Put on the new self . . . part one

Put on the new self . . . part one

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15 ESV

This passage comes after Paul’s writings on putting on the new self in chapter four of Ephesians. There is a requirement on our part beyond merely accepting Jesus into our lives. We have to allow Him the ability to change us. Which means taking thoughts captive, it means dying to ourselves daily, it means taking the steps necessary in your life, it means taking ownership of your decisions, it means changing for there is no growth without change. However, without the Holy Spirits influence, we are hopelessly lost in an endless cycle of sin.

Can there be personal growth without the Holy Spirit? Yes, just look around you at some of your friends who without knowledge of God personally, they seem to make positive changes in their lives. But we are not simply talking about physical changes, we are talking about heart changes, spiritual changes, changes in how the mind thinks and reacts and does. Hear the words of Paul to the Corinthians:

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV

That is us. Now here it is in Ephesians four in contrast to the non-believing person. There is a stark contrast to the mind of someone living outside of God’s grace as opposed to one living within it, all though the grace of God is available to all.

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! assuming that you have heard about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus . . .” Ephesians 4:17-21 EVS

Notice two things from this passage above, first, “futility of their minds” and “their hardness of heart.” Here, very clearly, one cannot separate the mind and the heart as they appear to work in tandem. Jesus deals with the heart clearly. He dwells there with His Spirit, ever-present, ever whispering, ever softening. In the mind, however, resides the carnal nature and therein lies the change that is required. Here is the last bit of this section in Ephesians.

. . . to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV

We must begin to change the way we think to sometimes not think anything at all! The mind and the carnal nature that dwells there is “deceitful!” It has a mission from the carnal to lead you by misleading you. To clear the mind of thought so that we can focus clearly on the heart of Christ is absolutely necessary! However, not in all things as the mind is incredible! Without it, we don’t breath, our bodies stop functioning as all processes run through the motherboard of our bodies the mind or our brains. It is useful, and it is necessary, it is however flawed and therefore requires a renewing, a daily renewing. We must put it in check always taking every thought captive and giving it to Jesus within the heart and filtering it there.

You are loved,

cj

Jude (Part 1)

Jude (Part 1)

Let me start here: if you have not read Jude (an introduction), stop now and go read it . . . it will make more sense that way. However, as a reminder to those who did read it let me refresh your memory. Jude is one of four brothers of Jesus and at some point led the Church in Jerusalem. He came to faith after Jesus’ resurrection. This same Jude then pens this letter and it is powerful! As a call to repentance, as a reminder of judgment, and as a warning to stay alert as we contend for the faith.

He doesn’t waste time with small talk, antidotes, or gibber, he is very matter-of-fact. In the verses, we will look at this week, we will see his heart, and his understanding as the brother of Jesus and leader of the Church. Let’s look at verse 5, “Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.” Here is an interesting point, there are a couple manuscripts out there as well as a few versions of the Bible that use “Jesus” in place of “the Lord”. Could these early manuscripts be more accurate to Jude’s point? i think so. Jude had come to an understanding of who Jesus was and was not ashamed of it.

We love grace, i love grace. We preach grace, i preach grace, and it is glorious! However, we mustn’t lose sight of Jesus. Jesus, actively a part of the Old Testament, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, saves us by His cross. He leads us free from the chains of sin, out of bondage and into freedom. As the Israelites out of Egypt and still, subsequently (lit. the second time) He destroys those who did not believe. Folks, there is judgment. There is a hell and it has been preached since the formation of the Church. Do not be led astray. We must continue to contend for the faith in a world that would pervert the grace of God, even some in the Church.

Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that [e]the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, [f]subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after [g]strange flesh, are exhibited as an [h]example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (NASB)

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved[c] a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire,[d] serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (ESV)

Pray with me for insight, for understanding, for fresh revelation into God’s Word. Let the Spirit of God speak to our hearts through these words written by Jude inspired by the Spirit. May we grow in wisdom and faith, as we seek to walk humbly with Jesus, contending for the faith. Until next week . . .

you are loved,

cj

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117, it is just two verses. Yet these two verses are immensely profound in their simplicity. You want to boil things down to the minimum and just look at the core of human existence? Then here you go:

“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Worship Him, all you peoples! Because God’s faithful love towards us is strong, the Lord’s faithfulness lasts forever! Praise the Lord!”

It doesn’t get much simpler than this, Praise the Lord. Worship Him. Because, He is faithful. His love is strong towards us and He is forever faithful. Thus, we should, Praise the Lord! No matter what you are facing, no matter what difficulties or trials befall you, Praise the Lord! In the good and in the bad, Praise the Lord! In the sun and in the rain, Praise the Lord! In life and in death, Praise the Lord! In sickness and in health, Praise the Lord! In the hardest of times and in the best of times, Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord,

you are loved,

cj

Aim for the Target!

Aim for the Target!

You have made the Lord tired with your words. You say, ‘how have we made Him tired?’ When you say: ‘Anyone doing evil is good in the Lord’s eyes,’ or ‘ He delights in those doing evil,’ or ‘Where is the God of justice?‘” These words are found in Malachi 2:17 . . . Later in 3:6 it says; “I am the Lord, and I do not change; . . .” The last book found in the Old Testament is profoundly challenging. It is my currently book of study, meaning i am reading it, rereading it, and re-rereading it. It also means i am sitting in it, meditating on it, and praying through it.

i am by nature a quiet person, but i am also intentionally quiet for reasons also; mainly, to not tire the Lord with my words. This isn’t specifically talking about talking too much but rather not speaking truth when i do open my mouth. We have fallen in love with our culture, much like the Jewish Nation fell in love with theirs and others around them. It became such a challenge for the Priest that they too began to “water down” the Scriptures. They took the standard of God and reduced it to the desire of man. Malachi was called upon to set the record straight. “The Lord does not change, get out of your sinful ways and return to the Lord.

i often go back and forth over struggles of the culture, the Word of God, grace, mercy, Old covenant, NEW covenant, and how does it all fit and where does it all lead? This warning however at the end of the O.T. is repeated at the end of the N.T. in Revelation written by John in the second and third chapters we read; “…I have a few things against you…” “So change your hearts and lives. If you don’t, I am coming to you soon, I will move your lamp stand from its place if you don’t change your hearts and lives.”

Clearly there is a call to repentance, to right living, to holiness. We by our fallen nature are not in our right minds and therefor need the presence of God to make it! To run the race to the end. In Micah we are told what the Lord requires of us, “To act justly, love Mercy, and to walk humbly with God.” In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 we read, “Don’t you know that all the runners in the stadium run, but only one gets the prize? So run to win. Everyone who competes practices self-discipline in everything. The runners do this to get a crown of leaves that shrivel up and die, but we do it to receive a crown that never dies.”

In a letter Paul writes to the Philippians he says, “. . . become imitators of me and watch those who live this way, you can us us as models. As I have told you many times and now say with deep sadness, many people live as enemies of the cross. Their lives end with destruction . . .” If we put all of this together we see that over and over again humanity in its fallen state, continues to veer off course; That rings true for me and you. Paul gives us hope, in his same letter to the Philippians he writes, “It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t thing I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus. So all of us who are spiritually mature should think this way, and if anyone thinks differently, God will reveal it to him or her. Only let’s live in a way that is consistent with whatever level we have reached.”

We may not always hit the target, but that doesn’t mean we don’t aim for it! As Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” If we don’t aim our lives in the right direction and course correct when needed we will miss the target and that my friends is a frightening thought.

You are Loved,

cj

The Lords Prayer #2

The Lords Prayer #2

May Your Name be kept Holy

Continuing with, “Our Father in Heaven…Matt 6:9-13

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,
12 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

Let me remind us of another passage we find in scripture 1 Peter 1:16   “For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” Now this passage in reality is impossible apart from Christ. We can not on our own ever achieve holiness. So how can we be holy? Well, we know that God is Holy, and if God dwells in us and is changing us into His likeness then we are made holy through Jesus. It is His righteousness, His grace, His mercy…not our own works that we can boast.

Jesus, in teaching us to pray reveals the very nature of God. Holy, yes, but also love. Yes, love. As we hear Jesus say, God is Holy…we also see the Love of Jesus displayed in every action. God’s love at work in and through the person of Jesus reveals His Holy Love. To make us Holy as He is Holy so that we might dwell in His presence. Christ’s holiness in us…may we keep His name Holy and wholly before us.

you are loved,

cj