Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Redemption

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O grave, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”  ~1 Corinthians 15:55
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, ~Romans 2:23,24

When once our hearts are awakened to the truth of our own sin against God and our need for salvation, understanding we can be made right and reconciled to God as a free gift certainly comes as “Good News.” Salvation and forgiveness of sin is indeed a precious gift and, according to this passage in the book of Romans, can be only found in Christ Jesus. Pastor explained to us this past Sunday that means salvation is found in what Jesus alone did for sinners. What He accomplished for us is called redemption.

knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. ~1 Peter 1:18,19

Continuing with our “Big Words – Deep Truths” series on communion Sundays, Pastor unfolded for us what redemption is all about through a series of questions:
  • What is redemption?
  • Who is the redeemer?
  • Who are the redeemed?
  • What is the ransom price?
  • How is it received?
Redemption is the whole process by which Jesus came into this world and paid our debt for sinning against God and then setting us free to be adopted into God’s family, never to return to our slavery to sin. Redemption is the heart and soul of salvation and there can be no doubt that it came at a great price. The Apostle Peter tells us here in these two verses the price was beyond the value of silver and gold. Our purchase from sin to freedom and reconciliation with God was so costly that it required God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ to pay it all.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, ~Ephesians 1:7

I hope you have been meditating on this wonderful word “redemption” this week and the deep, God glorifying truth behind it. Redemption is meant by God to unite a people freed from sin, for Himself, together in one body and under one head; redemption is meant to bring glory, praise and honor to Jesus.

making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. ~Ephesians 1:9-12

Praise God for our redeemer, Jesus Christ! Although the grave awaits us, there is now hope for what lies beyond it. Life and immortality await those who have been redeemed, those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ! In one beautiful redemptive act, Jesus offered His life for ours. Let us rejoice today regardless of whatever affliction troubles us, because someday the eternal life Jesus purchased with His own sinless blood will be ours. It will be without pain and sickness, it will be without crying or trouble, and it will no longer be affected by the ravages of time or destined to the grave. Redemption is a beautiful word and worthy of your meditation!

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. ~Galatians 4:4-7

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bite Your Tongue

What is in your well?
but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. ~James 3:8

There have been times when I have said something which I immediately regretted. Every so often my old sin nature will rise to the surface and in the heat of the moment I will say something that I must apologize for later. How is it the same tongue which we use to praise God and to read aloud the Holy Scriptures can be used to lash out and hurt those around us? James compares our mouths to wells of water and asks a question; can we draw both fresh and salt water from the same well?

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? ~James 3:9-11

James says you shouldn't be able to find both fresh and salt water at the same well. That happens because we just don’t have our tongue under control; we have not tamed it. This past Sunday Pastor gave is five points to remember as we seek to tame our tongues; they were:

  1. Recognize you will be held accountable for what you say. 
  2. Recognize the tongue’s tendency towards evil. 
  3. Recognize the tongue is a spiritual EKG of your heart. 
  4. Recognize it is humanly impossible to tame the tongue. 
  5. You must recognize your continued need for Christ. 

 Thinking back to James’ illustration of the tongue as a well, we should ask ourselves a question; what kind of well am I? Can people come to me and find something which blesses and refreshes the soul, or is it possible that they may find salty, bitter and undrinkable water polluted by sin. Where does this salty water come from? If our mouth is a well of water, then it is our heart which is the spring supplying it...

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. ~Matthew 15:18

When Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees about His disciples eating with unwashed hands, He used the opportunity to point out it is not that which enters into a person which defiles them, but that which comes forth out of the heart. It is not some outside influence or circumstance which causes us to sin. The outside influences are catalysts which reveal the sin already present in the heart. It is like taking a glass of water in one hand and striking it with the other. The result is water on the floor. Water does not end up on the floor just because you struck the glass, but because when the glass was struck there was water already in it...

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. ~Proverbs 4:23

When we say those things which require an apology later, then what we really want to look at is our heart. When the Bible speaks of our heart in this manner it is not talking about the muscle pumping blood throughout our bodies, but it speaks of the inner person where our thoughts, emotions, soul, and spirit are; the part of us where only we can see and no one else. The writer of this proverb exhorts us to keep or guard our heart with all vigilance. We are to guard our hearts against the evil and corruptive influences of this world. When we allow worldliness into our lives, even a little, we will see it later in our thoughts, words, and deeds. Oh yes, there is One other who can “see” into our hearts...

If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart. ~Psalm 44:21

Pastor was right when he told us it is humanly impossible to tame the tongue. That is why our need for Christ, even as believers, will never ever diminish. That is what the Gospel is all about. I hope you have agreed to and joined in memorizing this verse from the Psalms as a reminder of how much we need God when it comes to taming our tongues...

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! ~Psalm 141:3


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Be encouraged!

Ladies Summer Dessert Social
"Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." Heb. 10:24-25

 Many ladies of Lakeside Fellowship had the opportunity to share at our summer dessert social how they have been encouraged by other believers or how they have encouraged others. One of the first things women were asked to do when they arrived was to take a card and write words of encouragement. They shared ways they've been encouraged or ways they would like to be encouraged. Below are their thoughts.
--"Being invited over for dinner has been the best way to meet people."
--"A friend sent me a very encouraging text, scripture, and let me know she was praying for me before a 'big day' I had coming up.
--"II Cor. 1: 3-4 . . . the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, comforts us so that we will be able to comfort others." Encouraging others by praying, sharing or taking a meal, etc. I am continually encouraged by God's Word!
--"Send a card to someone for no special reason."
--"Everyone's smiles and friendliness and I look forward to seeing everyone."
--"To continually give thanks for all the good things in our lives."
--"Thank you notes"
--"Watching kids and bringing meals to help each other."
--"Watching other mothers and their patience towards their children."
--"I've been encouraged by others' prayers. . . for me and with me. Also, intentional acts of kindness and the building of relationships."
--"Great Christian fellowship"
--"Through prayer"
--"I've been blessed by my church family helping us with meals, prayers, support and encouragement since I've been recovering from surgery. I praise the Lord how He uses His people to bless others!"
--"Testifying God's work in similar situations."
--"Need to be encouraged to spend time in the Word each day; priorities are out of order."
--"Eph. 3:14-21 I memorized this prayer so I can pray it at any moment for others."
--"Encouraging for me to share experiences with other women and remind each other of God's grace and love for us."
--"Need to be encouraged to do more community involvement."
--"Someone encourage and hold accountable for being in God's Word daily."
--"Take notice and remember things about people. Follow up--ask them about it when you see them again."
--"Don't ignore those God moments." (When you are prompted by the Spirit, follow through with whatever He is prompting you to do.)

We hope that these ideas might spur you on "to acts of love and good works." If you have thoughts of encouragement you'd like to share, please leave a comment! We would love to hear how God's love and grace are displayed through you.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Things I Learned

Who am I... really?
I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. ~Psalm 89:1

It was a blessing that Pastor Dave and Deb could take some time off this past month and just get away, but it was great to have him back preaching again Sunday morning! I was very eager to hear what he was going to bring back from his sabbatical and pointing us towards the eighty-ninth Psalm was a great place to begin. The first part of this Psalm is all about God’s faithfulness and steadfast love, something all of us should spend time meditating on. Pastor shared with us some things he learned while on sabbatical:

  1. Remember God’s tender mercies towards me as a person. 
  2. My identity is in Christ alone. 
  3. Time alone with God is important. 
  4. Local church commitment is significant. 
  5. Belonging to a local church family is significant. 
  6. Redeeming the short time we have is significant. 
  7. Living my life as a “thank you” back to God is significant. 

A lot could be said or written about any one of these lessons Pastor learned while away, but I want to focus on the second one. What does it mean that a believer’s identity is in Christ alone?

