Archive for July, 2010

Killing two birds with one stone

July 31, 2010

Like lyrics of a song, idioms permeate the English language.  This idiom, kill two birds with one stone, communicates that you can solve two problems at one time with a single action, or you are able to do two things at the same time instead of just one.  We understand that this means greater efficiency for us.  We all like to accomplish as many things as possible with one action.  Why would we be surprised that God in heaven, Jehovah, leads the way in maximizing things done in a single act.  I offer this disclaimer.  If He wanted to, God could have done everything in one act, but He chose not to. I can’t say that I fully understand why He didn’t other than to offer more reasons as to why He should be worshiped, praised and adored.

Our text for today, Ephesians 2:11-22, God demonstrates the idiom to which this post is titled.  Paul makes a point of communicating that to the Ephesians and to us.  I will not be able to point out everything here because I don’t know them all.  God’s Word is dynamic in its meaning and application.  His Word never changes but the applications do depending on where one is in his/her growth toward Christ. There are some foundational truths that apply to everyone who surrenders to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Let’s us a t-chart to show how Jesus killed two birds with one stone. The evidence is seen in a person’s position before God.  It describes what happens to a person who surrenders his/her life to Christ and the immediate impact in their lives (in spiritual circles this is an impact of being justified by Christ before God, justification).  The changes that happen to a person that aren’t immediate are the process called sanctification where a person’s willingness to surrender to the Word of God dictates how quickly they change into the person God wants.  In regular terms, here are a few words that describe the immediate or justification: unsaved & saved; no God, know God; lost, found.  The chart will be set up based on unsaved (unjustified /saved (justified).

v12     Unsaved – separated from Christ
Saved – united with Christ
v12     Unsaved – excluded from citizenship in Israel
Saved – citizenship in Israel
v12     Unsaved – foreigners to the covenants of the promise
Saved – native to the covenants of promise (they are yours)
v12     Unsaved – without hope
Saved – with hope
v12     Unsaved – without God in the world
Saved – God with you in the world

v13     Unsaved – far away from God
Saved – brought near to God
v14     Unsaved – no peace (with God; & inner)
Saved – peace with God
v14     Unsaved – enmity with God
Saved – no enmity with God
v14     Unsaved – not reconciled man to man; man to God
Saved – reconciled man to man; man to God
v15     Unsaved – division of man; God
Saved – no division among man; God
v15     Unsaved – walled off from worship to God
Saved – wall broken down to worship God
v16     Unsaved – sin causes hostility with man; God
Saved – sin’s hostility with man & God abolished
v18     Unsaved – no access to the Father
Saved – access to the Father ( to pray, be heard and answered)
v19     Unsaved – foreigners and aliens
Saved – no longer foreigners and aliens
v19     Unsaved – not citizens with God’s people
Saved – citizens with God’s people
v19     Unsaved – not members of God’s household
Saved – members of God’s household
v20    Unsaved – life not having a solid foundation(self/world)
Saved – life having a solid foundation (Christ)
v21    Unsaved – body not a holy temple
Saved – body a holy temple
v22    Unsaved – temple not lived in by the Holy Spirit
Saved – temple indwelled by the Holy Spirit (you are not a God but He lives in you)

These are very deep theological truths.  I am, in no way, attempting to minimize the significance of each one.  Some of which give rise to the debate and entire biblical courses being developed.  The comparisons make more sense as you understand the depth of what God did in sending Christ. I am simply trying to say with one act, Christ’s incarnation, crucification and resurrection, God did an awful lot for man.  God killed two birds with one stone.  Man was doomed being destined to eternal separation because of sin.  With Christ, man has an escape of the eternal separation because Christ’s life, death and resurrection accounted for and cleared those who trust in Him as Lord and Savior from the penalty of their sin. Additionally, God eliminated any separation between man that is of any significance.  There should not be any racism, elitism or any other kind of “ism”.  There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, black or white.  The most important matter of distinction is Christ.  God, through His appointed judge Jesus Christ, will make only the distinction of those who did not know Christ and those who did know Christ. If any of the things presented above are not clear to you. You can ask your pastor, church leader, Sunday school teacher or me.

