Archive for June, 2009

v45 Grace and Peace to You

Grace and Peace To You!

Paul’s normal greeting and prayer of blessing are these words, "Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. He uses this phrase, or a very close form, sixteen times (Rom., 1 Cor. , 2Cor., Gal., Eph., Philip., Col., 1 Thess., 2 Thess., 1 Tim., 2 Tim., Titus, Philemon, 1 Pet., 2 John, Revelations) within the first three verses of each of these letters. I think he might have been trying to make a point.

You see, these concepts are strange and queer to the world. This phrase is at once a hope to grasp, a prayer to plea, and a blessing to receive. It is a hope in that we claim as a promise God’s bestowal of grace and peace for those who are in Christ. It is a prayer in that it is Paul’s desire (and mine too) that you too might partake of this grace and its twin sister peace. Finally, it is a blessing that God allows us to be harbingers for His grace and peace in the world to spread them through the life of Christ in us.

These words can open locked doors of your mind like magic keys. They open to us the chains and shackles that have held us in deepest slavery of our souls.

It is grace and grace alone, that marvelous, wonderful, matchless grace that God gave us in Christ that destroyed and rendered void Sin’s contract for our employment with death. He is no longer our master because of Grace. By all means give me grace, I must have it to live. If I have not grace, I have not life but the sickly, pathetic, anemic existence that Sin allows me. God give me grace. God give me Christ.

Next, give me peace. Peace is always found with her big sister Grace. You can never find Peace till you have found Grace first. In fact Peace does not exist except for the work of Grace. Peace is that certain and abiding knowledge that we are justified before God from all our sin. That Christ has placated our conscience toward God. That there is not now nor can ever be again a claim that would find us guilty before God. We are free from the tyrant of a guilty conscience FOREVER. There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

I underlined that on purpose. There are charlatans, pernicious peddlers of poisonous platitudes that will tell you they have the secret to grace. Just take this elixir of conscience numbing deception and you will never be concerned about peace again. Your conscience won’t bother you anymore. They do not tell you that they have not satisfied conscience but seared it so it can not feel life-saving pain again. Run from that smiling demon as quickly as your limbs can fly you.

No, you must have grace which is found through faith in Christ alone. Any admixture will immediately render the life-blood death-blood. Don’t add anything to it. Now, once you take this grace by faith your conscience is satisfied. It is so satisfied it not only does not condemn you, but now encourages you. Peace is the most productive state of being. You will be among a select few who have no more battles to fight. Your king fights these for you as you submit and yield to his Lordship and will.

Grace takes care of Sin once and for all. Peace takes care of your conscience once an for all.

Grace and peace to you.

I was speaking with somebody yesterday when the conversation turned to some peculiar behavioral patterns that a close relative of hers exhibits. I put a couple of these together and strongly suggested that she look into a particular social/behavioral syndrome to help her determine if this person might have it.

Then I said something that might appear strange, "If you determine that they have this syndrome you shouldn’t tell them, they don’t need to know but you do." There are things that people can change and should and there are things that flat out can’t be changed.

We were in fact talking about an old dog and new tricks. This was a mature adult who has managed his life to this point. To let him or her know that they are odd and thought to be weird by others serves little purpose. But to understand they are a little different and why they are that way can give you great insight into them and how to have a less stressful relationship with them.

This little story of knowing how you perceive yourself and how you are in truth reminds me of the little story of the Emperor’s New Clothes. You remember the story don’t you? An emperor was convinced of his own great nobility and worth and was made very easily to believe himself worthy of the finest clothing that money could buy and he set out to obtain the same. Unscrupulous persons who were near to him and well trusted sold him what he desired for a a very dear price. They spun him a robe like none had ever seen before nor ever would since it was nothing but empty lies. He proudly slipped into the vanity of his own deception and marched in the full view of all to display his birthday suit. Which, I am sure, nobody cared to see. Now is the time someone needs to know the truth.

The emperor has, like so many down at the house of religion, bought a box full of deception at a very handsome price. Now he might feel really good about his purchase and I am sure he even believes it to have great value since the price he paid for it was no small amount. But we all know that he has been duped. There is an element of persons who, perhaps beginning with sincere and upright intentions, when once they learn that you are easily manipulated by perceptions will take advantage of you. Welcome to the Christian Country Club.

This is when and where somebody needs to know the truth. It will be painful but their eternal welfare is at stake. They will not like you for bursting their pride-bubble but someday they may thank you. For they were not only en route to make a bigger fool of themselves but were headed for bitter and utter destruction, even death.

Somebody needs to tell this person at the risk of great rejection. That is what Christ did for us. He exposed our nakedness. But He did not leave us there. He offered us His robe.

v43 The Music’s Inside

But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. Rom. 2:29

There are far too many white-washed sepulchers in the church. The outside is all pretty and presentable but inside death. Here Paul is talking about the Jew who is by faith not by practice. To be a chosen one, is to undergo heart surgery. You must have a new heart. Don’t ask me how that happens, it is the mystery of the work and the ministry of the Spirit. But I can tell you this, slapping on a coat of paint doesn’t cut it. The inside of the cup is still filthy. Circumcision is that of the heart.

