Oecolampadius -“The Light of The House”

This morning I read my devotion from The One Year Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten. The devotion spoke about how being “second fiddle” is a time-honored profession in God’s work.

Johann Hausschein was Ulrich Zwingli’s “wing man” or “second fiddle” during the Reformation in German-speaking Switzerland in the 1500s. He was very intelligent and Erasmus considered him the “foremost intellect of his day”. Johann was a theologian, preacher, a reformer of church practices and a defender of biblical truths.

Johann’s surname in German means “the light of the house”. At some point in his life he changed his surname to the Greek equivalent, “Oecolampadius”.

“Light of the house”. What a beautiful word-picture of what the biblical believer in Jesus Christ is to be. He is to be like a light shining in a home, repelling the darkness so that those living there can see their way. A light removing the mystery of what is around us, in the darkness.

If you have ever been through a hurricane, ice storm or tornado and lost your electric power, you were thankful for any source of light you had as the darkness enveloped your home. There was great rejoicing when the lights came back on.

I spent a considerable amount of my life working at a wood preserving manufacturing plant where we made wooden utility poles like you see along the highway. After an ice storm or hurricane destroyed the utility grid in an area, we would send hundreds or thousands of wooden utility poles, so the local utility could restore power. Our truck drivers said people would line the streets and applaud when they rolled into town with the utility poles.

Humans were not made to dwell in darkness.

Sadly, far too many today do dwell in spiritual “darkness”, a state of ignorance. Ignorant of the life changing love of God which He manifested by sending His Son Jesus to die for our sins. Ignorant of the resurrection of Christ, the born again experience, and the many other biblical truths that deliver man from evil and the evil one.  As we will see later, we, as lost people separated from God by our sins, are described as being “darkness”.

The prophet Isaiah (9:2-4) prophesied by the Holy Spirit and said, concerning  Jesus’ birth:

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.

Jesus is the Light. What a beautiful metaphor and truth.  Isaiah goes on to say there will be great joy and rejoicing because of this Light:

“… You shall increase their  gladness; They will be glad in Your presence As with the gladness of  harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.” 

Why this rejoicing and gladness?

“For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor…”

Because Jesus  will set people free from the oppressor of mankind, the evil one, satan.

We recently learned of the death of a young missionary who was trying to reach a government protected, unreached island tribe off the coast of India.  The tribe killed him when he reached the shore.  The world says “leave these people alone and let them live as they have for thousands of years.” But the reality is that the darkness they live in is full of fear and terror created by evil spirits that control and torment them. They are one of the “oppressors” that Jesus, The Light, came to expose and defeat in peoples lives.  On my desk I have a DVD entitled “I Will Never Go Back! The Testimony of Chief Shoefoot, A Former Shaman.”  This Amazon witchdoctor tells how he was possessed and controlled by demons and how Jesus Christ set him free from these evil spirits.  He said he would never go back to living like his people had lived for thousands of years. Why? Through someone sharing Jesus Christ with him, he now knows the truth about God, man, sin, satan and freedom in Christ. He is walking in the Light.

May we be “the light of the house” wherever God puts us.  May we reflect the light or knowledge of Jesus, in humility and wisdom, onto the people and circumstances around us.

People don’t like darkness and some people are just like outdoor moths. They will come to the Light!

Father God, Giver of all wisdom, thank you for sending the Light into the darkness and rescuing us when we were helpless.  Help us to reflect  Jesus, the true Light, into the darkness around us.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

“For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth)…”  Ephesians 5:8-9

Carl

Inside Our Heart

“…for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

Samuel believed one of Jesse’s tall and handsome sons was surely the next king of Israel when the Lord spoke this scripture to him.

Samuel was looking at the outward appearance while the Lord was looking in his heart. He saw something that disqualified the man from becoming king.

Today, right now, the Lord is looking in your and my heart. He is looking at our “thoughts and intentions”. Everything is laid bare before His all seeing eyes.

Is our response “Yes, Lord!” or is it “Woe is me!”

The Lord knows the heart of man.

[20] And He was saying,“ That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. [21] For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, [22] deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. [23] All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” …

Mark 7:20-23

Peter, like us, had to deal with issues in his own heart. He left us instructions from his own experience.

[17] If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; [18] knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, [19] but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

I Peter 1:17-19

He is saying don’t trust your old sinful nature to live for God. It cannot. Let the born again experience have its complete work in you for you are a new creation in Christ. Sell out to Jesus and be concerned about offending Him and no one else.

God’s mercy and grace be richly upon you! Go boldly to His throne of grace. He is our Hope and our Anchor!!!!!! There is no one like our God.

Carl

Hiding In The Trees?

grove of trees

“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”

Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”

Genesis 3: 8-9 NASB

Is God, The Father, asking that of you today?

