Romans 6:19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.
Sometimes when I’m reading Scripture I find myself going over or coming back to a particular spot. It’s like a mental STOP sign. It works just like in driving; come to a complete stop, don’t coast on through. I’m convinced that’s the very thing I’m supposed to look at carefully before proceeding. Consider this “example from everyday. life”
Have you ever thought about impurity as having the power to force you to obey wickedness? That’s slavery. Maybe you wonder how much holiness you need to offer yourself as a slave to righteousness? Let me set you mind at ease…none!
The line is life. X marks the spot in your life where Jesus became real to you and “righteousness leading to holiness” became your new direction. Spoiler Alert: there are going to be things that happen in your life when you find yourself on the wrong side of the “X” but here’s the thing: don’t miss that little arrow in my illustration, it really matters. That little arrow doesn’t ever change – because it’s Jesus holiness that is your righteousness and the destination is settled!
Romans 1:17 The Good News shows how God makes people right with himself—that it begins and ends with faith. As the Scripture says, “But those who are right with God will live by faith.” NCV (New Century Version)
“But those who are right with God will live by faith.” That’s the bottom line of belief, beginning to end. Of course we should live by faith. Of course we want to be right with God. Of course, it’s all about faith but what does that mean in day-to-day life? We try so hard to make a right life with God be about what we’ve learned, what we do, how skilled we are and even who we know. Did you notice all the “we’s?” That’s the struggle. It’s hard to avoid inserting yourself into the description of what living a life of faith and being “right with God” looks like.
If you had to come up with a definition of what it means to live by faith, could you? Could you define what faith is in your own words without cliche’s, without inserting what you do or don’t do and even without quoting scriptures? That’s what I’m asking myself as I try to write my definition.
““But those who are right with God will live by faith.”
• With the awareness life will be good, whatever happens
• Knowing having no control isn’t the same as helplessness
• Not needing to know everything about it to be confident in it
• Depending on yet undiscovered reserves of strength
If you try writing your definition of living by faith, please think about adding your results in a comment to me. I’d love to post them.
Isaiah 40:3 – 5. A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for The Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together…”
This passage looks very different today in the solemn thoughts of this road leading to the most significant event of the Bible, Easter morning. That’s what makes that one little preposition, “in” so important.
• In – expressing the situation of something that is or appears to be enclosed or surrounded by something else.
“In” December Isaiah’s words were a warning about not allowing the distractions of Christmas to become my something else. Today that little preposition “in” has become The Reassurance that God IS the something else even “in” those distractions. It could read…
• Look, things are changing. I’m leveling the playing field to give you a better line of sight and access to me. I am “in” those ups and downs and dangers that threaten to enclose you and become the something else. Look for the changes “in”your path that show the glory of who I am…and the reality of who you will be “in” the midst of that place. You’ll see!
Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
An interesting word play occurred to me this morning. Are these Be-Attitudes? All Jesus’ blessings are about “Be-ing vs Choosing.” Word play is not an indication of lack of seriousness especially when it comes to the Word of God. Quite the contrary, it’s an involved mind challenge to consider a meaning that may be deeper than the mere letters that form this known word – meek.
The inheritance of land has always been a symbol of security…and power. Way back at the beginning God saw land as a promise and a blessing for his people as he moved them into position to fulfill his plans to make them his heirs on earth.
That’s proved to be tough to work out because “choosing” has become the focus rather than be-ing. That change in focus has resulted in the competition, wars, greed and deceit that plague our world. Jesus says be-ing meek is the answer to the mystery of inheriting this blessing. That’s a mind challenge!
Genesis 19:15With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” 16When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them.
This brings to mind, “once saved, always saved.” Right now Lot seems like the most stupid of men doesn’t he? What makes him hesitate? Is it the need to act immediately without time to reason and prepare or maybe some kind of disbelief; in the message, in the timing, in God? Any one of those options lead to the same conclusion. He’s not Godless but doesn’t seem all that Godly either! Lot is unsure of who he’s to follow, himself or God.
However God is not unsure about Lot. It’s hard to fathom why, but God has committed himself to Lot and He will not hesitate to act to save him and his family. And therein lie the Seeds of Forever. We think we have chosen God but remember he first loved us. We think we have committed ourselves fully but our choices are limited by “the truth we now have.”
Here’s the good news. God’s heart and your salvation are not limited by “the truth YOU now have.” When your heart spoke those words of commitment, God chose to accept the Christ in you…and your words, without reservation. He’s sure about that. His intention is for your forever even if you hesitate and he has to grasp your hand and lead you to safety.
I Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known…13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
How in the world do you love as Jesus loved…when some people just seem to deserve our criticism or even contempt? It would be so good to have a manual for this. A book that would help us look at them with eyes that see past what they say and how they act and see them made in God’s image. Oh wait…we do.
Spoiler alert: You aren’t perfect either and one sin isn’t worse than another. We have all broken Jesus’ heart. Jesus came to you in a relationship of Potential rather than problems. Thank God for that kind of love. It seems the very least Jesus might expect is that we let our hearts be broken for the potential of others in his name.
2 Peter 1:12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.
I had to stop and remind myself to pay attention to what comes after verse 12 because that verse is such an important thought for me. I believe it with all my heart. I can be devout, I can be faithful…but…I am only “established in the truth [I] now have. I am still a learner.
There are so many controversies that rage in the world of faith; devout people blowing up abortion clinics, devout muslims killing themselves and others in the name of holiness. Devout Christians with polar opposite views on the very same subject. Christians, like me, wanting so much to do the right thing and have the right position on any topic. In the name of God, the temptation becomes picking a side to follow…rather than picking a Savior to follow.
“No matter what changes God has performed in you, never rely on them. Build only on a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and on the Spirit He gives. All our promises and resolutions end in denial because we have no power to accomplish them.” Oswald Chambers
The word “denial” made me think of Peter [the rock] and then King David [a man after God’s own heart]. Somehow there’s comfort for me in recognizing God saw past their humanity to those descriptions. They are my Biblical examples of the truth of what Chambers says. There are illuminating moments of real personal Godliness to enjoy. But there are also moments of the dismal reality of being way too human.
Those moments are not reward and punishment. They are Reminders. One is a reminder of His reality in you and the other that He cares enough to let you know you still need him. Either way it’s a blessing.
My journey of words to the Cradle this Advent is over. It’s been a blessing and sometimes the words have been hard to find. They couldn’t be just any words because they were meant to express the reality of THE Word in my life. Twenty seven days of many words have come down to just this one word…”present.” It’s a word of several meanings. The present…today…Christmas 2015. This is the inheritance we’ve received from the time we took to witness this birth again.
There’s a second meaning though: present…to be here. Immanuel chose to be present with us in a very unusual way. That’s part of our legacy too. That cradle is the essence of new beginnings. No matter how unusual the circumstances that have brought us to this day, God is present here.
And finally there is a third, and anticipated, meaning of that same word: present… an item given to someone without the expectation of payment. All three meanings of that one word are tied up in this painting. It’s my present to you from my own hand.…The Gift.
Luke 2: 19 & 20
19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
"First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me." Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)