Monthly Archives: July 2018

God’s Delima

Paradox of Emotions————

Oh, that I had in the desert a lodging place for travelers, so that I might leave my people and go away from them; for they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people. “They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me,” declares the Lord. [Jeremiah 9:2-3]

To one degree, you wanted to find rest away from seeing these people! However,

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! [Isaiah 30:18]

What a strain! After all, think of it as a conflict between yearning, strong desire for someone vs the problem that they way they were- made it impossible to be in an emotionally healthy relationship. Yet imagine the pain of longing to be close to someone that if they could change and come to their senses, it would be sweet to your soul! A dream come true!

Yet, paradoxically- the present state of this person- makes it impossible for an close and intimate relationship. I suppose we could borrow this for an analogy, a man who loves a woman and grows ro desire and love her and is enamored with her and enjoys the closeness, the connection, emotionally head over heels for her- yet suppose then she starts to let other men encroach on the relationship and slowly the man who adores her is slowly pushed to the side and treats him as just her go to when she needs something. Lets also suppose the gentleman who has been shoved aside is someone who is kind and good hearted, but she later shows her bitterness toward others and is bent on revenge and has become a cynical person. Well let’s say unfortunately there were reasons for this anger in her heart, pains, hurts, fears, struggles and longing that made her still human- though her behavior is atrocious- The man feels compassion-

Though he feels compassion and sorrow over her pain, her struggles, and hardships- he is nonetheless wounded by her ways. Grieved by her behaviors and afflicted by what she has been doing and who she is showing herself to be.

Though compassion is there, his heart cannot help but feel jealous over her and crushed by her rejection of him. (Now humanly speaking a man who wanted loved her like a lover can no longer be close to her in this regard without detriment to himself. Even though more then anything he wants to just overlook this- he cannot by his nature do this.] He cannot help the feeling of anger and pain nonetheless.

So, in the same sense, sin, creates a barrier between God and themselves, God is love and longs to be good to people and show compassion and kindness. Yet, God’s nature is distinct and holy, meaning he cannot violate who he is just because he loves sinners. He obviously hates sin.

Example: The Ten Commandments- are a reflection of what He is like, for one “Thou shall not lie” and we are told repeatedly, “God is not a man that he should lie”

“You shall have no other gods alongside of me”

Now, it is not unreasonable for a human lover to require that the person they are with does not cheat. Reasonable relationships- such as a married couple, it be unreasonable for a husband or wife to expect the person they are with to be ok with an affair. Right! An insane irrational person may not care but someone with some bearing on their mental faculties will feel jealous over that if they truly treasure that relationship.

God in the same sense wont share his rightful position as God with someone lesser or something lesser then himself, that he created, for everything was made by him and apart from him nothing exists. So it is offensive to a Holy God to thrust him out for another god. Or to think he will be fine with anyone making a god out of something or someone or themselves and then turning to him when they are in a jam. Why does God ignore the prayers of those who refuse to repent of sin and turn to Him? Because, he is not just a 911 God that is used for an emergency.

In the OT times, when his people whom he redeemed for himself from Egypt forsook him for idols, he forsook them to let their gods rescue them (Of course their idols couldn’t) so he let them suffer for a while so they could see what it was like to not have him around to get them out of a jam.

Then the prophet Shemaiah came to Rehoboam and to the leaders of Judah who had assembled in Jerusalem for fear of Shishak, and he said to them, “This is what the Lord says, ‘You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak.’” (2 Chronicles 12:5)

How can a heart bent in the wrong way be made straight? By nature we all sin, therefore, we become “Sinners”

Sin is a state of being, not just outward behavior, and the iniquity of the heart pulls us toward sin. Yet God loves people made in his image yet human beings who he created for relationship with him, became through Adam’s sin, sinful by nature. So, God has to either- blot us all out and forget we ever existed. Sending us to a place where he wont have to be grieved by looking at us. Yet, God is love, he is a compassionate God! He cannot tolerate sin nor does he delight in destroying us. Yet he has a few options- Compromise with sinners and deny His character- (That is impossible for Him) or (Wipe everyone out and banish them eternally from his sight)

But there is another alternative. Jesus Christ coming to suffer the penalty of our sins in place of us, and this is God stepping down to suffer on the cross in place of his rebellious creatures. Because Christ died for us, we are forgiven if we believe and receive Him as Lord and Savior. Therefore we are made right in the eyes of God at his expense. However, Christians can sin, and fail, and “miss the mark” and thats what sin means in the Greek. So God yes forgives us past, present and future but put’s his Spirit inside our hearts to move us to “Both will and act according to his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13)

Also we see this in Jeremiah 32:37-41 and Ezekial

I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.

