Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Right of Sanctification

Sanctification is the right by which we are made holy. Oh my! watch out! We actually can be holy!!! That doesn't mean we go off the deep end and develop 'holier than thou' attitudes. It simply means we are 'set apart' as God's kids and enjoy great privileges as such.
Romans 6:22 
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness (sanctification), and the end everlasting life.
As we are set apart we become more and more adept in our what we can do for Him. As we go to the Word and find out about this right, we grow away from sin and we are less burdened down by the things that can so easily detract us from the most enjoyable work on earth. Not only here in this life but in the future, we have the hope of Jesus Christ's return and eternal life!

Does that mean we hide out and 'tsk tsk' the world. We are 'in' this world, but we are not 'of' this world. We live life without the 'of' things like fear, condemnation, unworthiness, lack of confidence, and the big one - insecurity (drum roll please). These things we don't have to partake in. We definitely will have better relationships even with people who don't care about God.  We fully claim our rights as sons of God and say 'absolutely not' to the awful things and move towards the 'aweful' and exciting things that go with a sufficient and rewarding life of being one of God's kids. The more we see our lives reflected in the church epistles, the more sanctified (not sanctimonious) we will be in our walk.

Let's face it, not many of us have seen a burning bush, not to mention one that talks to you. But we may have seen the Word alive in a sanctified believing person. Since the day of Pentecost, God doesn't need to burn up bushes any more.  He set 12 men on fire and they in turn set more on fire by showing and teaching them the Word. What a privilege and it is ours today!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Good Gift- The Right of Righteousness

Righteousness -
Our God is a great Father. He has provided us access to His heart through believing, love and hope. We know that all scripture is inspired by God and helps us by providing doctrine, reproof and correction as embodied in the seven church epistles specifically addressed to us. The three doctrinal letters are Romans, Ephesians and Thessalonians. Roman's theme centers around the justness of God and our  access to righteousness by believing. Ephesians is the expression of God's love in this age of grace.  Thessalonians is about the hope and our eternal future that is now available through Jesus Christ.

Righteousness is our God-given justification, whereby we can enter the throne room of God without a sense of sin, guilt or condemnation. We have standing because of the risen Christ.  'We can come boldly to the throne of grace' for whatever we need and God will answer.
Luke 11:13  If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
Absolutely nothing stands in our way of our access to Him. We don't have to go through anybody else. God deals with each of us as we believe. Sin-consciousness can be a roadblock to this direct access. It has to be left at the door.  Realizing what Jesus Christ did for us in justifying us is the key. Just look at every chapter in Romans.
(For uses of Righteousness in the book of Romans, see Digging Deeper)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lowliness of mind - tapeinophrosune

When one hears the word 'lowliness' a common picture flashes in most minds, that of the downtrodden Christian who is the doormat of the world. This view is not accurate.

The name 'Christ' refers to the Messiah. He was the risen one! Christ rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God.  In the corporate world, this would be equivalent to the 'top of the ladder' and the 'cornerstone office with a view'. Seated in his elevated position he is the head of the body of believers to which we belong. We have awesome rights because  of his position and he didn't get there by clawing his way up, quite the contrary. He did it God's way.

The Greek word for 'lowliness' is tapeinophrosune.  It is used 7 times in the NewTestament. In Colossians there are a couple of uses that are very interesting:
Colossans 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen , vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. 20Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21(Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? 23Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
 'Will worship' comes from man when man decides that he can go far beyond what God expects  and  focuses on his own self-righteousness as a result. It is ultimately the source of man-made religions. It negates grace and refocuses on the works of man.
Our worship should come from a heart for God and respect for His son. We worship God by that which is spiritually true. We have his Word and we have holy spirit.  We are completely outfitted for all that we need to do. 

In Ephesians 4:3, 'lowliness' is the first and foremost step in keeping the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.  It' is really a humbleness of mind that is built on the integrity and accuracy of God's Word.  Nothing worthwhile happens without it. 

Even in a worldly corporation where everyone is not jockeying for place but focused on doing their own part, the result is an organization that excels and exceeds expectations. Everyone is honored. Even more so in the body of Christ, accomplishing God's business is beyond expectations because of God's wonderful power. Everyone gets a great corner window view cause we're seated in the heavenlies with the Head.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Justice and God

The book of Esther is a book about rescue and restoration of God's people during a time of great darkness. The book is about a Judean woman named Esther who was instrumental in saving her people from destruction. Esther played a significant role and it was the effective leadership of her guardian, Mordecai, a man of integrity who listened to God and was not afraid to stand up for what he believed in as he saved the Israelites from destruction. He is a great man to study for qualities of leadership. He truly served God in obeying at the very most crucial times and is living proof that no matter how dark the environment God can work when people listen to him as Mordecai did. Esther respected that about Mordecai as she also respected God. She listened and carried out his instructions. Mordecai encouraged her to carry out what she needed to do.

It was not a great time. Regular God-respecting people rose up to become God's superheroes to pull off the most magnificent turnaround just at the right time. What does it take?

In Philippians 4:6-8 it says:
6Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

What great words! True, honest, just, pure, lovely, good report, virtue, and praise! These are the characteristics of the justice of God!

In the time in which we live, in the grace administration, among those who so choose to believe, there are Mordecais and Esthers, and Nehemiahs (another restorer) working all over the place in government, at schools, in the work place and in homes. These are people who see the justification God has given us and act on it. God's justification is what they thrive on and depend on and therefore they are able to accomplish much in prayer and in their subsequent actions.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the risen Christ. It could have been Peter,  John, Nicodemus, Joseph, the Jerusalem Tribune, Pilate or anyone else. It was Mary whom God chose. What an incredible privilege, and it is easy to see from what is written there that she loved the master. She was thankful and caring. Her visits to the grave exhibited how she felt. If one very carefully follows the sequence of events integrating the four gospels, it was on her third and fourth visits to the grave that the greatest event in all history was revealed to her, that Jesus Christ was alive!

On Wednesday at dusk Mary and the other Mary (Matthew 27:61) saw Joseph of Arimathaea put Jesus' body in the sepulchre. They observed he had not done the ceremonial anointing (Joseph actually believed that Jesus' death was temporary) These women did not see Nicodemus actually do the ceremonial burying later, so it was in their minds that Jesus had not been properly taken care of. Thursday was a high holy day, a special sabbath, so they did nothing that day.  On Friday they bought and prepared spices for burial anointing. The next day was Saturday and it was the weekly sabbath and they rested that day until the end of the sabbath Saturday evening. (Hebrew days ended and started at sunset) On Mary's second visit to the sepulchre with the women carrying the ointments and the spices, they saw a guarded grave with a big stone rolled over the opening. The authorities were concerned that something might happen to the body and the tomb was heavily guarded.  They went home with their spices and ointments because they couldn't get into the sepulchre. This is the background before Mary's spectacular third visit to the tomb later, when it was dark (Sunday). 

On her third visit Mary went back alone (can you imagine what was in her mind?). The stone was rolled away and the body was gone! She then ran back to tell Peter. Peter and another disciple went to the grave (Mary followed - her 4th trip) Peter assessed the situation (stone rolled away, no body) and went home. Mary stayed and looked in and saw two angels and then turned around and saw Jesus  and he made himself known to her.  So Mary was the first to see evidence that Jesus had gotten up from the dead and the first to actually see him and talk to him.
Mark 16:9-11: 9Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. 10And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.
Peter had just been there along with the other disciple (whom Jesus loved), but it was Mary that first saw the risen Christ. Jesus Christ ministered to her heart. That was his first recorded act in his risen body to a human being.