Holy Living

As we approach our final chapter of Redeemed, a study of Pursuing God, I hope that you have felt challenged in your faith to pursue after God. Philippians 3:12~Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (ESV) To apprehend the joy of His presence to floods and fill our lives. 

There’s nothing like the joy of being in the presence of the one we love. And this week many will attempt to rival that in some way, gathering around tables to give thanks. I hope that as you give thanks to the Lord you’ll be intentional in sharing gratitude, especially in a very difficult year. This week we turn attention to the Sacrament of Living. A sacrament is something done to impart grace, that is received fruitfully. When we come to the table we do so in remembrance of Jesus. This carved phrasing on many communion tables is taken from Paul’s imparted blessing in 1 Corinthians 11:24~when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. (NIV)

What we are remembering at that moment and hopefully never getting over is that Jesus is the perfect sacrifice. The Millers remind us in song O what love, No greater love, Grace, how can it be,  That in my sin, Yes, even then, He shed His blood for me. The precious blood of Jesus is enough. It is enough to cover every sin, the blood is enough to cleanse all unrighteousness. The blood of Jesus is enough to heal all ailments, sickness, and disease. Not only does the blood cover and cleanse us, but it speaks a better word. Hebrews 12:24~to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (ESV) Jesus has given to us an impartation of grace.

In Christ alone is new life is given by the grace of God. That we would no longer live to self, but wholly unto God. Let’s unpack what’s happened to us in light of placing our faith in God. 2 Corinthians 5:17~This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (NLT) In Christ, God has given us new life and we are to be fruitful in this new life, bringing glory to God. (John 15:8) New life comes by an impartation of divine grace from God, and it’s meant to propel us in the Sacrament of Living.

With that picture of remembrance, what God’s grace did for us in Jesus Christ now hanging on the wall of our mind today, I want you to ask the Lord to whom can I share what Jesus Christ has done? When He lays someone on your heart, then ask how you can connect with them in humble participation. Let God speak and guide you and watch as He does amazing things through your life.



Divided

Did you know that you have a holy inheritance? In Christ, we possess all things. Some would have you believe that coming to faith in Jesus isn’t freedom but to be saddled with rules when nothing could be further from the truth. What Jesus reminds us of in His first Beatitude is that being poor in spirit is really freeing us up to live this life for eternity. Because He then says to us in Matthew 5:3~…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (NIV) We need to take this seriously. This is not mere Bible teaching, rather it is the path to greener walks with God, as we pursue Him.

Our New Testament principles for living can often find the best examples within the Old Testament. Abe and Isaac provide excellent commentary on the first beatitude: Isaac is born to an aged father. From Isaac’s first appearance, what love must have overcome Abe. In his arms, he held the promises of God. The covenant of a future filled with hopes and years. Even the long anticipation of messianic reconciliation. As Isaac grew so did Abe’s love, even to a perilous place, when God then steps in to save both father and son.

Genesis 22:2~Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love–Isaac–and go…Sacrifice him as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” (NIV) The sacred writer spares the close-up of agony and anguish of that night in Beersheba when an aged father must have surly begged and pleaded to the point of being emptied. Imagine your own feelings, as one may not have wrestled any harder until, Gethsemane. (Luke 22:44) Such mortal pain upon a human soul in great conflict. After that bitter and blessed encounter, the pronouns of my and mine hold nothing of what they once held for Abe. Many call Abe rich, but his true wealth was inward and eternal.

Our humanity often hinders us from giving up our treasures to the Lord. We are often fearful of their safety, and hard-pressed to release them to the Lord in trust. We forget the scriptures say in 2 Timothy 1:12~I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. (ESV) God wants each of us to give-up our defense and accept His generous gift of Jesus, that we might live our lives for the cause of Christ.

Today, don’t let fear own you! The Lord is the safest place one can store their treasures. Jesus said I did not come to destroy but to save, (Luke 9:56) everything we commit to him is safe. It’s the things we don’t commit to Him that are in jeopardy. Listen to Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:7~For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (NIV) Saint of God, God has given you everything and what He wants in return is all of you.

If we are to grow in our intimacy with God, then we must learn the way of renunciation. Only in rejecting our righteousness and pride can we begin to accept God’s amazing grace. Which will in turn set us on a lifelong pursuit of God. Sooner or later we will face this test and just as Abe’s test changed him, this test will change us. For our whole future will be conditioned by the choice we make when God levies the test on us. What will your choice be? Will you choose the self, or will you choose to live in a longing pursuit of God? The choice is yours.



Being Poor

What comes to mind for you when you hear the words, being poor in spirit? When Jesus said blessed are the poor (πτωχός ptōchos), the concept He posited is that of being humble. Our Lord was not saying to His Bride, I want you to be so impoverished that you will go out looking for something to make you feel better, or to fill your time. That concept would imply that would be a harlot. That is certainly not what God expects from His Bride. Listen to Ephesians 5:27~He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. (NLT)

When Jesus said blessed are the poor in spirit, what He simply meant is this: We must be humble in our spirits. If we put the word humble in place of the word poor, we discover a better handhold for us to grasp. For how much humility does it take to admit that we need help? One of

the things we must be giving-up is our pride, as we humbly ask for help. 

In other words, when we come to God, we must realize that the sin in our lives is our own sin. That we are spiritually empty and in desperate poverty. We must not be self-satisfied, attempting to position ourselves in an attempt to vindicate our choices, for this is proud in our hearts, thinking we don’t really need God. If we are attempting to live this way, then God cannot bless us. Listen as James reminds us in James 4:6~ But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (NIV) 

To be poor in spirit is to recognize our need for God. To discern that what we are lacking is a relationship that is freeing us, and not binding us. To be poor is to be in a position of need that begs humility as we ask for God’s help. Taking the position of humility we find freedom, we find peace, we find joy in our soul because we have asked of God and what He gives, is freedom. Freedom to enjoy, freedom of proximity, whereby we may enter with holy boldness before the throne of grace. (Hebrews 4:16) In God’s presence, with Him sitting on the throne of our hearts, we discover the freedom to revel in the love of the one who formed us. 

All too often, we go out seeking the repairman when what we need to be doing is seeking the Creator. It was God who formed and fashioned our lives. Psalm 139:16~You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. (NLT) When we give up on our way and accept God’s plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11-13), we find freedom from possessing all things, yet we possess everything in Jesus Christ. 

So are you Giving-Up, or are you giving up? Don’t take the road of apathy and just go through life allowing the days to fan past like pages in a book. Instead, give-up by surrendering your whole life to God. Take a few moments to let the Lord have everything. If you are like most people there is a small corner closet that needs to be given to the Lord. So, go ahead and ask Him to help you let go.