Friday, October 31, 2008

Tools For Knowledge

We have all sorts of devices that help us experience our world beyond our natural limitations. Some examples include: binoculars, telescopes, microscopes, hearing aids, vehicles, computers, rockets, communication devices, etc... They augment our abilities to go beyond our base view of existence. Things that would not be ordinarily perceived are now taken for granted. As more strides are made in the technological advance of these devices, the appearance of new technologies, and the resulting leaps in science, we see our thinking and understanding change. This takes place everyday. What was considered to be correct yesterday is likely to be obsolete today. All these things allow pursuit of the natural.

The Bible serves a similar purpose, except the area of exploration is spiritual and the truths it contains do not diminish or change over time. Just as we are unable to peer into the universe with unaided eye, we are unable to learn the things of God on our own. When the Holy Spirit opens our eyes and hearts to the message of the Bible, the kingdom of God is revealed. We go beyond all the marvelous things that were created to the Creator Himself. God has given us all we need.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Consummation of the Ages

Hebrews 9:24-26 NetBible
9:24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with hands – the representation of the true sanctuary – but into heaven itself, and he appears now in God’s presence for us. 9:25 And he did not enter to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the sanctuary year after year with blood that is not his own, 9:26 for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the consummation of the ages to put away sin by his sacrifice.

This passage highlights the fact that God’s revelation has been a process, and one cannot ignore the Old Testament in the understanding of the New Testament. The OT documents man’s journey with God. It prepares us as a people for the gospel, and gives us the perspective and meaning necessary to understand God’s plan.

That plan is coming to its end. Notice in the last sentence the word consummation is used. Jesus has accomplished the great sacrifice that, once and for all, overcomes our sin. The end is in sight. The promise has been given. The Rock of Ages has provided the consummation of the ages.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Good Citizens

1 Peter 2:13-17 (MSG)
13 Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level;
14 they are God's emissaries for keeping order.
15 It is God's will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you're a danger to society.
16 Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules.
17 Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.

Our life should reflect our submission to God. Being humble in our perception of self and treating others with love and respect are signs of the presence of God within. We are called to be good citizens by doing good works. Doing good works comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Who empowers our will to live and do as Christ.

This does not mean that we subject ourselves to darkness, for we are to be the light of the world. On the contrary, we are to seek justice and right in the world around us. We are to express the heart of God in love to a world often filled with hate. We are to seek justice for all in a world which seems to turn on the axis of selfishness. We are to be the hand of God to offer comfort for those in need. This is the way shown by Jesus. By these things we show ourselves to be good citizens of the kingdom.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Progressive God

Some might see a different God portrayed throughout the Bible, as though we see Him evolve from the Old Testament to a New Testament version. Some might say they can’t believe in a God that would be of one sort or another, that might be contrary to their sensibilities or expectations. Some might wonder how God could be so different from one Scripture to another. Does this conflict with the assertion that God is changeless, the great “I AM”?

Consider how your views and understanding have changed in the course of your short life. When you arrived in this world you could not speak at all. How you perceived the world evolved as you grew. You experience life differently than yesterday. It is hopeful to think that you will experience life differently tomorrow in a richer, more meaningful way than today. Our view of a given place, thing, or person might take on a quite a different aspect and experience because we are different.

Have you ever had an experience that changed everything? Have you ever had an “Aha!” moment? Have you ever gone back to a favorite book you enjoyed as a child? You might see that book differently through adult eyes rather than through the eyes of a child. Life is like that.

Viewing God as anything other than changeless speaks more to the progressive nature of man. It’s like sitting in a car traveling down the road and supposing the landscape is changing, not because the car is moving, but everything else is.

God reveals Himself as we are ready. Jesus came in the fullness of time, that God determined to be just the right time. The Old Testament prepares us for the New. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, the true revelation of God. The Holy Spirit speaks through the thoughts, experiences, and revelations contained in Scripture. That is the living word. That is where progress and life reside. God becomes more real as we get closer to Him.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Becoming One

Even as Adam was formed from the earth, so was Jesus formed from the clay of man. From man God created woman that she would help and become one with man. In a similar way God brought forth the Son of Man that He would become one with man and thus man be made complete.

Creation is accomplished and, at the same time, continues. The universe expands and creation unfolds. Praise and glory belong to the Creator Who makes all things possible. Amen.

In The Beginning

Genesis 1:1 (NIV)
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Without this understanding nothing else that follows in Scripture makes sense. This first verse of the Bible tells us that God is and that He was before creation. He created all things, the totality of which is indicated by naming the highest and lowest boundaries of our perceived existence.

