God’s Rescue of Man (Part One)

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If you have been reading this blog, you probably know that “lust” in the Greek New Testament means either good or evil “passionate cravings”. Today we are starting a four  part blog on God rescuing us from this present evil age. I thought this picture was appropriate since the Pernicious One (Satan) and our flesh (old sinful nature) want us to follow our evil passionate cravings resulting in enslavement and destruction, ruining our Christian testimony and robbing us of God’s blessings.  May this study be a blessing and warning to you as it was to me.    Carl

“… Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age…”  Galatians 1:4

The Lord Jesus willingly gave Himself on the Cross for our sins. This scripture states that the purpose  was to “rescue” us “from this present evil age”.  The word translated “rescue” means “to pluck out, to draw out, to rescue, to deliver”.  In 1522 Martin Luther referred to this in the preface of the first German language New Testament:

This gospel of God or New Testament is a great message, good news, sounded forth into all the world by the apostles, telling of a true David who strove with sin, death, and the devil, and overcame them, and thereby RESCUED all those who were captive in sin, afflicted with death, and overpowered by the devil. Without any merit of their own he made them righteous, gave them life, and saved them, so that they were given peace and brought back to God.” (Emphasis mine)

As we will see, the gospel is truly emancipation from bondage.  Our opening scripture says He came to rescue us from the ethical characteristics of the present age.

“Age” (aion) is defined as a “period of time” and is sometimes translated “world” in the NT.  Here it is defined by its moral characteristics. Trench says the following about it:

“All that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations, at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitute a most real and effective power, being the moral or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale.”

Notice that it is called an “evil” age. The Greek word for this evil is poneros as opposed to kakos.  A kakos man is satisfied to perish in his own corruption but a poneros man “is not content unless he is corrupting others as well, and drawing them into the same destruction with himself.” (Wuest).  The English word best describing poneros is the word pernicious,   “causing great harm or damage often in a way that is not easily seen or noticed”.  A perfect description of Satan’ activity.  He is known as The Pernicious One. Let us praise God The Father for sending the Lord Jesus to destroy the works of Satan in our lives, setting us free from the dominion of darkness positionally and experientially (I John 3:8 & Col.1:13).

This ends Part I of God’s Rescue of Man.  Part 2 will discuss the pernicious influence of the age and the Lord Jesus’ command to “Have salt within yourselves…” .

Thank you for your time and God bless you and your family.

Carl

 

 

Is It Accidental?

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“A true and faithful Christian does not make holy living an accidental thing. It is his great concern. As the business of the soldier is to fight, so the business of the Christian is to be like Christ.

__Jonathan Edwards (October 5, 1703 – March 22, 1758, American revivalist preacher, identified with first Great Awakening in America, author of “Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God”)

From Berean Call (thebereancall.org)

 

Everyone Seems Normal

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I saw this sign in a BBQ restaurant several days ago. It reminded me that everyone in the Body of Christ, including myself, has sins, faults and shortcomings.  That is why the Apostle Peter tells us:

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:8)

“Above all” could be translated “before all in order of importance” and speaks to the fact that love is the prerequisite to all exercises of Christian duty.   Somewhere in Scripture is a word picture that shows love as a coat that binds all the other pieces (spiritual gifts) of a wardrobe together and completes them.  What Peter is telling us then is very, very important.

The word “love” here is “agape”, God’s type of love that is produced in our hearts by the Holy Spirit at salvation.  Romans 5:5 says “…the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit…”.  It is a love that considers the object of it’s affection to be precious.

The reason for this exhortation to keep “fervent” or “stretched out” in love for one another is that love covers a multitude of sins. If we truly consider our fellow Christians precious to God and; therefore, precious to us, we will not talk about their failings/sins, but keep them to our self and cover them with our love; knowing we have our own sins to gain the victory over.

How much sinful gossip would be eliminated in the Church if we truly “agape” each other.

Walk in Love,

Carl

“…led by the Spirit of God…”

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“For as many as are being constantly led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”  (Romans 8:14)

I recently heard of a Christian brother in a local church, who during a discussion on the Holy Spirit, expressed his fear of the Spirit.  Due to erroneous teaching he had received over the years and things he had seen, he had become afraid of the One who indwells him as a believer; the very Helper Jesus sent to him when he believed.

The Apostle Paul told us in Romans that we are to be constantly led by the Spirit of God.  The word “led” is the Greek word “ago” and according to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words it means “to bear, bring, carry, lead,” and is translated by the verb “to lead”.  An example would be the act of leading about an animal at the end of a rope.  Rick Renner in his Sparkling Gems From The Greek says this about “ago”:

“An animal’s owner would wrap a rope around its neck and then “tug” or “pull” until the animal started to follow him.

“Pay careful attention to the “tugging” and “pulling” of the Holy Spirit in your heart. He is a Gentleman and does not force you to obey Him. He prompts you, tugs on your heart, and pulls on your spirit to get your attention. Sometimes His “tugs” may be so gentle that you almost miss them. But if you’ll develop your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, He will gently “lead” you exactly where He wants you to go with your life.” (Emphasis mine)

Have you developed this sensitivity to the Helper?  If not, we pray that you will.

