Category Archives: Wednesday

Obligation and Purpose

II Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Being an ambassador “…as though God were making his appeal through us” become more real to me this week.  I wanted to implore these people I really care about but instead my appeal was full of frustrated emotion and more loaded with the need to persuade than the desire that anyone might be reconciled to God.  It’s so easy to spout off when you get your mouth and emotion involved.  The fact is being an ambassador for Christ has obligations of grace.

I lost track of the reality that grace at it’s most basic level is God working to give me time to change.  My motivation was more of the problem than my words were, and I blew it. I disappointed myself, and my two best advocates, Christ and my husband.  It’s been a reminder to me of the obligation of, and my need for, grace AND it’s purpose.  

Forgiveness has bound me to these people and grace in a new way AND loosed me to transformation “so that in him [Christ] we might become the righteousness of God”…together.

The Next Episode

Genesis 4:8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”  While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.  9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”  “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” 

What began in the garden of all creation became a soap opera story of the loss of promise along with the privilege and perfection of that first couple.  They both had the chance to stand face to face with God and admit what they’d done but Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent.  What they’d done just couldn’t be undone.  There was blame with lasting consequences and inestimable loss.

That first fruit had taken root and reproduced itself in a  deadly way in their second son.  Cain murdered his brother Abel.  Then he chose to disavow his guilt with the same technique the serpent had used to defy God and deceive his parents…deflection…the fruit of deceit. The simple use of one question to deflect another – “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The fruit of deceit would be the identifying mark on Cain for the rest of his life.  That identifying mark has lasted and the soap opera continues.

We are living in the next episode.  Life is our test of how we deal with real lies and real guilt in real lives.  We are the broken descendants of that first family but we do not have to be marked by that rotten fruit.  We can choose to be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”  [Philippians 1:11 NIV]

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!

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.

External, Internal and Eternal Image

2 Corinthians 3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. [NIV]

“Known and read by everyone” got me thinking about how much effort we spend on creating an image we think will make us look good. It’s easy to confuse image and vanity because both are so closely tied to external influences.  Attention to our image supports almost any part of the economy I can think of at this moment; housing, auto, clothing, food and certainly personal care. It’s not a bad thing to want to look good but these external things are only a convenient way for us to manipulate reality.

Paul reminds us part of our image is paying attention to our internal, intangible things that are far less easy for us to manipulate by buying the “right” whatever.  They’re written not with ink on a contract or a sales slip “but with the Spirit of the living God.”  Paul confirms that what is written on our heart becomes a visible part of our image that can be “known and read by everyone.”  It takes the our external efforts and God’s internal commitment  to complete the eternal image being written within us: “You are a letter from Christ…known and read by everyone.” 

Thoughts

NASB Romans 8:5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,

You’ve probably heard these ideas before: the mind is the battleground of our life of faith; or every sin begins with an idea.  I know you’ve heard of the helmet of salvation.  It’s an interesting thing to ponder.  Only humans, of all creation are made in God’s image and have been given His unique mindset and dominion over all the earth. Dominion includes the extraordinary responsibility to think and evaluate, categorize and store information based on that image and that mindset.  No wonder we need a protective helmet.  “Whatever gets your mind gets you.” [author Rick Warren]. 

“For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”

Short and Sweet

MSG Ephesians 5:1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

Jesus view on life: live discreetly, love loudly
The world’s view: live loudly, love discreetly

Juxtaposition is the placement of two or more things side by side, often in order to bring out their differences. Get it?