Tuesday, September 30, 2014

day no. 13,126: passing along the most important thing i ever received‏

1 Corinthians 15:3-4
For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures
The first and most important thing you can ever pass along to someone else is the first and most important thing you can ever receive.
The Gospel.
Jesus Christ lived a perfect life.
Jesus Christ died for our sins.
Jesus Christ was buried.
Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
Just like the Bible said He would.

Monday, September 29, 2014

day no. 13,125: limitation imitation‏

I vacillated between entitling this “limitation imitation” as I have above and “limited time only: nope, other stuff as well
You be the judge in the comments below.
1 Corinthians 11:1
Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.
Follow Jesus and then urge others to follow you in that regard.
Jesus put others before Himself. He put aside His strength to come alongside those who were weak, which is NOT as His enemies would accuse Him: a weakness of Jesus’.
In fact, this is true STRENGTH.
He was able to control Himself and set Himself aside in order to serve others.
Do you have the strength to deny yourself?
Do you have the control to set yourself aside?

Friday, September 26, 2014

day no. 13,122: an alternate ending‏

Acts 17:16
"While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was troubled within him when he saw that the city was full of idols."
My friend Josh replied with this observation from Acts 17 which I thought was worth sharing: 
…it seems when Paul was going through this city, there wasn't war with Jews and those who worshipped other gods. It was only Jesus that put the Jews into a frenzy. They didn't care about the other gods.
What a GREAT observation!
The city was full of idols that apparently didn’t provide enough offense to provoke the Jews to persecute their position.
Perhaps it was indifference or arrogance in their compassion or concern for their Gentile neighbors breaking the second commandment.
Perhaps it was because these alternate religions were not directly indicating anything about the Jews’ God.
Either way, things seemed to be alright until Paul strolled into town proclaiming Jesus as God’s Son sacrificed and resurrected on our behalf.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

day no. 13,121: same old bathwater‏

I had a friend FWD me THIS article.
I had a bad taste in my mouth from the git-go on this baby (pun intended)
Let me explain:
Circumcision is not necessarily a sign of bloodshed as much as it is a sign of cutting yourself off at the very point of the promise God made to Abraham. 
Baptism is not New Testament circumcision. Circumcision is New Testament circumcision and it is discouraged as a means of spiritual discipline/commitment.
A better question to ask is, “Why do we continue to circumcise baby boys?” My sons both got the snip.  I vote hygiene. Not to mention that uncircumcised penises look like monsters.
I think this guys’ Bible is broke.  Check out what Colossians 2 actually says,
Colossians 2:8-12
Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ. For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ,10 and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority. 11 You were also circumcised in Him with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah. 12 Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
Paul does not appear to be connecting circumcision to baptism per se, but giving two separate examples of Jesus Christ being the means by which we are saved. So they are alike or similar in that neither one of them save a person, Jesus saves all by Himself. I think the point is better summarized as this:
We are circumcised for real by faith in Jesus.
We are baptized for real by faith in Jesus.
Others are merely minus skin and/or soggy.
OK, now I know this guy’s Bible is broke.  There are many examples of NT believers, post resurrection getting baptized all by themselves (including the Ethiopian eunuch he concedes) or without any reference to their entire household being baptized. No sir, there are more than ONE notable exception to this false doctrine.
1. Crispus and Gaius
1 Corinthians 1:14
I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius
2. These Samaritans and Simon specifically

Acts 8:12-13

12 But when they believed Philip, as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized13 Then even Simon himself believed. And after he was baptized, he went around constantly with Philip and was astounded as he observed the signs and great miracles that were being performed.
3. Oh, did he really forget SAUL of TARSUS? Seems notable to me.

Acts 9:18

At once something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized.
4. These believers at Cornelius’ houses HEARD and then BELIEVED and then were BAPTIZED.  So whomever was present was baptized as believers in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord prior to being immersed in water.

Acts 10:44-48

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speaking in other languages and declaring the greatness of God.
Then Peter responded, 47 Can anyone withhold water and prevent these people from being baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay for a few days.
5. I’m assuming these crazy Corinthians (at least many of them) were living la vida loca solo

Acts 18:8

Many of the Corinthians, when they heard, believed and were baptized.
6. These 12 disciples of John

Acts 19:1-7

19 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
“No,” they told him, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
“Then what baptism were you baptized with?” he asked them.
“With John’s baptism,” they replied.
Paul said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people that they should believe in the One who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.”
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began to speak in other languages and to prophesy. Now there were about 12 men in all.
Furthermore, God promises to save any who call upon Him, not just those who took a bath in public at church when they were babies

Romans 10:9-13

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. 11 Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, 12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
1 Cor 7 says nothing about baptism.  It is speaking to staying together for the kids. Now this chapter does, however, state something confusing regarding kids, but it doesn’t speak to baptism at all. 
By this guys’ logic, I should off my kids before they reach whatever magical age they become accountable in order to guarantee their salvation.
This kind of crap makes me angry.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

day no. 13,120: a thrice fixed hope‏

Romans 15:13
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Hope is firmly established by the Trinitarian God.
God the Father fills us with joy and peace as we believe in God the Son so that we overflow with hope empowered by God the Holy Spirit.
Have hope in that.
It is a fixed certainty that we will be rewarded for our faith by His faithfulness.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

day no. 13,119: the strong owe the weak something‏

Romans 15:1-3a
Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. Each one of us must please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even the Messiah did not please Himself.
The strong owe the weak their patience.
They demonstrate their strength by faithfully enduring the troubles of those around them.
Jesus did not live to please Himself.
He didn’t die because He had to.
Jesus lived to please God and to provide a way for us.
He died because He chose to.
We should follow suit and die to ourselves to please God and others.

Monday, September 22, 2014

day no. 13,118: a stereotypical love/hate relationship‏

Romans 9:13

As it is written: I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau.

Where was that written again?

Read below.

Malachi 1:2-3

“I have loved you,” says the Lord.
But you ask: “How have You loved us?”
“Wasn’t Esau Jacob’s brother?” This is the Lord’s declaration. “Even so, I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau. I turned his mountains into a wasteland, and gave his inheritance to the desert jackals.”
What’s the deal with choosing Jacob over Esau?
Ever asked that question?
Once upon a time, a woman asked Charles Spurgeon the same thing:
“A woman once said to Mr. Spurgeon, ‘I cannot understand why God should say that He hated Esau.’ ‘That,’ Spurgeon replied, ‘is not my difficulty, madam. My trouble is to understand how God could love Jacob.’”
Well, there you go.
‘nuff said.
We tend to focus on the unfairness of being passed over by God and forget about the unfairness of being pursued by God.

Friday, September 19, 2014

day no. 13,115: passio passiva‏

So I read something awesome the other night in my “A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer” daily devotional.

Following Christ means 'passio passiva' suffering because we have to suffer. That is why Luther reckoned suffering among the marks of the true church, and one of the memoranda drawn up in preparation for the Augsburg Confession similarly defines the Church as the community of those "who are persecuted and martyred for the Gospel’s sake... Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering Christ, and it is therefore not at all surprising that Christians should be called upon to suffer.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer “A Testament to Freedom”
Passio passia loosely translates to “freely suffering,” or “suffering peaceably.”

I am excited and terrified all at the same time as I ponder the definition of the Church according to the Augsburg Confession.
If anyone knew what it meant to suffer for their faith, it was Bonhoeffer.  He was able to forecast the crapstorm coming the way of Christians.

And yet, he embraced it. 
This is a stern rebuke to my American sensitivities, to my Western sensibilities and my Iowan assumptions.

The true church is one that endures suffering.

That doesn’t mean the church goes looking for opportunities to suffer, but rather as passio passive implies, enduring the normal, regular, expected suffering that comes along with living as aliens and foreigners in a world that hated the One we love with all our hearts, souls, minds, bodies and strengths.

2 Timothy 3:12
In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted..

We have grown quite accustomed to avoiding conflict and discomfort.

Perhaps it’s high time we began embracing the regular business of being bombarded with push back and bullying.

Again, this is not a call to take out a Craigslist listing for “suffering" wanted.

This is a call to endure the normal, everyday, typical suffering that accompanies standing by faith alone in a world founded in flesh. This is a call to stop safeguarding our every action and hedging every bet to avoid the slightest resistance or discomfort associated with worshipping a Man who was crucified. 

We boast about a Man who was murdered.

It shouldn't surprise us that we would also be mocked and muscled around by a world pumped up on power, prestige and personal sovereignty.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

day no. 13,114: blessed calibration

Romans 14:22
Do you have a conviction? Keep it to yourself before God. The man who does not condemn himself by what he approves is blessed.
If you have a conviction about something, keep it before God and His Word.  Calibrate all your convictions to His commands and Gospel.
And then live in accordance with those convictions.
The people who lose the least sleep are those who rest their heads knowing that their lives match up with what they believe.
They make every effort to avoid things they believe are evil.
They make every effort to apply things they believe are righteous.
If you are falling short of holding yourself back from sin, you don’t sleep well as you resist and grieve the Spirit alive in you.
If you are falling short of applying yourself to live righteously, you don’t sleep well knowing that you are quenching the Spirit alive in you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

day no. 13,113: we live/die for the Lord‏

Romans 14:7-9
For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and came to life for this: that He might rule over both the dead and the living.
If you claim that He is yours then you are His.
If you live, it’s for Him.
It you die, it’s for Him.
Live daily for the glory of God by faith in Jesus.
Die daily to yourself for the glory of God by faith in Jesus.
Jesus lived and died and came back to life for this reason: to RULE over you in this life and in the next life after you die. 
Don’t look forward to the day when Jesus is your Lord.
Honor, respect, obey, trust and worship Him as Lord TODAY.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

day no. 13,112: authority's Author‏

Romans 13:1
Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God.
Each and every single person
Ought to
Place themselves under the authority structures God has designed.
The fundamental issue is one of acknowledging the authority the governing authorities rightly have over you. They have a God-given right to be in authority over you.
So drive the speed limit, pay your taxes, get the proper permits to work on your home, etc…. 

It costs you no compromise of conscience to conform these behaviors to what the authorities have determined.  It may cost you time and money, but everything costs something and some things are not worth the cost and crisis of conscience of being confronted with verses like this. Better to be in compliance with God’s Word and out a few bucks and hours than broke before God with a few dollars and minutes to show for it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

day no. 13,111: a simple matter of amount and type of water

Isaiah 8:6-7

6 Because these people rejected
the slowly flowing waters of Shiloah
and rejoiced with Rezin
and the son of Remaliah,
7 the Lord will certainly bring against them
the mighty rushing waters of the Euphrates River—
the king of Assyria and all his glory.
It will overflow its channels
and spill over all its banks.

People easily reject and dismiss the gentle, slow flowing waters of the way of grace through faith that God demands.

It is easily set aside as quaint or pie-in-the-sky. 

It is fairy-tale and daydreams.

It’s too good to be true.

So we rejoice in the fleeting help of resourcefulness.

We place faith in our ability to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.

We find confidence in contriving and conniving.

We have courage fueled by an unfounded optimism that bad things could never happen to us the way they do the people on TV.

God’s response is to send mighty rushing waters our way.

Instead of the lazy river on which we could have rested and enjoyed His provision, we are given the raging river of flood stage catastrophe.

We are drowned in the sorrows of our own choosing.

We reject grace and receive wrath.

And we do it to ourselves.

But there is hope.

The offer of gentle waters yet remains as long as it is called, “today.”

Do not harden your hearts and choose the easy way of self-satisfaction and self-reliance. 

Do the tough work of denying yourself and resting by faith in His grace, that lazy river of God’s love and provision.

Psalm 23:2b

He leads me beside quiet waters.

Friday, September 12, 2014

day no. 13,108: faith alone never falls

Isaiah 7:9b

If you do not stand firm in your faith,
then you will not stand at all.

