Wednesday, September 26, 2012

An Unusual Invitation

This is a TRUE STORY about a young man named Joey, who was a drug addict and lived the lifestyle that included petty thieving, selling drugs, and living in a drug-induced high. His world was a network of young men and women whose intent from dawn until late into the night was the pursuit of getting high.  He continued  to go back to church week after week eagerly listening to the preaching of the Gospel.

In the church that he attended there was a baptismal service almost every Sunday. After hearing the Gospel and being awakened by the Spirit to faith in Christ, Joey asked for baptism.  He sent out invitations to his family and the network of persons who made up his world that read simply, "You are invited to Joey's funeral and resurrection on Sunday night."  They came, curious and confused.  Joey stood by the baptismal water and addressed his stunned family and friends with the words, "Goodbye, I am leaving the world that all of us know for real life in Jesus. You will see me around, and we will talk, and I hope I will continue to be your friend. But the Joey you have known has died and in a few minutes will be buried.  The man you will be talking to is somebody who has risen from the dead and for the first time in his life is really alive!   And seeing as he is dead, Joey will not be selling drugs, anymore and will not be joining you to shoot up or be at the parties".

Joey walked the streets of Brooklyn, seeing the old haunts and friends, but although he was still IN THE WORLD, HE WAS NOT OF IT.  He was a  man who had been JOINED to Christ.  He had returned home from his own funeral to see the world and all of life through resurrected eyes.

Joey's story brought me back to my own baptism. I remembered my own  funeral and resurrection.  For each of us who have been baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, what joy it is to know as we come out of the waters that the Father announces to us as surely as He did to Jesus, "This is My beloved son/ daughter in whom I am well pleased." The Spirit that came upon Him, comes UPON US,  and as we enter the family of God, the Spirit comes and enfolds us in the arms of God's love.

We become partakers of God's life, His everlasting life.  The divine life is added by grace to our humanity. We are reborn, and our lives begin again on a totally different plane.  We move out of the domain of the lie and the darkness to be at home in the new creation founded on the new covenant in Jesus.

In Colossians  1:12-15 we are encouraged by, "Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the power of darkness and  conveyed us into the Kingdom of the son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.  His is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation.

The story was taken from "The Power of the Blood Covenant" by Malcolm Smith.  Page 151

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Humpty Dumpty's Great Fall

I have to chuckle.  Do you remember as a kid the old nursery rhyme, "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, all the kings horses and all the kings men, couldn't put humpty dumpty together again.?"  What a great picture of the fall of Adam. Adam was all together, perfectly whole, until he fell from grace. I think we all can relate to Humpty Dumpty. We all have fallen short of the glory of God.  However, the part about 'all the kings men COULDN'T put Humpty dumpty together again really spoke to me. Why am I trying to put myself together again?

I think one of the MOST deceiving scams of the Devil is for us as Christians to fall into the belief of striving in the flesh to put ourselves back together again with all the self help books and even reading the bible,etc. If it is possible, the devil will even try to deceive us into believing that God is upset with us and that He really doesn't care about the deep pain in our souls or how we feel when tragedy or abuse has occurred in our lives. We are led to believe that we are to keep a stiff upper and bear our burden. However, all that we really  have to do is to look at the cross and see His LOVE for us.  He did not leave us in our sin to struggle against this evil, dark world.  He came to redeem and to bring us back to Himself.

We all were born into a fallen world and wicked things will happen to us, but that is NOT the heart of our Father.. In this fallen world, sinners will act out GOOD AND EVIL. The fruit of the tree of good and evil will be exercised.. As human beings we have NO idea how wicked we are and the evil that we are capable of inflicting on anyone. The nightly news will verify that truth!

 Let's face it. APART from the Lord and His merciful grace, we are ALL LOST, very FRAGMENTED and don't know who we really are! Now that might sound a little ridiculous to you. Of course, you know who you are. REALLY?  I was pretty confident that I knew who I was until after I became a Christian. Then the light bulb went on and I was really confused.  I soon found out that I had no real identity.  Oh, I could say my name and  express the things that I liked and disliked. I could communicate with people, and I knew what I wanted to accomplish in this life. But as to who I really was as a person, I never realized that I was not a WHOLE person. I was emotionally fragmented. Physically, I felt healthy, ate a fairly good diet, and got plenty of sleep. But what I didn't know about myself was that I needed  emotional healing. All the 'kings horses and all the kings men, could never put me back together again," the grace of God, He started to deliver my soul from deep pockets of resentment, bitterness, self pity, covetousness and hidden pride that ruled my heart. It was then that I realized that I had a NEW identity and that everything was changing.  The change would NOT come all at once, but I was NOT the same person.

I had no idea what the emotional effects of my past would have on my new found faith in Jesus. Hidden deep in  my soul were pockets of sin keeping me captive to my old life. Resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, and self-pity had a strong emotional control on me. They had to be broken. Sin blinds us, but Jesus takes the blindfolds off so that we can repent and be set free. 
As believers in the living God, Jesus our savior and Lord, we each have a redemptive story to tell. I don't want to spend time with mine, but to encourage you with the truth.  Jesus is alive and because He lives, we live also.He has the power to deliver us and to heal us from our past.  Jesus Christ is our WHOLENESS.  He is the ONLY ONE who can' heal and make ' humpty dumpty' NEW!  It is a miracle, because 'humpty dumpty became a NEW CREATION. There is no way  all those shattered pieces could be put together again.  'Humpty dumpty' has a NEW identity.

When I started to BELIEVE  that I was a new creation in Christ Jesus and that the old man in Adam was crucified in Jesus, I wanted to repent and turn away from my past.  Satan was NOT going to deceive me any longer . It took time  to repent, to forgive those who had hurt and offended me, to understand  the word of God, to exercise my FAITH and to sincerely  BELIEVE  that God REALLY LOVED ME. He wanted to deliver and heal me. God was on my side!

