SHOCKING REJECTION

August 20, 2016

Rom. 9:3-5 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

This is quite a shocking statement from Paul; he actually says he would give his eternity with God as an exchange for the conversion of Israel. He continues to describe the Jews and their lack of appreciation for the blessing that was on their nation as the people of God. His list of the blessings that were treated as insignificant are actually quite disturbing, they are strangely familiar to the common attitudes in the modern church. 

First, Paul says they did not appreciate their adoption. The nation of Israel had been chosen by the Lord to be adopted into God’s family. It’s hard to think of a greater honor. Today, Christians are the adopted sons and daughters of God. He has sent the Spirit of adoption into our hearts. Rather than appreciating this incredible blessing, we often would rather look and act like the rest of the pagan world. Next, the Jews took the Glory, the manifest presence of God, as unimportant. The local church is now intended to be the place where the Glory of the Lord is on display. This is the reason the church exists, to display God’s glory. Too often this is not acknowledged and even treated as some sort of fringe fanaticism. Paul continued to say that the Covenants were not appreciated. The Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel starting with their father Abraham. The Jews disrespected that covenant and treated it as insignificant. Today, we have received a new and better covenant established by the blood of the Son of God. Shockingly, this blood sacrifice, the New Testament of Jesus Christ is often treated with disrespect by the church and the blood is often ignored because of its offensive nature. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. These benefits are the very heart of our faith and were the very heart of the Jewish heritage. Rather than shunning these benefits we should embrace and relish our special blessings that belong to us. 
To be continued….

HE IS NOT SILENT

August 19, 2016

Heb1:1,2 – Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…

I was born again in August of 1973, I am celebrating 43 years of my Christian faith this month. When I accepted Christ into my life I had been on a spiritual journey. This journey had led me from the Divine Light Mission, to the Baha’i Faith, and even to the Krishna temple. I was searching for something real, something more than just a creed. The search ended suddenly and dramatically one night at the lakefront in New Orleans. I prayed to receive Christ and my life was totally changed. It wasn’t that I took on a new set of beliefs or embraced a new creed, Christ actually came into my life. He changed me from the inside. He changed my heart and begin to speak to me from the inside. My Bible was brand new, church was brand new, worship was brand new, and I was brand new. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on God speaking through His Son. 
“It is through this Son, God speaks to us. Not through the words of the Son only, for they too are human words, and may, just like the inspired words of the prophets, bring in but little profit. It is through the Son—the living, mighty, divine Son, direct—that God speaks: it is only in direct living contact with the Son that the words can profit. And the Son, not as we superficially think of Him, but the real divine Son as God has revealed Him, known and worshipped and waited on as the outshining of the divine glory,—it is this Son of God, entering into our heart and dwelling there, in whom God will speak to us, and in whom we shall be brought nigh to God. When Christ reveals the Father, it is not to the mind, to give us new thoughts about Him, but in the heart and life, so that we know and experience the power in which God can dwell and work in man, restoring him to the enjoyment of that blessed fellowship for which he was created, and which he lost by the fall. The great work of God in heaven the chief thought and longing of His heart is, in His Son, to reach your heart and speak to you.”
That is the most amazing thing in Christianity to me. The personal nature of this faith, God speaks through His Son. God speaks to me through His Son.  

THE BEAUTIFUL NAME

August 18, 2016

Psa. 91:14 Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
 I will set him on high, because he has known My NAME. 
Sometimes when I am flying in a plane I wonder about what is going on in the towns and villages below. Flying over East Africa I have wondered about the tribal villages and the challenges those folks would face on a daily basis. What was it like to live in a relatively primitive world just struggling for food and water from day to day? Then there was the urban life of the major cities in America, flying at 35000 feet you wonder what kinds of problems are unfolding in the lives below? Whether you live in a village, the inner city, or on a farm out in the country all of us have drama, normally on a daily basis. Today’s verse can give us another perspective; how to be in the world but unaffected by the chaos that often surrounds us. This verse says that those who know His Name will be set on high. Knowing His Name is describing a real relationship with God. It is not just knowing the magic name or formula to chant, it is talking about a living relationship with a living God. Here’s how McClaren describes this powerful promise.
 “We have another great promise… ‘I will set him on high, because he hath known My name.’ That is more than lifting a man up above the reach of the storms of life by means of any external deliverance. There is a better thing than that—namely, that our whole inward life be lived loftily. If it is true of us that we know His name, then our lives are ‘hid with Christ in God,’ and far below our feet will be all the riot of earth and its noise and tumult and change. We shall live serene and uplifted lives on the mount, if we know His name and have bound ourselves to Him, and the troubles and cares and changes and duties and joys of this present will be away down below us, like the lowly cottages in some poor village, seen from the mountain top, the squalor out of sight, the magnitude diminished, the noise and tumult dimmed to a mere murmur that interrupts not the sacred silence of the lofty peak where we dwell with God.”
 There may be a riot going on all around you (there probably is). In this place of intimacy, knowing the beauty of His name, we are shielded. The stuff can’t even touch us. 

