Saturday, May 30, 2009

Three questions everyone must answer

A Christian Perspective:

Why are we here? 1John1:3

And what do we do while we are here? Col 1:10, 2Cor 5:9

And what happens when we die? Rom 14:8

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Christian Must Die! Part 7

Throughout the Old Testament we see story after story of how God is teaching His children to rely on Him. From the story of Noah and the flood and how God sealed the door shut after Noah believed then acted upon that belief. Or when God led Moses to a geographic point where the Israelites were made to solely lean upon God and therein God parted the red sea and the Israelites were saved. Or the story of David and Goliath where David in His love, trust and zeal for God did what the whole nation of Israel thought was impossible…he slew Goliath with a sling and a stone.

Many people don’t know the story of Jehoshaphat, who was the king of Judah, at a time when all the surrounding nations were simultaneously coming to make war on Jerusalem. To put it in perspective we have the small nation of Israel today that is almost totally surrounded by Muslim nations and it would be as if many of those nations were coming to make war on Israel (see map, Israel is about 1/6th the size of Florida).

Now what could the king do? If you were the king what would you do? At this point the nation need to be saved so they call upon the Lord

2Ch 20:3 Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
2Ch 20:4 And Judah assembled to seek help from the LORD; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.

So the people gathered to seek the Lord, they fasted, prayed, confessed their sins and stood upon the Lord’s promises that He made in the past. And…

2Ch 20:14 And the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah…a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly.
2Ch 20:15 And he said, "Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, 'Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's.

It was only when they were at the end of what they could do that they stood upon the promises and the truth of God. The direction God gave them was foolishness to the natural man but to the spiritual, to the one’s that knew they could trust their great Jehovah God, it was the power of God.

2Ch 20:17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.' Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you."

Here is where the story gets even better, where I think that God has a great sense of humor in dealing with His people and His creation but you’ll have to pick your Bible up to get the rest of the story.

Beloved, don’t you know that salvation belongs to the Lord (Jon 2:9), it is His battle and the war has already been won…we have the victory that He has given us! Now our response to such great news is to simply repent and believe (Mar 1:15), to turn from believing the lies of Satan and believe the truth of the Word of God. To turn from sin and self and turn to the Savior that has loves us and demonstrates that love, even why we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). And to believe the truth that we were crucified with Christ and now rest or abide in Him (John 15:10)

Rom 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Rom 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Rom 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Rom 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Christian Must Die! Part 6

“There was a day when I died;
died to self, my opinions, preferences, tastes and will;
died to the world, its approval or censure;
died to the approval or blame even of my brethren or friends;
and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God." George Muller

Can you say the same? When Paul is writing the book of Romans he takes a look back at what many believe was his struggle living under that old covenant.

Rom 7:15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Rom 7:16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.
Rom 7:17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Rom 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
Rom 7:19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (ESV)

Notice the continuous “I” that Paul refers to…He wants to do good but cannot. Oh, how many well meaning Christians have taken this verse and have agreed that they could not do the good they wanted to do, and they are correct. In verse 18 we see that “in his flesh” he cannot do the good he wants to do and Paul goes on to say it even stronger in the next chapter and in Corinthians

Rom 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
1Co 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

Notice also that it is a matter of ability, not a matter of desire, you CANNOT please God in the flesh. If so then we would be able to work our way to God and the propitiation of Christ Jesus on the cross would have been a vicious, needless death.

There is no life in the flesh and if we do not appropriate what God has already done in Christ Jesus by crucifying us with Him we will continue to try and please God by our works; by praying more, giving more, going to church more etc. And God in His infinite goodness will not allow us to continue to try and please Him in the flesh…there will be no joy, no peace in fact we will cry out like Paul saying the good that I want to do I do not do but the evil I hate is what I do.

Instead of God being “light and life (2Tim 1:10)” to us, the things of God become rote and routine. Instead of us having victory over sin and abiding in that victory we try and stop sin in the flesh by repression or suppression…and have, in a sense, a white knuckle relationship to our God. Our relationship to God is one of love and an obedience that flows from that love and understanding of all the riches we have in Him

1Jn 4:9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

In the Philippines I heard a local pastor use the following parable to illustrate Christ’s offer of rest (Matt. ll:28) and the response of people who won’t trust Him completely: The driver of a caribou wagon was on his way to market when he overtook an old man carrying a heavy load. Taking compassion on him, the driver invited the old man to ride in the wagon.

Gratefully the old man accepted. After a few minutes, the driver turned to see how the man was doing. To his surprise, he found him still straining under the heavy weight, for he had not taken the burden off his shoulders.

Christian, don’t make the same mistake…learn to rest in the fact that you HAVE been crucified with Christ and now set your mind on things above, just as the Bible instructs us to do.

Col 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Col 3:3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Next time we look at a great and mighty example out of the book of Chronicles. Remember, the battle HAS been won and now rest in the victory we have in Christ.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Christian Must Die! Part 5

Have you taken the opportunity to consider the you HAVE been crucified with Christ, have you meditated upon the fact that you are seated in the heavenly realm, have you considered that the world, the flesh and the devil have no authority over you and that you have complete victory IN Christ?

Gal 5:1 Christ has liberated us into freedom. Therefore stand firm and don't submit again to a yoke of slavery

If not ask yourself why you haven’t done so…are you too busy bound in your prison cell to notice that the door has been ripped off its hinges, the chains tossed aside and that you now have complete freedom, unless you choose to still live in the prison cell. Look at what the Psalmist says…

Psa 31:6 I hate those who are devoted to worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD.

Psa 119:147 I rise before dawn and cry for help. I put my hope in your words.
Psa 119:148 My eyes stay open through the night watches, that I might meditate on your word.

Therefore meditate on these promises day and night. I like what Thomas Brooks says in his book “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices” about meditating on the Word...

Remember, it is not hasty reading, but serious meditating upon holy and heavenly truths, that make them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the bee’s touching of the flower that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time upon the flower that draws out the sweet. It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most, that will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest, and strongest Christian.

So take the time to “reckon” what you are reading and hearing. I think many of our problems stem from our priorities. How much time, effort and money do we give to the temporal things verses the eternal things from God. No one said it better then Jesus on the sermon on the mount:

Mat 6:19 "Don't collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.
Mat 6:20 But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don't break in and steal.
Mat 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Mat 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

Now earnestly examine your life. For many these next passages will be light and life as they desire the things from above and God is giving them light but for others they will be condemnation and will not be well received.

Jas 4:3 You ask and don't receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure.
Jas 4:4 Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world's friend becomes God's enemy.

1Jn 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

So the first step is to reckon or continuously consider that you HAVE been crucified with Christ and that you have been raised with Him. This is an eternal absolute truth whether or not your life reflects it, it is yours to do with as you desire. The next step is to set your heart on things above and not on this passing world. The fact is that you can only have one master and that God is a jealous God and desires all of you.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Christian Must Die! Part 4

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, participant in the German Resistance movement against Nazism, and a founding member of the Confessing Church. His involvement in plans by members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Adolf Hitler resulted in his arrest in April 1943 and his subsequent execution by hanging in April 1945, shortly before the war's end. Under such extraordinary circumstances how did he obey the commandments of Christ knowing that his life would be required? I think we can glean a little insight by one of his very succinct and profound quotes; Bonoeffer said “When Christ bids us come and follow, He bids us come and die,”

Now think of those wonderful Paul is teaching in the book of Galations and view this very informative scripture through the fact that you have died in Christ and your response is to believe.

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Also note the very personal relationship that you now have to Christ, not through a religion or a priest or a teacher but with God himself in Christ. Not the “I” and the “me” and how God gave himself not only for the world as John 3:16 teaches but for “me”. So what is our rightful response to this miraculous truth? One word – BELIEVE. Believe that Christ has died and that you were in Him thus you have been crucified with Christ and even now there is a perfect “John Smith” that is united with Him and sits at the righthand of the Father. Now it makes so much sense when we look back at this verse.

Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love for us
Eph 2:5 even when we were dead because of our offenses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Eph 2:6 raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavenly realm in Christ Jesus,

This is an indisputable fact that we can now rest or abide in because Christ Himself, God in the flesh, has secured it by His life’s blood. The world, the flesh and the devil have no authority over us except what we allow because He has delivered us and broken every chain of bondage to our old master sin.

But the fact is that many will not enter His rest because they fail to believe and fail to heed His voice. This is nothing new, we see it over and over again in the Israelites. The same sin has been prevelant throughout all of human history and started in the garden of eden; self-deification. And sin is born out of this in many ways. Each time we desire to do something apart from God we again take the fruit not from the tree of life but from that which satan said was good. Our disobedience comes from a disbelief and a heart that continues to fight against God’s goodness, because we want it OUR way.

Heb 3:18 And to whom did he swear that they would never enter his rest, if not to those who disobeyed him? Heb 3:19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of their unbelief.

Our first step in walking in the spirit is to continually consider or reckon the truth in God’s Word. Stop disbelieving and living like the is not a God that loves you and has given Himself for you but reckon that you HAVE BEEN crucified with Christ. The word for reckon can also mean to “take an inventory” or “take into account” or “reason” and it is our job to do as Paul said:

Rom 6:11 In the same way, you too must continually consider (reckon) yourselves dead as far as sin is concerned, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Next time we will look at the next step in living a life of walking in the Spirit and not walking in the flesh. The Christian life is a victorious life and one that is full of rest in Christ.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Christian Must Die! Part 3

Joh 12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

This passage is a foreshadowing of the death of Christ on the cross and the death of each and every person on that same cross. It is one of those qualifier type verses…look at the “if”. For if one appropriates the truth of what has already happened, then they will bear much fruit. It is reminiscent of the parable of the sower in Mark 4 where Jesus said:

Mar 4:20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold."

Now we know that the devil is full of lies and is the father of all liars (John 8:44) and that he has blinded the minds lest we see the glory of the gospel of Christ (2Cor 4:4) and is out to steal, kill and destroy the abundant life from those that are in Christ (John 10:10). In doing so satan wants you to believe the lie, the lie that you have not been crucified in Christ, even though the Bible makes it so plain and clear.

Let me illustrate. If a very wealthy and powerful man adopted you into his family and said all that I have is yours. You are given access to all his power, money and connections. And along comes a very crafty person, swindles you out of the little money that you have and convinces you that you have not been adopted and that you don’t have the resources of your adopted father, that it’s all been just a sham. Do you believe him or do you run back to your father?

See most of us have been conditioned to believe the lies and have lived our lives in absolute spiritual poverty, taken captive to the devils deceit (2Tim 2:26), even though there are unlimited spiritual resources at our disposal. See we HAVE BEEN united with Him, since all have died and our first step in appropriating this in our lives is understanding we have been believing a lie and to start believing the Truth.

Rom 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Rom 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

And this is why Paul can say, with absolute certainty, under the power of the Holy Spirit these beautiful truths.

2Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, all things have become new.

These are past tense events that have already happened, you are now to believe them and live within the Power of the Holy Spirit who God has sealed you.

Eph 1:13 in whom also you, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,

Now knowing this the next question is how can I live in this power? And how can this be made real in my life so that I walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh? For that you will have to wait until the next post.