Thursday, August 17, 2017

Catch The Pattern

--> In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

One comes to take and to damage thereby; that’s the pattern. The other comes to give and repair; that’s Jesus’ pattern.

I want to remind you today simply that Jesus is not asking you to give Him your heart – He has given you His. Jesus is not asking you to give Him your life – He has given you His. That’s the pattern.

The rest of your days will be about exploring how good He is for you so He can do and give and repair more and more for you. That’s life by Jesus. You like life that comes from Him, right? And He likes giving and repairing. That’s what He’s like. That’s the pattern, and you’re set up for that.

If you’ve been hearing or giving yourself to a contrary pattern, no matter where it comes from, no matter how you hear it, there will be no life in it, and there will, consequently, be no repair. It’s not for you. It’s not from Jesus. One pattern is from this world—take and damage. The other is from Jesus—give and repair. That’s Him.

Catch the pattern. It will help you.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Lost in Lust

What’s the problem with lust?  Why is it such a big deal?  Evidently, it’s really bad to us since we are so strongly warned about it in Galatians 5:16-17, as well as in 1 John 2: 

15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

I think that the lust we are warned about is the drive to find our identity—who we actually are—completed by a person, a position, or a possession because we don’t know or have forgotten our identity given to us by God.  We are the miracle-born sons of God.  Perfect.  Made by Him.  And the love of God reminds us of that all the time so, convinced about it, we live as He intended—by faith in Jesus.

If any other identity (husband, wife, businessman, ministry leader, etc.) becomes primary, then we are in trouble because we will stop being our true selves in the attempt to become something else, something that seems to work and get us what we want.

What cripples us is that we work to get our identity, that which says we are complete and right, another way than what God has revealed, and it’s the way of the lie:  “You are not complete, you are not good unless you can get him, get her, get that job, buy that car.”  Played out, lust says that you’ll be complete if you can keep getting what identifies you well, so become whatever is required to win your identity.  That is from the world around you—it’s not from the Father, and it’s not from the Spirit who lives in you.  The ones following after lust will be daily traumatized by wondering if they’re doing everything right.  In the inner trauma, love from the Father will be strangled, and they will act like it.

And the bigger problem?  They’re no longer themselves.  In their effort to complete their identity, they’ve become a slave to the lie that they don’t already have one.  They’re lost—not to God, but to themselves.  The wonder of the new creation escapes them, even while they are part of it.  What they are attempting to get is “passing away” each day, and must be recaptured and lost, recaptured and lost, again and again. 

That’s the ugliness of lust. 

However, those of us who believe that God has given us an identity worth cherishing, an identity that means He has made us exactly as He wants us, an identity in which are all the blessings of Christ, that belief is the will of God.  And that means eternal life—God’s life given to you and me. 

Stay there.  Keep getting that identity from God, and you won’t get lost in lust.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Your Place In God's Parade

I have important news for you:  you are not indebted to God.  You owe Him nothing.  He likes it that way, and works to keep you convinced of it. 

The attempt to “pay Him back” for all that He has done for you is an unintended rejection of His intention with you:  to prove how perfect He is toward everyone by His undeserved and lavish generosity with you. Parading you is how He gets credit.

So when people introduce obligation between you and God—“After all God has done for you, how can you not give your all for Him?”—not only are we robbed of the fullness and joy of God’s grace, but so is He.

The apostle Paul wrote that God “canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:14-15).

God went public!  How cool is it when we do too?  In other words, He has taken away everything against you, and He wants everyone to know all about it—heavenly rulers and authorities, as well.  Jesus took away not only your debt, but also the laws you broke which would have proved it.  There is no evidence of you ever being a law-breaker, of you ever being in trouble with Him, or of you ever owing God anything.  He did that at the cross!

God’s grace never creates debt; God’s grace always pays debt.  Knowing that is the perfect motivator for you, His new creation.  Maybe you’re feeling joy and freedom right now because I’m reminding you about how awesome He is toward you.  That’s how He sort of “comes alive” in you and to you—and to others.  So let’s not introduce anything that diminishes God’s triumphant grace parade.  You’re front and center, and He’s got you parading in front of an important audience.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Your Place In God’s Parade”, and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click https://youtu.be/xghbA7u56cw.)

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Your Place In God's Parade

You are not indebted to God.  Why not, and why is that important?  Spend 3 minutes with me to find out what fun God is having with you.  You’ll be glad you did.


Friday, August 04, 2017

We're Under Grace

I don’t know what you’re doing with your life as it involves others, but for the rest of my days I promise to keep everyone accountable to the grace of God.  Grace is for life—the length of it and the enjoyment of it.  Romans 6:14 reads, “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”

I know that the word “accountable” might be an odd word to put together with “grace,” but it comes as something of a response to the legalistic “accountability police”, who seem always to be prosecuting even Christians with the word.  “You’ll be held accountable for that,” they might say.  That always makes me shudder . . . and maybe want to vomit . . . on them.  Is that wrong? 

“Grace” doesn’t mean that nothing matters; grace means that Jesus matters.  He’s got us, and He’s given us all of His righteousness and holiness.  I’m going to hold you to that, because believing it, over and over again, is how you live by grace.  Jesus was successful for you two thousand years ago, and He is successful for you and with you today.  Believing that will have an effect because grace always works.  You’ll like it, and Christ in you will be in evidence.  Others will like that, too.

But keeping yourself in the crosshairs of your own gun—“I’ll be held accountable”—or turning it upon others—“You’ll be held accountable”—is not Christian living.  It may seem to help people by temporarily altering their behavior, but it actually hurts them by pushing them toward fleshly living.  Choosing your own behavioral righteousness over the gift of His will immerse you into foreign territory, where you will be unrecognizable to yourself.  In other words, you won’t work right.  And I don’t like that at all.  That’s why I don’t like the accountability police.
   
However, if grace is grace, then it’s for them, too.  So I’m going to hold them accountable to God’s grace. 

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Where Is The Power of God?

It is far better to tell Christians that they have been changed than it is to tell them to change.  Only then can they live by faith in what Jesus did, rather than by faith in what they must do.  That distinction is crucial!  Marveling at the change that took place for them and to them is the only way of hope for the uncertainty of their days in this world. 

Get that order out of order (which we all-too-often have), and life by works is the unavoidable result.  That won’t work.  Not for anybody.  It’s not supposed to.  Life is by faith that Jesus was successful for you and with you—that’s the gospel.  It’s fantastic news!  And that’s where the power of God is.

Stay there, and works will follow.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Where Is The Power of God?” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click https://youtu.be/w-AJGGrkU-U, or simply scroll down this blog page.)

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Where Is The Power of God?

Got 1.5 minutes?  A lot of us are worn out and wondering what we’ve done wrong to become so, . . . blah.  We’ve got a power-outage.  The solution is better than you think.