Monday, December 26, 2011

A Wide and A Strong River

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 

By God's  mercy He caused us to be born again!  Did we choose Him or did He choose us?  A discussion for anther time perhaps but today we look at the benefits.  What is the living hope that comes with this being born again?  God calls it an inheritance.  It is something that someone else earned that we receive!  The text says that it is imperishable, undefiled and will not fade away.  Unlike other inheritances we may receive in our lifetimes this one will never run out! Beyond the promise that it will not run out it is also guaranteed by heaven itself.

The last portion of this sentence is the primary point to discuss here.  The born again are "protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed".

God has caused our rebirth, has secured our inheritance, has guaranteed it and preserves and protects us to get from here to there.

Peter goes on:

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. 

"In this you greatly rejoice" Really?  It seems to me that the last thought that the general population would have about Christians is "rejoicing".

From the beginning of time God's people and even the angels in heaven have longed to see what we experience every day.  Unfortunately, most Christians today miss this entirely.  How could anyone understanding this great wealth given to us not rejoice?

  As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look. 

God used the thousands, no the hundreds of thousands of people that we read about in what we now call the old testament. to display His magnificent grace to us.  They never saw the end of the story like we now see.  All of the laws, all of the sacrifices, all of the legal priesthood, all of the battles and the victories are all wrapped up and completed in Jesus!

Most Christians stand on the banks of the great river of grace that runs through eternity.  We see it clearly as it begins in our world within the Garden of Eden and flows powerfully through the events recorded in the old testament.  The river continues through the life of Jesus and through the beginning of the church.  We can also look into the future and see in the Book of Revelation it continuing flow.  

Heer we stand, the river flowing strong and wide and we stand thirsty and waiting on banks of the river!

Jump in!  It only takes a small step of faith.  He will do the rest!
(Scripture in from 1 Peter chapter 1) 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Missing Person?

When was the last time you heard a message on the Holy Spirit?  Jesus said, "you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit will come upon you".  Where exactly is that power within the church or within Christians today?

The Holy Spirit is fully God, you know, and He chooses to dwell within believers in Jesus making them His temple!  With Him, he brings love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.  Our gauge fo the Holy Spirit's presence is not some mysterious power that flows though as as believers. It is, instead, the attending fruit that comes with His presence.  How are you doing on this list?  These are not options and its not multiple choice it is an all or nothing proposition.

So why is the Church reluctant to talk about Him?  Have we bought into another lie out of the depths of hell or are we just plain ignorant of this gift?

Invest some time in getting to know Him.  He has been calling you into relationship with Him have you heard His soft voice?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hidden Faults and Presumptions

Psalm 19

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands

 So begins David’s consideration of the grandeur of His God!  He continues to build a strong case for the wonder of a God who we will never understand; His law, His restoration, His encouragement, His enlightening, His righteousness.  Overwhelmed would not be to strong of a word to describe David’s attitude as he writes Psalm 19.

But right in the midst of his wonder he comes to this: “and then there is me”.

Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.

When the truth is known, it is no longer the outright sin that messes up our walk with our God it is the hidden faults and the presumptuous sins that trip us up.

The hidden faults are those that lie deep within our personalities.  We get tired, stressed, over-worked, under appreciated and those hidden faults begin to emerge.  Back biting, criticism, lust, self-adulation, fits of anger, depression and on and on are the things we have learned over time to keep under wraps. 

Presumptuous sins are so easy to slip into that we are, in the most part, totally unaware to them.  Jesus counseled us about “worrying about tomorrow”.  As I sit writing this today I am remembering the previous night as I contemplated not only “tomorrow” but far too many tomorrows to even remember. I didn’t intentionally seek to have all of the “what if’s” run through my mind particularly at the cost of needed sleep.
Presumptuous sins are not just about worrying things that will probably never happen anyway.  Other types of presumptuous sins are when we presume we know the intentions of others.  That person driving erratically, what do you presume, rudeness or stress or emergency?  The person who walked by you without saying anything, what do you presume?  Your spouse is abrupt of just plainly rude to you, what do you presume?

Can you see why David is brought so short by this issue? 

Contemplating the great goodness of our God and His grand design for our liberty and provision while knowing how quickly we sell out to these hidden faults and presumptuous sins.  They are enmeshed within our personalities and are difficult to weed out!  

It is simply impossible for us eradicate these things our of our lives.  David understands his great need for God’s help.  “Acquit me” of my faults and pull me back from my tendency to presume!

Liberty, including the joy and the peace that fills our thirsty souls is at stake.  Bring your faults and your presumptions to Him!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Two Laws!

But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.  James 1:25

The perfect law; few things within God’s creation remain “perfect” due to mankind’s sin.  But the law of liberty is one of those things having been bought back from its demise by the blood of Jesus and His subsequent resurrection. 

The next word that we must understand is the word “abide”.  It is far more personal and just understanding a concept, or just giving a mental agreement to a thought.  It is parallel to how you occupy your home.  You abide or live there!  Such is the case with abiding in the perfect law.  We must totally immerse ourselves within the law of liberty for us to gain the real life that is “blessed in what we do”. 
God never intended for man to live independently from Him.  God’s intention was to stay close to man in order to protect and to bless him.  Read the first chapters of Genesis to discover God’s original design for His relationship with His creation.

Within the law of liberty, we see things differently.  We see people, we see events and circumstances and we see our own lives differently.  

There is one primary problem for the people of Jesus in today’s churches in understanding this concept.  It is always easier to teach the law of death than the law of liberty.

Let’s read what the Apostle Paul wrote the Roman church:

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8

Why is it that as soon as anyone approaches the topic of grace and liberty we hear words like: bible study, discipleship, accountability, daily devotions, financial stewardship and on and on and on?

There are many things that will eventually come forth as fruit from someone who chooses to abide in liberty.  One will never find the life of liberty attempting to orchestrate it by things and acts no matter how well intentioned.

Refuse to sell your birthright!  Too often the measly price that is offered is testimony to how little regard the church has for liberty.  Be different!