Our scripture goes on to say that those who are led by the Spirit, these are sons of God. In Galatians Paul says that while Israel was under the law of the Old Testament, they were considered “nepios”, an immature person who needed a guardian to look after them. The guardian was the law of the Old Testament.  But in Romans 8:14, Paul uses “huios” which signifies someone of full age; a mature person having outgrown the need for his former guardian.

In conclusion, we are living under God’s wonderful, unbelievable grace as born again children of God.  We have no need for the law because we have the Spirit of God living in us, vastly more powerful and effective than the law.  If you will, He is our guardian now. He is our source of godly desires and the power to do the will of God. He is grieved by our sins and wanderings. He is faithful to convict us of our sins and bring us to repentance. He will  never leave us or forsake us. Let us develop a sensitivity to his “tugs” and “pulling” so he can lead us in the way we should go. What wonderful provision God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ has made for those who trust in Jesus Christ.

Pay Close Attention To Yourself and The Holy Spirit

Carl

 

 

 

Knowing God

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Field and forest, vale and mountain,

Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,

Chanting bird and flowing fountain

Call us to rejoice in Thee.

—Genevan Psalter

All mankind has a desire to worship. History shows that man in every age and time, in every location on earth, has worshiped some form of a god.  Deep down inside each person is the desire to worship something. As created beings, we intuitively know that we should be worshiping something greater than ourselves.   The beautiful creation we live in reveals that we are not alone.

“Because that which is knowable concerning God is plainly evident in them, for God made it clear to them; for the things concerning Him which are invisible since the creation of the universe are clearly seen, being understood by means of the things that are made, namely, His eternal power and divine Being, resulting in their being without a defense.   (Wuest Expanded Translation Romans 1:19-20)

His creation testifies of His eternal power and His divine Being to all of mankind,  but it did not matter.  Man’s evil heart prevailed.  Romans 1 continues to say:

“Because, knowing God, not as God did they glorify Him, nor were they grateful, but they became futile in their reasonings, and their stupid heart was darkened. Asserting themselves to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for a likeness of an image of corruptible man and of birds and of quadrupeds and of snakes.” (Wuest Expanded Translation Romans 1: 21-23)

And if you continue to read in Romans, mankind’s situation continued to spiral downward until they called darkness, light.

Though man can know that there is a god by the creation, man can only truly know God The Father through a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Lord said:

“…no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”  (NASB John 14:6)

And after we come to Jesus in repentance and faith in His Gospel, Romans 5:1-2 says:

“….Lord Jesus Christ, though whom also we obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand…”

To help us understand this wonderful statement about what Christ has done for us, I want to share with you Wuest’s article on “entree” which could be perfectly substituted for “introduction” (“access” in KJV) in this verse:

“In Romans 5:2, Paul speaks of the fact that we have access through our Lord into the grace in which we stand. The word “access” is from a Greek word which refers to the act of one who secures for another an interview with a sovereign.

“In the first place, the person thus acting must be close to the king himself. Our Lord dwells in the bosom of the Father. He occupies the place closest to the Father’s affections. He is therefore fitted for His task.

“In the second place, the one for whom this entree has been gained, and the French word most happily gives the meaning of the Greek, must be rendered acceptable to the king. This our Lord did through the blood of His Cross whereby He put away the guilt and penalty of our sin and bestowed upon us a righteousness, even His own standing before the Throne, and thus we are “accepted in the Beloved.” As I Peter 2:7 says, “Unto you therefore that believe is the preciousness.” The preciousness of Jesus in the eyes of God the Father has been imputed to us, as His righteous standing has been imputed. God therefore looks upon us with all the favor with which He looks upon His own well-beloved Son.”

“Then again, the one presented at the High Court of Heaven must be correctly attired. Our Lord clothes us with His own beauty, for He is made unto us sanctification, Paul says. The Father sees us in His Son, not apart from Him.  And the glorious radiance of the One Altogether Lovely shines upon us.”

“Finally, when we have been brought by Him into the place where we have entree into the presence of God, we find that we are standing in His unlimited favor, in unlimited grace. No demand made upon that grace can exhaust it. For time and eternity we are the objects of the Father’s supreme affection, the recipients of His boundless mercies, the favored ones of His matchless grace. “

“Hallelujah! Praise the Lord “by whom we have our permanent entree by faith into this grace in which we stand.””
(Kenneth Wuest)

Not only can we know that there is a God through the witness of creation, but the Lord Jesus Christ, after salvation, brings us into this permanent grace and into the very Throne Room of Heaven where He makes it possible for us to be introduced, or have access, to our new Father.  As Paul said “…and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6)

Let the true worship begin! 

“Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in the time of need.”   (NASB Hebrews 4:16)

Carl

 

 

 

 

“…for the will of God.”

 

Apostle Peter tells us the reason God freed us from our indwelling sinful nature when we were born again in I Peter 4:2:

“….so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men but for the will of God.”

A translation that gives a fuller wording of the original Greek scripture says:

“…with a view to his not living the rest of his time while in his physical body in the sphere of the cravings of men, but in the sphere of the will of God.

In other words, from the point we are born  again until we leave this earth, God wants us to live in His will (obey Him) and not be conformed to our former lusts which were ours when we did not know Him.  So for us to be able to do this, He sent the Lord Jesus to die on the cross and to be resurrected. He also sent His Holy Spirit to us which imparts a divine nature in us and gives us the desire and power to be free from the indwelling sin nature which is still in us.

Today when we use the word “lust” we think of “immoral sexual desire” but in the original Greek letters of the NT, the word “lust” meant “any strong craving” or “passionate desire”.  It did not necessarily mean something evil but the content in which it was used determined whether it was evil or good.  In our scripture today it is used in a sinful sense.

As we know, these sinful, strong cravings and passionate desires can encompass a multitude of things in our life.  For example, James warns us if we have bitter jealously and selfish ambition (strife) in our heart, this wisdom is not from God but is earthly (vs heavenly), natural (vs spiritual), and demonic (James 3:14-18). In chapter 4,  he speaks of lust, murder (can be just hate in our heart), being envious, fighting, quarreling, prayers from a wrong motive, and being a friend of the world (i.e. an enemy of God).  Remember, our hearts are deceitfully wicked and we need the Lord to shine His light into the dark areas of our hearts to reveal what is there.  We have walked in some of these strong cravings or passionate desires so long we do not even recognize them for what they are, not pleasing to God.

Paul told Timothy, concerning becoming more Christ like, “Pay close attention to yourself…” (I Timothy 4:16).  Let us do the same and turn our hearts to forsake any of these strong cravings or passionate desires that cause us to disobey God and practice sin.  Agree with God and exercise your free will to say no to these desires and Jesus Christ will bring victory over these passionate desires in your life.  God has enough grace to deal with anything He reveals in your heart.

“Pay close attention to yourself….”

Carl

 

 

 

 

Precious

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“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“…just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
(Ephesians 5:25)

Today while writing a another blog, I felt compelled to stop and write about how precious God’s children are to Him. I believe someone reading this blog needs this message today.  One of Satan’s favorite accusations to use on the believer is: “How could God love you? Look what you have done or thought!”  While the whole time Satan knows the opposite is true. He knows you are exceedingly precious to God.

God waited to reveal Jesus until the Greek language had become the language of trade around the Mediterranean basin and beyond so the gospel could be transmitted by a language that would be understood by many nations. The Apostle Paul says in I Corinthians 2: 12-13 the following, concerning the words He used to write and teach the good news taught to him by the resurrected Jesus:

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” (Emphasis mine)

Paul says it was the Holy Spirit that taught him what words to use to bring the mysteries of God to light for His children.

We see the value of the Greek language when we see how specific it is. A good example is the number of Greek words we translate “love” in the English New Testament.  One such Greek word is phileo which “is the response of the human spirit to what appeals to it as pleasurable.” (Wuest)  This is translated in I Peter as “brotherly love”. An example would be that you find a person who has the same interest as you and you find it pleasurable to  be around them because you both like the same things.

Another Greek word translated “love” is agapao and its meaning is different from phileo. “Agapao” is the Greek word selected by the Holy Spirit to use for God’s type of self-sacrificial love.  Wuest says the following:

“Agapao speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in an object which causes one to prize it. It springs from an apprehension of the preciousness of an object. It is a love of esteem and approbation. The quality of of this love is determined by the character of the one who loves, and that of the object loved. ”

“Agapao is used in John 3:16. God’s love for a sinful and lost race springs from His heart in response to the high value He places upon each human soul. Every sinner is exceedingly precious  in His sight.”

“….each sinner is most precious to God, first, because he bears the image of his Creator even thought that image is marred by sin, and second, because through redemption, that sinner can be conformed to the image of His dear Son. This preciousness of each member of the human race to the heart of God is the constituent element of the love that gave His Son to die on the Cross. The degree of preciousness is measure by the infinite sacrifice which God made. (emphasis is mine)

Each believer is so precious to God that while we were yet sinners, He sent His only Beloved Son to die on the cross so we could be free from the guilt and penalty of our many, many, many sins. While we were yet sinners, he deemed us exceedingly precious. This alone proves that salvation by grace is from God because the heart of man could never conceive of such self-sacrificial love.

The incarnation, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is proof that you are exceedingly precious to God. Don’t ever doubt it saint!

If you are someone who has not received Jesus Christ as your Savior, do not reject this great love He has for you lest you perish in your sins. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.

Receive His Love For You

Carl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bird Talk

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Said the Robin to the Sparrow

“I would really like to know why these anxious Human Beings rush about and worry so?”

Said the Sparrow to the Robin,

“Oh, I think that it must be that they have no Heavenly Father such as cares for you & me.”

—Unknown (Source: Teach Us To Number Our Days by David Roper)

Lord Jesus said:

“No one can serve two masters…” “You cannot serve God and mammon.”

ON THIS ACCOUNT I AM SAYING TO YOU, Stop worrying about your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, and about your body, with what you will clothe yourself. Is not the life more than food and the body more than clothing? Consider the birds of the heaven, They are not sowing seed, nor reaping, not even are they collecting into granaries.  And yet your heavenly Father is feeding them.  As for you, do you not surpass them? “

“For your heavenly Father knows that you are in constant need of all these things.  But be seeking first the kingdom and His righteousness, and these things, all of them, shall be added to you.  (abbreviated Matthew 6:24-34 NASB & Expanded Translation, Emphasis mine)

Please read the complete text when you have opportunity. I would like to briefly expand on several points:

  1. Jesus’ words tell us that worry keeps us from obeying God. He told us in the  parable of the soils (or hearts) that worry is one of the weeds that chokes out the word of God in our hearts keeping us from knowing it and obeying it.
  2. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you receive His righteousness; therefore, you have already sought His righteousness as instructed in verse 33. You already possess it in Christ through salvation. Romans 5:17 says “….much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”
  3. As a born again believer, you can now “see” (i.e. understand) and “enter” (i.e. begin to live under the rule of God) “the kingdom” of God. This what Jesus told Nicodemus in his discussion about being born again in John 3.  We now just need to keep expanding the kingdom of God in our character and life, i.e. II Peter 1: 2-11.
  4. THEREFORE, as a believer, you have and are fulfilling the instructions that Jesus gave in verse 33. And this means “…that all these things shall be added to you.”  So let us “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God.” (Philippians 4: 6) “Casting all of your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7)

As a born again believers in Jesus Christ, we are precious to God the Father.  Evidence of this is seen on the Cross as He sent Jesus to display His self-sacrificial, agape love for us.  May we lay hold of His promise (v33) by faith and walk with our minds girded for action and sober in spirit; free from the crippling and thought paralyzing mental attitudes of worry, fear and such.

Remember Texas and Louisiana in your prayers as they grapple with Hurricane Harvey.

Carl

 

 

 

Hope

I found this sign in the MD Anderson Emergency Room. Only patients from the various MD Anderson hospitals are allowed admittance to this ER; therefore, the patients have already experienced the palpable fear of being diagnosed with a killer disease and the waiting, testing and surgery to save their lives. Having to rush to the emergency room due to some complication only adds to the fear.

From experience, let me say there is a lot of fear in such situations and, if it was not for the prayers of the saints for you and your loved one, you would be totally consumed by it. Satan wants to bring you to the abyss of hopelessness and chain you in it with the fear of death, but, bless God, the prayers and love of the saints keeps you free.  I feel sorry for the individual who has to go through this alone, without God and His children interceding for them.  Ephesians 2: 12  says before our salvation, we were “having no hope and without God in the world.” 

Therefore, this little exhortation scribbled in marker on a dry erase board, speaks volumes to those going through these life and death struggles.

The Apostle Peter who knew about struggles and persecution tells us in his first letter where to put our hope about the future:

“Therefore, gird your mind for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1: 13)

The “…at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” is when He appears in the sky to rapture the church out of the earth.  This will include all born again believers alive and dead.  Those who claim to know Him, but are just religious and not born again, will not be taken. Jesus told a leader of the Jewish nation “Truly, Truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The “… grace” to be brought to you refers to your inheritance that Peter referred to in verse 3 and 4 when he wrote “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,…”   This inheritance, among other things,  refers to our glorified bodies we will receive when He raptures the church. Our salvation will be complete.  We are justified by faith in Christ’s work, we are going through sanctification now and then at the rapture we will be glorified.  Our mortal bodies will be transformed into a glorified body just like the Lord Jesus’ glorified body.

Peter says “in this you greatly rejoice..” (verse 6). “Rejoice” is from a “Greek word speaking of extreme joy expressing itself externally in an exuberant triumph of joy. In verse 8 we see that it is a glorified joy made possible by our future glorified state, a joy not possible now in our mortal bodies. Tears of joy are just evidence of the inability of our present state to fully feel the joy that comes to us at times. But then in our bodies of glory we will be able to drink in and appreciate all the boundless joys of the Savior’s presence.” (Wuest)

Peter says this is what we should “… fix your hope completely on..”  And this hope is not a mere wishing that something may happen.  Hope here is a “complete hope, a perfect hope, wanting nothing, being in its character an assured expectation.  Peter exhorts us to “set your hope perfectly, unchangeably, without doubt and despondency upon our future glorification.”‘ (Wuest) The phrase “…to be brought to you…” means that this grace or inheritance is already on its way. Wuest says you could translate it “which is being brought to you.”

Dear Pilgrim, just passing through this temporary earthly realm, don’t set your hearts on the trinkets of this existence but keep pursuing God until you experience His Glorious Presence at the Rapture and your mortal being is swallowed up in immortality.  What a day that will be when we will see Him face to face.  Are you ready?  Praise His Name!!!

Thank you for your time.

Carl

 

 

The Promise of His Presence

“I will not, I will not cease to uphold or sustain you; I will not, I will not, I will not forsake someone in a state of defeat or helplessness in the midst of hostile circumstances.” 

God (Hebrews 13: 5b Greek Amplification)

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

Moses to all of Israel before entering Promise Land (Deuteronomy 31: 6)

“All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”    Jesus (John 6:37)

This morning as we said goodbye to one of our precious daughters and her son returning to their European home, through tears,  we shared the lead scripture with her.  What a comfort to know that He is watching over us no matter where we are.

Scripture says that those who do not know God and Jesus, His Son, have NO HOPE and are WITHOUT GOD in a Satan dominated world system. What a stark picture that is.

What blessed promises God has given to His children; those He “has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are PROTECTED by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (I Peter 1: 3-5 Emphasis mine)

Thank you Father God and Lord Jesus for your presence in our lives at all times by your indwelling Spirit.  Bless your name!

Carl

Moral Excellence

 

 

Apostles-all-have-beardsNow for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, …”   (II Peter 1: 5)

Virtue or moral excellence is the manifestation of the “energy” of the Holy Spirit working in us, in response to our faith in Jesus Christ. Our response to this “energy” is to have “energy” in the outliving of our faith which will manifest itself as “change” in our behavior, resulting in increased moral excellence.

Now stop and read the first paragraph again before going on. Do you see this in your life?

Change” takes “energy” or power.  From whence does it come? Listen to what is on record and is just as true today as when it left Peter’s writing instrument 2000 years ago.  “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge  of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these, He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”  (II Peter 1: 3-4) He has given us “everything” we need for life and godliness through the true knowledge of God, which is found in scripture, and precious magnificent promises that are found in scripture also. Why did He do this? So His born again children could be partakers of His divine nature, which has been implanted in them,  escaping the corruption that is in the world through lust or passionate cravings.

“Change” always takes “energy” or power.  Our precious Lord Jesus told the disciples before His death,  “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:8)  He sent His Spirit to come along side of us and to help us successfully live the victorious Christian life.  He, the Holy Spirit of God, is constantly releasing His energy so we will desire the sweet will of God and, then as we say “yes” and move our will to obey, He releases His power to make the change a reality.

Peter begins this exhortation of II Peter, by asking that sanctifying grace and sanctifying  peace be multiplied in the sphere of and by the full knowledge of our God, even Jesus, the Lord.  Listen to Wuest’s explanation of this knowledge:

“The particular word for knowledge here, epignosis, speaks of experiential knowledge, that is knowledge gained by experience. This knowledge of Jesus Christ possessed by the believer therefore, is not a mere intellectual knowledge of the facts concerning Him acquired by a study of the Gospels, for instance, but a heart experience of what and who He is, gained by such a study, including a personal association with Him, by means of the Word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is a person with Person knowledge through intimate fellowship.”

He has not left us as orphans.  He is wanting to fellowship with us. Reflect on that for a moment. Out of this fellowship will flow two things: 1. sanctifying grace, the work of the Holy Spirit in the yielded believer producing Jesus’ personality traits.  2. Also out of this fellowship will flow sanctifying  peace, the tranquility of heart which is the result of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our life.

May His “energy” be evident in your life.  May you be increasing in all the fruit of the Spirit as you fellowship with your Lord and Savior Jesus.

Carl

 

The Refiner’s Fire (Part 3)

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Note: This, the last in three posts concerning The Refiner’s Fire. If you missed the first two posts, please scroll down to the end of this post, to read first two.  Thank you.

“And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.” 

In the last post we showed that each born again believer is a priest to God, The Father through Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:5) and that the “sons of Levi” are actually a type of us and that we, as believer-priests, now offer sacrifices on the altar of our dedicated, consecrated heart.

Since every believer is a priest to God The Father through Jesus Christ, this purifying and refining process applies to you and me. The Lord Jesus is going to purify and refine us so that we offer to God unblemished sacrifices which is our reasonable service, since we are recipients of His many mercies.

Just as the smelter would scoop the impurities off the hot liquid, looking for a clear reflection of his face in the purified gold or sliver,  so the Savior is looking for the reflection of His face in our hearts, the real you and me. A reflection of Him in the “hidden man”. The characteristics of His Personality.

Another scripture states this a little differently. Speaking of the Lord Jesus it says:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.”  (Ephesians 5: 25-27)

Instead of the using the metaphor of a smelter, the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul states that Jesus is going to sanctify or set apart the believers from the world, to Himself, by washing them with the Word.  In other words, as the believer obeys the commandments of God, they will purify their souls (mind, will and emotions) becoming holy (more Christ like) and blameless (practicing righteousness).  Peter said in I Peter 1:22 “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls…”. 



In respect to this purifying and refining, this is why in James 1:2 it says “Consider it all joy,…when you encounter various trials…” because they are refining and purifying events, with the goal of making us more like Jesus and providing proof of our faith. Satan may mean to use the trial for our destruction but, by us remaining faithful during the trial, Jesus will redeem it for our good.   James 1:3 explains the good: “…knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  

The end result of various trials is to make us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  “…perfect” means mature.  Ephesians 4:13 says, the goal of the operation of the Holy Spirit gifts within the church is: “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”  Trials, whether disciplinarian (Hebrew 12: 5-11) or adversarial (I Peter 1:6), mature us into more Christ likeness by stopping us from practicing sin and replacing it with the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Ignatius [Bishop of Antioch, martyr; first century believer] said it this way:

“None of these escape your notice, if you are maturing in faith and love towards Jesus Christ. For these are the beginning and end of life: faith is the beginning and love is the end, and the two, when they exist in unity, are Godlike. Everything else that contributes to moral beauty follow from them.”

The “…complete, lacking in nothing”, does not refer to worldly things like money, cars, food, shelter, etc. but refers to not lacking in the characteristics of Jesus’ personality in our lives.  The Apostle John refers to this as being perfected in love. Some of these characteristics are listed in Galatians 5:22:  “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”.  The fruit of God the Holy Spirit.  Three more can be added from II Peter 1: “moral excellence”, “knowledge“, and “perseverance”.  “…humility of mind…” would be another. This is what the Father desires for His children.  Christ likeness.  To be more like His Son.

Colossians 3:1-2 tells us

“If you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above where Christ is…” “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

What are these “things” we are to keep seeking for? A mansion in Heaven? A cloud to sit on? A throne like James and John sought for? No! I am not certain what all “things” entails, but I know they include Jesus’ personality traits because our life is hidden in Him.  He is our life.
Therefore, the Lord Jesus is the smelter and the washer in our born again lives, with the end result being, we can offer spiritual sacrifices to God the Father through Him that are unblemished and righteous. This is only possible because we are alive from the dead and He loves us enough to purify and cleanse us so we can “share in His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). This is the sanctification process in our lives.  Psalms 149: 4 says:

“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.” 

In closing let me say this about trials.  There are disciplinary trials that come from our heavenly Father who disciplines each child for their good so they can share in His holiness (Hebrew 12:4-11). There are adversarial trials which come from the world and Satan.  The world hates Christians. The world is controlled by Satan; therefore, we should expect adversarial trials to come.  Jesus said they would come.  As a born again child of God, we are pilgrims in the earth heading toward our new, heavenly home. (See Hebrews 13) We need to “gird our minds for action and keep sober in spirit..” as Peter said and expect trials.  It helps me to know that Jesus is my smelter and washer and that whatever comes my way He is using it for my ultimate good.

Remember, our brother and sisters in other countries whose trials include imprisonment and even death.

So let us rejoice NOW and ALWAYS in our Great Savior and God, Jesus Christ, and thank Him for His watch care over us. Because of this refining and purifying, the Word says that we will be so joyful one day that, “you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall” (Malachi 4:2).

Thank you for your time.

Let us be paying close attention to ourselves,
Carl

The Refiner’s Fire (Part 2)

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“And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.”

The question to answer today is: Who are the “sons of Levi” that the Lord is going to refine and purify in Malachi.
When the Lord Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world, God, The Father, abrogated (formally ended) the temple sacrifices.  He did not accept or require them anymore. Jesus’ death on the cross settled the sin question once and for all.  God evidently also did away with the Levital priesthood and established another priesthood with the Lord Jesus as the High Priest (Hebrew 4:14).  I Peter 2:5  says “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”.  All born again believers are members of a “holy priesthood”, not a defiled priesthood as in Malachi, and are believer-priests to God through Jesus Christ.  The spiritual house is the mystical Body of Christ that includes all born again believers on earth.
Therefore, I am of the opinion that we born again believers are the “sons of Levi” referred to in Malachi 3:3 since the refining and purifying takes place after the Lord comes to His temple suddenly and in 70 AD the Roman general Titus destroyed the temple including the sacrificial altar.
The purpose of this new priesthood is to “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  Just as the Old Testament priests walked up the incline to the brazen altar and laid the animal sacrifice on the altar to be consumed by fire,  we New Testament believer-priests “offer up” our spiritual sacrifices upon the altar of our consecrated, dedicated heart.  The spiritual sacrifices are the activities of the human spirit energized by the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul throws light on this truth in Romans 12:1 when he says  “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”  How do you make your human body a living and holy sacrifice?  Listen to what our brother Chrysostom (Archbishop of Constantinople – 349-407 AD) wrote:
“How can the body become a sacrifice? Let the eye look on no evil, and it is a sacrifice. Let the tongue utter nothing base, and it is an offering. Let the hand work no sin, and it is a holocaust.” (Holocaust is a sacrifice totally consumed by fire.) “But more, this suffices not, but besides we must actively exert ourselves for good; the hand gives alms, the mouth blessing them that curse us, the ear ever at leisure for listening to God.”

Another example of spiritual sacrifices is given in The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken. He tells the true story of Russian pastor Dmitri who was imprisoned by the government for teaching  the Bible. For seventeen years he would rise every morning and offer a sacrifice of praise by singing his “HeartSong” to Jesus as the other inmates cursed and jeered at him. The next discipline that helped him to survive the isolation from the Body of Christ and torture was that whenever he found a scrap of paper, later in his cell with a stub of a pencil or a piece of charcoal he had saved, as tiny as possible, he would write every Bible verse,  scriptural story and song he could remember.  When finished he would put it on a damp pillar in his cell as a “praise offering to God”.  Of course, when discovered by the authorities, they would read it and beat him severely and threaten him with death.

In conclusion, I am of the opinion that the “sons of Levi” are us, the believer-priest. Secondly, we have looked at three examples of how we can offer sacrifices. One by obeying the commandments of God, another by doing good words (Ephesians 2:10) and another by praising or giving thanks to God (Hebrews 13: 15-16). The Body of Christ is now the holy priesthood. The actual “sons of Levi” as a functioning priest class,  do not exists anymore.  They had to be born again just like you and I (Acts 6: 7).  The believer-priest now  offer up spiritual sacrifices  on the altar of their dedicated heart.  May we today offer up spiritual sacrifices pleasing to God.  We can make the Creator of the universe smile.

The next post will discuss this refining process and the purpose of it.  Hope to see you then. Thank you for your time.

Lets Pay Close Attention To Ourselves For The Purpose of Holiness (I Timothy 4:16)

Carl

P.S. Pastor Dmitri was eventually released but not before the  prison population was singing his HeartSong in the morning with him. His witness had prevailed!

