Monday, December 12, 2011
The Message (MSG)
9-20So where does that put us? Do we Jews get a better break than the others? Not really. Basically, all of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners. Scripture leaves no doubt about it:
There's nobody living right, not even one,
nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God.
They've all taken the wrong turn;
they've all wandered down blind alleys.
No one's living right;
I can't find a single one.
Their throats are gaping graves,
their tongues slick as mudslides.
Every word they speak is tinged with poison.
They open their mouths and pollute the air.
They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year,
litter the land with heartbreak and ruin,
Don't know the first thing about living with others.
They never give God the time of day.
This makes it clear, doesn't it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! And it's clear enough, isn't it, that we're sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else? Our involvement with God's revelation doesn't put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else's sin.
I have been reading this excellent and challenging book called “Revolution of Character: Discovering Christ Patterns for Spiritual Transformation”- By Dallas Willard and I must confess to you that this is a hard read for anyone who truly wants a radical change in their life. It literally confronts you on every level: The heart, your mind, soul, spirit, will, and the physical. It takes you to places that you have forgotten about and throws your sin right in your face and says DEAL WITH IT! The main focus of the book is to address the human heart and how we are dangerously sinful and how we as people live self destructing spiritual lives that are in totally opposite of what Christ wants for us. Even when we think that there are areas of our lives that are “good” this book makes the argument that there are not and the only good in your life is that you have been covered by God’s grace and that you are experiencing and walking daily in the Grace of God through Jesus Christ.
The book talks about the term “Gehenna” often used in the New Testament for the place of the lost which may be thought of as a cosmic dump for irretrievably lost and useless souls. When we think about our sin and how we have offended God with out hearts, souls, wills, minds and bodies we must recognize that but for the grace of God and the new mercies of God on a daily experience we all would be in this place. This book takes your sin dumps it in your lap and leaves you there with it to examine, repent and think about the wickedness of your heart, but the good news that while you are feeling the weight of your sin, you can also feel the covering of the grace of God that clothes you and gives you hope during your period of repentance.
One of the most profound things about this book so far that I want to expand on is this quote “the surest source of destruction to men is to obey themselves”. When I think about my own life and the path that I have tried to carve out for myself and the failures personally, and in every area of my life my soul laments in agony over the fact that I have obeyed myself in so many ways. I have obeyed myself in my desires, my will, my heart and even with the people that I have chosen to accompany this path of life with me. I have taken Jesus as my Savior and forgot about him as my Lord. I have taken the benefits and walked in denial of my own pain, problems and purpose. I must confess that I have been hostile towards God.
Sin is something that we all try to deny. We call it a mistake and tell ourselves we will do better next time. We don’t take sin seriously because we don’t take our lives seriously and we don’t take our spiritual destination seriously. We have gotten caught up in a half hearted delusional form of Christianity that doesn’t call us to sacrifice anything. We try to gain but end up loosing in the end. When we look at what God has done for us and his love for us that “while we were yet sinners CHRIST DIED FOR US”, it should make us all grateful. Not the worldly grateful where I am grateful for a gift or grateful someone thought to call me today to see how I was doing; but the grateful where it calls you to abandon ALL of your plans, desires, and wants and do whatever Jesus tells you to do. I repent in dust and ashes and I ask that you all would pray for me as I continue reading this book. I don’t know what I am going to get out of this book. I confess that I started reading it in order to hope I would change externally some of my actions but now I realize it’s not the things I do on the outside that’s the problem but its my wicked, deceitful, hostile, in denial, egotistical heart. Lord Help Me.
Read This Book If Your Looking For More Than What You Have On The Inside...
Sunday, December 4, 2011
2 Chronicles 31:20-21
Hezekiah did this throughout all Judah, and he did what was good, right, and faithful before the Lord his God. And every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in keeping with the law and the commandments to seek his God [inquiring of and yearning for Him], he did with all his heart, and he prospered.
In 2 Chronicles chapters 29-31 we see that Hezekiah’s’ greatest focus was on his worship to God and his personal response during his worship. In the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopens the temple for worship which had been closed during the reign of his evil father. He immediately calls all the people to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the seven day celebration of Passover. This important religious festival had not been observed for many years. The joy is so great that the celebration is extended an additional seven days. The people respond by returning to their homes and destroying the idols and shrines that have polluted the land.
When we think about the depth of theology that is wrapped up in these chapters we learn so much about the weight of God’s jealously and how he wants all the glory for himself and how he is determined to get all of the glory for himself.
God directs everything in his sovereignty and for his own purpose and after years of not receiving the Glory because of Hezekiah’s evil father Ahaz God appoints him to the throne to become king over the great Assyrian empire. And immediately he reopens the temple for worship. This is not a surprise to God, this is not an accident, this is not luck but rather this is divinely planned out because God loves his people so much that he knows that the safest place for them spiritually is to be in his presence worshiping him because he knows its “for their own good” to worship him. And the other thing about this is that the joy is so great that the celebration is extended for another seven days of praise and worship to Emmanuel. We learn that: God is jealous for his worship, that worship is good, worship will bring joy, being in the presence of God will make you want to STAY there, but the most important thing that I think we take from this is: worship is for our good spiritually. These people started out with a small celebration but then it was extended for another seven days, so my question for myself is: how does worshiping God change me? These people where changed so much in the presence and adoration of God that they couldn’t leave, their souls needed to stay and bathe in the glory of God because they where thirsty for him. It wasn’t just some passive religious moment that they where going to out of obligation but rather it was what they NEEDED.
Today I repent because I need to desire worship like that, I need to stop worrying about my problems and the things that I feel like should be better and focus on my eternal worship of Jesus. Its not about the job, its about Jesus. Its not about the wife & kids, its about Jesus. Its not about being ‘happy’ its about Jesus because when I am in him worshiping then I will find joy because worshiping him is for my own good…..