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Showing posts from November, 2010

Invitation to receive

21-22But Jesus was matter-of-fact: "Yes—and if you embrace this kingdom life and don't doubt God, you'll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles. This mountain, for instance, you'll tell, 'Go jump in the lake,' and it will jump. Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God." (Matthew 21:21-22)
The disciples are marveling over fact that Jesus came upon a fig tree that was covered in all kinds of promising green growth - leaves full, branches broad - yet not one fig was found.  He looks for the fruit, finding none, he curses the tree and  it withers on the spot.  Most scholars would tell us that the fig tree represented Israel and that Jesus was cursing Israel because it was not bearing fruit.  We don't want to focus on that this morning, but the fact that Jesus spends a few moments teaching his disciples about praye…

Invited into Peace

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And weboast in the hope of the glory of God.  (Romans 5:1-2)
One of the things I often remind people about when exploring scripture together is the use of the word "therefore".  This is a "joining" word.  It focuses us on what has been said up to the point that this word is used - reminding us that based on what has been presented, we can make the following assumptions or conclusions.  Paul has spent four chapters laying out the fact that ignoring God leads man into a place of ungodly pursuits and how God is not pleased with this behavior.  We try to get away with our sin, but God is not letting us off the hook - he has his eye on us, attentive to our every choice.  We try to mask the conviction of our sin with the pursuit of all kinds of religious experiences - thinking th…

Invitation to be perfectly fit

19-22That's plain enough, isn't it? You're no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You're no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He's using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he's using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
It is a joyful thing to finally come to a place where we feel like we "fit".  We often spend the majority of our lives looking for that "perfect fit" in life.  We experience disappointment when career, schooling, family, friends, spouse, etc., all somehow don't "fit" in qu…

Invitation into Obedience

14-16I can anticipate the response that is coming: "I know that all God's commands are spiritual, but I'm not. Isn't this also your experience?" Yes. I'm full of myself—after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison. What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary. (Romans 7:14-16)
James 4:1 reminds us that we wars and quarrels don't "just happen" - they are not forces of nature.  They exist because WE exist - humans bring about quarrels and start wars.  Humans contend to overcome - whether it is another human being we are contending to overcome, or some habit or interest.  We often stand in opposition to that which we don't understand.  So it is with our spiritual walk, as well.  When we don't understand a commandme…

Invitation to be controlled

25-27But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ's life, the fulfillment of God's original promise. (Galations 3:25-27)
Direct relationship with God - made possible by the blood sacrifice of Christ - is ours today.  We can really "live" in his presence - have a life rich in every worthwhile experience, driven by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Paul has just finished telling his readers that they are no longer to spend all their time and energies gratifying the works of the flesh, but to live according to the Spirit of God that energizes them within.  To gratify is to give pleasure to - give satisfaction to through indulging in - to give into sin's pull and the mind's lusts.  Paul says we are free of that now that we are Christ's.
A man's nature is defined as ever…

Invited to the Altar

25-26God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it's now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness. (Romans 3:25-26)
When we are bought with a price, there is an exchange of ownership.  This exchange of ownership is to have an effect on us.  The first thing we should notice is that there is a desire for cleansing.  We want to have things in our life that are not honoring to God dealt with and removed so that we can move on.  The place of cleansing is often referred to as the altar in the scripture.  Let’s examine the work of the altar:
·It requires that we place something on it – an empty altar is nothing more than ornamenta…

Invitation to build

Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
We began to look at the concept of being bought (purchased) with a price that was far too great for any of us to pay - the life of the Son of God. That purchase moved us into the unique position of being another's possession - owned by another.  Today, we will explore what kind of obligation this places us under - what does being owned by Christ - indwelt by his Spirit - mean for us in our day to day walk?
It is possible for us to "own" something, yet not be in full possession of it.  A few years back, the city of Phoenix had a freeway construction project planned that brought this to light for many homeowners in the area.  They came to realize that they had purchased propert…

Invitation to be possessed

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
This is the beginning of the season of the year when everyone succumbs to the buying and selling of goods in some manner.  The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally called "Black Friday" - the beginning of the bargains of that kick off the season of Christmas shopping.  Thousands will wake earlier than usual, down a quick breakfast, then charge head-long into the hoards of holiday shoppers just looking for the next great "buy".  There is one "buy" that has already been accomplished for us - one that we cannot find or purchase on our own - it is our salvation.
Our passage today reminds us that we are bought at a price - the price of the cross.  God has provided the greatest gift of all - not so that we can squander it anyway we pl…

