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HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE?

Francis Schaeffer wrote an excellent book years ago entitled “How Should We Then Live?” The New Testament gives us a wonderful answer to Schaeffer’s question. Paul sums it up in Galatians 2:20+ “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ LIVES in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I LIVE by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but ALIVE to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11+) Writing to the saints at Corinth, Paul explained we are “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the LIFE of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the LIFE of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. (2 Cor 4:10-11). John writes “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this LIFE is in His Son.” (1 John 5:11+) And again John writes “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might LIVE through Him.” (1 John 4:9+). “Jesus Christ, through Whom we LIVE.” (1 Cor 8:6NET)  Notice the strategic prepositions – WITH Christ, IN Christ, THROUGH Christ. He is our “ALL IN ALL” (song).  In Colossians 3:4 Paul simply, succinctly summarizes this truth as “Christ our LIFE.” (Colossians 3:4+). How should we then live? WITH Christ, IN Christ, THROUGH Christ all FOR Christ and His glory.

Father, make this truth of Christ our LIFE the reality of our life by the life giving Spirit of Christ for the glory of Him Who is our Life. Amen

Wayne Barber – “Living the Christ life is daily surrendering to His will and His Word which allows us to enter into divine enablement by the Spirit of Christ. I must decrease and He must increase. (John 3:30+) As I am willing (and supernaturally enabled by His Spirit) to deny self, and surrender to Him, He takes it from there and energizes my very being, empowering me to do what He has commanded me to do.  “God is working in me, giving me the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. (Phi 2:13NLT+) “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Php 1:21+). (Wayne Barber)

Guy King – We are all aware of the teachings of old astronomers concerning our planetary universe. Ptolemy was the first in the field (A.D. 127-51), one of the most eminent of the scientific men of the ancient world. He taught that our earth was the centre of the universe, and that all else revolved around it. How grand to think of ourselves as the hub of the universe! It took something like thirteen hundred years to dispel the illusion. Copernicus (A.D. 1473-1543) demonstrated that the sun was the centre, with the earth and all else revolving around it. I wonder if we have changed our life’s centre? Because we begin by giving self that position – everything turns round ourselves: what we wish, we think, we propose. It often takes a long time for us to see the falsity, and futility, of the idea that this self, this bit of earth is the hub. It is a happy moment when we alter the outlook, and recognize “the Sun of Righteousness,” Malachi 4:2+, as our new Centre. Thenceforward, every aspect of life rotates round Him. Such, then, is the resurrection life in Christ our life.

Ruth Paxson – For several weeks I lived in a boarding house kept by a little woman who weighed only eighty-five pounds. She was kept from falling into a heap by a brace worn at her back. She had lived on the third floor for two years with no outlook but the blue sky above and a patch of green grass a few feet square below. But her eyes shone like stars, upon her face was a smile that the affliction and adversity she suffered could not remove, and mirrored in her countenance was a radiance that one never sees on land or sea except where the Light of the world dwells in undimmed brightness. CHRIST was the Life of her life. A Christian business man lay dying of cancer. Friends called to comfort him and they left feeling that they had been taken to the very door of Heaven and had seen the King in His beauty. CHRIST was the Life of his life in sickness as He had been in health. A young Chinese man who had been converted from a very godless, wicked life, and had been a Christian less than two years, came to call on me one day. After he left a gentleman who saw him for only a brief moment said, “Who was that young man? I never met anyone who so instantly compelled me to think of CHRIST as did he.” CHRIST had become the Life of his life. Is He the Life of your life? Can you truly say, “Christ liveth in me”; “to me to live is Christ”?

C H Spurgeon – CHRIST OUR LIFE – Paul’s marvelously rich expression indicates, that Christ is the SOURCE of our life. “When we were dead in our transgressions, (God) made us alive together with Christ.” (Eph 2:5+) That same voice which brought Lazarus out of the tomb (Jn 11:43) raised us to newness of life (Ro 6:4+, Ro 6:11+). He is now the Substance of our spiritual life. It is by His life that we live; He is in us, the hope of glory (Col 1:27+), the spring of our actions, the central thought which moves every other thought.

Christ is the SUSTENANCE of our life. What can the Christian feed upon but Jesus’ flesh and blood? “This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.” (Jn 6:50, 33) O way worn pilgrims (Heb 11:13+, 1Pe 2:11+) in this wilderness of sin, you never get a morsel to satisfy the hunger of your spirits, except ye find it in Him! (cf Mt 5:6+)

Christ is the SOLACE of our life. All our true joys come from Him; and in times of trouble, His presence is our consolation (He 13:5,6+, Jn 16:33). There is nothing worth living for but Him; and His lovingkindness is better than life! (Ps 63:3+)

Christ is the OBJECT of our life. As speeds the ship towards the port, so hastes the believer towards the haven of his Savior’s bosom. As flies the arrow to its goal, so flies the Christian towards the perfecting of his fellowship with Christ Jesus (Php 3:10,11+). As the soldier fights for his captain, and is crowned in his captain’s victory, so the believer contends for Christ, and gets his triumph out of the triumphs of his Master. “For him to live is Christ.” (Php 1:21+)

Christ is the EXEMPLAR (one that serves as a model for another) of our life. Where there is the same life within, there will, there must be, to a great extent, the same developments without; and if we live in near fellowship with the Lord Jesus we shall grow like Him. We shall set Him before us as our Divine copy, and we shall seek to tread in His footsteps (1Pe 2:21+, 1 Jn 2:6+), until He shall become the CROWN of our life in glory.

