Monday, January 21, 2008

Romans Eight

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies £through His Spirit who dwells in you.

So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,

“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long: We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The King of Hearts

Then it happened when (Saul) turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart; and all those signs came about on that day. I Samuel 10.9

“If I change my mind, God will change my heart; if I don’t change my mind God won’t change my heart. Now, I can’t change my heart and God won’t change my mind, but if I will change my mind, God will change my heart.”

I can remember the service quite distinctly as my pastor repeated this sentence or something very near to it many times over the course of the teaching.

The principal is depicted in the story in I Samuel and is walked out in each of our lives daily.

It goes like this:
The Lord will not force His righteousness upon us, nor His blessings, nor His promises and He will not force His will upon us either. That change that needs to be made in my life, God does not intervene without an invitation.

Remember when the disciples were in the middle of the sea of Galilee in the storm and the Lord walked out on the water to them,
“about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them”. Ever wonder why it says he would have walked by? He waits for an invitation.

If I will change my mind, repent, choose to go in a different direction, I will find the immediate rush of the presence of God and the change of heart that needs to be made.

I can not make any real fundamental changes in my life, not really. Oh, if I were to muster up all my courage and intestinal fortitude and whatever determination I might possess, I might alter a few things in my life perhaps. But the really deep changes, the real life-changing changes that need to be made in my life will only come through the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

The medical establishment would not agree; the psychiatric profession stands in direct opposition to this notion, but it is true. The one who made the soul of man is the only one equipped to make alterations in that soul, in the heart of man.

But this transformation of the souls of man will not be forced on man. The Lord is a perfect gentleman and he is not in the “force” business. Jesus offers, he pleads, he presents, He acts and then the response to His unending invitation is left in my court.

All it takes for me to enjoy what Jesus has made available is to turn to him, change my mind about what I am doing, how I am living… turn to Him and in that turning there is released the power of true change.

If I change my mind, God will change my heart.

A little insider information:
This has been my prayer over the last couple weeks –
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and
Renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.

It is paraphrased this way in TMSG-
God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails!

Create, Renew, Restore – that is an invitation to the Lord to come and make some changes. And I trust that the work of changing my heart has already begun.

May the Lord bless your day as you seek Him in every way.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Calling of a King I Samuel 9.20-10.1

Vs 20 And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s household?”
Saul is chosen by God –
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. Eph 1.4

Vs 21 Saul replied, “Am I not a Benjamites, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak to me in this way?”
Saul realized this was an honor that he did not deserve -
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) Eph 2.4-5

Vs 22 Then Samuel took Saul and his servant and brought them into the hall and gave them a place at the head of those who were invited, who were about thirty men.
Samuel reserved the best seat at the table for Saul -
And (God) raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Eph 2.6-7

Vs 23-24 Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion that I gave you, concerning which I said to you, ‘Set it aside.’” Then the cook took up the leg with what was on it and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, “Here is what has been reserved! Set it before you and eat, because it has been kept for you until the appointed time, since I said I have invited the people.” So Saul ate with Samuel that day.

Samuel also reserved the best part of the lamb for Saul -

  • In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. Eph 1.11-12
  • He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Song of Solomon 2.4
  • The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. Psalm 16.5
Vs 25-10.1 When they came down from the high place into the city, Samuel spoke with Saul on the roof. And they arose early; and at daybreak Samuel called to Saul on the roof, saying, “Get up, that I may send you away.” So Saul arose, and both he and Samuel went out into the street. As they were going down to the edge of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Say to the servant that he might go ahead of us and pass on, but you remain standing now, that I may proclaim the word of God to you.” Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on his head, kissed him and said, “Has not the LORD anointed you a ruler over His inheritance?

Samuel commissions Saul, but he is not sent off to complete the task without the anointing -
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1.8b

We are the ones who were chosen from out of nowhere, we were nobody’s and had no business being given such an honor as being called upon to serve our God. But God, who is rich and mercy, chose us… amazingly, and he snatched us out of the dungeon that sin had left us in and He honors us with position and the choicest portion. He has work for us to do, wonderful work, divine work, eternal work… God’s work; but not without also being equipped with the power of the Holy Spirit.

What we will see in the next few chapters is how Saul deals with all this blessing, how does he do with the assignment he was given… I mean, what a start! Seems like God has really set him up for success.

Indeed he did. And He has set us up for success as well. The question before me today and before you today is what am I going to do with it?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A Divine Appointment

The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice and appoint them a king.”

We have been watching Samuel grow up and begin his ministry as a prophet. Now God has been given him an assignment… anoint a king.

God has already identified the man who would become the first king of Israel; a man by the name of Saul. There was just one small problem; Saul didn’t know he was God’s choice and neither did Samuel. In addition, Saul was at home and Samuel was in Ramah.

In Chapter 9 we see the two men in different parts of the country, you know, doing their thing; all the while God is orchestrating events to get them in the same place at the same time so Samuel can fulfill his assignment.

Saul’s’ journey begins when he goes to look for a couple lost donkeys and that search leads him eventually through the areas of Ephriam, Shalisha, Shaalim, and the land of the Benjamites (vs 4) but still could not find them. 

At the same time he has arranged for Samuel to be in the right place at the right time and tells Samuel finally,
“About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over My people Israel; and he will deliver My people from the hand of the Philistines” (vs 16)
They make contact in vs.18 and Samuel anoints Saul in 10.1.

This story reminds me that the events that are taking place in my life, though sometimes difficult to understand and that at first glance they may even seem random, are often simply God’s way of getting me in the right place at the right time that His plan for my life can be realized.

It also reminds me that the Lord is always working both sides of the same story. You can certainly see this as we have in this story a bird’s eye view of the plan of God being worked out both for Saul and for Samuel.

Consider this:

Though things may seem to be in suspended animation on my end from time to time, it may simply be that the other side of the issue is still being moved into position.

That my day will likely involve what is often called a divine appointment, maybe even more than one. I mean, think about what it takes to bring about a chance encounter, God has to do a lot of work to get you and that other person in the same place at the same time. Lets not miss the appointments God has so carefully prepared.

Lord help us to keep our eye open, our Spirit engaged, our ears tuned so that when you bring that person my way I will be sensitive to the unction of the Spirit to engage that person.

Likewise, Lord, bring that person into my life today that has a word for me because I need to hear a “word fitly spoken” too! 

And Lord, I want to hear from you today through whatever means necessary.