Today, God spared my father's life. He had a triple bypass open-heart surgery. Considering my father's failing health, his success in surgery is quite the feat. But he was covered in prayer by those at my church, on my Facebook page, in my family, and my brethren on Christian forums. He needed a quadruple bypass, but his fourth artery was too calcified to graft, and the surgeon did not bypass it. The lesser of the two evils is that he may still have a heart attack, but not a massive one that takes his life.
Our family breathed a big sigh of relief today that he pulled through with "no complications". He's got a long road ahead of him recovery-wise, and he'll be staying with us once he's out of the rehab center, but tonight, I'm in such a good mood, I wanted to praise the Lord.
Let's praise Him together for His goodness, shall we? God is good. All the time.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
How often have we felt unworthy of Yeshua? That old sin rears its ugly head. We say something vile. We hurt those we love. We aren't "model" Christians (whatever that means). We aren't living holy lives. Sometimes we're ashamed to come before His Throne. So we avoid praying. We avoid spending time with Him.
We say things to ourselves, such as, "I'm not worthy. I'm not deserving." Surely there are others in the Body of Christ who are "better" than we. But brethren, this is simply NOT true. This is a LIE from the enemy.
Do you believe, as a blood-bought Christian, that you belong to Christ? Do you believe His blood has washed you of your sins? Any Christian would say, "Yes! Absolutely!" However, we say things to ourselves that convince us we don't believe it. We know the Gospel of Grace has nothing to do with works (Ephesians 2:8). Therefore, it is not our works that make us holy. According to 2 Corinthians 5:21, we have been given CHRIST'S righteousness.
And He took all our sins to His grave.
A life for a life. It was not Christ's life that was crucified on that day so long ago... it was YOUR LIFE. Galatians 2:20 says we have been crucified with Christ and it is not we who live, but Christ who lives in us. Colossians 3:3 says our lives are hidden with Christ in God. Christ's life was given to you when He took your life upon His cross.
This means our ENTIRE life's sin-record has been expunged! Christ paid the penalty for sin in our stead. So why, brethren, do we continue to "resurrect" our old man and beat ourselves over the head with the corpse of our sins? THEY NO LONGER EXIST!
Do we continue to sin? Yes, we do. However, since our punishment was met in Christ's sacrifice, we are free from the power of sin to condemn us to death. It no longer sends us to the grave, because it sent CHRIST to the grave. But hallelujah, He rose from the dead! He proved He has Absolute Power over sin and death upon His resurrection. The resurrection is the guarantee of our inheritance, because where the Head goes, the Body follows. That is why believers call those who have passed away merely "asleep". They are asleep in Christ, because one day, they will awaken at that blessed Trumpet Sound! (1 Corinthians 15:52)
So, what makes us worthy? Not our works. The Bible is quite clear on that. What, then, makes us worthy, brethren?
The righteousness of Christ.
Think about this for a moment. Is there ever a time when Christ ISN'T worthy? Is there ever a time when the Father looks upon the Son and doesn't absolutely Love Him? He willingly took our sin and died our death so that we could live in Him. But even upon the cross, God loved the Son. The Father turned His face away because in that moment, YOUR life was upon Yeshua's shoulders. Therefore, the answer to the question is NO. There has NEVER been a time when God the Father looked upon the Son and didn't consider Him worthy.
Because while Christ was suffering your fate, YOU were given His righteousness. And that makes YOU worthy, because CHRIST is Worthy.
I have touched upon this subject before on this blog, that when God looks at you, He sees Christ. And this is true. But stop for a moment and let the full force of this reality sink in.
Christ is the Second Member of the Godhead. We are accepted into the family of God through His sacrifice. We have been given His righteousness, and He has forever done away with our sins. Now God loves each one of His children as PERFECTLY and COMPLETELY as He loves His Son. We are loved by God the Father as if we were members of the Godhead ourselves.