It is not so difficult to notice those who are circumcised outwardly only. They display their righteousness for all to see and admire. These are the frenetic religious, always busy for attention, always painting the outside.

I saw something scary recently. A man who has been in ministry for his whole life was busy frantically painting. So concerned was he about the outside that you could not see the Spirit in him. I am certain He was there but he was under so much paint none could tell or know it.

Stop, stop, Stop!, STOP!!!! I don’t know how else to say it. Put down the paintbrush! Stop the dancing! Yes you were designed to dance but not to the tune of this world, but for the audience of One. The dance you were designed for is the dance of the heart. Does your heart hear the music of the Love song of God? If it does not, it’s probably because you are too busy dancing for the world. Sit down, rest, listen. I challenge you to stop counterfeiting the Life of Christ and wait till you hear the music in your heart. The dance of Life starts in the heart, not in the flesh. Now if and when you hear Him your heart will dance. And if you want to dance for everybody else, go ahead, let ‘er rip. They won’t understand it because they are listening to a different drummer.

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 2 Cor. 4:10
When God wants to drill a man
and thrill a man and skill a man

When God wants to mold a man to play the noblest part,
When he yearns with all his heart
to create so great and bold a man that all the world might be amazed,
Watch his methods, watch his ways.

How he ruthlessly perfects whom he royaly elects.
How he hammers and hurts him and with mighty blows
converts him into trial shapes of clay that only God understands
while his tortured heart is crying and he lifts beseeching hands.

How he bends but never breaks
when his good he undertakes.
How he uses whom he chooses
and with mighty acts induces him to try his splendor out.

God knows what he’s about.

                  — Author Unknown

v41 Fight The Good Fight

We all enjoy the entertainment of a good fight scene. The fight may be one of strength, or one of intellect, or one of strategy and wits, or even one involving the power of love. In any case, it is the pivotal point of decision that brings the tension — will my hero (the one I sympathize with) emerge victorious? Will he or she overcome the tremendous obstacles that must be conquered?

Have you ever noticed how unfulfilling it is when, in your estimation, the party that emerged victorious had the advantage from the get-go? There was no contest. His victory was lackluster, uneventful, a real yawner, even disappointing and disturbing. Everybody likes to root for the perceived underdog.

Christ was the perceived underdog on the Cross. All the world’s power and authority, even the vehement anger of even His own people was rallied against Him. The tension and drama is even more heightened since He was innocent and we know it. Was there ever a more glorious, majestic and awe inspiring victory in Time? No, never.

God loves to replay that video. He loves us to watch it and see the victory of His Son over the enemies of God. Paul desired for nothing but to preach Christ and Him crucified. I encourage you, it is the best, most glorious story you will ever hear or experience. It bears repeating over and over.

And that is just what God is doing. He is playing that scene over and over again in the lives of His children. We are now the underdogs. We are confronted with a host of enemies of our souls. They are mounted and daily take charge to attack us, primarily our minds. But we have armor and weapons of warfare. Satan, the World and the Flesh (ourSelf) have made an alliance to defeat us. Make no mistake about it, we are weaker than them. But in my weakness He is made strong. We emerge, no ascend, from our daily dying to a greater victory than the day before.

And this is the victory, even our faith. This is what all the angels look in upon, how God is manifesting His sons in the victories won by their faith.

But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? 7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: 8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. 13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. 14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. Heb. 2:6-18

The Spirit of God is in the business of shaking things. That is, loosing those things that can be loosed. And make no mistake, if you are His precious child, He desires and will shake your life. He is separating those things which are earthly from those things which are heavenly, those things which are temporal from those things which are eternal. He does this so that only He remains. "That I remain in you and you remain in Me." He is establishing Faith in you by allowing those trials and temptations which will test the mettle of your love. He allows the storms to rock your boat, He feeds the flame that purifies your heart toward Him, He guides the Surgeon’s knife that separates your soul from your spirit, even His Word Jesus Christ, that you might take all thought to the mind of Christ.

If you have been taking these words you receive in these messages down deep, down where they need to do their work, you may in all probability find yourself somewhat adrift. You see, you must put away childish things now that you are older. It becomes a whole new world as you continue on in your walk. You will go places you have never been, foreign lands. But take heart, He will show you where you should go.

So are you anchored or adrift? There are many today who are adrift in a sea of confusion, battered by the waves of deceit and untruths. It is a scary predicament to have nothing solid to hold on to, nothing on which to place your feet, to be tossed back and forth by every wave. Stability is peace. Stability is confidence. Stability is strength.

If you are grasping for something to hold on to. If you fear for your future. If your world is being shaken, you must let go of the flimsy and useless teachings of men , these can not help you in your time of need. You must place you foot squarely on the only thing which remains after everything is shaken — to wit Christ Jesus the Lord.

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus Name

On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

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