Jeremiah 32:37-41 –

“‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. [Ezekiel 36:24-28 ]

These were written when God sent Israel and Judah into exile for their sin and continual idol worship. They were removed from the land he gave them 70 years and then he brought his people back.

Yet there was true humbling and repentance in the afflictions and they turned back to the Lord.

In Deuteronomy 10:16 Moses said, “Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. (Deuteronomy 10:16)

In Deuteronomy 30:6 Moses says “The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.

Deuteronomy 30:6 –

In Jeremiah 4:4 God says “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, circumcise your hearts, you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire because of the evil you have done— burn with no one to quench it.

(Jeremiah 4:4)

In (John 3:3) Jesus said “Unless a man be born again he will not see the kingdom of God”

Lastly, sin makes us enemies of God, but:

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:10-11)

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

(Romans 5:6-8)

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Generous With Grace

I did see a multifaceted application though, of course. God wants us to be generous with our produce and income, willing to share with those who have less and are in true need.

Yet let’s not forget also another generousity, forgiveness and mercy. Jesus spoke on judging others in Matthew 7

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. 6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. [Matthew 7:1-6]

Being an overly critical person shows a stinginess to grant grace for others shortcomings and personal failures. Sure we are called to not delight in sin “1 Cor 13 tells us “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” yet this same passage says “Love is patient, love is kind, it is not proud, it is not rude, it does not envy, it does not boast, it keeps no record of wrongs” it also says “It is not self seeking”

In any relationship or friendship, we may all benefit more to adopt more love and allowance for people’s shortcomings and forgiveness for their sins.

There is a time to address those matters if they become serious but we need not get out a magnifying glass to look for things continually.

Love is truthful, love is willing to confront poor behavior when needed, but after that it is willing to also forgive and move past personal hurts and grow the relationship.

Second Chances, New Starts.

I was sitting in a gas station just the other day sitting at a table and drinking a beverage. Then the song was playing on the radio, “Sometimes ‘goodbye’ is a second chance” and as odd as it might seem, it was as if God was using just some ordinary song to speak to my life.

I have actually thought often about a meaningful passage of Scripture that has been special to me for a few years now.

that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord. (Philemon 1:10-16)

Onesimus had been Philemon’s run away slave, and had stolen from Philemon when he ran away. What happened though was later on Onesimus meets the Apostle Paul and becomes a believer in Christ Jesus alao. Paul pleads as a friend and spiritual father figure of Philemon to welcome Onesimus back as a freed man, and fellow believer!

This is a wonderful picture of the forgiveness of Jesus Christ and Paul makes a very passionate and pursuasive appeal to Philemon, reminding him that it was because of him, Philemon became a believer and became free from sin and God’s judgement too! Paul earlier on had had the privilege to share the Gospel with Philemon and as a result, Philemon became a faithful follower!

So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.

Philemon 1:17-21 –

Paul offers to repay whatever is been lost in the process, yet adds, “Not to mention, that you owe me your very self” (some translations say, “Your soul”)

There is also another story that depicts grace at work, in Luke 15, Jesus tells a parable of the Prodigal Son.

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Luke 15:11-32 –

Both Biblical narratives remind us of how gracious God is. Like the father in the second story, of Luke 15, we see a father who let the son leave, did not stop him, but waited long it seems for his son to come home and rejoiced when his son did. He ran to meet him even as he was in the distance.

In Isaiah 30, it says: Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.

