WARNING - Work in Progress

WARNING - Work in Progress
WARNING - Work in Progress

Monday, July 23, 2018

We Begin Life Separated from God - 7/22/2018

Ephesians 2:11-13

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

Paul is writing specifically to the Gentiles here; Gentile was a generic term to indicate all other nations besides Israel so unless you are Jewish by blood then you are a Gentile and Paul’s words here are for you.

We Begin Life Separated from God...

The Gentiles were called the “uncircumcised” by the Jews who were of course themselves the “circumcised”.  I find it interesting that Paul describes circumcision as something that is done in the body with human hands.  This description doesn’t need to be here for the context of the text to work but yet Paul still pointed it out.  I suspect he did this to indicate that there was nothing special with the spiritual act of circumcision, in and of itself, and that there is no extra special spiritual thing that transpires in this religious ceremony.  If I am correct then the Jews could have taken offense at this because the ceremony of Jewish circumcision was what made a person a part of the Jewish community, a special almost sacramental spiritual ceremony that bestowed the blessings of God on the child; it would have been much akin to the act of infant baptism today.  So I notice Paul’s almost flippant remark of the act as being merely done by ‘human hands'.

The point of this section though is not about the ceremony of circumcision but about the reality that we Gentiles were from our birth naturally separated from Christ.  We were excluded from citizenship in Israel, we were foreigners to the covenants of the promise (blessing of God), and we were without hope because we were without God in this world.  Of the ways in which we Gentiles were separated from God, the most damning part was our exclusion from the “covenant of the promise.”

Back in Genesis 12, God called Abram to leave his family and country and go to a place that he would be shown.  God promised Abram that he would make him a great nation, keeping and blessing him, and his kin particularly, and throughout history God made covenants (agreements) with the Children of Israel to bring about that initial promise.  Those who were circumcised were the proper agents of those covenants of the promise and those who were not circumcised were just,,, well, they were just SOL.  So when Paul tells us Gentiles that we were separated and excluded from God and without a single hope in this world, he was being quite literal for we truly were on the short list of the wrath of God.

Here at the end of versus 11 and 12 we are left with a depressing position of woe as we learn that we are destitute and excluded from the blessings of God.  I sure hope that next week Paul will write us something that is gospel good-news.

Oh the suspense is killing me!  Join me next time as we hear what else the Apostle Paul has to say.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

What Have You Done? - 7/19/2018

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

The other day a gentleman was talking to me about how he could not believe that Jesus could forgive him his sins; he kept telling me that “You don’t know what I’ve done.”  He then proceeded to recite for me a laundry list of his offences and evil deeds from his 60 years of life.

After listening to him I said, “You’ve done a great job telling me what it is that you have done but you’ve told me nothing of what Jesus has done.  When you stop focusing on yourself and begin to focus on Jesus, then you may well learn to trust him and believe that you are indeed forgiven.”
I believe this sentiment is for us Christians as well.

It is too often that I have been in church during the time of Communion only to have the minister lead the congregation to focus on their personal sins.  The mood is generally somber and reflective as we congregants are urged to feel the sorrow of our deeds that covered Jesus upon his cross.  I however think that this might be wrong; I think that when we Christians share the Cup that we should be focusing on and rejoicing in all that Jesus has done instead of belly-aching over what exactly we have done.  By faith we are redeemed by the blood of the lamb and in that reality we must give thanks and celebrate!  To do anything less seems to not trust our Lord when He tells us that we are a New Creations.

I think we all have a tendency to think too much about what we have done and not enough time thinking about what Jesus did.

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Getting It Wrong... 7/13/2018


Mark 6:14-17

14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”
15 Others said, “He is Elijah.” And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.”
16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!” 17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married.

Familiarity Bred Contempt…

Last week,In the first verses of this chapter, Jesus had gone to his home town to minister, but the people in his hometown were too familiar with Jesus to have any real faith, they basically disregarded him because they had always known him and his family.

Getting It Wrong…

This week we get an example of someone who Got Jesus wrong.

