Archive for the ‘Gospel of Luke’ Category

h1

THE LURKING BEAST OF A WEIGHED-DOWN HEART – April 19

April 19, 2014

“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36

 

20 on explore on Sunday, July 1, 2007There is a beast that roams my small acreage.

I have never seen its shape for it comes out only after I yield to sleep. Yet, the evidence of its presence confronts me at sunrise every morning. I walk into my field and shutter at the thought of an unwanted presence having recently crossed the very path of my footsteps.

I know what it hunts. I see the numerous holes it has dug in pursuit of its prey – gophers. I do not object to that pursuit. However, I wish that it would get its own. This beast has found that it is easier to steal from me. It has discovered that at the bottom of the fluttering location flags is a gopher trap that often, by the time of darkness, contains a dead gopher. It then absconds with the gopher and my trap. I have lost two traps to this beast.

I can tolerate the presence of this beast lurking in the darkness since we have a common nemesis – gophers. However, I know there is a danger that goes beyond the thief of traps and the annoyance of hole digging (this beast does not have the common courtesy of backfilling its holes).

English: Badger hole This large hole was in th...My concern is for my chickens. I know that it is just a matter of time before this beast finds that a roosting chicken is about as easy to catch as a trapped gopher – and much more satisfying. Therefore, this beast has become my enemy before I lose something I value more than a dead gopher.

I am not sure of my success. Therefore, I must stay vigilant to the unseen dangers.

IMAG0018There is a danger to our souls that lurks in the darkness. Our danger is that the day of judgment will come upon us unaware, when we do not expect it, and when we are not prepared for it. The danger is that we are called to meet our Lord, and He is the furthest thing from our hearts and low on the list of that which we love.

We are most vulnerable to this danger when we are unconscious to its presence. That is why we are encouraged to stay awake. We are to stay vigilant against the beast of a heart that is weighted down. We are to watch ourselves from becoming satiated with an inordinate pursuit of the good things of this world and an over-indulgence of the appetites of the body.

Many of us live in an amicable truce with the cares of the world. We fall asleep and allow the beast of our cravings to roam free because we consider them a normal course of our existence. We live with competing loves because it does not appear that they are having an effect upon our spiritual lives beyond an occasional thief of joy and the annoyance of our disrupted façade.

I believe that the danger of a weighed-down heart is far greater than we realize. A weighed-down heart is evidence of misplaced love. Misplaced loves have to be killed before they can burden our hearts, steal our fruitfulness, and even cause us to give up.

From my experience, I rarely get a clean shot at my misplaced loves. They grow in the hidden crevasses of the normal course of my life. I can become so accustomed to these cares, that I fall asleep to their danger.

I have to go to their lair and smoke them out.

There is only one way to smoke out misplaced love. It is by the work of the Spirit in our lives that affections are set upon God and God alone and misplaced love is killed. We have to come to the Spirit in pray and ask the Lord to examine our hearts for anything that we love more than Him. When we feel weighed down by the cares of this world, we must yield all to the Lord and set our eyes upon the things of the Spirit.

We mustn’t fall asleep to the danger. We must not accept a beast prowling in the darkness of our hearts as normal. The danger of a weighed-down heart is nothing to ignore.

PRAYER: Father, I do not want my love to be misplaced.  I do not want to love anything more than you.  Lord, examine my heart.  Show me where I am being weighed down by the cares of this world.  Show me the good things that I pursue more than you.  Show me where my appetites are out of control.  Help me give to you those loves that I have allowed to become too elevated.  Help me keep my eyes on you.  Help me stay awake to that which I am setting my mind upon.  Keep me in your steadfast love.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Enhanced by Zemanta
h1

APPRECIATING THE PHENOMIAL – April 16

April 16, 2014

“As he was drawing near – already on the way down the Mount of Olives – the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”” Luke 19:37-38

 “Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself,
but talent instantly recognizes genius.” 
~ Arthur Conan Doyle

It is easy to become a critic in our culture of entertainment. Genius is streamed in from the far reaches of the world as critics assume their roles upon couches and in recliners before countless televisions.

