Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Good time in His word! :)

This is a couple things I've learned recently while reading His word, that encouraged me because I asked Him to teach me and then He did. God is so Good! :)

1. I'd been reading through the book of revelations again, and as I was reading the letter written to the church of Laodicea(rev. 3:14-22) I had a question that I've had many times before. It was about how God said He would rather they(the church) be "cold" or "hot" but since they were lukewarm, being neither cold nor hot He'd spit them out of His mouth. Now reading this I think I always misunderstood it, at least how I understood it never quite made sense to me. I understood the message of the letter(which is the important part), but I always took "hot" to mean having a zeal for Christ, and "cold" to mean being opposed to Him. I don't know why I understood it in this way, because it never seemed like I was understanding it correctly. I knew the dangers of being lukewarm and I understood the overall call to be hot (zealous), but, that Jesus would rather we be opposed instead of lukewarm just didn't make sense. I was sure I misunderstood it. So down through the years I often just glazed over it, or thought, maybe those opposed are at least zealous for something, perhaps that zeal could be turned for Christ(like the apostle Paul before his conversion), but a lukewarm Christian was like a un-producing tree. Jesus said He knew their deeds, and that they seemed alive but weren't being alive for the kingdom producing "good" fruit.

Anyway, I was reading this again in my devotions and asked Jesus to reveal what He meant again. So I read it again and it just came so clear (probably nothing new to you, but to me it was exciting :) Cold wasn't merely about being opposed(perhaps it does mean that, but I believe it also means this) It means being cold spiritually(like being poor in Spirit). When we're cold we know we need clothing, shelter etc.  Jesus said that they thought they were rich and were therefore not going to the "heat" source(Jesus) for their supply, and because they weren't cold, they weren't abiding in Him to become Hot. Their need for Him and their deeds suffered because of this. They(and many of us in the "first world" nations) need to realize that if we aren't living "on fire" for Jesus, then chances are we may be living near enough to feel His warmth but not near enough to share His fire. And so spiritually we are in desperate need of Him, because He is the "fire" in our hearts. We may call ourselves rich because we have Christ and because He has abundantly supplied our needs, but we all too often squander those riches on selfish, worldly, apathetic living. Living with the name that we are alive(Christians), but being spiritually wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. We need to realize this need(cold), humbling our hearts and returning to our foundation/zeal for Jesus. So that He can open our eyes, and we can return to the source of true life and have His "hot" life giving waters pouring out of us. He calls us (near the end of the letter) to be zealous and repent.  With the riches we have in Jesus we must seek heavenly things, not earthly comfort. We must pursue Christ and "buy gold refined by fire, white(pure) garments to cover our nakedness and eye salve to see the truth about the world around us and who we are in Christ Jesus. For we were bought with a price, ransomed from this world of sin. Not to live as "kings" here and now, but to be servants, like our master/Lord Jesus was and produce eternal fruits. Sharing His "fire" and life with those who are like us in need of a saviour. Christ makes His message clear enough in this letter, but this is the first time I understood the "cold" part to mean in need of "heat" instead of just opposed. Seems to make so much sense now though. Isn't it awesome when Christ opens our eyes to see something clearly. :)  

Little disclaimer: I wrote this a little wordy cause I wanted to clearly explain it...sorry in advance :P

2. Again while in devotions I was reading Luke ch. 5 and as I was reading the parable near the end of the chapter(verses 36-39). I was again confused by its meaning. I have read it many times before and like the letter to Laodicea I kind of understood it, but the end of this parable always confused me( the part where it says "And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better."), and I never really knew, assuming Jesus to be the new, why it end in that way. So I often just gave up on it, and thought that when God wanted me to know He could tell me.  So deciding to read this time expecting and trusting His Holy Spirit to teach me, I stopped at that parable. I decided to ask Jesus, like His disciples often did to explain to me the parable. Simply because it had always been a bit of a puzzle and it seemed in my heart that God would tell me. So I read it. “He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”(Some versions say "the old is good enough") And this is what I believe He showed me it means. The law and the old covenant was the old garment. The New is Jesus and the new covenant we Have in Christ. Jesus didn't come to merely sustain or fix the old covenant but to fulfill it. The law was good but it couldn't save us weak as we were in our sins. So He came to create all things new. This new wasn't meant to be paired to "the law" like Paul said in Galatians 2:21 " I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Jesus is saying the old and the new garments are incompatible. It would be unheard of for the new to be uselessly destroyed to fix the old, when they don't even match. The old "ways"(animal sacrifice for sin etc.) are passing away, like an old garment. The old garments purpose was to point to the new(that is the law was meant to point us to  our need for Jesus). The new garment was not meant to become torn trying to repair the old whose only purpose was to show the need for the new. The new life in Christ came with a new and better covenant. A covenant of peace, grace, reconciliation with The Father, the law fulfilled and now placed in our hearts in Christ by faith. For such an amazing new "garment" why would you try to just repair the old.

