Friday, December 31, 2010

Blameless or Sanctified?

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Blamelessness, I believe, is when our heart is pure, our motives are pure. There may be blind spots in our lives that God doesn't hold us responsible for, and He holds us blameless as we are "living up to the light that we have".

Sanctification on the other hand, is God's work to bring us into greater light. Even though we may be blameless, our sins of ignorance can have hurtful effects on ourselves and others.

God's desire is to bring greater understanding, and as we respond through repentance and faith, then we become more sanctified.

"He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it." This is the rub. God is ever concerned with our sanctification, and is willing to allow any and all circumstances to come our way to expose those areas that are still hidden and hurtful.

Do we sometimes go around the same mountain for forty years? Is it because God is relentlessly pursuing our sanctification, and we may be resisting?

While His sanctifying work is not usually enjoyable, His desire is to bring us to a place of greater fullness and life. Thus He is committed to our sanctification.

For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance. Psalm 66:10-12

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Friday, December 24, 2010

An Integral Part of Saving People

Somehow in the great scheme of salvation, it became necessary for the Infinite to become finite, subjected to and raised by those who knew less than Him. The Almighty God became vulnerable, weak, dependent, and helpless, as an integral part of his plan to save people from their sin. He came from heaven, and became a child.

Then during His ministry, Jesus made an astounding statement to those who would be saved:

"Truly I say to you, unless you change and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven."

Jesus became a little child. We can only become LIKE a little child. And we must. We must become vulnerable, weak, dependent, and helpless. We must be teachable toward people who know less than us. We must become vulnerable to those who could hurt us. Without doing this, Jesus says, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Servant of All

Reflecting upon the principle Jesus shared about people who want to be great in God's kingdom, I realized something a little ... uncomfortable. I realize there are some people I don't mind serving. There are others whom I would prefer not to serve. Jesus clearly saw that sometimes we wouldn't mind serving 'important' people. In fact we might readily volunteer to help them. With others, it may be more of a struggle. But Jesus was clear, we must become servants of all. This (and nothing else, I suppose) is greatness in God's kingdom.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Expressing Thanks to God

I am often thankful to God for His blessings. It is important, however, to express my thankfulness verbally, not just in my head as a prayer to God.

There is something powerful that happens when we say what we think. There is a real transferrance to the heart.

Paul talked about this regarding salvation, "with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved" (Romans 10:10). Salvation isn't just through believing, but stating, confessing what we believe.

When I teach strumming and rhythm to my guitar students, it is imperative they count out loud so their hands can 'hear' the count. At times when they don't count, often the timing and rhythm veers off.

It is vital to express verbally our thanksgiving to God. It actually makes us more thankful, believe it or not.

Hebrews 13:15 says, "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Where is Jesus in the Trials?

All of us are faced with trials, difficulties and crises. The past two months were very trying for me personally. James 1 says to "Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials", but I don't know that I've ever been able to do that.

The Nature of Man vs. The Nature of Jesus
My nature is to resist and run from trials, trouble, conflict, hardship, difficulty. I kick and fight, cry and whine. I want Jesus to take me out of trouble, and solve the difficulty. I want Jesus, but I don't want the trials.

Jesus' nature is totally different. He began his journey to the earth by emptying himself, becoming less -- a man. He became a lesser man, a servant; and then he died a shameful, torturous, criminal's death (Phil. 2:6-8). His direction was toward difficulty, hardship and trial; toward rejection, hatred, and pain. And he didn't turn back.

Paul says that I am to have the attitude that Jesus had (Phil. 2:5), that I am to lay aside the old nature, and take up Christ's nature (Rom. 6, Col. 3).

Consider it All Joy
Albert Barnes says that we aren't supposed to consider our trials "as a punishment, a curse or a calamity", we are to consider it joy. What impacted me in his statement is that it is easy to question if our adversity is coming from God being displeased with us, or maybe it is coming from sin in our lives, or even from the devil himself. But James' exhortation to us is to first consider it joy, not defaulting to the position that maybe we sinned and brought trials on ourselves.

Hebrews 12 talks about God disciplining those he loves. This word doesn't specifically imply punishment, but rather training. Trouble is a natural part of living. And God is resourceful enough to use all of life for my discipline, for my training, for my good.

Where is Jesus in the Trials?
I've recently learned to move the question mark in the above statement: Where is Jesus? In the trials.

I want Jesus. But I've found when I try to distance myself from my trials, I am moving in the direction opposite Jesus. If I want Jesus, I need to put on His nature and not bail in the struggle.

A Great Picture
Three men's response to the greatest trial of their lives was, "God is able to deliver us, but even if he doesn't..." And Jesus went ahead of them into the fiery furnace and met with them there.

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