(Isaiah 30:18-19)

Isaiah chapter 30 starts by talking about a prodigal nation. A nation that was being rebellious toward God and forsaking Him for idols. Yet, as angry as God was at these people, he says in conclusion, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you” –gracious and good are often synonymous words in the Bible. Infact, the name John means “God is gracious” and “God is good”

Thus interesting that a Gospel is named, “John” who often refered to himself as “The disciple that Jesus loved” and he writes this because he knew God loved him- not to suggest he did not love the other ones, but John writes much about “Love” as we see also in 1 John the letter:

This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4:17-19

God’s love initiated our salvation, “For God demonstrated his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

God is ready to welcome home to his heart all who turn in faith to Hin. Jesus Christ made it possible to be fully restored to God because God is full of love. He hates sin but loved the sinner to die in all our places so forgiveness was possible!

The Redemptive Preposal.

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

(Proverbs 12:4)

They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” (Mark 15:17-18)

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy. (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)

(Paul is writing to Thessalonian believers who have come to faith through his ministry!)

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

(Ephesians 5:25-33)

See how all these verses could tie together?

First let’s look at Proverbs 12:4 again,

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown,

-but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

If we look at this verse from a surface amd only practical level, we see it is yes true, a good wife delights her husband but a bad wife is his grief. That can be said about a bad husband too if the man is a problem. Solomon wrote to his son so he is giving a male perspective. However, how does this proverb help us understand a deep theological truth? Well lets think about how God desires mankind to know him and be faithful to Him, to do his will and bring delight to his heart. Let’s also think of what humankind is like though by nature in sin—- (See Romans 3)

I myself said, “‘How gladly would I treat you like my children and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’ I thought you would call me ‘Father’ and not turn away from following me. But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you, Israel, have been unfaithful to me,” declares the Lord. A cry is heard on the barren heights, the weeping and pleading of the people of Israel, because they have perverted their ways and have forgotten the Lord their God. “Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.” “Yes, we will come to you, for you are the Lord our God. Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills and mountains is a deception; surely in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel. From our youth shameful gods have consumed the fruits of our ancestors’ labor— their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters. Let us lie down in our shame, and let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the Lord our God, both we and our ancestors; from our youth till this day we have not obeyed the Lord our God.” (Jeremiah 3:19-25)

It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them, ” declares the Lord. “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord . “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:32-34)

God used a metaphor to depict his people of those days. However, through faith in Christ we all have gone from being a disgraceful wife to a faithful wife. The Church- Truly redeemed of God by rebirth into newness and living hope have become cleansed into a “New Creation” [2 Cor 5:17]

The Lord’s redeemed have become like a crown of his glorious salvation.

The Lord their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. How attractive and beautiful they will be! Grain will make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women.

(Zechariah 9:16-17)

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

(Revelation 21:2-4 – )

This is quite a far cry from what the Lord God says earlier on in Hosea,

Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people. Oh, that I had in the desert a lodging place for travelers, so that I might leave my people and go away from them; for they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people. “They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me,” declares the Lord. “Beware of your friends; do not trust anyone in your clan. For every one of them is a deceiver, and every friend a slanderer. Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sinning. You live in the midst of deception; in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me,” declares the Lord. Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says: “See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people? Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully. With their mouths they all speak cordially to their neighbors, but in their hearts they set traps for them. Should I not punish them for this?” declares the Lord. “Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?” I will weep and wail for the mountains and take up a lament concerning the wilderness grasslands. They are desolate and untraveled, and the lowing of cattle is not heard. The birds have all fled and the animals are gone. “I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals; and I will lay waste the towns of Judah so no one can live there.” Who is wise enough to understand this? Who has been instructed by the Lord and can explain it? Why has the land been ruined and laid waste like a desert that no one can cross? The Lord said, “It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law. Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Baals, as their ancestors taught them.” Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “See, I will make this people eat bitter food and drink poisoned water. I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their ancestors have known, and I will pursue them with the sword until I have made an end of them.”

(Jeremiah 9:1-16 – )

Yet the Lord made the way to put in His Beloved a new heart,

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord. ”

Ezekiel 11:19-21 –

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:3-4 –

What did God do? He sacrificed His own Son to wash away Her (His Beloved People’s Disgrace) So He could put His Spirit forever with her. Ephesians says “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

(Ephesians 1:13-14)

Like a man who proposes to a woman and she receives his proposal, so when we received Christ as Lord and Savior, he sealed us with the new ring (See Luke 15) He gave us the Holy Spirit to guarantee his promise to take us to eternity as His.

