Monday, January 30, 2012

When a cup is more than a simple cup.

Something has been a question for quite some time for me.  It was never a serious question, just one that was “there” and left unanswered until last week.

You will remember the scene.  It was the night before the crucifixion of Jesus and He was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”

So my question was this: “what cup”?   Why would Jesus use the word “cup” in describing what lay before Him that night?  The scourging; the questioning; the carrying of the cross; the nails; the spear in the side?  The pain of the cross?  All horribly significant but none could be thought of as a “cup”.

If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand,  he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. Revelation 14:10

The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. Revelation 16:19

A “cup” of God’s wrath is impossible to imagine.  

Jesus knew the price for my sin!  That night in the garden He repulsed against the high cost that He was about to pay.

The next day His repulsion was realized: “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME? Matthew 27:47
How do Christians simply sit on their chairs and feebly sing on Sundays?  Why has the message of the high price of their sin not gotten through?  Our worship should be lifting the roof every day and much more on Sundays when we come together!

Take a few moment every day this week to reflect on the gift of Jesus and thank Him for taking on your “cup”.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Kindness of God Leads!

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? Romans 2:4

As I was seeking God out today about what He wanted me to know this scripture was the one that grabbed me. 

Why is it that most sermons and teachings we hear are centered around us making a decision to change?  

What scripture seems to state emphatically is that change does not come through determination or effort.  We are dysfunctional and will lose those battles continually.

Truly knowing the richness of God's mercy and His unfathomable love for each of us is what "leads us" to change.  Nothing else will ever work!  

Fall in love with Jesus!  Allow Him to show You His great love for you and that love will create a hunger and thirst for righteousness that will dissolve your conflicting desires!  There is simply no other way to freedom!

Cease striving and know I am God! Psalm 46:10

He will change what you can't!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Trust the Trustworthy! It Ain't You!

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!

What more noble name can you be called except “little Christ”, Christian?  Our gracious God claims you as His own.  How is it possible to be down or have a “bad day” when He not only has redeemed us but proudly claims us as His own?

Just in case you don’t quite get it yet:

 “Since you are precious in My sight,
Since you are honored and I love you,

You are precious and honored by God!  Is that not totally unbelievable? He treasures you, He celebrates you, He brags about you and it is your picture on His desk!

I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life.
 “Do not fear, for I am with you;

He is willing the throw everything and everybody else away to save you!

How is it that you do not trust Him?

-          we don’t trust Him with our finances
-          we don’t rust Hi with our families
-          we don’t trust Him with our careers
-          we don’t trust Him is His ability to keep all of His promises to us!
-          The list goes on and on

There is yet hope for even us who don’t totally trust!

 Bring out the people who are blind, even though they have eyes,
And the deaf, even though they have ears.
All the nations have gathered together
So that the peoples may be assembled.
Who among them can declare this
And proclaim to us the former things?
Let them present their witnesses that they may be justified,
Or let them hear and say, “It is true.”
 “You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“And My servant whom I have chosen,
So that you may know and believe Me
 “Even from eternity I am He,
And there is none who can deliver out of My hand;
I act and who can reverse it?”
 Is that a guarantee that you can live with?  What else could He do to convince you to trust Him?
 Thus says the LORD,
 Who makes a way through the sea
And a path through the mighty waters,
Who brings forth the chariot and the horse,
The army and the mighty man
(They will lie down together and not rise again;
They have been quenched and extinguished like a wick):
 There is absolutely nothing that can deter Him from coming to your rescue and your protection.
Okay, here is His offer to you today:
“Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
“Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.
“The beasts of the field will glorify Me,
The jackals and the ostriches,
Because I have given waters in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert,
To give drink to My chosen people.
“The people whom I formed for Myself
Will declare My praise. 

Will you now lay your trust fully on Him and desert your ideas, your agendas and your plans?
We must live by faith if we are to meet Him where He stands at the ready to redeem us from this fallen  world and its false wisdom!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Surrender Brings Freedom

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. 

Notice that this scripture uses the past tense in referring to the redeemed as having been raised up with Jesus.  We needn't needn't wait for our earthly deaths to find the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus already did that for us.  We must now only die to ourselves and be born again to enter His kingdom.

 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.  For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience,  and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,  and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—  a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. 

Once again the text uses the past tense is stating that we have "laid aside the old self and have put on a new self".  It is this "new self" that seeks righteousness and see then worldly things as insignificant and valueless. 

  So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;  bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.  Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. 

We now turn to a couple of things what fall to us and our faith.  "put on a heart of compassion" and "put on love"  are our responsibility.  We can only approach this responsibility by faith and allow the Holy Spirit to create the urge within us to be compassionate and loving.  

Finally, we are next instructed to get ourselves and our life-learned desires out of the way to make room for the "peace of God" and the "word of God" to infuse our hearts.  We will know when this happens because no circumstance, no problem, no challenge will ever effect our hearts that sing out to our God continually.

Surrender to know the fullness of His release of the captives!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Enough Church! Enough self-interest and pride.

Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone.   I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes. ~ Ezekiel 36:22-23
 How has the great name of our God been profaned among the nations due to the powerless church of Jesus today?   When the world looks at a Christian today what does it see?  The answer to that question is too frustrating to even consider.  It is a long way away from God proving His holiness through our actions and demeanor!
I have yet to hear anyone call the church and Christians to repentance over profaning God's name.  You see, here is where we miss the boat on what God sees.  It isn't about you and me!  The whole message of good news is that what we do, what we have done, what we will ever do will never amount to anything of worth.  We are lost in our own self importance!
We have been redeemed to bring glory to our God and to remind the lost of God's holiness!  Our God keeps calling to us to wake up to our own self-induced pride and self-interest.
We haven't simply ignored Him; we have profaned His holy name!