Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Cure for the Common Sin

At the doctor's office where I work, one of my responsibilities is managing prescription refill requests. One day, we received a faxed request for a medication with incomplete directions.

A medication intended to be written as “one tablet as needed for sinus congestion” read “one tablet as needed for SIN.”

And I thought . . . Wouldn't that be nice?


* one capsule three times daily for persistent temptation
* two capsules every four hours as needed for pride
* one tablet 30 minutes before each meal to prevent flare-ups

It seems there’s a pill for just about anything.

Couldn’t they find a cure for the common sin?



Jesus told the woman caught in adultery: “Go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11)

I don’t read anywhere that He wrote a prescription with that.

How can you and I go from our healed place in Christ and “sin no more”?

Paul gave us a clue . . . a command:
“Reckon [count, consider] yourselves to be DEAD indeed unto sin.”(Romans 6:11)

How would a dead person react to temptation?
Would a corpse cheat?
Do dead people struggle with gossip, lying, pride?

When we’re tempted, there’s no magic pill to swallow.

But we ARE instructed to respond like someone dead.

We’re to count on the fact that sin is no longer alive within us . . . and live that way.

Like a phantom limb, the sin that held such power has now been paralyzed from action . . .even though it feels alive and well.

We’re instructed to let it lie dormant, inactive, powerless.

Healed.

Or rather . . . Dead.

And one day (Praise the Lord!), we’ll be completely cured from the common sin.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Why Am I Here?

Have you ever wondered why God put you on this planet?
Why you live in this century?
What purpose He had in making you?
Why life was given to you?
Why you've lived X amount of years?
What the next X amount of years are for?
Why me?
Why now?

WHY AM I HERE?

If you have asked this, you're not alone.  Many have asked it before you.
Many are asking it today.

Recently, I listened to a pastor take us back to the first people.

If you want to know: "Why am I here?" . . . ask why Adam and Eve were here.

Their purpose is our purpose.
That hasn't changed in this many years.

Much changed in their lifetime.
But the reason God put them on this planet didn't.

WHY WERE ADAM AND EVE HERE?

For communion with God.

Made in His image, they could talk with Him, commune with Him, know Him, love Him.

Did He care that they make a mark on this world?
They did.
But that's not why they were here.

Did He tell them to set goals, reach for the sky, plant a tree, and decide their destiny?
They were created with drive and determination.
But that wasn't their purpose.

They were put here to commune with God.
They were here so a Creator and His creature could have fellowship, a relationship.

When that was broken, He went to great lengths to reach out His mighty arm of salvation through a sacrifice we can't comprehend to restore that purpose.
To prove that nothing could keep Him from loving.
And in loving, communion was restored.

"Why am I here?"
You are here for Him.
To commune with Him.
To have a relationship with the One Who loved you and created you.

This purpose means more than the most noble dream.

This purpose means more to God than we realize.

One day, many will surround His throne and will declare why we are here.
They will say:
"Thou hast created all things.
And for Thy pleasure they are and were created." (Revelation 4:11)

He cares about your dreams, your mark on this world, your smaller purposes.
But He put you on this planet for communion with Him.

The same reason He put Adam and Eve here.

He walked with Adam and Eve in the garden.
A Creator and His creature.
Loving them.
And they communed together.

That was their true purpose.

And it brought Him pleasure.

WHY AM I HERE?

Every reason is eclipsed by this one great purpose:
To commune with my Creator Who powerfully restored all that was broken 
and loved me back into His pleasure.

A Creator and His created being enjoying a relationship with each other.

Communion.

That's why I'm here.

. . . And you, too.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Step In and Stay



You know who they are. . .those people who know all the back roads.
The “easy” roads.
The “secret” way to get places.

But you also know the truth . . . it’s not really “secret.”

It’s just not commonly known.


The Bible talks about a “secret place.”

Not a place God is hiding from us – but a place not commonly known.

Uncommon . . . because not many of us dwell there on a consistent basis.

Attitudes and anxieties fester.
And it’s difficult to dwell in the secret place.

We listen to lies in our head.
And we step out.

Seems we finally resort to its safety.          
And the smallest irritation lures us away.  

It doesn't take much.

So what can we do?

We can learn to identify those lures in our lives that cause us to step out of that secret place.

