Let us consider another inconsistency, but let me first warn the reader that it may cause some real heart searching, especially if you have children.
The scene is the same just about every week. Families struggle to get up on Sunday morning. Many have not bothered to prepare their hearts throughout the previous week, and especially the Saturday night before. This quickly becomes obvious as the rest of the morning progresses.
Breakfast is rushed and the parents are shouting at the kids to “Hurry or we will be late to church.” With a final flurry of activity, everybody runs out and jumps in the appropriate vehicle. On the way, the driver is pushing past the speed limit and hoping that a policeman is not sitting over the next hill with a radar gun. In the back, the children begin to bicker and then fight. The parents both threaten to stop the car to take care of the problem that does little to straighten out the children. The little ones are mostly immune to the threats because they have already figured out long ago that the parents don’t really mean what they say.
Every now and then, a word of wisdom may grace the conversation. One of the parents will remind their offspring that “we all need to settle down as we are going to worship the Lord.”
Arriving at their chosen place of worship a few minutes late, the parents send their children off to a little classroom. In the room, they only manage to get through 45 minutes due to the seemingly endless supply of snacks and juice. During the class, they may receive a pithy little lesson which may come complete with puppets and pages to color.
Stated otherwise, this means: Continue reading
Even a casual read of the Bible reveals several covenants. Many books have been written about them. One covenant, the New Covenant, stands as the answer to everything that is wrong, God’s final Word on making all things right. The glory of being in Christ Jesus is revealed in this covenant, which binds Christ and His church together, providing redemption and eternal salvation for sinners. The sign of the New Covenant is circumcision not made with human hands followed by water baptism (Colossians 2:11-12). The Lord’s Supper is another sign within this covenant, reminding us of its Author and His return (1 Corinthians 11:25). One dear brother I count as a friend helps us see this:
Baptism serves as an outward sign of the inward grace of regeneration and union with Christ. It is less than meaningless if there is no inward grace to reflect. Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). What Jesus is saying is that this cup of wine represents the new covenant he is going to ratify by shedding his blood. This cup becomes the sign of that covenant. Every time we take communion we should rejoice that we are heirs of the new and better covenant that was ratified by his blood. (Randy Seiver)
In Hebrews 7-9 the New Covenant described, contrasted with the Old Covenant, so we can see it more accurately. Chapter 9:1 even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness.What follows is a description of the tabernacle of the Hebrew religion, featuring lampstands, a table and bread, the Most Holy Place with the ark of the Mosaic covenant containing the tablets of testimony, the golden vial of manna, and Aaron’s staff. Levitical priests ever making sacrifices that would cover sin for a time but never able to take away sin. All of these forms of worship are summed up in verse 9 as symbolic for that age and “imposed until the time of reformation” (verse 10). There will be no re-institution of those types and symbols as the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus was sufficient, satisfying God the Father and finishing the redemptive work announced in Genesis 3:15, bringing that reformation.
when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation [speaking here of His body of flesh]) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:11-12 & 15)
c. It is the frame of spirit that shows the habitual character of this grace of contentment. Contentment is not merely one act—just a flash in a good mood. You find many men and women who, if they are in a good mood, will be very quiet. But this will not hold. It is not the constant tenor of their spirits to be holy and gracious under affliction.
— Contentment is a gracious frame, opposed to natural quietness. Indeed, in contentment there is a compound of all graces. But now the gracious frame of spirit is in opposition to three things:
a. In opposition to the natural quietness of many men and women. Some are so constituted by nature that they are more still and quiet. Others are of a violent and hot constitution, and they are more impatient.
b. In opposition to a sturdy resolution. Some men through the strength of a sturdy resolution do not seem to be troubled, come what may. So they are not disquieted as much as others.
c. By way of distinction from the strength of natural (though unsanctified) reason that may quiet the heart in some degree. But now I say that a gracious frame of spirit is not merely a stillness of the body that comes from its natural constitution and temper, nor a sturdy resolution, nor the strength of reason.
You will ask, “In what way is the grace of contentment distinguished from all these?” Where contentment of heart springs from grace, the heart is very quick and lively in the service of God! The difference is very clear: The one whose disposition is quiet is not disquieted as others are, but neither does he show any activeness of spirit to sanctify the name of God in his affliction. But, on the other hand, he whose contentment is of grace keeps his heart quiet with regard to vexation and trouble and at the same time is not dull or heavy, but very active to sanctify God’s name in the affliction that he is experiencing.
I will give you just one mark of the difference between a man or woman who is content in a natural way and one who is content in a spiritual way: Those who are content in a natural way when outward afflictions befall them are just as content when they commit sin against God. When they have outward crosses or when God is dishonored, it is all one to them whether they themselves are crossed or whether God is crossed. But a gracious heart that is contented with its own affliction will rise up strongly when God is dishonored.
Normally, at the beginning of the year we ask ourselves, How can I get rid of the old and begin anew? What can I do differently in my life? Where do I need to go from here?
In the Bible we see a lot of places that talk about the old and new. We see that after salvation we are new creations in Christ and we are to put off the old man and put on the new man. We know that we need to put away the “leaven” out of our lives and follow the Lord. The old and new can be represented by either “old” is bad and “new” is good. Although sometimes “old” could be better than “new” if it’s in the way of wisdom.