Oh! how safe, how honored, how happy is the Christian, since CHRIST IS OUR LIFE!

May God grant each of us by His Spirit His amazing grace to put into practice the words of Steve Green’s song Embrace the Cross. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

IS YOUR OUTLOOK AN “UPLOOK?”

Good morning. I received an email from someone in England about an error on my notes in Titus 2:11-14+ and as I was answering thought I would shoot this verse to you today — it is surely one of the great verses in the entire Bible…

For (term of explanation – see what Paul is explaining in Titus 2:10+) the grace of God has appeared (THE FIRST COMING OF CHRIST), bringing salvation to all men (PAST TENSE SALVATION), 12 instructing (DISCIPLINING) us (FIRST THE NEGATIVE) to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and (NOW THE POSITIVE – BOTH [+] and [-] ONLY POSSIBLE AS WE RELY ON THE HOLY SPIRIT – Ro 8:13+) to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present (“evil” – Gal 1:4+) age (PRESENT TENSE SALVATION), 13 (present tense = continually) looking for (FUTURE TENSE SALVATION) the Blessed Hope (Phillips = “the glorious dénouement“) and the appearing of the glory of our great God and SaviorChrist Jesus (THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST), 14 Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession (WE ARE NOT OUR OWN! cf 1 Cor 6:19-20+), zealous for good (GOD = Jn 15:5) deeds.

You can see why this verse is so powerful — It has both the First and Second Coming of Christ and all Three “Tenses” of Salvation 

  1. PAST TENSE (JUSTIFICATION) = I have been saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9+).
  2. PRESENT TENSE (SANCTIFICATION) – I am being saved daily by grace through faith and dependence on the Holy Spirit (cf Gal 3:3+)
  3. FUTURE TENSE (GLORIFICATION) = I will be saved by grace (1 Pe 1:13+) for when we see Him we will be like Him (1 Jn 3:2+, 1 Jn 3:3+)

Note the powerful principle Paul gives us which should motivate and enable daily Spirit energized living (cf Php 2:12+, Php 2:13NLT+) – Titus 2:13 = Speaks about our LOOKING while Titus 2:12 = Speaks about our LIVING. Do you see the principle? Here it is…

WHAT (WHO) we are LOOKING for, will (should) impact WHAT (WHO) we are LIVING for. Expectant looking is another name for “Vertical Vision” whereas living for this passing world is “Horizontal Vision.”

There was a movie by Buster Keaton in 1924 called “The Navigator” which has a picture that wonderfully illustrates what our daily attitude toward Christ’s Second Coming should “look like”…

Buster Keaton looking expectantly
The Navigator” 1924

Stated another way,

EXPECTANT Looking
Is the “Antidote” for
APATHETIC Living

It is simple, but powerful and Biblical! If you are looking for Jesus to return, you are far more likely to be denying ungodliness and worldly desires, and instead living sensibly, righteously and godly in this present evil age! If we are looking for Him, we will be living for Him. This future hope (absolute assurance God will do good to us in the future) empowers present behavior. Have you allowed the world to weigh you down and cause you to take your eyes off of His return? Are you living more for your passing pleasure than for His glorious appearing? Don’t be downcast. Confess it. Repent. And begin to live as if His return could be today (because it COULD BE TODAY!).

You will be amazed at what a difference “a DAY” will make in your personal perspective, prerogatives and practices!

Dr M R De Haan founder of Our Daily Bread ministry kept a motto on his desk which read

PERHAPS TODAY!

And all God’s people say “Yes! AmenMaranatha!”

William Barclay who is not always totally orthodox did have a great comment on this “present age” in Titus 2:12:

Chrysostom said that worldly things are things which do not pass over with us into heaven but are dissolved together with this present world. A man is very short-sighted if he sets all his heart and expends all his labour on things which he must leave behind when he quits this world. But an even simpler interpretation of worldly desires is that they are for things we could not show to God.

PRAYER: Father in Heaven, by Your Spirit, please embed the manifold truths of Titus 2:11-14 deeply into our hearts, emblazoning them on our “mind’s eye,” even giving us a desire to memorize them, but even more a passion to live them out in the enabling power of Your Spirit and for the glory of Your Son, the Lamb of God, Christ Jesus, Who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29). Amen

INSIGHT: ONE IN EVERY 30 NT VERSES REFER TO THE SECOND COMING! Both the Old and New Testaments are filled with promises of the Second Coming of Christ. More than a fourth of the Bible is predictive prophecy and about one third is not yet fulfilled. Many of these unfulfilled predictions refer to the Second Coming. Both the Old and New Testaments are full of promises about the return of Jesus Christ. There are 1,845 references to it in the Old Testament, and 17 Old Testament books speak of the Second Coming. Of the 260 chapters in the New Testament, there are 318 references to the Second Coming – one out of every 30 verses! Twenty-three of the twenty-seven New Testament books refer to this great event. Three of the four other books are single-chapter letters written to individuals concerning a particular subject, and the fourth is Galatians, which does imply Christ’s coming again. For every prophecy on the first coming of Christ, there are EIGHT on Christ’s second coming. 

Alexander MacLaren rightly said The apostolic church thought more about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ than about death and heaven. The early Christians were looking, not for a cleft in the ground called a grave but for a cleavage in the sky called Glory.”

ARE YOU LISTENING?

listening
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” (James 1:19 NLT)

Are you a good listener? Listen to what Pr 18:13 says about listening…

“The one who gives an answer before he listens– that is his folly and his shame.” (NET)

A few thoughts on James 1:19, Pr 18:13 and the lost art of listening –

As Howard Hendricks says, “Marriage is sometimes the dialogue of the deaf.”

The Harvard Business Review says 65 percent of an executive’s time should be spent listening.

So much more so in our most intimate relationships.

When I’m thinking about an answer while others are talking—I’m not listening.

A wise old owl sat in an oak,
The more he heard, the less he spoke;
The less he spoke, the more he heard;
Why aren’t we all like that wise old bird?

Lend a man your ears and you will immediately open a pathway to his heart.

To illustrate the high cost of poor listening, Diana Bonet, listening consultant and author of The Business of Listening, offers this example: A $100,000 error was caused by a dispatcher who routed a fleet of drivers to deliver building materials to the wrong state. The dispatcher heard the city (Portland), but quit listening before he heard the state (Maine). The result: eight trucks, 3,000 miles away in Portland, Oregon.

Better to be silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. – Abraham Lincoln

A closed mouth gathers no foot.

I cried, and from His holy hill
He bowed a listening ear;
I called my Father, and my God,
And He subdued my fear.
—Isaac Watts

Eloquent silence often is better than eloquent speech.

A Way Of Loving – In her book Listening To Others (Hearing their Hearts), Joyce Huggett relates her experiences of listening so that we can respond with wisdom those who are suffering or in difficult situations. She says they often raved about all she had done for them. “On many occasions,” she writes, “I had not ‘done’ anything. I had ‘just listened.’ I quickly came to the conclusion that ‘just listening’ was indeed an effective way of helping others.”

This was the help that Job’s wordy, preachy friends failed to give him. While it is true that they sat with him for 7 days in silence, “for they saw that his grief was very great” (Job 2:13), they didn’t listen when Job started talking. He complained that they were “miserable comforters” (Job 16:2) and was so distraught that he even accused God of not listening. He cried out, “Oh, that I had one to hear me!” (Job 31:35).

• Listening says, “What matters to you matters to me.” Sometimes people do want advice. But often they just want to be listened to by someone who loves and cares about them.
What does active listening accomplish?

• Listening is a way of loving others.

It says, “I want to understand and know you.”

• It comforts the brokenhearted, builds relationships, and encourages faith in God.

• Listening is also a means of learning the facts.

• Solomon, in Proverbs 18:13, warned that it is folly to answer a matter before hearing it.

• Most of all, listening to others should reflect our attentiveness toward God and His Word. God has so much He wants to teach us and tell us.

Listening is hard work, and it takes time. It takes time to listen long enough to hear the other person’s true heart, so that if we do speak, we speak with gentle wisdom.

Oh, Lord, give us a loving heart and a listening ear. Amen

As you take a moment of stillness today and give Him a listening ear, you’ll be better able to listen to the hurting people around you.

A caring heart, a listening ear,
A thoughtful word, a loving tear
Will help to lift the heavy load
Of hurting people on life’s road.
–DJD

You can win more friends with your ears than with your mouth.

Dave Roper on Learning to Listen – Renè Descarte, the sixteenth-century philosopher, said, “I think, therefore I am.” Sarah, our granddaughter, says, “You are, therefore I talk.” Silence has never been golden to Sarah. Some years ago I was sitting in our family room trying to read a Time magazine while, at the same time, Sarah was trying to carry on a conversation with me. To my shame I was paying little attention, responding to her comments with an occasional grunt. Finally in exasperation she crawled into my lap and got in my face. “Papa,” she shouted, “are you listening to me?” “Sarah,” I confessed, putting down my magazine, “I haven’t been listening well. Forgive me. I’ll listen to you now.” My commitment to Sarah is one that I want to keep on other occasions as well. It’s one of the gifts “of what remains” that I can give to others—to talk less and listen better. As Frasier Crane would say, “I’m listening”—or, to be more honest, I’m trying to learn how to listen.