R.O.W. your boat

July 30, 2010

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

Throughout modern history, songs, at least the lyrics, have been used as metaphors of life’s difficult circumstances or choices.  Several days ago, I posted How do you not look at circumstances? The lyrics of the song above were the impetus for this post which is another installment from Matthew 14:22-36. Same bat post, same bat subject.  When gales of life blow us off center, how do we respond?  What is the key to withstanding such strong forces in our lives. Jesus Christ (Jn 14:6).  How can you R.O.W. your boat gently when the waters of life are beating upon your boat.  The passage in Matthew 14 demonstrates that both literally and figuratively.  It also explains what R.O.W. means.  Be encouraged.

R.O.W. – Ridical Obedience Wins.

Matthew 14:22-33 sets the stage for us. In this passage, the disciples are in the boat on the water when gales begin to toss the boat.  Jesus enters the scene.  He was walking on water, and Peter, who frequently is the example of extending faith, tells Jesus to command him to come to Him on the water.  Jesus simply says “Come.”  Peter begins to walk on the water until he takes his focus off Christ looking at the wind.  When he did, he got scared and began to sink.  At that he cried out Lord save me, the word says, “v31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “ You of little faith, why did you doubt?” It’s a rhetorical question.  Notice that the wind did not immediately stop though; however, Christ responded immediately when his chosen one cried out for help, but the circumstance did not immediately change.  It was only when they got to the boat that the wind died down.  Why is that?  I am asking myself.

Jesus is demonstrating that only when you are with me that the storms of life are not a factor.  I did not say that there would not be storms that blow your boat off course filling it with water all while challenging your faith to not be afraid. But, we see that Jesus himself was their peace. He is our peace. The only way to R.O.W. our boat (our lives), whether in a storm or not, is to obey Christ.  First, we must believe.  Second, we must believe what we say we believe. Trust Him. That’s what Peter was critiqued by Jesus for.  Obviously, it was the faith factor.  He failed to trust, and he failed to do what Christ commanded him to do – Come.  Christ has given us all mandates. That mandate is to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. That is to seek Him. The only way to do this is to obey.  Obedience is a function of how much we believe or trust.

Here another acronym that will help us trust  – Rely And Depend In Christ As Lord.   Be R.A.D.I.C.A.L; however, it isn’t easy; however, start with R.O.W.ing your boat.

Reconciliation Ends Racism

July 29, 2010

Earlier this week, I posted about reconciliation in God’s justiCe: regeneration & reconciliation.  This detailed how God acts to reconcile man to Himself.  The post today is another example of how God reconciled man to Himself.  Here though the focus is on effect of God’s reconciliation on man. When we truly meet and surrender to God, our lives change; our minds, and our heart changes as outlined in 2 Corinthians 5:12-21.  If you have claimed that you know Christ but your life, your mind, your heart has not changed, you may want to rethink whether you truly surrendered to God.

Let’s read today’s text to see that effectual change.

Acts 10:24-48

Peter at Cornelius’ House

The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went along. 24The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”

27Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. 29So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”

30Cornelius answered: “Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ 33So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”

34Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.37You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

39“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

44While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46For they heard them speaking in tongues[a] and praising God.

