Monthly Archives: October 2017
The Gift has been Given – Accept it!
Scripture: Romans 5:15-19
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
God saves. Why? Because he loves us – pure and simple. We can do nothing to be saved or earn salvation. It was accomplished on the Cross by Christ. The gift was given. It is finished. Christ in obedience to God went to the cross, paying the ultimate sacrifice for our sins and conquering death (death is the result of sin). His resurrection is proof that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice as sufficient.
So how are we part of this story? The gift of salvation has already been given. We have the gift before us. Our job is to open it and accept it. The result of accepting the gift produces the following effects: an ever deepening faith, an ever deepening yearning to be obedient, an ever quickening desire for repentance and a peace that shuts out all fear.
If you have not already accepted the gift, take that step in faith and accept God’s gift of salvation. If you have already accepted the gift, rejoice in the on going daily process of refining which takes place to prepare us for eternal living.
Once we have accepted the gift of salvation, we are reconciled to God forever. There is nothing to fear for God has us in the palm of His hand. Let us go forth today and this week seeking a deeper faith, free of fear, obedient to the movement of the Holy Spirit and rejoicing in God’s peace.
R. H. Loy
Return to our First Love – Jesus
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen; Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Revelations 2:1-5 (Emphasis added)
As a Follow of Jesus guided by the Holy Spirit, I realize that I am a member of the Church Universal. I am also a member of a small country church that is affiliated with a mainstream protestant denomination. However, having attended a regional conference of this denomination, I experienced what I fear is pervasive across the globe in church organizations: namely people claiming to be Christians but not acting as if they are followers of Jesus Christ.
What is happening? Apparently nothing new for the Universal Church. From the beginning of the Church’s formation after Christ died, there have been divisions due to theological differences and political maneuverings. The Church Universal is fragmented, theologically divided and politically splintered.
There are thousands of different types of Christian Churches. There are churches that claim they are the only “true” Christian church; churches that claim that their “way” of baptizing or “performing “ communion is the only way it can be done. Churches who ostracize those who have a different view of a theological point or a “behavior” that is not permitted by their theology.
There are news reports everyday that lump certain churches together to claim that the “religious right” voted this way or that way on political issues. We are bombarded by news ad nauseam about conflicts and disagreements between churches and between groups within the same church.
Individuals judge other individuals based on church affiliation. Christians judge other Christians based on their “Christian” church affiliation. Christian churches judge other Christian Churches based on their differences rather than their similarities. Let me just say – there is a lot of judging going on.
I wonder what Jesus thinks about the current state of His Church? He is probably smiling about the differences in worship music and all the different ways we can worship God in meaningful ways. However, I sense that He weeps over the controversies, atrocities and politics of His Church – over how far we have strayed from our first love – Him.
So what do we do as followers of Jesus? How do we return to our first love? Here is my list in no particular order. I am sure you can add to it!
- Love Jesus right now – in this moment – praising him continually – seeking him for wisdom and encouragement – in other words being in constant communion with him. (Mark 12:30)
- Love our neighbor as ourselves – these are the people that are placed in our lives on a daily basis. Treating them with respect and dignity – assisting them in their hour of need; loving them in small ways – a kind word – a container of soup – a listening ear. (Mark 12:31)
- Love our neighbors across the globe as ourselves – give as we are moved by the Holy Spirit. (Luke 10:33-36)
- Recognize that God is in control and we are not. Cooperate with God – humble yourself – seek His counsel. (Job 37:14-; Psalm 46:10; Matt 18:1-9)
- Agree to disagree with others about theology and even when we “know” they are wrong, love them anyway. (1 Peter 4:8)
- Stop being so sensitive about what others say and do as if we are the center of the universe. Practice giving people the benefit of the doubt. Let perceived hurts roll off and let grace abound. If another Christian sins against you, don’t gossip and create a cloud of drama, go to them yourself and try to work it out. (Matt 18:15-18).
- Remember, we can’t expect “Christian” behavior from those who don’t know who Christ is. Be prayerful and grace-filled in responding to non-Christians in hopes of pointing them in the direction of Christ. God works in mysterious ways and our job is to cooperate with the leading of the Holy Spirit. We never know what small act will draw people to God.
- Start cooperating with the Holy Spirit and practice religion that God accepts – “to look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself from being polluted “– (James 1:27)
- Remember church “traditions” are just that – traditions or teachings created by man and carried on through generations – they should not be used to divide us as Christians. Look to Scripture for guidance. (Matt 15:1-20)
- Recognize that “church” is not a building or a program but people gathered in the name of Jesus Christ to worship God and to love each other. “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matt 18:20)
- Remember we are stewards of the Blessings we have received from God – we need to seek the Holy Spirit’s direction in order to use those resources in God’s way – not our own. This is true of individuals and churches. Why do we hoard our blessings? Why do we fail to seek direction? Why can’t we trust that the God who gave us the Blessings can certainly guide us in using them? (Acts 4:32-5:11)
- Remember Jesus’ parting words to his disciples “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28)
My prayer for us this week is that we refocus our eyes on Jesus, rebuild our relationship with Him and remember that He is our first love.