I want to listen well so that when I finish a conversation, others will walk away knowing there’s at least one person in this care-less world who has some inkling of what they’re doing, thinking, and feeling. I want to hear the hushed undertones of their hearts. I want them to know that I care. Listening, however, doesn’t come easy for me. For years I was paid to talk; I was a “word monger” to borrow Augustine’s apt description of a teacher. It comes as a revelation to me that I can do more with my ears now than I can with my mouth. In her book Listening to Others, Joyce Huggett relates her experiences of listening to suffering people. She says they often talk about all she’s done for them. “On many occasions,” she writes, “I have not ‘done’ anything. I have ‘just listened.’ I quickly came to the conclusion that ‘just listening’ was indeed an effective way of helping others.” This was the help Job’s wordy, would-be friends failed to give him. They were “miserable comforters,” he complained. “‘Oh, that I had someone to hear me!’” Job is not alone in his longing. All human beings want to be heard, and listening is one of the best ways in the world to love others. Listening says, “You matter to me.” (Job 16:2; 31:35)

Kenneth Grahame’s Badger in “The Wind in the Willows” knew how to do it.

He sat in his arm-chair at the head of the table, and nodded gravely at intervals as the animals told their story; and he did not seem surprised or shocked at anything, and he never said, “I told you so,” or, “Just what I always said,” or remarked that they ought to have done so-and-so, or ought not to have done something else. The Mole began to feel very friendly towards him.

Listening is a lost art these days. We don’t listen well and we aren’t used to being listened to. Most of our words simply disappear into the air. I have a friend who, when he goes to noisy parties and people ask how he’s doing, on occasion has replied quietly, “My business went belly-up this week, the bank foreclosed on my house, my wife left me, and I have terminal cancer.” “Wonderful!” one man murmured, as he pumped my friend’s hand and moved on. I keep wondering if I’ve done something similar to others.

Some years ago I came across the following advice about listening—which I’m still in the process of learning and applying:

• When I’m thinking about an answer while others are talking—I’m not listening.
• When I give unsolicited advice—I’m not listening. (Unsolicited advice always sounds like criticism.)
• When I suggest they shouldn’t feel the way they do—I’m not listening.
• When I apply a quick fix to their problem—I’m not listening.
• When I fail to acknowledge their feelings—I’m not listening.
• When I fidget, glance at my watch, and appear to be rushed—I’m not listening.
• When I fail to maintain eye contact—I’m not listening.
• When I don’t ask follow-up questions—I’m not listening.
• When I top their story with a bigger, better story of my own—I’m not listening.
• When they share a difficult experience and I counter with one of my own—I’m not listening.

Listening is hard work, and most of us are unwilling to put in the time—and time is the operative word. Listening means setting aside our own timetable and tendency to hurry on to our next destination. It means settling into a relaxed, unhurried, leisurely pace. “Only in the ambiance of leisure,” Eugene Peterson writes, “do persons know they are listened to with absolute seriousness, treated with dignity and importance.” In leisure we regard others’ interests as more important than ours (Php 2:3). In leisure we say, “You are more significant than anything I have to do right now. You are the only one who counts, the one for whom I am willing to forgo my other obligations, appointments, and meetings. I have time for you.” In leisure, we listen long enough to hear the other person’s true heart so that if we do speak, we speak with wisdom. A leisurely pace, a listening ear, a loving heart. May you and I, by God’s grace, acquire them. (From David Roper’s book Teach Us to Number Our Days)

It takes two years to learn to talk and seventy years to learn to keep your mouth shut.

“A wise man will hear and increase in learning” (Pr 1:5)

Be a good listener, but be careful who you listen to.

The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention …. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.

Ray Pritchard’s advice on Listening –
Psychologists talk about “active listening.” That means listening all the way through to the end of a statement. Which is not what most of us do. The reason we don’t hear what the other person is saying is because we are too busy thinking about what we are going to say back to them. Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who answers before listening–that is his folly and shame.” Active listening means you focus on the other person, you listen to the whole statement, you let the meaning of it sink in, then you restate it in your own words.

Here are some tips for active listening:

• Lean toward the person while they are talking to you.
• Look directly at them (instead of letting your eyes wander) while they are speaking.
• Listen with your eyes and ears. Look for non-verbal cues like crossed arms and legs, looking into space, clinched fists, fingers drumming on the table, wide gestures, the forced grin. Those cues usually indicate some level of stress.
• Don’t interrupt. Period. Just don’t do it. Don’t finish someone else’s sentences either.
• Ask clarifying questions. “Could you repeat that? How long have you been feeling that way? What else about that really bothers you? How often do you feel frustrated about the way I act?”
• Don’t plan your response while you are listening to them talk.
When they are finished, say something like, “Let me see if I can put that in my own words.”
• You’ll know you’ve been a successful listener when you can put their thoughts in your words to their satisfaction. After all, the bottom line on listening is not that you think you heard, but that they think you heard.

By the way, did you know that listening is good for your health? Dr. James J. Lynch, a researcher at the University of Maryland, says that “while we speak with words, we also speak with every fiber of our being.” He discovered that blood pressure and heart rate rise rapidly whenever people talk. It also falls rapidly when people listen. For people with a history of hypertension, talking often raises the blood pressure into the danger zone. It happens, he says, because they tend to talk intensely and breathlessly, interrupting and speaking over other people. “They frequently fail to listen; they are on guard, defensive. So their pressure stays up.”

Here is his conclusion: How can we enjoy conversation yet keep blood pressure down? By listening more, by breathing regularly while talking, by alternating between talking and paying attention to what the other person is saying. (Readers Digest, 4/86, p. 124)

A tribute was once paid to a great linguist that he could be silent in seven languages. It’s a wonderful and rare gift. More of us need to use it. Communication begins with listening more.

Father, fill us with Your Spirit so that we might be supernaturally enabled to be “quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” for the glory of Your Name and in the Name above all names, Christ Jesus. Amen

I’d Rather Have Jesus by SELAH

SPIRITUAL PARADOX IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

path

CHRISTIANITY IS A LIFE FILLED WITH PARADOX

paradox is defined as a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement that is actually true. It is a statement that contradicts itself.

In the Bible spiritual paradoxes abound and confound the secular unsaved mind. In fact the wise of this world consider believers to be fools for Christ’s sake.

Paul writes that “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Co 1:25)

Brethren, we are veritable living spiritual paradoxes in this spiritually dead world, a world paradoxically we are IN but not OF “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ Who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (Php 3:20-21note)

The wise of this world scoff and laugh at God’s answers to questions like…

Do you want to live?

You must die!

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. (Gal 2:20note; cf 2 Co 4: 1011note)

You must lose your life!

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)

Do you want to be strong?

You must boast about your weaknesses!

“Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me… for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Co 12:910note)

Do you want to be rich?

You must become poor in spirit.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:3note)

Do you want to be first?

You must be willing to be last.

And sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.” (Mk 9:35, cp Mt 19:3020:816Mk 10:31Lk 13:30)

You must be willing to be a slave of all. 

Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave (doulos – bondservant) of all. (Mk 10:44)

Do you want to be exalted?

You must be willing to be brought low!

Humble (aorist imperative) yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time (1 Pe 5:6note). (cf Jas 4:6noteJas 4:10– note Mt. 23:12)

Do you wish to be great?

You must be willing to become a servant.

“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant.” (Mk 10:43, cf Mt 23:11)

You must be willing to humble yourself as a little child

“Whoever then humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18:4NET)

You must be willing to be least.

“Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is LEAST among all of you, this is the one who is GREAT.” (Lk 9:48)

Do you want to rule?

You must be willing to serve.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Mk 10:45, cf Mk 9:35)

Do you want to be fruitful?

You must die.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (Jn 12:24).

A FEW MORE SPIRITUAL PARADOXES

Before we became followers of Christ, we were DEAD IN our trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1note) but after salvation, we are ALIVE with Christ (Eph. 2:5note), and DEAD TO SIN (Ro 6:11note).

We were once slaves to sin but now are free from sin, “For when you were SLAVES OF SIN, you were free in regard to righteousness. But now having been FREED FROM SIN and ENSLAVED to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.” (Ro 6:20, 22note) True Freedom is not the right to do as we please, but the power to do as we should, a freedom and power paradoxically found only in enslavement to Christ! Indeed, we are most FREE, when we are most BOUND!

We also see this paradox in our daily growth in Christ-likeness (progressive sanctification). In Phil 2:12note Paul charges us to “WORK OUT our salvation in fear and trembling” and then he explains how this is even possible, writing that “it is God (the indwelling Spirit of Christ continually) WORKING in us, giving us the DESIRE (left to ourselves the desire of our fallen flesh is not to please God) and the (supernatural) POWER to do what pleases God.” (Phil 2:13NLTnote) Are you learning to depend daily on the Spirit of Jesus Who Alone can enable you to live the supernatural, abundant life (Jn 10:10)? As Tony Evans says you need to come to the place where you say to God, “I can’t do this on my own,” (Then) you are ready to say, “But through Your provision (the enabling power of the indwelling Spirit) of that which I lack, I can go out and tear down the strongholds that are defeating me. In Your strength, I can fulfill Your expectations for me.” You have now invited God to do for you what you can’t do for yourself!” (from “The Battle is the Lord’s”)

We see a similar paradoxical dynamic in Paul’s summary of His entire ministry where he says “by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I LABORED even more than all of them, yet NOT I, but God Who was WORKING through me by His grace.” (1 Cor 15:10note paraphrase)

Kent Hughes explains “Unless there is death, the vast possibilities inside us will not be released. We will shrivel and remain alone. We must die. (Ed: compare the similar spiritual principle in Mk 8:34353637Mt 10:3839Lk 9:232425) Those who are beginning the Christian life or are awakening to their spiritual potential must learn that we live by dying. This has been true in my own life.” (John: That You May Believe. Preaching the Word)

The ultimate paradox is…

To live is Christ, to die is gain. (Php 1:21note)

MY LORD JESUS CHRIST….

You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my all in all.

Play Chris Tomlin’s version of All in All

THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST TURNS FEAR INTO HOPE

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THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST TURNS FEAR INTO HOPE

Jesus Christ “has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:10note)

At the southern tip of Africa, a cape jutting out into the ocean once caused sailors great anxiety. Many who attempted to sail around it were lost in the swirling seas. Because adverse weather conditions so often prevailed there, the region was named the Cape of Storms. A Portuguese captain determined to find a safe route through those treacherous waters so his countrymen could reach Cathay and the riches of the East Indies in safety. He succeeded, and the area was renamed the Cape of Good Hope. (And Biblical hope means absolute assurance of future good!)

