Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" Jn 11:25-26

What a great morning to read the resurrection accounts.

Matt 27:59f
Mark 16:2f
Luke 24:1f
John 20:1f
Acts 1:1-12

"But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." John 20:31

It strikes me as fresh this morning that He came first to those closest to His grave and those farthest away (the two on the road to Emmaus). He visited in the morning and then in the evening.

The resurrection happens early and the revealing happens late. Some carry a secret that they tell in joy but few believe unless they see Him and He doesn't arrive until evening time to tell them.

Even on resurrection day God allowed for doubt. He gave room for the religious leaders to pay off the Romans.

The finished work of Christ happened early... before the world began it was planned and set in God's mind then executed step by step. But for many of us it was revealed late... after years of unregenerate living in ignorance or unbelief.

Some live their whole lives like some of those Roman guards at the tomb. A little money in their pockets, the promise of a cover up that will keep them safe (but fearful) and Jesus left behind in their rear-view mirror. Others are like Thomas and have a time of doubt before they fall to their knees and grace overwhelms them.

If we know grace we can live all day like Mary. Filled with joy and redemptive knowledge. No one's unbelief can dampen our joy. No one can quiet our song or stifle our laughter.

He is alive! He is risen and we are saved!

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Decent Order of Grace - Part 14 - Spiritual Focus is on Christ

"Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit." 1 Cor 12:3

The Spirit will give an understanding of suffering and sovereignty... Christ's suffering and sovereignty. Some see this verse as a litmus test for the demonic or the unregenerate but it is much more than that. Notice directly after it launches into Christian action and Spirit filled living.

"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free - and all were made to drink of one Spirit." 1 Cor 12:4-13 ESV

Any Christian 'doing' is done from drinking of the same Spirit and that Spirit will be pointing back to the victorious nature of who Christ is and what He has done. The Spirit is never pessimistic about the cross. He also is never behind a solitary self help program. He promotes a layered authority system that puts Christ at the top and all other functions and actions that are spiritual as directed by Him and cooperative with each other.

The Spirit never exalts the gift. He exalts the giver.

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock" Matt 7:21-24 NKJV

This lawlessness is not the Mosaic kind. It is the ignorance that comes from not drinking of the same Spirit that is revealing Christ. When we drink of the same Spirit we build on the Rock. That is the wise place to build and that place is chosen by us because the cross makes sense and the Lordship of Christ is revealed and we willingly come under it.

If we have anything to give today it comes from this. If we have a Spirit filled portion today it is because of who Christ is and what He has done. Anything outside of that is wood, hay and stubble. But, nestled in the understanding given by the Spirit is another kind of living. The cross brings redemption into every situation or circumstance we face. If Jesus is Lord today it will be a day filled with potential and not drudgery.

Fill us with the Spirit Lord so we will think like Spirit filled people! If we see you we won't look at ourselves. We will redeem the time today on a rock and not sand.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Decent Order of Grace - Part 13 - Forethought

"When I arrive, whomever you may approve, I will send them with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem; and if it is fitting for me to go also, they will go with me. But I will come to you after I go through Macedonia, for I am going through Macedonia; and perhaps I will stay with you, or even spend the winter, so that you may send me on my way wherever I may go. For I do not wish to see you now just in passing; for I hope to remain with you for some time, if the Lord permits. But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries." 1 Cor 16:3-9 NASB

Paul's organization has a decent order to it. Notice the spiritual autonomy given. The flexibility. He directed them to pick people but he reserved the right to send the people.

'If it is fitting' there talks about 'drawing down the scale'. Paul takes a look at the coming situation and guesses it's weigh but has a contingency plan in case the scales start to tip in one direction or the other.

Paul anticipates grace adjustments and the need for God's direction in the coming situation. He is willing to be the answer if necessary but does not take the whole project on himself. He is not a micro-manager but he keeps a hand on the project and does not let it go entirely either.

He leaves no possibility of failure. This thing is going to happen it is just a matter of when, how and with whom it will happen.

Paul is on the move and he does not function from deficit motivation. It is all 'Win / Win' because God is in it.

The mission centers around people and relationships and not the project itself. The project is a vehicle to be with people and Paul is sensitive to people to give them a 'heads up' so that they can plan. 'Perhaps I will stay with you' leaves room for housing plans... 'or even spend the winter' tells them to prepare for a possible lengthy stay... 'I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost' gives them a target time period. The Lord's coming may be imminent but not Paul's.

Paul doesn't just want to be there for a few minutes or days. He wants time to be with people. He wants to leave knowing the children's names... after many prayers, raps, bible times and meals together.

He sees life as ministry and that ministry has a wide door of effectiveness. Yes, There will be problems and maybe people who generate problems but ministry has impact we can't measure because it is done by faith. Faith pleases God... Biblical Christ centered faith.

Much can be learned about directing troop movement by studying David and Joshua. They were men who led armies. Much can be learned about directing volunteers by studying Paul. Gracious leadership is needed. It is needed wherever there are initiators and responders.

