Tue, Dec 12th - 3:24PM
In a way -- about me -- but really about us all...
Just a few scriptures I'd like to string together and comment upon about various characters in the Bible:
Genesis 15:4-6, 16:1-2, 17:15-19 (NIV)
4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." 5 He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her."
Abram agreed to what Sarai said.
15 God also said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her."
17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?" 18 And Abraham said to God, "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!"
19 Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.
Hmmm. The father of our faith. Do you see what I see? Yes, Abraham was faithful to an extent. However, his understanding was dim, and he was persuaded by his wife to interprete what God had said to him in less than a straight up way. (I do not count this against Sarah -- Abraham should make his own mind up in this, and you are certainly not wrong if you see this differently than I do -- I reflect upon Adam and Eve in the Garden at the Fall in reading this...)
JOHN THE BAPTIST:
Matthew 11:2-3 (NIV)
2When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"
Hmmm. The man, who while in his mother's womb, jumped at the approach of Mary mother of Jesus. Spirit filled. A picture of a raging mighty herald to the approaching of the Messiah. And he expressed doubts or questions? How can this be? Certainly we must tear this verse from the bible? NOT!!!
This is here for a reason. What does it say to you?
Isaiah 6:5 (NIV)
5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."
Hmmm. Strikes me as utter panic, understanding his unworthiness to me. I doubt I would do as well. In fact I know my flesh would fail me. What brought this man through? How did he become God's Prophet?
Luke 22:61, Acts 10:14, Galatians 2:11-13 (NIV)
61The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times."
14"Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."
11When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
Hmmm. The man had some issues, I'd say. Peter feared for his life and denied knowing Christ! (important for those who would call this an unpardonable sin to remember) He kept falling back into thinking as one under the Law and as if all needed the Law! NYET!!!
As an aside to point this out clearly:
1 Timothy 1:8-10 (NIV)
8We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine...
Matthew 5:17-18 (NIV)
17"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
Mark 12:28-31 (New International Version)
28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'There is no commandment greater than these."
Make no mistake, the Law still exists. Christ Fulfills the Law.
Romans 2:14-16 (NIV)
14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
1 Timothy 1:3-7 (NIV)
3As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer 4nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work—which is by faith. 5The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. 7They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
Paul's Gospel is Christ's Gospel. It is one of Faith. Not belief with no substance. Faith that causes action. Maybe not action evident to human eyes, but action that God sees and knows. Does this make my stand on the Law Clear?
Back on subject:
Exodus 3:11, 4:11-13, 17:4 (NIV)
11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"
11 The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."
13 But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it."
4 Then Moses cried out to the LORD, "What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me."
I don't know about you, but Moses seems to be a little reluctant at times here, fearful at other times. Hmmm.
Acts 8:1, 9:1-2, 1 Timothy 1:13-14 (NIV)
1And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
1Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
13Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
God, through these words of Paul, blesses us with a way to understand what Paul's attitude was, and what ours should be. This man was vigorous in his persecution of Christ's Church. He was righeous in his own mind about what he was doing, and i he did not kill anyone himself, his hand was certainly in it enough where he could perceive himself as a murderer if he so chose. A violent man, changed by God. Yes, his conversion was a bit more spectacular than what some experience. What meaning has that? Jesus talked about demanding signs. I think that demanding signs in your own life is to test God. Desire it, maybe. Demnd it, Never!
Do I need to quote the scriptures here? David. A man after God's own heart. Adulterer. Murderer. Brought Judgement on Israel by numbering the people contrary to God's will. Weak as you or I in many respects. A humble vessel indeed! But a vessel of what? A man after God's own heart...
Womanizer. Given to rage. A judge of great power. Hmmm...
A prostitute. An enemy of Israel. Capable of doing powerful things for the Lord.
If you read further in the bible, with an eye for it, or your eyes open to it, there is a theme here that I am trying to get through to you and even remind myself of.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NIV)
7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
When I am weak, then I am strong. Funny thing to say, don't you think? Pretty contrary to worldly wisdom, I would imagine. But this provacative statement is central to what I am trying to hammer through here.
Romans 7:14-25 (NIV)
14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
So then, what am I trying to say, exactly? What I am trying to say is this: These men and women would say pretty much what you and I might say: "I am not worthy. I can't do this." Truth be told, I think that they and we are right in thinking this way. However, God is capable, and with him working through us, there is nothing that cannot be done. So if you are called upon to do something for God, remember who is really doing it!