18.5 Revelation – Call to Action

Call to Action

Faith in Jesus Christ and acceptance of the gift of the Holy Spirit is not a checkbox on our tally card of life.  It is not a “yeah, when I was in middle school I said that prayer so I’m covered.”  Accepting the gift of salvation is both bigger than that and smaller than that at the same time.

It is bigger because, truly accepting the fact that we deserve nothing but eternal death and damnation for our imperfection (sin), but instead Jesus adopted us, while we were sinners, into His family by fully paying the penalty for our sins, is huge.  It screams for a transformed life.  If this is true…  If this is truly the truth… It changes everything.  How can we live the same broken way we used to with this reality?  How can we continue to dive in and wallow in the filth of our prior sinful life?  How can we walk in darkness and hide?  How can we waste the hours, minutes and seconds we are given in this life pursuing things that pass instead of things that last forever?

It is smaller because, in reality, we don’t check off the box on our own anyway.  Faith itself is a gift.  We don’t have the power to raise our hand to accept the gift.  We are blind and deaf to the message of salvation.  We are a grain of sand, dust.  But through the power of the Holy Spirit, God gives us the power to accept Jesus as our Lord.  He breathes spiritual life into us, eternal life, that doesn’t start when we die, that doesn’t start when He returns and we are called out of the grave, but that starts the moment we receive the gift.

Faith is a call to action.  It requires transformation, a transformed heart, a transformed mind, transformed desire.  It is not earned, but it is also not to be ignored or devalued.  What are you being called to do is, in my opion, better worded as who are you being called to become?

My Answers:

10.
Psa: security – the ability to dine in the den of our enemies without fear of evil
Matt: rest – take up yoke and learn for Jesus is gentle and humble in heart and provides rest
1Cor: There are no new temptations – only old tricks – all of which have been defeated before
2Cor: God’s grace is sufficient – we need nothing more, suffering humbles us to His will
Heb: Jesus is the great High Priest, advocating for us, and allowing us to confidently approach God
Rev: Every tear will be wiped away, no more death, crying pain – all the old order will pass away

11.
Love, submit, rejoice, have hope, be strong, live righteously, be in the spirit, pray, turn over our pain and worries, trust, praise God in all things, be comforted, lay down worry and distress to trust in God, be bound in perfect unity with our God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)

18.4 Revelation – Awful Parents

Awful Parents

When you were a child…

Did you learn how to ride a bicycle?  Did you ever fall and skin your knees or elbows?

Did you ever play sports?  Did you get hurt, scraped up, bruised, broken bone?

Did you ever go to other places and have friends?  Did they ever say anything that hurt you or caused you worry, angst or sorrow?

If any of these things happened, you must have had horrible parents, right?  I mean, wasn’t it there job to keep you safe?  Wasn’t it their job to protect you and love you?  Wasn’t it their job to keep you from pain and hurt, either physical or emotional?

Other than some people who are either in denial or came from a very broken household, we know this is ridiculous.  Normal, loving parents want their children to be safe and secure and protected.  Parents hurt when their kids hurt.  Parents cry when their kids cry (maybe later, but all the same).  But normal loving parents also want their kids to grow and mature.  They want their kids to be strong physically and emotionally.  They want the best for their children.

To do this, they have to allow their kids to enter into calculated risks.  The parents still go first, scope things out, do all they can to limit the scope of the risk, but they don’t eliminate it.  Eliminating the risk is to live in a bubble.  Eliminating the risk is to limit growth.

God loves us enough to do the same.  Jesus came to earth and experienced absolutely every temptation and hardship ever known to man – and overcame them all.  Not so that He could prove He was perfect – He was perfect and was not subject to judgment by anyone else.  No, He did it as a gift to us.  There is no temptation that cannot be defeated, with Jesus.  There is no hurt or pain that, with Jesus, cannot be overcome.

Because of this, if we accept Jesus as our loving parent, He gives this gift to us.  He doesn’t hold us back from temptation and hardship – He doesn’t lock us into a bubble.  Instead, He goes first.  He scopes out the situation eliminating all unnecessary risks.  He stands by us.  He guides us through the difficulty so that we can grow and become more Holy and more like Him.

That is and Awesome Parent!

My Answers:

8.
Psa – failing heart but strength in God – physical strength is insufficient in comparison to God’s might
Prov – Discipline and rebuke are acts of a loving father who delights in His son
Rom5 – Suffering->perseverance->character ->hope … builds strength
Rom8 – as co-heir of Christ => sharing in suffering -> sharing in glory
Rom8 – All things (suffering included) are used by God to transform His beloved to be justified & glorified
Phil – In light of the worth of Jesus, all worldly possessions and prizes are but junk
Heb – suffering is a means to distill perfection (refinement), Jesus underwent it for eternal salvation

9.
Not to question or doubt the existence of God, but to question or doubt my thinking about who I thought He was and how I thought He should act – there have been times of question of why those who seek good suffer while those practicing evil flourish and prosper, there have been times when I was angry with God and more when I was impatient with Him, “how long, Lord…?”

