Rescued!

“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:22 NASB

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” Colossians 1:13‭-‬18 NASB

Jesus came as the Son of GOD, to save us and to forgive our sin: “For to which of the angels did He ever say, “You are My Son , Today I have begotten You ”? And again, “I will be a Father to Him And He shall be a Son to Me”? Hebrews 1:5 NASB

Why? Why would GOD sacrifice Himself to die for us? Because even though the Old Testament Law was important, it was insufficient to completely cover our sin. Sin came into the world through man, so Jesus was conceived without man to keep His human body pure. The preacher Adrian Rogers said that Jesus is all God and all man; man to be able to die, God to pay the ultimate price for our sin. Jesus died ONCE for ALL.

” ….. then He [JESUS] said, “Behold, I have come to do Your Will.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:9‭-‬10 NASB

He died for me, and He died for you, so we don’t have to! ALL we have to do is to profess Him as LORD. AMEN.

Greater Good

“But the greatest among you shall be your servant.” Matthew 23:11 NASB

As I skim through social media, it occurs to me that the “greatest” among us today are about as far from being servants as we could imagine. Spoiled, cosseted, and overpaid celebrities from Hollywood, sport venues, and certain financial and political arenas are being toasted and held up for worship as the experts on life. It’s as if they are the gods we should look up to, and that we should follow without question. Many of them certainly act like they are above all human laws and morals. It’s all about lust. Lust for control, for sex, for the almighty dollar; it’s all about power. As Christians, our guide, our Law Book, is the Bible. It is very clear on idolatry, lust, and temptation.

“You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” Exodus 20:3‭-‬4, Deuteronomy 5:6-7 NASB

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15‭-‬17 NASB

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” James 1:13‭-‬14‭, ‬16 NASB

So, Greater Good. Servanthood. It’s different for every person. How does it look for you; on you? It’s not for everyone to wash the feet of others (figuratively at least, if not actually), although I believe that unless you’ve done it, you’ll never understand true servanthood.

His Promise

We are powerless over our lives, past and present, and our lives are unmanageable on our own. We recognize that we need something more than ourselves; a “Higher Power ” (AA), or as we know, GOD. Only He can be trusted to bring sanity, wholeness, and healing to us.

This is a paraphrase of the First and Second Steps of AA and Celebrate Recovery, to be embraced by anyone* who realizes that they are not in control of their lives. *That means everyone. No matter how together and in control you think you are, with God, you are spiraling out of control. It may be a really slow spiral, or it may be twisting and turning so quickly that you can’t get a breath.

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NASB

“But he promised me….. ” Something men do, and don’t follow through on. That’s what we have to go on; what our experiences teach us. Even though I know this to be true, every time it happens, a little piece of my heart dies. We see betrayal every day, and yet we are supposed to believe that some higher being is going to be different?

I do. I believe that a higher being, the Higher Being, the LORD, is different. I know He is different. He has listened to me for years, letting me rant and rave, yell and curse, and still He stayed with me.

Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
Isaiah 35:3 NASB

The righteous cry, and the Lord hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalms 34:17‭-‬18 NASB

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8‭-‬9 NASB

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. Proverbs 28:13 NASB

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:1‭-‬2 NASB

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 NASB

Until you can admit that your life is not yours to control, and that, in fact, you are out of control, you are lost. The LORD seeks us. He seeks you.

Step One: Admit you are powerless.

Treasure Hunting

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; …..Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”
2 Corinthians 4:7‭-‬9‭, ‬16 NASB

It occurs to me that the majority of humans, me included, spent our lives searching for treasure. Monetary treasure, relational treasure, the treasure of children. We think these things will complete us, and bring us satisfaction. It’s so sad when we realize that none of these, nothing that we can do or obtain on this earth, will bring real, heart-filling satisfaction. There’s only one way to reach that. It isn’t politically correct, or socially acceptable, to say this. In many parts of the world, you can lose your life for telling others this truth….. but that doesn’t make it any less true.

One way to reach the real treasure, satisfaction, completion, in our lives. One way. The real “Golden Ticket”.

