this means? It means that whether we fail or succeed against some arbitrary standard on earth, we have a seat at God’s table. We belong to Him, and always have a place with Him regardless of what’s happening on earth.
THE SEATS HERE ON EARTH WON’T SATISFY
11. Why do we feel lonely, rejected, and inferior to others? Christ’s half brother James and leader in the Jerusalem church, was putting his finger on something when he wrote this:
James is talking about the cravings and evil desires that are at war in us and that keep us comparing ourselves with others. We often don’t know where we belong – feeling lonely and disconnected most of the time. We wonder if we will ever be part of this group or that group. Are we liked? Will we ever fit in?
12. When we don’t understand that we have the seat of honor already in the heavenly realms, then we have to keep battling for success and recognition. It keeps us preoccupied with ourselves which is just what the enemy wants. Superiority and inferiority are different sides of the same coin. Either way we are imprisoned in self: self-evaluation, self-consciousness, and self-absorption. It leads to a frightening, isolated life consumed with where we belong and how we compare with others. How did Paul describe this kind of thinking?
13. And what does the futility of self-absorbed thinking lead to?
The sad truth is, that even as a follower of Christ, if we allow ourselves to keep comparing ourselves with others, to keep mulling over our failures and inadequacies, we will become darkened in our understanding and this will separate us from the fellowship we could have with the royal family (God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit).
14. Many would say that we can’t help where our thoughts go, but that’s not what God says.
Philippians 4:8 tells us exactly where we need to direct or redirect our thoughts. Make a list for yourself. Better yet – commit this verse to memory. This verse is our “thinking gauge”. Here is an example of how to use it.
You think: “I don’t feel like I belong anywhere.”
That may be true about your feelings but it’s not true in reality. God has placed you in His Son. You belong to Him and are loved and cherished.
You think: “I am fat and ugly. No one would want me.”
Is that a noble thought, or a right thought? No. God tells you that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are the “apple of his eye”. He is crazy about you and wants a close relationship.
When you and I start directing our thoughts in the right direction, then the peace of God will guard not only our hearts, but our minds as well (Ephesians 4:7). It might be hard at first, because our “thought ruts” are deep, but it will get easier.
TAKE YOUR SEAT
15. Let me just remind us how we get a seat at God’s table. God offers it to us for free. And notice when in your life that He offers it?
Ephesians 2:4-9 (especially verse 5)
16. We are at the table where God as the “ancient of days” sits.
17. We are at the same table where Jesus, God’s Son, is sitting.
18. Our “seat” has been prepared especially for us and this preparation has gone on despite whose presence?
19. God has prepared this royal seat for us even in what we perceive as the wasteland of our life.
20. And more than that, God has exact instructions for us. I have different things to do than you have.
And as we each walk into the works God has prepared for us, He will bless us in unique and different ways.
At God’s table all seats are equal. We can have an unclouded view of Jesus at all times. We can behold the beauty of the Lord and others can too. We can stop fighting for a seat because we all have our own special seat.
21. Even if we feel inadequate to be in such a special seat, or to do the good works God has planned for us, we need not worry. Why?
God is working in you and me to live the life he has planned for us.
HOW WILL OUR SEAT IN THE HEAVENLIES AFFECT OUR WALK ON EARTH?
22. When King David felt most insecure, he would focus his gaze on someone other than himself.
We see in Psalm 27:4 that David gazed on the Lord’s beauty and we can do the same.
23. When we focus on Jesus, how does this affect our own countenance?
You can’t think about your hair when your mind is filled with God’s grandeur. The more we gaze at Jesus the more we can embrace our own unique and beautiful appearance knowing that we are planned and created to be exactly who we are.
24. God has ordained our physical features and the works that will fulfill His plan and therefore our own purpose. But the King also ordains what kind of wealth I will have. This is opposite thinking to the world system that at all costs we strive to get ahead and have more. Who gives us the ability to produce wealth?
25. In any true kingdom, the king owns everything. He in turn gives it to the people to make use of and it becomes the “commonwealth”. Likewise, in the Kingdom of God, it is God who owns it all.
Psalm 24:1 / Psalm 50:10-12 / Haggai 2:8
26. Everything comes from God and He ordains what kind of wealth you and I will live in.
1 Timothy 6:17-18
27. For “seated” people this means that we no longer need be concerned with affluence because we have access to everything the king owns. He has given all of us a task to fulfill and we can count on Him to provide for us so we can do what He wants.
2 Corinthians 9:8
28. And as God abundantly provides for us, what does He want us in turn to do?
2 Corinthians 9:10-12
29. Our hands are not meant for holding onto things with a tight fist. They are meant to be channels for blessing others. And when we learn the art of giving, what happens to us?
Psalm 84:11 / Philippians 4:19
30. What does God give without limit?
This means that God does not withhold Himself from us. We can have all of Christ's Spirit that we want in an unlimited way. The more we give of ourselves to Him the more He gives to us. We become rich in every way and can literally abound in all that we do.
Reread: 2 Corinthians 9:8
31. When we are seated at the King’s table, we have access to God’s provisions all the time. Therefore, our measure of wealth is a measure of how dependent we are upon Jesus. If we live as seated people, what will we be able to say at the end of our life?
And this will be true because God is our Jehovah-Jireh or “the God who provides”.
We are meant to live in this cycle:
God provides ---- our needs are met in abundance --- we have more than enough to give away – we give and meet someone else’s need ---God provides ---- our needs get met ---- etc.