We all face a great storm called death (Heb 9:27note). But our Lord has already traveled through it safely and has provided a way for us to do the same. (1 Cor 15:55-57) By His crucifixion and resurrection, Christ abolished eternal death for every believer and has permanently established our fellowship with Him in heaven.

Now all who know Christ as Savior can face life’s final voyage with confidence (cf Heb 2:14-15note). Even though the sea may be rough, we will experience no terror as we pass through the “CAPE OF GOOD HOPE” and into heaven’s harbor. The Master Helmsman Himself has assured our safe passage (cf Heb 6:19-20note). —H. G. Bosch

Think of just crossing a river,
Stepping out safe on that shore,
Sadness and suffering over,
Dwelling with Christ evermore!
-Anon

FOR ALL WHO ARE IN THE “ARK” OF CHRIST, HE HAS CHARTED A SAFE COURSE THROUGH THE DARK WATERS OF DEATH!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Thomas Jefferson was a brilliant man, one of our greatest presidents and a main contributor to the Declaration of Independence, but sadly was also the author of a work known as the “Jefferson Bible.” Congress once issued a special edition of Jefferson’s “Bible” which was simply a copy of our Bible with all references to the supernatural eliminated. Jefferson confined himself solely to the moral teachings of Jesus. The last verse of the last chapter in the Jefferson Bible reads “There laid they Jesus, and rolled a great stone to the mouth of the sepulcher and departed.” Tragically Jefferson ended his “Bible” with Jesus in the tomb with no mention of His victorious resurrection. Praise God that the real Bible does not end that way but in the last book records those comforting words of our Lord “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last, and the Living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” (Revelation 1:17-18note) And so every believer now possesses a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3note)

C H Spurgeon would have strongly disagreed with Jefferson for he once said “The resurrection is a fact better attested than any event recorded in any history, whether ancient or modern.”

J C Ryle echoed this affirmation declaring that “in an age of abounding unbelief and skepticism, we shall find that the RESURRECTION of Christ will bear any weight that we can lay upon it.”

Indeed “the RESURRECTION of Jesus is the Gibraltar of the Christian faith and the Waterloo of infidelity and rationalism.” (R A Torrey)

Our faith is firmly grounded on the certainty of the resurrection of Jesus. Indeed, Christ’s resurrection is the central factor in our salvation because it is the greatest fact in history.

As Paul wrote “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile (useless, worthless) and you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:17)

In the early part of this century, a group of lawyers met in England to discuss the Biblical accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. They wanted to see if enough information was available to make a case that would hold up in a court of law. They concluded that Christ’s resurrection was one of the most well-established facts of history!

In his book Countdown, G. B. Hardy offers thought-provoking questions about the resurrection: “There are but two essential requirements: (1) Has anyone cheated death and proved it? (2) Is it available to me? Here is the complete record: Confucius’ tomb—occupied. Buddha’s tomb—occupied. Muhammad’s tomb—occupied. Jesus’ tomb—empty! Argue as you will, there is no point in following a loser.” Historical evidence and countless changed lives testify that the resurrection of Jesus is a fact, not a fable! Have you put your hope in the risen Christ? —D. C. Egner

Christ has risen from the dead and defeated death. “Thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58)

George Sweeting recalls that “In the early 1920’s, Nikolai Bukharin was sent from Moscow to Kiev to address a vast anti-God rally. For an hour he ridiculed the Christian faith until it seemed as if the whole structure of belief was in ruins. Questions were invited. A priest of the Orthodox church rose and asked to speak. He faced the crowd and spoke the ancient cry of victory “CHRIST IS RISEN.” (Matthew 28:7) Instantly the vast assembly rose to its feet, and the reply came back like a crash of breakers against a cliff, “HE IS RISEN INDEED!”

If you are skeptical or have friends who are skeptical of the truth of the Resurrection, here is a link to a free online copy of Frank Morrison’s 1930 classic “WHO MOVED THE STONE?” Morrison began his book as an unbeliever seeking to prove the resurrection was a myth, but ended as a believer in the Resurrected Redeemer because he was confronted with the life transforming truth that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was not meaningless myth but a resolute REALITY! God’s Spirit used Morrison’s book to move Lee Strobel from resolute atheism to genuine faith in Christ which Strobel later chronicled in his book “THE CASE FOR CHRIST” which has just been released as major motion picture (April, 2017). You might consider inviting an unbelieving relative or friend to go with you to view the movie and then have desert and discussion afterwards concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the single most important event in all history and all eternity! (See movie trailer and Study Guide on The Case for Christ)

Father, please grant Your children Holy Spirit enabled boldness to encourage skeptical friends and relatives to read Morrison’s book and/or to go check out (or even to take them to see) Lee Strobel’s journey to faith in Christ. In our Risen Redeemer’s Name. Amen

LINK TO FRANK MORRISON’S ONLINE BOOK “WHO MOVED THE STONE?

PLAY CHRIST THE LORD IS RISEN TODAY

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!
— Charles Wesley
_______________________
For many more in depth studies on the Bible including many verse by verse commentaries visit…

preceptaustin.org

THE RESURRECTION: NOT A “HOPE SO” BUT A “HOPE SURE!”

