He came…He is…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

From John 3:

16“For God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed. 17For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but rather so that through him, the world might be saved. 18Those who trust in him are not judged; those who do not trust have been judged already, in that they have not trusted in the one who is God’s only and unique Son.

From <https://www.bible.com/bible/1275/jhn.3>

It may be this is quoted so often it is not fully understood.  It may be, as is often the case, it is so isolated in the quoting the context is lost and the full implication is missed for some.

Where there is already a judgment levied against an offender there is no requirement for more judgment.  The general creation has already been judged and found guilty.  Jesus did not come, therefore, to place more judgment; rather he came to pay the penalty so those already judged could be free of their judgment, death.

Someone engaging in sin is not being judged if the sin is exposed; they are already judged.  Exposing the sin provides opportunity for forgiveness of its consequences.  Exposure provides opportunity for change.

Those accepting the payment made for them by Christ are set free from the penalty already imposed.  They receive life for death.  They receive freedom from bondage.  They receive peace due to a restored relationship with God.

Pray – Lord, long before You came, David, prophets of old, all who know you knew you were coming.  They knew.  They knew salvation was part of Your plan from the beginning; salvation from the penalty of sin.  May your grace come to me, Adonai, Your salvation, as You promised; then I will have an answer for those who taunt me.  The enemy with his accusations will flee.  The thoughts that rise will be taken captive and brought into obedience to You; for I trust in Your Word.

Repent – God, You know how foolish I am; my guilt is not hid from You.  Let my prayer to You come at an acceptable time; in Your great grace, God, answer me with the truth of Your salvation.

Ask – May Your grace come to me, Adonai, Your salvation as you promised.  Don’t take away completely my power to speak the truth; for I put my hope in Your rulings; and I will keep Your commands always, forever and ever.

Yes – Bless the Lord, my soul!  Everything in me bless his holy name!  Bless the Lord, my soul and forget none of His benefits!

Source:  John and Psalms

In Christ alone….

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Isaiah 30:1-7

  “Ah, stubborn children,” declares the LORD, “who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for my direction, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!   Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation.  For though his officials are at Zoan and his envoys reach Hanes, everyone comes to shame through a people that cannot profit them, that brings neither help nor profit, but shame and disgrace.” An oracle on the beasts of the Negeb. Through a land of trouble and anguish, from where come the lioness and the lion, the adder and the flying fiery serpent, they carry their riches on the backs of donkeys, and their treasures on the humps of camels, to a people that cannot profit them.  Egypt’s help is worthless and empty; therefore I have called her “Rahab who sits still.”

Politics are rampant with people fighting to be free of oppressive systems and others moving to return to them!  Individuals set free of abuse return to the same.  Let our prayers be that we are aware of this in our own lives and refuse to return to that which Christ has set us free of.  Let us keep our hope in Him alone.

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To whom do we belong?…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

I Corinthians 6:12-20

  “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.  Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”  But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.  Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Verse 12 – our freedom is never a reason to hinder another’s walk with the Lord.  If we find ourselves in a place where we are leading, looked up to, discipling, in any way responsible to encourage and edify others in Christ then we are to temper our freedom with the building of the kingdom of God.  Our life is outwardly focused on Christ and others, not inwardly focused on ourselves.  This is what makes us stand out from the rest of mankind; this is a type of caring, concern for one another and love that is not seen in the world of the unbeliever.

To whom do we belong?  With acceptance of the teachings of Christ, with acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ comes a joining to Christ and the beginning of a relationship not unlike the relationship between two in love.  Acceptance of Christ’s teachings means turning from others much like when entering a marriage contract one turns from all others, promising to be true to the one loved.  So now our view of ownership of our own bodies and self changes.  We do not belong to our self; we belong to God.  We do not do as we want; we do as he wants.  We do not live by our flesh; we live by our spirit joined with Him.  This shows up in our actions, speech and thought.  We now would not do anything that brings harm either to another or ourselves.  For now we live in love and caring, one for another.  Blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

One world, one God, one rule…

Ezekiel 37:24-28

“David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. 25 Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. 26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 28 The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.” ’

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=37&t=nkjvp>

What can we learn of God?  He loves His people.  He will give them one king and one shepherd.  The shadow of unity is apparent.  He desires that they follow His laws and His decrees.  We can differentiate between God’s laws and man’s laws.  He wants His people to be in the place He gave them, forever.  He desires to live among them, loving them and being loved by them.  He would have a sanctuary among them, a place of peace, rest, and safety.  He wants them to know Him.  He wants to be their God and them to be His people.  He wants all to know that He is God.