King Herod was raised as, and was, a practicing Jew.  He was appointed as king over Judea by Rome so while he had his religious faith he was very much a man of the world.  King Herod had heard of Jesus and thought that he was John the Baptist come back to life.

There is a lot here that could be discussed (like how does a practicing Jew believe in reincarnation?) but just one that I want to address at the moment, and that is how wrong King Herod was and how many of us are just like him.

Like King Herod, many of us carry some sort of guilt around in our psyche and we think all sorts of things about Jesus as a result of that guilt.  And while a healthy dose of guilt is necessary to lead us to Jesus in the first place, too many of us allow our guilt to send us in all sorts of weird directions of thinking about him.

I know a woman whose son overdosed a few years ago.  She was an absent mother who had problems of her own and when the son died she formed many spiritual opinions what aren’t even close to reality, non-the-less though she holds on to them because she gets some sort of comfort from them.  Without ever getting to know who Jesus is she has formed opinions about him in order to make herself feel better in her situation.

We all have this tendency in us, it’s a coping mechanism of our brains that allow us to function in this world however the problem is that we are trying to adjust our understanding in order to fit this broken world rather than getting a heavenly perspective to inform us.

Getting Jesus Right…

What King Herod and the woman that I know both don’t know is that Jesus did not come to judge but to seek and save the lost: he did not come to accuse but to forgive.

Somewhere along the way, all of us might have missed this memo and think of Jesus as a task-master and cruel judge, but the reality is that he offers us grace – the grace and redemption of his Cross.

When Jesus was nailed to the cross he looked upon his accusers and those who were insulting him and cried out “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”  And at the very moment when Jesus gave up the ghost the punishment of Adam’s sin had been destroyed once and for all.  Then after he was buried and being in the grave for three days God resurrected Jesus back to life as the victor over sin and death. 

Today, Jesus is alive and well and through faith in Him, we have relationship with God via the Holy Spirt.  Now, the relationship that was lost with God back in the Garden of Eden has been restored through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ our savior.

Familiarity Breeds Contempt… 7/6/2018


Mark 6:1-6
He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.
I have a cousin whose dad owned a condo years back in some tourist town on the west side of Michigan.  When he went to sell the condo one of Michigan’s celebrities, Kid Rock, was interested in it and set a meeting with her father to inspect it.  On the day of the meeting my cousin went with her father but when they arrived she apparently got star-struck and nerved out and waited in the car. 

I consider this story a contrast to what happed when Jesus went to preach in his hometown.

The Gospel of Mark is largely concerned with the identity of Jesus.  Some people thought he was John the Baptist come back to life after being beheaded by King Herod, some thought he was Elijah of old, and still others thought that he was one of the prophets, but to the people of Nazareth, he was just Jesus; Mary’s boy.  The people of Nazareth were most familiar with Jesus and they had the least faith of all peoples with the result that he couldn’t do any great miracles there in his home town.

Familiarity Breeds Contempt…

In some ways, most of us are like the people of Nazareth because we are often too familiar with Jesus.  We all have some form of knowledge about Jesus that we believe and are accustomed to, and this accustomed knowledge (whether right or wrong) is what we are familiar with.  It is very common in our American culture to have some sort of familiarity with Jesus and the church. 

From the time of our births we have each been raised by our parents to have a faith or belief system, whether it’s a non-faith or the other extreme of a heavily denominated-faith; each of us knows or believes something about Jesus.  Right or wrong, it is this belief system that causes us to be familiar with the idea of who Jesus is.  And whenever someone suggests something different than what we already think and know, we tend to get combative in the holding of our own opinions and positions.

What We Need…

Disagree with me if you like but if you truly don’t know anything about Jesus and church, please give me a call and I will be happy to share with you what the Scriptures teach about him.

For the rest of us, what we all need is a Holy Spirit awakening in our souls and minds.  We need God to shake us up and the Holy Spirit to open our spiritual eyes as to who Jesus the Messiah actually is.  Without such a revelation we will always be familiar with our own ideas and denominational dogmas.  For each of us, my prayer is that the Glory of the resurrected Jesus might be fully revealed to us so that we shudder in understanding who it is that we are in the presence of.

Acts 9:1-6

But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”