THE GLORY OF THE SON

August 17, 2016

Heb.1:1,2 – God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, Hath at the end of these days spoken onto us in his Son.

Human beings are amazing creatures. Our whole make-up is incredibly complex. God Himself says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Because of the uniqueness that comes from being human we experience an insatiable hunger for satisfaction. Most can’t really put their finger on it but there is a distinct longing for something outside of ourselves to complete us. Many think that their quest will be over if they can only meet that perfect person to make them complete. The inevitable result is disappointment. Another person can never complete us. We were created to be completed only in the presence of God Himself. The frustrating dilemma we find ourselves in, our sins have separated us from the Lord. That is why the Lord became a human. In Christ we see the glory of the Lord. Seeing and knowing Him finally brings us to that place of rest we have looked for all our lives. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on today’s verses.  
“God hath spoken! The magnificent portal by which we enter into the temple in which God is to reveal His glory to us! We are at once brought into the presence of God Himself. The one object of the Epistle is to lead us to God, to reveal God, to bring us into contact with Himself. Man was created for God. Sin separated from God. Man feels his need, and seeks for God. This Epistle comes with the gospel message of redemption, to teach us where and how to find God. Let all who thirst for God, for the living God, draw nigh and listen.”
The book of Hebrews opens up this new kind of life made available to us in Christ. Only this life behind the veil can complete us. When Christ was on earth as a man the glory of God was among us cloaked by His humanity. Today, the veil has been taken away. The glory of the Lord is clearly seen because of His death, burial, resurrection and Ascension to the right hand of the Father. All our unrealized expectations are finally met, they are realized in the glory of the Son. 

UPHOLDER

August 16, 2016

Heb. 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 

Col. 1:17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 

Some people think theology is somehow irrelevant in our hip, modern world. I disagree. Theology gives us the framework for our faith, faith is how we meet and maintain a daily relationship with the Lord. Today’s two verses are loaded with theology that opens up a new way to live our lives. They describe various aspects of Christ and bring out one of His amazing attributes. He upholds all things in the created universe. That’s right, the man Christ Jesus is the upholder of everything. Matthew Henry points out the role of redemption in Christ’s amazing work. 
“He upholds all things by the word of his power: he keeps the world from dissolving. By him all things consist. The weight of the whole creation is laid upon Christ: he supports the whole and all the parts. When, upon the apostasy, the world was breaking to pieces under the wrath and curse of God, the Son of God, undertaking the work of redemption, bound it up again, and established it by his almighty power and goodness.”
Not only was the world breaking to pieces as a result and ramification of the fall. All our lives were falling to pieces. Jesus is the restorer and upholder of those broken lives. Without His involvement in our everyday lives implosion is inevitable. With Christ at the center of our world, He causes even the attacks and even poor choices to work together for our good. Andrew Murray shows how creation itself is dependent on His sustaining power every moment. 
“Upholding all things by the word of His power. He bears all things, all things consist in Him. Since they were not created without Him, can they exist without Him? He upholds them every moment by the word of His power, even as by His word they were created. This is the Son through whom God speaks.”
So what do you think? I think theology is important. Knowing Christ as sovereign, actually holding everything together, changes everything in my life. Maybe He does have the whole world in His hand. 

SARAH LAUGHED AND LIED

August 15, 2016

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS- 

Genesis 18:9

And they said unto him, “Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also. And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.”