When God speaks it is so.  We can so count on him and his word!  Jesus came from David’s lineage, son of God, to rule over his people in unity, love, and bringing peace and a new covenant.

“…David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd;…”

God’s word fulfilled.  Jesus quotes scripture and tells us that He is the good Shepherd, He knows His sheep and they know His voice.  Can we see the parallel?

“…John 10:14  I am the good shepherd, and know my [sheep], and am known of mine….”

The Spirit overrules the physical.  The Spirit has no limits. The physical is limited by time and space.  We exist in Christ, in spirit and so can soar over the confines of the physical.

“…John 4:23  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him….”

He has brought us to a place he gives.  He has provided a sanctuary within each of us and lives among us.  We have him in common providing a unity the world cannot sustain.  O how He loves you and me…

May this song minister to us this day:

click and listen or sing!

O How He Loves You and Me!

Song title: Oh How He Loves You and Me lyrics
by Kurt Kaiser

Oh, how He loves you and me,
Oh, how He loves you and me.
He gave His life, what more could He give;
Oh, how He loves you, Oh, how He loves me,
Oh, how He loves you and me.

Jesus to Calv’ry did go,
His love for mankind to show.
What He did there brought hope from despair.
Oh, how He loves you, Oh, how He loves me,
Oh how He loves you and me.

Oh, how He loves you and me,
Oh, how He loves you and me.
He gave His life, what more could He give;
Oh, how He loves you, Oh, how He loves me,
Oh, how He loves you and me.

Song title: Oh How He Loves You and Me Chords
by Kurt Kaiser

The desire to be free of bondage…

Romans 8:18-27

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.  Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.  For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us  with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

The desire to be free of bondage rests in us all.  There are those who try to extricate themselves from bondage, working  in their own strength. From this we get the phrase ‘pull yourself up by your own bootstrap.’  The freedom gained through our own efforts is often temporal.  When we gain freedom from bondage to sin, which is the umbrella term for finding ourselves in bondage to the consequences of acts we commit and those committed by others, we gain freedom that is eternal and it is not gained through our efforts but by the blood of Christ.  When we receive that promise, we receive freedom from sin’s curse and we receive the presence of the Holy Spirit, our spirit joining with Him and quickened to life.  Mankind has wanted freedom since the days of Adam, when we were first enslaved.  We have hope, and Paul clarifies for us that hope indicates we look for something.  We don’t hope for what we already have.  “…hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?  …”  Our faith continues daily from the moment we receive the promise until it is complete.  Where is our heart?  In Him or in our own doing?  True freedom is in Him.

Free to be…

Romans 8:1-17

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,  who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

It appears that we have a discourse on the differences between life after Christ, that is after accepting the gift of redemption he brings, and life before Christ under law.  What characterizes life before Christ is  a mind-set that is nature based, holds a fear of God and the curse of death,  and demonstrates the failure to live right according to God’s will.  What characterizes life after Christ for the believer, is a mind-set that is now spiritual, the lack of fear as it relates to punishment for sin, and the ability to live right according to God’s will.  So do we live as we want?  Or do we live as the spirit guides us?  We are created body, soul and spirit.  What controls our actions and thoughts?  Body or spirit?  And so once again it is the difference between self will and God’s will.  We have no problem knowing what our will is, we are on a life journey to learn the will of God, who He is and what He does.  His spirit connects with ours as believers and we can place our trust there.

  “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

We are free from the curse of sin and we are free to know and follow the will of God, rather than our own will.  It can be as simple as rising in the morning and asking what do you want me to do of God rather than what do I want to do.

Will the real prisoner stand up?

Acts 24:17-27

 “Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation, in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult.  They ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me. Or else let those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council, unless it is for this one statement which I cried out, standing among them, ‘Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day.’ ”

But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the Way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case.”  So he commanded the centurion to keep Paul and to let him have liberty, and told him not to forbid any of his friends to provide for or visit him.

And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him.

But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.