Fear is a powerful tool but what will that produce? The promise of promotion is often the carrot dangled to get things done but that eventually produces power hungry leadership. Gracious order weeds out lust and carnal motivators because it promises a cross not a prize. It strengthens relationships not lust patterns.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Decent Order of Grace - Part 12 - The Seated Position

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Cor 15:57-58

The word 'steadfast' (Hedraios G1476) is derived from the word Hezomai which means to sit. Hedraios means to be sedentary or to stay seated. We are not to move from the seated position. From that position we experience the overflow of God's work.

Like protesters sitting in peaceful protest we sit and keep sitting. We don't sit on some street somewhere chanting slogans... We sit in the finished work of Christ. The labor, of continuing in rest, is not in vain.

The labor is the refusal to do the work myself. The refusal to defend myself. The refusal to second guess myself. The refusal to consider that anything will be done outside of the Lord's work.

Asking to be led we go in rest. Opening our mouths we speak from rest. Grace causes us to labor. Love constrains us to give and extend ourselves. We sleep less in our resting because there is so much to do.

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." 1 Cor 15:10 NKJV

Chapter 16 launches right into the collection for Jerusalem and the concerted effort to be made so that the gift is ready ahead of time. They were to work hard from that seated position.

So are we. From a position of rest we can impact lives and ease suffering. From rest we can reach the World with the message of what Christ has done.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Decent Order of Grace - Part 11 - Thinking Beyond Reflection

A clean thought. A clean towel. A clean mug for coffee. Something clean to wear. Clean relationships.

"Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." 1 Cor 13:8

As people in a fallen world we see 'through a glass darkly' but mirrors were not made of glass then they were made of steel. You could translate this 'now our reflection is an enigma; but then face to face'.

Christ is love. A love that must be experienced. Knowing Christ is an objective experience. It is not the subjective riddle of reflection. He is a love that passes understanding right on by. Yet, He is seen by understanding. He is our clean thought.

As children we speak about things we barely know. We come to conclusions but we don't understand life and how it is. This innocence serves well for faith but fails us in reflection. We need the wisdom that preaching and communication brings to nurture us into an understanding that will only be complete once we are face to face with God and self reflection will cease. Once that happens we will never look at ourselves and say, 'But, I am naked and afraid' again. Dim reflection will be past.

The clean thought comes from beyond self. It comes from a love that is beyond fallen man. Christ as a quickening Spirit comes in and makes us mature and alive. We put away childish thinking and in maturity our knowledge frees us to be childlike in faith because of liberty.

How will my day go if I start it with something clean and cleansing? How will my breath smell if I brush my teeth? How will my mind think?

We can look in the mirror to brush our hair and yet because of redemptive knowledge refuse to peer at self. Realizing our reflection and not denying what we see but moving past it to live a 'face to face' life knowing the clean one sees us as clean already because of what He has done.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Carved Work Overlaid with Gold

"So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold" 1 Kings 6:21

The floors of the most Holy place also had gold overlay, the doors, the walls were carved with cherubims and palm trees and open flowers and all were 'overlaid with gold' both within and without.

Carved wood overlaid with gold. How much gold was used? It must have been incredible amounts. Obviously no expense was spared. It is hard to imagine the sight.

"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" 1 Cor 6:19

What does God see when He looks into the Holy place of a believer? A temple not built by human hands or effort. Paul had to remind them of this unseen reality. Unseen by us anyways... The wood of our humanity covered and intertwined with the gold of Christ's character and nature.

People have great worth. Maybe it's easy to miss that fact. Every human soul has such worth to to God.

God has carved 'palm trees and open flowers' in the inner courts of my humanity. Happy scenes of prosperous times overlaid with God Himself.

Filled with that meditation I want to see the worth people have to God and the hope for the future I have in God. His plans are good plans and His thoughts are good thoughts.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Decent Order of Grace - Part 10 - The Natural then the Spiritual

"But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual." 1 Cor 15:46

“And He went a little farther, and fell on His face, and prayed.” Matthew 26:39

The spiritual is a few steps beyond where the natural would ever go... could ever go. How do we get there? Faith gets us there. Christ's faith gets us there. The Spiritual life is a response to grace by faith.

Beholding may be natural but responding is spiritual.

"And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus." Matt 14:28-29

How rewarding is the moment when we step out and join Jesus? We marvel when Peter walked on water but is a marvel when any person takes those steps beyond to join Jesus where He is.

The natural man may try to go farther by effort. We can never get those extra steps that Jesus took by effort.

"He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, 'O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.' Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping" Matt 26:39-40a

It is the cross! Or even more specifically the person on the cross. His mind... His life... a relationship with Him. A relationship to the Father made possible by the Son.

Let's take the extra steps of a laid down life today. Only God can beckon us out unto that water. Only Christ in us and the love of Calvary makes that sacrifice possible and meaningful.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." Rom 12:1

Only Jesus makes that sacrifice reasonable.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Those Things

I woke up in the middle of the night and thought of this verse and had to go look at it in the original language.

