Monday, June 29, 2015

How the Christian must practically respond to the many faces of the homosexual issue.

How the Christian must practically respond to the many faces of the homosexual issue.

Given the recent decision of the Supreme Court concerning 'gay marriage', there has been a lot reactions, a lot of feelings, a lot of praises, a lot of protests among other things. Typically our response is limited to whom we are speaking of, and more often than not we are not all addressing the same person/s which leads to over-generalizations, blurring of lines, unnecessary confusion, and the like.
This won't be exhaustive, and although each example could be expanded, I believe that there is enough to serve the purpose of helping the body of Christ to better address some of the issues.
With that said, I will proceed to list a few different scenarios, so as to provide some examples of the distinctions needed:

To the LGBT(xyz) agenda,
We Christians refuse to bow to their bullying, we refuse to compromise, we say with Peter, (Acts 5:29 ) "But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men." even if it means poverty, imprisonment or death. 
We declare the words of God that such sexual immorality is abominable, that God calls it 'unnatural', that 'marriage' is not a fluid word that can be defined as men please, for God alone has instituted marriage and defines the 'moral' boundaries of it, that it is a covenant between one man and one woman!
We refuse to be bullied into a sort of 'tolerance' which has nothing to do with respect and dignity but calls us to embrace and celebrate what God has condemned, this we can not do!
We will fight, vote, protest every effort to normalize, to indoctrinate, and to adopt 'hate crime' legislation as long as we have the freedoms to do this.

To the Homosexual 'Christian' be it a 'pastor, teacher or church member',
We defend the honor of God and His definition of true followers, by declaring that if you can give hearty approval to what God condemns, if you can live in unrepentant sin and refuse to call it sin, then you are by no means a true believer. You then as the scriptures declare have been deceived and are deceiving others. For such are the particular sort whom we are commanded to have no association with, I Corinthians 5:11 "But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one."
This we can declare because the scriptures make clear that those whom Christ have saved, He has also sanctified by His Spirit and called them out of bondage to sin. The Lord made clear that if we were truly apart of Him then we would bear good fruit, because He is the one supplying such change (Mt 7:17-20; Jn 15:1-6). We declare that those who would dare ignore the reality of the power of God in granting believers new hearts which turn from evil and pursue righteousness and suggest that God just gives a sort of weak grace which allows us to do as we please, well we say to such that you are perverting the grace of God as Jude says, (Jude 4) "For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."