R. H. Loy
Scripture: Philippians 3:12-16
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.
Paul, formerly Saul, wrote the letter to the Philippians after he learned that some among them required that followers of Christ be circumcised in order to be saved. Paul explains to the Philippians that if anyone was made Holy through adherence to the law, it was he. He was a Pharisee with all the proper credentials and a life lived zealously for the Law as set forth in the Old Testament.
When Paul was confronted by the resurrected Jesus on the Road to Damascus, he had just condoned the stoning of Steven and was on his way to purge other Christians from the land. However, after this supernatural experience, Paul’s life was changed forever based solely on the grace of God and Paul’s faith in Jesus. See Acts 9.
And so he writes to these people warning them to forget the past – forget the old way – forget the requirements that determined status – forget the requirements that implied being saved based on human effort – forget what was in the past and press forward to grasp the prize of eternal life with Christ . . .
That is where we should be in this moment. Focused on what is before us (eternity with Christ) not on who we once were. The New Way is by God’s grace alone – no other requirements except faith in Jesus. Let the human requirements of religion fall away and focus on faith. Seek Jesus in faith.
My prayer for us this week is that we set the past behind us and recognize that we are not saved by human hands based on human traditions or requirements but by the grace of God alone through belief in His Son, Jesus Christ.
God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only son.
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.
There is much misunderstanding about the “why” of original sin – about where the “sin” in each of us occurred at the beginning. Full knowledge of this is waiting for us in Heaven but we have been given the truth here and now to understand the choice we have in this day.
Oswald Chambers interpreting Romans 5:12 and Hebrews 9:26 describes it this way: “Sin entered the human race through one man who chose the right to himself over God’s sovereign right. This knowledge of the right to himself and therefore, his right to be his own God, resulted in expulsion of man from God’s presence and unleashed sin and death into the world.“
The nature of sin is not immorality and wrongdoing, but the nature of self-realization which leads us to say, “I am my own god.” (My Utmost for His Highest, October 5)
But God loved His creation so much that he sent a Savior – not just anyone – but His one and only Son, Jesus Christ– to take the heredity of sin upon himself taking the sin into death where it was destroyed once and for all. God raised Jesus from the dead and therefore overcame death so that a pathway was created from earth to heaven. Anyone who believes in Jesus accepts this redemption and has eternal life.
“Sin is something we are born with because of the actions of one man. However, God does not hold us responsible for the heredity of sin and does not condemn anyone for it. Condemnation comes when we realize Jesus Christ can deliver us from this heredity of sin, and yet we refuse to let him do so.” (My Utmost for His Highest, October 5)
My prayer for us this week is that we stop trying to earn our way into heaven and recognize and accept in this moment that we have been redeemed by Jesus. Let us remember that whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.
If you have played the fool and exalted yourself or if you have planned evil, clap your hand over your mouth! For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife. Proverbs 30:32-33
In our daily walk, most of us come into contact with other human beings whether in person, or electronically. When we interact with people, there is the potential for stirring up anger. Whether we admit it or not, sometimes we intentionally “stir” the pot to put ourselves in a better light or to get a reaction from someone. We may not tell the entire story or we let someone think something that we know is not 100% true.
Sometimes, we don’t tell the entire story because we “fear” the other person’s reaction. Sometimes, we tell people what they want to hear because we think it will “prevent” controversy or its “easier”. Sometimes, we convince ourselves that our twisted truth will result in our orchestrated “good” outcome to a situation. Sometimes, we tell “white” lies to try to “protect” someone. Whatever our excuse, lying is our misguided attempt to control a situation that is not ours to control.
Why is this? Don’t we know that “lying” is one of the “do not’s” of the 10 Commandments? Don’t we know that God sees what is in our hearts or do we forget that we are seen and known by God in every moment? Don’t we know that our God is the weaver of life not us?
So when God says, “Don’t lie”, it is because lying causes tangles in the web. Sir Walter Scott says it this way, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive! “
So in this moment, day, and week, choose truth – no matter the consequences, for you see, God is truth and His Web is perfectly designed. Do not fear the truth or try to control situations with half-truths. Resist the temptation to twist the truth for good. Remember, God is in control and truth weaves the perfect web.
R. H. Loy