The part about the new and old wineskins reiterates this. That the new wine (life in Christ Jesus) is incompatible with our old lives(the old wineskins). The new life found in Christ grows and overwhelms the old life of the law, fulfilling and leading further to everlasting life, transforming the wineskins as the new takes shape and matures within. Our old selves under the law couldn't contain the new life in Christ, because they were already formed and hardened under the old wine(a life of self effort).  That is why we must/are born again in Christ, and His Life is then put into new wineskins, not old wineskins pre-shaped by the "old wine" and set in their ways. We have to give up reliance on saving ourselves and die to our old selves. We trust in the new wine(Jesus) to transform us into something that can contain His life, growing maturing and shaping into the image of Christ. The old life can't contain Him, because the new life is more than just "law," it is Jesus. So He gave them the warning saying "And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better."  He is saying that those who abide/remain in the old life, according to the law(self-righteousness and "filthy rag" works), will reject Jesus(the new), saying that the old way(according to works) is just fine, or it's better for them. We see this also in 1 Cor. 1:23-24  "but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." Jesus didn't say that those who drink the old wine do better, but that in rejecting the new(Jesus the truth) they claim the old is enough. Like old wine that dulls the mind and senses their hearts are dulled. They do not realize that Jesus is the only Way, Truth and life.

I hope I explained that well, sometimes I have difficulty expressing things the way I want, but I hope this blessed whoever read it and maybe pointed them a bit closer to Jesus! He is so Good!! :)  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

God Honors Faith

Disclaimer: I wrote this with a bit of His passion of my heart, perhaps too quickly. as a lot was in my head and my hands couldn't type so fast or all I wanted. As such I don't know how well structured this is, or how much sense it will make to whoever reads this (as a lot is based on things I didn't necessarily write down) So if something sounds wrong please comment so that I can better explain/fix any points I may have made in haste.  Perhaps I'll pull this in a few days and better edit it, but you know when God is talking to you you just want to share, so even in the weakness of this post I try to share a bit of it. :)  Aside from that, I hope you enjoy reading a bit of my heart and mind in written form as I share a little of my day. :)

 "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. Jeremiah 17:7"

I had some real great time with Jesus today. His  Holy Spirit is teaching me so much and I've been so encouraged by my devotion time. Earlier I was watching the movie "faith like potatoes" again, and as I was watching the documentary afterward I was really encouraged by the life of that man of faith the movie was about. I could see Jesus in Him and His joy just shining through. Seeing Jesus Shining brightly in someone's life is so encouraging! Anyway He said something and at that moment it was like Christ was tugging at my heart to take note of it. He said, "God honours faith! Faith does not say if!" now of course I knew this, but  for some reason it just kept rolling around in my heart,  and then I knew why. I was convicted of a faithlessness that had been hiding below the surface in my life as of late. I believe in Jesus, that He is the Son of God, and that He came in the flesh, died and rose again and freely gives us eternal life, because of His saving grace through faith. I believe in His word and that it fully applies to His church. In short I believe in and love my Lord, but I also have been fighting some battles in my heart and mind as of late. Battles filled with ifs and what ifs. What if I lose my faith in distressed or  weak(sleepy) mind? (as some of these battles have come at me out of nowhere when I was mentally unguarded and gone on between sleep and wake when my reason is weak, because of that it has been a real struggle and worry) What if these battles go on for the rest of my life? What if in weakness and exhaustion  I succumb, failing to persevere and fall to the enemy and give into foolish deception. I even knew that these thoughts were such deception but still I feared. I often used the time to pray for others, but still in the background of my thoughts I feared I would mess something up and these battles/attacks went on. I didn't fear that God couldn't save me, but feared that I might stumble and fall.  Anyway, I wanted to confess how dumb I've been, those fears were so dumb and faithless! Jesus is my salvation. I don't have to fight these battles or worry about my weakness. Jesus is my strength, I don't need to have faith in my salvation, or the outcome of my faith, because then I'm relying on me and not on Him. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and conviction in things not seen. My assurance and conviction is Jesus. My faith is Jesus! And although I knew this, it was like I had forgotten it in the daily grind of life and allowed a thorn in the flesh to consume my thoughts instead of Jesus. After all, we in Christ have no need for "what ifs" and yet these are common temptations in our churches today. What ifs like: I believe Jesus heals but what if I pray for someone and they aren't healed, and what if that hurts the message of the gospel or hurts someone's faith(or makes me look foolish for believing God would heal( even in front of other believers this temptation is prevelent)), or I believe the Gospel but what if I share Christ and cause offence leading them away, instead of closer to faith in Jesus, or I believe God's love but what if I try to show love and people (especially in our culture) just think I'm being creepy/ a weirdo etc. (LOL but still, even in churches people are so guarded that a true and loving heart can be rejected which is not funny), or I believe that God speaks to us through His word but what if I read God's word and am misinterpreting it, leading myself and others astray, or I believe but what if... There are so many, but none of them are taking into account who God is. They are so ridiculous, and they fix our eyes on ourselves instead of Christ(maybe not always, but too much). These lies full of faithlessness don't produce good fruit. So with that "what if" thinking we are done before we start. It's the same with all doubt, if we think "what if I give into temptation?" I know God can keep me but what if I give in... That doubt is inadvertently saying that God is not bigger than your temptation, or that He is not able to save you from your old nature. It is defeating your faith in who He is! He is GOD!  Now I don't always doubt or fight these temptations of course. Jesus is in me, and has been teaching me and helping me grow but....AHHHHH!!!! I let this world distract me too much sometimes, I get to cosy seeking worldly things and when my heart is not centered on Him is when these doubts/temptations seem plausible. So, today I repented of these "what ifs" and asked the Lord to continue to be my faith and save me from these silly battles I've been fighting for no reason(because He has already promised/given us victory) Jesus is our victory! Anyway, I went to God's word and asked Him to encourage me and speak to me, strengthening my faith, and for some truth to conquer those what ifs. It was AWESOME!!! He is so encouraging an gracious! So here is a bit of what He showed me that really spoke to some of the battles He freed me from. :)

 "Do you not know? Have you not heard? the Everlasting God, the Lord , the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired and vigorous men stumble badly, yet those who wait on the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:28-31" So awesome! He is more than able and willing to pick us up and fill us with abundant life both physical and spiritual.

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, and proclaim the favourable year of the Lord Luke:4:18-19" That was fulfilled the very day Jesus read it. And He has given us His Spirit to continue on that very work today! Isn't that amazing! So let Jesus live in you! Trust Him for all you need to live Godly in Christ Jesus. He is our new life! Believe it! The old is gone and conquered, He is in you making you new! He didn't put new wine in old wineskins, like the parable says the old wineskins would burst, but He made us new and filled us with His new and better life. Even though some continue to drink the old and think its better/good enough Jesus is the new(referencing Luke 5:36-39)

 "For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree that produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a briar bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord' and d not do what I say? Luke 6:43-46" (also read John 15:4-11) Isn't that encouraging!! That Christ in us is making us good and producing good fruit through us. In Him we won't produce bad fruit and we don't have to worry  because He is our supply. He is the treasure in our heart and from Him we WILL bring forth good fruit. Praise Jesus! Careful here, because of our old sinful nature we might say but "what if" my old sinful nature takes over? what if I stumble? What if I fall? To that Jesus said Greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world! We're being perfected, and made holy, the old nature may cause our flesh to stumble, but a mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. We are not alone, nor are we making ourselves holy. God promised to do that, it's part of His new covenant with us in Jesus, so trust Him for it! Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

 " But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:26-27" Why do I forget? I even hear believers reprimanding each other saying things like "if Jesus were here would you act that?" Jesus is living in us! He is most definitely here, if He wasn't the church would have failed and fallen 2000 years ago. We have a risen Saviour He's in the world today! He is in His church and in our hearts, and because of this fact not only do we live differently, but we will live eternally! Don't let the enemy deceive you that we struggle alone(we all struggle and can go to each other and to Jesus for Help, and don't let the enemy deceive that this world holds anything(good or evil) that can compare to the love of Christ.

Anyway this is a bit of what the Lord taught me today, perhaps I'll share more later. :) God bless!