THE GLOVE!

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In the Amplified Bible, Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

I’ve talked about how the Christian life is Jesus’ life…period!  It’s a life of total and radical dependency on Jesus to live His life through us.  It is this phrase, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” that I would like to illustrate.

I have a leather glove sitting here on the table.  If I told the glove to pick up my Bible and move it to the other table what would happen?  Nothing!  Exactly!  No matter how much I might teach it about it’s fingers and thumb and teach it how to pick up the Bible, it is still powerless to accomplish this simple act.

This is precisely how the Christian is to live.  The hand IN the glove is indispensable to the function OF that glove.  We are the glove; Jesus is the hand.  The glove takes on the strength of the hand to do what needs to be done.  The glove as I illustrated, is absolutely useless without the hand.

We too as Christians are effective and truly alive because the life of God was put back in us when Jesus came in to take residency. Only hen we surrender to Him and by faith allow Him to live His life can we experience real living!

The glove without the hand beautifully illustrates dead religion.  No matter how “pretty” or “righteous” we may look or how many religious things we may “do”, it is all empty and dead. It doesn’t matter if you’re the preacher, elder, deacon or anyone in “church” if you are living/acting in your own power and or initiative it is for naught.

Jesus is the only one who EVER lived the Christian life and He is still the only one who can live it today…through YOU and me as we by faith allow Him to do so.  Don’t you think it’s time we display to the world what Jesus looks like by abiding in His life in us?

True Righteousness!

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Philippians 3:9 says, “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from {the} Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which {comes} from God on the basis of faith,”  There is nothing good about me…or you!  My self-righteousness is “as filthy rags.”  No amount of self-effort (the Law) can make me more righteous!

I want to share a powerful illustration of this truth.  I found it in a little book that I believe is out of print.  It is called, How to Live the Christian Life (1963), by Fred H. Wight.

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A miser lived in a little shack on a corner lot in a neighborhood of the city where millionaires were building their mansions.  Many had offered to buy his property but he always raised his price and continued to live in his small quarters.  But one day an agent of a millionaire cam and asked him his price.  He answered, “One hundred thousand dollars.”  “Sign this paper,” the agent answered. And before the old man could scarcely realize what had happened the deal was closed.  Afterward his conscience began to bother him for asking so much for the property, and so he decided he would endeavor to fix up the shack and make it a little more presentable.  Ten days later the owner came to make all of the final arrangements, and the miser said to him, “Don’t you think you have gotten a fine property, sir?”

“Yes, I do,” the new owner answered.  “There are great possibilities here.”

But the miser called his attention to what he had done to fix up the old shack.  “Have you failed to see how well I have painted the little shack?  I have put new boards on the floor, new glass in the windows, and I have patched the roof.  It’s a dear little place you have bought now.”

“Listen,” interrupted the millionaire.  “I do not want your shack, good as you think it is.  It must all come down.  This lot must be cleared.  What I wanted was the situation, and out of my wealth I am going to erect a new structure; a beautiful mansion.”

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How many of us are like the old miser’ “working hard for Jesus!”  or maybe “cleaning up our act.”  Are you trying to fix up the shack of your OWN self-righteousness instead of allowing (by faith) Jesus to build in your life HIS beautiful mansion of His own wonderful righteousness?  This my friend is the Normal Christian Life!

How Do You See Easter?

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     Have you ever witnessed an historical event?  For example, wouldn’t it have been cool to be there when they signed the Declaration of Independence?  Or how about watching that “big game” you always read about? How about the discovery of America or the North Pole?

     A couple of weeks ago I saw my son graduate from college.  It was a very proud day for me.  There were many people in that room and we all saw the same thing, but did we?  What I saw was much different.  Everyone witnessed a graduation ceremony.  I saw a young man who beat all the odds!

     The Easter story…the story of the resurrection found in John 20 had 3 witnesses, but it also gives us 3 different Greek words that are a great illustration of 3 different ways people SEE Jesus and the resurrection.

     1. blepo = “the see the obvious” (vv 1,5)

          These folks merely see “what’s there”, but not knowing what’s really going on.  They see all the trimmings of Easter & know the story…but is clueless to its reality or power.  They just see with their eyes.

     2.  theoreo = “to be a spectator of” (6,12,14)

          These folks have been exposed to “religion”, but are merely spectators.  They’re looking on, checking things out.  When it comes to the resurrection they are like spectators at a game or in a museum.  They merely “look” on with amusement or curiosity but with no reality.

     3. horao = “seeing with discernment” (vv8,18)

          Horao gives prominence to the discerning mind. Horao denotes perception in general. To the Hebrew mind – to experience. These are the people who get it!  For them the requirements are completed! It…is finished!!!  Easter is reality! They can see clearly that Jesus died a cruel and horrible death for them personally; that He was buried and that He rose on the 3rd day to conquer sin & death!

     How do YOU see Easter-the resurrection?  Today, I pray that you like John are seeing AND believing.  Do you see clearly today?  Trust Him with your life now!!!

 

     In Acts 26:18 Jesus told Paul, “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me

Passion for the Purity of the Gospel

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small-butterfly-flapping2    If something is pure, what does that mean?  We have purebred horses, purebred dogs, pure water, and so forth.  Even people are referred to as being “pure” or their ancestry is 100% Norwegian or Italian, etc.

    www.Encarta.msn.com gives us the following 3 definitions:

   1. not mixed: not mixed with any other substance

    2. free from contamination: clean and free from impurities

    3. complete: sheer or complete

    So, let’s say I had a purebred Arabian horse & bred it with another Arabian.  After the birth I found out that the other horse was actually ½ Appaloosa. Now, although the foal may look like an Arabian it is now considered an AraAppaloosa.  It CAN NOT now be considered an Arabian can it? No! Why? The bloodline have been mixed.  And how would you feel as a breeder? You’d probably feel cheated, be very, very upset and you’d probably want to do something about it.

    Well, let’s say I had 20 gallons of pure mountain spring water.  How many drops of grape juice would it take for it to be “unpure”? How many drops of a squeezed lemon would it take? Any tiny amount would cause it not to be purely mountain spring water….it was altered!

    Better yet, how many drops of arsenic would you allow me to put into the 20 gallons of water before drinking it? Exactly… none!!! Why, just a little would kill you.

    This is exactly Paul’s attitude in Galatians. The gospel is the gospel is the gospel! And here is the simplistic gospel: (1) Man has sinned & is therefore dead to the life of God (2) the FINALITY of the cross – He reconciled us while we were His enemies by taking our sins AWAY (3) the REALITY of the resurrection – He rose again to give us HIS life and(4) When saved we are given a NEW identity!

    So, as we learned, the good news is that salvation is being saved from the wages of sin which is death.  We have been made spiritually alive!  This is the simple gospel.

    So, like the horse and like the water any deviance from this simplistic message, ie any amount of the arsenic of legalism would make it no longer the pure gospel, but rather a whole different message. 

    We MUST exercise spiritual discernment & be vigilant to preserve the purity of the gospel.

LET HIM DO IT!

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When we talk about “being saved” I think we often forget or maybe we’ve never been taught that our salvation has three tenses or parts to it.  They are as follows.

– I was saved when I believed in Jesus;

– I am being saved as the character of Jesus Christ now becoming manifested in my life; and

– I shall be saved when at last, in resurrection life, with a glorified body; I stand in the presence of the Son of God fully glorified forevermore.

It is the second part of our salvation that I would like to address.  The term for this is sanctification.  This is a term and concept that is often misunderstood.  Here is a fantastic definition:

“Sanctification is the appearing of the characteristics, the perfections, of the Lord Jesus in terms of your human personality.” – Oswald Chambers

Mr. Chambers absolutely nailed it!  It is a growing process by which Jesus manifests Himself more fully in us AND through us.

It thrills my heart every time I reflect on the reality that it’s all about Him.  He started it (I was saved not of myself but as “a gift”); He continues it (sanctification) and He completes it (glorification.)

So, we see that our becoming more “like Christ” is about His work in us and His work through us as we trust Him by faith to live out His life.  It reminds me of Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for {His} good pleasure.”

It’s not by my effort, my cleverness, my determination, my discipline, etc.  It’s ALL Jesus!  He gave His life TO ME!  It was the Great Exchange.  I exchanged my filth and imperfection for His wonderful righteousness. 

So, rather than wear a bracelet that says “W.W.J.D.” to remind me to behave properly.  God is calling me to live a life of faith in the finality of the cross (sins were fully paid for) and the reality of the resurrection (I have a new life).  It’s the difference between wrestling about trying to “get it right” and resting in Him.

This motivates me to be more and more consumed with Jesus and all that HE is in me; to live each day with a grateful heart in all that He has done and is doing.  Faith simply says, “Thank you!”  This is normal Christian Living.