Blog Archives

God’s plan IN Christ!

”In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.” And so begins the Universe and the creation of our world and even, of course, the creation of us, mankind. However, before “the beginning” what had God done?

God did what any good builder does. God planned it out:

Luke 14:28-30 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?  (29)  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, (30) saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’

 How many times as you have read Genesis, have you imagined God, thinking, “oh no, Man ate of that tree….what are we going to do now?” Yet, as you read the Genesis 3 account of sin entering into the world, it doesn’t feel like God has been caught off guard. Immediately, even before sending Adam and Eve out of the Garden, He speaks prophetically to Satan.

Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

This is commonly understood to be a prophecy about the coming Messiah and even the virgin birth since it was the seed of Eve mentioned not the seed of Adam.

When we fast forward to the NT however, it is more clearly understood that God did indeed have this all planned out. Paul wrote to the Ephesians that God had a plan. Here is a rather long but significant part of what Paul wrote.

Ephesians 1:3-14 ESV Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, (4) even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love (5) he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, (6) to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (7) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, (8) which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight (9) making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ (10) as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (11) In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, (12) so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. (13) In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, (14) who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Notice first, and I dare say, foremost, that all that God planned, he planned IN Christ. Everything was brought to completion by Christ and through Christ and so when he describes us as IN CHRIST, it only seem natural that we would need to be.

This passage, one long sentence in the Greek text, is very rich in meaning and I don’t plan an in depth explanation of it but it is worth noting some things from this passage.

Those of us who are IN CHRIST:

  • Are Blessed with every spiritual blessing
  • Are chosen as sons by adoption
  • Are sealed with the Holy Spirit

That is a LOT. Just the first one alone blows my mind. EVERY spiritual blessing is IN Christ. In my way of thinking, it is a good thing that I am IN Christ.

Also worth nothing is that those of us who IN CHRIST:

  • Have redemption through His blood (redemption is to buy back. See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and Revelation 5:9)
  • Have the forgiveness of our trespasses (Colossians 2:13)
  • Have an inheritance (And a great one at that: 1 Peter 1:3-4)
  • Have knowledge about His will. (A great blessing that even the Jews had…if they had only listened. Romans 3:1-2)

These, of course, could simply be a list of some of the “every spiritual blessings” Paul say we have in Christ and I would count them as blessings. Which of those 4 items is most important to you?

And yet, as the saying goes, with great privilege comes great responsibility and so it is true that IN CHRIST:

  • we are to be Holy and Blameless
  • to the praise of His glory (i.e. bring praise to him. Mt 5:16)

So many times, people want the blessings but not the responsibility. As John Maxwell said “They have uphill dreams but downhill habits.” 

We all want to enjoy the blessings of God that we have IN CHRIST, however, it is truly a very serious thing to consider that the same God who chose us in Christ, chose us to BE holy and without blemish. Therefore, if you choose to be IN CHRIST, you need to also choose to be holy and without blemish.

Amos 3:3 “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?

We KNOW what God wants for our life. Holy and Blameless. Do you agree? If you agree with that then you can walk with God. If you disagree and want to have all spiritual blessing and yet not be holy and blameless, then you cannot walk with God. However, the choice is yours.

Are you IN Christ? How did you get there?

Advertisements

4 reasons to Remember the Word of the Lord

It is January 1st again. A new year and a new set of resolutions for many of us. For those who profess to walk with Christ, often the resolution is made to “read through the whole entire Bible this year!” It is a good resolution but I am going to suggest a different one. The one I would suggest is “Remember the Word of the Lord this year!”

To Remember implies knowing.

Now to be able to remember something, it is apparent that you will need to know it. You cannot remember something that you never knew. So in this blog post I want to encourage you to “Remember the Word of the Lord”, knowing that it will require you to actually read it to accomplish that task. However, it is more important that you remember it than that you read it. If you read it only and then do not remember it, you have gained little and may have lost more than you gained.

Here are 4 reasons why you should Remember the Word of the Lord.

The Word of the Lord instructs us.

God’s Word instructs us on what we should do. It gives us examples of good and bad so that we can learn what to do and what NOT to do.  It instructs us in perspectives that the world might not share but which God says are good.

Romans 15:4 ASV  For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope.

Acts 20:35 ESV  In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

The Word of the Lord is forever.

God’s word will last forever. It is not going to go away. Philosophies and civilizations will come and go but God’s word is going to endure.  The people building the tower of Babel (Genesis 11) wanted to make a name for themselves…an enduring legacy. They are no more but God’s word is still around

Isaiah 40:8 ESV  The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

Those who forget God’s Word encounter great sadness when they remember.

If we ever learned it, we don’t really “forget”, we simply ignore or bury that voice of conscience so that we may continue on whatever wrong path we find ourselves. Take Peter for example, his third denial as Luke records it goes like this.

Luke 22:60-62 ESV  But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.  (61)  And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”  (62)  And he went out and wept bitterly.

Peter was so sure of himself. He would never deny Jesus. Yet, when he uttered that third and final denial, before he went out and wept bitterly….He remembered the saying of the Lord. He remembered the Word of God.