18.3 Revelation – Not a Lucky Charm

Not a Lucky Charm

Our God is different than all the false idols and other things that mankind worships and puts its faith in.  One of the primary ways He is different is that we are called to follow Him, not the other way around.  I know that to most christians that statement doesn’t seem very deep, but let’s think about it in contrast for a moment.

Behavioral science and every salesmanship class tells us that people make decisions based on WII-FM:  What’s in it for me?  What do I get out of the deal?  What do I gain from the relationship?  How do I prosper?  Many people follow this same mindset into their relationship with God or a god.  Many of the world religions and all the idols we put faith in stem from this mindset.  If I do this then I will get that.  If I carry this charm.  If I bow down to this statue.  If I make this pilgrimage. If I give this donation.  If I live good enough.  If I clean my toilet (in case you think I’m joking about that last one, read this – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet_god).  It is the classic WII-FM.  They want a god, whether it be luck or prosperity or health or happiness or whatever, that will follow them.  Put a coin in the slot and out pops a reward.

But, we know WII-FM does not rule everything we do.  If it did, there would be no organ donors.  If it did, there would be no food kitchens or homeless shelters.  If it did, there would be no mothers.  Let’s face it, the fact that we survived infancy, when we did absolutely nothing to benefit our parents except give sleep deprevation, dirty diapers, gas, vomit and screaming, proves our parents decision making was not driven by WII-FM.

Neither is our relationship with God.  God does not promise to be our lucky charm.  God does not make deals with us that if we do X He will do Y.  Actually, it is the opposite.  God says follow me.  period.  Not because of what is in it for us, but because it is the only right thing to do.  Not because of what we can give to or get from God, but, because, God is our Father and He loves us like only a parent can.

To make the point painfully clear, the things Jesus promised to His followers would not have rated high on the WII-FM scale.  He promised persecution.  He promised a cross.  He promised hatred from the world.  He promised increased pain from the world.  But He also promised some things in the midst and to follow those.  He promised peace.  He promised adoption.  He promised love and comfort.  He promised a room in His Father’s house.  He promised eternity without the things sin brought into this world.

So, how do you decide about the most important relationship you will ever make in your life, your relationship with God?  Do you decide based on what you get out of the deal?  Or do you decide based on what is true and right?  Do you decide based on tempory emotion or eternal fact?  The fact that we get to have this choice at all proves that God is the God of Love – no other spiritual being would care enough about us and love us enough to give us the choice to choose or reject Him.

 

My Answers:

6.
through deliberate plan and foreknowledge to full experience the worst of humanity and, even in such, not stray from a life honoring of God and free of sin, yet, being subjected until death for the payment of the sin of all mankind.

Thanking Him in prayer and turning my life over to Him.

7.
As followers, why would we expect better circumstance than Jesus.  We are hated because the world hates Him.  Also, to truly follow Jesus is to commit to the fact that we are a soul in a body and the more important (long term) of the two is the soul.  We must be willing to forgo worldly comfort and pleasure in exchange for eternal sanctification.

18.2 Revelation – Because of Sin

Because of Sin

Why would God…?  What kind of God…?  We’ve all heard the statements made by non-believers as they judge God and His actions as an argument for why they don’t believe.

But, let’s face it.  Sin and pain and suffering were not God’s desire for the world.  His desire in creation, especially in the creation of mankind, was to invite another being to join the Trinity in love and holiness and fellowship and unity.  Things were good.  God even said those exact words as he completed the days of creation.

But for true love to occur, it cannot be forced and for it not to be forced there must be a choice.  Unfortunately, mankind chose to break the one rule in the garden and we have subsequently chosen to break every other rule and commandments ever since.  In pure love, God allows us to turn from Him and defy Him time and time again.  He allows us to follow the path of disobedience, a path that always leads to death, eternal death and eternal separation from Him.

Mercifully, God also gives us pain and sorrow and suffering.  Mercifully, because can you imagin the depravity of a world without those warning signs and hinderances to disuade mankind from fully following the path of sin?  Just as pain is a warning sign to prevent fatal injury, these things also serve as warning signs of turning from God.

But, we now live in a time when sin who so saturated creation, that pain and sorrow and suffering surround us.  It threatens to swallow our lives and draw us into darkness.  But, God is bigger than the effects of sin.  God is bigger than any pull of darkness.  God is big enough that no matter how far we try to run and hide from Him, He is only a whisper away.  God is big enough that when we see the error in trying to make ourselves the judge of God and instead recognize our own horrible sin, He does not use the same criteria we were using to judge us, but, instead, forgives us because of the saving gift of His son.

My Answers:

3.
Because of sin – all have sinned and all live in a broken world filled with the sin of man over the ages.  We are people who chose to rebel against God and have continued that pattern continuously ever since.

4.
physical suffering with medical condition and surgery.  It brought me closer to God.  It renewed my spirit and the hope and acceptance that my family showed through it was a witness to others of the peace of God.

5.
God is greater and never fails.  His purpose is to save and bring all back into unity with Him, but He honors choice.  Through any challenge and suffering He is always present and does not forget.