Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Grace is Not Rational (So What?)

Paul  the Apostle writes about the Cross, and the grace of God shed upon us through Jesus' death and resurrection:
 
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1: 18)
 
The preaching of the Cross is foolishness the a world where death reigns, where the god of this world has still blinded them to the glorious goodness of God and His Gospel:
 
"In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." (2 Corinthians 4: 4)
 
But back to First Corinthians, where we learn that the wisdom of men, the reason of this world, is come to naught in the Cross:
 
"20Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." (1 Corinthians 1: 20-24)
 
Reason is nothing in the face of Almighty God, and in Jesus we find true and consummate Wisdom, for to us that is the first thing that Jesus becomes!
 
Grace is not reasonable, not rational, in that we are bound in a finite world. Yet God our Daddy is not finite, but infinite, and He demonstrated His love for us in giving His Son to die for us, to rise from the dead on our behalf, and to minister for us (and as us!) at the right hand of God the Father.
 
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God [lit. Christ]" (Romans 10: 17)

Faith comes by hearing the Word about Christ and Him Crucified.

We cannot create faith from within ourselves. It is not a product of reason, but revelation.

Grace is not rational, but that does not mean it is not real.

 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Without Us, He Won't; Without Him, We Can't

"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15: 5)

We can do nothing without Jesus.

We do not need His help only, but we need His life, for without Him, we were dead in our trespasses:

"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10: 10)

and

"But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead."  (Matthew 8: 22)

Ouch!

Yet for the longest time, now that I have learned more about the Gospel of grace, I used to get angry when people would say "Without us, He won't."

God loved me before I even knew or even cared:

"6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. " (Romans 5: 6-8)

When people tell me "You have to do your part, then God will do His part", I know that they do not understand the love of God, because He loved us first:

"We love him, because he first loved us." (1 John 4: 19)

Now, can He love and bless us without our permission? No. Jesus does require us to do one thing:

"Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6": 29)

To believe means that we trust and confide in Christ Jesus, and in Him alone, adding nothing more to what He has already done, because He already accomplished a perfect work!

Jesus cannot believe for us, in that He cannot force His way into us:

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3: 20)

However, as long as we still think that we do not need Him, or that we do not need Him in every aspect of our lives, then we frustrated His grace:

"4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love." (Galatians 5: 4-6)

So, in a sense, without us, He won't do anything, because He wants us to believe on Him and receive from Him:

"Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went." (John 6: 21)

The key element: willingness. Do we want Him in our boat? He will not force Himself into us.

How true He is, and how wonderful is the grace of God!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

He Makes Us His Temple

"18Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Corinthians 6: 18-20)

God's biggest plan was not just to live with man, but to dwell in us:

"2For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." (Isaiah 66: 2)

Before his martyrdom, Stephen referenced Isaiah:

"48Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,
49Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
50Hath not my hand made all these things?" (Acts 7: 48-50)
 
Nothing that he said could complement what the Holy Spirit did within him:
 
"When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." (Acts 7: 54-56)
 
Because of His Spirit, God lives within us.
 
In fact, that is God's perfect will:
 
"27To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily." (Colossians 1:27-29)
 
Because of all that Jesus did at the Cross, God can now live in us, His Temple!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Not in Others/Ourselves: Peace Comes from Hope in Christ

We never grow if our peace is based on what someone else tells why we have nothing to worry about.

There was this chronic attack in my mind, that I had to have feelings, proof, something that would tangible inform  me or quiet my mind.

That is never the case.

I kept thinking that I had to feel good, to feel at peace in my mind in order to know that God was OK with he.

I look at this verse yet again, for Jesus is inexhaustible, much like His Word!

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." (Isaiah 26:3)

Yet for the longest time, I felt that I was responsible for keeping myself in peace!

That is not the case at all!

We are called to trust in Him, to believe all things from Him:

"31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8: 31-32)

and

"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." (1 Corinthians 2: 12)

and

"3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." (Ephesians 1: 3-6)

He grants us peace. We do not give it to ourselves, nor do we seek it from other people:

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14: 27)

We do not find peace in the simple, limited assurances of men. We have a confident expectation of good because of Jesus:

"To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:" (Colossians 1:27)

and

"1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." (Romans 5: 1-5)

Forget dependence on men.