Then Peter said, 47“Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

Acts 11:15-18

15“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with[a]water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” 18When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”

There is a lot going on here, but the main point to focus on is that God is working on the hearts of Christian Jews who felt that they were God’s special people to whom only He had come – that salvation was for them alone.  That mindset created an elitist perspective and position that was not initiated nor endorsed by God.  Peter, the most outspoken disciple and the one whom Christ stated He would build His church, was a Jew who held racist perspective.  As in all racism, the beholders of that view believe that they are superior or entitled for some reason.  God was working on dispelling that untruth among His people and to bring unity among the Jews and Gentiles who claimed Christ.  God sent the Holy Spirit, the sign of that day and the authenticator of our faith, on the Gentiles.  In effect, God was making a statement to Peter, an apostle and leader, the Jews and the Gentiles.  The statement was salvation is for all men.  He made that claim to the Gentiles.  Anyone can say something to a group when he is among them, but what about when he is among those whom he had associated with and maintained those racist views.  Would he denounce those views among them?  Peter concluded with this thought “So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?(v17)”

We see the changed life, heart and mind.  Has your life, heart and mind been changed by Christ’s Spirit?  If so, proclaim Christ to participate in the reconciliation of men to God.  If not, God is calling you to surrender to Him now.  Has your life, your heart and your mind changed to reflect His character and glory?

How do you not look at circumstances?

July 28, 2010

As an example of the godly gathering, we, who trust in Christ as Lord and Savior, are able to support and strengthen one another.  Remember, Acts 2 and 4 where those who had gave to those who were in need resulting in no one being needy.  The same is true for the immaterial as well.  A friend and member of the body of Christ asked me the question of this post.  Below is how I responded.

I am going to give you the long version then the short.  The long below is from Matthew 14

Jesus Walks on the Water

22Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat was already a considerable distance[a] from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

34When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.

The short version of how do you not look at circumstances is to take courage (rejoice), know that He is there with you and stand in faith not doubting because of what you see. Despite what the circumstances look like, Jesus asks us to look not only at him but also to him.  For if we look at him, we don’t see the enormity of the circumstance. It is a matter of perspective that really captures the essence of the situation.  If you hold an object close to your eye, it looks a lot larger than the scene behind it.  That example of an optical illusion is not an illusion when it applies to faith in Christ or the LORD God.  He is truly bigger than any circumstance.  That point is the looking to Him.  We must believe that God has all power.  We see it an example of it in the text above. He saved Peter from his lack of faith, from his fear. Fear not ________ (insert your name).  Those who just touched his clothing were healed because of their faith in the power of Christ to heal them.  Christ can heal you, your this, your that… if faith is only focused on him.

Escape your circumstances today; have faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  Jesus is Lord, master if you will, over everything as all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him by God (see).  He is also Savior.  Savior from sins; yes! He also can save from circumstances if He chooses to.  Rest assured that those who have faith in Him will not be abandoned.

The Godly Gathering

July 27, 2010

My Pastor, Robert Benson, has talked to our godly gathering numerous (countless) of times over the past years about these texts Acts 2:42-47 & Acts 4:32-37.  He communicates that this was the beginning of what we call church.  The Word supports his assertion of how we should have church.  It should be a godly gathering where you should see evidence of a commitment to teaching and learning the Word, to fellowship (getting together to encourage one another), breaking of bread and to prayer.  Where you observe witness God doing miracles and wonderous signs among those who are supposed to trust Him wholeheartedly for the world to see;  where the believers were together and had everything in common being of one heart and one mind (ouch); where there was no one in need, because those who had, took and used/sold it for the needs of those who did not have, so there would be none in need. Where we continue to meet together outside the gathering building not rushing out after gathering to speak to one another (ooh, that hurt). Where we break bread (eat) together in our homes while praising God for the wonderful things He does in our lives resulting in Him adding to our godly gathering.

What makes the gathering (church) godly is following the tenants identified in this text.  You can’t be godly if you do not do what God outlines.  Godly is an adverb which modifies or describes a verb; therefore, there must be action on our parts or there must be god-like character identified in our lives which is seen by our actions.  Regardless, we must act out what God has told us in order for us to be godly.  Is your gathering godly?  Do you actively see evidence of the aforementioned attributes in your church, on your church grounds or at your church members home.  I am not sure about you, but I have some work to do.  Other than a few people in my church, I am not sure what their needs are.  It would not matter because I struggle to even pray consistently for the needs of those whom I know.

