Monday, January 29, 2018

A Theology of Power Source


Douglas Frank Photograph

A Theology of Power Source

What is your power source? Is it your: a. education, b. wealth, c. talent d. connections or
e. Your church?  Wrong, it is not a-e. Then what is it?  It is God in Jesus Christ through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit? It is somewhat of a mystery for most, but clearly articulated in many biblical passages and Paul’s New Testament teaching: To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in youthe hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). He goes on to say that he teaches this so that we may all be presented as perfect in Christ. I sure know that I have not yet been made anywhere near perfect even though His righteousness has been imputed or given to me, leading to holiness (Romans 6:19). So I am heading to Romans 6 where there is more teaching on this concept of changing from being servants to the law to servants of Christ.

The Apostle Paul teaches the Ephesian Church, “That it is by grace you are saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God-not of works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10). In other words, as we trust in God, as His creation we are designed to do good works through His originative power.

I am talking about Christ in you and the life in the Holy Spirit. As Romans 5:5 says, He has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us. He demonstrated His love for us while we were yet sinners. He died for us therefore allowing us to escape God’s wrath through His life, death and resurrection. He wants His gift of righteousness to overflow into many for an abundant life. Once saved, we are absolutely not to go on sinning as we have been united with His righteousness. We are to count ourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ. We have been set free from sin and have become servants of God, reaping us holiness and eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:22-23).

Even the Apostle Paul in Romans 7 rants about his inability to do what he wants or should do. He sees the law binding him while the Spirit of Christ rescues him from sin. The Spirit of life sets us free, “un-condemned” (Romans 8:1). We are delivered from death into life by God’s abundant provision through the Holy Spirit. It is no longer us who live, but our life is in the Spirit through Jesus Christ who died for us (Galatians 2:20).

As Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 4:6, for God who said, “‘Let the light shine out of the darkness made His light shine in our hearts, to give us light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.’” We have this treasure (the gospel) in jars of clay to show this all-surpassing power is from God, and not from us. No matter what troubles come your way you are not overcome for “life is at work in you” (v.12). So as we “fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen which is eternal” (v.17), to achieve everlasting glory through Him.  

Change is also a process requiring perseverance, so “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) for God Himself is sanctifying you through and through, as your bodies are being kept blameless and being transformed as a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God by the renewing of your minds (Romans 12:2).  How?  Offer and submit yourselves to God because “The One who calls us is faithful and He will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

We must submit and offer ourselves to God, as His gifts and calling are irrevocable (Romans 11:29). He gives us all things we need for godliness.  Paul tells us, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). And even more so Peter reflects, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of the Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4).  His 7,500 promises will be accomplished through Him in us. So He wants us to add to this knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. If we possess these in increasing measure we will be more effective and productive, cleansed from past sins and becoming more like Him. For if we do these things in His calling to us we will not fall and be welcomed richly into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:6-11 paraphrase).

God is telling us that He is actively working in our lives, yet we need to intentionally clothe ourselves or put on His power. As we put on the “armor of light” (Romans 13:12) we clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus who does the work in us and through us. We are not doing it; He is through His Spirit. When we are weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:8).  Therefore, give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever.  Submit, praise, pray and rejoice continually and He will accomplish His righteous purposes through us.

Author Major Ian Thomas tells us in The Saving Life of Christ, “This is the divine genius that saves a man from futility of self-effort and the burden to pull himself up by his own bootstraps.” Become totally dependent on the life of Christ within you. Abide, dwell, and graft yourself into the vine as His branch and you will bear much fruit, because apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Yes, indeed, “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Philippians 4:13).  He provides for all our needs so that we can do His will and overcome sins and challenges through Him. He alone is our Power Source- Plug In!




Friday, January 26, 2018

Quiet

“Quiet! Be still!” Jesus told the waves in Mark 4 as He stilled the seas. The disciples in the boat were terrified so He spoke say, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”  The disciples appropriately responded, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!” Well, there is the understatement of the millennia. This man who spoke to the waves was and is Jesus Christ, God of the universe, Creator of all. Do you know of Him? Better yet, do you know Him personally? You can you know. He is looking for you and wants to save you through the waves and wind.

