Friday, January 24, 2014

Too Busy . . .

So, brainstorming last night, after a time in which such an occurrence would've been most advantageous, even healthy, i came across an interesting verse. In all actuality, what brought me to this particular verse was an 'extra-reading prompt' in a book.
The verse that has becmoe the object of my attention and fascination is Psalm 37:3.

"Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness."
I love that. There are various types of poetry in the Bible, and this verse is of a particular type where the first line is supplemented by the second without furthering degrees.
That's focusing on the technical, and nothing technical is ever quite as beautiful as the poetic, so i want to bring out something especially poetic about this verse.

A friend is someone you enjoy the company of, someone you trust, converse with, observe, and admire.
It's not the person you think, "Oh, well maybe this would be better without them."
No, a friend is the person who makes things more pleasant just by having them around, someone you discuss things with and have room in your mind and schedule for. Anything else is not true friendship.
And here, in this verse, the Bible says to befriend faithfulness as if it were an incarnate being, tangible and living.

Wisdom, likewise, is given imagery as a woman crying out in the streets.
Wisdom is the person we all glance at as we walk past, avoid eye contact, and say we wish her the best, all the while secretly having some sort of pity for her.
"Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the markets she raises her voice;
at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks..."
That's Proverbs 1:20-21.
To make a correlation, here's a verse from Psalm 24:
"Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in."
Lift up your heads, O gates! You are the gate, lift up your head so that God may enter. We are the visible Body of Christ to the world; it's through us that His glory makes entrance into this world.
Now, at the city gates, wisdom speaks and beckons you to hear her words so that you may be prosperous and safe. For your good, and at the entrance of the city gates no less.

She cries aloud in the street; she is on the street where you walk, where you live, the path on which you travel daily.
Where you carry out errands, work, shop, she is shouting, here at the markets.
At the head of the noisy streets she cries out; wherever we are, she is at the center of it, trying to be noticed, crying out for your attention, but it's a loud street.
She is trying to speak to every thought that comes into your head by being stationed at the entrance of the city gates, the head of the street, the markets . . .
In everything, Wisdom is trying to make herself known to you.

Here we have two virtues, wisdom and faithfulness, being presented as embodied and living, and with intent.
Two qualities of God that are either offering friendship or else screaming at you to just give mind to her words.
And yet, the streets stay busy and loud, the gates are still being told to lift up their heads, we are still being told to befriend faithfulness, as though these were not commonplace and already accepted among all. On the contrary, Wisdom would not have to raise her voice nor cry out. If we gave due mind, she could whisper and we would listen.
But our streets are yet still noisy.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Word Made Flesh

It seems to me the best thing to start this with is by saying that if your sin causes you to hide your face from God, you have the wrong impression of Him.

The first time we sinned, we hid from Him. Adam and Eve knew their nakedness and sewed fig leaves together as loin cloths. This would've been horribly uncomfortable, as fig leaves cause skin irritations. God does drive them out of the Garden of Eden, but not before He makes proper coverings for them. He showed mercy on our own stupidity.
The next thing He does is actually for our own good, believe it or not. He cast them out of the Garden of Eden. People use this instance to say God isn't merciful, but i use it to say He is. Look at it in context real quick; we sinned, we corrupted the earth itself, we have damned our own souls, and there is literally no hope for us whatsoever. So God puts us out of the Garden. 'Why?' you might ask.
"Then the Lord God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—' therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life." (Genesis 3:22-24)
That's an incomplete sentence in verse twenty-two. God made an incomplete sentence. When i first saw that, it really messed with my mind. I've heard it implies a sense of urgency in sending them out of the Garden, and that may be so. But i'd like to direct your focus to why He did that. So we wouldn't eat from the tree of life, and live forever.
Honestly, who in their right mind would want to live in this corrupted world forever? No, we need an exit plan, and that's exactly what God has in mind. He is heartbroken that we did the only thing He told us not to do, but if the tree of life would make us live forever in our sin, it would perhaps be best if we died.

The Word made flesh is Christ, and the definition of the Greek term, "Word," is Logos. According to Vine's Dictionary of translated words, it "denotes 'the expression of thought as embodying a conception or idea.'"
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." (John 1:1-3)
At the beginning, through the embodied expression of God's idea, everything was made beautiful and eternal and perfect. It was only after man directly disobeyed God that things got corrupted. And God had mercy on them afterwards.
His Word was to become flesh; His plan for us was for His will to become manifest in the form of a Man, Christ, to come and die and resurrect with Himself the original intention of creation to those who would accept Him; life eternal with Him in a place not corrupted by sin.
Instead of it being a matter of don't (eating from the tree of knowledge), it became a matter of do (His will).

So again, i say that if your sin causes you to hide from God, you have a gross misconception of Him.
No, in fact, we have confidence from Christ to cover us.
"This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him." (Ephesians 3:11-12)
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:15-16)
"And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming." (1 John 2:28)

A Call To Exposition

First and foremost, i would like to encourage a quick reading of Ephesians chapter five (look, that's even a link to it for you), namely verses one through fifteen, but the entire chapter is quite instructional and useful. It pleads with us to love one another, and to serve out of that love. It's a wonderful concept. In fact, it says to submit to one another "out of reverence for Christ."
Isn't it a beautiful thing to see people serving others because of their respect for Christ? Because they see creation as part of His handiwork and, therefore, bless others because they're made in the image of God?
This post is not about that at all. In fact, that's from the part of the chapter that comes after verse fifteen. Moreover, this is about sin.

Let's have a glance over at a specific passage;
"...for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light..." (v. 8)
At one time, we were darkness. Take note here of the lack of the word "in." We weren't just dwelling in darkness, but we manifested it. We were one with sin, we didn't just live with it. There was nothing of us that we could do that wasn't darkness.
The hope, however, enters with the first phrase, "for at one time..." which means we no longer are. Again, "now you are light in the Lord." We see a similar reference in the parable of the lamp under a jar in Matthew; “You are the light of the world."
We are no longer darkness, or even in darkness. We are light (note another absence of "in"). People see God because they see us. Through us, this world knows what the hands and feet of God are up to--and that cannot be idleness.

But our darkness must become resolved with our new being lest we remain partially darkened, and a light can't emit darkness.
There is a way.
"Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, 'Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'" (v. 11-14)
It says to take no part in works of darkness, have no sinfulness about you, let no shadow fall on you, but rather expose it to light.

"And they have conquered him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death." (Revelation 12:11)
We have conquered Satan by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. How else can we have a testimony but by an exposition?
If you want to see the full redemptive power of God for Salvation, the Gospel come to power in its fruition, the world around you change entirely, let your testimony be heard. Expose the works of darkness you once emanated and make them light. Make them your testimony. Make them the hope for others in the same place you were in when you were pulled out by the blood of the Lamb.

As to our darkness being resolved with our new life, this is what is meant; anything exposed by light becomes light. Wake from the death that is the flesh, let Christ shine on you, and let His light illuminate the darkness you once were, and even it will become light, a beacon to others. In this, your testimony is created and brought forth to be a light for others struggling as you were.

This is a call to confession, if you can't tell. I don't care who you confess to, but confess to somebody--preferably somebody who needs to know there is hope. Let them know that Christ is your only hope, and that He's theirs as well.
You can confess to a pastor or minister (that is perhaps a safe place to start) but that hardly builds them up, now does it? God distributes gifts for building others up. Your testimony is a gift, and He intends for you to build others up with it.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Concerning Consecration

Firstly, i am not going to say that Sunday is a less important day of the week. It's the day we honor the Sabbath, though orthodoxically the Sabbath falls on a Saturday, not a Sunday. Then again, Easter and Christmas don't fall on the days of Christ's birth or resurrection; those are merely when we observe them.
I understand the importance of observation, and that Sundays, being the day we honor the Sabbath, are important.
So without further ado, carrying on.

I want to bring to mind a certain fellow from the New Testament, perhaps the last of the Old Testament prophets. To know what i mean by "Old Testament prophets," those that lived before Christ were often the sort that lived as recluses, living outside of society, in hills, wildernesses, and the like. They were revered, probably even feared by some for their seeming mystical lifestyle and nature. They didn't dress nice, they didn't eat the same things as everybody else; they lived by the provision of God, and relied only on it. They could've taken to fame and grew in wealth, but they did just the opposite. Above all else, they knew who they were in God. They spoke with no authority of their own, but rather said "This is what the Lord says," invoking nothing of their own but rather the words God had given them.
And John the Baptist was of this lot.
He knew who he was, what God called him to, and set himself on (or rather, was called to) the same path as these prophets; "A voice of one calling in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.'".
He was a prophet who had been prophesied about.

We are not called to simply live good on Sundays. I'm not talking about smoking, cussing, drinking; i'm talking about living as though God was alive in your heart!
We are a bipolar Church. We raise our hands on Sunday morning, we go up front for prayer, we may even shed tears, enough to fill a well, but come Monday many seem to have forgotten it.
Consecration is not merely living good. It's living in faith. It's trusting in God's providence. It's having faith that, though we may be homeless, orphans, abused, alone, starving, that God has providence to get His will completed, be it in our rags, or in our riches. It is the casting off of everything society expects of us. It is living without shame, not being afraid to be seen as a strange mystic to someone who doesn't understand the power flowing through us from Christ. It is being renewed according to Romans 12:1-2, offering ourselves as a living sacrifice should our Father in Heaven decide we should be required to die for His name. It is losing all inhibition, abiding by every faintest conviction of behavior we may receive from the Holy Spirit. It's being radically compliant to the Word of God, seeing God's place for us in Scripture and stripping ourselves away until we are fashioned into His decrees, set down by His prophets.

Yes, one of the Ten Commandments is to remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. In context, it is a law regarding work, not behavior. We are not told to live holier on this day, nor are we told to be a bolder follower of Christ on this day. No, instead we are told that the Sabbath is our day of rest.
I would dare say it more important to live in a consecrated manner for six days and then be laxed on the one--but that would be a falsity. The only truly Christian way to live is seven days a week. To live as though we were inside of the church every single moment, because we are the Church. The Church meets at a building on Sundays. We call it the House of the Lord, but that term was for the Temple of God set up by David if i'm not mistaken. The House of the Lord is, since the tearing of the veil, the Temple of God, is within us. It inhabits the church building only when we, the Church, occupies it, and only by proxy then.
Our sin is not in treating the building as less than absolutely holy. It is in treating our daily life as somehow less sanctified.
You carry the Church with you on Sundays when you are at the meeting place we call church, and also Monday through Saturday as you work, shop, eat, play games, sleep, read, breathe; in all things, you are the living and breathing Church, the tangible Body of Christ to the world.
It is your consecration to behave that way.
Our commission is to make disciples of all the nations--but this commission begins within us. We are the nations, too. Make disciples of yourselves first.
We are each called to be the next John The Baptist, the one who cries out to all who pass by, "Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him."