As I sat here, I said to myself, “I feel bad about this.”  The Holy Spirit reminded me of a conversation I had with my daughter about feeling sorry.  As boy, some times I would tell my mom “I am sorry.”  To that, she retorted, “I know you are sorry and lazy too.”  It was true.  The point I made to my daughter which is the point the Holy Spirit is making to me, to you is that sorrow in and of itself does not prompt one to action or to change the action that brought sorrow.  The Word of God says in 2 Corinthians 7 refers to the joy that Paul had. Listen to those verse:

“8Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— 9yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death11See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”

The godly gathering, just as godly sorrow, leads to action that is reflective of God.  It emulates what God has outlined in His Word.  God wants us to follow His ways because it leads to Him being glorified and people being pleased.  Who would not want that end?  Why then is it so difficult to follow God? Because we are sinful to the core.  Praise God for Christ and the salvation He offers us.  I confess that I am not the man God wants me to be.   I acknowledge that I fall well short of the expectations in today’s text as well as anything else God says in His Word, but Christ offers me forgiveness, the redemption of sins.  In the name of Jesus, I proclaim that good news as my way back to the godly gathering.  May my hypocrisy be not a reason to cause you or anyone else to retreat from God.  Let’s work to contribute to the godly gathering, your church.

God’s justiCe: Regeneration & Reconciliation

July 26, 2010

Several weeks ago, I posted a post about justiCe.  It was a miniscule aspect of a very comprehensive attribute of God:  God is just.  While many would debate or down right refute that claim as an attribute of God, I am not one of them.  By God’s grace, I see a large part of His justiCe.  Again the justiCe of God is very deep and involved aspect of God’s being.  I would not dare suppose that I could fully explain it to you in these short words.  Thomas Aquinas (once at the link, click next to see the succeeding articles) wrote several articles in attempts to explain it.  While his writings are not the Word of God, it will challenge you in thinking about the justiCe of God, but I digress.

What is regeneration? In theological terms, regeneration is a spiritual rebirth – to be born again.  If we are born again, what is new?  I submit that is life’s purpose birthed out of a a new mind and a new heart rooted in God’s justiCe.  Let’s look at our text for today, 2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2. In verse 16 and 17, we see Paul’s explanation of a new mind (16) and heart (17).  The new mind refers to not seeing people in a world view or fleshly/carnal view but in a godly perspective.

What is that godly perspective?  Man, because of sin, is at odds with God.  In fact, man has assumed an adversarial roll against God.  That is as an opponent.  God does not want man to experience the ultimate consequence of his opposition to God – eternal separation.  As an act of mercy, God, through Christ’s birth, death and resurrection, offered man an opportunity to exchange positions from adversary to ally.  An ally is one who is one in purpose, mind, spirit.  One who sees things in a like manner.  That like manner is that man is damned if God did not act.  Now, man must be seen this way and encouraged to accept the opportunity to exchange positions.   This is the godly perspective of the new mind.

The new heart refers to a new nature.  The essence of your being meaning your thoughts, principles, practices, are passed away.  God, through the indwelling Spirit feed by the Word, will give you new thoughts, principles and practices.  Essentially, you become a new person based on God’s value system.  We have heard of blood transfusions.  This is a value transfusion.  Just as the new blood from the transfusion brings life, the values of God bring life to you.

The combination of a new mind and heart (16 & 17) leads one to a new position and a new purpose.  That’s is reconciliation (v 18-20).  To be reconciled in relationship, one must have transgressed or breached the conditions of the relationship.  Man sins, so man breached the relationship that God established.  This is what Christ did.  Christ received the consequence for man’s sins.  For those who accepts that sacrifice, receives a righteousness from Christ.  God sees us as righteous through Christ.  Christ made up for the transgressions/sins of man making relationship with God possible again.  Because man moved from adversary to ally, his position changed.  Now, man is aligned with God.  The change of position also and simultaneously necessitates a change of purpose.  Now with a change of purpose, man’s role now is of ambassador for Christ.  Man’s primary responsibility is to remain in union or alignment with God (walk with God rather than away from God) and to share with the world that God offers reconciliation to man.