Come into refreshing

Jesus said, "Come off by yourselves; let's take a break and get a little rest." For there was constant coming and going. They didn't even have time to eat. (Mark 6:31)
16 The LORD’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. 17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. 18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.  (Isaiah 32:16-18)
We live such busy lives, pursuing all kinds of avenues of interest and demand, seldom realizing just how much of our bodies, souls, and spirits are being depleted in the process.  Our invitation today is to come into a place of refreshing - the place where the Spirit of the Lord dwells.  It is there that we will find the refreshment of body, soul and spirit.
To be refreshed means that we find new vigor or energy by rest.  In our first passage today, the disciples had been out healing the sick, cast…

Come into fellowship

We saw it, we heard it, and now we're telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. (I John 1:3)
We have been considering the various invitations in scripture this week.  Today, we examine the invitation into fellowship with a holy and righteous God.  Fellowship is more than an acquaintance with someone.  It is a closeness of relationship that involves companionship - that type of relationship that is comfortable.  For many people, fellowship with a holy God is a scary and overwhelming thing.  There is a fear of entering into fellowship, getting too close to God, because God is good and we are not.
Communion, or fellowship, speaks of a degree of intimacy that is not easily "faked".  It must be genuine - developing over perhaps years - and is not easily broken.  Our communion with God is the same.  There are no short-cuts into fellowship with God.  Later in this same chapter, our writer explains th…

Come into victory

24 When they had them all there in front of Joshua, he called up the army and told the field commanders who had been with him, "Come here. Put your feet on the necks of these kings."  They stepped up and put their feet on their necks.
25 Joshua told them, "Don't hold back. Don't be timid. Be strong! Be confident! This is what God will do to all your enemies when you fight them."
(Joshua 10:24-25)

Joshua was going up against one army after another as Israel is coming into possession of their promised land - Canaan.  One of the tribes of Israel, Gibeon, was in serious trouble with enemy kings surrounding them.  Not just one army attacking, but five Amorite kings had mustered their military might and had surrounded Gibeon!  Ever feel like Gibeon?  Surrounded on all sides and ready to send up the white flag?  
The men of Gibeon send word to Joshua that they are surrounded and require his immediate intervention.  Joshua had been one of the twelve spies Moses sent i…

Come into satisfaction

1 God—you're my God! I can't get enough of you! I've worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. 2-4 So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains.     I bless you every time I take a breath; my arms wave like banners of praise to you.  (Psalm 62:1-5)
In today's mad rush to find fame and fortune, we often miss out on the things in life that really give us the most satisfaction.  I was talking with a friend this week about how one of her friends was asked why she never had children.  The answer was, "We just got so busy that we forgot to have them."  Career, interests, making a living - each presented a distraction that kept the couple from realizing the passage of time.
Look at David's words that we are considering today.  He finds time for God, even in the midst of the Judean wilderness, being pur…

Come into knowledge

66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
   for I trust your commands. (Psalm 119:66)
Yesterday we began to look at some of the things outlined in scripture as "invitations" to us.  Today, we will explore the invitation to "learn of God".  Jesus was calling his disciples in the early part of his earthly ministry.  John was curious about where it was that Jesus stayed.  He asked Jesus where he lived and Jesus' response was to "come and see".  This is perhaps the most rewarding invitation anyone can received - come and see.  It implies the ability to come into a fuller revelation of all that we are curious about.
In the spiritual sense, there is a great deal that causes us curiosity - figuring out how the whole trinity thing works, understanding the virgin birth, working through the idea that a loving God allows bad stuff to happen, are just a couple of examples.  Our psalmist today asks God to teach him knowledge and good judgment.  He has come to God for…

Come into rest

17"Come!" say the Spirit and the Bride.
   Whoever hears, echo, "Come!"
   Is anyone thirsty? Come!
   All who will, come and drink,
   Drink freely of the Water of Life! (Revelation 22:17)
An invitation is something that many of us regard as a thing of honor - to be invited to an event, to participate in some significant memory, is a significant point of enjoyment in our lives.  We have an invitation presented to us this morning in our passage to "come".  There are several things that we are invited to participate in that are presented to us in scripture.  Over the next couple of days, we will explore some of those "invitations".
The first invitation we are encouraged to participate in is that of rest.  We are called upon to participate in a rest that is outside of our own doing - it the rest that only God can produce deep within our spirit.  
28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll re…