How truly sad it is for us to commit sin and THEN remember God’s word.

Remembering God’s Word brings us blessings.

One of the blessings in remembering the Word of God is that it brings protection from sin.

Psalms 119:11 ESV  I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Jesus must have taken David’s psalm to heart because in each of the temptations Matthew records in chapter 4, Jesus quotes from the Scriptures, specifically, the book of Deuteronomy: “It is written…” He answers Satan’s temptations with God’s Word and resists each one. We can too.

Another blessing in remembering the Word of the Lord (or “not forgetting”)  is it helps us to continue on and endure.

Hebrews 12:3-6 ESV  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.  (4)  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.  (5)  And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  (6)  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

There are many passages the deal with the need to remember what God has spoken. These are just a few that I hope will cause us to realize that it is not just reading the Bible that is important but that it is also remembering the Words of God.

What other New Year’s resolutions would a Christian be wise to make?

Remember Lot’s wife

Luke 17-32(Sunday’s Lesson can be heard here.)

Paul reminds us in Romans 15 that the Old Testament was written for our instruction. We can learn from the history recorded in it. Jesus was a master at pulling out lessons that we might not otherwise think about.

In Luke 17, Jesus warns that there will be a coming judgement for which people will be unprepared for. Of course, the reason for the warning is so that his followers would be ready.  Toward the end of his instruction, he drives the point home when he says:

Luke 17:32 ESV  Remember Lot’s wife.

Of course, as he said these words, his audience would no doubt exactly what happened with Lot’s wife: She looked back to Sodom as they were fleeing and was turned into a pillar of salt. The warnings and lesson should be very clear.

We remember her disobedience

The command of the angels was clear:

Genesis 19:17 ESV  And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.”

It may be a small thing, as we like to think of it, but when given a clear command like that, one would think that you would know better than to disobey it. Of course, I think it was unlikely that glancing back as the fire and brimstone fell was this issue. (Though that might be.) It is seems more likely that she was looking back with a desire to be back in that city with the comforts, family, and friends.

Matthew 6:21 ESV  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

We remember her disbelief.

If she had believed, would she have looked back? Did she want to commit suicide? No, it is more likely that she did not believe. Why would a loving God punish her for looking back? After all, there was so much history in Sodom. Surely, a little longing for what used to be would not be a bad thing? Peter reminds us that our past life needs to be left behind.

1 Peter 4:3 ESV  For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.

Faith, trusting in God, is so important. Lot’s wife is not the only one who has “looked back.” Israel also kept looking back while in the wilderness.

Numbers 11:4-5 ESV  Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat!  (5)  We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.

But, if we look at the world as a place of friendship and good things, we risk making God our enemy.

James 4:4 ESV  You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

We remember her destruction.

We may be tempted to minimize disobedience. Some even will say “I will enjoy the sin tonight and go forward and repent in church tomorrow.”

James 4:14 ESV  yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

What we might think of small sins, God often views differently. While the ones who are punished do not get the chance to repent, we get to learn from their examples. Think about:

  • Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10)
  • Uzzah (2 Samuel 6)
  • The young prophet (I Kings 13)
  • Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5)

They all remind us that God is a Holy God and he needs to be honored.

God is a loving God but it does not mean that he will not hand out punishment for those who disobey. Lot’s wife found out the hard way and we, well, we get the opportunity to learn from her mistake and not repeat the same thing.

What can we learn?

The lesson should be obvious but let’s state the obvious anyway.  We should believe and obey God or risk destruction.  Remember Lot’s wife.

 

 

2 things we can learn from Genesis 7

Gen 7-22Noah also takes center stage in chapter 7. There are 2 things to learn from this chapter. One corrects a childhood lesson and the other teaches us a very important lesson.

NOT two of every kind of animal

If you grew up like I did, you think that Noah had two of each kind of animal. It is an easy way to remember the lesson without over complicated it for a small child but for an older child or adult, the text reveals something else. Gen 7:2

Genesis 7:2 ESV  Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate…

It was 2 pair for the unclean but 7 for the clean. Otherwise, what happened to the animals Noah sacrificed in chapter 8? (Some of you are thinking: Oh , that is what happened to the Unicorns!) No!

Genesis 8:20 ESV  Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

 

Now they did go in 2 by 2 but somehow every picture shows 2 giraffe, 2 hippos, 2 lions, etc. When we read the text we can understand the actual count of animals.

Only 8 persons were saved in the ark.

How sad it is to see that Noah, a preacher of righteousness, had to enter the ark with only his wife, sons and daughter in laws. 8 total people saved from the flood.

Genesis 7:7 ESV  And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood.

 

The lesson to be learned from this is that the world was so bad (Gen 6:5) that Noah had no success in convincing them that a flood was coming. This is one passage that reminds us that few people will be saved. In the midst of a lot of teaching which states that “everyone will be saved, ” we need to take note that same God who wants to save everyone, let everyone else drown.

God is not inconsistent. Repentance and Faith in him are required to have a relationship with Him. If we do not repent at the preaching of the Gospel today, and enter the ark of safety (known as Jesus), then when the next flood (of fire) comes, we will be caught up in it.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: