Monday, March 30, 2015

The Obedience of Christ: Death, Resurrection, Ministry

He has taken care of everything, and the proof is in the Cross:

"1Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: 2But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled." (2 Corinthians 10: 1-5)

We have to revisit the truth that the weapons are not carnal, they are not our flesh.

They have nothing to do with our physical efforts or our feelings.

They are all based on His Spirit:

"Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts." (Zechariah 4: 6)

and

"It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." (John 6: 63)s

and

"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 do not fight with the ideas of men, but the Wisdom of God:

"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:" (Ephesians 6: 17)

We are called to allow the weapons of God to bring the thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Not some idea or imagination, but the true and verified account and reality.

Notice that it is not "Obedience to Christ". It's all about what Jesus has done for us:

"5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2: 5-11)

He died on the Cross for our sins, and was raised for our justification.

Today, He is seated at the right hand of God our Father, and sits are our perfect man, our perfect representative, a High Priest Forever, forever justifying us from all our sins:

"23Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."

Indeed, Jesus was raised for our justification, and today He sits at the right hand of God our Father:

"19And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." (Ephesians 1: 19-23)

We bring out thoughts into Captivity to the Obedience of Christ: His death, His resurrection, and His ministry today and forever.

.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Christ, Not Man, Is King

Christ, not man, is king.

This inscription greets every visitor to the tomb of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell.

He resisted taking on the Crown of England, and continued to do so until his death.

When the Stuart Monarchy returned to power, the British people had established a greater revelation of their authority, which included putting their monarch under the same rule of law as they.

How did they come to accept this revelation? For centuries, the argument of divine right had determined that one man would be king and have greater authority over men.

The Bible became available to common men, that God had intended for every man to reign in life, through His Son Jesus:

"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5: 17)

Even in the Old Testament, there were hints, inferences, and prophesies of the glory which God meant for man:

"5For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour." (Psalm 8: 5)

and

"5Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high,
 
6Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!
 
7He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill;
 
8That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.
 
9He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD." (Psalm 113: 5-9)


Christ is king, not man.

This sentiment animates the reason why common people in the 1600s would rise up and overthrow a tyrannical king (Charles I).

However, in our world, we find more people who are unable to stand for anything, because they do not know about the King who gave everything for them.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3: 16)


and

"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)

In Christ Jesus, we have a King who serves us:

"For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Mark 10: 45)

The perversion pervasive in our times suggested that any king means tyranny and oppression.

Yet in Jesus, we have a King and Priest who serves us, from whom we in turn serve others:

"17Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: 18That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec." (Hebrews 6: 17-20)

Men cannot be good kings. They cannot supply the full life and identity which men need.

Only God can do that:

"14That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: 15Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen." (1 Timothy 6: 14-16)

Christ, not man, is King, and we reign in life with Him (Romans 5:17)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Jesus Our Chief, as Our Servant

"43But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: 44And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. 45For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Mark 10: 43-45)

In churches throughout Christendom, the emphasis is on "Serve God!" or "Do What You Can for Jesus!" or "Give Your Life to Christ!"

Yet Jesus told His disciples that the greatest among them would be their servant, and the chief among them would be their slave.

Many read these passages, and then go about trying to serve everyone.

Have we not read what Jesus said to His disciples before He died on the Cross?:

"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)

Paul reminds us that He is our life, and not the other way around:

"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)

and also

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

We need God to serve us, because we cannot do one thing for ourselves.

In the Bible, the perfect picture of this godly dependence appears with Jesus as the guest of sisters Mary and Martha of Bethany:

"38Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. 40But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10: 38-42)

The one thing needful: sit at Jesus' feet, let Him serve you, and in that capacity we treat Him as the Greatest and Chiefest in our lives.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Love of Money is Evil. The Love of God Makes us Rich

"6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1 Timothy 6: 6-10)

Looking again at the connections of the Gospel of Grace and prosperity in our body and soul, many believers will refer to the above passage, then argue that we should get used to being poor and barely able to get by.

Let us not forget that Paul wrote to the Corinthians, the most immature church in terms of their new standing and calling in Christ, about how Jesus enriched us:

"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." (2 Corinthians 8: 9)

Throughout Paul's epistles, we see how God's grace engaged His people to help prosper other churches:

"25But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. 26For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. 27It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things" (Romans 15: 25-27)

and also

"Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. 3And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. 4And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me." (1 Corinthians 16: 1-4)

So, wealth is not an evil thing. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, yet let us never think that love of God means that we should expect to stay poor. We can know and believe that in His love, He is meeting all our needs in Christ Jesus.