"And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things." 2 Sam 12:8

The phrase 'such and such things' is the same word repeated twice... Hennah (Strong's H2007)

It is the word used here (and a few other interesting places)

"For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such (H2007) things are with him." Job 23:14

"Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read : no one of these (H2007) shall fail , none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded , and his spirit it hath gathered them." Isaiah 34:16

Lets say we have two bunches of grapes... one in front of us that we are eating from and one over on the counter. The one in front of us we categorize as 'these grapes' and the one on the counter would be 'those grapes'. The word Hennah is speaking about 'those grapes'. In 1 Sam 12:8 God is saying to David, 'I would have given you those and those.'

As people we tend to worry or carry burdens regarding 'those things'... things not in our immediate control or reach. God wants us released from the burden and attachment. Lust can draw us away and it will involve 'those things' detached from God.

Our souls will naturally cleave to the dust and be drawn in various different directions and worries... but if we 'face God' and cast our care on Him 'those things' become 'these things' because even though they are still out of our reach we have found consensus with God that they are not outside of His reach.

"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity" Ps 32:1-2a

"Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." Rom 4:8

Notice how God is not dealing with David according to his sin or iniquity. His relationship with David was big enough to deal with 'those things' and if we know Christ that is true for us also.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Decent Order of Grace - Part 9 - One Bodily Resurrection

The Resurrection is the foundation of my hope. If Jesus was some dead philosopher I would just take from what He said and pick and choose the part that would contribute to my life and discard the rest. My hope would still be in my own cleverness.

"For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." 1 Cor 15:16-22 ESV

The fact that Jesus is alive from the dead... bodily alive and in a different category than any other man changes the stakes. Christ's words and actions are in a class all by themselves.

Even great men of the ages that led humble spiritually fruitful lives are not raised from the dead the way Christ was.

"So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable." 1 Cor 15:42 ESV

Christ not only came 'back to life' He rose from the grave never to die again having conquered death and the grave having power and authority as a man that no man has ever had. He walked through walls and shrugged of demons.

In this age even Godly men who die don't see this kind of bodily Resurrection. In a sinful world we might make the mistake of making men and their subtle errors equal with Christ if that were true. Men and women die and are hidden from our eyes. Whatever errors they made are hidden also.

It is right that Christ be at the forefront. It is right order that it is Christ and Christ alone that is magnified. He is our life... He is our Hope. He did the work and our faith is fixed on the one who has passed from death into life and find that what He did has power to touch into my present life and future.

We limit the Resurrection to Sunday morning but it transcends time and space. The Resurrection touches every moment of faith because it is outside of time. It is finished was spoken over all humanity at once because Jesus was the representative of all humanity when it happened.

When Adams sinned God looked across time and saw all of His seed wither and die. When Christ was raised He made all who would believe on Him to glow with life all at once like a field of flowers opening to the sunshine together.

"Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." 1 Cor 15:49-50 ESV

One day our bodies will reflect that new life. In a time when no one will confused a man raised from the dead with the Savior with nail scarred hands. Until then it is right that only one man would be alive like He is alive.

Christianity isn't picking and choosing the best ideas... it is life from death. That message has hope.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Decent Order of Grace - Part 8 - Honor

"For 'God has put all things in subjection under his feet.' But when it says, 'all things are put in subjection,' it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all." 1 Cor 15:27-28 ESV

Honor is a beautiful thing. It is divine and dignified. Idolatry exalts a person or thing in place of God. Honor is a reflection of the internal relationship of the Trinity one to another. Honor does not seek to make those who gave them authority come under their authority. Those relationships remain fixed but also grow in depth.

"I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation." Ps 119:99 ESV

Ah, but to learn and grow. I always want to do that. Anyone who teaches wants students that excel them. If the ego is put aside that is.

"For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north" Is 14:13

To desire to ascend 'above' in authority is demonic thinking. But to desire mastery of what has been given by God and in turn by men is Godly thinking.

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it" Gen 1:28

Christ did function in honor, His is presently functioning in honor and He always will. The mind of Christ is a mind filled with honor.

When I honor an elderly veteran I see see in the grocery store and recognize him and treat him respect, it is not only right, it may be a opening to present the Gospel. I may yet be strong and others have grown weak with age but our honor does not dwindle as strength does. It only deepens in time.

Let us remain little in our own eyes as we grow in grace and knowledge. Let us fix others who have gone before us in places of respect in our minds. Not high pedestals where it is lonely and there is a long drop but horizontally in honor where familiarity is foreign and envy is disarmed.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Decent Order of Grace - Part 7 - Resurrection

We may have seeming setbacks in this life but victory is assured.

"But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death." 1 Cor 15:23-26 NASB

The resurrection of Christ set a process in motion that will reclaim mankind and override the curse of the fall. All who know Christ will witness the demise of death itself from the vantage point of immortality. With clear minds and eyes we will see and mark the day when death is ultimately swallowed up in victory.

There is a progression. We see it here. Resurrection will come in waves. Christ was first and all who believe are next in line. Every false structure will be disarmed and swallowed up.

"And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." Rom 8:10-11 NKJV

Resurrection life! We have it. It makes us bold to say it... to think about it. Instead of living in our setbacks let's live in quickening! Resurrection will swallow my weakness and by God's word, kindness and righteousness (see Ps 119: 25, 40, 88) we can be made alive even now.