We shall never be gods, however, we will share in the Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:4) by ruling and reigning with Christ as kings and priests (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6) at His right hand (Revelation 3:21). We have become One with Him through His atonement, like a husband and wife become one flesh (Ephesians 5:31-32). This is how we are co-heirs with Him (Romans 8:17).
Perhaps there was a time, before we were born again, when we were not worthy. But after we believed, we were made worthy by Yeshua's finished work on the cross. He presents to HIMSELF a Bride without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27). Our worth is found in His Worth. And Yeshua is Worthy FOREVER. No longer can we say we're "not worthy". No longer can we claim we are "undeserving". If we have the Spirit of Christ living within our bodies as His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19), then we are worthy because HE is Worthy.
We, quite literally, have been given the very Worth of God Almighty.
So let us not entertain such self-debasing thoughts. Let us not speak so poorly of ourselves. This is not humility! These are LIES from the enemy! Our worth is found in Christ. And if we are not worthy, then HE is not Worthy.
And that, brethren, is simply NOT POSSIBLE.
Monday, October 8, 2012
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
Yeshua preached to the masses that He was humble in heart. He is our God in flesh. Yeshua Messiah, God Almighty, proclaimed Himself... to be humble.
I don't know about you, but that blows my mind. It goes against everything this world tells us. It rubs us the wrong way. Someone in authority, with grand power, should be high and lifted up. Puffed up with pride. Looked upon in awe. Cowered away from. Someone to be frightened of. We often picture God On High with a lightning bolt or a mad look on His face, ready to smite mankind.
But Yeshua called Himself "gentle and humble in heart."
I often wonder about God's nature. He's Holy, He's Love, and His Love is Humble. True love IS humble. Think about it. We are more often drawn to people who are sincere, who don't seem to know their own worth, who smile often and give with an open, willing heart. But those who feel entitled, who walk on others to get to the top, who steal, lie, cheat, and maybe even kill to get what they want, we feel no love for them at all.
True Love is humble. And in that, so is God, because God IS Love.
Everything about Yeshua was humble. He was born in a manger. He lived in Nazareth. He was a carpenter's (adopted) son. He had no permanent home after coming into His ministry. He was not rich, revered, or even worshiped, except, perhaps, by His disciples after they fully realized Who He was. And He even taught His disciples how to be humble themselves.
Peter wouldn't have it. He refused to have Yeshua wash his feet. "No," he said. "You will never wash my feet!" (John 13:8) You see, Peter thought of Christ as we all do, our LORD. We should be washing HIS feet. We are not worthy for Him to touch us and soil Himself with the caked-on dirt from the road! But Yeshua says in verse 9, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
Immediately, Peter cried, "Then Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"
The lesson Yeshua taught that day was that our LORD cleanses us Himself. HE makes us clean. He does not need us to cleanse Him. But also, even Someone as awesome and amazing as the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE isn't above getting dirty to wash someone's nasty feet. He proved that day that Yahweh is Humble.
Once I truly internalized this, I began thinking of other things. God is quite fond of saying things like: "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." ~1 Corinthians 1:27
Because God is Humble.
Like Peter, we wrestle with the idea that an Almighty God would care about us so much that He would get down in the trenches WITH us. WE should be washing HIS feet. Why would He bother? If He had all the glory and power in the universe, why would He care about some random anthill in the boondocks? God's humility answers that question.
He uses the weak to confound the strong. And He MAKES the weak strong in Him.
If True Love is shown through humility, then God must give us a demonstration to teach us how to walk in love. And that's exactly what He did in Yeshua.
He loves us because it is His nature to Love, and He chooses to humble Himself, to be involved in our affairs and even live among us, because it is Love's very nature to be clothed in humility.
God has no use for proud people. It is the proud who look to themselves for salvation, gods of their own universe, masters of their own fate. Proud people are constantly reminding everyone how awesome they are. They want all the glory for themselves and they take it, sometimes by force.