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. ~Romans 6:3-5

In this passage the Apostle Paul is answering the question “should we continue in sin so that grace may abound?” In answering that question he makes an important point in verse five about how the life of a believer is united to Jesus. Paul equates salvation with being united with Christ!

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. ~Romans 6:5

There is a union with Jesus and His people! If you have been Born Again and are a child of God, then you have become united to Jesus in such a way that who and what you are is defined by that union. There are a number of passages that refer to our identity in Christ and what that means specifically. Here are a few passages for you to consider about whom you are in Christ and what that means.

  • I am free from condemnation. ~Romans 8:1 
  • I am God's child. ~John 1:12; ~Ephesians 1:5 
  • I am a member of Christ's body. ~1 Corinthians 12:20-27 
  • I am redeemed and forgiven. ~Colossians 1:13-14 
  • I am complete. ~Colossians 2:9-10 
  • I have access to God through the Holy Spirit. ~Ephesians 2:18 
  • I am assured all works together for good. ~Romans 8:28 
  • I can not be separated from the love of God. ~Romans 8:35-39 
  • I am a citizen of Heaven. ~Philippians 3:19-20 
  • I have not been given a Spirit of fear, but of power, love and self discipline. ~2 Timothy 1:7 
  • I can approach God knowing I will receive grace & mercy in time of need. ~Hebrews 4:14-16 
  • I can be confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected. ~Philippians 1:6 
  • I am established, anointed, and sealed by God. ~2 Corinthians 1:21-22 
  • I am the salt and light of the earth. ~Matthew 5:13-16 
  • I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit. ~John 15:16 
  • I am God's temple. ~1 Corinthians 3:16 
  • I am a new creation. ~2 Corinthians 5:17 
  • I am a minister of reconciliation for God. ~2 Corinthians 5:17-21 
  • I am God's workmanship. ~Ephesians 2:10


Friday, July 5, 2013

Propitiation

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  ~1 John 4:10
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. ~1 John 4:10

In our ongoing series for Communion Sunday, Big Words – Deep Truths, Nathan preached on the word “propitiation.” On the day we remember the body and blood of Jesus being given to save sinners, you couldn’t have picked a better word to spend time meditating on and getting a better grasp of. First, think about the definition Nathan gave us:

Propitiation is Jesus absorbing the diverted wrath of God the Father towards sinners upon Himself as a satisfying sacrifice resulting in the Father’s favor upon believers.

Even a cursory reading of the Bible will reveal God does not sweep sin under the rug. It is all too evident God will punish sin in every form and will not overlook any who are guilty of violating His holy Law. What the word propitiation reveals is that even for those whom God saves, their sins are not simply excused, but punished in the suffering and death of a substitute… Jesus.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures ~1 Corinthians 15:3

Now that is the Gospel! That is the Good News! Because Jesus received the full wrath of God for sins committed by those whom are saved, God is now free to pour out instead His love and grace without measure. As believers, we are no longer counted as enemies of God, but children who have been adopted and received fully into the family without prejudice. As Nathan pointed out last Sunday, that truth means God is no longer angry with believers and does not punish them when they sin. Why?

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. ~1 John 2:1

The work of Christ now on behalf of believers is that of an advocate. He is in Heaven and every time a believer sins, He pleads on their behalf the eternal ongoing effects of His death and its satisfaction for their sin. For the believer that means no need for fear of God’s angry punishment for sin. God’s grace in this matter is not a free ticket to sin though as the Apostle Paul points out…

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? ~Romans 6:1,2

What propitiation of all past, present and even future sin should mean to the believer is freedom from fear of judgment and freedom to pursue righteousness and growing in it. Warnings against sin in Scripture acts as a guard against a cavalier and presumptuous attitude and the truth of propitiation guards the believer from despair and worry. Rejoice in the good news that your sin and the wrath of God against it have been fully satisfied forever if you have been Born Again, just don’t keep that good news to yourself.

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” ~Luke 24:45-47