Saturday, December 24, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
1Ti_3:15 you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.
Jas_2:5 … my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he promised to those who love him?
While there are many other Scriptures that describe how we ought to live as followers of Jesus Christ, a significant part of those instructions reflect how members of a family ought to behave.
We don't have the luxury of saying "It's none of my business" when it is a brother or sister in Christ who needs, prayer, comfort, recognition, admonishment, rebuke, restoration, help, encouragement, service and respect. Why? Because we are members of the same family. The family of Jesus Christ and the Household of God.
So may I encourage you all in the Holiday Season that has so much to do with family visits, don't forget your "Other" family; the one God brought you into.
I'm glad I'm in your family!
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Saturday, November 5, 2011
I'm NOT saying they're wrong, I'm just saying... you know, I don't like it.
But "Why?" you ask?
Because, while YES, we are saints, that is not the whole picture. I mean, how many folks do you know who don't sin anymore? We have been completely forgiven if we have been born again by the sheer Grace of God the Father, through our faith in Christ. And, we have not only had the debt against us cancelled by God, but we have been given Christ's own robes of righteousness, a new heart, a quickened spirit, and new destination. Yes, we are declared saints, Holy, wholly set apart unto God, His own vessels for service in the temple not made with hands. I GET THAT! Its just that the language of talking about ourselves as saints seems to be all about us. But when we see ourselves as sinners, we turn to Christ as Savior and talk of all he has done for us.
Right now, as the saved in this world, we live in the Kingdom which has come but is not yet made manifest in all the earth. This Kingdom is God's rule and reign. It is the essence of the Good News that Christ came preaching. (Mk 1:14-15) In this Kingdom the Gospel of Jesus Christ rules! That means that Grace Rules, because Grace is the heart of the Good News and of the Kingdom. Grace! Total and complete and free for sinners. Costly to God through Christ, but free for us who have been redeemed.
This wonderful Amazing Grace reminds me that I am a sinner, poor and needy, lost and greedy, but saved and loved. I'm a sinner, with a conscience enlivened by a Holy god above. I need the Gospel everyday! Everyday I need to know my success as a member of God's Kingdom depends on GRACE!
Paul asked an important question to the Galatians. "Having begun in the Spirit, did you think you'd be made perfect in the flesh?" One way to look at that question is to say, "Having begun by Grace, did you think you could do the rest all on your own?" We can't. We can't conform to the image of Jesus without grace. We can't be happy by clapping our hands but by grace. We can't be witnesses for Christ but by His grace. WHAT? Are you thinking that I just gave you an out for not witnessing? Do you think you can say, "I just don't have the grace for witnessing, someone else should do that." No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying we should do what we need to do, by the grace and power of God and trusting in His grace and power to take our feeble, lame, good works, and make them powerful through God.
Some people look at Jesus as if He's a "kinder gentler" Moses. Like He brought in the "Law Lite." Actually , it's the opposite. Jesus raised the bar. The law said don't kill your neighbor, Jesus said don't even hate him. Jesus said to love everyone. Jesus said to go and make disciples. I would submit to you the last three things I said are impossible. we can't do them, yet we are commanded. How does that work?
We do them In Christ. As sinners forgiven, as sinners saved by grace, as sinners who need the power of god every moment everyday, in order to do the things He has commanded. When we learn to live in that constant state of grace (which is impossible for us, too) then we come to know that His yoke is easy and His burden is light!
Oh Lord, help us to know the same grace that saved us is at work in our hearts to change us and make us what you want us to be. Let us not chafe against the prod, but turn, everyday, and put our head in the yoke of Christ.
PS I really am glad I'm a saint, set apart unto God, for the glory of Christ. just sayin...
Friday, October 28, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
You know I'm not one that thinks that God favors one sports team over another. Right? You know I don't really think God hates Oklahoma Football. He never said, "Texas have I loved but OU have I hated."
Now I know there are some who are such big Albert Pujols* fans that they might think God favors the St. Louis Cardinals. Well I'm a Pujols fan AND a Josh Hamilton** fan, but, and trust me on this, God isn't favoring either team based on favoritism. (I am open to the possibility that God may have a hand in winners and losers as part of His overall rulership over the universe.)
So what I want to point out really has nothing to do with these teams but with 9th inning saves in general. Thursday night of this week, the Rangers were behind 1-0 going into the last (9th) inning, in the World Series, or "Fall Classic" if you prefer. (I won't confuse you with the top or bottom of the 9th, that really confuses some people-I have No Idea Why.)