 Looks like Paul had two years of enforced prison ministry.  This only provided Paul with a captive group of listeners, for he did not stop his sharing.  Felix comes to hear, brings his wife with him and listens to Paul talk of righteousness, self-control and judgment in the course of his talk of faith in Christ.  As he listens fear rises within him and he turns off the message.  We find that often is the case when we share with others.  Paul did not allow this to hinder his sharing.  As often as he was called, he shared.  The responsibility to be faithful to share rests with us, regardless of how it is received.  The one turning away was Festus, the one hearing the message, not Paul the one delivering the message.  Telling Festus how great he was and offering a bribe for freedom would have set Paul free from the prison sentence.  But Paul was already free in Christ.  Festus was the one in bondage to the consequences of sin.  Festus could walk away; Paul had to stay. True freedom was that freedom of the Spirit possessed by Paul.  Wherever we are, our relationship with the Lord is constant.  Our placement may change but the communion with the Lord does not.  It is of the Spirit and is within us, and it gives us true freedom, this freedom comes with the promise of eternal life.

Under attack…

Acts 16:16 – 21

Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling.  This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days.

But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.  But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.

And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.”

 This is the killing of the Golden Goose.  This young girl was the golden goose, laying golden eggs for her masters.  They did not prevent her from harassing the two sent to that town by the Holy Spirit, Paul and Silas.  The spirit that enabled her to be a source of income was not of God and Paul obeys the prompting of the Holy Spirit. In the name of Jesus  it leaves the girl and with it  goes the income for the owners.  Freedom for the girl from the bondage of darkness is obtained, but the bondage to love of money continues for the owners.  Freedom comes with a price.  Freeing the cripple to walk, freeing the sick, now freeing from spiritual bondage all brought conflict and suffering to the messengers.  Paul finds himself brought before the magistrates, facing the arm of the law for removing the source of income.  There is no mercy for the young slave and before this no mercy for the ill.  The law reigns supreme; man’s law.   And those freed from the law find themselves in conflict with it and facing suffering at the hands of humanity.

 When we share we risk the same conflict.  The work of the Holy Spirit can bring us to a place of suffering as we are obedient.  Are we prepared to face that conflict and that suffering?  Our laws  today begin to strangle the message of freedom and salvation through Christ.  Some already face consequences within our legal system for their sharing of the word of God.  Are we prepared, is our love for Christ deep enough?  Questions to take us into a place of reflection and searching.  If we are allowing the everyday things of this life to interfere now, how can we withstand a conflict that becomes more personal and potentially harmful?  The tree that continues to stand in spite of drought, floods, wind storms, heat and cold, is a tree that is rooted and strong.  Let us take care to be that tree planted by the stream that brings forth fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither  Remain close to the stream of life found in scripture, become fruitful as we study, pray and learn of the Holy Spirit what God has for us, and our leaves will not wither with the storms, we will remain strong in Him.

Pray the scales fall…

Acts 9: 10-19

Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.”

And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”

 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”

Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”

 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.

 Pray the scales fall from our eyes that we be able to see Jesus in those around us.  Pray the scales fall off the eyes of those in our personal worlds that they may see Jesus; crucified, buried, and risen for our sins.  Pray the scales fall off the eyes of our hearts and minds and we be able to  love as He loves and know with the understanding and wisdom granted by the Holy Spirit.  Pray the scales of fear fall away from our consciousness and we be freed to be obedient to share as the Spirit gives us the words, share as we allow the bread of life to feed us, strengthening us with the boldness to declare the message of freedom to those in bondage to sin.   Jesus said: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,* To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; “

And He passed that task along to us.

Living words…

Acts 7:30-38

“And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord  appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him,  saying, ‘I am the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’  And Moses trembled and dared not look.  ‘Then the LORD said to him, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.  I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.” ’

 “This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’  is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush.  He brought them out, after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years.

“This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel,  ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’

“This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us,

 Moses is now called by God to deliver his people from Egypt.  Now he moves in the power of God and there are signs and wonders verifying the presence of God.  This time there is no fear, this time there is success at carrying out the task given.  The power of God made all the difference.  Stephen says Moses received living words to pass on to us.  A promise of a savior, who will deliver from bondage and set people free to worship their God.  We have living words to share that can set people free from the bondage of their Egypt and give freedom to worship God in spirit and in truth.  “Him you shall hear.’ “- Moses  Are we listening?   Are we receiving? Are we sharing?