“Where are you?”

Maybe instead of meeting Him today for life giving fellowship and encouragement, you are trying to hide from Him.

Maybe you messed up again and, instead of acknowledging the sin and repenting,  you have run to the grove of  “busyness trees” in your life and are trying to hide from His presence.

You have failed again and how can you face Him?  So you are hiding from Him.

BUT HE, in His faithfulness to YOU,  His child, comes seeking you.

He asks, “Where are you?”.

In His wisdom He knows already where His little lamb has run off to.

So we need to give up our “fig leaf” and “shame of failure” and agree with Him on what we have done, (that is what repentance is) and ask for forgiveness which He will gladly extend.

Be restored to that life -giving, joyous, edifying, fellowship.

Remember, the Lord Jesus told His disciples,

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you….       John 15: 16

He chose us.  We did not find Him.  He found us….sin and all.

So He is asking “Where are you?”

Not for His sake. For our sake.  We need to be honest about where we are in our Christian walk.

He stands ready to forgive, love, strengthen, encourage and make us wiser in our pilgrimage to His House.

Just flee to Him.

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession, for we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin, let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”         Hebrews 4:14-16  NASB

Carl

The Power of The Gospel: “Such Were Some of You”

The apostle, Paul, today will give us insight into how God’s power can deliver people from bondage. I pray this blesses you and yours.

[9] Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, [10] nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. [11] Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. …

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NASB (emphasis added)

In this scripture Paul is writing to the Corinth church in Greece. He is telling them people who practice certain sins will not “inherit the kingdom of God” or in today’s vernacular, “will not go to heaven when they die”.

This Corinth was the “new” Corinth created by Roman Emperor Julius Caesar as a retirement city for veterans of his Roman legions. The “old” Corinth was destroyed a hundred years before by Emperor Achaiacus, for rebellion and its citizens were sold into slavery. It was this “old”Corinth that contained the temple of the goddess Aphrodite, with its 1,000 – 10,000 (the number varies) temple prostitutes. In Paul’s day it was still a very immoral, wicked city. In the Hellenistic Greek world, the term “Corinthian” was associated with whore mongering and prostitution.

Into this immoral culture came Paul, preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified for the sins of the world; the Light shining in the darkness. Through His preaching, the power of God was released and many pagans trusted in Christ for salvation. As a result of their faith in Christ, they were born again.

Being born again CHANGED them. CHANGED them from the sinful people he had listed in verse 9 and 10. He says of them in verse 11:

“Such were some of you….”

God working in their lives caused:

Adulterers to quit sleeping with other people’s spouses and to become faithful to their spouse.

Fornicators stopped sleeping around, instead learning to possess their own vessel (body) in sanctification and honor (I Thess. 4: 4 ) and glorifying God in their bodies (I Cor. 6: 20).

Idolaters stopped worshipping demon inspired false gods and started worshipping the one and only True God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Homosexuals stopped sleeping with men and recognized the God-given natural function of the female (Romans 1: 7), in a marriage context.

The effeminate men quit playing the part of the female in the homosexual relationship and became the men God created them to be.

Thieves stopped stealing from others and started giving to others.

Drunkards stopped abusing alcoholic drink, resulting in soberness.

The covetous changed from “acting unethically to obtain more,” to being satisfied with what they had. They probably became givers.

Swindlers stopped extorting people to obtain money and other things. These also probably became givers.

Revilers stopped speaking rudely of others, maligning people’s character.

Paul goes on to say that this CHANGE happened in the Corinthians because when they were born again God did three things to each one of them. He:

1. “…washed…” them – Titus 3:5 says the following

“He saved us ….. by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

2. “…sanctified…” them – God set them apart from sin to Himself resulting in a willingness to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. They separated themselves from sin and grew in personal holiness.

3. They “…were justified..” – based on their faith in Christ, God declares them righteous before Him. They received the Holy Spirit in themselves.

CHANGE came in these people’s lives (and ours) because they were “washed, sanctified and were justified”. It is the work of a loving, forgiving God who loved us enough to send His Son to the Cross for our sins so we could be saved from the guilty and penalty of our sins and be CHANGED.

In closing, the Shantung revival in northern China (1920 – 30s) was a work of the Holy Spirit. He used a Miss Marie Monsen, a Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran, to awaken the missionaries and the Chinese church.

She asked everyone she met if they had been born again. As you can imagine, many missionaries and church members were greatly offended. But God used this and her teaching on sin to remove the blinders from the church members. Many were just religious and had never been born again by the Holy Spirit of God. Therefore, they had not CHANGED.

Others realized that at some point in their Christian walk, they had stopped confessing their sins; thereby, stopping the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The CHANGING had stopped.