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THE RESURRECTION NOT A “HOPE SO” BUT A “HOPE SURE” BECAUSE OUR REDEEMER LIVES!

Every saint’s great “hope is in the resurrection of the dead!” (Acts 23:6). When Christ arose, death died. The angel rolled away the stone from Jesus’ tomb, not to let the living Lord out but to let the unconvinced outsiders in. And so Christianity is a religion of the open tomb! Indeed, the best news the world has ever heard came from a Jerusalem graveyard!

When Socrates lay dying, he was asked “Shall we live again,” to which he replied “I hope so!” Socrates’ hope was “to want something to happen or be true.” To which Job responds “For what is the hope of the godless when he is cut off, when God requires his life?” (Job 27:8)

In contrast, Biblical hope is not a possibility but a certainty for as Paul wrote we possess “the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago.” (Titus 1:2note) And so Christian hope represents an absolute assurance that God will do good to us in the future! Indeed, for believers the “best is yet to come!”

In a word, the believer’s hope is not a dead hope but “A LIVING HOPE” (1Pe 1:3note), not a “hope so,” but a “hope sure!”

The Egyptian belief in a resurrection from the dead led them to call the mummy case the “chest of the living” and to place a scarab beetle in the corpse’s heart. Why? Because they knew the scarab’s larva buried itself in the earth and later emerged as a mature insect which to them symbolized “resurrection.”

Socrates and the Egyptians held a false hope, but Sir Walter Raleigh held fast to “a hope both sure and steadfast” which served as an anchor for his soul (Heb 6:19note), prompting him to write the following words in his Bible the night before he was beheaded:

“From this earth, this grave, this dust, my God shall raise me up!” Hallelujah!

Jesus said “Because I live, you shall live also.” (Jn 14:19) The resurrection of believers is guaranteed by Christ’s own resurrection. His resurrection is the proof of our reconciliation. Our sure hope is that one day, Jesus will “transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory.” (Php 3:21note)

And when we take our last breath and leave our loved ones, they need “not grieve as do the rest who have no hope,” but can “comfort one another with these words” that “the dead in Christ will rise.” Our GRAVE is but a GATEWAY to His GLORY (1 Th 4:13-18note). For believers death is not a period, but only a comma! “We are more sure to arise out of our graves than out of our beds.” (T. Watson) David believed this truth writing “I will be satisfied with Thy likeness when I awake.” (Ps 17:15) Asaph affirmed “With Thy counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory.” (Ps 73:24) Job believed this truth declaring “Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:26) John assures us “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” (1 Jn 3:2note)

Indeed, we shall SEE our REDEEMER because He lives and because He lives, we too will live forever having been “made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:7note)

Spurgeon adds that forever “Christ shall be the object of our eternal vision and we shall we never want any joy beyond that of seeing Him. Think not that this will be a narrow sphere for the mind to dwell in. It is but one Source of delight, but that Source is infinite. All His attributes shall be subjects for contemplation, and as He is infinite under each aspect, there is no fear of exhaustion. His works, His gifts, His love to us, and His glory in all His purposes, and in all His actions, these shall make an eternal theme which will be ever new.”

Let us join Job in affirming “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” (Job 19:25)

We need to be like the soldier who said “When I die do not sound taps over my grave, but reveille–the morning call, the summons to rise!” Glory! Hallelujah!

In the 1700’s, there lived a man named Samuel Medley who went off to sea with the British Navy and was wounded in battle. During his recovery, he read a sermon by Isaac Watts and was converted. He later became a British pastor and a hymnist and wrote these words based on Job 19:25:

I know that my Redeemer lives!
What joy the blest assurance gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my everlasting Head!

He lives to bless me with His love,
He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed,
He lives to help in time of need.

He lives triumphant from the grave,
He lives eternally to save,
He lives all glorious in the sky,
He lives exalted there on high.

He lives to grant me rich supply,
He lives to guide me with His eye,
He lives to comfort me when faint,
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.

He lives to silence all my fears,
He lives to wipe away my tears
He lives to calm my troubled heart,
He lives all blessings to impart.

He lives, my kind, wise, heavenly Friend,
He lives and loves me to the end;
He lives, and while He lives, I’ll sing;
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King.

He lives and grants me daily breath;
He lives, and I shall conquer death:
He lives my mansion to prepare;
He lives to bring me safely there.

He lives, all glory to His Name!
He lives, my Jesus, still the same.
Oh, the sweet joy this sentence gives,
I know that my Redeemer lives!
–Samuel Medley

Play My Redeemer Lives by Nicole Mullen

THE GREATNESS OF GOD & HIS WORD

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MEDITATION ON THE GREATNESS OF OUR GOD AND HIS WORD

In Psalm 111:2 the psalmist writes…

Great are the works of the LORD.
They are studied (searched carefully) by all who delight in them.

