Reading I John...."My little children, these things I am writing to you that you may not sin..." I John 2:1
What?! John just finished saying (I John 1:8-9) that if we say we don't sin we are liars and make God a liar! Contradiction?!
The truth is many Christians do not even make any effort to live a sinless life. This is very convicting. Actually, I happen to be one of those who lives a "secret life" of Romans 6:1, ("shall we sin more so that grace abounds"), while adamantly standing against "cheap grace" and the concept of "I'm saved and forgiven, so get over it". This is called practical hypocrisy!
How would my life (my days, my weeks, attitudes, decisions, etc...) change if I began each day with "By God's grace I will NOT sin today?"...Would I live a life of defeat, constantly looking at my "failures"(sins) and wallowing in self-pity and despondency? Or, would I walk in a heightened state of God's overwhelming grace expressed to me in the words of Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus."? Would it make me more aware of what sin actually is and more ready to avail myself of "the way of escape"(I Cor. 10:13)?
My Father's love for me is a reality that is NOT to be questioned. But...will it bring Him more happiness (glory) if I am carefully walking my days so as to keep His happiness (glory) my main goal?
You betcha! Now...as NIKE says...JUST DO IT!!
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Reading thru John...again...what a book!!
Scene 1: So Ch. 13 begins with the last supper....the disciples enter the room arguing about who will be the greatest among them. No rebukes from Jesus. They all sit down and Jesus girds Himself with a towel, grabs a basin with water and begins to wash their feet! I know that I would feel like a dog if I would've been there. Did Jesus not know that most of these men would leave Him all alone at the cross? How could He wash their feet knowing THAT?!
Scene 2: Jesus announces at the meal that one of the disciples would betray Him. Peter and John ( and all the rest) wonder who He is talking about....Wait a minute!...John 6:64 says that Jesus knew from the beginning the one who would betray Him. And the disciples couldn't tell? How could Jesus treat Judas just like all the others and NOT reveal that he would betray Him?!! Then, to top it off...Jesus dips the morsel of bread and hands it to Judas. This is an act of love and honor in Oriental cultures!!
So there you have it. Jesus' way of treating those who betray him....wash their feet and show them honor and love....
He then proceeds to give them a New Command...that they should love one another as He has loved them. "The command to love wasn’t new; but the extent of love just displayed by Jesus was new, as would be the display of the cross. Love was newly defined from His example."
How wretchedly short I fall of this kind of love. The best I can do with my "enemies" is to ignore and not speak evil of them. But to honor them and humble myself to whatever degree for THEIR good? ...LORD, help me.... 2 Cor. 5:19...
Monday, June 13, 2011
Reading a wonderful book on Jesus thru Middle Eastern Eyes. A Few Thoughts on why Jesus came...
It seems almost heartless to preach forgiveness of sins to an oppressed people. "Don't tell me about my sins when I have an elephant on my foot!!" type of thing... Yet that is exactly what Jesus did and why He came! He was preaching that the sins of the oppressed were of first priority and that their Roman oppression was secondary...heartless, isn't it?
His point was that both the oppressor and the oppressed are sinners in need of a Savior. This message alone would cut across class & physical distinctions, now we are ALL oppressed!
As the oppressed, they needed to understand that "suffering does not produce people without sin."
Yet we are more willing to remove the suffering than to deal with the sin. We would rather itch the spot than get the stinger out!! However, there actually is a certain amount of hesitation...what happens if I take the stinger out? Will I continue to itch? If yes, then why bother! just itch it!! But, if the stinger is gone, along with its poison, isn't there hope that the itch will eventually subside?
"O death where is your sting? The sting of death is sin..." I Cor. 15:55-56
The "itching" of looking for peace in the inner soul was dealt with by Christ when He removed the "stinger" of sin at the cross. Once we receive Him as our Savior, He removes the stinger and we find that regardless of outward physical oppression, our worst inward oppressor is gone! The stinger is gone...NOW there is hope that this incessant physical itching will eventually be gone all together...
"Therefore, having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our LORD Jesus Christ."Rom. 5:1
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
“I remember when a boy being taken to see the residence of one of our nobility, and the good friend who took me noticed my astonishment at the largeness of the house. I was amazed at it, having never seen anything like it, and so I said, ‘What a house for a man to live in!’ ‘Bless you, boy,’ said he, ‘this is only the kitchen!’ I was only looking at the servants’ apartments, and was astonished at the grandeur thereof; but the mansion itself was a far nobler affair. Oftentimes when you see what the Lord has done, you are ready to cry out, ‘How can all this be? His goodness, his mercy, is it as great as this?’ Rest assured that you have only seen a little of his goodness, as it were the kitchen of his great house: you have not seen the palace of the Most High, where he reveals his full power and splendor.” (Spurgeon)
Oh LORD... come quickly!