I just want to encourage you today that if you are a believer and struggle in your faith, know that God is writing His own redemptive story in your life to glorify Himself.. It is an amazing story and one day you will look back and say, "God you are incredible. You have changed my heart to love and worship only you.  I don't know how you did it or when you did it, but, all I know is that You are doing it all the time and it is a gracious mystery of faith."

Friday, September 14, 2012

Abba Father's love

One of the most endearing relationships that we can have with our  heavenly Father is 'Sonship'.  If you have ever been rejected, unwanted or abused by your earthly father, I can reassure you, YOU will never be rejected,  unwanted or ill treated by the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.  His father will NEVER reject or forsake you.  God wants you to truly know Him as your loving heavenly Father.  He is a Father who loves you fiercely and unconditionally.  He is a Father who watches over you lovingly and tirelessly.

God, our Father, is our Provider, the One who supplies all of our needs.  He is our refuge, Rock and protector. The One who shields us from all evil. He wants us to live life as His beloved child.  He wants us to run to Him like a little child, talk to Him about anything, and trust Him with everything.  The bible calls such a relationship with God the Spirit of Sonship.

In Romans 8:15, it says that you did not receive the spirit of bondage, but YOU have received the Spirit of Sonship, by whom you cry out "ABBA FATHER". I love that!  God is inviting us to enjoy a relationship with Him where we can easily cry out to Him, "Daddy, Father!"  This is the miracle of the new birth! We have a NEW daddy!! He will love us and not abandon or abuse us. He knows the situation in which He found us in this world and has brought us out to sit with Him in heavenly places in His Son, Jesus Christ.  His blood has cleansed us from all sin and we are clean, set apart to our God. ( Ephesians 2:4-10)

Beloved, if you are a son or a daughter of God, God wants you to see Him as your "Abba" or "Daddy".  Crying out "Daddy, Father!" fills your heart with such a confidence and blessed assurance that God is not just Almighty God, but also YOUR Daddy God.  He is YOUR heavenly Father who loves you unconditionally.  He is YOUR heavenly Father who wants to give you every good thing in life.

There is nothing like knowing our heavenly Daddy.  It is all because of the cross.  When Jesus cried out on the cross,"My God, my God why have you forsaken me," it was so that today, as God's sons and daughters, we can cry out, "Abba, Father, thank You for always  providing and protecting me from evil!"

Calling God "Abba" or "Daddy" removes any distance and breaks down every barrier between us and Him.  We lose any slavish fear of God and instead are emboldened to come boldly into His presence, to talk to Him freely and receive His help in time of need.

There have been times when I have been so stressed with life that all I can do is to call "Abba, Daddy"  I need you to intervene and to make sense out of the mess I have created."  Amazingly, He will come and will shortly give me some ideas that I can change or perhaps I need to ask forgiveness for my reactions.

I want to encourage you today to call upon God  with a great sense of intimacy. Call Him Daddy, Papa, or Abba and just speak to Him from your heart. He will answer you because you love His Son and you belong to Him. There is NO GREATER LOVE THAN GOD'S LOVE FOR US.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cease Striving and Believe God

How many times have you said, "I am supposed to keep the Ten Commandments and I feel condemned when I don't.? In my early years in Sunday school my whole religious experience consisted of "Keeping the Ten commandments", reading all the bible stories and striving to keep the law. I knew nothing of the LOVE of God. I only knew that He would love me if I obeyed my parents.  I guess in some ways, it did put the fear of God in me, but it certainly wasn't the 'fear' of worshiping Him in awe! God was distant, unavailable and always expecting me to perform.

I am so grateful that the Lord has opened my eyes to the real Jesus.  The Jesus who made a covenant with His Father on my behalf and gave it to me. This is AMAZING LOVE!  Jesus Christ was the only perfect human being, without spot or blemish, who could make a blood covenant with God.  There is NO way that you or I could ever make a covenant with God. It is rather ridiculous to think about it. But Jesus was the PERFECT man. His blood was worthy and acceptable before the Father to represent us.

Isn't it a blessing to know that our God is pleased with us not because of what we do or don't do, but because  we believe and accept His Son as a propitiation (substitute) for our sin?  The Christian life is not supposed to be a struggle to be good enough to win God's approval.  That was the Old Covenant way. Its message was "Do right and I will accept you and bless you."

God's New Covenant is , "I love you and accept you because of your faith in my Son, Jesus. I choose to bless you and I will work in you and ENABLE you to do what is right."  The Old Covenant was dependent on human effort.  The New covenant depended on God's effort working out our salvation. God hasn't lowered His standards in the New Covenant.  But He has said He Himself will be responsible for meeting them and He did in His Son.

Notice in the following passage describing the New Covenant that God says, "I will, I will, I will..." Hebrews 10:16-17
"This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I WILL put my laws in their hearts, and I WILL write them on their minds.  I WILL never again remember their sins  and  lawless deeds." NOW that is good news!

Ephesians 2:10 says "For we are God's  workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." God is at work.  We are the result of God's work--not our own striving.  We can't make ourselves perfect.  We can't attain God's standard by our own efforts.  The purpose of the Law was to show us that we fell short and that we would know that we needed a Savior. Someone who could help us.

There comes a peace of mind when we rest in this truth.  We don't have to strive to be good to please God or to change ourselves to be accepted..  The more we know our God, the more we will desire to be like Him and His enabling grace will continue to change us from glory to glory. The presence of the Holy Spirit will lead and guide us into all truth and will finish the good work He began, which is to be conformed into His image and likeness; our new creation.