When in Luke 15, the Prodigal Son returned home to his father and came to his senses, the father said “22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:22-24 )

The Abuse Of Power, Spiritual Forgery.

Religious Abuse in The Early Church.

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. (3 John 1:9-10 -)

The Apostle John, the author of the Gospel of John, and the 3 letters of 1 John, 2, John, as well as 3 John- He wrote this to call to attention some fellow that was using his position in the church for self interest. “Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us.”

He was also slandering the Apostle to the people in the church, as well as

“Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.”

Leadership in church is no power trip, in our day and time there are churches who may opperate this way. Yet the Scripture addresses every issue we could ever come across. It is as true today as then! There are no new things under the sun as Solomon wrote in Ecclessiastes!

To use a high role in a church or use The Lord’s name by stamping it on behavior that dishonors him is in a sense breaking the command also “You shall not use the Lord your God’s name in vain” and everytime someone stamps his name on something His word would denounce, that is forging The Lord’s signature on something he detests!

Worthy Representatives and faithful managers.

I learned this a few years ago, but it is interesting no doubt. There are many big name gas stations that allow independant people under cosignment to opperate the station with the their name, and supply gas to them and let them do so under the Corporate name. There are of course stipulations for this. Since the independent managers are running a station under the name of a well known business- there must be compliance with them so that their name is not discredited by indepentant contract managers who are borrowing a name to operate under.

This though is similar to being a Christian in a sense. Because to claim this name means – we ought to live our lives as Christ Jesus would have us. Otherwise we do diservice to His great name and make Him look bad to the world. Jesus Christ does not fail to be glorious because many who claim to be Christians can often fail to represent Him well. However, those who are on the outside looking in have only a Christian’s example often to go by. Since Jesus is not literally walking the earth now, all the world has to look to are those who claim to represent him.

Jesus taught a parable similar to this concept

—-33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. 35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. 38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. (Matthew 21:33-43)

In order to understand the parable, we must frame it in their time to understand the entirity of it. First he was addressing the Jewish religious leaders who had a large monopoly on religious power in that time and culture. What had happened was, they were misusing religious power for personal gain and control. They were not using it to point people to the appointed Messiah, the Christ that the old testament predicted many times would come. They were not using their power or influence to turn people back to God or restore them to the very One who the Law was all about. Jesus then warns “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. (Matthew 21:33-43)

So these religious hierchy and powerful were not doing so for the glory of God but themselves. Any good manager must manage well. Managers are entrusted but they are not the owner. An owner of a company is far greater then his assigned managers! If the managers fail to be trustworthy and responsible, they are removed or demoted- and replaced.

How about us as Christians? Salvation of course is a purely free gift of mercy and grace and I do not for one minute think God will revoke the salvation of a Christian who has truly been saved and born again. Yet there is a few things to consider, our faithful obedience is often how God evaluates whether we are ready to be in positions of influence or have responsibilities.

19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

(Matthew 5:19)

10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

(Luke 16:10-12)

There are many Christians out there who want more influence for Christ in the world yet have forgotten as we all have at times, we must glorify God with what he placed in front of us. How are we handling small matters of obedience and how are we doing the best to glorify Him where we are at? Are we doing His will? Are we using his blessings to do good to our neighbors and spread his message faithfully? Are we letting our witness truly reflect His love, character, holiness and virtues? Or are we allowing small matters of hypocrisy do damage?

Living the Christian life is of course possible only by the grace He supplies. Just as an independant store owner under cosignment receives merchandise, or in the analogy above, gasoline, from the owner who supplies him or her. So also we have no strength, righteousness or true goodness apart from Him enabling us to flow his love and goodness! We must stay close to him if we are to truly shine for him. Christian – Christ disciple or little Christ in the early sense of the word, and we must model our lives after him and his teachings so that we are not just claiming the name while refusing to go by the rules of the game!

He Was Exalted, Is Exalted, And Will Be Exalted

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 46:10 –

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

John 3:14-15 –

I had the verse of Psalm 46 come to mind this evening and then all of the sudden I saw a connection, (John 3:14-15)

I never thought of these two verses as correlating but think they do. One of the greatest ways God is glorified is through Christ’s work on the cross – the Work of the cross subjects the once sinner, enemy of God- [by faith and revelation] we became subject and loyal to Christ Jesus and God our Father. He was indeed exalted high in humiliation and grief but reigns at the right hand of the Father exalted in glory and honor!

God is “Exalted among the nations” still even among those who fail to recognize Christ as the Messiah of God, the Son of God and God in human likeness. Yes because there is even them who fail to see him as his rightful name- but Jesus Christ still is either one of the most admired or for some controversial figure in history. Even those who fail to bow to his Lordship, many among the non Christians admit they admire and respect the life Christ lived. Though salvation must come through faith in His true divinity and trust in His finished work upon the cross, being raised from the dead for forgiveness of sins and new life— even many who have not reached this belief have often scarcely dared to discredit the life Jesus lived or what he did.

Finally, there is the exaltation of God in the return of The Lord Jesus Christ. He will lastly be exalted upon his return to judge the world.

for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”

Romans 14:11 –

Even the ones who deny him fiercely today will be silenced on that great day.

Don’t Hurt Your Witness

A pregnant mother is told not to smoke because it could endanger the life of the baby being formed in her body. Yet the spiritual truth is, that many non Christians watch the lives of Christians and if we let spiritual smoke of our own shortcomings and sin effect those watching, we are endangering the example we ought to set for those who yet to know the living hope we have and yet to have the rebirth that brings new life, spiritual life! Now this is a good and challenging reminder I think since – we never know how our example will effect those around us! We could say “My sin, my business” but thats like a pregnant woman smoking saying “My body and I do what I want” and of course such a mindset is purely self centered. We though in a sense could fall prey to the same error in a different outworking, and for a Christ follower to act as though their personal sin does not effect others, the Body (God’s people) or the people who do not yet believe—to think that our sin is just personally effecting us and not anyone elses business, then think again. Jesus Christ will judge the World for her sins but also call into account believers too and we do not want to feel shame over lost opportunities that we missed because we were so foolish!

Freedom

Todays verse was,

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17 –

Very appropriate for July 4, 2018 today!

Since today here in the USA is Independence Day. God wants us to be liberated to from all sins that hold us back from our truest potentials as well as just faulty beliefs and mindsets that keep us hostage. When we come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we are made free of sin and the penalty of sin, we receive forgiveness and new life. However, just because we have been granted freedom does not mean it wont be challenged. There is still the pull of our bodies and faulty mindsets that have been with us often all our lives. We still need to fight against these and defend what He has rightfully purchased for us, Freedom! The Enemy, and the sinful nature wants to still trip us but through Christ we have been given Hos Spirit to indwell us and enable us to resist and not be overcome! We have His Word, containing the spiritual declaration of independence, the Christian constitution so to speak! We have been given all we need to overcome! We also have freedom to approach God with bold confidence because of Christ Jesus!

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 -)

Happy Independence Day Everyone!

Pipeline In Progress

I was driving yesterday and proceed my usually route, and there is a road that has been under construction. The workers on the road have their signs out to direct the flow of traffic and there are construction vehicles and signs in place.

There was a few that catch my eye, such as “Roadwork, expect delays” and “Pipeline in progress.” The roads often get old and the concrete needs replaced. From the last sign I saw, it appeared as if some water pipeline too was being put in and the old worn down things are being remade.

This though is like the Christian life! We encounter delays and God works to tear up our lives a little from time to time. He is remaking us. Like the roads here in the Midwest, often the “Freeze thaw cycle” from cold winter vs warm and hot summers causes the roads to wear out faster over time. When the roads freese over the concrete is suffering wear from natural elements. Life though also has challenges and wear to it, so the Lord works on us!

The Pipeline though stuck out to me. One of God’s goals for us in the Christian life is that we carry His redemptive message to others, that we also are a blessing to those around us! He wants us to bring living water into the lives of thirsty souls we encounter!

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

John 7:37-39 –

This is what the Lord says— he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

Isaiah 44:2-3 –

 

Because of Jesus Christ, our lives have purpose, meaning and forgiveness! He though builds in us his character to make us vessels to carry this Great News and hope. So when our lives seem a bit torn up, trust God to be building new things in so that you can be a greater blessing to others through Him!