Thursday, January 6, 2011
In Ecclesiastes1:9-11, Solomon continues with his discourse on the "vanity" of life. He now focuses on how "there is nothing new under the sun." "Certainly there is happiness and satisfaction in new discoveries and inventions!" you say. Solomon differs. He plainly says, "Nope...there's nothing new." Others have had our experiences. Maybe not surrounded by the same circumstances, but the lessons, emotions, etc that accompany those circumstances are not new.
We pride ourselves on the newness and singularity of our experience. We derive our self-esteem from the fact that we are "different", our experience is CERTAINLY more involved, more painful, more exciting, more "you-name-it". But, if examined carefully, the lesson and emotions have all been experienced by others before us and will be experienced by others after us. So...why base our happiness and satisfaction on being "new" and "different"? when it will be shown that our strength, not only as a human race but particularly as the Body of Christ lies in our commonality of experience and our sharing together from it? We are NOT an "army of one"! In fact, I believe that our fleshly desire to "rise above the rest" puts us in a precarious position as it relates to temptation (I Pet. 5:9).
Since "there is nothing new under the sun," and since we "crave" newness amidst the routine, what shall we do? We are to look "above the sun" where God promises to "make all things new" (Rev. 21:5) It seems that God, who made us, understands us well. He has purposefully equipped us with a deep desire for "newness" that cannot be met here."What a cruel God!" you say. Oh no! "What a merciful God," I say. He who knows not only what is best for me, has also wired me in such a way that my continuously doomed search for satisfaction in the "new" here "under the sun," will eventually lead me to Him! Satisfied at last...
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Some thoughts on Ecclesiastes 1:1-3...
*Solomon calls himself "the Preacher", as he writes Ecclesiastes. He had, until now, been"the Gatherer" of life and experiences, but now it's time to "show and tell." All of us, from the moment we are born, will begin our own "gathering of experiences" but for what purpose? A student gathers facts and information regarding a subject. He then looks for an outlet to "tell" others what he has found...so he writes a paper or gives a talk. So it is with us...life experiences have a way of pressing us to "tell" and so Solomon does here.
*Solomon also calls himself:
"son of David" - a godly heritage does not guarantee a godly walk and might even prove more "damning" to our own shameful souls.
"king of Jerusalem" - position, wealth and power do not guarantee a fulfilled life either, but might add the shame of failure to be a good example.
We must beware of what we put our trust and reliance on, for heritage, power, fame, etc...will become snares around our feet when devoid of a relationship with God Almighty.
*If, as Solomon states, "All is vanity," meaning the whole of it, the totality of it is a vapor...like a breath, then satisfaction and fulfillment must come from beyond this world. He had tried everything, he knew more than anyone else and yet this world proved to be unsubstantial...empty fodder devoid of true nutrition...vapor...
*In earlier times Solomon had said, "In all labor there is profit..." Prov. 14:23. As "profit" that will aid us in survival in this world, it is true. Now, years later, as he writes Ecclesiastes, Solomon says, "What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?" Ecc. 1:3. Soul hunger cannot be satisfied with fleshly trifles. This world is full of fleshly trifles...true soul food and substance must be beyond it.
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." C.S.Lewis
Monday, December 13, 2010
"At the king's command they quarried out great, costly stones in order to lay the foundation of the house with cut stones." I Kings 5:17
Studying I Kings... It is talking about Solomon's task of building the temple and how God not only granted him wisdom and wealth but also made a way for him to set about his task, by giving Solomon and Israel, "rest on every side and no adversaries or misfortunes."
The verse above caught my attention, among others...
Solomon, himself, ordered that "big, costly and cut stones" be used for the foundation of the temple.
I thought about two lessons to learn from this:
1. These stones would be under the magnificence of the temple...nobody would see them. Why not just use regular, uncut, cheaper stone? To me, this is an indication that Solomon not only knew but also acknowledged in his life where his wealth had come from. How then, could he give less than the best to the Giver, regardless of whether the stones would be seen or not?...God would see them!
2. "Cut" stones. Not random, natural stone which might be uneven and affect the overall carefully planned building. Solomon was purposeful and fastidious about his measurements and his materials. He would not allow himself to be rail-roaded into "settling" for uncut stones that would influence and possibly detract from his product. He was the master of the stone, NOT the other way around!
Oh LORD, how haphazardly I build! Forgive me for my lack of discipline and careful discernment every day. Each day I set about laying stones for the foundation of my temple (I Cor. 6:19), and by failing to be purposeful, I am allowing myself to be "sabotaged" by the enemy of my soul. Show me where I am settling for less than the best for You, my Master. Teach me to be, myself, the master of my circumstances and NOT the victim. Help me to find the best stones and cut them to size for your glory!!
"And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." Hebrews 4:13