In This World Part One

Something to think about.

In This World Part One

14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.

We have heard it said, we Christians should be in the world but not of the world.  This is an abbreviated quote of the verses above.  They are paraphrasing what Jesus said  “they are not of the world,” referring to Christians, Jesus is saying we belong to a different realm of existence.  


I would like to focus on the lesser know verse 15. Here Jesus is praying, God do not remove them but protect them.  We the body of believers have taken the “not of this world” to far. I noticed as I have become heavily involved in my church that I continually hangout and associated with people from the church.  Which because of my involvement is a natural byproduct of how I spend my time. In a sense, I am living “not of this world.” Which caused me to re-examine this verse and its intention. 


  As you become more involved in an activity, you tend to associate with others that are also involved in the same activity. If you like alcohol, you tend to associate with others that like alcohol. If you like running, you tend to associate with other runners.  How does your, or my involvement in church activities accomplish being in the world but “not of the world?”


Your involvement in the church does not remove you from the responsibility of the “great commission.” Good works do not exempt you from “why”you are still here. We are to be in the world. Jesus prayed that we remain here not that we be removed. He prays for our protection, not for our exclusion.  What Jesus is saying to us is we are to be in contact with the world because if we are not, how can we share the Gospel. We are to be the mouthpiece of God, not the silent political irritant that we have become. Jesus prays for our protection. Why would he pray for our protection if all we do is associate with other like-minded individuals? The only reason for protection is if you are an irritant to someone. If we only associate with each other, then the evil one would have no reason to disturb us.  He would leave us to our own interest. As long as we don’t step outside of our boundaries, we would be safe. As long as we remain within the confines of our religious activity do we even need this verse? If all we do is minister to people within the church are we really doing anything? 

 

We must interact with the world. It will be messy. We must shake off the comfort of complacency. We need to be in the world.

Advertisements

Cornerstone

Something to think about.

Cornerstone

12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12

Jesus is the name above any other name. Of course, it is not just the name but the man who possessed that name that empowers our salvation.  This is the cornerstone of our belief system without it we are irrelevant. 

Christianity is weird if you think about it. We believe in being born again. Of eternal life through the blood of one man. We believe in the unmerited redemption of mankind. We believe in a God we have never seen. We believe this same God is still active in the events of man.  We believe in the resurrection of a man who had been dead for three days. We believe He left earth by other means than death. We believe and wait for His return.  We believe in the Trinity. We believe there is an unmovable moral standard by which to live our lives.  All that we believe is dependant on this one man.  

Christianity does not exist if you remove Jesus from it.  If you make Him a man, the actual son of Joseph he becomes a byline of a ridiculous cult.  If you prove, He was never resurrected, again Christianity crumbles.  If you can find His remains, Christianity is a farce. If you can disprove any of essential claims we make about Him Christianity is a waste. The cornerstone on which Christianity exists is Jesus. In every aspect, Christianity depends on Jesus.

As everything about Christianity depends on Jesus, so does our salvation depend on Him.  He is the only one that can provide us with salvation. In Him resides the power of salvation, rebirth, redemption, forgiveness, and life and life eternal. Christianity is all about Jesus it is not about anything else. It is not a means to an end. It is not a social program, a political party. It is not a religious entity.  It is not the good we do for one another. Or the beautiful things by which we express Christ. Christianity is not a what it is a who. Christianity is Jesus. From Him flows everything else. He is the bedrock cornerstone of what we believe. Without him, precisely in the center of our lives and belief system, we will miss the mark.   

There is no other name.

Go Home

Something to think about.

Go Home

The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” Like 8 38-39 

The mantra of our society is to get an and education then go conquer the world. It is interesting Jesus tells this man whom He had liberated, go home and tell them what God has done for you.  Education is imporatnt. The disciples spent three years with Jesus learning from Him.  Most of which was in preparation for what was to come.  However, there is a time and place when experience trumps education.  This is one of those times. 

Jesus tells the formerly demon-possessed man no I don’t want you to hang around me, go tell others of what I have done.  We have expended much too much energy, resources, and intellect in preparing people to share the gospel and not enough resources teaching people to live the gospel.  Jesus did not tell the formerly demon possessed man to go and study under the tutelage of a leading authority.   He told Him by virtue of what God has done in your life you are empowered to share God with others. 

It wasn’t seminars, conferences, academic process or intellectual prowess, which qualified this individual to share Jesus it was his experience. It was the liberation of spiritual bondage that trained Him to share the healing he received at the hands of Jesus.    

