Monday, December 13, 2010

Inside the Cup

It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Luke 5:31,32. The gospel of Matthew expounds on this verse with these words, "But go and learn what it means :'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Matthew 9:13
The Pharisees' loved their rituals and religious ceremonies, they focused on the outward appearance of their faith and neglected the inward renewal of their heart. They were more concerned with appearances than dealing with the inner secret sins, the sins that put their rituals and religious ceremonies above human compassion. They believed the lie that righteousness was to be acheived by their works and sacrifices alone. Their salvation was all about them. It was an acts of service based religion. It was a religion based on appearances. Jesus, put's it this way, "Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. First clean the inside of the cup and the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also " Luke 11:39; Matthew 23:26 The people were more concerned with their outward appearances than with their inward morality.
I have found personally that it is much easier "to do" for the Lord than "to be" in the Lord and in His Holy Word. For when I am in the Word I am reminded of my need for Him to do what only He can do. Change me from within.
"I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance", What does this mean? This verse is directly linked to those who will likely oppose the message of Salvation. It will be the people, like the religious leaders, who do not recognize their need for a Savior. It will be people who replace their inner need of salvation with acts of service instead of repentance, which is a COMPLETE turn from self to God. Jesus came to save all who would come to repentance. When He stated that He came to save the sick but not the righteous, what He was saying was one has to realize they are sick to be saved. The religious leaders of Christ's day didn't recognize their need for the Savior. They trusted in their abilities and their ways and not in the way of repentance and inner renewal. Therefore, bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Matthew 3:8

Monday, December 6, 2010

Come Home

Hollen walking with Bucket-1
Post written and posted in February 2009
Then the Lord said to Jacob, "Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives and I will be with you." Genesis 31:3
Is the Lord calling you to go back? Is he calling you to stop running from your past and the sins of your youth and embrace forgiveness, restoration and reconciliation?
You see, Jacob fled his family because he had deceived his father, Issac, by pretending to be his brother, Esau, in turn receiving his brother's blessing from his blind father.
Jacob fled in fear of his brother's wrath for his brother had vowed to kill him. I believe he also fled out of shame because he deceived his father to receive the family blessing. If anyone had reason to run it was Jacob but we see God calling Jacob home.
Can you relate? What are you running from? Is there a moment that comes to mind? A moment God wants to free you from. Is there a relationship the Lord desires to heal? He calls us to a life of reconciliation. A life of forgiveness. A life of total surrender to the One who has the power and the desire to heal us and restore us to Himself. He demonstrated this when he sent his only begotten son to the cross. God was pleased to make all the fullness of himself dwell within Christ and through him to reconcile to himself all things by making peace with us through his blood shed on the cross. Colossians 1: 19, 20

Jacob wrestled with God and was given the name Israel; which means one who struggled with God and with men and has overcome. Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But Jacob said, " I will not let you go, unless you bless me." Genesis 32:24-26 I've heard sermons preached that it was in arrogance that Jacob wrestled. I beg to differ; I believe he wrestled out of desperation. He held on. He pleaded with God to bless him no matter the cost. He wrestled through the pain, all the while, trusting in God for deliverance from his past. He wouldn't let go. My biggest fear is that my life would make no real eternal difference because of my disobedience and fear of going back to the place of pain with my God who has promised to be with me. I fear I could miss out on the blessings God has for me because of complacency. I fear I could fall out of God's favor because of unconfessed sin and inner rebellion. I believe Jacob felt the same way, years after stealing Esau's inheritance he wrestled with God for His blessing. He wanted God to bless the inheritance he already received. Having just his earthly father's blessing wasn't enough for Jacob. He wanted his heavenly Father's blessing.
Why is it important to go back? Why can't we just run from our sins and pretend they never happened? Because Christ desires to free us from our sin. He desires to completely heal us from our past. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
You see un-confessed sin is bondage. It is a root that can become bitter. It is a weed in a garden that will over time choke out all the beautiful flowers the Lord has planted. If not pulled out by the master gardener this weed can take on many forms, bitterness, resentment, anger, jealousy, envy, strife, gossip, fear, self hatred, depression. It is so destructive that it can even cause us physical debilitating pain. But God calls us to a life of freedom. Therefore, whatever hinders a life of freedom must be exposed and pulled out. Are you ready to live a life of freedom? What is holding you back from coming home?
Wherever you go there you are but there is One who has the power to bring you home.