We lament our team’s quarterback, who struggles to identify a safety blitz.
We cringe at the singer whose high note is a bit flat.
We cannot comprehend how a referee can miss a call.
We smirk at the actor who portrays the same character in every role.
We bemoan the sophomore slump which fails to live up to the standards of an artist’s debut.
We expect world class performances but often excellence is lost upon those being entertained.

Most of us live in the world of the mediocre. That fact is reflected by our application of the words genius and exceptional upon those who are typically neither. We apply those terms to acquaintances of our daily lives who are exceptional, in comparison to ourselves, but rarely are they world class. Our direct experience is rarely much higher than ourselves.

It is when we move from entertainment to participation that we begin to truly recognize and appreciate the truly phenomenal.

57536-largest_2012KonaTop15run4I was perusing the results of the 2013 Ironman 70.3 World Championship. Sebastian Kienle won the event with 1:19/100 meter swim pace, 25.81 mph bike pace, and a 5:42/mile run pace. Since I am participating in triathlons, I can compare my best to those times. I recognize just how crazy fast those times actually are. I can better appreciate Sebastian Kienle’s excellence unlike someone who is not swimming, bicycling, or running.

I wonder if this is the principle at play in many churches. Many professing Christians live their lives absent the awe for the excellence of Jesus Christ. Their faith resides in the tidy compartment of their balanced and structured existence but absent any real passion. In many ways, they have assumed the role of critic in a church culture of entertainment. Week in and week out, many churches press for little more than Sunday morning attendance. It should not be surprising that those who come for entertainment fail to appreciate the majesty of our God who redeems.

A dynamic faith requires participation. We cannot sit complacently in our pews of mediocrity knowing nothing higher than our experience and those around us.

When we are striving for obedience, the sinless nature of Christ becomes astounding.

When we try to love our neighbors, God loving a world by sacrificing His Son for us while we were yet sinners is beyond comprehension.

When we suffer, Christ’s acceptance of the cross when a legion of angels awaited His call is a marvel.

When we struggle to forgive, the total forgiveness and condemnation of our sin will boggle the mind.

When we are walking in the Spirit, the gifts of the fruit of the Spirit attest to the phenomenal goodness of a God who cares for His own.

Those who accompanied Jesus during the triumphant entry were eye-witnesses to the excellence of Christ. Based on their experience, they acknowledged the majesty of the King of kings. We can have that same experience but we have to have a faith that is participating with the Spirit. It is when we participate with the Spirit by setting our eyes on the things of the Spirit that we will begin to truly recognize and appreciate the phenomenal nature of the Son of God. It is then that the dynamic faith of a child of God will join in the praise, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

There is no better time to renew our awe in the majesty of the Cross than during Easter. May we join with our brothers and sisters of old in praise of our Savior, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

PRAYER: Father, forgive me of my often lackadaisical attitude to your majesty. Forgive me for not appreciating what you have done for me. Lord, renew a spirit of awe within my soul. Open my eyes to the phenomenal nature of your Son. Help my grateful heart put words to praise. Blessed is the King who has come in the name of the Lord and with return. Come quickly, my Lord; Come and establish here on earth the peace that is in heaven and glory that is in the highest. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

Enhanced by Zemanta
h1

THE AGNOSTIC WILL NEVER BE AN IRONMAN – April 13

April 13, 2014

“But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.  And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’” Luke 14:16-20

 

Windows Calendar

As the calendar on my computer screen rolled down into the month of April, I noticed a deadline for a decision I have been avoiding. I placed this reminder on my calendar when the leaves were beginning to turn in the previous year. The number of days ahead comforted my indecision.

Yet, the mill of time has ground those days away, the leaves are budding anew, and I remain as indecisive as the day I typed my reminder. I have often picked up this decision in the intervening months, examined it from various perspectives and left it on the calendar. Time remained, so I cherished my indecision.

ironman%2070%203%20boise%20eventpagelogo%20200x70April’s sunshine, fair weather and dwindling time have forced me into a corner – will I register for the Boise Ironman 70.3 or not.