All of the highly skilled professionals involved in the propagation of Christianity are not the ones that are going to change the world for Christ. If that were possible, it would have been done. I dare say it was never the intent of Christ for that to occur.  It was not the intent of Christ for the church to be the salvation of the world. At least not the church as we define it today. A centralized, organized corporate entity with the sole purpose of evangelization.  Understand I belong to such a church I support my church both financially and physically. But my church was not what God intended for the propagation of the gospel. Yes, it has its place in the overall plan of God, it has an integral part in that plan. My church as any other church is and should be an oasis where the battered and beaten warriors of God come to be rejuvenated, fed, healed and sent back into the world to fight the war God intended us to fight. The Church was designed to be a fortress where the weary come to find rest and protection. A place to be educated in how to best fight the war we are inevitably involved in.  The church as an entity is not there to evangelize, it is there to feed, edify and educate. 

The burden of the gospel falls on the rest of us to do as the liberated demon possessed man was instructed. Go home tell them what God has done in your life. The office of the evangelist is not intended for the anomaly.  It was never intended for the astonishing orator it was intended for you and me. To go home and tell our neighbors and friends what God has done in our lives. Everyone is looking for evidence of the living God, and you are that evidence. You are that miracle. You are the new creation that can only happen when God is in you. You as the formerly demon-possessed man are qualified to share the gospel of Christ by virtue of what he has done in your life. If you share your story the Church God intended will change the world.

 

 

We Are Not Exempt

Something to think about.

We Are Not Exempt

33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. 2 In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 

Tragedies will come, and no one is exempt. Even the most righteous among us will face trials in life.  Why do bad things happen to good people? Because no one is exempt from the sin in the world. We live in a sin-infested existence, and because we do at times, the result of that sin will overcome us.  

We may pray and fast and study and be righteous but you will still face situations in your life that will be overwhelming. What we can do is pray, fast, study, and “seek after the kingdom of God” and it will prepare us to deal with the overwhelming situations we will face.  What we as Christians know is that Jesus overcame the trials of His life and He will be with us to help us in ours.  Let us not become despondent or defeated in our trials, but let’s receive the peace of God in these situations by seeking Him. Knowing that regardless of the outcome we will have the victory, He has intended for us.  

We will face tribulations in our lives. How we handle them determines the outcome. If we work with God, we will go through them successfully and peaceably. If not the tribulation will go through us and we will be the remains after it has finished with us.  The more intense the trials the fewer the remains. You can face a tribulation with God and be whole, or you can meet it alone and become pieces of your former self. 

 

Jesus said, “I have overcome the world.” It means that we can overcome the tribulations of life if we unite ourselves with Him. It means that the tribulations regardless of how horrible they are not sufficient to destroy you if you are in Him. It means we can come out the other side of the tribulation, not unchanged but undefeated. Even if you lose everything, you still have the assurance of His victory in your life.  

Jesus said, “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Our celebration is in the knowledge and the reality that as long as we are in Him, we will share in His ultimate victory.

Insidious

Something to think about.

Insidious

10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10 (KJV)

Part of this verse talks about the desire of the Devil to destroy lives. OH!!! We are not supposed to acknowledge his existence less we become the laughing-stock of contemporary society. Within and without the church, we are not supposed to mention his existence. Supposedly because we lack concrete proof or we will look like a religious extremist. Some have regulated the Devil to the realm of myths. He has become an impotent folklore a boogie man of nonexistence.

In our churches we seldom hear him mentioned and if so just in passing. He is ignored or marginalized within the church. Within the church, it has become taboo to address him head-on. Some say we should not give him undo recognition. That he is powerless against us and recognizing him only creates his unwanted influence. We have taken the position if we ignore him he will go away. The church as a whole has become reticent to address him for fear of ridicule from a society which proclaims he does not exist.

A society which is facing more than a few crises. From the continual murder of unborn children. To the staggering amount of fatherless children to government corruption to unending wars. A world gripped by fanatical extremism, sex slavery, mass murders, serial rapist, serial murders, starvation, and disease. Everywhere you turn there is a stripping away from what makes us human. We are shocked and horrified by the unending ability of the imagination of man to perpetuate evil upon each other. Without a reasonable explanation, we experience these things and attribute it to anything other than to the father of lies the Devil himself.  

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” The devil is so successful at this he has removed himself from the equation. The absolute insidiousness of it is we don’t even believe he exists. Since we no longer allow him to be a part of our vocabulary all of the causes of the crises we face must then be man-made. We within us without apparent reason live the evil that is perpetrated on our fellow man. We are inherently evil. The Devil’s success is in convincing us he does not exist. Even though the evidence of his existence can be found in the destroyed lives of our brothers, sister, and throughout society.  The world is destroying itself, and the only explanation we are given is we are the sole cause.  Wake up!!

Equal to God

Something to think about.

Equal to God

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV) 

I imagine that every Christian has either read or heard this verse.  Its meaning is straightforward. God saves you through His unmerited favor.  You can’t be saved by your own doing. But yet there are still those who feel there must be something I can do to facilitate or assist in my salvation. Salvation can’t be that simple.  

If you find a need to work for your salvation, you must answer this question. How can I earn my salvation?  The concept of earning is that you do something of value to receive something of equal or greater value.  Working with the idea of “earning” you must do something that is of sufficient worth to pay for your sin. The standard of payment is the complete eradication of sin. You have to do something equal to the cost of your sin in order to remove every vestige of the sin. Covering it up is not acceptable. You must remove even the memory of it.  You have to, in essence, make it as it never happened.  Forgiveness of sin is not enough you must make complete payment for your sin. You must make it as if never happened. You must restore the situation to its perfect state.  When you work for your salvation, this is the goal, the restoration of perfection. 

Biblically God accomplished the restoration of man by becoming man Himself. Then He died on the cross and shed His blood so that through His blood man’s sin was wholly paid for. He restored perfection to man by the complete removal of sin. The cost of sin was so high that only He could make the payment for us that we might become perfect in Him. God, Himself is the only one capable of making the payment. His proof of payment is then exhibited in the resurrection. 

For those of you who are determined that you must work your way into heaven all you have to do is make payment for your sin. What you have to do is very simple and clearly stated you must become equal to God.  Since God was the only one capable of making the payment for sin;  it follows that if you are going to work your way into heaven, you must also make a qualifying payment. The requirements are simple you must be sinless, perfect. You must have the currency of blood,  perfect clean sinless blood, you must die and then you must resurrect yourself. In short, you must become equal to God.

Shipwrecked

Something to think about

Shipwrecked

24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 2 Corinthians 11:24-26 (NKJV)

Not for the timid Christianity is. If this was the picture of Christianity you were exposed to, would you have become a Christian? How is it we expect something better? We expect because of Christ we will be exempt from the tribulations of life. It is an unrealistic expectation when you realize Christ Himself was crucified. Christianity itself is an odd religion not because of what we believe but because of what we know. 

We know our savior was crucified. We know that our leaders, particularly at the beginning of Christianity, met with untimely deaths. We know that throughout the history of Christianity it has been misused, misrepresented.  We know Christians have been martyred.  All in all, Christianity is not a religion you want to be a part of. To be a Christian is to be Paul, the writer of the above verse. Are you willing to suffer as Paul suffered for a man who was murdered on a cross? From all accounts on the surface, Christianity is not much to believe in we all die. We are abused, humiliated, despised, hated and ostracized, and yes some are martyred.  If you look at this side of Christianity the apparent cost, you will not become a Christian.  No person would choose to suffer for another person to this degree with no apparent upside.  If all you were introduced to was the suffering of Paul and Jesus, you might feel compassion for them, but you would not join them.  

Why then has Christianity proliferated throughout the ages? A promise and a proof. The promise is a life to come where all evil will be eradicated and will not touch your life. The evidence is in the resurrection of Christ. We willingly endure the suffering of Paul and the torture that may come into our lives because of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus is the living resurrected proof of the promise of eternal life. The promise exceeds the tribulations of this life. If you suffer like Paul and are killed like Christ, you have a promise of a better eternal life. The proof is not in an indecipherable concept it is in the reality of the resurrection.  You don’t have to suffer like Christ though you may. To be a recipient of the promise, you only need to recognize the one who guarantees the promise.

Are You Hungry, Have You Despise Your Birthright

Something to think about.

Are You Hungry, Have You Despise Your Birthright

32 And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” Genesis 25:32
 
I’ve worked all day. It’s been one of those days when I have not made time to eat.  I am exhausted tired and hungry. I am so hungry all I can think of is food. I come in the door, and all I want to know about is eating. Would you at that point sell your future for food? This is the situation Esau finds himself in when his brother will only give him food if he trades him his birthright. Birthright in modern terms is his inheritance. Esau had a considerable inheritance, and he sold it for a plate of food.   
 
You may think what a bizarre thing to do. You and I would not have given up such an inheritance given the same situation. We definitely would not have given it all up for a plate of food. How about a drink, a feast, a one night stand? Would we sell our inheritance for a political party, fashion, a celebrity? A star, a king. Would you trade it for a kingdom, an empire? Would you sell your inheritance for instant gratification? Would you sell it so you can escape your present condition?  What would you trade your birthright your inheritance for?  
 