The Refiners Fire (Part 1)

Old smelter

 

And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.”  Malachi 3:3
Malachi is God’s  last recorded message to the nation of Israel until the New Testament period 400 years later. He  corrected the backsliden priests of Israel who despised His name and, among other things, offered blemished animals upon the altar.  They wearied Him with their words in that they said, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them” (2:17) They also said, “So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up, but they also test God and escape.” (3:15). He told them “…I am not pleased with you…” (1:10).  What a fearful sentence to hear from holy God.
In chapter 3, He transitions into the New Testament era. He states that He is sending “My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me”.  This was John The Baptist, preaching “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)  He then says, “And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple;”.  This is the Messiah they were looking for but did not recognize; the Lord Jesus.  And when the Lord comes, “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver,…”.  Since they were defiled by evil practices,  He would have to bring them to repentance and change their hearts “so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness. 

Today, may we be just the opposite of these wicked priest.  In Hebrews 13: 15 we are instructed to offer up a sacrifice of praise (thanksgiving) to our God and that He is pleased with such sacrifices.  Let us verbalize our thanks today for all the blessings God has bestowed on us.

This background information is setting up the next post concerning who the “sons of Levi” are and how this Old Testament prophecy applies today.

Thank you for your patience and time.  Hope to see you tomorrow.

Carl

 

 

Isolation

This is another MD Anderson scene that brought a spiritual truth to my mind. 

Isolation. 

One of Satan’s favorite schemes. Take the coal out of the fire and put it to the side by itself and what happens? It goes out. No fire. The same is true of the Christian. Take him/her out of church and isolate them from other believers and their spiritual zeal will diminish or go out entirely. He that wanders from the sheep fold becomes easy prey.

 The church is the Body of Christ and Jesus is the Head. He instituted the local church as a place for His children to be taught truth and be built up spiritually to carry on His work in the earth until He returns.  Through the writer of the Book of Hebrews, the Lord says:

[25] not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

One of the many benefits of obeying this command and assembling together in church, is the encouragement we give and receive from one another.  We need courage to face our daily battles and challenges that we might not feel isolated and slip into fear.

He also warned that there would be tares, false Christians, in the visible church. Not all church goers that claim the Name of Jesus are born again believers.  There are also Christians who are walking in the flesh (controlled by indwelling sinful nature). Satan uses both, to say things or do things in congregations that ultimately hurt or injure hearts of others and make them never darken the doors of church again.  If you currently are, or have been a member of a church, you may possibly be able to identify with this.  

There are those, through no fault of their own, who are unable to attend church due to jobs, illness or disabilities.  In those cases the church can reach out to them and bridge the gap with visits, internet, prayer and other means.

Let it suffice to say, DON’T ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE ISOLATED FROM THE BODY OF CHRIST.  If you know someone who is isolated,  reach out to them and encourage them to get back into a church where there is fellowship in the Lord, the Word of God is preached and people are encouraged to read the Bible themselves.  If you know an isolated shut-in maybe the Lord is showing you a place to pour out the grace He has bestowed on you.

Thank you for your time.

Let’s Pay Close Attention To Ourselves.

Carl

Good Advice

While recently at MD Anderson in Houston I noticed that the signage in some departments held a message applicable to Christians.  This one was in a patient’s room and the normal meaning is obvious.  The spiritual message is:

Call (for the Helper), Don’t Fall (into Satan’s snare). Stay safe (in the Grace of God). Call for help (when under attack).

The Lord Jesus, after He went into Heaven, sent the mighty Spirit of God to be the believer’s Helper, Comforter, Teacher and Sanctifier.  Each born-again believer is sealed in Christ Jesus with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13).  Jesus knew we would need a Helper.  Sometimes The Helper in us is all we need to overcome sin and the devil.  At other times we may need the prayer, advice or encouragement from the Helper in a brother or sister in-Christ.  Avail yourself of the Holy Spirit’s assistance if you need it.

Remember:  Call. Don’t Fall. Stay Safe. Call for help.

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”  Jesus (John 16:7)

And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…”. (Acts 2:2-4)

….but be filled with the Spirit…” (Ephesians 5:18)

May it be so for all of us!

Carl

Soul Purification: Hypocrisy vs True Love 

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls…”  (I Peter 1:22 NASB)

“….just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5: 25-27 NASB)

The second verse talks about the church in all her glory, “having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing”.  A “spot” or “wrinkle” used metaphorically in scripture means a moral blemish.  The church Jesus is coming back for will have  no moral blemish; i.e. the sinful nature of these people will not have dominion over them; therefore, they are NOT habitually walking in sin.  We will have more to say about spots, wrinkles, stains, etc. in a later post.

Today’s “spot” or moral blemish is hypocrisy. 

In the book of I Peter, Peter is addressing this habitual sin in the believers.  There were two reasons for it.  First, from Peter’s letter it is intimated that some in the church had returned to their old associates who they loved and therefore they did not love their fellow believers but they acted like they did. Secondly, in the early church you had a membership made up of everyone from slaves to the very rich. As you can imagine it was an odd social/economic/status mix of people and nationalities. People who did not have a lot in common except for the Lord Jesus and did not socially mix.  Maybe like the church you go to now.  In both cases, the church members where faking their brotherly love for each other; therefore, being hypocrites.  The word was used of an actor on Greek stage; someone speaking from “under a screen or mask”, concealing his real identity.  When used in the New Testament it refers to “one who assumes the mannerisms, speech, and character of someone else, thus hiding his true identity” (Wuest).  They did not really love one another so they put on a fake face and mannerisms and acted like they did. 

