Rejoice

Again and again you are mistreated. You are lied to, cheated and stolen from. The things that you have by right, the things given to you by God, are withheld. And your freedoms, they are turned into shackles and bonds.

Your Lord Jesus Christ knows all about it. He knows you are short changed. He knows you have been denied good and evil has been returned for your deeds done in him. He counts you worthy to suffer for his name. He said of his servants that no servant is greater than his master and that it is enough for a servant to be as his master. He counts you his servant.

And you might think that you suffer not in accordance with bearing his name. Well, is good withheld from you in an undue manner? Is someone trying to take away your freedom in Christ and replace it with a worldly way or false assertion? What ought you do? How ought you combat such a thing?

Take up the sword that is the Word of God. When you are faced with lies, deceptions, half-truths, the appearance of dignity but the lack thereof, take up what God truly says. That sin is punished, but it is punished all in Christ.

This is how it will be tolerable. All the denials, all the thieving, all the withholding of what belongs to you, what God has given you. You can recall that in Christ, the sin is punished. And those who turn to him will live. Those who sin against you are forgiven freely. They can not hurt you. Their sins only hurt themselves. It is time to exalt him when you are being debased.

The Word of God will work, as it always does, it is a fiery sword, just as it is cooling waters. May those who wrong you be granted repentance, for they are in need. And you will regardless receive back all that God intends you to have. Rejoice when you are lied to, cheated and stolen from. God counts you worthy to bear it. He counts you as his. He likens you to his Son. You are his servant.

 

 

Saint Patrick

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, a day of Christian Mission.

Saint Patrick was taken as a slave to Ireland. He was freed and later returned to Ireland preaching the gospel.

In his freedom he proclaimed freedom. In the freedom of his body he declared the freedom of the soul. Many years later Martin Luther would also proclaim freedom. He proclaimed that the will of man is freed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

He to whom the knowledge of salvation in Jesus Christ has come has been freed from spiritual darkness, death and destruction. Christ has changed the course of humanity, from hell to everlasting life. To believe his sacrifice is a person’s righteousness before God is the work of God the Holy Spirit. It is what the living do: they believe on Jesus, “The Lord Our Righteousness.”

So today, on this great day, may the road rise to meet you as you walk and live in Jesus Christ your Lord.

He Maketh Wars To Cease

He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

The words of Psalm 46 are very comforting, even if they might seem so very fleeting. In all the conflicts men engage in, there is another conflict where man, by himself, constantly loses.

Death is the last enemy to be destroyed. Yet death, is the reward for wrongdoing. And all men do wrong. It is holy on God’s part when men return to dust, except for one thing: God himself rewarded himself for our wrongdoing.

There is a stillness in knowing that God is God. He was exalted in the earth. He was lifted up. He was lifted up outside a city, an outcast, from his people, from those in power, from humanity. Even Isaiah hundreds of years before prophesied of him: “We esteemed him not.”

The war that God makes to cease, and he makes all wars to cease, but the war he makes to cease that matters most is the one where man makes himself the enemy of God. Man condemns himself, but God spared man. Man makes himself guilty, but God took the punishment. John was right, he said of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”

That Lamb was exalted, lifted up. Thanks be to God.

Psalm 46: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

The Forsaken and the Unforsaken

“The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.  And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” The Book of Psalms chapter nine, verses nine and ten.

The Lord God has not forsaken them that seek him.

There is one who God the Father forsook, a true witness who witnessed to the Father’s forsaking of him. God the Son was forsaken by God the Father, so he witnessed from the cross.

He said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus was a true witness. He witnessed to God the Father’s forsaking of him.

The easy answer to this divine abandonment is the claim that Jesus, with regard to his humanity, was so overwhelmed with dying on the cross that he expresses the feeling of abandonment while not really being abandoned.

Question: Why take away from the sacrifice which the Son made, and for that matter, the Father made?

Locating some kind of evil intent or recklessness in the Father is far too easy for the sinful heart. But God’s ways are not our ways, there is no selfishness or malevolence in God.

There is another approach, and approach explained in the Gospel of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever trusts him should not perish but have eternal life.” It’s not that God hated his Son, but rather, he loved an unlovable world. He loved the world that hated him and his Son.

God did forsake Jesus the Son of God. God abandoned him. On need look no further than Second Corinthians chapter five for an explanation of this. Of God it says regarding Christ, “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Christ himself was made sin for us so that we might be made, in Christ, the righteousness of God. This is the Bible’s teaching.

This teaching is often referred to as the Blessed Exchange, and this verse proves that justification is the imputation of righteousness. We don’t have our own. We have his. Jesus was prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah to be “the Lord Our Righteousness.” It is the teaching of the Old Testament. It is the teaching of the New Testament.

So, God can not forsake us. In and through Christ, he regards us as holy, as his, and we are, in Christ, pleasing to him.

I Reject The Fake Jesus

The Jesus of popular sentiment, the Jesus of the aspirations of people’s hearts, the Jesus constructed from imaginative philosophy-I reject them all. I reject the Fake Jesus.

Any Jesus which is the result of my vain ambitions or the vain ambitions of my neighbor, my neighbor anywhere in the world; past, present or future, I summarily reject. The only Jesus that will do is the revealed one.

I also really, really think that unless people are confronted with the Jesus whom Jewish writers recorded, they will have little clue who Jesus is or what he is about. I say this because Jesus in the face of condemnation asserted, “Everyone that is of the truth hears my voice.” (John 18:37) And, Paul, also a Jew, said of the Jews, “unto them were committed the oracles of God.” (Romans 3:2) I know of no one more Jewish than the King of the Jews. (I suppose Judah perhaps)

But somehow, in some strange way, believing Jesus is considered anti-Jewish. I suppose if someone subscribes to the early heresy that Jesus was fathered by some Roman soldier called Panthera, Christianity could be considered non-Jewish. But I reject this Jesus too. The Father of God the Son is God the Father. The father of Jesus is God the Father.

All fake Jesus’s are members of an endangered species. They will not last and they ought not be protected. The Jesus that approves of whatever you do, the Jesus that approves of those proud in themselves, the Jesus that motivates but doesn’t carry his lost sheep: I reject them all.

If you believe in Jesus, and not the fake ones, what are you going to say about him? What impression will you allow to remain about him? And if you are skeptical about what you have heard about Jesus, what are you going to do to find out about him?

I won’t tell you to follow your heart. I won’t tell you to follow mine. I won’t tell you to follow the finest example of humanity you come into contact with because you’ll only be deceived.

The record is another story. And it, a narrative really, a true one, sets all the other stories straight. Hear what the record says if you want to know Jesus. And don’t bother with the Fake Jesus.

The Word Works

“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?”

Romans 2:4 teaches the grace, patience and passion of God. It teaches that he turns sinners around. He restores them to life.

The power of the Word of God is never lacking. The stubbornness of man fails in the face of the Word of God. God waits for his words to work.

Imagine two kinds of planters of seeds. One plants and impatiently looks at the soil expecting the immediate appearance of a shoot sprouting from the ground. The other plants and after seeing growth, removes weeds, cultivates and ensures proper drainage knowing the power of the seed placed by his hands. The first might go out and yell at the ground with no surprising result. The second might do nothing and have a yield one hundred times what he planted. Seeds are full of power.

Now God’s Word is the seed that grows the plant of faith. Faith is belief, and belief is fear, love and trust. God is feared, loved and trusted because of his Word. And just as faith comes by hearing, so also hearing (the ability to hear and the action of hearing) comes by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17)

We know that God is love. We also know that love is patient and love is kind. God’s Word works and yet his kingdom comes not with observation. (Luke 17:20-21, I John 4:16, I Corinthians 13:4) You can’t point it out but you know it’s there.

God does not doubt the power of his seeds. Nor should anyone doubt the power of his words. The Word works.

In My Freedom

I write the following words in my freedom.

I could be resting now. It is night time. There is limited light in which to work. Evening and morning are God’s design.

“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” These are the words of the Book of Proverbs chapter eight verse 13.

Consider the things God says he hates: pride, arrogancy, the evil way and the froward mouth. Not only is it ok to hate evil, “the fear of the Lord is to hate evil.”

Saying that there is nothing God hates is contrary to his revelation. He hates these things he has mentioned in this verse. Being an everlasting Father, who by the giving of his everlasting Son, adopted sinners, may help explain why God hates these things. The pride, arrogancy, evil way and froward mouth of man is a liability to man’s salvation. These things destroy while God is the Creator.

So God’s words are to me and to all who believe not a liability but freedom itself. I sin, and Jesus says he who sins is a slave to sin. I am a slave to sin. And yet, the Son is setting me free. My sins are being forgiven. I am being given my freedom indeed.

One ought not be so proud, arrogant, evil and froward so as to deny the power of God unto salvation: the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though I am a sinner, the righteousness of God is greater than any sin I could ever commit. And it is the same for all who sin. The Son sets free.

In my freedom I can remember. I can remember that God forgets. He forgets sin. And it is my job to remember that he forgets sins. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity. (Psalm 32:2, Romans 4:8).

Your sins are forgiven. My sins are forgiven. Thanks be to God.