The Power of Sin is the Law
1 Corinthians 15:56
"Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law."
The law is there to reveal sin, not to make us better people. For we cannot, of ourselves, become better people. Only through Christ, only by His blood, can we be made righteous. The law is there as a measuring stick, to show us our sin, to drive us to Christ for forgiveness and redemption. For without the law, we would not know we are sinners. Only by the work of the cross, and faith in that work, can we be redeemed from sin and be made right. And it is because of faith in Christ and our love for Him that we seek to keep the law. But that effort in itself cannot save us. Only faith in the sacrifice of the Creator can save us from sin. Apart from that, we are wretched sinners and no amount of human effort can overcome that.
Let Peace Rule
Let the peace of the Messiah control your hearts. Not fear or anxiety, or doubt, or anger or hostility, or any other thing. To control means that you have control....and that it requires a concerted effort. We have to take every thought captive, as the Bible says. We have to be determined to be like Christ, to know Him, to follow Him, whatever the cost. Let the peace of the Messiah rule your hearts. What's been ruling your heart? Replace that with His peace. Pursue His peace relentlessly, whatever it takes, repent of your sin, and replace what's been in your heart with His peace. And then be thankful that He loves you enough to correct you, as a good Father, to accept you as you are but then to patiently and relentlessly work to make you more like Christ. It's uncomfortable but it's because of His great, great love for you that He gives you this command. Let peace rule, and not anything else.
February 18, 2019
So Long Self
Why “So Long Self?” I got the inspiration from Mercy Me’s song of the same name. It’s the simple reality of a life walking with Jesus. In Matthew 16:24, “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me’.” And, well, pretty much every lesson we glean from the Bible directs us to put aside ourselves for Christ. Often it tells us to put others before ourselves, but even the promises of God, which are there to encourage us and lift us up and fill us with joy, require us to put aside all of our doubt, shame, contempt, and the temptation to focus on all that’s wrong. Even when Jesus tells us in Jeremiah 31:3, “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness,” we have to put aside our self-loathing (there’s that ugly “self” again), and resist the temptation to focus on all our failures, weaknesses, and our undeserving nature, and put our focus on Him and His Word, which promises that He loves us with unfailing kindness and everlasting love. We have to determine to put aside our own ideas of how we think things are or ought to be, and trust in His Word instead of our own way. The temptation to focus on ourself is everywhere in life, and the command to put ourself aside is everywhere in the Bible. It’s not until we shift our focus from ourself to the Word of God that self-centeredness begins to wane. It’s an ongoing struggle and presents an ever-present conflict. So as we go through this journey of life, you might just notice that your self often rears its ugly head too. (I’m pretty sure it’s not just me! haha!)
January 1, 2019, 6:41 PM
Love Your Enemies
Luke 6:27-28 "But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."
Because we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against evil. And we always combat something with its opposite. When something is wet, we combat it with a dry towel. When something is dark, we combat it with a lamp. When something is hot, we combat it with ice. So then why on earth are we tempted, when someone is hateful to us, to combat them with more hatefulness? That is akin to grabbing a soaking wet towel to clean up a puddle. What if, when your house catches on fire, the fire department showed up with more matches rather than water? The way to combat hate and evil is with love. Think about it. If someone is hateful to you, and your response is hateful back, that is the same thing as if your neighbor called you to cry out for help that their house was on fire, and their phone call caught your house on fire as well. What everyone wants is for their house NOT to be on fire, so then you are of no help. If you are to be of any help, you must respond to hate with love. People may cry out in hate, but what everyone wants is love. And what is love? 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 tells us: Love is patient, love is kind, and so on. And this is a command from Jesus to those who would hear: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you, because in doing so you help to extinguish hate and evil in the world.
We as Christians are called to do God's work. And God is Love, so His work is love. And His enemy is His opposite. It makes no sense for us to act like our enemies. The Bible says "We love because He first loved us." Not because of any conditions met by others, or because they deserve it--we certainly didn't deserve His love--but because that is the example that He set for us; because that is who He is, and we are His disciples.