But the humble are generous, givers, lovers, and they put others before themselves. These are the ones God strives after. Christ Himself was the blueprint for a life lived in humility. Everything He asks us to do for Him -- HE DID FOR US. He put our eternal salvation before His eternal glory. He loved us so much that He thought nothing of leaving His Throne for a life lived in dust, sweat, and heartache.
I, for one, am so VERY glad our God is a Humble God. If He puts no great esteem on any of His possessions -- save for US -- then likewise, I will put no great esteem on any of MY possessions -- save for Him.
Amen. To GOD be the glory. Now and forevermore.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
One of the things believers consistently forget about God is that He's holy. "Holy" is defined as sacred, blessed, consecrated, and set apart. We ramble through life as if Yeshua is our homeboy, conveniently forgetting the *reason* He came and died for us. We should not reduce the divine holiness of the Almighty God of the Universe to meaningless frivolity. I am guilty of this as well from time to time. But I do well to remember He is Yahweh, Lord of Hosts, Creator of Heaven and Earth...not my Poker Buddy.
Through Christ's sacrifice on the cross, we were given an unheard of privilege. He took our sins while we are given His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), and as such, we're considered priests of God (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6). We are now allowed into His manifest presence without fear (Hebrews 4:16), peeking behind the Temple Veil and walking right in to the Holy of Holies.
We've got to remember, only the HIGH PRIEST of Israel could do this ONCE a year on Yom Kippur, and if his atonement wasn't acceptable, he'd be struck down. They had to tie a rope to his foot in order to pull him out, lest any other priest be struck down for daring to come into the absolutely holy Shekinah Glory of God. God is not evil, He does not wish to kill, but sin cannot stand before Him, it is the nature of His holiness. We have no concept of such Absolute Holiness. We define "holy" as an ancient relic or scroll that's been revered for centuries. Or perhaps a well-respected priest is considered "holy". But the truth is God's Holiness is a tangible thing, not some "concept" or "idea". He is not holy because He is Deity, He is Holy because it is His very Nature. His holiness is the only attribute named in the Bible that's repeated three times, "Holy, holy, holy" (Revelation 4:8). In ancient Israel, if something was repeated twice, you needed to listen. "Truly, truly..." But if it's said three times, you needed to sit up and take note.
God's holiness is so great that any being with a single spot of sin wouldn't be able to stand a chance of surviving. The only way to come into His presence was to be covered by the holiness of another, one equally as holy -- the Son of God -- Yeshua Messiah. But in order to be covered, a sacrifice had to be made, a debt had to be paid, hence Christ's death on the cross in our stead. Now, through our belief, our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).
In our exclusive privilege of coming before His Throne, we have sometimes forgotten that God is HOLY. We are free to have a relationship with Him, we are free to dance and sing and be ourselves. We are free to tell Him our hopes and fears, our anger and our sadness. But we must also have the utmost respect whenever we're before Him. His holiness should never be belittled. If we were to actually stand before Him, even covered by His redeeming blood, we would still fall lifeless to His feet as St. John did in Revelation 1:17. As Paul did on the road to Damascus in Acts 9:4.
Through Yeshua, God is our Friend. He is our Healer. He is our Redeemer. He is our Bridegroom. He is our Provider.
But He also reigns On High in absolute, unrivaled, unequaled MAJESTY. We should always be reverent, even in our joy, always be admiring, even in our excitement. We should always be obedient, even during our trials, and always be respectful, even in our anger.
God is my very Best Friend. I tell Him everything in my life. I spend time with Him, I study His Word. And I joke with Him, I sing to Him, I dance for Him (maybe not very well, but He enjoys a heart of praise). But I never forget Who He is. I never forget what had to be done in order to give me such a sweet relationship with Him.
He has given us Freedom and Life in His Son. He sits on the Throne of Glory.
Let us not grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) by reducing His beautiful Holiness to parlor tricks.