As we go along further in our walk with the Lord things grow harder. These are times that we are to keep something that is old instead of replacing it with new. The things the Lord places in our path is always necessary and good but isn’t always new. Even in 2nd John, the writer tells us that it’s not as though a new commandment had been written but it was from the beginning.
When we fail a test placed before us then the Lord brings that situation back into our lives, not necessarily in the exact same way but close enough to the original situation that we almost have to say, “This seems to be a deja vu type situation. I already went through that so why am I going through it again?” Going through the same type situation doesn’t always mean that it’s about the same test, either, even though it could be.
Our hearts tend to grow cold and distant towards the Lord when things go our way. We tend to want our will to be done not the Lord’s will. This, of course, isn’t unusual as it’s part of human nature. Doing our will instead of God’s will should, though, be unusual for a child of God. We each have sinful ways in our hearts and lives that have to be changed and conformed to the image of Christ. We are not exempt from both general suffering and discipline given us from the Lord when we follow our will.
However, going back to the old and new. The Lord guides our hearts in what we’ve learned in the past and builds on those areas at the present and future. Each thing we’ve learned is a grace the Lord has worked in and through us within each situation. We can either grow to be more like the Lord or stay stagnant, which eventually causes us to lose ground. This means the trial we go through will be even more difficult and we will need to work even harder on those areas we’ve lost.
On a more personal level, I find even in my own heart that the further I go in my walk with the Lord, the more dependent I need to be on the Lord. The example was made of a man being on an airplane about to go down. He was given a parachute and the other passengers, who didn’t have one, made fun of him. They tried every way they could to get him to take it off but it only caused him to cling tighter to the parachute knowing the plane was going down and that was the only way he would be saved. Friend, whoever you may be, if you are a true believer cling tight to the Lord through all your trials. Yes, this is a poor illustration but the idea is still the same. Do not let the things of this world allure you away from the Lord. Remember this “airplane” is going down and we should be more like the Lord today than yesterday and tomorrow more than today.
The question was asked, Where do I need to go from here? The answer is simple. Depend on the Lord, wait for Him to guide your path, follow His will no matter who deserts you, makes fun of you, persecutes you, or even tries to wheedle you into leaving the “parachute” behind, so to speak. No, we can’t leave the Lord as He has adopted His children into His family, but we can sure be like His disciples and deny Him or even follow the world for a time. May His grace, from everlasting to everlasting, be ever poured out into our hearts so we, His true children, will do His will always no matter what comes our way.
I’ve noticed people posting their “word for 2017″ on Facebook. There are two words that come to my mind that I feel a need to grow in: Faith and Victory.
This past year, I really struggled in those departments. It is so easy to let the cares of life bring one down and yet, when we do that, we are failing to communicate to the world that we serve a magnificent God who is greater than our burdens.
I also want to be more of an encouragement to others this year. This will require focusing on others more than myself but, with God’s help, I want to do that. There are so many hurting, lonely people in the world. I pray that I will do better at pointing others to Jesus, who is the Hope and Life that they need.
I know that I will be tested on these things. Any time God is working, the enemy of our souls is also working to discourage us and keep us from fulfilling God’s plans for our lives.
We never know what a year will bring, but we do know that, if we walk with the Lord, He will walk with us through every storm that we face.
I am blessed with friends who have stuck with me and encouraged me this year when I felt like they should have left me to wallow in my own misery. That is the sign of a true friend: one who will not be pushed away by negativity but will continue to be there to listen, pray for you, and just “be there” for you. I am so blessed to have people like that in my life.
This reminds me of how much we need the Body of Christ. Don’t take your Brothers and Sisters for granted. If you find that person who knows how to encourage you and is not afraid to challenge you when you need it, treasure them. Friends like that are hard to find and yet sometimes we don’t notice them because we are too busy with our own lives to pay attention.
May this coming year find you drawing ever closer to our Lord and Savior. May we all become more selfless and more God-full. May this be our greatest year yet!
Last night, I was thinking about my family. I have five younger siblings. As I’ve watched them grow into adulthood, it’s been interesting how different we all are. We have different music interests, movie likes, convictions, etc. And yet we also share memories, stories, private jokes. I think deep down we also have a commitment to not allow things to become so mountainous that it negatively affects our relationship. Sure, we might strongly disagree with each other but most of our disagreements are not worth losing the friendship we have.
This is how the Body of Christ should be as well. If we really understood that “we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5), maybe we would cherish each other more. If you were in an accident and lost your hand, you would no doubt try to find it and take it to the doctor to see if he could sew it back on. Yet, when a Brother or Sister cuts himself or herself off from the Body, we hardly notice. We may even think “good riddance.” I wonder if we would see more people come to know the Lord if they saw genuine love and care from God’s people.
This coming year, let’s ask God to give us greater hearts of love. Ask Him to give you His heart for those around you. I believe you would begin to look at people differently than you ever have before. God doesn’t look on a person’s outward appearance. He looks at the heart. We must learn to do that as well. As we draw near to Him, I believe He will help us to do so.