By mixing faith with truth we have access to life.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Decent Order of Grace - Part 6 - The Unfolding Church

"But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" Jn 16:4-8

"Let all things be done decently and in order." 1 Cor 14:40

The decent order of Grace was for Christ to leave so that the Spirit could come. What He would do in this age was establish a Church. The Church. Generation after generation of people that would make up the Body of Christ.

The Spirit being sent was 'expedient' for us. The structure created by Christ and His Spirit is expedient for us also.

"Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace" Heb 13:9a

The Church is one of God's designated places for that to happen.

The Church represents Christ's death, His burial, His Resurrection and then at some point His ascension at the rapture.

Many places that are called Churches are not Churches. Many who attend are not really apart of God's Church but God sends men and women and builds His Church in every generation. God says every believer can be a member in particular of this amazing provision for this age.

If we find a place in God's decent order of grace with a man leaning on God and a message that reveals the finished work of Christ we find a real treasure. God determines which place is our place. It will take time to reveal just what a treasure it is. We see babies born in the Church and they grow up and grow strong. In time we see people come and some go but some stay. Some come back years later. We see the soiled and broken become cleansed and healed. We see pain and personality clashes but we see mercy and forgiveness. The Church unfolds to us. The Church we see one Sunday morning is only the tip of the iceberg of what it really happening.

The world at large does not understand what the Church is. One day it will be gone. Who will open soup kitchens to feed the hungry then? Who will wrap the wounds of the Leper? Who will love the orphans? Will anyone say 'God loves you?'

It may happen in our lifetime. It may not. I want to see the treasure of the Church. If God has led me to one I want to stay for a while... for as long as God has me there. That place will reveal more to me about God's life than any other place on the planet. Even in the mistakes it may make because men are not perfect... if God has done it He will use it in spite of men if need be.

Let us be known in Heaven as Church builders and not Church bashers. Let us put brick upon brick building our little portion of the wall. It is God's Church and the Gates of Hell will not stand against it.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Decent Order of Grace - Part 5 - Prayer and Movement

If outbursts in the Church are not encouraged we could say 'private is good' let's just keep everything private. Not so. Take for example the prayer chain.

The prayer chain is a sacred forum it may include thousands of people but it is not public. The prayer chain defies social order because it excludes the exposure that a grapevine would bring. God forbid that the prayer sheet would ever be used for anything but what it is intended.

Bringing needs before Spirit filled people is never 'pearls before swine.' It is humility in action. Many people lead extremely private lives. Some folks have no one to talk to. Others would only share their hurts with a very select few.

Prayer makes a person a confidential courier carrying a package to the throne. The prayer chain is an army of such stalwart souls carrying sealed documents. It is an honor when we are entrusted with precious burdens.

Decent order includes generous amounts of prayer. Prayers for people and ourselves. Prayers for wisdom and for our Church. Prayers for leaders. We can bath our whole life in prayer. God's house is a house of prayer.

There are things I say to God that no other person will ever hear but there are others that I want an army of intercessors to storm Heaven for. Those are personal and sacred decisions. We want to be led of the Spirit.

When people speak to God about someone it is a far different thing then when they speak to each other. Prayer provides a unique support that can come no other way. All men and women should pray and not faint. That is God's order of renewal. (see Luke 18:1)

"Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven." 1 Cor 11:4-5 ESV

Women pray and communicate with a covering and men pray and communicate as a covering. That is a good order.

Are women and men different. Yes! But, 'Vive la différence'. The differences glorify God. A man's prayer may be the equivalent of a grunt or a groan. But a woman because of her unique sensitive design prays for details that might escape most men.

A man is never more of a man then when he is covering and protecting something or someone. Oh, What a need we have for Godly men in the world.

The scripture encourages communication. The Gospel is a message to be shared and not withheld. Missions and outreach serve as the forward momentum of a Church and of a life. How many street corners need preachers? How many people need prayers?

We were talking at Dunkins last night after handing out play tickets and saying that our Church is like a trolley. It keeps on moving but it is designed so that people can just jump right on and have a seat. Once on you don't want to get off because of where it takes you.

Locks on your car door may keep people out but the fact that the car is moving keeps people in. If you have to lock the doors to keep people in there is a lack of maturity of some kind. Child safety locks are for children not adults.

Decent order is the right speed for people.

When Jesus said come follow me I imagine the group was moving at just the right speed. There was teaching, laughter and prayer in that group. People had stories about what Jesus did and there was an air of expectation about where they would go next. If you didn't come with Him it was because you didn't want to not because you couldn't.

I want to mingle in the public assembly. I will have my private life but not be so closed off that I can not share a need or get into a circle with people and pray for what is on God's heart.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Decent Order of Grace - Part 4 - Separate Forums

Since we are on the subject of decent order... what about this verse...

"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." 1 Cor 14:34-35

Wow. Our modern secular society loves verses like these. Some might say 'Where is the equality?' or 'See, The Bible promotes a male chauvinism that is outdated.' After all shouldn't we disregard a literal interpretation and go with a softer more culturally relevant approach?

But, In truth this verse is a great verse and much can be drawn from it. Yes, We need to understand the culture of the day but like the rest of the scriptures no alteration are necessary.