The love of money is evil. The love of God makes us rich.




Thursday, March 26, 2015

Godliness First, then Gain

There is no Prosperity Gospel, but there is prosperity through the Gospel.

"Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." (3 John 2)

This verse could not make it clearer: our prosperity on the outside is directly related to our prosperity on the inside.

Yet still many Christians will quote this verse, arguing that financial well-being in this life should not be a concern for us:

"6But godliness with contentment is great gain." (1 Timothy 6: 6)

"Godliness is our contentment, then!" many will charge, and that we should accustom ourselves to barely getting by.

The verse prior to this one gives more context:

"Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. (1 Timothy 6: 5)

There are people who believe that they are godly because they own a lot of things, or because they have lots of money.

That is not the case.

We are justified because of Jesus and His blood (Acts 13 :38-39), and we are blessed with all spiritual blessings because of Jesus, not because of anything that we do, or what we have:

"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)

We are not blessed because of what we have. We are blessed because of Him who has us:

"28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." (John 10: 28-29)

Godliness is part of the gift of God's grace in our lives, too:

"11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; " (Titus 2: 11-12)

As for being taken care of, Paul later writes to Timothy:

17Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." (1 Timothy 6: 17-19)

God our Fathers gives us all things (not some things) richly to enjoy.

We receive all things freely though Jesus (Romans 8: 31-32), but not of ourselves, nor for ourselves at the expense of everyone else.

Godliness comes first in our lives, through the Grace of God in Christ Jesus. Then as we grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord, we find ourselves prospering in every other domain of our lives, aware that He is supplying all our needs according to His riches (Philippians 4: 19).

 


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

He's In the Fire to Deliver You Out

"25He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." (Daniel 3: 25)

The three Hebrew boys, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abed-Nego refused to give up their faith in the Living God, who lives in us today because of Jesus' Finished Work (Galatians 2: 20-21)

They even boldly defied the most powerful man on earth, refusing to bow down to any idol:

"16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." (Daniel 3: 16-18)

When we understand that God is on our side, we have the courage to stand for Him, knowing that He has already stood for us:

"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? 33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." (Romans 8: 31-34)

and also

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." (Romans 8: 37)

and

"5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13: 5)

In the Psalms, we find numerous promises of His power to deliver us:

"
5Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee." (Psalm 91: 5-7)
 
Whatever fire you may find yourself in, know that Jesus is there with you, for you are in Christ, and He is delivering you!
 
"10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
 
11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
 
12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 8: 10-12)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Let Him In, and He Gets You There

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

In this verse, Jesus performs a miracle so subtle, that most people miss it.

First, some context.

Jesus had withdrawn from the larger number of disciples, because they had sought to turn Him into a king, by force (John 6: 15).

We do not make anyone king, but rather He seeks to make us kings and priests (Romans 5: 17; 1 Peter 2: 9)

Now, while Jesus was praying on a mountain, the disciples (at this time, more than the twelve), decided to set sail without Jesus.

In other words, they did bring the Living Word into their ship.

"16And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, 17And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. (John 6: 16-17)

Whenever we set out because we refuse to trust our Savior and rest in Him, we will find that our path gets dark and unclear, and we may even sense that He is not there with us or for us:

"18And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew." (John 6: 18)

Winds speak of strange doctrine as well as fierce outer resistance:

"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;" (Ephesians 4: 14)

The disciples rowed with all their might, and yet they got nowhere:

19So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid." (John 6: 19)

John does not even give  precise number for how many miles, 25 or 30, that they rowed. The sea is not that big. Winds, distortions, frustrations all make it very difficult for us to get anywhere. This struggle is also a picture of man-centered efforts:

"For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do." (Romans 7: 19)

What is the answer to this toil and struggle? Jesus!

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," (Romans 8: 1, NIV)

As an example of this truth, the disciples were afraid, but they saw Jesus, and He spoke to them:

0But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid." (John 6: 20)

Jesus reminds us "I am!", and then comforts them with "Don't be afraid." He does not shame them for being afraid, for leaving instead of waiting for Him. He is above time and space, force and matter, and He comes to them.

Then they willing received into their ship, and immediately they got where they were headed.

After hours and miles of rowing, they let Jesus into their ship, and they go to where they were going.

Let Jesus into every situation of your life, for He is our life (Colossians 3: 4), and He will get you where you need to go.