Monthly Archives: July 2019

“Who are you, Lord?”

Acts 9:1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

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Saul’s question, “Who are you, Lord,?” was the unexpected beginning of his identity with Christ.  We see the reality of the man God created Paul to be unfold in a large part of the New Testament.  Those words still inspire us today to discover the reality of our own identity with Christ.  

You know Paul’s story.  He walked down that Damascus road convinced he knew the unassailable truth about God.  Paul saw himself as obedient, full of moral virtue and willing to brutally ensure the future of what he believed.  God saw something more: a committed man who was not Godless, but not Godly either when He asked “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Paul’s identity with Christ began when he replied “Who are you, Lord?”  The answer would open his eyes and change his heart from the unassailable truth he knew ABOUT God to the unassailable truth OF God.  The Bible is filled with stories of flawed, but not Godless, people we can easily identify with who were changed into Godly people with a new identity.  Paul wrote about his own experience of God’s revealed truth.  That truth still has the power to change the identity of those who dare to ask “Who are you, Lord?”

The Gospel Balance

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Second [and last} Chance: Revelation 2

Revelation 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:  These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.  4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first…7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

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I’ve looked for evidence in these second chapters of God’s continuing desire to replace and repair what is worn out, run-down, or broken.  That word “broken” has been a part of every post. God created life to be an unending circle for those first two people but they broke the circle because they violated the rule of one unique tree. “The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”  Why two unique trees?   I know what the results of that break are and I know Revelation 2 is the answer that repairs that broken circle.

Despite our best efforts here on earth perfection is still lost.  God has noticed our desire has changed from being content to know His perfection to the confusion of trying our best to sort out the knowledge of good and evil.  “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance…you cannot tolerate wicked people.” I know “that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.” I know “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary…Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. ” 

Here’s the Good News from Revelation 2 about that other unique tree.  “The tree of life” is still standing, untouched, and we still have it’s promise of that first love.  There is repair and renewal for that worn out, run-down, or broken circle.  “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

Second Chance: I John 2

I John 2
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

– 5…if anyone obeys his word, love for God[God’s love] is truly made complete in them.
– 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.
– 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

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We live in an age where truth is more like a list of options and opinions rather than an absolute.  Options are good but they’re not necessarily absolutes we can count on to help us fulfill our potential and opinions aren’t necessarily based on fact or knowledge.  John is asking us to consider there is an absolute standard of truth that has been verified over and over again around the world for generations and in countless lives; “Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”

You may have seen this saying somewhere.  “IT’S OK IF YOU DISAGREE WITH ME. I CAN’T FORCE YOU TO BE RIGHT.”  I can’t…but here is an absolute truth in your personal relationship to “Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” that’s bigger, and far easier for you to verify than what I, or anyone else can say or write.  

“The anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.”

IF you will personally study and test that one thing in your own life I guarantee it will became a reality that changes and challenges your options and opinions.  THEN that little footnote in verse 5 [God’s love] will become a blessing of truth that verifies his love is “truly made complete” in you.  It’s more than an option or an opinion, it’s absolute truth.

Second Chance: 2 Peter 2

2 Peter 2
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.
4 For if God did not spare angels
5 if he did not spare the ancient world
6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah
7 and if he rescued Lot
9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 

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This is a convicting chapter filled with evidence of the reality of humanity.  It’s undeniable evidence that makes it easy to jump to the wrong conclusion.  It’s not about “them vs us.  It’s about the undeniable separation between God and man.  Anything else is a wrong comparison.

I felt a little twinge of mean-spirited satisfaction that I’m not “them” as I read.  Having to admit to a mean-spirited attitude at all is bad enough but I read on to discover I have another issue; a kind of holier-than-thou satisfaction that “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment” and God “rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless.”  That’s the “us” I identified with. I liked it but then I realized I missed the point entirely.  

The grim evidence of this chapter is only a reminder we aren’t rescued and renewed by the separation of “them vs us” but by this undeniable truth: God’s Divine justice is absolute, unlimited, unrestricted, unrestrained, unbounded, boundless, infinite, ultimate, total and unconditional.

Second Chance: I Peter 2

I Peter 2
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house…9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

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God has designed our bodies from the inside out.  It’s a good design.  We have an internal structure that our entire body is built around.  We are born the first time with everything in miniature, a tiny skeleton along with tiny muscles and organs that all need to grow in relationship with one another. 

The second time we’re born it’s another version of miniature but still a new life.  We’re still “newborn babies” and still based on God’s original design..but this time we’re aware of life in relationship to God and equipped with faith to “grow up in your salvation.”  There’s a new structure that requires different muscles and organs; “your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” that must grow in relationship with one another into the spiritual house God has designed you to be. 

This is God’s truth: ”you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”  Go big!