"5Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.
 
"6For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited." (Jeremiahs 17: 5-6)
 
There is no greater bitterness than trying to find peace, being emotional dependent on other people.
 
But -- our hope, our rest, our trust we find in Christ!
 
"7Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is." (Jeremiah 17: 7)

Friday, April 17, 2015

As He Is, So Are We In This World

"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4: 17)

The original version of this verse actually reads: "Herein is love perfected among us, for our love is not perfect.

Only God's love is perfect, and He so loved us:

"In this made perfect hath been the love with us, that boldness we may have in the day of the judgment, because even as He is, we -- we also are in this world;" (Youngs Literal Translation)

God's love is made perfect when we allow Him to make us more like His Son:

"1Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1 John 3: 1-3)

We do not become more like Jesus through our efforts, but by His Spirit, who transforms us.

We are not transformed by thinking whatever we want to, but by meditating on the Word of God:

"1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12: 1-2)

and then

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3: 18)




We are not transformed by looking at ourselves, but looking at Him who has been from the beginning, the Great I Am:

"28And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? 32And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. 33Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God." (Matthew 14: 28-33)

As long as Peter was looking at Jesus, he walked above the water, just like Jesus!

In fact, today, we are no longer alive in ourselves, but in Jesus, who is our life:

"4But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:" (Ephesians 2: 4-6)

and

"1If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (Colossians 3: 1-4)

We reign in life with Christ Jesus today, for we were dead, and now we are alive forever more in Him!

As Jesus is, Beloved, so are you in this world!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Blessed Because Not Offended

"And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." (Matthew 11: 6)

Many believers struggle with some passages, like this one in the Gospel of Matthew. Bringing themselves under condemnation, they fret and tell themselves:

"I better not be offended, so that I will be blessed."

That is not the case at all.

We have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1: 3), and because we are blessed, no longer seeking to earn through the law but trusting in His goodness by faith, we have nothing to be offended about.

So, what is going one here?

A greater context bears out that the person who may have been offended, was none other than the greatest prophet, after Jesus: John the Baptist:

"2Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, 3And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? 4Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." (Matthew 11: 2-6)

For doubting John, Jesus gave His miracles, His Word, and His assurance.

Luke's account affirms that Jesus performed those miracles in the presence of John's disciples:

"And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight." (Luke 7: 21)

Jesus never expected blind faith from anyone:

"Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake." (John 14: 11)

Jesus also gave His Word, for He is the living Word. When Jesus spoke about the healing miracles, and the preaching of the Gospel, He was quoting Isaiah:

"5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
 
"6Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert." (Isaiah 35: 5-6)
 
Today, we do not focus on avoiding offense, because of us, Jesus is not a stumbling block, but is our rock of salvation.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

He Conceived Us

Whatever  man may think of his capacities to speak his mind, to come up with great ideas, we need to understand that God our Daddy conceived us first, and had great plans in place before we could even plan anything.

As a preliminary point,

 The truth is, there is no reason for any of us to utter all our minds, as if everything on our minds must be spoken.

"A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness." (Proverbs 12: 23)

and

"Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding." (Proverbs 17: 28)

and also

"A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards." (Proverbs 29: 11)

 Some of us believe that everything we have to say is necessary in order to grant ourselves greater peace. Some therapies are based on the notion that we must speak everything that we are thinking or feeling in order to have peace.

Such is the fallout of believing in your own conception of God.

God conceived of us, by the way:

"5Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jeremiah 1: 5)
 
and then
 
"15But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, 16To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus." (Galatians 1: 15-17)
 
So, for the longest time, I was convinced that I had to do something about this fire inside of my head, that I had to drive away the upset in my mind.
 
I have since realized that my Jesus, My Daddy God, is taking care of all things, and none of it has to do with whatever I am or am not thinking.
 
For too long, I was so focused on dealing with what I was feeling and thinking. I needed to have answers which would appease a "fiery mind".
 
Today, I know that is not the case. Our minds rest in Him, not the other way around. He conceived of us, and we can rest that He is taking care of all things for us, too!