Wednesday, December 17, 2014

He Will Not Reject Us

"Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright, For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." (Hebrews 12: 16-17)

Because we are born again by the Spirit of God (Romans 8: 15), we no longer identify with our flesh, but His Spirit:

"For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4: 16)

and then

"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." (Galatians 5: 25)

So, when we read about Esau, the older brother of Jacob, we recognize a type of the flesh, whereas we are all descendants of Abraham,  Isaac, and Jacob because of Jesus:

"Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called." (Romans 9: 7)

and then

"As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." (Romans 9: 13)

Now, was God arbitrarily punishing Esau? Not at all. Paul explains the type of law and grace:

"(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth)" (Romans 9: 11)

which connects with

"16So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." (Romans 9: 16)

These passages make it clear -- we are not saved because of what we do or have done, but what Jesus did:

"8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2: 8-9)

Now, with these New Covenant revelations in mind, we can better understand what the writer of Hebrews is referencing above. Esau esteemed his flesh more than the grace of God. He tried to change his father Isaac's mind about granting the blessing to Jacob, yet Esau could have no say in reversing God's will.

Guess what? We cannot reverse what God has done in our lives, either! We are saved by grace, and God our Father invites us to keeping receiving this grace in our lives (Romans 5: 17). He will not reject us, because we are made accepted before Him in Christ (Ephesians 1: 6)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Truth of Grace is All that Matters

 

"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8: 32)

Grace and truth are connected as one whole in the New Testament, and both are united in Christ:

"The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (John 1: 17)

Instead of fighting with the lies and frustrations we face with people who want to fight with us, our goal should be to know more about Jesus, to see Him who has been from the beginning (1 John 2: 14-15)

Instead of looking for points of division and conflict, we seek unity, but not in ourselves. We do not seek consensus based on what we believe, but rather who we believe in.

I used to get upset with preachers because of the people they were hanging out with, or the statements would make. I was so quick to reject people because they held views which were not in line with the Bible.

Today, I realize that I can rest in the truth of God's grace, and anything which is not of the truth diminishes God's goodness and in some way augments what we must do.

Maturity is based on unity in Christ, not conformity to any cause in order to avoid conflict:

"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Ephesians 4: 1-5)

In the next part of Ephesians Four, Paul takes about growing in to the Head, which is Christ. It is all about Jesus, and seeing all that He is.

"4That 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; 15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." (Ephesians 4: 14-16)

Grace and truth are met in Christ. We cannot understand grace without seeing the truth, and we know the truth when we see Jesus:

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14: 6)

and also

"Herein is love perfected among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as He is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4: 17)

Instead of looking for points of disagreement, we must seek to see more of Jesus. He is real, He is alive, and He is looking for as many ways to reach out and let us allow Him to care for us.

Anything which diminishes the grace of God, and expounds what we must do, we must reject. We are not called to trust in ourselves, but to walk in His Spirit. We are not called to understand ourselves, but receive more of Himself in our daily walk.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bitterness: Falling from Grace

"Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;" (Hebrews 12: 15)

Why do people get bitter?

They fall from grace.

Now, how do we fall from grace? By sinning? Not at all.

By trying to keep the law, by trying to justify ourselves rather than resting in His justification for us:

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2: 20)

and then

"Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." (Galatians 5: 4)

The law brings out bitterness, as it awakens other sins in our lives.

Why does the law make us bitter, anyway?

"19Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3: 19-20)

People may try to keep the law, yet they find themselves unable to. Those who insist on trying, will themselves doing so in vain, accomplishing nothing. How frustrating!

"56The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law" (1 Corinthians 15: 56)

The law brings out in the sin in our lives, rather than offering us a means for us to make ourselves righteous. All of that trying, and accomplishing nothing, would make anyone bitter.

Now, how do we get rid of bitterness in our lives? Receive more of God's grace!

"31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4: 31-32)

The whole release from bitterness hangs on our understanding of "as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you."

The more that we understand how gracious He is to us, then we are freed from bitterness, as Christ grants us His "so much better".


Sunday, December 14, 2014

We Have Peace With God, Then We Pursue Peace with Others

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:" (Hebrews 12: 14)

Not just being at peace, but we are to seek peace with all men, according to this verse.

Before peace with others, we need to know that we have peace with God:

"1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1 )

How do we receive this peace with God? Not by pursuing peace with others, but realizing that God wanted peace with us, with you and me, at all costs!