As ludicrous as it may appear for Esau to have traded his birthright for a plate of food we are no different.  We sell our inheritance our heritage for much less. We will sell our inheritance for fear of what people think of us. We worry about what people who come in and out of our lives think.
 
Esau traded his inheritance because he lost sight of it. All he could see was the immediate, the now, self-gratification. Had he thought about it for just a second he would have walked away hungry. The creator of the universe has promised you an eternal inheritance. An inheritance that will surpass your imagination in ways you can’t conceive.  What he has promised us is unassailable it can’t be stolen, lost, misplaced or denied. But it can be sold. What will you sell it for? What will you sell your eternal inheritance for? Or are you willing to walk away hungry today that you might gain your inheritance tomorrow? Do you realize Esau could have walked out of the tent? Walked over to his fathers or mothers tent a few feet away and been fed? Will you like Esau disparage your inheritance? That you will not walk away from that which will steal your victory. Will you sell your inheritance for a temporary satisfaction? Esau would get hungry again. 

So You Want to be Loved

Something to think about.

So You Want to be Loved

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:18-19

This is the conundrum the juxtaposition of Christianity. We want to be loved in a world that doesn’t want to love us, yet we are commanded to love this world. In Matthew 5:44 Jesus said,” 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. Our need and desire to be loved is a basic need of our lives.

The sad reality is if you look at the world you will see that it is not understanding, intelligence education or intent that is lacking it is love. The world as it is today produces enough food to feed itself, but people are still dying of starvation. There is more than enough wealth around the world to eradicate poverty, but people still live in desperate need. There are medical advances that will benefit humanity, but they don’t reach the impoverished of the world. That is not to say there aren’t problems we don’t have solutions for, but we do have available to us solutions to some of the worlds basic needs. So why don’t we employ these solutions? Some people say it is because of capitalistic greed, some say because we are too different, Some believe that those who are impoverished somehow deserve it. Some see it as a problem they are not responsible for. Some see it as a fatalistic reality; they must exist it is a cycle of life.

All of the reasons or excuses mask the real culprit; it is a lack of love. We love our families and close friends. We in a sense may love our country. But do we love our neighbor? The solutions to the world problems are not going to be resolved by a redistribution of wealth, or further medical advances, or reimagined or newly created ideologies. Not by advances in education or academic achievement. The world’s problems can only be alleviated when we really learn to love and care for each other. When we learn to love one another as Jesus said: “Love your enemy.”

In our world”s culture and ingrained mindset love your enemies is not included. The love of the world does not include your best interest. The love of the world will always be what is best for me at any cost. Because the love of the world is self-centered the solutions to the problems of the world will never be implemented. For any solution of any of the world’s problems, we must first,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ then, 38 “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:36-40

Wait, Delay, Holdup, Interval, Interlude, Intermission, Pause, Break

Something to Think about.

Wait, Delay, Holdup, Interval, Interlude, Intermission, Pause, Break  

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:25 (NKJV)

Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,

 
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day. Psalm 25:4-5 (NKJV)  

Passive is a word that I would use to describe the word wait. Waiting is a passive time when one delays expectation or accomplishment. I’ve always thought of a period of waiting as a time when nothing of consequence is accomplished.  As I looked at verses on waiting I noticed something, passivity was not part of the intent.  In Lamentations, it says “wait and seek,” In Psalms, it says “show, teach, lead, none of these words are passive. None of them are used as synonyms for the word wait.   

Waiting on God is not a passive time. It is a time of accumulation. A time to accumulate the wisdom and strength of God. It is not passive it is preparatory. During a time of preparation, your waiting to be ready to move forward.  I still become inpatient when I and in the process of building a piece of furniture. Though I am working, I am waiting to get to the place where I can see the finished product. I have to wait till I prepare all of the parts before I can move forward with the actual piece.  A time of waiting is not an empty meaningless filler. It is not time unnecessarily spent without accomplishment.  Even the most famous of wait verse in the bible is not passive.  

Isaiah 40:31 ESV But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. To renew your strength does not mean lie down and do nothing. It means to do those things that will rejuvenate you. In this verse, it means to reacquaint yourself with God.

Wait on the Lord does not mean to be passive and fruitless. It means to prepare for what the future will bring. It means intentionally spending time seeking God. It means positioning yourself to learn from God. It means to take time to learn the truth of God. It means to learn of the salvation of God. Waiting on God is the most productive time of your life. It is the time when you will prepare for life, for victory, for overcoming, for winning.