Sunday, March 30, 2008
Acts 3 tells us about Peter and John heading to the temple when a man who had been lame from birth was being carried to his ‘office’- street spot outside the temple, to panhandle. No doubt as he had done countless times, day after day through out his life. Everyone who was in a regular routine of passing by this gate would have seen and known this poor lame beggar lying on the roadside gate yard. He asks the disciples for some coin. . Peter tells the man he has no silver or gold but what he does have he would give to the man; “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”- Peter reached and took the man by the hand and raised him up- “and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.’ The scandalous power of God in the life of those who need healing! Thank You God that YOU are still in the power of changing lives completely and in such a way as to impact the entire community! A man crippled from birth is able to walk-pitied, rejected, ignored- this man who perhaps has given up hope of being able to walk; he would never have seen any real hope of medical enhancement available- no way- no hope. Now His walk will never be the same!
Ephesians 5:1-21 Paul tells us to GET UP AND WALK! Walk in a way that shows who's kids we are...walk as a child of God.
Ch 4:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
In the next few verses God's Word will challenge us to walk in Love, Walk in Light and Walk in Wisdom- The opposite of which would be LUST, DARKNESS and FOOLISHNESS.
Love is self sacrificing acts of worship - Lust is using others for self worship
Light is a transforming relationship with God - Darkness is living out of self reliance
Wisdom is understanding that time is short, God's will is daily, and we must rely on God's Spirit. Foolishness is living for the immediate, self gratification, and under the control of what you can 'use' (money, sex, drugs, beauty, fame, etc.)
Tonight God's Spirit broke through to the life of a young addict. Even in the midst of confusion and fear for the future; longing to be set free but not sure if it is possible, longing to WALK! In the Jewish mindset the idea of one's name carried with it the authority and power of that person themselves, the very nature of that person.
"In the name of Jesus Christ walk!" This is the hope of healing and purpose of life that we can WALK in. This young street friend is about to take some first steps by the power of God's Spirit to understanding freedom in Christ. What a blessing that we get to journey with him!
Monday, March 24, 2008
"Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as (other Haligonians) Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds." Eph 4:17
Look around....what does your freedom look and smell like to you?
Is freedom the ability to make your own decisions based upon what you want, when you want it, no matter what or where? Is freedom having no one to answer to for anything you do no matter how it might look, feel or the lasting affects it might have?
"They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous, and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity." Eph. 4:18-19
Often time the kind of freedom we imagine ends up destroying the most important relationships in our life and alienating us from God and others. This sort of freedom wraps heavy weights of guilt, regret, hurt, anger, causing us just to use people and things to escape our present realities. This sort of freedom is NO FREEDOM at all- it leads to addiction, self- loathing, self destruction and a deep loneliness of the soul.
We cannot truly be free unless we are able to destroy the grip of sin and the cost of death in our lives!!
People try to set themselves free by taking on 'religion' in order to try and gain freedom from sin or death. But mere religion is nothing more then moralism or legalism. The list of do's and don'ts whereby I get to pat myself on the back because I am better then you. I believe that is called PRIDE- one of the seven deadly sins and the one Satan himself enjoyed- at the cost of heaven. People who are religious read the Bible because they believe it tells them all the do's and don'ts they should do and don't. They don't understand that the Bible is written so we can come to Jesus and know God. Religion doesn't set you free- religious moralism only tightens the chains of self hate, pride and spiritual failure in your life. Read the Easter story- the guys who gave up Jesus for crucifixion were the most religious the world has ever seen!
Freedom comes when we bow our knee to Jesus who took our sins on the cross so that we could be set free from death and sin.
"But that is not the way you learned Christ! - assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self....and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created in the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."
Here is freedom! Stop pursing dos and don'ts, pursue Christ.
Take some inventory. What is that ONE thing that you continue to act out in a stubborn protest of 'freedom' ("Don't touch this, or leave me alone here") against God? Maybe it's a past hurt, a image of yourself that someone else has given you? A secret sin of lust? Greed? Addiction? Re- READ THE ABOVE verses Eph. 4:17-24. Now ask the hard questions:
- How is my thinking about this sinful ACTION twisted? "You made me do this. This is the way I was raised. It's just part of my nature. I deserve this guilty pleasure. No one knows anyway. It doesn't effect anyone but myself."
- How is my thinking about his sinful ACTION becoming darker? "God doesn't expect me to act any different then this, after all He made me do this?" Justify, blame, and rationalization are all ways we keep things in the dark.
- How are you keeping this sinful ACTION separated from God? Hide the evidence. Turn off the lights. Turn to a bad habit to dull the truth. Blame someone else for our patterns of walking farther and farther away from God.
- How have you denied the reality outcomes of this sinful ACTION? "No one will ever find out. How did this happen? I can handle it. Just one more time. I'll change later."
- How has your heart grown hard from this sinful ACTION? Romans 1 "Knowing the truth they continued to suppress the truth, until their hearts are hardened to the truth."
- How has this sinful ACTION effected your sensitivity towards God and others? Like spiritual cannibals we come to the point of completely rejecting instruction, rebuke, truth, and spiritual discipline and replace it with self righteous justifications to continue to live out sin.
- How are you making efforts to indulge yourself in this sinful ACTION? Scheming, working, making plans, saving money, lieing, conniving, surrounding yourself with others who are living for the same sin and calling it freedom!
Take a look at your freedom? Are you pursuing self freedom or freedom in Christ? He died to set us free. Stop pursuing good works pursue Jesus Christ. Stop living out pseudo-freedom of sin that only brings bondage. Bring sinful ACTION into the light of Jesus Christ. Confess, repent and pursue Christ.