This is not a scientific explanation of the particulars of creation but the truth and revelation of the Creator. Science attempts to understand what God has done in creation, but does not contemplate or seek the Creator Himself. Our relation to and with God unfolds in the pages that follow.

With this frame of reference one is able to seek and find God in the stories and writings that come to us from a diverse group of writers over a long span of time. The Holy Spirit was at work in the creation of these works and will bring the light of understanding to these verses. Without the light of the Holy Spirit they will only be words, foolishness to be discarded or ignored. Through the Holy Spirit we find meaning and our place in creation.

It is written that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Perhaps it could be said the destination of wisdom is love, which brings us back to the beginning.

In the beginning God…

Thursday, October 23, 2008

In His Image

Genesis 1:27 (NIV)
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

We seek God because we were created in His image. This is at root of our longing and our emptiness without Him. Denying Him and seeking to fill that longing with anything else does not long or truly satisfy. This is a confirmation that God exists and that we are made for Him.

Jesus is described as the exact image of God. The difference between our image and Christ’s exact image is the result of sin. Sin entered the world through disobedience. Jesus perfectly obeyed the Father, and because of that, He reflected the true image of God. He accomplished the obedience that we, man, did not.

Adam’s disobedience resulted in death, which is what God said would happen. Adam did not immediately die, but died later because he was not able to eat from the Tree of Life. His disobedience precluded that opportunity for eternal life. God sent His only Son to receive that judgment of death for all who accept this redemption and salvation. The Tree of Life had to overcome death to provide life. Through His obedience life is restored. We can now eat from the Tree of Life. What once was lost is found. Eternal life was restored through His love and mercy. As we grow in our walk with Jesus, we will become more and more like Him- renewed in His image.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Make Room For Joy

Make room for joy
Put it on your calendar
Include it on today’s agenda
This day and everyday

Joy is born in receiving

The moment
Each other

They are all here
In the midst of trouble
In the mundane
To be embraced by a quiet and open heart

Consider everyday to be your birthday
For each day is new and you are renewed
By His mercy and grace
By His love that ever flows
The gift more precious than any other

Make room for joy

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Doing Right

1Peter 2:11-12
2:11 Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul, 2:12 and maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears. NetBible

When we accept salvation from Christ we move from being foreigners to heaven to being foreigners in this world, from the realm of death to the realm of life, our status changes. We are given the gift of new life and spirit. Though we are given a new spirit, we remain in these fleshly bodies. It is here the transforming takes place by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our desires and temptations are met with the strength and guidance of that Spirit. We begin to change as we seek and walk with Christ. His ways become our ways as we enter into the mind and heart of Jesus, as He has entered ours.

We do right by doing right. Right is made known by His Word and the Holy Spirit. We can recognize this by the presence of love and peace. This is what non-Christians should see. This is how we glorify God.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Now You Are

1 Peter 2:9-10 (NIV)
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

The Greek word genos is translated as people in the NIV. What is implied is kinship. We are chosen in the sense we are special to Him, part of His family. We enter into this family by the Holy Spirit. We are begotten, not by our earthly parents, but by the grace and mercy of God. We become brothers and sisters in Christ and to Christ, born anew in the kingdom of God.

He enables us to become His children. Out of the darkness and into the light, He calls us from many peoples into a new family. We rise above our nations of origin to God’s holy nation. We are a new people in the Spirit. Our spirits are given wing to fly in the warmth of His light. We will land in the new creation that God has prepared.

Just as God created man from earth and breathed life into him, so has He taken us from the earth and breathed new life into us with His Holy Spirit. We are part of the new creation.

Once you were not, now you are.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Precious Stone

1 Peter 2:7-8 (NIV)
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,
8 and, "A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message--which is also what they were destined for.

1 Peter 2:7-8 (YLT)
7 to you, then, who are believing is the preciousness; and to the unbelieving, a stone that the builders disapproved of, this one did become for the head of a corner,
8 and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence--who are stumbling at the word, being unbelieving, --to which also they were set;

The one stone, Jesus, is laid before all. The Bible tells us that before time began on earth God made provision for His Son to come. This rock will come into our path in some form or fashion. This was predestined, foreordained. What we do with the message of the word of God, once encountered, determines our path from then on.

How we choose has not been predestined, but the result of that choice has been determined. We will either be lifted up, or stumble and fall. Rejection does not make the rock go away. We can choose to build our own life without the rock, but it remains. It will endure when all else fades away. So shall the one who believes.

May we all see and understand how precious this stone is. It is at the same time the cornerstone and the capstone, the first and last, the beginning and the end. All things have been given to Him. God gave to us the one thing most precious to Him: His Son.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The First Stone

1 Peter 2:4-6 (NIV)
4 As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him--
5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
6 For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

We are like Him. We are on the same path He walked. God accepts all who come to Him, in the same way He views His Son, chosen and precious. We are chosen because we chose Christ. We are precious because we become God’s own sons and daughters, a living household as temples of His Spirit. For now we reside in tents of flesh, but that is temporary. We will become like mansions in comparison to this existence when we receive our new eternal bodies. That is our destination. This is our destiny. This is the promise. He is faithful. It has been done.

God laid the first stone.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Growing Up

1 Peter 2:2-3 (NIV)
2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,
3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

We don’t know everything the moment we are saved, but we are given a taste of something different and wonderful which should create a craving for more. It is as natural as a baby seeking and being satisfied with mother’s milk. There is no thought process involved or decision to be made. The child comes into the world with this need and instinct. A child of the kingdom is no different. The craving is ever present and undeniable.

Being fed is the difference between life and death. Being fed correctly will avoid a stunted and incomplete life. Just as a child grows in the image of its parents, so are we to grow into the image of Christ who is the image of God. This is growing in our salvation.

Our spiritual milk is the Word of God, who is Jesus, the Son. That Word makes itself known in many ways. The Holy Spirit speaks to us in all our experiences if we listen. The Bible guides us in the revelation of His Word, of what He did and is doing to redeem the world. As we seek to understand and live in the Word, we will grow to be like Him, to the glory of God.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Light of Love

The essence of life in Christ is to be the light wherever we are. He is the light of the world and has given His light to us. He brought the light into this world that we might share in the life of God and that we would share it with others.

This is the teaching of the feeding of the multitude. Christ, the bread of life, is broken for all. All who partake will be truly satisfied.

That light is love

Monday, October 13, 2008

Reason for Faith

Romans 1:17 (NIV)
17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

John 20:29
29 Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Faith goes beyond reason. It frees us from the boundary and limits of creation. No longer bound by our finite conceptions, we open ourselves to the mind of God through the Holy Spirit.

God is beyond reason. Thus faith is the only way to God and is the reason for faith. Faith begins when reason is exhausted.

Faith informs reason. Reason attempts to make sense of faith, leaving the fruit of the effort in the conscience. Here they meet.

Reason and faith correspond to body and spirit. Taken together we are whole.

God said there is no other way.

There is no stronger reason to believe, to have and grow in faith.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Participation in the Life of God

2 Peter 1:3-4 (MSG) 3 Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! 4 We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.

To know Jesus is to know life. Getting to know someone involves spending time with that person, and opening up to that person. It is sharing life and that is what Jesus offers to do for us. We accept and grow in that life to the degree we give of ourselves. Sharing goes both ways.

Our best experience of knowing another person here on earth is but a shadow of what is offered by Jesus. It is another parable we can use to get our finite minds to consider the infinite. Being intimate with another person pales in comparison with intimacy with God. With Him we are truly and completely accepted. He knows everything about us and loves us without reserve, nothing is held back. In fact, He knows more about us than we know and looks forward to sharing that wonderful truth with us. He desires and does this with each of us. We all participate in His Spirit, but our experience is beyond our understanding of intimate. This is reason for joy and peace. This is participation in the life of God.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Passing Through

1 Peter 1:17-18
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

Reverent fear comes from believing that God is truly God and deserves all that we can give to Him, which is our heart, our selves, our all. It is then acting on that belief.

We will stand before Him one day and there will be nothing He will not know or has not seen or heard. If we depended on our own goodness and efforts, you and I would not fare very well, but all is not lost. There is the promise that if we believe and follow Jesus we will be warmly welcomed into our Father’s house. He will stand by our side and we will be able to stand because of Him. The Lord is faithful. He calls us to have faith.

Jesus knew where He was from and where He was going. He knew who He was and is. Though He created all things, He was a stranger here on earth. We are to live in the same way, recognizing that we are not home right now, but we will be soon. We have been changed from death to true life. We are just passing through, just visitors here. That helps keep things in perspective.

Live in the presence of the Lord
With our destination kept ever before you

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Being Holy

1 Peter 1:15-16 (NIV)
15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;
16 for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

Is it possible to be holy? Not on our own. God gives us the Holy Spirit in order that we grow in that direction. Can we be holy like Him? Not on our own. Then what does this mean? How can I not be discouraged by this requirement?

