Thursday, May 27, 2010

Crucified With Christ

Paul sharply warns the Galatians about false gospels in which people suppose they will help save themselves through their own efforts (i.e., keeping the law, being circumcised, etc.)

In 2:16 the apostle packs a sandwich with the basic message... "we are saved by faith alone." The inability of the law to bring righteousness is the bread for the sandwich. On the top,"...a man is not justified by the works of the law..." and on the bottom, "...not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified." The middle is the meat. We are justified, " faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ..."

Do you get the point? You are a sinner. You deserve the punishment of death for your sin. You cannot make yourself righteous. You need a substitute righteousness. You cannot save yourself. You need to get out of the way and let Jesus save you - and this is accomplished by your identification with Christ.
(Galatians 2:20) I have been crucified with Christ; 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 for me.
My sins are atoned for in Christ's crucifixion. The righteousness I needed comes from Christ. My old life is done away and my new life is empowered by Christ in me. Now I live a life of faith in Christ.

The self should be executed: "I am crucified with Christ..."
(Galatians 5:24) And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

(Galatians 6:14) But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
But now I should be yielded to Christ: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me..."
(Galatians 5:25) If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
How should we live? Think about Christ Jesus. Perfectly obedient. Pure. Wise. Zealous. Gentle. Kind. Forthright. He condescended to serve sacrificially. Truthful. Courageous.

Wow! Haul my stinking sinful carcass out of here and let Jesus show up in my life!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On Gratitude

Today I find myself in Oneonta, New York - the biggest town in the county where I grew up. Yesterday was a long trip in the rain - bouncing over the broken pavement on most of route 17/I-86 across the southern edge of western New York State. My parents will arrive in a few hours and we will get to work opening up their house at Saddlebag Lake. But since I arrived I have been alone, out of my beloved routines and quiet - more than usually introspective.

The girl at the hotel desk yesterday asked me if I needed directions. I said, "No thanks. I grew up here." I am very familiar with this area and it brings back memories of my childhood and the span of my whole life. That "girl" was somewhere between high school and college age. No doubt she saw me as a pretty old guy. :-) I guess I am!

I feel like I am in the prime of my life at 54. My age gives me perspective. As a child and as an immature adult I was always daydreaming about future goals - future experiences - future successes - future prosperity - future recognition. Now I've had plenty of experiences. :-) I also know that throughout my life I have been RICH beyond everything I could have possibly imagined. I've been rich - but discontent. How sad!

But now - from this vantage point - I am more and more appreciative and grateful. I'm grateful to God. I'm grateful for the wonderful people He's put into my life over the whole course of life. I'm grateful for the education, for the experiences, for the difficulties, for the successes. I'm grateful for life!
(2 Samuel 7:18) Then King David went in and sat before the LORD; and he said: “Who am I, O Lord GOD? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?
Above it all, I have been blessed to know God. What could be greater? He has guided me, called me, put me in His service and promised me ETERNAL LIFE. Wow! Who am I and what is my house, that God has brought me this far?

The goal of life should always be to know God better in the present moment - to learn the lessons that the present circumstances are teaching us - to appreciate the blessings. There is nothing in the future that is better than knowing God in the present. Godliness with contentment is GREAT GAIN!
(Philippians 3:7–8) But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
What will my future hold? God knows! But whatever it is, I am RICH!
(Psalms 107:8) Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!

AMEN! Praise the Lord!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Glory of the LORD

(Isaiah 42:8) I am the LORD, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images.

We cannot comprehend God, we can only believe what He has chosen to reveal about Himself. But since we are rebellious creatures who naturally exalt ourselves above God, we are always tempted to limit God to an image that we CAN comprehend. Infinity? Eternity? Trinity? Sovereignty? Revelation? They are beyond our ability and even beyond our imagination so we modify them (or reject them) so that our god is comprehensible.

But the gods we create do not exist. The gods we create are not worthy of worship. The gods we create are not able to save. The gods we create are tame and lame products of our imaginations. The religions we develop around these gods are anemic, watered down, pale shadows of what the God of the Bible requires.
(Psalms 50:21–22) These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, And set them in order before your eyes. “Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces, And there be none to deliver:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Home Sick

Where do you draw the line for, "I'm too sick to work?" In my family we are usually pretty stoic. Why waste a perfectly good sick day being sick?

Well, I'm sick at home today. Otherwise I would be at a day long meeting an hour and a half from home instead of sitting here writing this blog entry. I started feeling this cold coming when I got up on Monday and it has gotten progressively worse each day. I worked through it - Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I fully intended to work through it today as well, but I finally surrendered.

Are we workaholics? Do we have an overdeveloped sense of duty? Are we pridefully deluded that we are indispensable? I think it is none of the above.

Actually, I was so sick that I couldn't find the time to get ready to leave for the meeting. I envisioned myself sitting there with my colleagues - sneezing and sniffing in the car on the trip down, surrounded by used tissues in the meeting and making frequent trips to the men's room. I realized that I would be too preoccupied to be of much help. Besides that, it is not very nice to share something like this cold if it can be avoided.

I am not a real workaholic - but I like my work. Taking a day off usually means I will be behind schedule. Praise the Lord! Today I will miss the meeting, but actually not miss any of my regularly scheduled work! In fact, I have already done work that I thought I couldn't get to until tomorrow. Besides that, I took a nap, counseled someone over the phone, checked on someone else by phone, cut my son's hair and read a book! Now I'm even finding time to write in my long neglected blog.

God is good. He is using even my cold to bless me! Praise the Lord!

Now I think I'll take another nap...