Monday, February 20, 2012

We are a New Creation in Christ :)

Points on Joshua ch.1-5
The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh received their inheritance of the Promised Land on the east side of the Jordan River. However, those tribes were not allowed to enter and reside in their "rest" (i.e. land) until they had helped the rest of Israel acquire their own land on the west side of the Jordan River. Did the remaining tribes of Israel really need their help? No, (aside from maybe some moral support) because, as we see in the scripture, God was the one winning all the battles, and often in some pretty amazing ways. But God wanted His people to be unified, to share the same hopes and faith, overcome the same trials/fears and together triumph in the provision of their Lord. So they could see God provide for all of His people, and could together give Him praise. This made me think of us today, and how we can sometimes view our salvation and hope in Jesus as merely individualistic/personal. It’s true Jesus died for me, and that God loves me more than I could probably ever know. This is all true, and so very wonderful. However, we can't forget that we are also collectively saved. That is to say that Jesus died for all mankind, so that all believers are born again into the Kingdom of Heaven. There is no more penalty for sin separating us from God(Jesus paid it all), and no more worldly division(rich/poor, race, class, nation etc.) separating us from each other. We are now, as fellow believers, a part of one body in Christ. His body. A body which consists of many parts but forms one whole, with each part affecting (for good or bad) the rest of the body. So now if we are one body, though individual members of it, then we must, by faith, use the gifts we’ve been given for the building up and sustaining of that body (the Church). We must pray for each other continually, and if we are able then we must lift up the fallen, supply the needy, encourage the persevering, and care for and love all those who call on His name. Just like Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh couldn't abandon their kin, we too must look to the needs of the whole, and together give Him praise. "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus Philippians 2:3-5"  God made this evident even in our physical bodies. The heart pumps the blood, the lungs provide the oxygen, and our body’s parts work together unselfishly for the sake of the whole. What happens if there are some rogue cells acting on their own; caring only for themselves, and living in the body propagating cells that are likewise renegade? We call them cancer and the whole body suffers for their sake, until it’s cured or the cancer removed.

We mustn’t ignore or forget about other believers who are struggling, like the rich man ignored the plight of Lazarus (Luke 16:19) regardless if they are on our door steps or half way around the world. We have each been given "a talent" ,a supply and a role from God, and if we freely give we shall freely receive. Sure we can say true things like, “God will help them. He doesn't need me, He is all powerful God and He is the One Who promised to save. After all He loves them too, and realistically speaking I couldn’t do much of anything anyhow.” But those statements are framing deceptions straight from the enemies camp. They are true but they aren't the whole truth, and they deny the truth that God's power is living in and through us, in fact He is living and abiding in and with us. The body of Christ Jesus is a collective, meant to fellowship under Jesus who is our "head" and be one just like Jesus and the Father are one. The tribes of Israel in this passage of Joshua reinforce this for us, we too must remain/join together as Christ’s church/body, together claiming His promises until we ALL are made complete at Christ's return. So let’s not be selfish, lazy, and wicked servants by ignoring both His word and our brothers and sisters in Christ. The parable of the Talent in Matthew 25:14-30 shows the folly of such a lazy, selfish "faith" in Christ Jesus. And as we can see even in the next section of that Ch. that those in Christ are not to live such selfish lives in regard to their faith and brethren in Christ, because Jesus in us demands the fulfillment of loving each other. 

Matthew 25:31-46 31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. 34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.' 37"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? 39When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?' 40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.' 41"Then He will say to those on His left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite Me in, I needed clothes and You did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and You did not look after Me.' 44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help You?' 45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.' 46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

So then we see that in Christ we will bear good fruit. Don't be afraid of your old self and fleshly lusts, and don't live a life that provides for evil instead of good, but instead remember that in Christ we are a new creation. So put that old nature to death (so to speak) and let us not be deceived by the enemy and become selfish layabouts who are too caught up in our society, in its worries, pleasures, and riches that we bear no good fruit. The Fruits of His Spirit are Love, joy, Peace, Patience, kindness ,goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are gifts from Him that we bear not produce. They are not merely feelings but actions. Let us do the good, which we can now by His grace do, and together rejoice and participate in the love of God! :)

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15"

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