You see, being religious will not really CHANGE you. In Colossians 2:20-23 Paul is speaking about religious decrees (don’t eat this, don’t touch this, etc.) and he shows the futility of such man-made religion in verse 23:

“These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self -abasement and severe treatment of the body, BUT ARE OF NO VALUE AGAINST FLESHLY INDULGENCE.” (Emphasis added)

Trusting only in the work of Christ on the Cross can break the bondage in a person’s life. Jesus said you MUST be biblically born again to experience victory over fleshly indulgences. Paul, in our opening scripture is saying that the Corinth believers used to be controlled by fleshy indulgences but God CHANGED them. They, like many church members and pagans today, were practicing many forms of sexual sin and other wicked things but God set them free from their bondage.

Have you been CHANGED, my friend? Have you been biblically born again through faith, and faith alone, in the work of Christ! If you have not, today is a good day to ask Jesus to save you from your sins and to be washed, sanctified and justified by the Holy Spirit.

Don’t settle for “religion” or the “traditions of men”. The Lord Jesus is vastly different from “religion”. He is True Life and Freedom.

Carl

Not Enough Air

I’ve taken up cycling again for the 4th or 5th time in my life. At my age, it is taking considerably longer to “get in shape”. Bought a used hybrid bike and started riding with my wife who has been riding while I walked for exercise.

Made the mistake of going to Covington, LA and riding on the Tammany Trace, an old railroad corridor converted to a hiking and cycling asphalt pathway. I thought it would be okay when I saw that you could call 911 from the Trace and the paramedics would respond. After I made it to the Rusty Pelican in Mandeville for lunch, I thought I could keep up with my wife and my fifteen year old grandson on the twelve mile return. Not true. They left me in their dust but were gracious when I finally caught up with them at the truck.

Now this bothered me. I was running a 51.7 second quarter mile when I was seventeen….. of course, that was 49 years and 82 additional pounds ago.

This week, after still struggling on rides with my wife, I finally discovered the problem. I had erroneously assumed that the technician at the bike shop had maxed out the air pressure in my tires but instead of 85 pounds, there was only 35 pounds. The bikes are designed to operate most efficiently with high pressure tires. My old road bike operated at 115 pounds.

Not enough air. I felt 15 years younger when I fixed the problem!

My Christian life is sometimes like this cycling experience. A lot of effort, little visible results. Just as the under inflated tires created too much road drag and laborious pedaling, too much Carl and not enough daily reliance on the Holy Spirit creates drag in my spiritual life and causes diminished or no results. Just as the bike designers design road bikes to operate with high tire pressure, our Designer designed born again people to operate by His Spirit, not Self.

That is why the early Church was so effective in spreading the gospel without radio, TV, internet or the printing press. Pliny, The Younger, a pagan Roman official (circa 100 AD), reported to the Roman emperor that the pagan temples were almost deserted in his providence. Due to so many people being converted to Christianity, the sale of animals for idol sacrifices plummeted. The Holy Spirit was working through these “primitive” people. (It’s always interesting when a commentator speaks about the early Church as the “primitive church”. My how we need the primitive church today!)

To bring it closer to our time, in The Shantung Revival Dr. C. L. Culpepper, a Southern Baptist missionary, tells how dead the Christian churches were in north China in the 1920s and early 30s. He goes on to describe how the Lord brought the missionaries to surrender to the control of the Holy Spirit and then He could work through them to bring amazing revival to the Church in Northern China and Korea. Untold thousands were born again and the church was strengthened for the coming of communism.

Why? Because people surrendered to the Holy Spirit.

Listen to what Dr. Culpepper in 1968 said about the problem and the solution:

“Most of the things that took place in Shantung are as foreign as Chinese in American churches today, mainly because of resistance to the Holy Spirit. ”

“In his defense before the council, Stephen said, “Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit.” The charge remains true to this day. Actually this resistance is usually disguised by a professed aversion to “Pentecostalism”, but it’s becoming more and more evident as nothing more than resistance to the Holy Spirit.”

” The writer has used these expressions to designate the experience of total surrender to the Holy Spirit, resulting in a dramatic experience of Christian joy.”

The problem – resistance to the Holy Spirit.

The solution – total surrender to the Holy Spirit.

How about you? How is your tire? Properly inflated or under inflated?

Full of Self or Full of the Holy Spirit?

Carl

When One Knows Oneself Well….

“When one knows oneself well, one is not desirous of looking into the faults of others.” –John Moschus (ca 550-619 AD)

Woe is me! Woe is you?

Let us not be the judge of others since there is only one True Judge, Jesus the Righteous.

Let us remember that pride always sees the faults of others.

Let us pray for one another.

Carl