Friday, April 27, 2007

A Father's Timing

All this week things have been happening "just in time". There's been no end of coincidences that turn out for the good of the ministry I'm working with, and me as well. From the internet connection going down at one coffee shop and me running into someone to help raise money at another, to the web developer we've been praying for walking in to another coffee shop and sitting down to talk to me. Also, me getting the two days off this week - both unexpectedly so that I could get the time to actually meet these people.

Why is it so hard for us to be thankful and live up to the goodness He pours into our lives? I for one am sorry that I so often look away from Him.

I know He's working on me and that in His time I'll be finished.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

From Shame to Strength

To the Brothers and Sisters in Christ who still suffer shame and guilt from their past, today I will show you nothing “new”, but I do hope to show you a consistency in our Hope and the blessing He has given us. Sometimes it's just hard to see the whole picture when we're living in it. It can be easier for an outsider to see in. This, if I do my work by Him, will leave you broken and humble, but will make you a much stronger and sharper weapon in the hands of the Spirit of God. I set out to answer your concern in full measure, and in trust that God will minister to your heart.

All quotes are from the Darby Translation.

First lets look at the reality of the situation He has brought you to, if you find this post is addressed to you. Currently you are being worked on as described in Heb 12. But let's look at the why and let Him control the how.

Rom 7:12-13
12So that the law indeed [is] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
13Did then that which is good become death to me? Far be the thought. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death to me by that which is good; in order that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

Matt 5:3
Blessed [are] the poor in spirit, for *theirs* is the kingdom of the heavens.

See you know your stake. You know what you bring, which is nothing good. You are spiritually bankrupt without Him. Recognizing this makes you stronger than you can even begin to imagine. Do not forget it.

2 Cor 12
9And he said to me, My grace suffices thee; for [my] power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of the Christ may dwell upon me.
10Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in insults, in necessities, in persecutions, in straits, for Christ: for when I am weak, then I am powerful.

So that's where you are. If you haven't stepped into the power of it yet that is only because you have not surrendered. I am more than confident in the Spirit's ability to make you do so. It is then that we become Fruitful beyond our abilities, skills and knowledge. Because it's Him working and not us. We are simply vessels that have been ravaged by the sea until He came and made it calm.

Looking above at 2 Cor 12:9&10 we see that Paul has come to know that his pride gets in the way of the power of God working through him. He no longer seeks to boast about how good he is. He isn't concerned with feeling good about himself. He's focused squarely on Christ.

Paul addresses this again in Philippians 3.
Phillippians 3:8-11
8But surely I count also all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all, and count them to be filth, that I may gain Christ;
9and that I may be found in him, not having my righteousness, which [would be] on the principle of law, but that which is by faith of Christ, the righteousness which [is] of God through faith,
10to know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death,
11if any way I arrive at the resurrection from among [the] dead.

“not having my righteousness” Paul is no longer concerned about his own ability, just that he be found in Him with the righteousness which is of God through faith. This talks about Who Paul's hope is in. It touches our subject because we see that Paul is forsaking his past to depend totally on the standing that is in Christ Jesus. Paul continues;

Phillippians 3:12-15
12Not that I have already obtained [the prize], or am already perfected; but I pursue, if also I may get possession [of it], seeing that also I have been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus].
13Brethren, *I* do not count to have got possession myself; but one thing -- forgetting the things behind, and stretching out to the things before,
14I pursue, [looking] towards [the] goal, for the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus.
15As many therefore as [are] perfect, let us be thus minded; and if ye are any otherwise minded, this also God shall reveal to you.

We see here that Paul is talking about his lack of perfection. He's still got “issues” that he's working out. Here's the relation to our topic, he admits it and moves on. He makes no excuse. He does not try to reconcile the past. He does not offer either himself or anyone else comfort for the past. He says “forgetting the things behind and stretching out to the things before” He peruses the goal, which is to be conformed to the image of Christ. Now there surely is a two fold meaning to both these two sections of scripture that we've looked at in Philippians 3. We need to forget what we think is positive AND what we know is negative of our past. Our future is Christ and we need to simply pursue that Goal.

Paul continues on the subject. He's going to write about how important this teaching is, and then sum it up for us.
Phillippians 3:16-21
16But whereto we have attained, [let us] walk in the same steps.
17Be imitators [all] together of me, brethren, and fix your eyes on those walking thus as you have us for a model;
18(for many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they [are] the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19whose end [is] destruction, whose god [is] the belly, and [their] glory in their shame, who mind earthly things:)
20for *our* commonwealth has its existence in [the] heavens, from which also we await the Lord Jesus Christ [as] Saviour,
21who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to his body of glory, according to the working of [the] power which he has even to subdue all things to himself.

This is a very important portion for you and I. Paul has just written about how he is walking, forgetting what is behind and striving ahead for the Goal. He now tell us to do the same thing, and to fix our eyes on those we see doing just that. Then a stern warning that needs deep consideration.

“for many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is the belly, and their glory in their shame, who mind earthly things.”

These people are not looking ahead to the Goal. They are fixed on their flesh. They revel in their shame. They do not have faith in Christ's work on the Cross which Paul goes on to explain in the next two verses to show why ones such as these are doomed.

In verses 20 &21 Paul tells us that we are not a kingdom of flesh, our kingdom is in the heavens. And read the language of vrs 20b-21 carefully, speak it out loud. This is the faith that those Paul warns about have ignored, and thereby not considered the Cross their only hope. “the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, Who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory, according to the working of the power which He has even to subdue all things to Himself.” Oh the faith of that statement!! Do you see it? Let me dare walk you through it in case you've missed the tender truths and absolute power revealed therein.

The title Paul uses for Jesus is the first bit. “The Lord Jesus Christ as Savior” What a title! He is Lord. He is Christ. And in acting as Savior, He's going to do something we can have faith in. Paul uses this title for Jesus showing the fullness of His position in relation to the topic. This is the same practice as we see in the using of God's many names in the Old Testament where the name used would reflect what He is doing at that time. Jesus means Jehovah Saves for example. So we see “the Lord of the universe Who saves by paying the price for our sin will act as Savior”. Oh blessed assurance!

Now Paul goes on with what He's going to do. “Who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory” He “SHALL” transform our body of “humiliation”. This IS going to happen. We can depend on it. We do not change our state of humiliation. We have faith that He shall do this. That He shall conform us to the image of Christ, as has been predetermined in eternity past.
Rom 8:29
Because whom he has foreknown, he has also predestinated [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, so that he should be [the] firstborn among many brethren
Notice the language of this promise;
Eph 1:4-6
4according as he has chosen us in him before [the] world's foundation, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love;
5having marked us out beforehand for adoption through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6to [the] praise of [the] glory of his grace, wherein he has taken us into favour in the Beloved:

This is something He will do. We will be blameless before Him. He will not find us so here on Earth, but He will make us to be that way according to His will which is unfailing.

OK, so up to this point we've seen that we have done terrible things, and that we can not base our lives on our past, either good or bad and still that He has promised to change our shameful humiliating bodies into His image in the future. I can say that at this point we must realize there is no comfort for how we were, or even how we are. We are simply to “forget it” and strive on to the Goal.

But this is not the end of the message. I want to quickly remind you of a principle of God that you can apply to this situation for yourself. When God says something, it is as good as done. We have read Him say He “has” reconciled all things to Himself yet we look around and seems not to be the case. We know by prophecy that this reconciliation will actually take place in the future, (Daniel and the Revelation). Yet because He has determined it, it is done. God's will is perfect and unfailing. He has declared the end from the beginning.
Isa 46:10
declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure;
This is what “Positional Truth” is. God has said it therefore it WILL be so we can treat it as already being so “Positionally”. Brother or Sister in Christ, you are “Positionally Blameless” There is no further need for you to suffer guilt and shame. God has said He will transform you. Your flesh is Crucified let Him live instead of you.
Gal 2:20
I am crucified with Christ, and no longer live, *I*, but Christ lives in me; but [in] that I now live in flesh, I live by faith, the [faith] of the Son of God, who has loved me and given himself for me.
Now go run towards the Goal, Christ bore our sin, despised the shame of it but it is done and He is seated at the Right Hand of Majesty.
Heb 12:1-2
Let *us* also therefore, having so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, laying aside every weight, and sin which so easily entangles us, run with endurance the race that lies before us,
2looking stedfastly on Jesus the leader and completer of faith: who, in view of the joy lying before him, endured [the] cross, having despised [the] shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
John 14:3
and if I go and shall prepare you a place, I am coming again and shall receive you to myself, that where I am ye also may be.
Eph 2:6
and has raised [us] up together, and has made [us] sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus

Where He is, there we will be too, and blameless and we already are. Such is the freeing nature of Positional Truth.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Finding Truth

We've all got just a taste of Truth no matter where we are in life. We can all look around and see this world. It's undeniably designed. Only those who are willfully ignorant can begin to deny Creation. The funny thing is, that Truth is to the lost much like any other "thing" we look for. Often though we look everywhere, sometimes even in a panicked state, it's right in front of our eyes.

Normally I'd want to talk to you about the Person of Truth, but I think tonight I want you to go out side and look up at the stars. I want you to think about balance, order, cause and effect. And if there's a question about what it all means. If you question at all IF someone might have made this whole thing. Will you live up to that little bit of Truth, or "Light" and ask for more understanding. You don't have to proclaim faith. Just say, something like "OK, so this place might have been designed. You've got my attention. Will you please show me more?"

Monday, April 16, 2007

Cheap Grace?

Added a couple of links today. One to the Free Grace Alliance (FGA) check em out. And the other is to my Bro Robb's new Blog called Crying In The Wilderness. Stop by, if you will, to say hi to the guy - cheer him on sorta thing!

There's an article over at FGA that goes along with my post about Lordship Salvation of a few weeks ago. We all love it when people agree with us so I thought I'd link to this very well done article.

Cheap Grace

This phrase is often used against those who teach that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Those who level this charge claim there is a price to be paid in becoming a Christian. The price they demand is . . . . . . . .commitment, obedience, and perseverance.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Thinking Outside The Box

Now that's a cool looking ship!
You know the silly pictures that are normally drawn of Noah's Ark.. how they are obviously done by someone who thinks the just the object of a silly story? I'm just as sick of them as you are. Why not take a break and start thinking outside the box eh?

Cubit who? :)

It was a pretty big sucker eh? 100 years to build it!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Faith and Works

*UPDATE* I have recently added to this in the post Can Faith Without Works Save You?

Wow what a cool thing to learn about. My good friend Robb and I have been studying this "little" topic today and I've just learned something that has been a great help to me.

One of the toughest to understand sections of scripture surely is James 2:14-26.

Questions like can faith without works save a man? Mixed with statements like Abraham's belief was accounted him as righteousness. These are OFTEN taken to be contradictory statements and then things get added to Abraham's "works" to show that "good works" justify people. There is a multitude of scripture verses which indicate that a person is saved by Belief alone. So how do we reconcile that with statements such as Abraham being justified by works?

First part of understanding comes from seeing that Belief it's self is a work. Jesus said that Belief is a work we are to do.

Next we need to think about what Faith IS. Think about it for a moment, and see if you agree that Faith is simply "Belief in action". If we see a lake covered in ice we can believe the ice will hold a person, but we don't actually put Faith in it until we walk out on to the ice. This is when belief gets used, it becomes Faith or Faith comes out of it.

Now simply walking out on the Ice is a great thing. Putting your faith in God is great! But if our Faith is to be perfect we are to have "good works" Jesus says let your light (the light given to you by Him) shine through you so that the world will see your Good Works and glorify the Father.

See the Demons believe and tremble. By contrast we believe and do. But what is it that we do? Are "good works" or "upright works" the supposedly "good" things we do? No, not at all!! Remember what Jesus said about good works? That they are to bring glory to God, not ourselves. When people see our good works they should see the Father, not us. Surely not how good we are. Because Jesus said that none are Good except God. Paul said often that he preached in weakness, not with cleverness or in his own power so that he wouldn't rob the Cross of it's power!

Good Works are things we do, that couldn't be done without faith in God so that none can deny that God is involved so He gets the Glory. That is a "good" work. All other works are filthy rags.

Going back to James, we see that James 2:21 & 23 equate "works" and "belief". Belief is a work.

James 2:17 says that Faith without works is dead.

Let's work this through the story of Abraham in James 2 to see how it plays out.

Jas 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Jas 2:22 Thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and that by works faith was perfected.
Jas 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which says, Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness, and he was called Friend of God.

We see first that Abraham was justified by works when he had offered Isaac on the altar as God had told him to do. The grammar of verse 21 is important. He was justified by works "when". This doesn't mean at that moment, it means he was justified "while" doing it. (I went to school when I could afford it, that sort of understanding) He was justified by "works" or belief, while he was exercising Belief or having Faith. It's also important to see how Faith is "wrought with" his Works, or "works together with" here.

In Gen 22:8 we see that Abraham believed that God would provide the sacrifice. God's purpose for telling him to sacrifice his son was to "perfect his faith" James 2:22, Gen 22:1 not to "save him" or "justify" him. He WAS justified already. Check these two verses out; Prov 3:12 and Heb 12:6.

So we see that Abraham believed God, then put his belief in action, his faith was perfected by this and the Word of God was affirmed that it said Abraham was made a friend of God through his belief.

Not all that hard after all eh? I don't know about you but it's been a two year process for me.

How does this apply to you and I? Well Heb 12 explains how God works with the Believer to "perfect his faith" just the same way as the example of God working with Abraham shows how He perfected his faith. Above I said putting your faith in God is great! And that we are to have Good Works. Here's the thing. Just as in Abraham's case, we WILL go through the Heb 12 process. God WILL try our faith and perfect it, and thereby we WILL have "good works". It's unavoidable if you're a believer. So Believe, and walk it out. :)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Why Was The Stone Rolled Back?

We read that the Resurrected Christ was able to enter rooms through closed doors. That He was able to move to where and when He wanted to, as He wanted to. So in light of this, why was the stone that closed His grave rolled back? Surely it wasn't to let Him out. No, it was to let us see in to that empty grave and see our hope of resurrection revealed to us!

In Matt 16 we read that the two Marys went on their way to anoint Jesus' body in the grave without first coming to a solution about how the stone could be rolled back. They knew the problem existed but they headed to the grave anyway.

Let's let this be a model for us. There are problems, but if we wait until the solution for the problem comes we will never actually get moving. God meets us on the road, while we are on the move. He comes to say "Be not afraid."

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Radio Show Airs!

Who would have thought it a year and a half ago? My life in ruins. My mind numb with pain. Yet last night a radio show I wrote aired in London Ont and was focused squarely on the Glory of God. Host Cory McKenna took listeners through the historical evidence for the Biblical account of Easter. Thanks to a dedicated team of interviewers we heard from Londoners on the subject, which really gives us a sense of what people think and how they learn the things they think they know.

Check out The Cross Current.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

How Christ-like is THAT?

You know as we walk along in our lives believers ache to be more like Christ. Some day's we look at ourselves and see just how far away we are and say "How Christ-like is THAT?" These times of reflection are great if they draw us closer to Him, but if they make us try to hide or run away they are not all helpful. The truth is that we can only be like Him when we depend on Him. When we're not acting like Him it's because we're depending on ourselves. Paul said it's not our life but Him that lives in us.

So when we realize we're far away it's time to run towards Him.