But when the Lord looked at them He saw a spiritual garment with a “spot” or moral blemish on it and the “spot” was hypocrisy.

In I Peter 1:22 Peter is noting that they had repented of this sin and, as a result of their change in behavior, he says they had purified their souls from this sin by obeying the the word (“obedience to the truth”) and truly showing “brotherly love” for one another. “Brotherly love” here is the Greek word phile which is “a love called out of one’s heart by the pleasure one takes in the person loved”. “It is an affection or fondness, a purely HUMAN attachment for another, and perfectly legitimate”. (Wuest) 

 In the second half of verse 22, God through Peter exhorts His children to go even further than brotherly love and to “fervently love one another from the heart,…” The word for love here is agape.  Agape is different from phile in that it means ” an reciprocal love that springs from your hearts because of the estimation of the preciousness of the brethren, and which is DIVINELY sacrificial in its essence”.  It is the love of John 3:16.  And note that God thru Peter says “from the heart” or from the true “you”. No hypocrisy.  In our true inner man, the real us, we love our fellow Christian with agape love. We agape our Christian brother not only because we take pleasure in him (phile), but because he is precious to God and, therefore, we love him with a love that is willing to sacrifice one’s self for the benefit of the brother.  A blend of the phile and agape.

You see the same progression from brother love to agape love in II Peter 1:5-7 and is a natural progression in the Christian life.

If it stays brotherly love only it could degenerate into an attachment to another that becomes very selfish and smothering. If the two loves are blended it becomes a heavenly love that blesses both parties and the body of Christ. And pleases Jesus Christ. 

The Expanded Translation says:

“Wherefore, having purified your souls by means of your obedience to the truth, resulting in not an assumed but a genuine affection and fondness for the brethren, an affection and fondness that springs from the hearts by reason of the pleasure you take in them; from your heart love each other with an intense reciprocal love that springs from your hearts because of your estimation of the preciousness of the brethren, and which is divinely self-sacrificial in its essence,…”

In closing, I confess that I had to repent of hypocrisy.  After studying this, I was convicted that I was like these Christians Peter was writing to. Not showing true phile love and, surely not showing agape love for all my brethren.  A few, yes; all, no. And from what I have seen in the visible church since I was a child, this message is sorely needed for the church.   May the Lord show you what is truly in your heart. 

The question becomes how to have such heavenly love for one another.  I quote Wuest: 

“The answer is simple. This love is produced in the heart of the saint who is definitely subjected to the control of the Holy Spirit. This love is one of His fruits (Gal. 5:22). Thus God exhorts the saints to love one another with a divine love, and then produces that love in their hearts as they trust Him to do that for them and by the action of their free will choose to be loving and exert themselves to act in a loving way towards their brethren.”

This truth about hypocrisy and true love is a crucial piece of our growth as Christians AND practicing apape love brings assurance of our salvation.  II Peter 1: 8-10 says:

“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance in to the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. ” [emphasis mine]

The qualities referred to here are in II Peter 1: 5-7:

“Now for this very reason” (becoming partakers of the divine nature, verse 4) “also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self control, and in your self-control, perseverance; and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness” (phile) “and in your brotherly kindness, love”  (agape). [emphasis and inserts mine]

All of these qualities lead us to agape love in the progression of our Christian growth.  Hypocrisy is an anomaly (sin) and has no place in our growth to more Christ likeness. 

If this applies to you, like it did me, repent and begin to practice agape love and wash your soul with the pure water of obedience and remove this “spot” from your garment.
“…and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men,…”…so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” (I Thessalonians 3:12-13)

Carl

Source of True Happiness 

While visiting with relatives, I read Greg Laurie’s new book Steve McQueen: Salvation of an American Icon. Book is about the famous actor’s life and how he came to salvation in Jesus Christ prior to being diagnosed with a terminal disease.

The following C. S. Lewis quote was shared in the book:

“God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.”

May you find your “happy” and peace today as you fellowship with the Father and the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit!

Carl

P.S. If your old enough to remember Steve McQueen, I recommend the book. 

“…Fragrance of Christ…”

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.” (II Corinthians 2: 14-16)

Our last post was about bringing our salvation to its ultimate conclusion which is for us to become more Christ like in our earthly life.  And how this Christ likeness needs to affect our family, friends, and others. 

 The verse says a born again person is the fragrance of Christ among both the people “who are perishing” (a lost person)  and “those who are being saved” (born again person).  This “sweet aroma” is sensed by both classes as we interact with them in our daily lives. Those who are perishing are described by the Holy Spirit as ‘dead” in the sense of “dead in your trespasses and sins”. Their human spirit is dead and that is one reason they need to be born again.  Ephesians 2:1-3 describes people in this state and includes us prior to coming to Christ. 

Following is a note my wife had written in the page border to accompany this scripture.  May it bless and encourage you:

“I am not just the bearer of the aroma or incense but I am the incense myself. I am the means by which the effect is registered on both classes if the knowledge of Christ is going forth thru my life. I must move amongst men , in Christ (walking in the experiential knowledge of the truth) having learned the truth of the knowledge of Him thru various trials, tests, fires and experiences and thereby becoming a living expression of it.  A ministration of Christ comes as a result.”

May you leave the aroma of Christ where ever you go today and every day.  May God’s children be encouraged by interacting with you and may those that are perishing see something that is missing in their lives.

Carl