We all love the story of Abraham and Sarah. They learned to laugh at the predicaments of life that they found themselves in. In fact as a reminder of God’s sovereignty over their lives, they named there only child Isaac which meant laughter. Abraham and Sarah were having a day that went from usual to the unusual. She went from serving meals to folks to getting rebuked by Angels. Like all women we eavesdrop while we do the cooking, that’s what we know. The angels ask “where in the world is Sarai thy wife”? Too many of us hide behind the ordinary when the presence of God shows up. We get nervous and prefer to go hide behind some curtains. ‘What gifts might be hidden within you’, I ask? But here is where God steps into our routines of life. He knows our thoughts deep within and catches Sarai laughing at the absurdity of miracles. 

Have you ever laughed at God’s plan for your life? Angels might not have shown up announcing your future but most likely you’ve had a dream or something deep within suddenly come up and out of you. I bet some of those dreams often seem extravagant, impossible, and out of reach. God’s dreams always seem too big for us so we stay hiding in tents or cooking dinner for folks. After all that is just so much easier! 

At some point in your life God will confront you just like he did Sarah. He went head-on with her jesting. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” The term Sarah used within herself was, we are just like an old worn out garment. He comes with a divine visitation and says, ‘Dream extravagantly and dream big’. Yes, go and ahead and laugh because you know just how unrealistic it really is. 

Is anything too hard for the Lord? Step away from the pots and from hiding in the curtains. God wants to open up your world and do the impossible. Go ahead and laugh, and laugh. Your laughter will bring the promise! 

CONFORMED TO CHRIST 2

August 14, 2016

Rom. 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 

Recently I played golf with some guys about my age that were complete strangers to me. One of them obviously had been pretty good “in his day” but that was a long time ago. He let bad shots get the best of him and actually began pouting like a little child. He started out complaining, then cursing, and finally stopped playing sitting in the cart with arms folded with a big pout on his face. I don’t mean to be critical because he reminded me of the way I have felt before; I don’t want to live that way. The beautiful thing about our Christian walk is that the happiness and joy all of us are looking for (even on the golf course) is what we have as our inheritance in Christ. Jesus has called us out of the misery of daily drudgery into the amazing joy of the Lord. Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Edwards on today’s verse. 
“They are conformed to Christ in his exaltation and glorification, for he and they shall be glorified together. They are conformed to him in ascension into heaven; they shall also ascend. They are conformed to him in the glorification of his body, for their bodies shall be made like unto his glorious body. They are conformed to him in his enjoyment of the Father in heaven; they by being members of him partake with him in his enjoyment of the Father’s infinite love, and in his joy in the Father. His joy is fulfilled in them, and the glory which the Father has given him, he has given them…This glory, this excellency and happiness that consists in the saints’ being conformed to Christ, is the sum of the good that they are predestinated to; and the whole of their conformity to Christ is what the Apostle has respect [to], and not only their being made like him in conversion and sanctification.”
So maybe you have been putting on the pout lately because things haven’t gone your way. Look to Jesus in His heavenly ministry, look to the amazing life He has made available to us now. Before you know it your joy will be full and the pout will be gone. 

CONFORMED TO CHRIST 1

August 13, 2016

Rom. 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 

Our inheritance in Christ is absolutely unthinkable. We have not only been forgiven all our sins and delivered from eternal destruction, we are also called ‘to’ something. We are called to be conformed into the image of Jesus, the very Son of God. We catch a glimpse of this in the high priestly prayer of the Lord in John 17. He prays that, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me”. To taste the very relationship with the Father that Jesus enjoys is what we have been called to, UNTHINKABLE!!! Here is how Jonathan Edwards explains this calling.  

“This is the sum of what the elect are predestinated to, “to be conformed to the image of his Son,” to be made like his Son, and to have communion with him in his holiness and in his happiness. They are predestinated to be conformed to his Son in his death, in dying to sin and the world, and in his resurrection, by being quickened from being dead in trespasses and sins, and also in their bodies being raised, Christ the first fruits, and afterwards those that are Christ’s at his coming. They are conformed to Christ in his justification. When Christ rose, he was justified; and believers in their justification do but partake with him in his justification, as Romans 8:34. They are conformed to Christ in his relation to the Father, or in his sonship, and are made also the children of God, so that they are his brethren, only he is the firstborn among them, as the Apostle here observes. They are conformed to Christ in the Father’s love to him, and are partakers with him in it as members. They are conformed to Christ in his being heir of the world, and they are joint heirs.”
Wow, we are called to enjoy the Lord’s happiness, it is what all of us are looking for. To enjoy God is better than all the other enjoyments we all pursue. It is better than houses or cars, friends or family, titles or accomplishments; to know and enjoy Him is what we are born for. This is why Jesus came, to call us into His amazing joy. 