But in the 9th inning, at their last chance 'at bat,' they score two runs and won the game!
There were three Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were their Persian names, who were going into the 9th inning behind, but instead of facing fastballs coming in high and hot they were facing Flames of fire high and hot. They didn't give up, they stepped up!
Job probably felt like he was behind 1000 to 1 in the 9th inning after losing his children, his wealth and having to listen to three so-called friends preach at him about how rotten he was day after day. But, he didn't give up like his wife told him to do.
And, of course, Esther and Mordecai, were behind by thousands or even millions when in the 9th inning she stepped up and swang for the fences. She needed to knock the stuffing out of it, go downtown with it, blast it into oblivion in order to win the day. What she didn't know of course was that God was giving her the perfect pitch, the perfect bat, and all the strength she needed to get the job done.
How do you know when you're in the 9th inning? When you know its all about over.
Either you're going to quit, or someone else is going to take you out of the game, or your going to die trying; but you know things can't keep on the way they are.
Well as Christians we know that even our death, in God's timing, and for His glory, is a victory. But we also know that now and then we get a victory this side of Heaven.
We see a soul saved, a person on death's door come back, a B+ on a final exam, and we know God has heard our prayers. He may have been silent for a long time but remember, even in the 9th inning, He is always saying Trust Me!
*Albert Pujols, pro baseball player extroardinaire for the St.Louis cardinals; first baseman, slugger, all around good guy.
** Josh Hamilton, pro baseball player extroardinaire for the Texas Rangers; slugger etc. etc.
Friday, October 14, 2011
However, I never want to sell God short on what He can do to impress Himself on mere humans. Even Charles Spurgeon once said that all the teachings or ordinances of the church can't replace the presence of God. They become like a sundial on a cloudy day. In other words, useless. Pretty strong speech for a strong reformed Baptist like C H Spurgeon.
So with this mind-set I set myself up for God to move in my world and rock my consciousness!
And He did.
It was last night. At a Lord's Supper service out in the country in a camp setting. I and many other ministers and pastors worshiped together and then someone besides us administered the Supper.
It was a warm, blessed atmosphere, and I was pleasantly surprised how blessed I was to be a part of it.
I went forward picked a piece of motzah and a small cup of juice and headed back to my seat.
I ate the bread while climbing a couple rows up in this outdoor rock amphitheater, where people were spread out and few were sitting very close to another. As I sat I raised the cup to drink and stopped short as a strangled cry rose up though my throat. I got a grip, got in control, telling myself that this service was more for the three young men who had joined our ranks in this learning group we were all part of. I was afraid if I made any noise I would become the center of attention, drawing focus away from Christ and these new inductees.
As I started to drink it happened again only this time it turned into a sob. It lingered and my shoulders and whole body seemed to be weeping.
I didn't know why.
Then I remember a story of Luther, when he was a young Catholic minister, saying his very first Mass. When he got to the words "This is my body", where the wine, that he held up in a chalice, would turn into the actual blood of Christ, he stopped and was immobile for sometime until he mumbled himself through the rest of the the Mass.
Later when asked what happened he said at that moment when the wine would be turned to blood he realised his inadequacy to hold the perfect innocent blood of Christ. That his dirty, sinful hands would hold the cup of God was overwhelming to him.
But there I was holding grape juice, knowing it was only grape juice and weeping because of my unworthiness to hold even that; much less handle God's word everyday. Or, to use my sinful brain to contemplate scripture and to use my sinful lips to proclaim it. I was just sobbing before the Lord.
Then it was as if the Lord was pushing me slowly but firmly down to my knees to worship before Him. I didn't see Jesus, I didn't feel His hand on my shoulder. I was just aware than in my heart I was weeping for mercy and grace had set me free. A burden seemed lifted. A sin removed. An oppression evaporated into thin air.
Then, as I was kneeling in my heart before the Lord, it was as if He said, "So, you don't think I can communicate with you?"
Part of me thought, "I never said tha!." But another part of me just said "Yes Lord, you can."
We don't decide when God will show up. We can plan, but God keeps His own counsel. Man proposes, God disposes.
Blessed Be His Name.
One other note, before the burden lifted off my shoulders, two sweet sisters came and prayed for me. Not to counsel or ask questions, just to pray as God did His business with me. Thanks!
Saturday, September 10, 2011
In our country we debate whether we should be at war. When we aren’t at war some people think we should be.
|Brig. Gen J. Spivey-Chaplain|