He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sanctified: Set apart for God's Purpose

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD." (1 Corinthians 1:26-31 [NAS])

This week in class we talked about sanctification meaning to set apart for a sacred purpose, to be free from sin, to purify.

If we have trusted Christ with our lives, we have been purified, we are free from the bondage of sin, we have been set apart for a sacred purpose, we have been sanctified.

Ephesians 2:4-5 (MSG) says, “Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, He [God] embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us!”

This passage goes on to talk about why God created us, for what purpose He has set us apart. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

So we need to ask ourselves, if we were created for good works, and we have been sanctified through Christ Jesus, are we living like we have been set apart for a sacred purpose? Are we living like we have been sanctified?

Here is what I challenge you to do, step away from the computer and go to God in prayer. Ask God to reveal places in your life that need to be improved, sin in your life that needs to be eradicated, hurts in your life that need to be healed. Ask God to show you what it means to be truly set apart for a sacred purpose, what it means to be sanctified.

I must warn you that it is not easy. God will reveal things that you don’t want to deal with. God will point you to scripture that convicts you and seeks to improve your life.

Galatians 5:24 tells us that if we belong to Jesus, we crucify--we utterly destroy--the power of our flesh and all our worldly passions our worldly desires. Being set apart for a sacred purpose means dying to yourself, it means self-sacrifice; but in the end God promises that it is worth it, God promises that if we lose our lives for Him we will find true life in Him (Luke 9:24).

We must ask, are we living like we have been sanctified?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Isaiah 43:1-4

But now, God's Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: "Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you. I've called your name. You're mine. When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you. When you're in rough waters, you will not go down. When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end - Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That's how much you mean to me! That's how much I love you! I'd sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you. (Isaiah 43:1-4 MSG)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Big Deal

In the
beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3; NAS)

Big Deal?

Yeah it is a big deal…

Do you realize how small and insignificant we are!?! Think about yourself in comparison to the size of your house, about your house in comparison to the size of your state, your state in comparison to the size of the United States (3.8 million square miles). Now think about this: the earth has about 197 million square miles of surface area, almost 52 times the surface area of the United States.

Let’s go further.

The earth is big right?!? Well compared to our Sun it is tiny. The diameter (the distance from the outside or crust through the center of the Earth to the outside crust on the opposite side) of the Earth is 8,000 miles which is 107 times smaller than the diameter of the Sun. Let’s look at it this way: if the Earth were a quarter (1 inch in diameter), the Sun would be nine feet in diameter!

The Sun is located 93 million miles away. This means, if you were to travel to the Sun going 70 mph in your little starship, you would have to drive 24 hours a day for 152 years (unfortunately you would not last long on the face of the Sun with temperatures hitting 10,000°F). On the other hand, light from the Sun takes about 8 min to travel the same distance.

Pretty big, huh?!?

Not even close.

Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so. (Genesis 1:14-15; NAS)

Betelgeuse is a star located about 600 light years away (a light year is the distance light can travel in one year, roughly 5.8 trillion miles).

If you were to travel in your little starship at 70 mph you would have to travel day and night for 9.5 million years…to travel ONE light year.

Betelgeuse is about 1,180 times bigger than our Sun. If the Earth was the size of a quarter, Betelgeuse would be a sphere more than 10,500 feet in diameter. That means that if the Earth was the size of a quarter, Betelgeuse would be almost 2 miles in diameter.

You will now need to step away from the computer, take your quarter sized earth, and go run two miles.

Pretty big huh?!?

Not even close.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, And marked off the heavens by the span, And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, And weighed the mountains in a balance And the hills in a pair of scales? (Isaiah 40:12; NAS)

Canis Majoris is a star located about 4,900 light years away. If you want to vacation on Canis Majoris you will need to get in your starship and travel at 70 mph for the next 46 billion years. Once you get there you will find that Canis Majoris is about 1,800 times bigger than our Sun, or approximately 1.5 million miles in diameter, more than 8 times larger than the earth’s orbit around our Sun!

Pretty big huh?!?

Not even close.

The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. (Psalm 19:1; NAS)

The Earth, the Sun, Betelgeuse, Canis Majoris and all the heaves were created by God with the spoken word…and yet, despite how insignificant we are compared to the size of the universe, God loved us so much that He sent his only Son to die on the cross so that we could live with Him…

THAT is a big deal!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Father of Light

I was considering the future of my children this week I think we all consider what the future might look like for our children or for us when we get older.

I started thinking about my grandfather (Ol' Pappy) and the immense changes that have occurred on this earth during his lifetime. Ol' Pappy was born in 1920 when the average annual salary was approximately $1,200. Throughout the 20s Jazz was the music of the masses, dance marathons became hugely popular, a brand new shiny Ford cost $290, the 19th amendment passed securing the right to vote for women, and the stock market crashed throwing the country into the Great Depression.

Since his birth, Ol' Pappy has experienced so much change: the addition of sound and color to movies, technological advancements, and the introduction of the television, computers, the internet, and cell phones. He has lived through wars in Europe and Asia (World War II), Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East.

Ol' Pappy has witnessed changes in our culture and how the culture views morality. We have moved from a society generally believing in absolute truth to a society of acceptance and tolerance that adheres to a belief of relative truth. Surprisingly, this shift includes many in the Christian Church, a group of people that should be dedicated to an unchanging God (Hebrews 13:8).

I am not building up my grandfather’s generation as perfect; they had moral lapses and spiritual problems of their own. The only morally flawless life was one lived out by a man named Jesus, who also happened to be God’s son.

The acceptance of immorality is a trap, it is a device used by Satan to slowly soften and undermine our belief in a morally absolute God, and to make us slaves to dangerous emotions, thoughts, and habits.

Bible teacher Kay Arthur has said, "Sin will take you father than you ever thought you would go; It will keep you longer than you ever thought you would stay; and will cost you more than you ever thought you would pay." There is right and there is wrong, God does not leave open the option for a moral grey area because He understands the damage that will do to us. The more we know God, the more we will grasp how much He loves us and how he longs to protect us.

Don't let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, "God is trying to trip me up." God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one's way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer. So, my very dear friends, don't get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. (James 1:13-17, MSG)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Letting Go

Picture courtesy of State of Connecticut

I told a story in class this past week about my grandfather, Capt. Lawson, who flew an F-4u during WW-II.

During one of his flights the plane went into what pilots term a "death spiral." The name pretty much explains the action and severity of the problem.

As the plane spiraled and plummeted downward, my grandfather struggled and struggled with the controls, attempting to coax the aircraft out of the death spiral and back onto level flight. My grandfather tried and tried but nothing he did worked to save the plane from certain doom.

Then my grandfather came to the conclusion that he would have to bail out, so with his parachute on his back he opened the cockpit and began an attempt to exit the aircraft.

I say "attempt" because he could not get out! The G forces exerted by the spinning maneuver were forcing him back into his seat, he was trapped in a spinning hunk of metal headed for certain destruction.

My grandfather came to a dire conclusion at that moment, his best efforts were not enough to save him. His current situation was hopeless.

In a moment of clarity, my grandfather remembered reading the flight manual for the F-4u. The words of the author in an obscure section of the flight manual explained what to do if caught in a death spiral. The author wrote that contrary to common sense when caught in a death spiral, the pilot must let go of the controls and the plane would fly out of the death spiral.

My grandfather trusted the author of the manual. He relinquished control and the plane flew out of the death spiral.

He was saved from certain death.

We should always let God have control of the direction of our lives, but when we are in the lowest places in our lives, when we are headed for certain doom and despite our best efforts we are trapped in a place of hopelessness—we MUST let go, and allow God to have control.

Of course we have heard Jeremiah 29:11 about God’s good plans for our lives, but we also must remember that God guides us (Isaiah 58:11, Psalm 48:14, Psalm 32:8, Isaiah 48:17) and God protects us (Psalm 91:3-7, Isaiah 41:10). We are His children and His loving plans are perfect.

I know it is difficult, we (and by “we” I really mean “I”) like to retain control, we like to think that our lives are going exactly where we are steering. But usually our plans don't work out quite the way we think they will. Jobs disappear, relationships struggle, loved ones die--we all have things in our lives that just haven't turned out the way we planned.

Proverbs says we must rely on God because the plans of men eventually come to ruin, “We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God's purpose prevails." (Proverbs 19:21, MSG)

We need to read the manual so that when we are in those places of dire need, when our minds are filled with pain, fear, and sorrow—we already know what to do (Psalm 119:11).

We can have a relationship--a close, personal relationship--with the author of our manual. God through Jesus offers friendship, yes He is our Creator, yes He is our God, yes He is our Father—but He also desires to be our friend, our companion.

If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever--the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:15-17, NKJV)