A Different Culture

January 8, 2014

Ephesians 4:17-19

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. 


A Different Culture



Do the principles of the kingdom of God make sense to those that are in the world?  Of course not, for 2 Corinthians 2:14 tells us, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.”  The natural man and the spiritual man live under the dominion of two different kingdoms. One is the kingdom of light and truth and the other is the kingdom of sin and darkness.  When we came into Christ and received Him by faith into our hearts, the Word says that we were translated out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.  Colossians 1:13 says it this way, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son.”  We were transplanted, transposed into a whole new realm while physically we didn’t change and our local we didn’t change; yet inwardly a transformation began to take place.  A life that is given by surrendering its will to its Creator and Redeemer is no longer a life lived for self, but instead it is lived to the One who redeemed it.  Sin hardens a person’s heart toward God. It robs a person of the ability to discern, understand and know the ways of God.  Just as hate blinds a person to love, so sin blinds a person’s eyes and heart to “The Truth”.  Because the natural man has become insensitive to spiritual things they are foolishness to him and as a result he becomes ignorant to the truth.  That ignorance and unbelief keeps him in a state of separation from God and in a place of the judgement that is already in place against all ungodliness and wickedness.  Some have deluded themselves by thinking that because they are a pretty good person and they do lots of charitable acts that God receives them because of that and they can earn their way to heaven.  The Word declares in Romans 3:23,  “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  Ephesians 2:1-9 tells us where we were and how we came back to God. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  It is because of this wonderful undeserved grace that has translated us out of darkness and into light, that we can no longer live as those who are still in darkness do.  We have changed our culture.  If I am truly a Christian how can I live contrary to my culture?  Just as a Muslim or a Buddhist can’t live as a Christian, because it is contrary to their beliefs, a Christian should no longer live as the world, which is contrary to his or her beliefs.  My being, culture and moral compass is now rooted in Christ.  He has made me His temple and dwelling place; to now live as the world, is a betrayal and defilement of His sanctuary and of the covenant I have entered into with Him.  A covenant is a life binding agreement and commitment unto death.   Christ sealed it in His own sinless blood.  How can we then live as the world when He has given His life to take us out of it and into His righteousness?  How can we adulterate any longer His holy covenant with actions that are conformed to this world?  We, who are in Christ, are a holy people set apart for God’s own possession.  We must realize who we are, what we were called for and what our responsibility is to the holy calling and salvation we have graciously received.  Obedience is to honor Him you proclaim as Lord.  

 
Blessings,
kent
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Irregular Relationships

Romans 12:10, 16-21
[Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
[Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Relationships with people can be one of the greatest trials we endure on earth. Some people we can get along great with, but then there are always those “other people.” The irregular people in our life, that are like burrs under our saddle, always pushing our buttons and causing us to feel the way we shouldn’t ought to feel. If it wasn’t for those certain people life would be so much easier and we would certainly be better Christians in our attitudes and behavior. Have you ever felt like that?
People can hurt us deeply. They can disappoint, betray, slander, ignore, lie, cheat us, steal, criticize, despise us, defraud, or just be someone we don’t want to be around for whatever reason. I think much of the time if I could just exist in my own little world and have brief surface relationships with people; I would probably do okay. I can endure. After all, wasn’t it relationships with certain people that put Jesus on a cross? And to be sure, there will be certain people in our lives that will be our cross to bear.
Why does God have people like that in our lives? Because no one can put their finger on the issues in your life that God wants to deal with like an enemy or irregular person. They can bring out in you thoughts and feelings you never thought you could have. Why is that good if they just serve to cause me to sin? They aren’t really causing you to sin, they simply are exposing attitudes of sin, selfishness, hate, unforgiveness, and a lack of God’s love in you. We are often not a very pretty sight when we really see how shallow we really are and how much we lack in the area of unselfish, agape’ type love. For you to really love your enemy doesn’t come naturally to you. There has to be a greater principle of love at work in you to do that.
I am reminded of a passage I read out of the book, “The Light and the Glory” which addresses the hand of God in bringing about the formation of our country. This particular passage was concerning the faith of George Washington. “A turncoat collaborator named Michael Wittman was captured, and at his trial, it was proven that he had given the British invaluable assistance on numerous occasions. He was found guilty and of spying and sentenced to death by hanging. On the evening before the execution, an old man with white hair asked to see Washington, giving his name as Peter Miller. He was ushered in without delay, for Miller had done a great many favors for the army. Now he had a favor to ask of Washington, who nodded agreeably. “I’ve come to ask you to pardon Michael Wittman.” Washington was taken aback. “Impossible! Whittman has done all in his power to betray us, even offering to join the British and help destroy us.” He shook his head. “In these times we cannot be lenient with traitors; and for that reason I cannot pardon your friend.”
“Friend! He’s no friend of mine. He is my bitterest enemy. He has persecuted me for years. He has beaten me and spit in my face, knowing full well that I would not strike back. Michael Wittman is no friend of mine!”
Washington was puzzled. “And you still wish me to pardon him?”
“I do. I ask it of you as a great personal favor.”
“Why?”
“I ask it because Jesus did as much for me.”
Washington turned away and walked into the next room. Soon he returned with a paper on which was written the pardon of Michael Wittman. “My dear friend,” he said, placing the paper in the old man’s hand, “I thank you for this.””
What story, but the story of Calvary could better illustrate the principle in action of loving your enemy? It is the principle of His love and life within us that causes us to endure with patience and forgiveness the offences of others in our lives. God wants to love even the irregular people through us. After all you might be the irregular person in someone else’s life.

Blessings,
kent

Your Gift of God’s Love

November 2, 2012

Luke 11:4
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.

Your Gift of God’s Love

Remember that friend that betrayed you? The one you love and trusted and shared everything with? Maybe it was a husband, a wife, a close friend or relative.
Wow, how could you forget the hurt you felt when you discovered that betrayal. This was a person that you loved and would have done anything for. How could they do such a thing?
Now what? They are banned from your life forever. You feel you could never trust them again and maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe they repented, cried and asked for your forgiveness, but how could they dare, after what they had done? Now they are on your black list. Your list of unforgiveness, where they have been exiled forever, as far as you are concerned.
I know, who needs people like that in their life? That person you were so vulnerable with and told all of your secrets. Maybe it stirs up all of those raw emotions even thinking about it again.
Did you know Jesus had some friends like that? Some of them were His very own disciples that swore they would stick by Him even to the death, but when it came to that, they ran away. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples and friends even denied, cursed and swore he never knew him.
How twisted and sharp the knife of betrayal can be. How deep are its pain and wounds.
Why didn’t Jesus write off these, “so called friends” of His? Why wasn’t He wiser to pick more faithful and trustworthy people?
Maybe because they were a lot like all of us, who under the right circumstances, would act out of an unbecoming nature and character. Did it mean they didn’t really love Jesus? Did it mean they didn’t hate what they had done or how they had acted?
No, we see Peter, after realizing what he had done, weeping bitter tears for denying his Lord and his best friend.
Maybe those who have hurt and betrayed us don’t deserve our forgiveness, but Jesus showed us through the cross that forgiveness, though undeserved, it what sets people free. When we are the one that has been wronged, it sets us free as well. Forgiveness is a wall of un-love that we erect to keep out our offenders, but it doesn’t just isolate and separate them, it does something else. It separates us in our relationship with the Father.
Jesus says in Matthew 6:15, “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Did Jesus lead by example? What did He say on the cross concerning those who had beaten, tortured and hung Him there? “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Maybe today is a good time to forgive that person who has hurt you, physically, emotionally, spiritually or even in all of those ways. You are not saying they are right in what they did, only that you have enough of the love of the Father to release them and no longer hold their offense against them. When you set them free, you will set yourself free as well. The love of your forgiveness is one of the richest ones that you can give and, like God’s love, it is not given because it is deserved or earned, but because you choose to be like Jesus in His love for you. You and I didn’t deserve God’s forgiveness, but He chose to give it to us anyway.

Blessings,
kent

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