We are called His children, and rightly so because we have been reborn into new life. In relation to God and Jesus, we are infants newly arrived into the body of Christ, into the family of God. For that reason we are holy, plucked out of the world, adopted and set aside by the redeeming work of God. With our decision to put our faith in Him, we are to forgo our worldly, sinful nature and take on the nature of our heavenly Father. He is Holy. We are to strive to be like Him.

The Holy Spirit within guides us in that direction and helps us with that walk. God continues His work making salvation possible. Will I be fully perfect and holy like God here on earth? Not while I reside in this corruptible body. Does that mean I’m off the hook, that I can take it easy and not try? By no means! We are drawn to God. Our spirit is entwined with His. We want to be with Him, to be like Him. It is not a question of complying with a set of rules, but a desire of the heart. It is the desire for abundant life and the peace of God. It is to be of Him and not of this world. He loves us and claims us for His own. We are holy only because He is with us. That is being holy: being with Him.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Leaving Ignorance Behind

1 Peter 1:13-14 (NIV)
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.

Self-control is not easy or a given, at least for me, but that is part of following Jesus. Overcoming self is part of overcoming the world. We are not asked to do this by our own power. We have been given the strength of God’s own Spirit to enable us to do what we could not do alone. In this process we do not lose who we are, but evolve to a higher, truer self.

This is an active, ongoing process. That is the call for action. Our walk with Jesus implies movement: movement powered by obedience to His teachings. His teachings are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Grace is given now and will continue as Christ is revealed, in the present and when He comes back. Both grace and revelation are continuous and exist in each moment. They work together. Grace allows for revelation and revelation confirms grace. We grow and prepare to meet Jesus when He returns, this time fully revealed. We will be revealed with Him. In seeking Him, we leave ignorance behind.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Even the Angels

1 Peter 1:10-12 (NIV)
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care,
11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.
12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

Christ has always been at work. He was, is, and is to come. Through Him all things were accomplished. To Him all things are given. We are part of the glories that follow.

Here Peter speaks of the Spirit of Christ touching and guiding the prophets before He entered into the very world He had created. A distinction is drawn between the Spirit of Christ and the Holy Spirit. This is part of the mystery of the Father Who is One, the One Who calls Himself “I AM”.

We too will be distinct even as we are one in the Lord. Infused with the Holy Spirit we do not fade away from the bright light of His presence, but that light brings forth our true self.

We are honored by this gift and experience. Even the angels would like to be a part of this plan. There must be a reason. How glorious it must be.

Friday, October 3, 2008

So Inclined

We tend to merge with our surroundings, like the lizard who changes color to blend with its environment.

Where we spend our time

Whether in body or mind

So will we be inclined

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Child of God

1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV)
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

It does not make sense. Any rational person would tell you so. How can you love and believe in someone whom you’ve never seen? You’re making this up because you need something to help you get by. You’re dreaming. This is childish. You are foolish to believe in such notions.

Yet, you know this faith is true. There is a confirmation within that goes beyond words, a knowing which is just as real as anything we can see or touch. It is the knowing that brings joy and peace. This is the peace beyond understanding, beyond words. This is our joy in the Lord that comes from accepting His salvation.

This is childish, but not in the way others might think, but in the way that leads to life; we are children of God. We have overcome the ways of the world which now seem childish and foolish to eyes that have been opened. At least the One inside us has overcome the world. There may be a few things we’re still working on with His help.

I hope that I do act like a child of God.

May my actions and joy reveal that I am indeed a child of God.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

For a Little While

1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV)
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Perhaps our time on earth is just that, a chance for us to learn faith and to grow in faith. It is the not knowing that forces us to embrace faith. It is in the struggles that faith grows. When we understand our weakness we can then turn to the strength of God.

One might argue that this is unnecessary, even cruel. Surely there is another way that would be just as good, yet kinder? I don’t pretend to know the mind of God, but I do know that His ways are not mine. I do know that He is a just and loving God. I do know that He loves each one of us in a way we are unable to comprehend. A time will come when we will see the end, and the glory of God will be revealed. We will see the purpose and all will be understood.

In the meantime, we are given opportunity to find and live in faith. The angels in heaven may watch with envy as we turn to God in the midst of our trials. That faith is precious in God’s sight. Our faith will bring praise, glory and honor to us from God Himself. We will give Him the glory and praise for all things. Our time here is but for a little while.