Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

Increase and Decrease

August 20, 2018 2 comments

Somewhere along the way I quit trying to build an audience.

Oh, I used to try all the tricks.  I commented on other’s blogs.  I tried to guest-post on certain blogs.  I would wake up at 4:30 so that I could write blogposts, read and post.  I really wanted my blog to blow up.

Then I gave out.  I was worn out.  It exhausted me.

I wonder if that’s what happened to John the Baptist.

He was called by God to tell Israel to repent because the kingdom of God was at hand.

John drew a big crowd.  People repented.  He baptized a lot of people.

Then he was done.

Jesus came along.  People began following him.  He made some comments about a political figure’s lifestyle and he was imprisoned.

His attitude throughout that?

I must decrease.  He must increase.

His time was over.  Sure, he wondered a bit in prison, but he pretty much knew that he had done his job.

I wonder if that’s why Christians get tired, worn out and burned out.

We try to do a whole lot of stuff that really should be up to Jesus.

We try to win people with our own skills and rhetoric instead of the word and Holy Spirit.

We try to work at everything.  We try to become the big fish in a little pond.  We can go on and on.

We try to increase ourselves, our ministries, our work, our blogs.

What if we really tried to find our lane and our niche.  What if God wants you to help park cars at church?  What if God never wants you to be an upper level manager?

What if?

What if he increased and we decreased?

Origin Stories

July 25, 2018 2 comments

I love a good origin story.

A young man is attending the show with his parents. A lowlife approaches them demanding their money. When they resist, the parents are shot leaving the boy all alone, save a kindhearted butler. Driven by those events to the point of demanding justice and revenge, young Bruce becomes someone, something else as he grows into adulthood.

During a field trip, a high school student is bitten by a spider. Selfishness costs him the opportunity to stop the man who would later kill his uncle. Driven by guilt and grief, Peter realizes that with great power comes great responsibility.

There are countless others. People all around us with origins of their own. It’s even in the Bible.

A fisherman is told by a carpenter to follow him. He does so for three years. He has a bad moment and denies the carpenter three times. Later, Peter is restored and becomes one of the central leaders of those that follow the Way.

A man holds a crowd’s coats while they stone one they consider a blasphemer. He’s on the fast track to greatness and power. He takes a trip to Damascus to round up a group of these traitors of the faith until he is knocked off his horse by a great Light that speaks to him. Saul’s later Paul’s, course of life changes direction quickly.

There are others that could be mentioned. A father of a nation. A man who sees a burning bush. A shepherd who would later become king.

They all had origin stories.

So do you. This is how it was. I met Jesus. Now it’s like this.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. The new has come.

What’s your origin story?

I’m A Failure And So Are You

November 12, 2015 3 comments

Jan and I were talking a couple of days ago.  Jan is my wife, just in case you don’t know.

We were talking about our kids.  They are getting older and our time is growing shorter with them.  In about a year and a half our daughter will be getting married.  Our son will graduate high school soon.  Life is changing and in flux.

All in all we have done a pretty good job.  We are blessed to have two great kids.  They haven’t caused or gotten into any trouble.  However, we realized there is one area we have done poorly in.

We have kept them in church, but we haven’t been good at keeping them in the word of God.  We haven’t spent enough time in the word with them.  If we could go back in time, we would change this.

We failed in this area.

Guess what?  You have failed somewhere too.

You may not be a parent, but you have failed somewhere.  You have a flaw.  You aren’t perfect.  Everything has not smooth sailing.  You have let someone down.

I feel your pain.  I know how you feel.  It doesn’t give you warm fuzzies.

There’s some good news that I want to let you in on.

It’s ok.  You don’t have to be perfect.  You don’t have to win at everything.  It’s not humanly possible.

Jesus has already won the victory.  He has defeated death and sin and all that comes with it, all of the big stuff in life that matters most.

And guess what else?  He’s got so much grace that He will cover you in so many of those failures.  You weren’t perfect in everything as a parent?  He’s the heavenly Father, a better parent than you could ever be any way.  Wherever you have failed, He’s better at that than you too.  He’s ready for you to lean in on Him.

I’m a failure.  So are you.  It’s ok.  Give yourself a break.  Pick yourself up.  Do better.  Trust the Lord.  Move forward.

Where have you failed?  What are you doing to overcome it?

Categories: Christianity, Faith Tags: , , ,

Working On A Building

Last week we saw that once we were dead, but now Christ has made us alive.  Today, we see another result of the salvation that Christ gives us.

Since God  has saved us through Christ, made us alive and prepared us for good works, He now wants to unify us in Him.  Once we  were not separated from Christ.  It doesn’t matter if we were Gentile or Jew, we all faced that same separation.  We were excluded from Israel and strangers to the covenants of Israel.  We had no hope and were without God in the world.  But Christ intervened.

He had brought us close through His blood.  He became our peace, by uniting both God’s chosen, Israel, and Gentile.  Instead of there being Jew and Gentile, He has created a new group, the Church.  He broke down the barrier.  He abolished the enmity that the Law brings.  He reconciled us and created one new man through the cross.

Now we are no longer strangers and aliens.  Instead we are now fellow citizens, we are part of God’s household.  We have been built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets.  Christ is our cornerstone.  The whole building is being grown into the temple of the Lord.  We also are being built into a temple of God in the Spirit.

God is a master craftsman.  He is working on a building, one in which all his children can live in.

Categories: Christianity, Faith Tags: , ,

The Pledge

i was lucky when I asked Jan to marry me.

I was poor and couldn’t afford an engagement ring.  Jan didn’t really mind and married me anyway, with no pledge toward our engagement.

That isn’t standard operating procedure.

Almost every girl now receives a ring before getting married. 

The ring is a pledge. It is a down payment on the coming marriage. It is earnest money, telling her that the guy is serious about marrying her.

God does the same thing for us.

Once we are saved, we become the Bride of Christ. One day He will come back to get us and finalize the marriage.

He gives us a pledge toward the marriage. He puts a down payment on it. He gives us some earnest money.

He gives us the Holy Spirit.

You can read about that in Ephesians 1.

The Holy Spirit is a pledge toward our inheritance, which is our eternal life with Christ.

The Holy Spirit is our engagement ring. He is another example of God’s grace in our lives.

To The Praise Of His Glory

So far in chapter one of Ephesians, Paul has discussed the past and the present.

He wrote how in the past, God chose us before the foundation of the world.  Then, he discusses how now, in the present, we have redemption through Christ’s blood.

Now, Paul moves into the future.

In verse 11, Paul begins discussing our inheritance.  “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance”.  We might think that what God has done in the past and what we currently have in Him is enough.  That would be because we don’t think like God.  He has more in store for us and chooses to let us in on it.  What benefit does that have for us?  As we move closer to that inheritance, the anticipation grows.

When did we obtain this inheritance?  Paul can’t stray far from his original choice of words. Previously he had said that we were “predestined to adoption as sons.”  Now we “having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”  We who are in Christ have been predestined according to His purpose.  All things that come into our life are worked out according to His will .

What is the goal of being predestined according to His purpose?  First of all, it is our salvation. “To the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.”  Salvation is the goal of God’s predestination of us to adoption  and His purpose.  But there is a goal even greater than that.  Ultimately, it is to the praise of His glory.  What we have to change our mindset to is that everything is about God’s glory.

What is wonderful is that God locks us into this inheritance. “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”  After hearing the gospel, putting our faith in it and believing, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said that He would send another Helper to us, and he does that, locking us into the gift of salvation given to us.

But wait, there’s more.

The Holy Spirit does more than just seal our salvation.  “Who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”  He is also a down payment on our of our inheritance.  You might even call him and engagement ring for the Bride of Christ.  He is a promise to what life with Christ will be live.  He is a view to the redemption of God’s own possession.  What is our response to this?

Praise and the glory of God.

God gives us an inheritance and then does much more.  He seals this inheritance by giving us an irrevocable pledge in the Holy Spirit.  He does this for His own sake, to the praise of His glory.  What a God we have.

Grace, Redemption And A Mystery

When thinking of Ephesians many probably think of grace.  One of the letters most famous verses is about grace when Paul writes “For by grace you have been saved.”

However, Paul doesn’t wait until that deep in his epistle to discuss grace.  He talks about it early in this writing.

In verse 6 of chapter 1, Paul says about grace, “Which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”  The Father freely extends grace to us.  This reminds us of Romans 3:23 where Paul says that “the gift of God is eternal life.”  Grace and eternal life have locked arms and are given freely to us.  No expectation of anything in return.  In fact, we cannot give back to God as He has given to us.

How is this grace given to us?  God has given it to us “in the Beloved.”  Who is your beloved?  Your spouse?  Your children?  For the Father it is His Son.  He bestows His grace on us through His Son, through the work He did on the cross.

Now look at what else we get in the bargain.  Not only do we have grace, but “In Him we have redemption through His blood.”  We often forget that we were slaves to sin before coming to Christ.  How did we get out of this slavery?  Christ purchased our freedom in Him with His blood.  His death brought us out of a hopeless slavery.  Now we have redemption and grace.

What else is connected to this redemption?  “The forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which he lavished on us.”  Not only has God bestowed grace and redeemed us, but He has forgiven our sins.  We are covered by that blood  that He redeemed us with.  God scans us for our sins and instead sees Christ’s blood.  This is done according to the riches of His grace.  His grace is piled up in an infinite bank that never runs out.  When He bestows that grace on it, He lavishes it on us.

Isn’t that cool?  He lavishes grace upon us when He  bestows it on us.  He forgives our sins when He redeems us through His Son.  Paul isn’t finished, though.  “In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him.”

God makes known a mystery to us.  Who doesn’t like a good mystery?  Things that were hidden to Israel before us, are made known to us.  What is it?  It is Christ.  God has given us wisdom and insight that was not previously known in Christ before He came.

What exactly does that mystery in Christ look like?  “With a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on earth.”  All things are summed up in Christ.  What is the answer to the questions we have?  Christ.

God bestows His grace upon us.  He forgives us through our redemption in Christ.  He makes known the mystery of His will to us, which is all things summing up in Christ.  It is truly amazing what our God does for us.