Paul says in verse 6:1, “As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.”  What is being asked here is to do what you have been called to do.  Live a regenerated life where you purpose is to herald God’s reconciliation to man.  Let us take heed to verse 1.

Be blessed.  This give a new meaning to get a little R&R.

Generous Giving

July 23, 2010

How ironic that I am submitting this post as it appears on Today in the Word about giving when I am not giving you my thoughts as I normally do.  I am running behind today, but I thought the message here was good.  God wants, through Paul and his writings, to challenge our thoughts about giving.  The biggest thing that struck me that I must write about is verse 9 from the passage in 2 Corinthians listed below.  Here is verse 9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”  Christ gives sacrificially, freely, joyfully, willingly and repeatedly.  He sacrificed His high and exalted position of one member of the god-head in heaven to become a sacrifice for man as a man.  He freely and willingly did this as we see throughout scripture.  He chose to give up his riches for our sake.  The word says for the joy set before Him He endured the cross scorning its shame.  Christ gave joyfully to us as He knew it would result in the reunion of man’s spirit with God’s Holy Spirit. It would result in man being reunited with God.  Lastly, Christ gives repeatedly.  Lamentations 3:23 tells us that we have new mercies each morning.  We have these new mercies because of the grace of God rendered unto through the life, death and resurrection of Christ who is as the right hand of the Father interceding for us. Christ is repeatedly or persistently interceding for His sheep, not the goats.  Ah, this is so cool.  God is asking Himself to help himself (his body, the church).  Let’s aspire to give like Christ, and let’s complete our aspirations to give like Christ to His praise and glory. Be blessed today.

Read: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15

Whoever sows generously will also reap generously. – 2 Corinthians 9:6

TODAY IN THE WORD
First-century Corinth was known for its wealth, luxury, and multicultural life. Paul visited Corinth twice, staying 21 months (Acts 18:11, 20:3). He also wrote two letters to the Corinthian church recorded in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, Paul instructed the church regarding the love offering for the poor believers in Jerusalem (cf. Rom. 15:25). In today’s reading, Paul raised the topic again.

He began by praising the generosity of the Macedonian churches of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea (vv. 1-5). Their offering was a response to God’s grace. Like Christians in Jerusalem, the Macedonian believers faced persecution resulting in social and economic ostracism. Though they were persecuted and impoverished, Paul described them as overflowing with joy and their gift as abundant. They even begged for the privilege of giving toward the offering. The Corinthian church had also committed to contributing to the collection (vv. 6, 10-11). Paul wrote to encourage them to fulfill their promise—and to test their sincerity (v. 8).

Do not only emulate the Macedonian churches, Paul urged. Imitate Christ’s grace of giving (v. 9). Christ left the rich glory with the Father and became poor human flesh so that we might one day share in God’s glory. Christ gave Himself sacrificially and voluntarily. Paul wanted the Corinthians to do the same.

Verses 10 through 12 portray three characteristics of the grace of giving: willingness, follow-through, and giving according to one’s means. As Christianity grew beyond Jerusalem, Paul urged the same kind of sharing and caring for one another’s needs exemplified in the early Jerusalem church (Acts 2:42-47) and among God’s people in the wilderness (Ex. 16:18). Throughout the discussion of grace and giving that pervade today’s passage, ultimately, it is God’s grace that gives way to the church’s act of grace in giving toward fellow believers.


TODAY ALONG THE WAY
Often we are uncomfortable when Christian workers talk about money, perhaps because we think about money and giving in ways incongruent with God’s grace. Paul teaches that we can give generously precisely because God gives generously (vv. 1, 9) and He provides abundantly for all our needs (2 Cor. 9:8; Phil. 4:20). When we see giving as an opportunity to join God’s ministry locally and globally (2 Cor. 8:4; cf. Phil. 1:5, 4:15), we will beg for this privilege like the Macedonian Christians did.