Peter, the disciple finally figured it out after rejecting Him who made the earth and all that is in it. He was addressing the Sanhedrin, the top religious Jews, saying, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Well, there you have it, salvation in the storms of life by no other name. What a wonderful concept. You would think that everyone would buy it. You know Jesus told us in Revelation21:6, “To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God, and he will be my son.” The Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last was speaking to John the Apostle for all of us to know too about life eternal in Him.

Christmas is approaching and I hear that Black Friday will be very big this year. So go and spend all you hard earned money on what will rot and rust. Or you can buy what is free.  But we seem to be prisoners of indulgence and need. But Jesus said “He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom to the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of God’s favor” (Isaiah 61:1-2).  These were the same prophetic words that Jesus read in the Temple much to the wonder of the religious in Luke 4:18.  But they were not buying and are still not buying. In fact it seems fewer and fewer are buying as the End Times approach. You might ask what I mean by End Times. It is when the world as we know it ends. Those who chose to believe what Jesus has said and trust in Him now will be safe, but those who do not will be lost. It’s you choice.


Back in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy Moses speaks of this choice. “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in he land you are entering to possess…This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God and listen to His voice and hold fast to Him” (Deuteronomy 31:15-17,19-20). The choice seems clear to love the Lord our God, but this requires giving up control of our lives to our Creator. We are not in control, and now is the time to proclaim it and choose “life.”

Friday, January 19, 2018

Grieve and Leave

This is a very hard teaching because it cannot be done with earthly willpower or strength. This forgiveness and moving on requires the power of the Holy Spirit within us to pull off. What am I talking about anyway- forgiveness!!

The Bible is full of admonitions to forgive, “Forgive and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). Additionally, and a lot more scary is the Scripture from Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your heavenly Father will not forgive your sins”  (Matthew 6:14-15). Forgiveness may be the costliest gift to give, as well as the most overwhelming to receive. Forgiveness and reconciliation with Him and others is at the very heart of His will. It cost Him everything, His Son’s life, to bring us this gift. We should not pretend we can take it from Him or look lightly at it. By not forgiving we are saying that Christ did not die for our sins, it was not enough. Therefore, perhaps or even probably we are saying when we do this that we do not know Him, or we have not yet received this redemptive gift of God’s ransoming Himself for us.

I could find another 20 verses on forgiveness and the ministry of reconciliation that God has given us through Christ Jesus. But suffice it to say, if Jesus says it believe it!  I am not saying that it is easy; it is essential for life to go on however. Failing to forgive is not just to continue in sin, but also to deny and grieve the Holy Spirit’s gift. Forgiving is a one time action and yet a process. It is akin to grieving a loss, for that is what is required. There are some injuries that are much greater than others, even if all sins are equal to God.

The process of forgiveness requires giving our pain to God, leaving it at the altar of His sacrifice to take it and cleanse us. Cleanse us of what you might say. Forgiveness like grief is a process that begins often with shock or anger and proceeds towards acceptance and reinvestment in life if we grieve healthfully. Note that our grief begins with anger. We have been injured or lost something or someone dear to us. We may have lost our health, innocence, money, mother, friend or life. All are important to us, even central.  It is a heart rending and painful process that is emotional, physical and spiritual. Did you know that? Yes, forgiveness and the grief that goes with it will affect us emotionally. We will experience, anger, sadness, fear, anxiety, longing and many other feelings, can I get a witness?  Moreover, we will experience physical symptoms. Fear often is accompanied by nausea; sleep problems, eating problems, headaches and other pains. Can you feel it now, I can. This is normal and very off putting, even traumatic. Yes, in the process of forgiveness you will re-experience the pain and loss. Not something most of us want, but we must if we want to heal.