That is such a tough statement. 

There is only one way to stand at all and that’s firmly by faith.

The book of Isaiah is relentless at pointing the reader to faith in God and His provision as the only means by which we can be forgiven, freed, redeemed, saved and rescued.

If you do not have faith, you will not stand AT ALL.

Not even a little bit.

Isaiah’s message was clear: life is dangerous and scary, but if you fight it by merely relying upon your own courage and confidence;  you will be leveled.

By faith in God we stand. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

day no, 13,107: is it worse to disregard God's Law or His Grace?‏

It makes sense to you that the Law would stone you to death if you disobeyed it.  The Law is kind of stodgy and grouchy and old-fashioned like that.
For the same reason you suspect that Grace will let you walk scot-free even if you take advantage of it and disobey it.  I mean Grace would never stone me to death like the Law would, right?  That’s why I like Grace better than the Law.  Grace let’s me do what I want to do.
Scripture says the exact opposite.
Hebrews 10:26-31
26 For if we deliberately sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries. 28 If anyone disregards Moses’ law, he dies without mercy, based on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think one will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God, regarded as profane the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know the One who has said, Vengeance belongs to Me, I will repay, and again, The Lord will judge His people. 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!
Disobeying Grace incurs an even greater punishment than disobeying the Law.
Jesus took the stones the Law chucked at you.
If you reject Him as the only sacrifice by which you can be saved, you are rejecting and disobeying the One who took your bullet.
The Spirit of Grace is even more enraged and furious by this rebellion and refusal to obey His revealed righteousness in Jesus than the original offense.
How much worse punishment do you think one will deserve who tramples on the perfect, spillled blood of Jesus?
It will be worse than being stoned to death.
It will be dying forever without ever finally being entirely dead.
Corpses don’t suffer.
Those who reject Jesus will suffer forever.
Don’t reject Jesus by assuming His grace requires nothing more than acknowledging it exists.
Hebrews 10:35-39
35 So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised.
37 For yet in a very little while,
the Coming One will come and not delay.38 But My righteous one will live by faith;and if he draws back,I have no pleasure in him.

39 But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.
Hold on to the One who holds on to you.
Listen to the One who speaks to you.
Obey the One who is your Lord and Savior.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

day no. 13,106: two heart attacks

You cannot fix your own heart - even if you are extremely talented and gifted.
No matter how good you think you are.
No matter how good others think you are.
No matter how impressive your credentials are.
You cannot do heart surgery on yourself.
Even the best heart surgeon in the world is not so good that they could perform their own open heart surgery.
Your heart is not sick beyond fixing – even if you’ve done everything wrong.
No matter how bad you think you are.
No matter how bad others think you are.
No matter how damning your rap sheets are.
You are not beyond restoration.
Even the worst and most broken heart in this world is not so bad that it could not be renewed and regenerated by the Great Physician Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

day no. 13,105: saved not by works but to works

Salvation is not “of works” but “unto works.”

B. B. Warfield helped me understand this distinction a little more the other evening while reading Zaspel’sWarfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel (Theologians on the Christian Life).

Ephesians 2:8-10

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast.10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

The Apostle Paul is very insistent that our good works accomplish nothing with respect to our salvation.

He is, however, equally as insistent that the saved life lives to the end of accomplishing good works.

We are not saved by our good works.

We are saved by God to do good works.

You can’t justify unrepentant rebellion by appealing to worksless salvation.

Your salvation is justified by works.

Easy killer, let me explain.

Jesus said it this way,

Matthew 11:19

…Wisdom is justified by her deeds.
Jesus is not here saying that wisdom is made righteous by what it does, but rather that wisdom is proven to be wisdom by what it does. 
Saved people produce good fruit from their new, reborn, regenerated hearts.
Like a grain of wheat, they die, deny themselves, fall to the ground and raise up again to produce a harvest of fruit.

We are not saved because we produce.

We produce fruit because we are saved.

Jesus summarized it this way,

Matthew 7:17-18

17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit.