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The work of the Cross – what holds us back!

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We are Christians yet, often we don’t live like the work of the Cross is finished.  And it is.  Jesus said; “It is finished!”  Why are there times when we live like we’re finished?

Most everybody has a video library these days with lots of movies that we love.  And we watch our favourite movies over and over again.  My wife and I have a copy of Chevy Chase’s Christmas vacation that we watch every year.  Some movies we watch so many times we can say the dialogue off by heart – ‘Help me Obi Wan Kanobi you’re my only hope!’  We dote on these movies and memorize many  wonderful lines – eagerly reliving the experience by speaking these famous lines; ‘Use the force Luke!

yourwordisalamptomyfeet_bibleWhat about God’s Word?  Do we ‘dote’ on the Bible?  Do we love to read it every season of the year – every day of the year.  How many lines of scripture do you memorize and re-enforce your faith by speaking them daily?  Do you know that Jesus  promised to live with us 24/7 –  if we love Him and keep His Word; “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.”  (John 14:23)  If there’s little or no room for God’s Word in our house during the week why would we expect Him to be with us on a daily basis?  And why would we expect to meet up with Him in church on Sunday?  If Jesus is a stranger in our home, He’s a stranger to us here on Sunday! The more you get to know His Word the more you get to know Him.  How do I know that – because He said so!  How do I know that He’s as good as His Word? Because when I keep His Word in my living room Jesus is right there with me! Jesus never holds me back.

Sometimes in the middle of the night I’ll get up because I can’t sleep.  Often worries and anxieties will creep into my mind and disturb my peace.  So I’ll get up.  I try not to disturb my wife’s sleep but quite often I’ll be sneaking around in the dark and stub my toe or trip over something.  Crash! Everybody is awake now!  I’ve learned to keep a little flash light by my bed.  If anxiety or worry keeps me from sleeping or disturbs my sleep, I quietly reach for my little light to keep me from stumbling.  When worry drives me to God’s Word which is the Light of my life I know where my help is and I know the way through it.  The Bible tells us; “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  (Psalm 119:105)

When life gets dark and things press in on us do we ‘turn on the light of His Word’?  Or do we stumble around in the dark – stubbing our toes and disturbing our loved ones peace and that of our neighbours?  The prayer of the Psalmist should be our prayer; “I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments. I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word.”  (Psalm 119:106,107)  Walking in the newness of life is walking in faith believing God’s word; “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”  (2 Corinthians 5:7)dl-mood-family

You can live in fear – walk in fear by staying in the dark and not turning on the light of God’s Word  in your life or you can walk in faith and live by faith; “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” (Romans 1:17)  How wonderful a life of depending on God is if we just take Him at His Word and walk in it; “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)  God will never walk away from you but you can walk away from God through your own grudges, covetousness and discontent!

Finally, do you hang on to grudges?  Do you hold your resentments closer to your heart than God?  This is the sneakiest and deadliest from of idolatry because when we feel we’ve been wronged, let down or abandoned we are certain that nobody has ever been as badly hurt as we have –  not even Jesus!  Isaiah knew different, he saw Jesus clearly; “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;  Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.”  Jesus was wronged by you and by me and by everybody.  Did He nurse a grudge or want to make us pay for what we did?   No! He paid the price for our sins so that we might live.

For many this deadly idolatry of self over God is holds them back from an abundant life now and eternally.  Jesus tells us you must forgive; “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”  (Matthew 6:14,15)  What are you holding on to that is killing you?  If you’re nursing a grudge and have an unforgiving heart there’s no way God will nurse you back to health and life no matter how often you show up on Sunday.  It’s not because God doesn’t want to.  It’s because your pride, anger and resentment blocks His Grace and healing.  God will not force himself upon you.  Nor will He approach unholy pride, hatred and seething resentment – we need repentance and Jesus to overcome our shortcomings.

face_to_face_by_recepgulec-600x395Let us ask God to show us what’s holding us back.  He will honor that prayer; “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit”  (Psalm 51:10-12).

Amen!

The work of the Cross – what’s holding us back?

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We live in an incredible reality.  Two thousand years ago an event occurred that changed the fundamental nature of the world and changed everything for us.  God did a work that shook the bedrock of the universe and tore apart all the barriers that stood between us and Him ; “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,  and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised;  and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”  (Matthew 27:50-53)   The work of the cross defeated Satan’s hold over us!  Do we live like the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom and the dead are raised? Do we walk as saints in the world and appear to many?  Or do we just appear like many  in the world around us?  If so, what’s holding us back?

romans-6_34-walk-in-newnes-of-lifeThe apostle Paul lays it out; “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3,4)  What does that mean for us?  It means we are not what we were before we came to Jesus; “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,  knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  For he who has died has been freed from sin.”  (Romans 6:5-7)  We are free of sin and ‘should walk in the newness of life’.  We ‘should’ but do we?

And that means our lives ‘should’ change.  Here on Sunday inside the church building­ and outside the church building – as the  body of Christ –  in our daily lives; “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.  And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.  For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”  (Romans 6:12-14) ­­­ This presentation is worship 24/7 and if you miss the mark Monday thru Saturday, you’ll miss the mark on Sunday – no matter how good you may look in your ‘Sunday best’.  When I miss the mark during the week I bring that brokenness with me to church. I can hide it or I can admit it and ask Jesus to heal me.   This is the calling we are called to.  Thank you Jesus for grace and Your strength that allows us to get up when we fall down!

God sees deeper than your clothes.  We are all naked before Him!  Do we live like that on Sunday?  Do we live like that on Wednesday – or any day?  Remember how happy kids are in the summer by the beach, running around screeching with joy with nothing on but their swim trunks.  Where is that joy in our lives – that ‘newness of life’? Somewhere along the way we lost it yet it is ours and we can find it again!  If you’re like me sometimes it’s a struggle just trying to act it out to look good.  And not only does God see right through it but most everybody else does too!  What’s dragging us down?  What’s holding us back?  Jesus said; “It is finished!”  (John 19:28-30)  Why do we often live like we’re finished?  It isn’t right! And we don’t have to live that way.

cross_with_deliverance-245101756_stdThe work of His Cross brings Joy, praise, and beauty back into our lives. Jesus came to the Cross;”. . . To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3) The first step is to just praise Him, lift His name up high even if you’re the lowest you’ve ever been!

Here is the Gospel Good News: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”” (Matthew 11:28-30)

We can dance and be glad again again because; ‘It is finished!’

Praise the Lord!

Where there is no vision the people perish

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When politics becomes showmanship and brand loyalty it is taken over by celebrities and self-centered interests.  The left and the right become indistinguishable as far as the misery in the streets is concerned.  And the remaining people of ever more diminishing privilege and number get the ‘leaders’ they clamor for who work harder and harder at dismantling the very scaffold democracy is built upon.

three-blind-voters-300x225The vision of the citizen is just as important as the vision of the leaders they elect.  If the ‘guy in the street’ can’t recognize an empty, shallow and  self serving person who is campaigning for leadership what hope is there that the best leaders will be chosen?  If the ‘guy in the street’ simply wants a change only because he is tired of political correctness and ineffectiveness in the government and has  become so cynical and disengaged with the issues that he will accept any loud noise and flatulence, what wisdom will be demonstrated in the election by the people?  When the citizenry have become emotional and intellectual children what kind of leaders will come forward to capture their fickle hearts and befuddled  minds?  Or if the ‘guy in the street’ prefers a ‘fresh sensitive face with nice hair’ she will vote for any sweet looking guy that says the right things.  We now vote our TV preferences.

An ancient book of great wisdom points out; “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18)  We see this happening before our very eyes.  Here in Canada, the people just wanted a change – any change – and we voted for good looks and slogans.  Shawn Katz writes;

We live in a media age where images increasingly pass for reality, where the gloss of marketing manipulation is so thick as to mask entirely what lies beneath. When the standards that reign in the pharmacy aisle are allowed to infiltrate our democratic decision-making, we embrace a dramatic decline in our level of scrutiny that endangers us all.

All parties employ specialists in the art of image-making, and all engage in the politics of spectacle to differing degrees. But in this campaign, it is without a doubt the Liberals who have been the most hyper-savvy — and most cynical — in exploiting many voters’ lack of discernment between a made-for-TV campaign and the lack of substance it can hide. . . .

Despite the boyish charm and buoyant energy of their new leader, the Liberals are still the party of the establishment and corporate elite, which they will surely take no time reminding us of the moment they return to power.

Justin Trudeau and the politics of image

What about our friends to the south?    How’s their ‘eye sight’?  Jen Gerson observes:

No candidate has flapped more wildly than Trump, who has kept himself securely at the front of the pack with a series of increasingly bizarre, outrageous and sometimes frightening statements. From the joys of torture to his jokes about women and ethnic groups, he has established new lows in almost every field of presidential ambition.

He has been aided to no small degree by blanket coverage by an enthralled media, which can’t quite believe what they are seeing. Calculating that exposure would be Trump’s downfall, pundits, reporters and commentators across old media and new have provided non-stop attention, only to discover that a surprising number of viewers liked what they saw. . . .

As the possibility of a Trump triumph has grown, so has the alarm. Open parallels are now being made between Trump and 20th-century demagogues who left ruin in their wake. The open intolerance and xenophobia of his campaign have been compared to the rise of Nazi Germany. His intemperate outbursts are now so frequent there’s hardly time to consider the implications anymore. Trump is not just defeating his fellow Republican candidates, he’s drowning them out.

America approaches a day of reckoning with Trump demagoguery

left-right-shacklesWhen people cast off all restraint of reason and simply vote for their emotional and infantile wish-list tragic results can happen through the democratic process. Democracy doesn’t ensure effective and wise government if the people choose their leaders by magical thinking.

It doesn’t matter which end of the political spectrum people vote for when celebrity and showmanship are the deciding criteria.  Extremism is extreme no matter what end of the political spectrum it exists at. An essayist writing for Sovereign Life points out;

Fascism is a totalitarian system, where big government and big business are in collusion to lord it over ordinary citizens. Private property is allowed “on paper”, but because owners are not free to use or dispose of their property as they wish, the term loses all its meaning. Under a fascist system of government, the individual’s interest is subservient to the national interest.

Communism is also a totalitarian system, where all property belongs to the state. Government and business are the same thing – as the state owns the means of production. Under a communist system of government, the individual’s interest is likewise subservient to the national interest. Both political systems result in effective dictatorship. Both reduce their citizens to the status of serfs – under a ruling class.

There is nothing so extreme as the sound of a hollow drum beating to an audience that dances to its beat with no one wondering where they will be when the party is over.

“Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint.”  (Proverbs 29:18)

God help us all.

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