I fear too often in the morning I speed read the Bible more like a Martha who “was distracted with all her preparations” than like a Mary who “was listening to the Lord’s word, seated at His feet.” (Lk 10:39-40) And so I was convicted when I read the Puritan writer John Flavel’s (1627–1691) exhortation on Psalm 111:2

“Let your meditation be as intensively full as may be. Do not let your thoughts swim like feathers upon the surface of the waters, but sink like lead to the bottom. Not that I think it feasible to sound the depth of divine providence by our short line: “Your way was in the sea and Your paths in the mighty waters, and Your footprints may not be known.” (Ps. 77:19), but it is our duty to dive as far as we can; and to admire the depth, when we cannot touch the bottom. It is in our viewing His providences as it was with Elijah’s servant, when he looked out for rain (1 Kings 18:44). He went out once and viewed the heavens, and saw nothing, but the prophet bid him to go again and again, and look upon the face of heaven seven times; and when he had done so, what now, says the prophet? “O now,” says he: “I see a cloud rising like a man’s hand”; and then, keeping his eye intently upon it, he sees the whole face of heaven covered with clouds. So you may look upon some divine providences in His Word once and again, and see little or nothing in them; but look “seven times’, that is, meditate often upon them, and you will see their increasing glory, like that increasing cloud!”

O Lord, by Thy sweet Spirit, transform our hearts to be less and less like Martha who was “worried and bothered about so many things” and more and more like Mary who understood that “only a few things are necessary, really only one” so that we like Mary might chose “the good part, which shall not be taken away from” us in time or eternity…in Jesus’ great Name. Amen (Luke 10:41-42)

How blessed is the man….
Who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season,
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:1-3note

Listen to this old song from the 90’s by Kim Hill on Psalm 1

Our Deliverer is Coming

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Mary’s words in her “Magnificat” gripped me this morning and I think they are words for all of us as we walk through the fiery trials of life.

Mary said…

And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. Luke 1:47

My Savior in Greek is Soter which is synonymous with 

  1. My Rescuer
  2. My Deliverer
  3. My Preserver
  4. My Protector
  5. My Healer!

May you take a moment to lift your hands and heart in praise to Our great Deliverer...below is Rich Mullins’ song I had never heard until this morning…I began to weep and praise and lift my hands as I pondered Mary’s words in Luke 1:47 with Mullins’ words of praise in the song…

Waiting for our Jesus Who “rescues us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:10note)

Praise “His holy Name Jesus, for it is He Who will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). Amen

TEACH US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS

clockIn Paul’s last words (last words always carry added weight!) to the Ephesian elders he said:

“And now I commend you (like a bank deposit) to God (entrusting you to His protection and care) and to the Word of His grace, which is continually (daily) able (inherently powerful) to build you up and to give you (your rightful) inheritance among all those who are sanctified (are holy, are set apart in and for Christ Jesus our Lord).” (Acts 20:32note)

Paul’s encouraging words beg the question – Who is it Who builds us up? Is this not God the Holy Spirit, Who (so to speak) is the “Chief Operating Officer” (COO) of the Trinity, the One Who uses our daily intake (cf Mt 4:4, Ps 1:2note) of the Word of His grace and thereby miraculously, supernaturally transforms us from glory to glory into the image of God’s Son, Christ Jesus (2 Cor 3:18note)? I think indeed this is the sweet Spirit Who is the “Construction Superintendent” in charge of our daily, progressive sanctification into greater degrees of Christ-likeness (1 Peter 1:2note, cf Ro 12:2note). This begs an important application question – Am I daily seeking to be filled with the Spirit of grace (Heb 10:29bnote, Eph 5:18note) and the Word of His grace, allowing it to dwell in me richly (Col 3:16note) so that the Spirit might have His way with me throughout my busy day, using even the problems and pressures to conform me to the image of His Son (Ro 8:29note)? If not, I am missing the “opportunity of a lifetime!” May each of us beg God’s Spirit to TEACH US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS (not our years) so that when all is said and done we might be enabled to present to Jesus at the Bema Seat (2 Cor 5:10note) a heart that has walked wisely in this world (Ps 90:12note), during the days of our life whether they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years (Ps 90:10).

LORD PLEASE TEACH US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS THAT WE MAY PRESENT TO YOU A HEART OF WISDOM for Your glory. Amen

Play this simple song Teach Us to Number Our Days

Watching and Waiting

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WATCHING AND WAITING – This thought would give me hope, and through my struggle I would eagerly wait until my change comes. I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. And so my soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. So I will wait for the LORD Who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob. I will even look eagerly for Him. I will watch expectantly for the LORD. I will wait for the God of my salvation, waiting expectantly for God’s Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, Who delivers us from the wrath to come. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait (in great anticipation and patience) for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ Who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. For we through (the enabling power of) the Spirit, by faith, are waiting eagerly for the hope (absolute certainty) of righteousness, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ (Who promised) “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” Maranatha. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. (Job 14:14, 19:26, 27, Ps 130:6, Titus 2:13-14, Isaiah 8:17, Micah 7:7, 1 Th 1:10, Phil 3:19-20, 1 Cor 15:51-52, 1 John 3:2, Gal 5:5, 1 Cor 1:7, Rev 22:12, 1 Cor 16:22-24)

MARANATHA!
OUR LORD,
COME QUICKLY!