To the Garden variety un-churched man, woman practicing homosexuality,
We say to you, that our message, our gospel is NOT, that you would simply STOP committing these acts and just act normal. We would NOT say to you that you need to give up that sin among sins and then if you get properly married and attend church that God will then, maybe accept and love you, and maybe we will too.
Sir, Miss, we say to you that God has created you in His image, that you were created by God Almighty, that you were made by Him and for Him! We say that God is good, He's perfect, He's unchanging, He's holy, He's just, He's loving etc. The problem however is that man is NOT, man has not submitted to God, man has not sought to please God, man who fell in Adam, man who is born in sin, man who enjoys his sin has strayed from God in words, thoughts and deeds and that because his 'heart' is wicked (depraved). All men have fallen short of the glory of God, all men have sinned, there is NONE righteous (Romans 3:9,23) which can be easily seen in how each individual breaks God's commandments, from lying (and our special sorts of lies), to coveting (the refusal to be content and thankful), to adultery (including that which begins in the desire of the heart,  Matthew 5:28), the dishonoring of parents, the many idols we set up, replace, or pursue instead of God Almighty our creator Lord and the list goes on, which reveals that we are guilty in inestimable counts. If you would press the point then we would unashamedly proclaim that all forms of sexual immorality are condemned by God, that they are forbidden and in opposition to the good, lovely and enjoyable sexual morality which is found in marriage between one man and one woman as God positively defines. We would tell you that if you simply stop performing that ONE sin, which although it would spare another party being joined in your sin (which is not love) it would not make you acceptable before God as lust, pride, and idolatry would surface in other areas of your life as well. 
We would explain also, that all men have failed to perform the heart of the commandments which is to love God with all our hearts..and to love our neighbor as ourselves. All in all this places all men in the same plight, with the same verdict, GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY and consequently and justly under the wrath of God! These UNIVERSAL failures and sins show as God spoke through Isaiah that, (53:6 ) "All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way....". So then we would tell you, that you are simply an ordinary sinner, a sinner like us, a sinner in need of deliverance, a sinner in danger of God's judgment, a sinner who desperately needs a Savior, no more, no less than others! 
You see the message is not, become good, it's not, try harder, it's not, earn the love and forgiveness of God, no, no, no! 
We would ask, we would plead, that you would confess your sins and turn to God, that you would embrace the love of God and find rest for your soul! How then can you do this, considering that you like the rest of us are guilty sinners before God, a God who has promised to punish sin, a righteous God who hates evil? God has provided a Deliverer, an acceptable sacrifice. Do you remember the passage in Isaiah which grouped all men together by declaring that all have gone their own way? Well, the whole verse reads, '"All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.". 
That is to say that God has provided Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who took on our flesh, who came as a man (the God-man) and was tempted in every way as all men are, yet was without sin, and as He perfectly obeyed His Father, and as He was infinitely worthy in His majesty, Jesus could be our substitute, our mediator, for He had no sins of His own to atone for, rather He willingly took our place, bearing the sins of His people, and paying in full for them. In other words, Jesus satisfied the justice of God, which was demonstrated by His resurrection, and in turn He gives us (imputes) His righteousness in order that we have a 'right' standing before God (2 Corinthians 5:21 "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."). This is HOW forgiveness is made possible, because God has fulfilled justice and has given grace through the work and worth of Jesus Christ! 
As to WHY, we are told first that God has done such for His own glory, in other-words God motivated Himself to do such, for we who are guilty before God could only (in ourselves) motivate Him to punish us (remember we are GUILTY sinners, NOT victims who deep deep down want to be good for God, Jeremiah 17:9), and the other factor of the WHY, as explained in scripture is, 'because of His great love for us..' (Ephesians 2:4), which is what we call AMAZING grace! The scriptures would have us know that the giving of Christ on our behalf in order to save us from our sins, is the ultimate DEMONSTRATION of His love, especially since we were ungodly, we were sinners, we were enemies of God (as unpopular the thought, in our sin we fight against God, it is not what we do, but WHO we do it against). This then leaves us with the question, 'Now what?', well Sir, well Miss, Jesus came preaching the gospel which called men to 'repent and believe' (Mark 1:15) and we may call it 'turn to Christ' or 'Believe in Jesus' or 'Confess and have faith in God' but that is simply different ways to express the same conclusion, that men, that you must give up all self effort to be good, you must abandon every attempt to change God in order to fit your sins, you must agree with God refusing to make excuses, you must freely and fully confess your sins, surrendering to the Lordship (the Rule) of Jesus Christ, expressed in the scriptures. That is what it is to believe in God, to turn from sin, self, and this world and to turn and follow after God. 
Yes come receive eternal life, yes come enjoy the free grace of God, yes come experience the perfect love of God through Jesus Christ! In your surrender, in your salvation, in your repentance which God supplies, yes in this amazing work which God will do in you and through you, granting you new desires after Him, you will find that many sins which you previously enjoyed, which previously defined you, no longer define you, they are desires which you no longer have or which you have, yet fight against and that because your great prevailing desire is now to know and be known by your heavenly Father through Jesus Christ, that is the work of the Holy Spirit in ALL God's true believing people. So then come as you are, come with your sins, come with your doubts, come with your fears, come with your filth and God will cleanse you, God will receive you, God will restore you and change you for His glory!

To the Finger-pointing upset conservative who wants to join the 'fight',
We say to you, that if you don't repent, you will join those whom you despise in their eternal destruction. We would say with Christ that, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you." (Matthew 21:31) which is to say those who see their own sin and confess their sin will be saved rather then those who simply point out sin and ignore their own. We would say to you that you are doing exactly what the often misused 'judge not, lest you be judged' passage is ACTUALLY condemning, which is a hypocritical calling out others sins while hiding your own, such are in danger of great judgment! We would say would you be so bold to call 'evil' one sort of sexual immorality which you don't deal with, while covering up and justifying another sort of sexual immorality which you do deal with? God will not judge you by other men, but by the standard of His word, in your condemning of others you bring greater condemnation upon yourself, unless you repent and believe upon Christ!

To the Bonafide Christ-clinging believer who is tempted with same-sex attraction, 
We say to you dear child of God, dear fellow believer, that you are not alone, you are not a different class of needy sinner. We affirm with the scriptures that your temptations are 'common to man' and that God does indeed 'provide a way of escape' with those temptations (I Corinthians 10:13). We call you to not hide your temptations or sins, to not believe that you need to find refuge among a certain type of people who suffer from a certain type of temptations and sin, but to find a healthy church which preaches the powerful gospel of grace, a place where mature believers would not be shocked to find out your struggles but would offer to join you and ask you to join in helping them as well. We plead with you to reject the lies of the enemy which bring you to shame and which in turn drives you away from God and His people, rather we beg you to embrace the full love of God proven in Christ, to hold firmly to your spiritual adoption as a son, a co-heir with Christ. We encourage you to find your identity in your union with Christ, in what God has made you, a called-out one, a kingdom of priests, a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). We would exhort you to fight sin and flee youthful lusts by the power of God, by submitting to Him, by casting your cares on him who cares for you, by resisting the Devil, yes we would tell you to do this with great faith, with great hope for deliverance. We would tell you that God is able to do all things, that if He does not take away those desires (which He can, which we should NEVER cease from asking Him to), He will certainly provide the power to overcome those desires. We would say that the fullness of joy is not found in a certain state in this life, or in a certain life event, or marriage or any-THING else, no such is found in KNOWING and ENJOYING our blessed Savior who is infinitely worthy of all things, including our suffering, and that God alone knows what He has in store for each of His people, but we do know that all His promises are ours in Christ Jesus, that none of His people are in want. Rejoice in Him, trust in Him, live in accordance with His word and die daily for His glory and your good (which is your joy)!


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Not me, and certainly not MY children!

There is a great danger, a great temptation that every parent must resist, lest they fall into and in so doing become accessories to the sins of their children! That temptation, is the pride of holding to a doctrine like 'total depravity' (think psalm 51, 'in sin my mother conceived me' = a sinner by nature) while acting as if such really isn't true of our children!
For the most part every young new parent has had one of those awakening experiences where we jokingly confess, has 'convinced us of sin nature in children', you know what I mean; you stumble upon your child manipulating another child, or displaying an unthinkable (so we thought) amount of rage towards someone, or even a stare you in the eye with no sort of hesistation flat out LIE! Yep, we've all seen it, and if we're observant enough and honest enough we've seen them do things that were not something they picked up from someone, not something anyone taught them, and it should have convinced us that such children are in fact little sinners, sinners by nature, sinners who (face it) often love their sin, who desperately NEED a Savior!
The scriptures don't teach us to keep our children from 'foolishness' (rebellion) by use of the rod, but that the rod will drive it from them (Proverbs 22:15 it's 'bound up in the heart'). This is a reality that Christian parents must face, they must face it biblically, and that is why keeping our children 'from evil' is not 'training them in the way they should go' because they themselves are the problem and only God can redeem and transform them.
The scriptures warn parents that a 'child left to himself will bring his mother to shame' (Proverbs 29:15) which might be a clue to the importance of the diligent oversight required for raising children. This is another confirmation of the biblical teaching of total depravity, that is not to say we are as bad as we could be, but that men are capable of any and every form of sin! This is true of our children as well, and though we strive to raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord, if they are not regenerate then they are being restrained by God through various means, but if God was to give 'them over' (Romans 1) to their lusts then whether we can swallow it or not, there is NOTHING that they are not capable of doing or becoming, nothing!
It's the inconvient truth, isn't it? O sure we would never say 'Lord I thank you that I'm not like...those sinners...i do this, i do that...' because that would be self-righteous, right? However what's troubling, is how many might dare to say, "But Lord, I do thank you, that my children are not like....those sinners....they do their chores, they recite their catechisms, they ace their exams, they eat healthy, they are polite, they are cultured, they watch fox news, they help at church...." and that sort of pride-filled naivete will absolutely affect how you address their sins (if you do) and how you apply the gospel!
Now you've seen the parent, or should I say, you have seen this in yourself (at least within), where a parent is told by someone that their child did this or that, and they (or you) reply, "Oh no, that doesn't sound like my baby, my child would never do THAT!", sound familiar? You know it was just the 'wrong crowd', it was a 'bad apple', but oh no, that can't be our children, right?
Do you see the disconnect? Do you see the re-interpretation of what the bible says about man? How can we point our children to Christ if we won't face their problem? How can we truly plead in prayer for their souls if we won't agree with God that they need to be radically transformed?
If we were biblical, if we truly held to what we so casually confess, then we would have a grander view of God, a clearer view and hatred of sin, and a more awestruck view of the grace we have through Jesus Christ!
Take the case of the teenager who molests his younger siblings, at such we are sickened, we are outraged, and we rightly call it sin. Well as time goes on and things are dealt with, regardless of the arguments of what 'dealt with' is sufficient (and what would 'enough' be to make it all better?), the Christian can affirm that if such a one was to confess their sins and truly turn in faith to Jesus Christ than such are absolutely and completely forgiven and even restored by God Almighty! That such are then included among this list of vile sinners '...and such were some of you' (1 Corinthians 6:11) who are not perpetually tagged as a certain cast of 'worse' sinners, but those who have been delivered from such bondage. The world then says, 'wait you sort of Christians take the issue too lightly, you just sweep it under the rug and pretend it's nothing.....' on the contrary we go WAY beyond those who might call for such offenses to be deserving of the death penalty, we say that such are deserving of eternal torment in Hell! We all fall short of the glory of God, and while not every sin is exactly the same, or the same in how God will punish it, all sin has this in common, that it is against a holy God and deserving of eternal punishment! God has not swept any sin under the rug, for such would be contrary to His just nature and contrary to His warnings in scripture, rather God the Father has provided forgiveness of sins by imputing (placing upon/crediting/applying) the sins of His people to Christ, so that on the cross Jesus is paying for the sins of others and thus providing salvation and full forgiveness of sins for those who turn to Him in repentance and faith, those who do that receive His righteousness and are accepted because Christ represents them!
If we were to label the 'worst' sins, the 'worst' sort of sinners, we could start with the depraved sexually immoral, we could show how violence added to that against the most helpless makes it even more detestable, of course not many want to add in those who kill the most helpless (the unborn), but if we were to make a case for those who REALLY will 'get it' from God, it will be those who had the most light and rejected it, namely bonafide HYPOCRITES in the church..........and here's what you need to remember, that sort of sin is described by Christ worse than the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, which might just be those of our own children!
For this reason we have NO GROUNDS to think, 'not my children'. Friend face it, your children left to themselves will not only sin, but will enjoy it! They like you, like me, have thought of things, no one should ever think or talk about, horrifying things, evil things! Don't put your hope in their innate 'goodness', don't put your hope in their 'good company', don't put your hope in their 'Christian education', don't put your hope in their 'morals', no you must welcome God's instruction concerning who they are and what they need!
Of course they need boundaries, of course they need to be guarded from this and that, and such matters are addressed in scripture, but we must not fail to come to grips with the reality that they themselves are sinners by nature. They need more than to be kept 'from evil', they need help to see evil within, to consider their dilemma in comparison to God, NOT in comparison to the lost street kids.
This means more than teaching your children to avoid that one house where the registered sex offendor is at (as if you NEED that info to not have your children hang out at some single guys house...um), it's more than teaching them to not let someone touch them here or there, and to tell you about it, but it requires the uncomfortable reality that you must teach THEM not to do that, not to give in to that, not to hesistate in rejecting that, and YES they need to know that it's disgusting and God hates it (and that God sees it).......and shame on us if we have taught them to be afraid to confess such things to us! Furthermore parent, this means we can't blow it off, we can't ignore it or call it something tamer or cuter, or something along the lines of the philosophy of perverse God hating pyschologists, NO, we must call sin, sin, we must deal with sin and never buy the lie that if we give it time or hide it that it'll just go away!
We must loathe and fear the 'appearance of godliness' or else we will sacrifice our children to a host of secret sins which will terrorize them the rest of their lives, and then send them to Hell! It should go without saying that such things, the eternal state of their souls, are in the hands of God, but He has commanded us how to raise them and warned us how not to raise them, so then it is our duty and privledge to give ourselves to following and looking to Him as He instructs, this is how we TRUST in Him, while making every effort to lay no stumbling blocks before our own children!
May the Lord help us all!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Did Job struggle? Can he teach me anything?

"Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.' (Job 1:20-22)


Who has not read this passage for the first time and thought, "Wow, Job is indeed a righteous man, I could never be like that..." or read it during a trial of some sort and thought "Wow, now there's an exception, there's an extraordinary man.....I just can't seem to get to that place Job was at...".
On the one hand we might be tempted to believe that Job was a different 'sort' of man, that he was unique and if that's the case then what's recorded concerning him has no application for us, God forbid we think that. On the other hand we might be tempted to assume that Job didn't have to wrestle against the flesh when he worshiped and praised the Lord.
Even in the short introduction of Job we see that Job was a man who feared God, a man who had a habit of turning to God, a man who was concerned even about inward sins, a man who resisted evil, thus Job was a man who's mind was renewed by truths concerning God.
A righteous man is not a perfect man, but a man who makes a habit of turning to God, a man who repents quickly and often. Job was such a man, a man like other men who had to resist temptation, who had to cast down thoughts, who had to cling to promises, and who had to IN ALL things come before the throne of God seeking grace in his time of need!
It would be no stretch or assault upon the passage to assume even in chapter 1, that Job was TEMPTED to think and believe LIES which he never uttered. 
Perhaps the thought that God was not good crossed his mind, the thought that God was not in control, the thought that God did not care, and perhaps that God was unjust in all of this. Can you not relate to such temptations? You might not only be able to relate to the temptations, but you can easily recall the death birthed from yielding to those temptations, the sorrow upon sorrow, the hopelessness, the fears, the doubts, the suffocating anxiety, the endless complaints, the bitter envy and anger that flows from yielding to the flesh at such times.
Furthermore it needs to be pointed out that Job's SORROW was not considered sin or lack of righteousness, THAT my friends is normal and good. Can you then, see his statement, his confession in the midst of these sufferings as a rebuke to those lying temptations, as a thrust of the Sword of Truth defending the unchanging character of God Almighty?! 
“Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Hence the NECESSITY of hiding the WORD of God in our hearts, that we may cling to WHO He is, that we may fight the lies of our mind with the truth revealed by God, that we may command our emotions to bow before the Word of our Lord!
The Lord our God is not only in control, but He is GOOD and working all things for the GOOD of His people, He is just and ultimately never gives His people what they deserve but has purchased grace for us through the death of His Son (which just happens to be how God 'demonstrated His love for us'), and that He cares! Can we not see this being proclaimed throughout scripture? We see God comforting His people over and over again by reminding them that He is WITH them and that He is working towards an end, namely our joyous eternity WITH Him. We see God encouraging/instructing/commanding us to seek Him in our 'time of trouble', to ask as a child to a father, to make 'our requests known', to 'cast our cares upon' Him ('because HE CARES for us'). Yes EVEN when it's a result of discipline for sin, we see a pattern of God using such to the same end; DRAWING us closer to Him, for our good and certainly for HIS GLORY!
Yield not to those lies that demand to be heard, rather make a habit of meditating upon the words of the Lord, especially upon His immutable attributes, and make a habit of crying out to Him for increased faith and strength especially in our times of trials BEFORE we let our thoughts and emotions have their way within us, then by God's grace we too might exclaim in worship WHO our God is, just like Job!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Be encouraged, you are not needed!

Dear brethren, look at these two verses,

Psalm 50:12 
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.

1 Corinthians 3:6,7
"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth."

These scriptures declare that our God is the source of all things, He is the one in control, He is the supplier of all things, we are the needy ones! God is self-sufficient and God is the author of life (physical and ETERNAL). We may labor, we may strain, we may do this and do that, but it is God alone who causes fruit to be born and to grow. This reality takes a necessary burden off of our shoulders, for it removes from us the anxiety of attempting to produce something, to create something which we are unable to do. In fact this is a humbling reality, for we'd like to be able to do something great, something by which we could at least take partial credit, of course we'd never come out and bluntly say we want to steal glory from God, but in our flesh that is exactly what we want.
The pressure is everywhere, for us to do something 'great', to accomplish 'great things'...'for the Lord' of course, oh yes, of course, (hmm) for the "the Lord'. So why is there so much bragging going on? Why such an emphasis on how big my ministry is, how many books you sold, how many followers he has, how many classes they lead, how much they volunteer, how much she can multi-task and so on, eh?
Pride, pride, pride, will lead us to selfish ambition, to seek the praise of men and it will indeed rob God of His glory and it will rob us of our joy as we seek to find pleasure (be content) in fulfilling some 'purpose' that is noticeable to others, that pleasure, that peace, that contentment which ONLY comes from Him who gives it, not from some thing we do. This sort of competitive living among God's people, will lead to the 'body' trying to be parts (of the body) which God never called them to be, namely the NOTICEABLE parts, and then those who are not noticed are not only overwhelmed but envious, bitter, and wallowing in self-pity. 
Only when we realize who God is, who is running His church, who is the HEAD of the body, then and then only can we begin to be at peace with His wise, good, just, and gracious gifts, callings, and positions. 
Can this not explain the lack of praying in churches today? That we don't really believe that such things are in the hands of the Lord, that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, yes even us 'SOVEREIGNTY' people? Wouldn't a fuller understanding of His sovereignty in all things, His workings in and among men, lead us to call upon Him all the more, to plead with Him for help, for power, for grace in all our endeavors? As opposed to just doing more, busy, busy, busy, just adding and adding more programs, more activities, more responsibilities, and consequently a whole lot less time doing those necessary and unnoticed things. 
In such a culture, it should not come as a surprise that there exists a great number of people doing 'small' things that will feel (trained to feel, by implication) quite insignificant and useless. For instance, the young mother who serves a handful of little ones and her husband in such a culture will either learn to find contentment and joy in doing all those things as unto the Lord, OR she will have to 'accept' her meaningless role until she can tell others of how bright or gifted her little ones compared to others OR she will overwhelm herself taking on additional duties (noticeable duties) that will indeed produce those temporal flesh-pleasing praises while she pulls from the most important duties spelled out to her by her Lord and Master in the scriptures, which in the LONG run will lead to much regret.
Now look at this familiar passage,

Luke 10:38-42
"Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Is this passage teaching us that doing work is 'unnecessary'? Uh, duh, of course not! That should be obvious, it's obvious that there are many things that must be done, things which we all must do, work is a GOOD thing! Yes it is good to be 'spent' for the Lord, to serve Him with all our heart, to serve the Lord with all our...'strength'. However the problem for us isn't missing the point about doing those things which are necessary, the problem is that we lack a fuller and biblical understanding of 'necessary'. In this passage we see Jesus rebuke Martha for her anxiety and frustration in her service (anxious while serving, hmm, sound familiar, much?) and commends Mary for sitting at His feet and listening to Him. Wait, Jesus says that was 'NECESSARY'? "But Mary, there are things to do, Mary there are needs to be fulfilled, Mary you're not accomplishing anything, Mary, everyone else is working." 
The point is that Jesus WAS working, that Mary was receiving the blessings which produce fruit, she herself NEEDED to spend time with Christ, she NEEDED to hear from Him, we all do! Our time with the Lord is vital, it is important work, it is necessary! Furthermore, it'll be alright if you stop and rest, it'll be ok if you have to turn down some 'opportunities', it'll be just fine if you can't do, lead or be somewhere.....you know why right? Because YOU ARE NOT NEEDED, God is, you're not, be encouraged, He can handle it quite perfectly without you. 
Lastly let's look at this next passage,

Colossians 3:17-24
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

You see it right? Do you see how this passage is sandwiched? 'Do everything in the name of the Lord'............as for the Lord.......you are serving the Lord Christ." For Him, do it for Him, serve Him! Now consider the ordinary nature of these things, the unspectacular appearance of these things, they are certainly unglamorous, often unappreciated, acts of labor that we would consider anything but 'service' to the Lord. O yes we make mention of these verses and we talk about 'doing it for the glory of God' but do you get it, do you get how God is showing forth His divine sovereignty by placing us in such situations, in such roles, that others may despise, that the world may sneer at, but which God is ACTUALLY pleased by? If then we find ourselves in a limited capacity, or in a season of life where the 'need' is in the places where none see, then so be it, let our resolve be to do it for the one who 'sees in secret' and refuse to please that glory-seeking flesh with the appearance of 'being a servant'. Friend, you must then ask yourself, have you been neglecting the most necessary things in order to find fulfillment in something public? Of course it's always easier to maintain (for a while) the appearance of fruit in public, than it is to be fruitful in private. May none of us respond like Peter to our Lord, when Christ asked 'Do you love me' and proceeded to foretell how Peter would die and Peter responds  “Lord, what about this man?” then Christ tells him "...what is that to you? You follow me!”  Yes, that's it, He's the head of the church, He's gifted the church as He pleases, He plans our lives, He calls us to assume certain roles, He is in control and we the sheep need only to follow Him....not in some roles, not in the 'big' things, not in competition with our brethren, but day by day seeking to be faithful to Him according to His instructions!
Be free from burdens you were never meant to carry, be free from trying to keep up with everyone else, be free from competing, yes be free from worrying about everyone else, be free from trying to perform for the love which God freely offered and demonstrated in the giving of Jesus Christ, do this by repenting and setting your eyes once again on the prize, JESUS CHRIST. Be encouraged, He reigns supreme, the Lord gives, the Lord takes away, He does whatsoever He pleases, besides YOU ARE NOT NEEDED.......but you/we/I need HIM!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Jesus Christ the Humble King

In the letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul exhorts the church to be humble as Christ was humble in His coming as the God-man. Jesus Christ born of the virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit was fully God and fully man, the difficulty lies not in proving that the scriptures reveal this, rather the difficulty lies in our ability to grasp a glorious miracle in which we have nothing to compare it to.
With that said let us look at the passage and a few considerations of Christ's humility,

Philippians 2:5-11
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Instead of 'grasping' the divinity which was fully His, Jesus emptied Himself, took the form of a bond-servant, and was made in the likeness of men. His humility was seen in His obedience and ESPECIALLY His obedience unto death! WIthout detracting in any way shape or form from His glorious and primary submission to God the Father in His perfect obedience and joyful acceptance of His will, I want to give some attention to some other aspects. 
Consider with me just a few contexts displaying how magnificent His humility truly was:
*Humble in His taking on flesh: Jesus in His humanity actually had NEEDS (FYI, God doesn't have needs), Jesus not only needed rest, food, water as a man but Jesus as a child even needed to be carried, to be fed, to be changed, to be bathed etc.

*Humble in His submission to authority: Jesus not only submitted to Mary and Joseph, He even submitted to a foreign oppressive (raised up by the hand of God) ruler as He pays taxes!
*Humble in His patience with His disciples: Bearing with their weaknesses, questions and even employing them in tasks which He could do faster and better!
*Humble in His trial and abuse from men: as He took blows which He could have stopped, enduring the whips from puny men whom He had created, refusing to respond in vengeance towards His mockers! 
*Humble in His treatment of His betrayer:

  •   It's mind-blowing to think of how Jesus treated the man He KNEW was His betrayer, so gracious was His treatment of Judas that none of the disciples ever had even a hint of suspicion concerning this man that they traveled and lived with for years! Think of the many times Jesus feeds even Judas, how He sends out even Judas, how He shares precious truths even with Judas! Call to mind the objections Judas made concerning the ointment poured upon Jesus' head and what mighty power of restraint it took to hear his greed-dripping lies (while everyone else gets the impression Judas is such a compassionate person) and not blow up! If that was not astounding enough, call to mind how humble the act was when Jesus our Lord even washed the feet of Judas, right before his final act of betrayal! Then of all signals, Judas points out Christ with an intimate expression of love (a kiss), and for Christ to not cause the very ground to swallow Judas up at that very moment is quite amazing!
This is our Savior, this is our Lord who so humbled Himself, who wonderfully and willfully submitted to such treatment. The Lord who was determined to save men, not because they deserved such, not because they earned such, nor because of what they could then offer Him, but because of His great love, His DECISION to love us in spite of us, fueled by His desire to magnify the grace of God and display His glory! The Lord Jesus came determined to save sinners, wicked hell-deserving law breakers, although they gave Him, in fact WE gave Him every reason to NOT save us!
Oh but let none of us for a moment forget a terrifying reality, and that the Lamb who came not to condemn but to save, will return as the Lion who will exact vengeance on the adversaries of the Lord! He will return in power, not to take blows but to give them! Jesus Christ, not only warned of judgment, but we are told, contrary to popular opinion, that the guilt is now INCREASED because of His glory and grace being revealed through Jesus Christ:

Hebrews 10:29-31
29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Whether men choose to do so, through faith and repentance towards God, or whether they are slammed down, all, yes ALL will inevitably recognize and CONFESS that Jesus is Lord! May it not be on the way to eternal damnation, may you not reject the majesty of the King who became a child! Humble yourself before God almighty, give up your excuses, turn away from trusting in your own goodness/merit, and utterly reject the lie of your heart that perhaps God will prove to have been only bluffing and that the life, death and resurrection of Christ meant so little that He'll just welcome you no matter what! Seek Him NOW, while you may, while you are reading these words and sensing the truth of these matters, don't harden your heart with excuses so you can continue in your sinful ways, turn to God, He'll cleanse you from your sins, He'll transform your life by dwelling in you, and He'll ensure you dwell with Him in eternity! 

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