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!! :)  


Darryl Orrell said...

Well thought out and explained and I truly enjoyed the read. I will be following your blog and invite you to visit mine shown below.

Darryl Orrell
Thought of the Week Devotion

gospeloflove said...

Thank you Darryl. :)