How shall He Come: Jesus’ Return

July 22, 2010

There is much to write about on this subject much of which I am not qualified to speak about.  I am not sure why I fixated on this portion of the text (Matthew 25:31-46) this morning. I did not fight it, but I just went with it.  Verse 31 just captured my attention. Matthew 25:31 – When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. Specifically, 1. Jesus will return.  2. Jesus will return in his glory. 3 Jesus will return with all the angels. 4. Jesus will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.  It’s all about Jesus upon His return.  Why?  God has made Him judge, and He is returning to judge man.  He will sit on the throne that is the judgement seat as it says in verse 31.

Jesus is coming again.  It is not a small thing to believe what is asserted here. Many people don’t even believe that Jesus ever came as God, but God reasserts that Jesus came and is coming again.  The operative word connoting the certainty of His return is “when”.  In His first incarnation, Jesus came not with great glory but with a veiled glory only noted by the magi’s worship.  In His second coming, Jesus is coming in a double portion of glory: His glory as judge and heavenly glory which is the Father’s.   When He comes, Jesus is not coming alone. All His angels will accompany Him.  As they would say in the vernacular, Jesus is coming and He is gonna be cliqued-up.  The angels will come to administer the judgement given by Christ.  They will place and take care of those who are on the right hand and who are on the left hand.  He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory.  He will judge man.  The throne of grace will be over at that point.  He will execute His judgement.

Today, let us seek the throne of grace and encourage those who don’t know Christ to do the same for His return is sure just as the accompanying judgement.  Will you be on the right or will you be on the left?  Listen to what else is said about Jesus’ coming.

Matthew 16:27 – For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 – For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in
Christ will rise first.

2 Thessalonians 1:7 – and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful
angels.

Hebrews 9:28 – so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Jude 1:14 – Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones

Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity

July 21, 2010

As a young boy, I read a story by Victor Hugo titled The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  The Hunchback, Quasimodo, was an outcast because of the way he looked physically.  He was denied the clear opportunity to be accepted and loved by his appearance.  He, like, all of us wanted to be freed from that infirmity because it held him hostage in his desire to be loved. Not only was bound by his looks, he was bound by those who caught him as he attempted to kidnap Esmeralda for Claude Frollo.  He too was bound by betrayal of Claude Frollo who just watched while he suffered.

Thank God our master, Jesus, does not respond to us in that manner.  In fact, Jesus came and died to purchase our freedom from the bondage of sin.  There are many examples of that in the Word of God.  In Luke 13:10-17, we see Jesus responding seemingly to a physical infirmity.  This lady, like Quasimodo, suffered from a hunchback.  As He regularly does, Jesus uses a physical need to teach a spiritual truth.  There are multiple things going on.  First, Jesus shows that on the Sabbath, we all need to congregate with the body of the church in church.  Jesus was in the church of His day on the sabbath.  Enough of this stuff about worshiping at home because the people in the church are not right.  Don’t you think Jesus was aware of that.  The difference is that Jesus is perfect and could make a valid claim about those who are not right; however, we are not righteous as is Jesus.  We have no reasonable claim to want to be separate from the hypocrite (an actor or pretender) because we too are hypocrites .  This is the next thing that Jesus was addressing: the hypocritical nature of the leaders of that day.  He drew an analogy for them that juxtaposed an animal with a human.  Clearly, the value of a human outweighs the value of an animal.  He talked about how leaders would unbind their animals to serve their needs.  How then could they contend with Him (Jesus) for unbinding one under His care to serve His needs.  We see from the response of the woman that she indeed did begin the right way.  She praised or gave glory to God for Jesus’ healing of her.

How do we respond when God provides for us?  When He frees us from bondage, do we go again tie ourselves right back up?  This woman was freed from her suffering like Quasimodo.  Both of them had unyielding allegiance to their benefactor.  Do you have an unyielding allegiance to your benefactor, Jesus Christ?  Are we stuck in pointing the finger at hypocrites not acknowledging that we are just as guilty.  The woman was loosed from her physical infirmity.  She could not stand erect after years of being bent over.  That physical circumstance is a representation of our spiritual condition without being freed from sin through surrendering to Christ.  If we do not surrender ourselves to Christ, we remain a spiritual Quasimodo bound by our spiritual infirmity: sin.  Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death.  This spiritual death is the separation of our spirit from the Spirit of God.  Again like Quasimodo, when we are separated from the love, all we can do is long for a better situation.  God offers us true love and will not betray us like Claude Frollo.  When we serve God, every single direction is for our good while simultaneously brings glory to God.

Jesus told the lady in this passage “woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.”   If you have not been loosed from your sin, surrender to Jesus.  He will free you.

Luke 13:10-17 A Crippled Woman Healed on the Sabbath

10On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

14Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

15The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

17When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.

Two Faiths and Two Miracles: A Sick Girl’s Father and a Sick Woman

July 20, 2010

Sorry that I have missed you.  I have been out of town with no access to the internet for the past three days, but I am back now.  Jesus never goes out of town though.

As an educator, I recognize the use of comparison and contrast as an excellent instructional modality.  People are able to see similarities and differences from an abstract concept in a concrete way.  Regardless of the discipline, sciences or fine arts, this instructional strategy is used.  Comparison and contrast was used by the greatest teacher who ever lived: Jesus Christ.

In our passage today, Luke 8:40-53, Jesus, by interacting with the people with two faiths, presents a comparison and contrast in teaching about faith and His response.  You may find more similarities and differences than what I present today.  That’s okay.  It only strengthens your understanding of who Christ is and what Christ offers man.  What are the commonalities or similarities of the characters with whom Jesus interacts.

Character(s)

Jarius & Sick woman
Similarities –  both relate to sickness
Differences –  Jarius in response to death; the woman in response to long-suffering illness

Similarities – both realized only Jesus could help
Differences- Jarius (a male) for his daughter; the woman (a female) for herself

Similarities – both had faith
Differences- Jarius’ was public for his daughter; the woman’s was private for herself
Differences- Jarius’ faith was weaker; the woman’s faith was stronger

Similarities – both Jesus were open to helping
Differences- Jarius a some body; the woman a no body

Similarities – both Jesus commented about
Differences- Jarius’ faith was encouraged; the woman’s faith was exalted

Similarities – both resulted in a miracle
Differences- Jarius for someone else; the woman for herself

The witnesses
Similarities -both situations had crowds
Differences- Jarius’ crowd had no expectation; the crowd of the woman was expecting Jesus’ work

Again, there are more things to pull out of this text, but the most important to note are about Jesus and how He responds to people who call upon Him.  More specifically, how Jesus responds to faith. As you see, the faith can be for someone, Jarius on behalf of his daughter, or faith can be from someone, the woman on her on behalf. She did not ask Jesus or anyone else; she just believed that if I touch Him I will be healed. She had a private faith.  Where as, the ruler, had a very public request of Jesus. Because the ruler humbled himself before everyone, Jesus was given the honor due to Him and the result of His work would end in praise being appropriately directed to Him and to God.  While the woman’s request was private, Jesus sought to make a private request and a private response become known to the crowd of witnesses, so that the praise would also be appropriately directed. Regardless of the nature of the faith, Jesus demonstrated that He responds to faith in Christ.  Matthew Henry says it like this, “Strong faith shall be applauded, and yet weak faith shall not be rejected.”

Likewise, you may have strong faith or you may have weak faith, but as long as you have faith, Christ will respond to you in your moment of need.  Have faith today.  Now, compare your faith and seek to strengthen your faith in Christ.