OLYMPIC GLORY

August 12, 2016

Heb. 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 

Lots of folks, me included, love watching the Olympics. It is great to watch athletes give their all to try to be the best in the world at what they do. My favorite Olympic story of all time is the story of the Scottish sprinter, Eric Lidell, who ran for the United Kingdom in the early 1900’s.The movie, Chariots of Fire, tells his story. One of my favorite lines in the story was something like this, “God has made me to run fast. When I run I feel His pleasure”. Eric Lidell got it, glorifying God with your life brings you the highest pleasure because ultimately, we were created to display His glory in our lives. What a deal, He gets the glory and I get the joy. Watching any kind of sports shows clearly not many competitors understand this. Most of the time, the only one smiling at the end of the event is the one with the gold medal. Jesus was the ultimate display of the glory of God. His life, His ministry, and His death and resurrection all displayed the glory of God. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes the glory of the Lord. 
“The word “glory” is used in Scripture often to express the exhibition, emanation or communication of the internal glory. Hence it often signifies a visible exhibition of glory; as in an effulgence or shining brightness, by an emanation of beams of light. Thus the brightness of the sun and moon and stars is called their “glory”. But in particular, the word is very often thus used when applied to God and Christ. As in Is. 6:1-3, “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims…And one cried to another and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory.”
Today, the man Jesus is seated at the right of the Father. His current ministry as our heavenly High Priest brings glory to the Lord. He lives to intercede for us, baptize us in the Holy Spirit, and usher us into a new life in the presence of God. Discovering this new life is where you will taste His glory. This is the place you too can begin to glorify God with your life.  

HIS NAME IS LIKE A FRAGRANCE

August 11, 2016

Song 1:2,3 ¶ Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
  For your love is better than wine; your anointing oils are fragrant;

  your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you. 
Do you remember swearing and using the Name of Jesus as profanity? It is really disturbing today to hear His precious name used in such a filthy manner. A person’s name is connected to a person’s reputation and their very character. The character and nature of Christ is perfect and His Name reflects the beauty of His person. Solomon said in his famous song that His Name is like oil poured forth. This oil is fragrant and attractive, the mention of His Name fills our senses with the smell of His nature. He is beautiful beyond description, just mentioning His Name can actually bring us into His presence. That’s why worshipping the Name of Jesus is so powerful. All He is begins to manifest, the glory of the Lord inhabits those praises. This is the very incense of New Testament worship. In the Old Testament, incense was burned as a type of what was to come. Today, the Name of Jesus is fragrant oil poured out in His house. Here are some comments from John Gill on today’s passage. 

“It was usual for lovers to anoint themselves, their hair, garments, to commend themselves to each other; and it was common to commend each other’s ointments, and the grateful smell of them none being like them, or so agreeable as theirs: by these ointments may be meant the grace of Christ, the fulness of it, the oil of gladness with which he is anointed above his fellows, and without measure; and which so greatly recommends him to his church and people; thy name as ointment poured forth; which emits the greater odor for its being poured forth out of the box. The very names of lovers are dear to one another, sweeter than nectar itself; the very mention of them gives an inexpressible pleasure. This may respect not merely the fame of Christ spread abroad in the world through the ministry of the word; nor the Gospel only, which is his name, and is like a box of ointment broke open, which diffuses the savor of his knowledge everywhere; but some precious name of his, as Immanuel, God with us; Jesus, a Savior; but more particularly his name Messiah, which signifies anointed, the anointed Prophet, Priest, and King of his church…”
If there is a foul smell in the air because of the circumstances you find yourself in don’t add to the stink with a filthy mouth. Let the room be filled with the fragrant oil that flows from the worship of His Name. 


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