Christianity 201

July 21, 2017

Liberty to Pay it Forward

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:37 pm
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This is our third time at Inspire a Fire and this time around the writer is author and pastor Josh Clevenger. Don’t miss the second-last paragraph. It’s short but crucial to understanding what God expects.

Liberty in Christ

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. Galatians 5:1 NLT

God’s gift is free and has no blind spots in the contract.

Believers have been set free from the bondage created by the Law of Moses. The law was unable to make anyone righteousness and was flawed because it only exposed humanity’s weaknesses. When Jesus died on the cross, He died to fulfill what we couldn’t through good works and sacrifices.

Christ-followers have been given righteousness through Jesus Christ. We have the ability to be at rest with God, satisfying the struggle for God’s approval once and for all. We don’t have to offer anything to God to be received as worthy. The process was simplified to one basic element: Christ alone.

Believers don’t—and can’t—add to the salvation equation. We have to believe Jesus Christ is. When that is established, salvation is given freely. We aren’t required to give anything because the debt is too great for us to pay. God saw our inability to be righteous apart from His intervention and provided His Son as the bridge between us and Him.

Believers don’t have to earn anything from the Lord. Trying to earn His approval underestimates what Christ did on Calvary. Our society associates the term free with cheap. Salvation was not cheap, because it cost God His Son.

We can express our gratitude to the Lord by loving others in the same way we are loved by Him. The Lord does not require payment. He just wants us to spread His love to those around us.

Do not be yoked again to fear or shame. Be set free from false obligation, and be united in the Lord to know your freedom in Christ.

 

October 14, 2012

The Rich Young Ruler: An Alternate Ending

Today, the scripture passage in question is not in green, because it’s been slightly amended. We have to be careful about writing ‘speculative’ scripture, because the stories we have are complete and perfect in and of themselves, but I found this in the archives at Thinking Out Loud, and thought I would share it here.


I’m really enjoying the book He Loves Me by Wayne Jacobsen, which I’m reading slowly, devotionally, a couple of chapters per day. Last night I read Wayne’s treatment of the story of the rich, young CEO found in Mark 10.

We tend to treat this young man as having two options: (1) Sell everything as instructed, which he was asked to do; or (2) Walk away, which he did. Wayne suggests a third possibility. Here’s how your Bible might look if verse 22 is switched for verse 22B

17 As He was starting out, a man came running to Him and knelt down asking, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get to heaven?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good!
19 “But as for your question — you know the commandments: don’t kill, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, respect your father and mother.”
20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve never once broken a single one of those.”
21 Jesus felt genuine love for this man as He looked at him. “You lack only thing; go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor — and you will have treasure in heaven — and come, follow Me.
22B The man looked Jesus in the eye and said, “I can’t do that.” To which Jesus answered, “Good. Then stop doing all the other silly things you’re trying to do to earn God’s favour. Stop striving. Stop pretending. Stop trying to earn that which you can never earn.”

At that, the man could have walked away with the justification he was seeking. Wayne explains on page 77:

“The man understood the lesson, but missed the point. Jesus wasn’t trying to be mean… He raised the bar beyond the man’s ability to get over it precisely because Jesus wanted him to stop trying. The gift he offered the man was to be free of the incredible burden of having to earn God’s love by his own efforts. He was caught in his own doing and Jesus was trying to free him.”

Personal observation: Jesus gives the “follow me” invitation used in the calling of the disciples. As events unfolded at Jerusalem, The Twelve were soon going to be short one man. Debate continues whether the apostles should have chosen Matthias, or whether Paul was the designated 12th apostle. I wonder if the rich young CEO could have actually had the option to be one of Jesus’ 12 disciples — and turned it down! If so, it was that young man’s great loss!

February 24, 2012

Lying to Ourselves

In the process of verifying one of the E. Stanley Jones quotes that appeared here yesterday, I came across a Tumblr blog by sabrinacate, but I couldn’t actually locate the proper link for attribution. (If anyone can locate this exact article, I’ll add the link.)  This post was too good not to include here…

Lies We Tell Ourselves About God

Why lie to ourselves.

—God does not know or see what I’m doing:

  • Psalm 73:11 “They say, ‘How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?’”
  • God always knows. Why do we tell ourselves He doesn’t. Even if we may not tell ourselves that, we act like we believe that sometimes.

—God sees things the way I do:

  • I Samuel 16:7 “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’”
  • Just because we like something or do something does not mean that God approves of it.

—God is appeased by my giving

  • I Samuel 15 “Saul was commanded by God to destroy the Amalekites and to leave nothing left. Saul disobeyed God. He spared Agag and the best of the sheep, oxen, fatlings, lambs, and all that was good.”
  • It’s not ok to not do things the way God says. We need to live in a way that honors Him during the week, not just when we are at church.
  • He doesn’t need you singing praises to Him, if you wont live by Him!

—God doesn’t believe in me

  • Job 4:18 “He puts not trust even in His servants’ And against His angels He charges error”
  • God believed in Job’s faith. He can certainly believe in ours as well. God does everything with us in mind. He believes we can choose holiness.
  • Having a place prepared in Heaven, already for us, shows how much God believes in us. He wants us and believes that we can be righteous.

Our Common Lies

—God only helps those who help themselves

  • 8 out of 10 people believe this is found in the Bible.
  • We value work, as humans, and we assume that God thinks like us, which He doesn’t.
  • If this statement were so, we would not be Christians. It says we are helpless and hopeless in the Bible.
  • Paul said there is not one who is righteous.
  • God makes up the whole gap with Jesus’ sacrifice.
  • Everyday our attitude should be “Thank you, Lord, for your gift.”
  • Luke 18 “The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector”
  • God helps those who know they need help, like the tax collector in the parable.

—God’s love much be earned

  • This idea is not from God.
  • Galatians 3
  • There’s nothing you can do to get God to love you more or less. It also never says in the Bible why God chose to love the Israelites or the apostles or us. So why would we think there had to be something they did to deserve it?

—God understands that’s just the way I am. After all, He made me this way.

  • “Oh, I know I shouldn’t do that, but …”
  • God did not make you to sin!!
  • God understands that’s just they way I am, but that’s why He sent His son Jesus! SO THAT WE CAN CHANGE!
  • This is just our way of making excuses and justifying the things we do.

We create distortions of reality when we lie to ourselves.

  • If we tell ourself that someone hates us, we’ll relate that way to them.
  • If we do this with God, that always brings pain and suffering.

“When we say we begin with God, we begin with our idea of God, and our idea of God is not God. Instead, we ought to begin with God’s idea of God, and God’s idea of God is Christ” -E. Stanley Jones