Who’s your daddy?

Romans 6:15-23

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?  But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.  I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.  But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Who do we obey?  Self? God? Two roads to travel in life from which to choose. Which road have we chosen?

 “…to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey,...”

Do we begin each day asking; What shall I do today?  Or do we begin with: This is the day the Lord has made, I shall rejoice and be glad in it.  What can I do for you today, Lord?

 “…you were slaves of sin, …  you became slaves of righteousness….”

It is a mind-set and the manner in which we approach life that has changed when we decide for Christ and a life lived for God and His righteousness.  It is how we present ourselves to Him each day, all day and night.  Who’s our daddy?  Who do we serve?  Self or God?

Paul reminds us that the wages of sin is death.  The gift of God is eternal life.  One a wage for which we work, the other a gift, freely given and freely received.  Both enslave us in the sense we attend to the wishes of the source.  Who is our source?  Who is our Daddy?

 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

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Promise in the storm…riders on the storm

Acts 27:27-44

Now when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land. And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little farther, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms. Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come. And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow, Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”  Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off.

 And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing. Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.” And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat. Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves. And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship.  So when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea.

 When it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible. And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore.  But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves.

 And the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape. But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land,  and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.

            From mikeschuerman.theworldrace.org

Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.”  A promise sent through Paul and it so encouraged him he broke the fast and encouraged all of the rest to do the same.  They saw no reason to believe they would make it to safety other than Paul’s confidence in God’s word.  This confidence speaks volumes to those around us.  When we are in the middle of life’s storms do others see our confidence in what God is able to accomplish, or do they hear  our complaining and moaning about how hard life is and what a terrible situation we are in?  Demonstrating faith as Paul does here, is an exercise of faith that is pleasing to God.  Scripture says without faith we cannot please God.  Do we demonstrate this kind of faith in our storms?  Going further into the passage here we see that they followed Paul’s example and ate and then threw what was left of the food into the sea!  They weren’t planning on needing it?  They were with Paul and expecting to find safety on land.  Once again let it be noted that while God could have calmed the storm he did not.  He took them through the storm.  In the process He was glorified, through Paul’s example.  When we are in our storms are we glorifying God or demanding an explanation?  Are we whining and complaining or are we praising God for what He is doing in us and what He will do for  us?  Are we allowing our faith in Him to be strengthened?  In all things give thanks God’s word tells us.  Paul gave thanks, ate and was taken to safety.  Let us also take our storms to the Lord, then watch as He takes us through them.  Let us be careful to give thanks and have faith.  Let us glorify the God who created us and can and will keep us.  “…he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat. Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves. “  Be an encourager, share your faith, glorify God in all things.

Another post on the same subject from a younger perspective.  It is a good read.

The Perfect Storm  at:

http://mikeschuerman.theworldrace.org/?filename=the-perfect-storm

Lose the fear…

Acts 27:13-26

When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon. So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive. And running under the shelter of an island called Clauda,  we secured the skiff with difficulty. When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven. And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship. On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands. Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.

But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. However, we must run aground on a certain island.”

 

borrowed from:
http://doesnotwisdomcall.blogspot.com/2008/06/prayer-for-guidance.html

 I believe God.  The God to whom I belong.  The God I serve.  Do not be afraid.  To begin, do we believe God?  Not in God, do we believe Him, when He speaks, do we believe it?  Next, do we belong to God?  As we ‘belong’ to spouse, children, parents….not in ownership, through kinship; do we belong to God?  Then, are we serving God?  What does that look like?  Go to church on Sunday or whatever day is designated and that’s service?  We are engaged in service when we feed our family, provide what is needed for healthy living.  We are engaged in service when we feed our spiritual family, hearing the voice of God and sharing as Paul is doing here.  So then, again, are we serving God?  If the answer is affirmative then lose the fear.  Take note that God did not say He would stop the storm, He said do not be afraid, and this is while the storm was raging, they had lost everything and were exhausted.  Paul said , ‘I have faith in God…’ and acted on that faith in the telling to the men on board.  Paul continued to share encouragement even while the storm was raging and it looked hopeless.  Borrow courage from this passage and take heart.  We belong to God, we are in His service, we will not fear and we will accomplish what He has given us to do.  “…for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. …”  – Paul.  Say this with Paul, I believe God.

The gathering of all…

Acts 15:12-21

Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:

 ‘After this I will return

And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;

I will rebuild its ruins,

And I will set it up;

So that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD,

Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,

Says the LORD who does all these things.’

 “Known to God from eternity are all His works.  Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality,  from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

Guidance is provided.  First they listened.  We must listen, to the voice of God  and  to the voice of wise counsel.  They listened to Peter  recount how God does the work, we give the message.  They listened to Paul and Barnabas retell the work that God was already doing among the Gentiles without the necessity of circumcision.  God is gathering in His creation, He has sent the message through the Jew to the whole world.  There is no longer any distinction between one or the other.  James sums it up with Scripture and we see the work of the Holy Spirit bringing remembrance and understanding.

 A judgment of the question presented was reached and guidance was provided the new believers.  Guidance that provided health for the spirit and body.  Guidance that kept the focus upon the one true living God, His son Jesus and the Holy Spirit, at work in their lives already without the need for a mark given to the Jew to separate them from the rest of the creation.  God is gathering all His creation through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

 We have a model to follow when we find ourselves with a question that begs a decision.  First we learn to listen; to the voice of God, to wise counsel from godly individuals and the Word of God.  Then with the Holy Spirit’s guidance we can step out in faith, trusting God that the answer is for us; exercising our faith in His faithfulness.  We are all God’s creation, there is no distinction except that of belief in Christ.  God is gathering in all His creation as a hen gathers her chicks.

God decides…

Acts 15:1-11

And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.

So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren.  And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them.  But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”

Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ  we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

 “…all things that God had done…”  Why does mankind insist upon meddling with what God has done?   “…God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit,…”  God decides, not man.  Who are we to continually step in with our man-made rules and muddy the water?   “…we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ  we shall be saved…”  How do we receive salvation from the curse our sins bring upon us?  We believe that Jesus came to be the final sacrifice for those sins, we believe that his grace pardons our sins and restores us to a right relationship with God the Father.  We are made whole once again and set free from the bondage of mankind’s demands.   This statement does not advocate irresponsibility.  We pick up our responsibility to the Lord who so graciously granted us the freedom.  He set forth principles that guide our walk with Him, but those principles do not do the saving, His blood does the saving.  His resurrection gives eternal life.  We do nothing but accept His gift.  We cannot set ourselves free of the consequences of sin by our own actions.  We can only accept what He has done.  “… we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ  we shall be saved…”  Let us thank Him for that privilege and let it be what it is.  Then let us follow His commands and find a life that is full and eternal.