Monthly Archives: October 2018

Compel Us

II Corinthians 5: 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.  16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.

Put to the test…that’s how I feel right now after a week of news about mail bombs, race motivated shootings, upcoming elections and a border “wall” of young military.  This is a test and the answers seem to be multiple choice : nationalist or globalist, right wing or left wing, guns or no guns, justice or evil, hate or love, any means to an end or no end in sight.  This test is not asking the right questions at all and the answers are not really multiple choice.  My prayers are compelled by my fear of flunking the test because the choices offered are so opposite of this Scripture.  Lord, I beg you give us new questions* with choices  based on your absolute truth and real answers compelled by your Word and Christ’s love.

  1. Did God really say . . . ?” Genesis 3:1
  2. Where are you?” Genesis 3:9
  3. Am I my brother’s keeper” Genesis 4:9
  4. Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25
  5. Are you still maintaining your integrity?  Job 2:9
  6. How can a young person stay on the path of purity?” Psalm 119:9
  7. Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Matthew 18:21
  8. What shall I do then with Jesus?” Matthew 27:22
  9. Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15
  10. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Mark 8:36
  11. Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 18:18
  12. If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

*Question source: gotquestions

No matter how hard the test is, the real answer to every question has to be “for Christ’s love compels us…Lord help us all. Lord help me!

Installment Plan

II Corinthians 5:4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Installment Plan: Life is God’s first installment in our eternity. He’s provided us with that line of credit so we can obtain and enjoy something of value now based on trust in the reliability of this contract: “God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come”

Documentation of need: “we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling”

Collateral: ourselves as proof of the desire to satisfy “the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose”

Limited Terms: a schedule of devotion over hours, days and years in which that line of credit is satisfactorily concluded “so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life”

TAKE Time

2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Life is like a calendar.  It’s a fixed schedule of “wasting” [the prettier word for aging.]  Those 24 hours in every single day seem like a vast sea of opportunity for renewal but by the time you fall into bed at night you realize the “light and momentary troubles” we call daily life have been like the outgoing tide sweeping away all the moments and hours available.  You can’t count on the efficient management of a calendar to insure renewal.  In fact the calendar is basically only the confirmation of the “wasting” part. 

Time continues to march on.  Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. You’ve heard those before right?  Here’s the secret no one wants to hear; the blessing of renewal is more like exercise. “Finding” time in those 24 hours is an illusion that can waste away your renewal as surely as lack of exercise and aging waste your body.  It’s awful isn’t it?   BUT “we fix our eyes not on what is seen [those 24 hours], but on what is unseen [our need for renewal] since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  It’s your calendar!   You’ll never “find” time, TAKE time for renewal.

Speak Up!

II Corinthians 4:13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”  Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak,
AND
Genesis 11: 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

The II Corinthians passage led me to a deliberate search for what the Bible had to say about the words “spoken” and “speak” and that’s how I arrived at Genesis 11.  Genesis 11 is the story of Babel where God chose to confuse their words to deal with their desire for power.  God recognized there was such a powerful relationship between desire and words that “nothing they plan to do will be impossible.”  The story reads as if it’s only an act of suppression about words.  I think it’s more a lesson about the focus of desire.

When our focus as followers of Jesus Christ is our desire to raise our voices and plead with God to reveal his power contained in our words everything changes.  In the midst of all the confusing babel around us today we need to let our desire be God’s power.  That desire will give new power to our words and reveal the timeless truth of that same phrase “then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” Speak up!

ESV Speaking for Itself

Isaiah 29:16
You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

Isaiah 45:9
“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?

Isaiah 64:8
But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Job 10:8-12
Your hands fashioned and made me, and now you have destroyed me altogether. Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust?

Jeremiah 18:2-6
“Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

Romans 9:20-22
But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

2 Timothy 2:20
Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable.

Unmasked

2 Corinthians 3:12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. [NIV]

A veil is a piece of material worn to protect or conceal the face and certainly must affect the ability to see clearly.  “Veil” is a prettier word, but “mask” better describes the man-made barrier between us and God that can dull the mind and cover the heart. 

Moses covered his face with a veil to hide “the end of what was passing away” but “we are not like Moses” because “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed…”   

“…Since we have such a hope,” we can be “very bold.” Are we bold enough to be unmasked?  Are we bold enough to trust God at work in us and let others be witnesses of “the end of what [is] passing away” as we are changed “into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  May it be so.

New In Quality

2 Corinthians 3:7 The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. 8 Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? 9 If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! 10 In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. 11 So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! [NLT]

God’s law was chiseled into those tablets of stone.  What could be more permanent than stone?  Those tablets were “new” then but they are lost today.  God had something even more permanent in mind; the same truth reproducible in the hearts of transformed people.  Truth that would be new not only in point of time, but also new in quality…for all time. 

Etched in stone or etched in life is the difference between the law versus the Spirit and the bottom line of the new way.   Now “the Holy Spirit is giving life.”  God’s truth is not new but the “new” quality is truth being chiseled into our hearts.  No wonder it sometimes hurts but it’s truth that will last for all eternity.  We are the tablets the world sees today.