Sin and Should

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Do Life!

Ephesians 2:3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

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These are my thoughts: 
God obviously has plans for our life and our future. I don’t think God organizes identity parades down the golden streets of heaven to show off his successes so that prompted these questions to think about.  When are “the coming ages?” Where are those “heavenly realms” and what was actually “prepared in advance for us to do?” 

Our very existence was “prepared in advance” that we could be “alive with Christ.” Maybe learning to do life honoring that truth is the sum of what God calls “good works” not just our little segments of activity.   The “coming ages” could be the years we’re given to practice life in Christ here on earth before God chooses to complete them and Heaven becomes our new reality.  “The heavenly realms” might be something as simple as earth being the practice ground where we begin to recognize there are intersections of daily life that lead us to His Kingdom.

Life is the palette God chose in advance to prepare us to be His handiwork.  He created life for us out of a nature that was deserving of wrath.  We’ve been saved through faith, raised up and seated in Christ Jesus in order that “HE might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

Silence

Ecclesiastes 5:1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. 2 Do not be quick with your mouth do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.  God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.

“Silence is one of the deepest disciplines of the Spirit simply because it puts the stopper on all self-justification.  One of the fruits of silence is the freedom to let God be our justifier. We don’t need to straighten others out.”   Richard Foster Seeking the Kingdom

The effort I spend daily to sort and write my thoughts for these blog posts is my door into the “house of God.” It’s as simple as this: when I’m writing, I’m not talking…I’m listening.  It’s a different kind of listening that let’s you “hear” what God is silently speaking into your heart.

God’s Words have power even when they’re unspoken.  I was so certain what had been silently spoken into my heart was meant for someone else that day but God chose silence for me.  The unspoken Word I’d prepared to support “my” right position and straighten “them” out, changed me instead.  The obedience of silence became a repentance of tears that saved me from using the power of the Word as “the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.”

How, why and when we speak matters.  “Do not be quick with your mouth do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.”  “God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” 

An Unbreakable Thread

Exodus 3:14 & 15b God said to Moses, “I am who I am…“This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.

”…every time you see “Lord” in the English Bible you should think: This is a proper name (like Peter or James or John) built out of the word for “I Am” and reminding us each time that God absolutely is.”  John Piper from “I Am who I Am

• John 6:35 “…I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
• John 8:12 “…I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
• John 10:9  “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.”
• John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
• John 11:25 “…I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
• John 14:6 “…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
•John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

I don’t think I’ve ever consciously thought of God in terms of His proper name being “I Am.”  That idea has added another dimension to the already meaningful “I Am” statements of Jesus.  If you’ve ever had an English class you know the definition of a verb is a word of action that supports the main identity of the subject.  Our subject is God.  His name “I Am” is the verb.  “I Am” is the present-tense version of the verb “be/exist.”  God is!  The “I Am” statements of Jesus confirm the reality of his complete identity with I Am.

That’s a reality that’s still true for us today.  “I Am” is our confirmation that Jesus is still taking action to create an unbreakable thread that binds his followers between Himself and I Am.

And God Spoke…

Exodus 20:1 And God spoke all these words:  2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 You shall have no other gods before[besides] me.”

Current events have once again challenged my perspective and driven me back to these words from God’s own mouth, His #1 commandment.  “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”  This is God’s #1…forever!  

God’s “Egypt,” then, didn’t specifically mention the little “g” gods that occupy our “land of slavery” now.  Today our “land of slavery” is defined by vital issues like mass shootings, racism, political affiliation, sexual orientation and  individual rights.  Too often we’ve let those issues lead us to justify any means to an end as long as it’s the end we’ve decided is best.  That’s a sure sign we’ve replaced the real #1 with the god we know best, ourselves.  Over time we’ve let God’s Word go in one ear and out the other.  

God’s #1 purpose is still to remind us the “land of slavery” is real.  It’s filled with vital issues we can’t solve alone.   Only when we’re willing to recognize that fact will He bring us out of the “Egypt” of our own making and make His own #1 commandment our #1 priority too.  “You shall have no other gods before [besides] me.”

The Lord’s…

Psalm 19
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.

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√ The Lord’s…Law is complete and able to reinvigorate his people.
The Lord’s…Statutes can be trusted to reveal deep and basic wisdom anyone can understand.

√ The Lord’s…Precepts regulate behavior and thought to bring pleasure to the heart.
The Lord’s…Commands illuminate and eliminate the confusion of what our eyes alone are able to see.

√ The Lord’s…Fear is knowing He watches all of us through the lens of His own unalterable purity and will always have the power to separate good from evil.
The Lord’s…Decrees are the building blocks of His strength that can become our unalterable purity.

Everything

John 15:12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

The “everything” of v15 was the primary word that caught my attention as I read.  Then a simple word count of other key words in the passage became a sort-of-outline for me today; choose/chose [2], servant. [2], friends [3], Father [2], and finally, Love [4]. 

We love being “chosen.” We are blessed to be called a “servant” of Christ.  It’s even better to be called a friend but it’s a humbling to realize that our determination, time commitment, intellect and choice to follow Christ are not the same as “everything.”  A servant’s loyalty can mimic friendship but not necessarily be evidence of the shared intimacy of love.  

You were “appointed”…so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last…” fruit based on a special love relationship. “You did not choose me, but I chose you” is a really important part of our personal relationship to Christ because it’s a really important part of the shared intimacy of love between Jesus and his Father.  That relationship is the primary part of “everything” Jesus wants to share with you.  “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”