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

Within the Veil

Within the Veil

“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.” Matthew 27:51 KJV

Such a simple passage that is full of great meaning. The veil of the temple was a giant curtain. This curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the place where man dwelt, basically the rest of the temple. The temple was where the sacrifice was made for the atonement of sin. The Holy of Holies, beyond the veil, was only entered once a year for that purpose by the High Priest. Who first had to be consecrated before he was allowed to enter with the atoning sacrifice for the people.

Here in Matthew 27, we read that upon Jesus breathing His last, “It is finished,” the final atonement of sin offered by our High Priest, Jesus, was offered. The atoning work is done, the need of the veil that separated a Holy God from sinful man was no longer needed, and therefore torn in two. The thing that separated man from God, sin, was dealt a deathly blow. Allowing us to enter the Holy of Holies, God’s presence, on our own. We now dine within the veil. No longer does God dwell in a temple of meeting but rather in our hearts. We are the temple, individually and collectively as the church. Not a church as a place but as a people, a people of God.

We can now bring, on our own, our needs, our hopes, our fears, our sin, our repentance, our faith, our lack of faith, our weakness, and our strength, right into God’s presence. i can carry you there and you can carry me there alone or together, individually or corporately. You see the veil is torn in two! It is gone, it is finished. Jesus was the final atoning sacrifice for the sin of man. When we believe that Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. When we acknowledge Him as our Savior, we enter into the Holy of Holies. That is a very cool thing. To know that we have the opportunity to enter into the presence of Almighty God and He desires us to do so, is really awesome.

Yet, many Christians miss it, they miss the opportunity to sit in the presence of God and dine with Him. All is not lost, however, for to us, a promise is made, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.” Revelation 3:20-22

You are Loved,

cj

In our brokenness, You have made us whole, Thy Kingdom Come

In our brokenness, You have made us whole, Thy Kingdom Come

This is the final installment of our series, “Thy Kingdom Come.” We have been looking at the significance of God’s Kingdom now, in light of our humanness. Our final look, being made whole even in our brokenness. We are broken. The world that was created in which God took a step back and declared “This is Good,” is, no longer…well, good. It is broken. Sin and death have entered through rebellion, and we are suffering the effects of those choices still today. Our hope, in the promise of God that all things will be made new and that through Jesus we too can experience the newness of His perfect creation.

God’s first step (and the only step we will look at today) in this recreation is to make us whole again. An atonement for our sins offered. That act alone is what is required for our salvation. No amount of good works, good deeds, good thoughts, good vibes, or good anything will make up the difference needed…only what was offered on the cross will do. This redemptive act is the pinnacle of our salvation. Colossians 1:19-22 NLT reads like this:

19 For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

This reconciliation has come about by God’s grace. As we end this series, “Thy Kingdom Come” and move into a look at the death and resurrection of Jesus. The very thing we talk about today. i want us to understand that we stand wholly in the Kindom even in our broken world on the merits of Jesus our Lord. As our world grows increasingly hostile to Christianity as a whole, we must not only rest in the assurance of our salvation but also in the warning. First here in Colossians 1:23 NLT.

23 But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.

There are countless other warnings that sadly many will ignore, but i offer you this in Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT) a way to keep steady, a way to experience God’s Kingdom here in a broken world. Daily being made whole in our brokenness.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Finally, yet another warning. Because the power of this world, the pull, the temptation, is strong, so we must remain alert. Let your gratitude and thankfulness flow in a manner that builds on the foundation Jesus Christ is.  Do not be fooled again by the empty promises or the schemes of the prince of this world. You see, “...we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 NLT. Therefore:

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers[a] of this world, rather than from Christ.For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.[b]10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. Colossians 2:8-10 NLT.

In our brokenness, You have made us whole, Thy Kingdom Come.

You are loved,

cj

In our weakness, standing in Your strength, Thy Kingdom Come

In our weakness, standing in Your strength, Thy Kingdom Come

Weakness, who would admit to it? We are taught from the beginning, strength wins. Survival of the fittest. There is quote after quote about the need to be strong and independent. Even in the Church, we have quotes such as, “God helps those that help themselves.” None of them truly helpful, and rarely actually Biblical. Oh sure, some are really great. They are motivators for us to press on in difficult times. They encourage us at times even give us a new perspective on life and ourselves. i recently read a men’s devotional in which it talked about our need to be physically fit, strong even. Although it made some very valid points, i think it was leaning too hard on our strength and how God wants to use our strength.

In reality, God wants to use our weaknesses. In order for that to happen, we must embrace our weakness, understand it and live in a place that allows God to use our weaknesses to His glory. We need to realize that we are made perfect in weakness. We need to humble ourselves even in areas of strength and rely on God’s strength. Will He use our strengths? Absolutely! But when we become dependent on our own ability, we will soon lose perspective and reliance on God and His strength. In Everything, we need to seek the Lord, His will, His strength, His leading and in the end His glory not our own.

This is not a popular message by any stretch of the imagination. Many will disagree. However, i would just point back to the fact that God uses our strengths, yes He does…i contend, however, that He uses our weakness more, in fact, He desires to use our weakness more than our strength. That is a very comforting thought if you think about it honestly. It is the Apostle Paul who wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)

9 “Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”

Let’s look at this passage in the Message in a fuller context looking at verses 7-10:

7-10 “Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first, I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

Here in 1 Corinthians 1:27 Paul says, “Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.” (NLT) Yes, He has given us gifts, and talents, but often the gift and the talent for particular missions are found in the weakest of men (and women). God’s Kingdom is built on His strength, His Kingdom has come. Jesus said, “12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12 NASB) and, “Then I will ask the Father to send you the Holy Spirit who will help you and always be with you.” (John 14:16 CEV)

Let me point to this, in conclusion, the final verse of Psalm 27 (NASB read the whole chapter by clicking the link)…Be strong yes, as you wait on the Lord.

Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.”

Embrace your weakness.

You are loved,

cj