I have clearly made more of this decision than it merits, but my list of excuses has been extensive:

I am not sure I have enough time to get into half-marathon shape.
I am not sure I want to get into half-marathon shape.
I am not sure my knees can take the training.
I am not sure I want to spend the money.
I am not sure I want to spend the time.
I am not sure I want to suffer – especially through that run.

130608-F-IZ428-500

All of these concerns have caused me to delay a decision until my deadline. The delay comes from the unanswerable nature of the concerns, manifested as excuses. I have no idea what competing in an Ironman 70.3 will feel like. It is unknowable until one commits to competing.

What I do know is that competing in an Ironman has been a goal since I started doing triathlons.  I also know that I will never finish a race if I remain agnostic to competing.

I realized that I have been largely agnostic to the Boise Ironman. I acknowledge that it exists, but based on the unknowable aspects of the race I had remained uncommitted. I was awaiting answers that would come only after I had committed to accomplishing the goal that I have set for myself – completing an Ironman race.

I was awakened from my agnostic indecision by Jesus’ parable of the great banquet and the excuse makers. I have known many of these excuse makers. They cloak themselves in the philosophical coverings of the agnostic. They believe that there is a divine being, an ultimate cause, a mysterious entity behind everything …They believe there is a God. However, they will not commit to any religion or specific belief because they want to know more.

They cherish their intellectual indecision as they claim to be seeking answers to their questions. However, I have met few who are really seeking with any urgency. They pick up the consideration of God periodically and examine the questions from different perspectives but always place it back on the shelf of indecision. They rarely actually examine the information given to them to help in their decision.

Mary at the finishline

They are comforted by the perception of time. There are no deadlines that force a decision. There is no countdown to consequences. Therefore, the months and years slip past as the excuses of indecision mount.

They fail to acknowledge that indecision is a decision. It is like my indecision to compete. If I do not decide to enter the Boise Ironman, then I am guaranteed to never finish the race. Those who believe there is a God, but live in indecisive unbelief, are guaranteed to never complete that race that leads to eternal life.

We have been given all that we need to know to make a decision.  The Apostle Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke so that we could have certainty in what we have been taught:

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-4)

The Apostle John wrote the Gospel of John so that we would believe:

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)

The answers to the nagging questions about the nature of God will only be revealed after the commitment to believe. Understanding comes through faith, not before it.

So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith. (Romans 1:17)

Those cloaked in agnostic indecision should not rest comfortable due to the seemingly endless number of days ahead. No one knows the number of days they have. You have all that you need to make a decision. Read the Gospel of John. Read the Gospel of Luke. They were written so that you would have what you need to make a decision.

Decide to believe or not believe but just stop the excuses of indecision.

The mill of time is grinding away your remaining days – you know not how many you have left.

PRAYER: Father, I pray for all those who read the words written so that they may believe  that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing they may have life in His name. Lord, I ask that you remove all the questions of unbelief that they have used to remain indecisive. Draw them to yourself. Give them the gift of faith and reveal yourself to them. I pray that the power of the Gospel will flow over them for salvation as them come to a belief in you.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

P.S. – I did register for the Boise Ironman.

Related Post:
“COST OF AN IRONMAN” – Nov 2
“2014 Resolutions” – Dec 29

Enhanced by Zemanta
h1

PRIZE BIKE – April 9

April 9, 2014

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11

 I have entered my first writing competition. I submitted my paragraph online and have been waiting for this day. Today, the contest ended and the evaluation of the hopeful has begun.  There are many reasons to enter a writing competition.

It forces you to actually write and produce something worth reading.
It allows a wider audience for your work.
It is a good way to test the water of the broader writing community.
It forces you to write carefully and critically.

Bicycling (magazine)

While those are good reasons to compete, none were my motivation to enter. I entered my first writing competition because I wanted to win. The April edition of Bicycling magazine was their annual buyer’s guide. The issue contained 123 reviews of the latest and best that the world of bicycling manufacturers has to offer.

The competition was to enter a 150 word, cycling-themed, parody of Bicycling writer Bill Strickland. The winner of the competition will get to choose any bicycle reviewed in the April edition that has a suggested retail price of less than $5,000.

Team RadioShack Madone

Since entering my 150 words, I have spent way too much time thinking about the prize. I have gone through ridiculous evaluations between the merits of the Guru Photon SL and the Felt F2; considerations of which would be better for my riding, the Trek Madone 6.2 H1 or H2; the Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL4 is way over the $5K limit but maybe they would work me a deal.

I was surprised what all this prize contemplation wrought when I took the humble seat of my Fuji road bike for my latest ride. I rode along a familiar route in the crispness of the spring morning, past pastures of frolicking calves, accompanied by the harmonies of a thousand song birds, yet completely engrossed by how much better a ride on a prize bike would be. I realized the surprising level of disappointment that was crouching at my doorway when I considered the likelihood of not winning the prize bike.

Specialized S-Works Roubaix

I had allowed the fun possibility of winning a writing competition turn in discontentment. I own two very nice bicycles. My bikes are not the limiting factor of my cycling. I don’t need a $5,000 bicycle. I can’t justify a $5,000 bicycle. Yet, I want one. How foolish will it be for me to be disappointed if I am not elevated from my humble road bike to the exalted saddle of a prize bike?

An amazing level of discontentment can arise when all we focus upon is what we don’t have, rather than what we do.

Jesus told the parable of the wedding feast and how people chose the places of honor. He instructed us in a level of humility that selects for ourselves the lowest place of honor. Then, when the host comes and recognizes our lowly status he will move us up to a higher place of honor.  The parable is a wonderful image of how we are humbled when we exalt ourselves and how we are exalted when we humble ourselves.

However, what happens if no one comes to raise us up?

It is often easy to see those who exalt themselves in their desire for honor. There are some who insert their resume of spiritual prowess into every conversation. Those overt challenges for the high seats of honor are easy to identify.

However, the subtle pride of feigned humility is often much more difficult to capture. We can become masters of contrived humility, spoken in anticipation of elevation. This more socially acceptable variant of honor seeking pride is exposed when we do not receive the anticipated response.

How do you feel…

…when you are not acknowledged?
…when your advice is not sought?
…when you’re not asked to lead?
…when self-deprecating statements are not countered?
…when no one asks what is wrong?
…when your value is not extolled?

How do you respond when you are not elevated to a seat of honor?

Feigned humility allows discontentment to fester in anticipation of being elevated to the seat of honor. We can become so engrossed in winning the prize of people’s honor and praise that we fail to appreciate the seat of honor we, as followers of Christ, have already been elevated to.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17)

We have been elevated to sit at the Lord’s Table as an heir.

Is there any greater honor? We have been given the greatest prize the world has ever known. Let’s not wallow in the sinful discontentment of seeking the lesser prize of man’s praise.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for being a master of feigned humility.  Forgive me of the pride in my anticipation of praise.  Forgive me for giving so much thought and effort into seeking the prize of man’s honor.  Forgive my sinful discontentment.  Lord, you have given me an honor that I do not deserve and could never earn.  Thank you for adopting me into your family.  Thank you for lifting me from my lowly estate and giving me a seat at your table.  Help me to be content in you and you alone.  Open my eyes to all that you have given me.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Enhanced by Zemanta
h1

SKIPPING GYM CLASS – April 4

April 4, 2014

“Blessed are those servants whom the master finds so doing when he comes.” Luke 12:43

We heard the news with glee, a substitute. My high school freshman PE teacher was out for the day but the class was going forward with a substitute teacher. We knew this substitute teacher – old, crotchety, and devoid of humor. Before we even knew what the day held, we hatched a plan.

We were going to skip class.

Locker Room

My two accomplices and I waited to implement our grand strategy. As the class exited the locker room, we turned left when they went right into the gymnasium. We scurried to the back of the locker room and waited for the sound of sneakers on concrete to dissipate.

We had done it. We had escaped from the tyranny of that humorless substitute teacher. We now had a whole hour of freedom. Except, we were confined within the belly of the high school. We had not thought about that in our hasty decision. If we left the locker room, we would be caught. We were dressed in our gym clothes; if we went anywhere, it would be obvious that we were skipping gym class. Besides, it was too cold to go outside.

The enthusiasm of our rebellion faded into boredom as we settled onto the locker room benches to wait out the class. We could hear the bouncing of balls and the excited shouting of games at play. However, it was too late to blend back into the class. The teams would have been picked and roles assigned. We would be caught if we tried to join the fun going on in the gym.

We filled the time with the combination of head-locks, talk of girls and toys, and the typical silence of adolescent boys. Our banal discussion came to an abrupt halt when we heard a door open and close. Someone had entered our sanctum. Footsteps began to fall on concrete with the unmistakable sound of an adult. To our horror, the footsteps were heading directly toward us.

We retreated deeper into the locker room. We were going to get caught. I did not want to get caught. I was not sure what awful punishment would befall me but I did not want to find out. The footsteps were relentless in their progression. They were not deviating in the least. The even pace of each step mercilessly pushed into the confines of the shower/toilet room. There was no escape – we could not get out. Yet, our rebellion was not done. We were determined not to get caught.

English: photo of toilet seat

Our only choice was to hide. A co-conspirator and I entered the toilet stall with its walls and doors. We quickly perched ourselves upon the toilet seat, so that our pursuer would not see our feet, and closed the door. There we waited, backs to the wall, frightened face to frightened face. In hushed silence, we listened to the footsteps.

He had come into our section of the locker room. He was coming down the row of lockers, clack, clack, of one foot step after another. He was taking a direct route to our confine. Does he know? How could he know? On he came; one step after one horrible step, until we heard the steps stop just outside our toilet stall. Could it be that he has to go the bathroom?

While the footsteps were bad enough, they were nothing compared to the bang on the toilet stall. I was lost in my hope of escape. So, the bang nearly frightened me off of my perch and into the water below. We were frozen until the next bang was followed by the words, “come on, get out of there”.

It was over. We were caught. I don’t know how. He must have been part blood hound. I reached over from my perch and unlatched the door. As it lazily swung open, I received the most disapproving look of condescension in my life. There the varsity basketball coach stood with two of the most pitifully idiotic teenage boys still perched upon the toilet seat before him.

Trip to New Zealand

Trip to New Zealand (Photo credit: miss_rogue)

He did not say anything other than, “let’s go” with a roll of the eyes and a shake of the head. And with that, our rebellion was over. We had been caught and now had to make the humiliating walk to the principal’s office in our gym clothes.

I later found out that our rebellion had saved us from the best day of gym class, ever.  The substitute teacher had let everyone play whatever they wanted to do, while he read the paper.

I had rebelled against supervised freedom for unsupervised confinement and punishment. That had not been a good choice.

How often do we make this sort of bad choice in our spiritual lives?

We rebel against God’s instruction in anticipation of freedom and pleasure. We refuse obedience because it seems like we are being forced to do something awful. We run from the presence of God thinking we can escape only to find that what we have escaped to is not as we had imagined.

It is foolish to think that our rebellion and sin will not be discovered. God will relentlessly pursue us. He will back us up into the confines of our own choosing until we are revealed perched upon the toilet seat of bad decisions.

While we have endured the anxiety of being pursued by God, what have we saved ourselves from? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control…yeah, that is horrible. How idiotic is it to run from real freedom under the loving supervision of our heavenly Father for the unsupervised confinement and punishment of rebellion and sin?