How did God the Father do it? By justifying us before Himself through His Son's death and resurrection, and ascension to :

"38Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13: 38-39)

and

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5: 21)

and thus

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1: 7)

Keeping in mind that this verse is written to unbelievers, first, we then understand the next verse in 1 John:

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2: 1-2)

Jesus is our mercy seat forevermore. He is our peace (Ephesians 2: 10), and because of His Spirit in us, we bring forth fruit: love, joy, and peace, among others (Galatians 5: 22-23)

Peace is a fruit, and holiness is a work which Jesus accomplishes in us through His Spirit, too:

"But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:" (1 Corinthians 1: 30)

Because He is our peace, and we have peace with Him, we in turn can pursue peace with others.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Don't Resist: Let His Grace Transform You

"12Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed." (Hebrews 12: 12-13)

In the previous verses of Hebrews chapter 12, the writer is exhorting his Hebrew Christian brethren to accept the discipline of walking by faith, looking not just to the example of Old Testament saints who believed but never saw the Messiah come, but to Jesus Himself, our High Priest forever, whom we do not see, but we rest in the truth of knowing that He has accomplished all things for us.

Like the early Christians, today believers have a hard time believing that the work has been fulfilled, and like sulking children who want things done their way, they still hanker after the old habits, the only means.

Consider the constant complaining of the Israelites when they fled Egypt:

"11And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? 12Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness." (Exodus 14: 11-12)

Whenever the children of Israel faced trials of faith, immediately they wanted to go back.

Moses would exhort them:

"13And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. 14The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace." (Exodus 14:13-14)

So, when we read in the verses of Hebrews to strengthen our hands and knees, we are invited to stop feeling sorry for ourselves, to stop dragging our feat, demanding that God take away our problems. Instead, let us ask to see more of Jesus, that the eyes of our full understanding would see who Jesus is, how much He loves us, and what He is doing for us (Ephesians 3: 16-19).

Rather than resisting the grace of God, and trusting our own efforts, let us permit the Spirit of God to inform us of who Jesus is, and let us be transformed to be more like Him (2 Corinthians 3: 18; 1 John 3: 1-3). The chastening to be more like Him will not please our flesh, but we should not seek to gratify that dead part of ourselves, because we are alive in Him (Colossians 3: 1-4).

Friday, December 12, 2014

Reject Shame: Know Who You Are in Christ


 Where does anyone get the idea that we break free of shameful habits by identifying with them?

What does Paul say to the Corinthians, who still were living in sin?

"15Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. 16What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 17But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. (1 Corinthians 6: 15-17)

Know you not? Know you not?

Don't you know who you are? You are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Why would you abuse your body?

Then:

"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)


We are called to identify with the truth of Christ living in us, our hope of glory (Colossians 1:27)

We are no longer in dead Adam, but alive in Christ Jesus. We have received Himself, and because we live in Him, free from condemnation (Romans 8:1 )

Because there is no condemnation in Christ, we bring every thought into captivity to Christ Jesus, (2 Corinthians 10: 5), which indicates that we are free of the law of sin and death, and now living by the law of the Spirit of life!

Shame is a lie from Satan, and because Jesus has fulfilled the law for us, we are free from condemnation, and called to reign in life in His Son (Romans 5:15-17)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Chastened from Flesh to Walk By Faith

"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." (Hebrews 12: 11)

We are called to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5: 7)

We have to believe, because Jesus cannot die once again:

"Who 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: 16)

and also

"Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life." (Hebrews 7: 16)

So, Jesus died once for all, and He cannot die again.

He cannot physically come down and be crucified again:

"But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;" (Hebrews 10: 12)

He has sat down, and He will not be coming back until every enemy is brought low:

"The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." (Psalm 110: 1)

So, how do we grow in faith? Through our efforts? No, since the promises are by faith, not works:

"17And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. 18For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise." (Galatians 3: 17-18)

We grow as we hear the Word of Truth:

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God [lit. Christ]." (Romans 10:17)

So, we keep hearing the Word of Christ, which is Spirit and Life (John 6: 63), we are disciplined away from listening to ourselves, to other people's thoughts on the matter, or succumbing to our efforts:

"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." (Galatians 5: 16)

Stop trusting your efforts. By hearing the Word of Christ, you will walk in the Spirit, and have no need to control the flesh.