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4‭-‬5 NASB

Through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, through His Blood that was shed in His torture and ultimately in His hanging on the cross, we receive our satisfaction and our completion. It is the only way. Even when we don’t think we are broken, we are. The saddest thing in life, to me, is to see people who are “above” it all. Those people who believe in their power, that it is through their efforts that they will find their treasures. Believe me, I am not in a position to judge anyone, because I am the most guilty of all.

God loves us most when we recognize our brokenness; when we finally realize that there is nothing we can do the fix ourselves. No matter how talented or smart or wealthy. We are totally dependent on Him. I’m working on switching my focus from the treasure hunting of this world to the anticipation of the treasures of heaven, where our hearts are full of the Glory of the LORD! I’d like to have an easier life, and I’d rather be with a companion, a partner, than to continue to be alone, but I’m trying to focus on the right things, the God things, instead of the earth things.

God turns our brokenness in a beautiful treasure!

Cracked and Broken

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 NASB

“For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; …..” 2 Corinthians 4:6‭-‬7 NASB

“But God
Rich in mercy
You came to save me
Now I’m alive
But God
Strong and mighty
You reached down for me
So I could rise
Now I’m alive”

(Words by Zach Williams)

Can you relate?

Greed

We no longer are bound by the old covenant, but wwouldn’t it be beneficial to follow a lot of it anyway? Take these instructions from Exodus:

“You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove. Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh themselves. Now concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the name of other gods, nor let them be heard from your mouth.” Exodus 23:10‭-‬13 NASB

Organic farmers, small family farmers, and gardeners might understand these verses better than most others. When we are asking the land to be productive, just as when we ask ourselves and other people to be productive, there needs to be a resting period. Without rest, we lose our abilities. Our brains and our bodies quit working correctly; we get stupid; we become clumsy. We have to rest sspiritually, too.

“As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!” – Psalms 119:7

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.” – Psalms 37:7 NASB

I think Paul says it best: “….. rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer …..” Romans 12:12 NASB

Amen.

We Are Insufficient

“Blessed be the LORD, Who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant. May the LORD our GOD be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His Commandments and His Statutes and His Ordinances, which He commanded our fathers. And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the LORD, be near to the LORD our GOD day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day requires, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is GOD; there is no one else. Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the LORD our GOD, to walk in His Statutes and to keep His Commandments, as at this day.”

In 1 Kings 8 we learn about the temple Solomon builds for the LORD GOD. To build today, it would cost $200 billion dollars, or $60 million dollars per square foot* for Solomon’s temple; just the building itself. For reference, the average square foot price in the Oklahoma City Metro area is $117*, according to Zillow Real Estate Marketplace.

[See 2 Samuel 6:13 for the story of moving the Ark containing the tablets of Moses with the Ten Commandments to Jerusalem. We learn in that passage that Aaron’s rod and the pot of manna are no longer in the ark.]

Consider the scope of this day:

“And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who were assembled to him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen they could not be counted or numbered.” 1 Kings 8:5 NASB

Nothing we can do is sufficient; and these passages highlight just how insufficient we are. 1 Kings 8:1-64 describes the temple Solomon built to house the Ark of the LORD; to glorify the Most High God. In spite of being the most beautiful, expensive building (v27) ever built, it is insufficient for God. The countless sacrificial animals are insufficient. The priests are insufficient. The altars are insufficient. The immense sacrifice of all of the animals was insufficient. God’s PRESENCE was there, but He doesn’t LIVE there. Anything we can do is insufficient, because GOD ALONE is sufficient for us, for every area of life. It took the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus (Hebrews 9:26) to be sufficient to cover our sins.

The significance of this passage is to highlight the insufficiency of man, and the sufficiency of God. It talks of God’s Presence (v.57,59), God’s Power (v58), God’s Passion (v.60), and God’s Pardon (v.62-63). Seven times in the chapter Solomon highlights the listening of God.

Now the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifice before the LORD. Solomon offered for the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the LORD, 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the sons of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD. On the same day the king consecrated the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD, because there he offered the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat of the peace offerings; for the bronze altar that was before the LORD was too small to hold the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat of the peace offerings.” 1 Kings 8:56‭-‬64 NASB

Where is your significance? Does it it lie in Jesus Christ alone, or are you still trying to prove your own sufficiency to the LORD GOD of the Universe?