Stop and think of it—you’ve asked Jesus to forgive you and come into your heart. You’re a child of the King of Kings, yes, little ol’ you, a Prince or Princess and you are adorned in the royal robe of righteousness.
Sounds like a fairy tale, but that is just what Satan wants you to think. And when we think that way, we grieve Jesus, who gave His life to make your restoration with God possible, to give you that robe and re-establish your royal place in His kingdom. What a privilege! But do we even act like we are royalty…not in snobbish pride, but in humble gratitude?
Hm-m…it seems so often when we start acting like the common riffraff of the earth, instead of realizing our royal position, what do we do? Yup—we throw off the robe of righteousness and put on the dirty rags of sin.
It will take much discipline to live this “new and living way” of being a child of the King. The practicing of keeping your royal robes on needs to be pursued with diligence. When your behavior stops being “royally righteous”, don’t take off the royal robes. Rather, put off the unrighteous ways. In that way, you remain His glorious bride, adorned with jewels.
Isaiah 61:10, “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels.” What a God we serve! Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”, Jesus’ neighbors yelled. Jesus walked among friend and foe alike. He prayed for people, fed them loaves and fishes, healed the sick, made the lame walk, cast out demons and raised the dead. He was a real thug and criminal that deserved the hatred spewing from that crowd so long ago… yeah, right!
What Jesus taught came against the legalistic, ceremonial and ritualistic guidance that God had indeed given, but which man had perverted for his own power and profit. What wonderful timing on God’s part to come as one of us in order to bring us His restoration plan. The religious leaders of the day were planning His death, not the local populace that Jesus had touched and taught this “new and living” way. A new and living way by which any human could now ask the Spirit of God to come inside, bringing a new nature, a new way of thinking, feeling and being.
The religious zealots hated the thought of what Jesus was telling the people. He said that now, through His death, He would take our place for the capital punishment due for our sins. Each person then could have a direct relationship with God who would lead them in the way in which they should go. There was no more need for the priests, the temple, or the old laws of sacrifice, for it was all now fulfilled in Jesus. The priests and religious saw the unemployment line! This new way meant the loss of their power and social status and they hated Jesus for that. While seeking their treasures, they trampled on the truth!
“Well, I wouldn’t cry out to crucify Jesus”, you say. Think again—do you call for His crucifixion in another way in today’s modern era? Have you pushed Him aside with the secular outlook that permeates our society today? Do you push Him aside as you lie on your income tax report, or falsify a business record or a request for government assistance? Do you put Him to death when you choose the noisy busyness of the world over the quiet, holy fellowship of oneness with God and His Spirit flowing through you, leading to the better way? Do you call for the death of Jesus in you by basking in pride, dishonoring your spouse, giving in to the lusts of the flesh with reckless abandon? Are you full of excuses as to why your unholy actions are justified?
Hm—we all might want to think again—are we crucifying Jesus or are we crucifying our own nature so His nature can rise triumphant. Hopefully, you’re crucifying the right one! Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
Headaches, toothaches, arthritis, broken bones, cancer…whoa…with those things, we feel quite tormented! We are consumed with the pain, the inconvenience, the cost! Well, do you have the same sense of torment when you sin? Shouldn’t there be “dis-ease” for your “soul” as much as there is for your “cells”?
Lust, dishonesty, legalism, pride, adultery, hatred…aren’t these “dis-eases”, too? You’d want a miraculous healing for an injury or disease, so why not a healing for the injured soul?
A physical miracle is easy. God heals you – you’re done – nothing on your part is required. But those soul issues are different. Forgiveness is a miraculous healing, but it isn’t sprinkled on you like heavenly sugar. Soul healing takes something on your part…an act of your will to submit to God and know you have sinned. Confess – repent – be forgiven – and be healed. Your soul will thank you for it. Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
Ever said something you wish you didn’t? Coarse or biting words or something in verbal retaliation comes pouring from your mouth and you desperately wish you had a rewind or delete button.
Well, it doesn’t work that way, but God has a great remedy and one I have to diligently work on and practice…ah, and probably you do, too! James 1:19 tells us to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. Yikes, listen and not respond in a knee-jerk reaction! Slow to speak! God has to be kidding!
No, He’s not. Proverbs 12:18 says that reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. You see, God doesn’t give us these directions to stifle us in the living of our lives. He’s really trying to show us a lifestyle that will, more often than not, bring us the peace and joy we so ardently desire.
So the next time those words are stuck in the back of your throat, make yourself practice crucifying the flesh and let God’s Spirit rule. Then, with ease, you will say a little prayer for His wisdom in the moment and will be quick to do the “listen thing” and slow to do the “yakking thing”. That, for sure, will slow down the “anger thing” on both sides of the situation. See, that wasn’t so bad now, was it?
As God’s positive speech patterns supersede your crummy negative ones, your joy, peace and love levels will soar and that’s what you really need anyways, right? Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
We always hear, “Go by the rules” and there are lots of them. As a Christian, you should know that God has many “rules”. But you also need to know those “rules” mean something entirely different to God than they do to us.
In Romans 7, Paul explores that thought. As a former Pharisee, he surely was versed in the rules of the road for Judaism. But boy did he get a revelation on what the “rules” really meant and what they were for. Paul simplifies for us the true meaning of the new covenant and the freedom, not “rule bondage”, which we now can have in Christ! Remember, Jesus said it was for freedom that He set us free!
Jesus made it clear when He said He didn’t come to abolish the Law—He came to fulfill it. What a freedom in Him we now have. It means you don’t have to fill your head with information concerning the Law but rather fill your heart with transformation by His Spirit.
The Spirit of God in you (and remember, He comes in you only by your permission for Him to enter) will never lead you to sin. So you don’t have to worry if you’ve not read far enough into the Bible, or attended enough church yet to learn all the “rules”. You just have to let Jesus rule you.
The Law may indeed expose sin and tell you how bad you might be, but has anyone noticed…it doesn’t make you better. Most times, knowing the Law just makes you feel guilty. Oh, great, because of the Law you not only can see what you do is bad, now you feel bad, too! What a crummy deal that is. Well, if you just look to the Law it is!
Paul cried out that the good he wanted to do, he didn’t, and the bad he didn’t want to do—he did. “Oh who shall save me from the body of this death”, he lamented. God showed Paul, and He’ll show you, if you care to listen. God showed Paul that there was no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. You see, in Christ, you are made clean; your birth handicap of sin is forgiven and access to a life led by the Spirit is made possible.
The clear, unequivocal picture Paul gives is that the Law is good and not to be dismissed but it alone cannot “make you” good. We are all in need of some outside source of help to break the sin-cycle of Adam. That source is the indwelling Spirit of God who will lead you and guide you in the way in which you must go.
Yahoo—don’t have to worry about remembering all the rules; just have to know the rule Maker! Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
The sermon on July 28 by one of our associate pastors, Ted Marshall, really got me to thinking. As part of the sermon, Ted played a “Skit Guys” video that showed God “chiseling” away at a man who was reluctant to endure the pain of God’s sculpting tools. Why is it, then, if we really believe that God is the potter and we are the clay, that we are we so hesitant to let God form us and shape us?
Ted went on to reaffirm to us that we are “God’s masterpiece”. Wow—God knows we were born broken, deformed, so to speak, because of Adam’s sin and that is why He diligently sets about to “correct” the defects. But what do we do when He starts hacking away at the junk…that’s right…we pitch a fit!
In order to have God make you into His originally intended masterpiece, you first have to invite Him to be your head artist. Then let Him choose the color, the canvas and the character He chooses to fashion. You are His chosen one, let Him rid you of your deformed hindrances and let Him mold you and shape you into His divinely inspired and unique work of art. In that way, you will be pleasing not only to Him but to all those around you.
A life in Christ is not a chopping block; it is the studio of the Master Artist in which He is transforming you into His beautiful, originally planned masterpiece. That’s a pretty good deal…mess up to masterpiece…I think I’ll take it. What say you? Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Ever hear that saying? Well, it’s true but, for those who love the Lord and want to serve Him, it comes with a caveat…your plans need to be led by the Lord.
Some of us spend a lot of time planning, organizing, re-planning and re-organizing (guilty as charged!). Not a bad thing, but do you (and me) waste a ton of time and energy in this “planning obsession”?
We need to step back and realize that the “unplanned” phone call or the unannounced visitor may just have been God’s plan for your day…even if you didn’t see it coming. Every day I learn more and more and that is, I only think I’m in charge when I’m really not.
I am suspicious that we excessive planners have an underlying issue…we’re control freaks, whether we like to admit it or not. We can justify the need for all our planning on the opening statement of this blog, or we can back off and let God speak to us first. There’s nothing wrong with planning, just be open to the changes ordained by God! Semper Flexibus they say.
Psalm 32:8 says it best, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you and watch over you.” I think I’ll start my daily plan with the Lord, how about you. Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
Having trouble forgiving? Is something someone has done to you too horrendous for you to forgive?
Well, forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. It just means you don’t bear the anger, resentment and need for retaliation anymore. You give up your right to punish them. Don’t forget, that’s what God did for you. As we continue, we will see how a couple of incidents in history show us this power of forgiveness.
I grew up hearing of the Catholic/Protestant “war” in Ireland. Car bombings were frequent and death and destruction prevalent. It just seemed to be a dog chasing its tail over there…tit for tat, a life for a life. It seemed a never-ending battle of hatred, at least until this guy named George Wilson came on the scene.
In 1987 near Belfast, another Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb went off in a small town. This fellow Wilson and his daughter were buried in the resulting rubble. As his daughter lay dying, her words to him were, “Daddy, I love you very much.” After Mr. Wilson recovered from his injuries, he did something so powerful that it rocked the Catholic/Protestant struggle and led to peace between the parties. The simple act he did was he publicly forgave the IRA!
As he gave TV interviews, he said that because his daughter’s last words were about love, he didn’t want to defile that memory with hatred and bitterness. He said he would pray for his daughter’s killers and that God would forgive them. The resulting fame from this incident, allowed him to lead a crusade of reconciliation that even had the Irish Republic elect Wilson to their Senate! Hmmm-I think God knew what He was talking about when He told us to forgive one another!
The other example is Germany. I also grew up knowing of the existence of a divided Germany, East and West. Hatred, bitterness and separation ruled the country. But as the Berlin Wall fell and the country started to merge again as one, their first official act was not merely political but theological. They decided to vote on a statement made to the world that admitted their responsibility for the humiliation and murder of Jewish men, women and children. They admitted the errors committed during the period of their pursuit of National Socialism in World War II and asked the Jews of the world to forgive them! That statement was voted on by their government and passed unanimously!
Wow-an entire country asked forgiveness. And what was the unbelievable result… two groups of people who were once locked in a tremendous battle, both Germany and Israel, are now in peaceful co-existence.
So if you think your situation is impossible to restore or that your heart will never be free from some severe wrongdoing, think again. Forgiveness can have monumental results…if you let it! Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
Could there ever be any good that comes from suffering? Well, if you only look at suffering, duh, the answer is a resounding “no”! But as I serve in ministry, both spiritual and physical, I do see some good in suffering.
For a year now, I have struggled with a foot condition called plantar fasciitis. It is an inflammation of the soft tissues in the foot. It makes walking painful and the feet to ache. It has severely hindered my long distance marathon training and has made some days very difficult to bear.
But suffering has done some good things to me. It has slowed down my pace somewhat, to say the least, and has had me reflect on my motives for all that I do. I also now have a profound compassion for those confined to a wheelchair, or those who may hobble around with canes, crutches or walkers. A compassion that didn’t come from reading or observing, but from experiencing the pain first hand. All of that enhances my service to others, not diminish it.
I have a new joy and gratitude at being able to walk or hike 5-10 miles (or less), even if I can’t run it. I have suffered through other challenges too. Enduring a myriad of painful tests to rule out cancer (and thank God it was ruled out), has deepened my appreciation for health and health care workers. One of my brothers died far too young, but the pain of his loss brought about some family restorations that would previously have been unattainable.
Families with alcoholism, drug addictions, imprisonments and the like, have often had gain through their pain. Some former inmates go on to form huge, effective prison ministries to help the incarcerated (Charles Colson), or are fatherless and in poverty, yet reach heights of success and expertise never expected (Dr. Ben Carson). Their pain has been their gain!
The list is lengthy how suffering has helped many to turn a page in their lives to a chapter they would have never known except for the presence of that pain.
Now, I am not suggesting you run to the head of the line just to be first to suffer! No way. I am just suggesting that, seeing as we are in a cursed body on a cursed earth where suffering is commonplace, we should see it from God’s perspective. He knows this place is a mess but He can make lemonade out of lemons better than anyone! Your suffering not only can be for your betterment, but it can also work out things in those who helped you through that suffering, too. Win-win, in my book. Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!