32. Another way that being seated with Christ in the heavenly places affects life on earth is in the area of our achievements. Being goal-oriented and achieving can become a prideful stronghold. We feel our value and worth is when we are achieving rather than seeing our true value as being a seated child of God. If in the area of finances, we become richer the more dependent we are upon Jesus, then what is similarly needed to achieve the most for God?
33. Goal-oriented achievers (such as I was myself) need to become “abiders”. As we do that Jesus promises to produce much fruit using our lives. But if we keep achieving apart from Him, what will happen in the end?
It is a terribly sad thought to think that an entire life with all its achievements apart from Jesus will be good for nothing – except to be burned up.
34. Now consider the next verse that Jesus speaks because it will “blow your mind”!
Picture yourself a branch attached to a vine and you’ll soon see that if you have to stay attached to Jesus you won’t get very far. Jesus knows that and so He tells us to “ask whatever we want” and “it will be done for you”! Imagine being able to ask and have the Lord of the universe set things in motion for you. Furthermore, He loves doing it for us. Why?
35. The truth for all those seated with Christ is stated in what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians.
This means that because I’m crucified with Christ, everything that happens to me are Christ’s accomplishments through me. He is continuing His good works and living out His resurrected life using my life. It’s together that we bear fruit for God, ripping a hole in my individualism. A seated person must learn to embrace their irrelevance apart from Jesus.
Reread John 15:4
36. When we abide in Jesus, we stop comparing ourselves with others, and stop feeling bad that we aren’t doing as much as “so-and-so”. That’s because we have been given our own ministry. What does Paul call the ministry we have been given and what specifically is our message to others?
2 Corinthians 5:18-19
37. What role does Jesus see us fulfilling in our corner of the earth?
2 Corinthians 5:20
Our role as ambassadors in the Kingdom of God is all about introducing others to Jesus. Ambassadors never speak their own opinions. They speak only for the king and deliver only what He says. As seated people, abiding in Christ ---we await his instructions – not looking around to see what everyone else is doing.
So, how will our seat in the heavenly places affect our life on earth?
1.When we focus on Jesus our own countenance becomes radiant with the glow of His Spirit within us.
2. God has prepared for us our own unique works – different from everyone else – to walk into and fulfill. No comparisons are needed.
3. The King ordains what kind of wealth we will have. Our real worth will reflect how dependent we are on Jesus – not on how much money we make.
4.Seated people become channels for the King’s resources to flow to others. They have access to the King’s resources all the time so that their needs are met with enough to also give to others.
5.Instead of focusing on achieving, seated people abide in Christ, ask whatever they will, and let Christ do it for us.
6. Seated people let Jesus continue living His life through their own. They aren’t focused on achieving as an individual but in a partnership with Jesus.
7. Seated people have a ministry of reconciliation to fulfill as ambassadors for Christ. Their earthly job does not define their worth but becomes a conduit for reaching the people God has for them to reach – different from every other ambassador.
8. Seated people await the King’s orders and are then quick to obey. They aren’t concerned with what Jesus is asking others to do. They are focused on their own marching orders.
SOME QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT
38. Whenever our circumstances are bad on earth, what we need more than anything is more of Jesus and a reminder that we are seated with Him in the heavenly places far above the circumstances threatening to swamp us. The first question to think about is this:
“Is Jesus enough?” Is he more loving, more meaningful, more wonderful than anything else I can think of?
When you read these two verses as to what Jesus promises to give us, do we really believe Him?
John 7:38 / John 10:10
39. Do you know that knowing and enjoying Jesus is the whole point of the Christian life? As you read these verses, list for yourself what Paul prays for each of us.
40. If we are honest, most of us don’t feel that Jesus is enough. That’s a fact, if we are pursuing anything apart from Him. So often we’re thinking, “If only I owned…”, “If only I could accomplish…”, “If only I could experience…”. It’s all those “if onlys” that imprison us in longing and discontent. What we need is to receive all of Jesus – not his gifts – but Him. And that will mean having empty hands to receive Him.
41. Then you might ask yourself, “Will I say ‘yes’ to living the life that God asks me to live”? This life will probably be quite different than you envisioned for yourself, but if you say “yes”, it will set you on the path of surrender and you’ll be able to breathe again because your hands won’t be tightly gripping the steering wheel of your life.
How will you offer yourself?
And what will you tell Jesus?
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
42. Then you’ll want to ask, “Is there anything in my life that doesn’t please God”? Whatever it is might not seem too bad, but in the end, what will it lead to?
43. Jesus and I are sitting together looking at my sin. He knows that I have an independent streak in me and is patient to show me what I need to see of myself. He isn’t wagging his finger and giving me disapproving looks. Quite the contrary. He’s ready to embrace me in the midst of my sin. What is Jesus as our High Priest like?
“Will you be available to Jesus to be his spokesperson?”
This will mean rethinking how you use your time. For being “available” means to be at someone else’s disposal all the time. It will mean we stop doing things so that we have space in our schedule to do what Jesus wants.
It means that our time and schedule belong to God and we are only managers of the time he gives us. He wants us to share with others about Himself. His Spirit will give us the wisdom and power to be able to do that and then we can leave the results with God.
These questions will help expose the sin and idols in our life. But because we are seated with Christ, we are in a safe place of unconditional love and acceptance. If we feel rejected, ignored and left out we have only to visualize our seat with Christ and see the reality that we are wanted, loved, and included no matter how we feel.
44. Never lose sight of the fact that everyday you sit with Jesus in the heavenly places, He will gradually affect all of your life on earth. By God’s power, what will your life begin to look like?
For further reading:
Seated with Christ by Heather Holleman
Sit, Walk, Stand by Watchman Nee
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