Crisis of faith may well come with forgiveness and the grief process. We may doubt God’s goodness or faithfulness. We may cry out like Job or David to the Lord for relief. Have you done that? If not you should be, for it is only from and in God that you will find rest Psalm 62 reminds us, “My soul finds rest In God alone, my salvation comes form Him…my hope comes from Him. He is my fortress, I will not be shaken…he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times” (Psalm 62:1,5,6,8).  God is good and His love endures forever we read continually in Scripture. Psalm 121 reminds us, “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth…The Lord watches over you-the Lord is your shade at your right hand…The Lord will keep you from harm-He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forever more” (Psalm 121:2,5,7,8).  That was reassurance to the pilgrims on journey to Jerusalem; it applies to us today, as we trust in Him.

Grief and forgiveness are a process. Once begun and worked through over time the incident or loss begins to redefine or reframe itself. You will come to a place where it cannot hurt you anymore. This is a breakthrough time. It is a time when you will vow not to bring it up to others, only to God again. We can do this while even still acknowledging the pain. Then slowly the emotions that go with the trauma go away. Ephesians 4 talks of the emotions that come with your pain and must be put away: bitterness, wrath, anger and indignation. These are venomous emotions that will hurt you and every one in your life. Get it, all relationships are affected and ruined by these emotions. Have you ever heard of the person who drank poison expecting the other person to die? Only you and all your relationships die.

Without forgiveness you are being held captive to these hurtful emotions. You are imprisoned, in chains. But Christ said, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs in it forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34-36). One counselor I know tells how un-forgiveness and all that goes with it is like a drug addiction. You start growing in dependence on the drug until it overwhelms you and kills you. Anger is like that, it will grow into bitterness and wrath and vengeance, leading to death.


So as you absorb these teachings, remember, “Do not judge and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured out into your lap. Fro with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:37-38). God longs to be gracious unto you and fill you with His peace that transcends all understanding, because it is not of this world.  Forgive and you will be forgiven.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Legacy

Legacy


Douglas Frank Photograph
What kind of legacy do you want to leave?  We will all have one; because good or bad we leave an impression in the world. Whether we want it or not, people are affected by our actions and words. So I was jotting down a few things I wanted in my legacy.

·      To be a humble servant 
·      Joyful in hope and jumbles (Romans 12:12)
·      Peaceful in pandemonium
·      Courageous in calamity (Joshua 1:9)
·      Loving in lament
·      Faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12)
·      Faithful in relationships
·      Patient in affliction
·      Forgiving in fractures
·      Encouraging always (Romans 12:8)
·      Caring in crisis
·      Anxious of nothing (Philippians 4:7)
·      Constant in friendship
·      Rooted in Christ (Ephesians 3:17)
·      Filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)
·      Illuminated by the Holy Spirit
·      Enthusiastic in doing good
·      Comforting in crashes (Isaiah 40:1)
·      Generous of heart and hand (2Cor 8)
·      Open hearted to all (2 Cor. 6:11)
·      Thoughtful to all
·      Respectful and gentle to those who are different
·      Interrupting never
·      Trusting in God (Proverbs 3:4-6)
·      Prayerful always (1 Thess. 5:18)
·      Thankful in all things

I’m sure that I could go on and add ways in which I would like to be remembered. I believe that they all require being filled with the Holy Spirit. All require selflessness, patience and strong faith. None are easy and all will cost me more than money. I don’t plan on having a grave stone, just “ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” which is from the Book of Common Prayer and based on the Genesis 3:19 verse saying, “For dust you are and to dust you will return.”

The Apostle Paul would have said, “Not that I have already attained all of this, or have been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). That is a strong admonition for us all. We shouldn’t have regrets for the past, although learning from them would be good. Confessing and being forgiven is vital for God’s cleansing us of all unrighteousness. We must keep walking in the way, “The most excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31) to leave a good legacy.

The following is the link from my River West Radio show of 1/13/2018 with Ben Merens “Just Talk’n.”
https://soundcloud.com/user-240416425/just-talking-2018-01-13-1700