Monday, January 30, 2012

Intimacy With God

From a rough draft of a an upcoming study/reflection on 1Thessalonians...

Echoes of the Word
1Thessalonians 4:3-8
In verse 3 we see Paul answer the question of pleasing God by simply saying “that you become holy,”.  God says elsewhere “be holy as I am holy”.
Paul uses the Greek word (πορνειας) translated in verse 3 as ‘sexual immorality’ to refer to intimacy with the world that characterizes the Godless.  This metaphor helps us understand God’s anguish and anger at idol worship, when we give ourselves to anyone or anything other than him.  Repeatedly, the idea of our relationship with God is defined in terms of relationship between man and woman.  God uses our most intimate experience in creation to help us in our understanding of our relationship with him.  We enter into fellowship with him and the two become one.
The imagery is embedded in the first book of the Bible in the story of Adam and Eve, the promised seed, and Israel portrayed as the wife of God to the Bride of Christ wedded to the Son in Revelation.  The joining of man and woman foreshadows and informs us of our union with God.  
Just as the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary to conceive Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in the heart of each believer, conceiving a new creation that will be fully realized when we receive our immortal bodies.  
Within us a life is born, the light is given.  It is from this intimate exchange that we learn and live in God.  His law is written on our hearts as we partake in the bread of life, leaving behind the indigestible commands etched in stone. 
Paul reminds the Thessalonians of God’s intent and expectation that come with this new life.  There is an initial decision of choosing God, but there is an ongoing choosing of God in view before them and us , of walking in the light of his word in this new life.  This is the exhortation and reminder of who we have become, and the resulting change in behavior becoming of that change. As we persevere in our faith, we grow.  As we endure, we pursue to the end in the race before us.  The goal line is to be like Christ.
This is part of putting on Christ and working out our salvation.
Being holy is not dependent on what we have done or are doing.  It is what Christ has done and what he is doing.  What he has begun he will finish.  It may be true you are not perfect.  You are not who you are going to be, but neither are you what you used to be.  God sees the end from the beginning, life that we can’t begin to comprehend but is ours.
The work of the Holy Spirit will be revealed in the heart.  All hearts are open before the Lord, and he alone is able and worthy to judge.  The Holy Spirit confirms the salvation of Jesus Christ and sets us apart, consecrated and holy, before God and of God.  In the previous chapter we are told that love strengthens holiness, and the source of that love is God.
God told Abraham to walk in the land he was giving to him.    God has done something similar for us.  He has given us the word that we may walk in the kingdom of God.  As we walk in that way, the landscape begins to change as our spirits grow in his presence.  It transforms as our awareness increases with the revealing light rising within.  
Part of the struggle with knowing is awareness.  We must first be aware of a thing before we can begin to grasp or understand that thing.  Seeing from God’s perspective, we now can judge rightly for he alone is truth.  We have to see something as sin before we are ready to see the need for change.  
This is the challenge for the Thessalonians.  It is the challenge for us.  How do we understand, articulate, and respond which is hearing the word?  It is this hearing that brings life, of being holy and sanctified before God, a hearing that includes doing.
We are given the unique privilege of a moment in creation.  It is in this place we are given the opportunity to become sons and daughters of God and for us to know him as Father.  The unknowable is communicated through the known.  The parable of life informs of God and through it we are able to glimpse the hope and splendor which awaits.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What We Ask

2 Chronicles 1:10-12 ESV
10 Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?” 11 God answered Solomon, “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hate you, and have not even asked long life, but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 wisdom and knowledge are granted to you. I will also give you riches, possessions, and honor, such as none of the kings had who were before you, and none after you shall have the like.”

Both what is asked for and not asked for reflect the heart.
May we grow in wisdom and love this day that is the gift of God

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What Is Written

1 Corinthians 4:6-7 ESV
6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

Not going beyond what is written may sound easy enough until one disagrees on what is written, or another dismisses what is written. It might be said when two disagree, one or both do not understand what God is saying. God speaks through His word and the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. God is one and His word reflects that unity.
In heaven, the multitude before God is not divided into groups. They stand before Him as one, giving praise to God. They are there because they have been joined together by the one Holy Spirit. This is received as a gift from God, from His one Son.
Who is it that is puffed up? How is it that we might see another in Christ as different when it is the same Christ that inhabits both?
We must distinguish the Holy Spirit from hot air. One lifts us to heaven, and the other only lifts us in balloons of fancy. Though they are pretty in the sky, they are not where we want to be.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Had Ceased To Be

Genesis 18:11 ESV
11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah.

With God all things are possible.  With Him in the picture, we are no longer bound in the frame of human understanding.  We tend to see the hand of God in those situations that stand out as unusual.  I think Sarah having a child at 90 qualifies as unusual.  He makes things happen when there seems to be no way.
It's easy to take for granted our assumptions and limitations.  God can make all things new.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Is it possible to see the light with all it's splendor without first knowing darkness, just as darkness is revealed by light?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

For His Friends

Job 42:10 ESV
10 And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

The prayers of a righteous man have power and good effect. Prayer for another is a sign of the forgiveness and the love of God. We are doubly blessed.

Friday, January 13, 2012

For God Took Him

Genesis 5:24 ESV
24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.
Walking with the Lord gives way to union with Him. The boundary dissolves between flesh and spirit. It is putting on Christ. We walk with Him until we are not, when God takes us.
A heart given in the receiving, sealed with the merging of heaven and earth.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Why It Is Given

Job 3:23-26 NIV
23 Why is life given to a man

whose way is hidden,

whom God has hedged in?

24 For sighing has become my daily food;

my groans pour out like water.

25 What I feared has come upon me;

what I dreaded has happened to me.

26 I have no peace, no quietness;

I have no rest, but only turmoil.”

Job struggles as we all do at times. Why me? Upright and blameless before God. Creation unfolds according to the will of God. We usually only ask this question when "bad" things happen, but no less applies when "good" things happen.
We experience life that we might find life. We can learn from our own journeys and those of others, that we might find Him.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Man Became

Genesis 2:7 NIV
7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

After creation, the story in Genesis expounds on the difference between man as a created creature and man the living being.  From the most unlikely portion of the earth, the dust that was subject to the slightest wind, God formed a man.  Taking what was already created, He moulded or fashioned a man to receive the breath of life.  The life of God then pass to the man, "and the man became a living being."

This is what we become again when we are reborn into the kingdom of God, when we receive the breath of life which is the Holy Spirit.