Friday, February 21, 2014

A GRACED MAN

If there is no law, there is no accounting for disobedience or sin.
  • sin is not taken into account when there is no law. - Romans 5:13
We need to know what is not allowed in any given system or structure before acting contrary and therefore sinning.  And sometimes it does not even take acting on the knowledge - 
  • "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. - Matthew 5:27-28
Before humanity, when it was just God and His angels, all heavenly beings recognized God as The Law. Lucifer desired to usurp The Law with his forceful declarations of "I will..." that are documented in Isaiah 14:13-14.  This rebellion did not work for him so after his fall he saw an opportunity to strike back at God by tempting God's created image - humans - to disobey/sin and have that sin-nature enter the world.

God The Law or Lawgiver issues a Law/command to His creation - 
  • And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." - Genesis 2:16-17
Humanity fails to obey this command.  Sin/disobedience/rebellion enters and exists before The Law (of Moses) - 
  • for before the law was given, sin was in the world. - Romans 5:13
The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  That was Romans 5:20-21.

The added "law" was The Law of Moses.  The "trespass" that "might increase" was the original sin or disobedience.  However, in every conceivable instance where disobedience/rebellion against God occurred, the Lord's unmerited favor not only increased, but increased "all the more"!  Why?  "so that just as sin and death" walk hand-in-hand with each other, so also the undeserving favor of God "might reign" through the right standing of Christ Jesus in order to bring all who believe in Him eternal life. [Pritchard Paraphrase]

Just label me...A Graced Man!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

ONLY DOES NOT WORK HERE

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

There are some key words in this verse I want to lift out and highlight - "always", "continually", and "all". These words are concepts that speak to the amount of time believers should contribute to the word before it. Always and continually are adverbs describing the state of being you should be in (always be joyful; continually pray).  All is an adjective describing the amount of circumstances believers should give thanks in.  

This state of perpetuality flies in the face of being joyful only on the mountaintops of life.  This mind-set of ceaseless praying defies the notion of only praying to God during difficult times.  This never-ending strategy of life, giving thanks, cries "How dare you only give thanks during the non-challenging times!"

God's payment for our always joyfulness, our privilege to continually pray,  and our ability to give thanks in all circumstances came at such a high price - His torture and life - that NOT to live this way would dishonor His sacrifice and according to the rest of the verse you would be out of God's will in Christ Jesus - for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

So, realize and seize His will for your life. That God has secured, through Christ, for you and me to be always joyful, continually communicative with Him, and thankful in everything no matter the issue(s).  Oh, what a Savior....!

(Subject inspired by Brittney from HIS Raido, Raleigh-Durham, N.C. area)

  

Friday, February 7, 2014

BLACK HISTORY MONTH - DIVISIVE

Why is Black History Month celebrated?  It is a culturally divisive mechanism in our society that we choose to use as a tool to keep us separated, categorized and feeling more important. Grant you, I have wonderful friends that are black (African American, if you want), but this celebration and any like it is racist.  Sure the month documents the positive, black contributors to society over the many years, but that does not make it any less - "look at what our race did that yours didn't".  This month, society, in particular the media, takes well accomplished men and women in every field and praises their donation(s). All the while, for twenty-eight days, we get the message that they were also black.  I get that in history the circumstances surrounding many black Americans deserves some attention and eventual praise for their efforts, but leave this in the schoolhouse.  Now-a-days I view February as a month, in particular, of division.

Why don't we celebrate White History Month or Hispanic History Month or Irish or Italian, etc...   This is NOT UNITING or UNIFYING.  This divisive spirit, this competitive instead of collaborative attitude, this fatal mind-set is celebrated everywhere - in our churches, schools, government, special events, etc... and has got to go!

The only one in history that has proven that all should be on His side, on His team, and following His ways is the Son of God Himself - Christ Jesus!  No race, ethnicity, nationality or other group can claim exclusivity. Jesus said about Himself, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6

Like I mentioned before - it is not that I do not like black or African American people. It is the division that our society has created using a combination of accomplishments and skin color. America, lead the way! Church within America let us start the leading!  Let us stop dividing ourselves and bolster the only culture that can endure- a Jesus Culture.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

MORE THAN A CANDLESTICK

The people in the days of Jesus did not have candles as we know them today. The people of the time of Jesus had oil lamps. Each one was made from clay, so it was very fragile to a heavy hand or misuse. In addition, the lamps were found throughout the rooms (plural) of the house. This gives a new and more powerful meaning to Matthew 5:15.

  • "Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house."
"Candle" is a poor translation here. The appropriate, original Greek word luchnos in this verse means oil lamp. So, the verse can therefore be rendered - "Neither do men light an oil lamp, and put it under a bushel,...".

Oil in Scripture refers to the Holy Spirit. The lamp is our body. The wick is our service for the Lord (talent, time, energy, ministry, life). Listen! - The Lord will always have an eternal reservoir of the Holy Spirit (oil) for the believer who keeps his/her life (wick) submitted or inserted into that supply. And why would God supply the believer this way? SO THAT, we may start by "giving light unto all that are in the house." This starting point agrees with Acts 1:8 which encourages the believer to be an impact locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.
  • "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Precious "oil" has been supplied by God for you and me to influence our world for His Glory. Your contribution(s) (wick) are a blessing from God meant to join together with God's Holy DYNAMITE Spirit (oil) to accomplish His will for your life and others around you.

Wow!  There it is - Jesus considered His disciples and considers us, especially with the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, as More Than A Candlestick!

(inspired by Rick Renner)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I WANT TO KNOW WHAT LOVE IS

The music group Foreigner performs a song called "I Want To Know What Love Is". The following are the main lyrics to that song.

I gotta take a little time
A little time to think things over
I better read between the lines
In case I need it when I'm older
Aaaah woah-ah-aah

Now this mountain I must climb
Feels like a world upon my shoulders
And through the clouds I see love shine
It keeps me warm as life grows colder

In my life there's been heartache and pain
I don't know if I can face it again
Can't stop now, I've traveled so far
To change this lonely life

I wanna know what love is
I want you to show me
I wanna feel what love is
I know you can show me
Aaaah woah-oh-ooh
I'm gonna take a little time
A little time to look around me, oooh ooh-ooh ooh-ooh oooh
I've got nowhere left to hide
It looks like love has finally found me

In my life there's been heartache and pain
I don't know if I can face it again
I can't stop now, I've traveled so far
To change this lonely life

I wanna know what love is
I want you to show me
I wanna feel what love is
I know you can show me
I wanna know what love is
I want you to show me
And I wanna feel, I want to feel what love is
And I know, I know you can show me
___________________________________

I have got an answer for Foreigner and any who have ever sung this song about their own life - "This how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." - 1 John 3:16