Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Got Milk?

Like newborn babes you should crave – thirst for, earnestly desire – the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nourished and grow unto (complete) salvation. 1 Peter 2:2 Amp.

If salvation is no more than fire insurance and a one way ticket to Heaven received when one gives one’s life to Christ, what constitutes complete salvation? Does it encompass more than a one time prayer? How does delving into God’s Word pertain to this?

Anyone within screaming distance of a hungry infant knows when it is dinner time. Unable to express in words their needs, babies will bawl and squall until they get what they want. They won’t be silenced until they’re satisfied. And it’s never enough, they always want more. As they grow, their palate expands. They demand more substantial nourishment. Still, later on, many find some things just go better with a cold glass of milk.

Our walk with God is much like this. At first we need help. Our former life provides no framework for building a relationship with God. Even the language is different. We need others more knowledgeable to nurture us through what may seem like a maze. Pastors, teachers and friends help us find our footing as we begin our journey of faith. The Bible, for the most part may have been, if anything, a dusty book on a shelf. A family relic at best it was drug out for the obligatory reading of the Nativity at Christmas time. How does one even begin to understand what is contained within its cover?

Those desiring more than a surface relationship with God find His Word deep and filled with many levels to be explored. Digging beneath the surface, seekers find plenty of good meat to sink their teeth into. Peter however, reminds us that sometimes what we need is a cold glass of milk. We need to appreciate and maintain a healthy appetite for the basics. I may never know this side of Heaven exactly who the twenty-four elders are, but it is crucial that I know and appropriate that I have “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” Romans 3:22.

To take full advantage of all that salvation affords requires a mind that is constantly being renewed. Salvation or soteria, in the Greek means to be safe, to be rescued. It also includes deliverance and health. We need to know all that Jesus purchased for us and how to appropriate it. Our enemy wages an all out assault in order to distract us. He bombards us with reminders of our shortcomings, mistakes and sins. God provides us with a hedge of protection (Job 1:10) that Satan can’t penetrate unless we give him access. When we remember that healing is in the atonement, we can declare this truth as a pre-emptive defense mechanism. If we do experience sickness or disease we’ll know who ISN’T responsible and can confidently go to God for help.

God desires the best for us in every area of our lives. Salvation provides for all we’ll need. As we dig into the depths of the riches of His Word, let’s never lose sight of the basics. If we do, we could miss out on some of the blessings God’s already provided.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Lone Ranger Rides....No More!

And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Ephesians 3:17-18 (emphasis mine)

“Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear…the Lone Ranger rides again!” Glued to the TV I’d watch Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, single-handedly right wrongs. Great material for a television show, but contrary to popular belief, Christianity isn’t a one man, denomination or persuasion performance. As believers we need to wake up and accept the truth that we need each other if we want to experience the totality of God’s love. No one has a lock on all revelation. Period.

We may hate to admit or entertain the thought that those at odds with our pet beliefs many not be completely off their rockers. Without their help we’ll never grasp the big picture, just our small slice of it.

God purposely planned for his kids to have to work together, and not isolate themselves into cliques. We’ve done this for hundreds of year and it hasn’t worked. The world sees our infighting and dismisses us as a bunch of whiney babies, who spend time, money and effort trying to convert each other. Who wants to join a bunch that preaches love one another” and fights like cats and dogs to the death? No one with any wit!

In order to bring God’s kingdom to earth we’ll have to work together. Rather than major on the minors: what’s THE correct day to worship; what’s THE proper way to baptize and so forth, let’s focus on THE key issue. Jesus is Lord. Holy Spirit is ready and willing to correct any faulty beliefs, even without our help.

Don’t misunderstand; this isn’t a call for universalism. It does matter what and in whom we believe. What doesn’t matter are the pet doctrines and petty differences we permit to divide us. It’s time to slay the sacred cows, have a BBQ, and sit down to fellowship around the central truth. Jesus is Lord. Without each other we’ll miss out on the treasures God has place in each one of us for the benefit of all. Time to put Silver out to pasture…the Lone Ranger rides…no more.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Word Never Lies

And he (God) sent a man before them – Joseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, til what he foretold came to pass, til the word of the Lord proved him true. Psalms 105:17-19

It is quite a testimony to have God’s word validate and confirm you. Joseph experienced this first hand. God gave him the correct interpretations of Pharaoh’s dreams. This resulted in his overnight transformation from prisoner to second in command of Egypt. Years before while still a young boy at home, Joseph dreamt of being a ruler. In his dream his family bowed and paid homage to him. As a result he found himself sold into slavery and ultimately thrown in prison on a trumped up rape charge. His ability to interpret dreams wasn’t the primary way God’s word proved him true.

The bible says little about Joseph’s personal interaction with God. As Abraham’s great-grandson it is logical to conclude that he was familiar with the family history of encounters with God. I believe Joseph’s interaction with Potipher’s wife reveals the depth of his commitment to God. Sexually harassed by his employer’s wife he refused her advances. Why?

“How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” Genesis 39:9

Joseph refused to compromise his relationship with God and with his master. He would not let either of them down. Romans 5:3 explains that although sin always existed, before the law was given, sin wasn’t taken into account. Until God said, “Thou shalt not (fill in the blank),” sin wasn’t sin as we know it. When Joseph was given the opportunity for some fun and excitement with Mrs. Potipher, the law was hundreds of years away from appearing. On a technicality, Joseph could have had a fling with this master’s wife and not been guilty of adultery. Joseph wasn’t looking for any loopholes in order to have his cake and eat it too. When put in a no-win situation he chose what was right over what was convenient, easy and even pleasurable. I believe this defined and proved him as a man of God more than his ability to interpret dreams.

Through his tenure in Potipher’s home and then in prison Joseph acted with excellence. The blessing on him brought noticeable prosperity and he honored what wasn’t his to take. As the number two man in Egypt during a time of great distress his honesty and integrity was crucial to the survival of not only that nation, but also the surrounding peoples. His administrative abilities enabled the Egyptians and their neighbors to survive during seven years of famine.

Finally, there was Potipher and his wife. I wonder how she felt the day that Joseph was elevated to his position under Pharaoh? The man she falsely accused of rape was now the second most powerful person in the country. Potipher was one of Pharaoh’s officials. He was now under the authority of the very man he had thrown into prison. Life must have been very tense for this couple. Would the man with all the power now exact his revenge?

The bible gives no inclination that Joseph ever retaliated for the wrongs done to him by the couple. He saw the good and the bad as part of God’s plan and graciously accepted both. His willingness to believe his God proved the character of the man he really was. God’s word proved him true.