It is clear Paul is not saying women should be silent and subservient oppressed little slaves who have no voice. Paul previously gives guidelines for men and women and the correct forms of public communication.

"Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head" 1 Cor 11:4-5a

Silent here in the same word used for the translators in 1 Cor 14:28 and it meant to be covered and to speak 'in turn.' It is the same word used here for secret:

"...according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret (Sigao - G4601) since the world began" Rom 16:25b

In those days women sat on one side of the room and men on the other. Apparently the women's side was turning into a free for all during the message where there were outbursts all manner of grandstanding.

If we are pursuing love and have the Gospel as the primary focus there will be an order in the assembly and people will give honor to the speaker so that the message can be heard. We want the visitor to hear the Gospel. We need to hear the teaching.

As for the 'be under obedience, as also saith the law' part some conservative commentaries quote Gen 3:16 for this:

"Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you." Gen 3:16b

But, the book of Genesis is not the law Paul is referring to when he uses this Greek word in other places. Is he referring to Leviticus. Lev 18 forbids men to witness the nakedness of women in different roles. Aunts, daughter-in-Laws, mother-in-laws etc. It says in verse 18 it gives special instructions about sisters and marriage so that sisters will remain covered and be able to have a loving relationship. Jacob and his marriage to sisters is a great example of the trouble that this kind of interaction can cause.

Paul is making reference the the difference between a home life and a public life. It is a man's duty to cover not only his wife and family but to never uncover another woman or see 'the nakedness' of other women. The shame of public exposure should not be present in the Church.

If you have ever been at a public question and answer type gathering and someone asks a question like 'Is it right for a man to refuse to get a job after three years? The person with the hand raised in a woman and the guy sitting next to her is a fellow whose eyes are downcast. When that happens you see the value of this verse. A percentage of the people who heard that question will continue to think that man is a deadbeat whenever they see him.

Or the reverse. The hand is a male hand and the question is, 'Should a man stay married if His wife defrauds him? Poor wife. She has been uncovered, and publicly at that, it was just done in the form of question. So sad. That conversation needed a more private forum.

I don't expose my marriage to the Church. I cover my marriage in the Church and have private discourse between husband and wife while also having hospitality for the Saints. God is a God of peace not confusion. In other words in is not anything goes but order is not kept primarily by prohibition. Peace and the pursuit of love is the forward momentum that keeps people.

Gracious order rids us of multiple personalities and social masks but it encourages an order that provides a covering for people. It creates forums where people have dignity and sense the great worth they have as human beings. That means levels of privacy.

Dirty laundry aired and spread out in the public arena is never edifying. Pastors and leaders can talk in private with people and what would have been mortifying becomes edifying.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Decent Order of Grace - Part 3 - Links in a Chain

Order must flow from the top and be initiated by someone. If the atmosphere dictates the order then rest assured it is not decent order.

The process of discipleship is (for the most part) not Christ and me against the World. Discipleship is handed down from people to this generation and this generation hands it off to the next generation. You often see God address a generation in the scriptures. People of a generation have a responsibility to handle 'The Faith' and then pass it on. The next generation learns dignity and has a covering of maturity. Many generations have mistaken the outer trappings of faith for the substance and tried to conform to clothing, custom and tradition as a form of honor but the dressing is not necessarily the substance.

"Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands." 2 Tim 1:6

"Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery." 1 Tim 4:13-14

I have seen men study... now I study. I have seen men be kind beyond reason... now I have an example of what kindness is. I pray because the scripture teaches me but perhaps some of the phrases I use come from the Bible teacher... or the Pastor... or the Sunday school teacher who prayed and then I was touched by the substance that came after. Now his prayer is my prayer. It is not my only prayer but it is part of my prayer life.

"Which in other AGES was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" Eph 3:5

"Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all AGES, world without end. Amen." Eph 3:21

Ages here is Genea (G1074) and it is better translated generation. Time ticked off not by the Earth traveling around the Sun but by men living and dying.

When Jesus started preaching He preached John the Baptist's message.

"From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matt 4:17

What!?! God Himself came under a man. Yes, A man submitted to His Heavenly Father was His Earthly example. John prepared the way of the Lord for the people but also for the Earthly Messiah. He was the last man of a chain of men who served God before the cross. The next link would be the Chief cornerstone of all redemption. Christ needed to be Baptized by someone. Even later when John's faith became a little wobbly Christ never betrayed John or uncovered him. He only showed public respect for John. Or course Jesus never betrayed or uncovered anyone.

Decent order is handed down. God raises men up 'out of nowhere' because a generation has dropped the ball not because it is the right order. It is wrong for us to make the exception the rule. When the faith is not handed down all kinds of novice mistakes happen. You can bet that those men who have no spiritual father spend time on their knees wishing they did. A spiritual heritage is no substitute for a prayer life and a life of scriptural discovery but what a blessing it is for those that have it.

"Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness. They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness." Ps 145:3-7

I say these things to say this. It is not wrong to tuck yourself under the wing of someone who knows grace and can teach you gracious ways. To dedicate years submitted under the vision of a Godly man who will disciple you 'unto Christ.' Nor is it wrong to be such a man. To be a man whose children can go to for God's mind. To be a man with room under his wing for others who might be warmed and covered there for a season.

Paul was a man keenly aware of the uniqueness of his calling but associated Himself tightly with the other Apostles and took up the needs of Jerusalem as his priority. Paul had room under his wing for Titus, Timothy and other men who would carry the faith beyond his Earthly demise.

I want to live my life aware that in the great cloud of witnesses there are people who have known me in this life. They love me. They cheer for me. They want me to go far and live in purity and grace. They want me to live in the grace they taught me and to go deeper and deeper into that grace.

We are not just solitary clay vessels filled with treasure. We are links in a chain of faith. A chain that stretches into the mists of the past and into the future.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Decent Order of Grace - Part 2 - First Importance

"But all things should be done decently and in order. Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you - unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" 1 Cor 14:40 & 15:1-4 ESV

Chapter 14 of 1st Corinthians goes into the order of communication in an assembly. Most churches were in peoples homes. The emphasis is on sound thinking and knowledge in the assembly. The chapter reminds me of Bible studies I have a attended where there were some real characters. The music and the preaching gave order and understanding to a group that seemed ready to possibly 'spin out of control.'

The decent order of preaching is that the Gospel and all Bible teaching centered in the Gospel are of 'first importance.' People believe in it, stand in it and the message serves to continually deliver each one. The message is the foundation of every meeting and that brings an order to things.

"Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature." 1 Cor 14:20

The Gospel and teaching emphasis brings this about. Picnics, games, theater and dinners are all great but the Gospel is 'first priority'. If that is central then we have not believed in vain.

Corinth was filled with gifted people and it seems that things had spun out of control. Order broke down and emphasis was lost. The gifts eclipsed the message.

Does my work eclipse the message. Does my talent? Has my family life spun off into an emotional drama like you would see on reality television? Or perhaps it is so routine and dry that there is no one with a 'Psalm or Hymn' to share.

If the first priority is made to be first again order can be restored. I love it when someone says, 'Can I have a Bible study in my home?' because they are saying 'I want God's order in my life... in my house.' They are willing to clean up the possible mess of 'strangers' in order to have preaching in their living room.

I can go to work and have the message be central. In fact I will in just a few minutes. It is going to make all the difference in my day. I may not mention the death, burial and resurrection of Christ to my co-workers. But it will be my emphasis in my mind. It will be ready on my tongue if God gives opportunity.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Decent Order of Grace - Part 1 - Pursue Love

Since yesterday on outreach this great theme has been germinating in my mind.

'The Decent Order of Grace'

How intimacy with God based on the finished work produces and promotes an order that has honor and excellence. This order is born in freedom But it is not freedom without boundaries. It is framed in discipleship. This honest order promotes connection and dignifies the individual without compromising holiness or stealing glory from God.

There is so much in 1 Corinthians chapter 14 and 15 relating to this subject. I've been reading these chapters again and again.

Decent order is what we want in our lives... in our homes and churches... in our businesses. It won't be found in rules but we want it.

Perhaps I will have liberty to study it and write about it this week. I think it starts here:

"Follow after charity..." 1 Cor 14:1a

A disciple pursues love. That is our apprenticeship. To chase down God's love. To clear everything else away until we find it. Chasing love is honest and in order. It raises the bar in every situation and interaction. I won't pursue other things if I am pursuing love. We don't need a complex rule book to do this. It is an honest pursuit with a simple objective.

Many people spend their lives looking for love in the wrong places. If you look for love in God you will find it in the face of Christ. That love begins to order our lives in an amazing way. In an honest way.

"Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit." 1 Cor 14:1-2 ESV

Chase love and desire to unveil the gifts won for you at the cross. Gifts born in love and for love's sake. Gifts that build up. Individual manifestations that reveal a corporate life that is a greater manifestation and magnification than any one single life can be.

But, If you are going to look to be able do something let it be communication. Seek to communicate the cross. Find a way from God to bridge the gap and make it known what Christ has done there.

You may have a great one-on-one relationship with God. I hope everyone who reads this does. If you do... the cross is the reason you do. It is God's decent order that you and I would look for ways to communicate His love to other people an intelligible purposeful way.

There were twelve Apostles recognized by God in the scriptures. Judas never was one. His 'sending' never happened. It was a mystery but Paul was to fill that gap. The man who was given grace in clarity. A man born out of season filled up the number. We may not be Apostles but we all are sent ones. Not all have the gift of evangelism, making us Evangelists, but we all evangelize. All of us are not preachers but we all communicate and it is in order that we would grow as communicators all the days of our lives.

Paul being born 'out of season' was decent and in order as far as grace was concerned. He was an Apostle and the others recognized the truth of it even though he did have the same three years of walking with God that they had. This twelfth man could communicate grace on a level that Peter respected. Paul challenged Peter to grow. He challenged him to live in the message by words and by example. It was God's order.

Seek the love you have found in Christ... the love that has found you. Desire to discover the spiritual impartations given to express the words that impart hope.

Most of us are 'out of season' communicators. Most of chapter 14 discusses the correct channels for that out of season communication. It is worth reading and thinking about.

Friday, March 8, 2013

For Pain Prescribe the Gospel

"Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; For how should My name be profaned? And I will not give My glory to another. Listen to Me, O Jacob, And Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last." Isaiah 48:10-12

"However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, 'We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.' " Acts 14:20-22 NKJV

God's message to His people has never been 'Things are going to be easy.' In fact it is quite the contrary. The furnace of affliction is a common theme.

When grace is sufficient than the Gospel is sufficient because Christ is our all in all.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes" Rom 1:6a NKJV

We learn that we can trust the message to deliver because we can trust Christ to deliver. God will use pain and pleasure... He will employ joy and sorrow... riches and poverty... sickness and health... youth and old age... the Gospel spans the length of the human experience. This love covers the multitude of sins.

Perhaps if I like Paul have something that I ask God to remove again and again and His answer becomes 'My Grace is sufficient for you.' that thing becomes a furnace of affliction for us. In the furnace is where the fourth man is revealed. The furnace burns away my bonds and leaves the garment of righteousness untouched.

If I learn to trust it for myself then I can boldly entrust it to others.

This deliverance is a deep deliverance. It delivers the depth of a person and the height of a person. The experience of the Gospel disarms fear in my life. If fear is disarmed and pain has purpose I will not prescribe comfort as a solution. The Gospel is the only method we will prescribe once we are fully convinced.

Christ was not sentimental. He cried tears over Israel for what they had been through and the suffering that was to come to them. He wanted to gather them in His arms and He also wants to gather us into His arms.

In those arms we find a deep hope that transcends our state and healing that makes us truly whole. When the gospel is presented people see an entrance into Christ's embrace.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pleasure in Infirmities?

When grace is enough for me something strange happens. Maybe it is because faith is functioning in a momentum. God knows grace is sufficient... when we know it also we share a faith secret that colors our world view in a different way. We see our personal history differently.

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." 2 Cor 12:9-10 KJV

Infirmities (Astheneia - G769) Weakness of the body that create vunerablity
Reproaches (Hybris - G5196) Desire or arrogance that takes pleasure in or disregards the pain it causes others.
Necessities (G318 - Anagke) Limitations imposed by circumstance or by law
Persecutions (G1375 - Diogmos) People are actively out to hurt or destroy you
Distresses (G4730 - Stenochoria) Narrowness. The frustration or pain that comes with not being able to make something important fit.

That is quite a list.

The theology is one thing but to apply this personally is another. Who wants any of these things? The word Paul uses as 'take pleasure' can be translated 'prefer.' Is he a masochist? Does he enjoy pain? No, He sees the dynamic of grace. He sees that reaction, contradiction and inability are not things to be avoided. They are things that God is able to handle without blinking. That they happen at all is proof that grace is functioning.

"And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god." Acts 28:3-6 KJV

Like the viper these things don't kill us. We keep gathering sticks. We keep seeking lost humanity. Although we are cold and wet we go and power is on us.

Let's face it. When we suffer any of those things on that list outside of our call they are maddening. They ignite anger. We quote 'All things work together for good' again and again but it is like throwing pebbles at a mountain.

All those things must be sandwiched between 'Grace is sufficient' and 'For Christ's Sake' in order for us to see them as good and encouraging.

"Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." John 14:11-13 ESV

God will fill up what is missing for the work's sake. The Father is giving the Son people and we are part of that gift.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

All Sufficient Grace

"For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Cor 12:8-9a

Grace is sufficient when I don't, can't and won't and is just as strong then as when I do, can and will. All six of those statements can be very misleading and insufficient when the situations of our lives actually come into the light of reality.

Perhaps it is a poor or wrong self image that keeps us from attempting what seems out of reach or perhaps in arrogance we take credit for situations where our natural strength had little merit. In contrast God's grace will turn out to be enough to handle what needs handling. Our strength may overshadow it so that it remains hidden in the background. Our weakness showcases grace and reveals it's perfection.

Mercy can be expressed when I have a second coat and give it away. Grace is expressed when I have nothing to give and in my bankruptcy God shows Himself to be faithful.

Grace is absent of human merit and must be experienced over time in order to learn of it's real sufficiency.

It may not look like it will be enough... but it is.

Grace is based on Jesus and He did, could and will do all that is needed. That realm is beyond my power. I can be a participant and the receiver of it but no one but God can initiate it.

"And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:8-11

If my inability can reveal God's grace today then I want it to. If my ability is submitted and reveals grace then I want that also.

What Jesus builds will last and be sufficient. Today I purpose to trust in that and nothing else.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Forged in Corporate Hope

"But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." 1 Thess 5:4-11 ESV

In Spurgeon's devotional for this morning he quotes one of these verses and some lines from Pilgrim's Progress. He brings out a principle that travelers who travel together have company to keep them awake and lively. So true.

It made me re-read that verse and the surrounding verses looking for what was singular and what was plural. Paul emphasizes a 'corporate identity'... we are this... we are not that... even the girding of armor to prepare for battle is done together. He almost talks like a coach talking to his team in the locker room and telling them to encourage one another about the victory they have.

Fellowship keeps us awake. It keeps us sharp.

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Heb 10:24-25 ESV

This verse is often used in the context of individual church attendance but the 'us' here is talking about corporate fellowship. It isn't just something 'I' do... it is something 'we' do. It is a group venture. It is team concept.

Our individual hope is expressed to the group. Our individual faith makes up a corporate faith field.

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matt 18:20

"For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God." 2 Cor 4:15 ESV

Grace is experienced individually but it is extended corporately. Every joint supplies in the corporate manifestation. Thanksgiving is increased.

I want to grow as an individual but I also want to grow as a coach and as a team player in my spiritual walk. I want to go to a gathering I am leading or attending in some capacity with a wakeful purpose to help another person strap on their armor or to build up and encourage in some way. To go not in some emotional mania of rhetoric but to go in faith and to enter the flame where I can be forged in the corporate expression of hope and love.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Hand on the Table

"And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed! And they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing." Luke 22:19-23 KJV

In communion the hands and the mind are occupied with Christ and what He has done. The hand that remains unoccupied in that way is the dangerous hand. The hand that remains on the table is a hand that betrays. It is a hand present for fellowship but devoid of communion. It is a hand on the table.

The disciples worried themselves trying to figure out the dilemma. Whose hand was it? Why would someone do such a thing? But, Christ just continued on His way to the cross.

If the flesh remains exposed to body life but the person remains unconverted by Christ betrayal is inevitable. Christianity will seem vain and ineffective. Christ will seem distant. The work will become something to be attacked and have bitterness attached to it's memories. The cost of betrayal will end up thrown back into the temple in moral frustration and the end will not be pretty.

This scenario can be someone's whole life or season of their life. A 'hand on the table' season is a bitter season with few or no snapshots in the scrapbook of faith.

Searching for tares is frustrating and futile. So is being passive when we should be active in believing.

Handling the bread and the wine is where the life is. It is a life of nourishment and comfort. Christ is present and close and redemption is happening and possible. We never eat communion alone. It is done in a group for a reason. In that place the cross has made us all equal and we have everything that is truly important in common.

Memory filled communion causes us to reflect on an event we did not see ourselves. The cross. Christ had His face set like a flint to go there. Nothing natural or supernatural could stop Him. Let nothing stop us from going and taking the cup of salvation and drinking from it. That is the place where we are once again saved from self and every other danger.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Translating the Language of the Church

"There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church." 1 Cor 14:10-12 ESV

Zeal to experience and zeal to build. A desire to understand and to be understood.

I was so built up by the translators in Montreal on our recent trip there. The whole Church up there truly is amazing but I was thinking this morning about those people who stood in the gap specifically for the purpose of translating French to English or vice versa.

Can I be a translator of the language of the Church? Will the words of Christ be heard. People who don't know Him may see Him as a foreigner. Don't get me wrong I know the Spirit of God must do this thing and yet I want to be available to say the words.

The translator stands next to the speaker ready for the person to speak. If there is a pause they pause... if a verse is quoted they quote it... if the speaker has a certain tone they match that tone. English must turn into French for the French hearer to be edified.

As I go on outreach today I want to speak the language of the person standing in front of me and yet I am listening for the words that come from Heaven so that what is said does not originate in me. I want to translate the line upon line mind of Christ.

Who is sufficient for these things? It must be God and yet I have eagerness and faith that when I go... we go... it will be God.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Wisdom That Includes

God's wisdom descends it does not climb. It seeks to include but not at the cost of holiness.

"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." James 3:13-18 NKJV

Self-seeking wisdom always travels with unwelcome companions. Confusion and evil are always not far behind.

The gospel draws a circle that includes a person inside. I love the words describing the qualities of this wisdom. It is pure (Hagnos - G53) and that holiness comes first. That purity is a purity that only exists in the pure One Himself. Peaceable (Eirenikos - G1516) wisdom has rest embedded in it. It is interwoven with the Shalom of God. It is also gentle (Epieikes - G1933) which is reason derived from and in rest. This gentleness is fair, calm and gracious. It is not rigid there is a willingness to yield or to be entreated (Eupeithes - G2138). This wisdom does not just make impersonal pronouncements it is approachable and transparent. God wants interaction on a personal level. That interaction results in the dispensing of mercy (Eleos - G1656) and good fruits (Agathos - G18/ Karpos - G2590) are the result.

Of all the things that wisdom is what it isn't is equally revealing. It has no partiality (Adiakritos - G87) or hypocrisy (Anypokritos - G505).

This phrase 'without partiality' is an interesting one it is the negation of the word used for doubt or discerning (Diakritos - G1252). In other words wisdom from above does not create wrong divisions by coming to wrong conclusions or making wrong distinctions.

If a hypocrite wears a mask this love removes the mask to reveal it's face. It is the unfeigned approach of someone that has nothing to hide.

This wisdom doesn't make the false distinctions that clique‏s make. It does not have multiple personalities. It yields and invites and loves without ever leaving it's primary quality of purity.

Does this sound like anyone you know?

Jesus was and is all of these things. Believers are people who embrace and take on these qualities as well.

The wisdom of the Gospel is this kind of wisdom.

"And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." Phil 1:9-11

This is love that is 'without offense.' This wisdom is excellent and sincere and if people refuse it our hands are clean.