Seems like an easy choice to me.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for running from your blessings. Forgive me for foolishly thinking that I know what is best for me.  Thank you for being so good.  Thank you for being so gracious and patience with my idiotic decisions.  Thank you for the freedom that you have given my in your Son, Jesus Christ. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Enhanced by Zemanta
h1

JOY IN SALVATION – Mar. 19

March 19, 2014

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much.  But he who is forgiven little loves little.”  Luke 7:47

We have all seen reactions of the unexpected.

RMHK-Michael / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The joy of the one who expected to stay seated when the awarder calls their name;

The exhilaration when an unachievable goal is achieved;

The shocked speechlessness at the generosity of a gift;

The tearful gratitude when the defenseless is defended.

The daily grind of my days may have ephemeral hints of these diffused emotions, but not as frequent as I think that it should.

More often, my days begin and end in the structure of muted routine.

The morning of another day commences with the structure of a Bible reading plan – a little Old Testament, a little New, bashed with some Psalms and garnished with contemplation.

The day is lived managing the cares and troubles allotted.

Evening ushers the day to closure with some reading and prayer – mostly focused upon the day previous and the one to come.

FredBaby13 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The faithful practice of the Christian faith can lead us into an attitude of the entitlement and wonderless-ness.  We can become accustomed to our salvation.  We expect our name to be called.  We can be so familiar with the bridge that spans the unachievable gap that we bounce and play on it.  Our words run on with academic “isms” in abstruse explanations of the marvelous gift freely given.  We walk confidently in the obligated defense of covenant.

I wonder whose attitude my daily existence most often reflects?

Simon the Pharisee – who did not wash Christ’s feet, never gave Him a kiss, and neglected to anoint his head.

The sinful woman of the city – who washed Christ’s feet with tears of gratitude, soiled her hair to dry His feet, and willingly gave expensive oil to anoint His head.

The reality of this comparison is displeasing .

I have a need that is greater than a desire for fresh revelation.
I require nutrition of something greater than a fresh telling of old truths.
I have a want that comes from a well deeper than spiritual discipline.
I have an essential necessity for remembrance.

Followers of Christ need to remember.  We should frequently remind ourselves of who we were.  We must regularly preach the gospel to our own soul.  We must daily acknowledge the unsanctified reality of our hearts.  We must practice marveling at the perfection of Christ in contrast to our imperfection.  We are not good.  We are not worthy.  All that we have to offer are filthy rags.

We need to live in the joy of our salvation so that we will live in the gratitude of the sinful woman of the city.

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.  Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.  Psalm 51:8-12

May we be a people who remember what has been done for us and take ecstatic joy in His salvation of our souls.

PRAYER: Father, restore to me the joy of your salvation.  Uphold me with a willing spirit.  Open my eyes to the wonder of what you have given me.  Forgive me for living ungratefully and entitled.  Renew a right spirit within me.  Help me to remember the beauty of the gospel.  Revive my dry attitude that has come with familiarity.  You have been so good to me.  You have blessed me with so much.  I was lost in my sin, worthy of your condemnation, and yet you saved me while I was still in rebellion against you.  Your love to me is abounding.  Your mercy is without boundaries.  Your grace is beyond comprehension.  Thank you – with all my heart and soul.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Enhanced by Zemanta
h1

RADIOACTIVE HOLINESS – Mar. 7

March 7, 2014

“Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are – the Holy One of God.” Luke 4:34

I know  there are many who live by the K.I.S.S. principle – Keep It Simple Stupid.  It is a good principle, in so far as it is possible.  However, we can delude ourselves in simplicity as avoidance to the difficulties of the complex.  We live in a complex world that has layers of intricacies that are scarcely understood.

digitalbob8 / Foter / CC BY

I sit here reading my Bible and writing my thoughts from those scriptures.  I can tell you that I just read my Bible and I thought about it.  However, I don’t know how my brain did that.  I don’t know how my eyes absorbed light, how my optical nerves transformed those electrons into electrical impulses, how those impulses made it to the correct segments of my brain, how my brain recognizes electrical impulses as letters, words, paragraphs, language, ideas…I really don’t know how my brain then thinks about those translated impulses in abstract ways.