We can beware of “trigger thoughts” common to all of us, like these:

“What if. . .”
                               
“I’m tired of . . .”
               
“He’s always . . .”
               
“She never. . .”

Whatever takes our mind off the sufficient control of the good God whose Shadow is the safest place to be is the very thing that will push us out of the secret place.

Each morning, it's imperative that we spend time securing that spot in the “secret place.”


Then, as we go throughout our day, we keep guard against anything that might cause us to step out of its safety.

How can you and I “dwell in the secret place of the Most High” (Psalm 91:1)? 

Step in . . .  and stay.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Persuasive Faith



You’ve probably heard it said: “The Bible wasn’t just meant to be read. It was meant to be LIVED.”

That’s why much of Scripture is narrative.
We have story after story of real lives living out Bible truth.

The Women of the New Testament lived in various circumstances with varying needs. But no matter who they were, Jesus touched them, and they were never the same again. 

They believed in Jesus, and their faith looked like something.

People around them were persuaded by their lives that they believed in Jesus.

The Woman Caught in Adultery heard the most incredible words ever spoken.
She was brought to Jesus to be judged.  Instead, He taught her that no one is beyond the reach of His mercy.  The sinless Son of God said to her: “I do not condemn you; go and sin no more.”

Lived-out Faith turns its back on all the sin it used to be enslaved to.
Because Christ paid a high price for its freedom.

Martha learned the lesson of priorities through her sister Mary's example. She confessed her faith in Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus. And all her busy serving took on a new dimension. She learned that Christ didn't need her, as much as she needed Him. So she served Him solely out of love for Christ and to honor Him.

Lived-out Faith serves the Lord with pure, unselfish motives.
                Because Christ’s love is unselfish and giving.

Mary was always found at Jesus' feet. She loved to hear His teaching. She wept, as she struggled to know Him better. A week before His death, Mary anointed His feet with a valuable ointment.  Jesus called that anointing a "good work" because of the love behind it.

Lived-out Faith sacrifices the less meaningful things in life out of love for Christ.
                Because Christ sacrificed His life out of His obvious love for sinners.

Mary Magdalene was delivered from seven demons and became a devoted follower of Christ.  She was there at the cross and watched them bury His body. After Jesus rose from the dead, Mary Magdalene was the first person He appeared to.  Jesus told her to run and tell His disciples that He had risen from the dead. And she did.

Lived-out Faith is eager to tell others Who Christ is and what He has done.
                Because it can’t keep it silent.

The Woman at the Well looked for satisfaction in all the wrong places. Jesus knew the brokenness all this had led to in her life.  So He offered her "living water" -- the sufficiency of Himself; a constant flow of strength and contentment that she could drink from and never thirst again. She "left her waterpot" -- as if to say, she was leaving all the things in life that never completely satisfy.

Lived-out Faith finds its satisfaction in Christ alone.
                Because it has found that everything else leaves a person still thirsty.

The Woman with “Great Faith” knew Christ was the only solution to her impossible need.  Her faith was tried by His silence. . . yet remained steadfast.
She would turn nowhere else.

Lived-out Faith trusts the Lord against all odds.
                Because it knows He is the only answer.

The Forgiven Sinner who Anointed Jesus’ Feet knew the greatness of her sin, received forgiveness in Christ, and loved much.

Lived-out Faith lives a forgiven life of love.
                Because it realizes how much it has been forgiven.

Mary, the Mother of Jesus was not the “Queen of Heaven” or the “Mother of Mercy.”  She was a young girl who submitted to a high calling – to be the mother of Jesus. Though He was her son, she learned to love Him as her Lord. Mary was the only woman of the Gospels mentioned in the book of Acts.  She was listed along with the other disciples waiting in the Upper Room in devotion, after Jesus ascended.

Lived-out Faith lives a life of submission and devotion to Christ.
                Because He is worthy of both.

The Early Church Women were like us – they never saw Jesus, but they believed.
But their belief didn’t stop at saving faith. They trusted Him for much more than that and served Him by serving others in some capacity.

Lived-out Faith serves Christ by serving others.
                This is the least it can do in gratefulness for all Christ has done.


These are just a handful of women whose real, genuine faith looked liked something.

Could our lives, like theirs, persuade others that WE believe in Jesus?


(Click here to listen to the final lesson in the series on the “Women of the New Testament.”)