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4 Books

OpenBook

So far, other than the Bible, there are four books which have impact on my life and way of thinking:

  1. The Christian Family by Larry Christenson;
  2. Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist by John Piper;
  3. Delighting in the Trinity: An introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves;
  4. The Naked Gospel: The Truth you May Never Hear in Church by Andrew Farley.

splinter_02The Apostle Paul spends three chapters in his letter to the Romans identifying the source of their pain.

Something was lodged in their bodies that was, actually, the cause of their problems.

“I know that good doesn’t live in me–that is, in my body..if I do the very things that I don’t want to do, then I’m not the one doing it anymore.  Instead it is sin that lives in me that is doing it. – Romans 7:18-20 CEB

They weren’t the miserable sinners saved by grace, they were the saints redeemed by the blood of Christ; they were renewed, forgiven, justified, made new on the inside.  It was Sin (not “sins”) lodged in their bodies causing the problem.

Not a “devil makes me do it” mentality, quite the opposite!  If the problem is me, it’s hard to fight against myself, but if the problem is something outside of me, I can defeat it!  God and I can defeat anything!

Faith like Abraham’s

JesusFaceThe apostle Paul had a analogy in Romans 4 perplexing me until just recently.

Abraham and Sarah were just too old to have children but God had promised.  Instead of focusing on the contradiction he saw in his body, Abraham believed what God had said and held fast.

God took Abraham’s faith in the Promise and considered him righteous, right then and there, in spite of the fact he was not all that holy before or after.

How could Abraham’s faith for a son be compared to my faith in Jesus?  It’s found in the way we, both, view(ed) the contradictions in our “flesh”.

Abraham was promised a son, but his flesh told him otherwise – he believed the promise.

We are told we have been (past tense) crucified with Christ, raised to new life in/with Christ, Holy and seated with him in heavenly places, but our flesh tells us otherwise – we believe the promise.

 

If God calls me righteous right here and now, that’s good enough for me.

“Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, ‘It’s hopeless…’ That’s why it is said, ‘Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.  But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us!  The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe” – Romans 4:19-25 Message

Contradictions

WhichWayWhen giving directions to my house I tell some people to turn right onto my street, others I tell to turn left.  I’m not confused about where I live nor am I contradicting myself, my instructions depend on which way people are headed when they come to my street.

Bible passages can be understood like this, too.  For example:

“But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” – Matthew 6:15 (spoken by Jesus)

“And be ye kind to one another, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgive you” – Ephesians 4:32 (written by Paul)

One passage appears to say our forgiveness from God comes AFTER we forgive and the other appears to say it comes BEFORE.  But notice to whom the instructions were given and when.

Jesus was speaking to the crowd before the cross and Paul to those after the cross who had their sins paid for by Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Before the cross, the best anyone could do was try to live right and hope for the coming redemption through God’s messiah.  Many still think the best they can do is try to get and keep on God’s good side by their acts of sacrifice.

The good news is that Messiah has come and paid for my sins.  I can not forgive enough to earn my way to heaven no matter how hard I try, but He exchanged my sins for his righteousness.  My forgiveness came as a gift when I gave my life to Jesus before I did any forgiving of my own.  He took my sins away and put his Holy Spirit in me, enabling me to extend the forgiveness by choice and from gratitude that I could not on my own.

I know which way I’m headed.

Many Bible passages turn out to need only a simple determination of who is being spoken to, when and why, and where I am in Christ.

Please be seated.

Chair

Of all the items Moses was instructed to make and place in God’s temple, one was notably missing.  There were tables and candlesticks, altars and basins, etc. but nowhere was there a chair.

This suggests the Old Testament sacrifices were never finished.  Each year, each month, each day, and throughout the day another sacrifice was required, another sin needed atoning.  The priests were never allowed to sit.

But Jesus brought a new priesthood.  When he offered himself, the work was finished and he sat down.

“Every priest goes to work at the altar each day, offers the same old sacrifices and never makes a dent in the sin problem.  Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it!  Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process.” – Hebrews 10:11-14 (Message)

We don’t need a constant reminder of our sins, Jesus on the cross took our sins away and we can rest in him as if they were never there in the first place.

How would things be different if you believed Jesus really did remove all your sins forever?

Andrew Farley asks it this way,

“What position are you in with regards to your sins?  Are you standing up, running around, and trying to make up for them?  Attempting to get forgiven, to get cleansed?  Or are you seated with Jesus in a relaxed position?  Do you realize that your Savior has taken them away once all?” – The Naked Gospel, page 145

 

 

A Shared Joy

DadAndSonWhat father hasn’t tried to share a joy with his son?

A sunrise, a field of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes, a particularly tasty treat – we share not because we are lonely, crave gratitude, or need the affirmation, but because we enjoy bringing a wonderful discovery to someone we cherish.  When their eyes light up and they smile with delight – Wow!  Our attempts are not always received, but when they are there is something lovely about a shared joy.

Our heavenly Father created not because he was lonely, craved gratitude, or needed affirmation, but to share his great love for his eternal Son.  By the Holy Spirit he attempts to make his Son known and loved.  That wonderful Son we know as Jesus volunteered to do what was needed to remove all obstacles to sharing that joy and by the Holy Spirit attempts to share with us what he loves about his eternal Father.

His attempts are not always received, but when they are there is something lovely about a shared joy.

These things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves…Father, ….I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” – John 17

-fritz

JesusCalsmsStormMatthew 8:23-26

The story is brief, Jesus enters a “ship”, the disciples follow, and the going gets rough.

Storms happened all the time, ships sank all the time; the danger was real and the disciple thought they were going to die; others had died in just such circumstances and Jesus was asleep, letting it all happen.

Frantically they wake Jesus, but his response is to rebuke them for being fearful. Then he rebukes the wind and sea and all becomes calm, inside and out.

Jesus expected his disciples to realize with him there’s no going under but over.

I chose to follow Jesus, like his disciples. The storms of life threaten like they did his disciples. I am fearful like his disciples and, like his disciples, I have Jesus present though sometimes he appears to be sleeping.

Jesus expects me to not be fearful but trust God will see me through, storms are no match for him and me together.

– fritz

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