Saturday, December 27, 2008

Rejoicing God! Rejoicing Angels!

It is interesting what brings rejoicing to God and his angels. When we sin, which is all the time, admit to it and confess it to God to receive forgiveness is a cause of great joy in heaven. This is one of the ways that he shows his mighty power because of the perfect life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus he forgives us all our sin and looks upon us as dear holy children.

Luke 15:8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” ESV

This is a beautiful picture isn’t it. We are such treasure to Jesus that he came searching frantically for us. So much desiring to restore us in communion with him that he removed all the justly deserved penalty for our sin. And gives us the robe of his righteousness as additional gifting so we need not worry how our efforts at being holy fall short. In return we confess our sin of good deeds which is further rejoicing.

What a wonderful gift that we do not have to sit in wallow in our sin. We do not have to justify our actions by blaming others are our parents did in the garden of Eden. Rather we can go forth in joy to serve our neighbour in peace knowing that performing the tasks of our various callings is pleasing to our Father in heaven for the sake of Jesus our Lord. No more need to play one ups with other believers for we all have the righteousness of Jesus as our gift. Rather give all thanks and glory to God for the wonderful gifts he gives us.

Let us believe this good news and live in the peace that it offers.

In the name of Jesus. †

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Promise to the Devil Kept

One knows that he or she can trust another who keeps promises. God is the ultimate promise keeper. After the fall of man into sin God promises, to of all persons the devil, the coming of Jesus.

Genesis 3:14 The Lord God said to the serpent,“Because you have done this,cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field;on your belly you shall go,and dust you shall eatall the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,and between your offspring and her offspring;he shall bruise your head,and you shall bruise his heel.” ESV

It is fascinating that God would warn the devil ahead of time what would happen. This gave the devil plenty of time to fight against it and try to stop it. This shows that God’s thoughts are indeed different than ours. The last thing you do is to inform your enemy of how you intend to defeat him. In the older testament we have the record of how our adversary tries to destroy the Christ. Starting with Cain killing his brother Abel. All throughout the law, the writings and the prophets we see how antichrists were raised up to try to stomp out the lineage which would bring forth the Christ. In each circumstance God was faithful in preserving a remnant faithful to him down to our Lord’s Nativity.

We are by nature in the kingdom of the devil. For by our nature we are constantly sinning. It is who we are.

Mark 3:22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house. ESV

During the life of Jesus the devil had his antichrists to resist him. In this passage we see Jesus entering into the devil’s kingdom to plunder it. We are the goods he came to plunder and to save us from the one who wishes to see us perish eternally. We can be eternally thankful that God keeps his promises even when made to the devil.

In the name of Jesus. †

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ours Right Now!

How long do we have to labour under a load of sin? How much effort does it take to shed our guilt before God? Massive!

1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

On the cross Jesus groaned under the weight of all our sin. Some sadly do not believe this way. It seems too good to be true. Surely there is some catch. We must have something to work on. Something left undone perhaps? No! God can only accept perfect obedience which is why we receive obedience to Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. ESV

For a sinner to claim what he or she does measures up to Jesus is the height of arrogance. One can hope it is a misunderstanding in his or her mind rather than a firm belief of the heart. It is truly a horrible act of unbelief to trust in one's own work as having some merit. Much better is to trust totally in the receiving through faith of the righteousness of Jesus. This declaration of God is as real as the earth we see around us. The very same God who spoke all this into existence is doing the same to us. Taking what is Jesus’ righteousness and gifting it to us. What a wonderfully radical truth indeed.

We can rejoice when Jesus comes to us in the bread and wine of his Supper as the delivery of the forgiveness of sin. And daily return to our baptism as clothing us with Christ. Trusting in the promises associated with these gifts in spite of what little sense it makes to us.
Let us live in the peace this offers.

In the name of Jesus. Amen. †

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Good mourning to you! And me!

Matthew 5:4Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. ESV

Mourning. What do you mourn about? Have you lost a loved one? Lost a career due to the cycles of the economy? Has a friend or loved one turned on you? These are all things common to the human experience each and every day. But those things do not happen to each of us every day. Thankfully.

However, a Christian should be mourning each and everyday. Why is that? Because we sin in thought word and deed by what we do and leave undone. Each and every one of these sins nailed our Beautiful Saviour Jesus to the cross. Each of these falling short of God’s glory is proof we deserve nothing but God’s wrath both in our life and for eternity.

This mourning needs to take place so that the comfort can come. When we are deeply saddened by our sinful state and inability to free ourselves from these sins each and everyday we can return to the knowledge of our baptism. In this we receive the promise of the forgiveness of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are truly washed clean by the sacrifice of Jesus and have this physical means where to look when we have nowhere to look in us for this comfort.

1 Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ESV

Each of us can see ourselves in that list. Certainly we have not acted out on each of those sins but have in our heart. And this is proof that we do not by nature inherit the kingdom of God. But look at the comfort we have in present tense that we were washed, sanctified and justified in the name of ht Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. Totally and complete forgiveness of sin in the water that testifies on earth.

1 John 5:5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is he who came by water and blood Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. ESV

Let us believe this good news and live in the peace and comfort it offers.

In the name of Jesus. Amen †

Monday, December 8, 2008

Blessed Bankruptcy!

From time to time one will hear from a professed believer in Jesus what a wonderful job he or she does in combating sin in his or her life. Granted we are given the ability to see some temptation before we fall to it. This is a wonderful gift in we receive by having the Holy Spirit indwelling us. This fruit is goodness, the desire to be good and rejoicing in goodness and truth. As long as the recounting of this is in rejoicing only one thinks it would be an encouragement to others. However, some of the hearers of this perhaps are struggling with nagging sin and cannot, no matter how hard they try, free themselves. This is the way sin of the heart is. The law against covetousness will kill every time. In addition the law against murder and adultery when it comes to the thought life are pervasive indeed.

Matthew 5: 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ESV

No matter how the Christian’s life seems to be going it is always necessary to know that we are all bankrupt when approaching God. Even the joy we have in the goodness he grants to us can become pride and arrogance. This perhaps is not the intended outcome to appear to be putting others down but that can be the result.

The radical nature of the Gospel is that we are such beggars we needed a Jesus who lived the life of goodness which was not self centered. A Jesus who bore all our sins on the cross to pay for the deserved eternal separation from our God that our goodness deserves. And a Jesus who resurrected for our justification so we know that God will not hold our good deeds against us. Rather that we rejoice quietly in those victories that God gives us then to parade them before others so not to cause that person to stumble in faith. Keeping our eyes upon our Holy Lord Jesus will always remind us we are all beggars.

Romans 12:9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. ESV

Thanks be to God. †