The complexity of simply reading and thinking is amazing.  I think we have a tendency to over-simplify the familiar.  We look past all that is normal and fail to gaze deeply upon all that is so very amazing in our everyday lives.

I have a tendency to over-simply the holiness of God. 

God the Father 11

God the Father 11 (Photo credit: Waiting For The Word)

Holiness is a term we Christians throw around with a casual familiarity that belies the complexity of its reality.  We are told to be holy, because God is holy (1 Peter 1:16).  In my simple mind, I tend to think of holiness in terms of following Christ in obedience.  The fruit of the Spirit that results from setting my mind on the things of the Spirit and living according to the Spirit is how I can be holy because God is holy.

I believe that is a tremendous over-simplification of holiness. 

The holiness of God is terrifyingly dangerous.   It probably is the single most destructive element to the flesh of man in the entire universe.  Consider the precautions  the Nation of Israel had to take, to be in the proximity of holiness without dying.

A specially designated and clothed person had to go into the tabernacle to cover all that the holiness of God was upon.  This priest covered the items with blue cloth and goat skin so that the selected clan of the Levites could carry the items without dying.

Nadab and Abihu, two of these specially designated and clothed priests, offered unauthorized fire before the Lord and were immediately consumed by fire.

Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God when the oxen stumbled and he was immediately struck down by God for taking hold of an item that was holy to God.

The priest of the Temple would go into the holy of holiness with a rope tied to his ankle just in case he was struck dead in the presence of God’s holiness, his body could be drug out.

thejaymo / Foter / CC BY-NC

That is what happens when raw and revealed holiness is exposed to a fallen mankind.  Being in the presence of God’s holiness, simply touching His holiness is like being exposed to the core of a nuclear reactor.  Handling the core material of a reactor is complex.  Special clothing and precautions are necessary because human cells cannot withstand the high energy of that sort of radiation.

The holiness of God is so much more radioactive and destructive to fallen human flesh.  The demon Jesus confronted, understood this reality.  The Holy One of God stood before him.  His question was “have you come to destroy us”.  It is a reasonable question because that is what happens when holiness comes into contact with unholiness.  Holiness destroys unholiness.

It is a terrifying thing for the unholy to fall into the hands of the living and holy God Almighty.

The fact that this demon was not immediately consumed by the fire of God by being in the presence of the Holy One of God, reveals a complexity beyond the description.

The fact that the Holy One of God could walk this world in human form, interacting with sinful man, reveals an intricacy that escapes understanding.

The fact that the Holy Spirit can be within those who are His, while we still do unholy acts defies a simple explanation.

The fact that redeemed souls will spend eternity in the presence of the holy Lord God Almighty is unfathomable when we appreciate God’s holiness.

The holiness of God is amazing.  It is not something that God turns on or off.  It is who He is – holy is His name (Luke 1:49).  We should not allow our familiarity with Christ to over-simplify His holiness.  Our familiarity with our precious Lord and Savior should result in more awe, honor, and reverence because we know how unholy we are.  We know that Christ has made a way for us to exist within a fallen sinner’s most destructive environment.  We can live as loved children of our holy Father without dying because He sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.  (Romans 8:3)

Schub@ / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

God did the complex,
transforming the unholy into holy,
through His amazing mercy,
He gave life rather than destruction.
That should astound us!

May we join the host of Heaven in our praise of God for what He has done –
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory”.
(Isaiah 6:3)

PRAYER: Father, thank you fo protecting me from your righteousness and holiness.  Thank you for sending your own Son to condemn the unholy sin in my flesh so that your righteousness might reign in me.  Forgive me for taking your holiness for granted.  Forgive me for over-simplifying all that you have done for me.  Forgive my lack of awe and honor of how truly spectacular you are and what you have done.  Lord, I praise your holy name.  You truly are worthy of all praise and honor.  The whole earth is full of you glory.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Enhanced by Zemanta
%d bloggers like this: