There is Nothing at All [Not a Thing]

“Yes, I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers,  nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39, NCV

Paul has an incredible confidence in the words of these two verses.  He is in a place where he has an exceptionally deep certitude in a profoundly deeper God.  In the history of the Crusades, men would fanatically charge into battle. Not only did they carry their sword and shield, many carried holy relics.  They believed that a special magic covered them, keeping away all harm and every evil.

But this is not how we are to understand and embrace these promises. They aren’t magical.  When soldiers put a copy of the New Testament in his breast pocket he will be quite disappointed when the bullet just whizzes right through.  He will end up dead. Honestly, there is nothing magical about our Bibles, but they are spiritual. And mixed with faith they are powerful.

The promises in Romans 8 won’t make you bulletproof.  But they are certainly trustworthy to all who believe them.  Paul declares, with no hesitation, exactly what has happened through our faith.  In the strongest sense possible he works through a catalog of things which, (in the past especially) which are all very strong and intensely powerful.

“…neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world…” 8:39

This pretty much covers everything (including IRS audits, and jury duty.)  Nothing can move me from His love.  It seems to me that this very love very aggressively penetrates everything.  Love seems to be the way He works with humankind. He loves people.

As believers who struggle deeply, we would do well to think about these two verses (vv 38-39.)  Perhaps even commit them to memory.  They have carried the faith of generations. As we trust in these we will find “no magic.”  But they are truly spirit, and they are life. These promises are wonderful, and the One who makes them is true.  Your confidence in these two verses alone will make you ‘invincible.’

“God’s way is perfect.
    All the Lord’s promises prove true.
    He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.”

Psalm 18:30, NLT

 

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He is the Master of Disaster

Peter and John Running to the Tomb

Peter is the epitome of reckless failure.  And I must admit that I love him for it.  We see him taking the plunge (Matt. 14:30) and almost drowning.  We hear that he is “Satan” (Matt. 16:22-23).  And of course the ugliest moment of all, Peter denies Jesus not once, but three times!

In baseball, at three strikes, you are out.  Completely.  But Jesus doesn’t keep score.  He doesn’t sit in the “dugout” and glare at us when we fail him.  There is not any punitive action directed at us for being a “spiritual basket case.”  We fail, but it is not a sin unto death.  It is a disaster, but never in an ultimate sense.

When we look on Peter, we discover forgiveness in an ultimate sense.  So much of his foolishness gets redeemed.  He pushes the envelope, and stretches God’s mercy to the point where we think we can hear it groan.  And creak– and yet, it holds!  We must learn and understand, for he makes provision in his thinking, to handle all of our sin.  You might say he has low expectations for us; but high confidence in his power and grace.

His is a grace that holds us.  We might flip out and commit gross sin.  But it is quite obvious from our reading of Scripture, that we will only find stability in his patient work.  He certainly forgives the failure.  Faith’s finest had to understand this point.

Peter imploded.  His choices and words have been disastrous.  He has re-defined failure, and he stretches that definition to about as big as you can make it.  When we look square at him, we find that he is nothing more than a sniveling weakling.  But!  He hasn’t experienced Pentecost yet.  It is there, at that moment, he is transformed into a veritable dynamo.  He suddenly becomes very strong (think “meek” Clark Kent becoming Superman!)

We need a trajectory of the Spirit which puts us into the place of understanding. We need to sink our roots deep into God’s mercy.  We have to come to the place where we start connecting with hope.  The place where we are energized  by his mercy.  We shouldn’t cohabit with disaster.  We don’t belong to the arena of the “failed ones.”  We stumble to him and he rushes out to meet us.  What else could we say?

ybic, Bryan

Does Your Christianity Include You? [Discipleship]

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 Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23, NLT

Sometime I feel like things should be different. When I made the decision to follow Christ I operated on the assumption that things would just change. I had a lot of problems but also now had a remarkable savior.

And I still do. Fundamentally things became new. My sins were forgiven and I knew that Jesus Christ died for me.

However I failed to realize that I would sin daily. I guess I thought otherwise. As a matter of fact I became even more aware of my depravity than ever. My sins are of omission and commission and they are many. The Holy Spirit’s convicting ministry worked inside my heart.

Does your Christianity include you?

Too often I think we expect holiness to be instantaneous. We wanted a complete eradication of the bad and a dramatic new change in the good. And to a certain extent that has happened.

I now believe that our walk of disciple is more like– “two steps forward, and one step back.” Sometimes its even “one step forward and two steps back.” It can be discouraging to say the very least.

The probable reality is that discipleship is not really an instant epiphany but a gradual transformation. But that doesn’t make it a lesser miracle!

As I survey my life, I discover I sinned more after I received Christ than in my life before. Perhaps the measure of discipleship isn’t the quantity of sin but the quality of our faith.

I daily come to Jesus with my sin. I have to live in repentance every day. The miracle is that I experience the daily infilling of my heart with the Holy Spirit. When I wait on Him He comes and fills me up.

I run into issues when I don’t:

  • confess my sin
  • refuse to change
  • don’t wait on God for help
  • live out the promises in God’s Word

As a believer in Jesus I will be transformed by Him. I don’t want to pretend that I need Him daily. I am slowly being changed by the Gospel, I may struggle but He holds my heart.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23, NASB

ybic, Bryan

 

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Misjudging Jesus

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“The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?”

Mark 6:2

Amazement was typically the response Jesus had on the people who crossed His path.  They had apparently evaluated Him, and His words, His wonders and still could not figure Him out.  They knew of His youth, saw Him and knew Him to be the son of a local carpenter.  There was certainly nothing there to consider or suggest anything more.  It was like being the son of the neighborhood mechanic.

He quickly pursues an effort to teach the Word of God, and that becomes Jesus’ platform to announce the Kingdom.  It is a small beginning, but suddenly the supernatural shows up. People are getting healed.  Amazement obviously follows. Questions get asked, and amazement starts to turn to worship for some.  And others, well there is almost always a point were they arrive at in their thinking, but sadly they can advance no further.  They will even ask those critical questions; where did this come from?  What is causing these miracles to happen, and why is His teaching which is so profound?

Today, we are still trying to figure Him out.  So few of us reach through far enough to touch Him.  There is a revelation that must happen before we can really see and understand.  It is one thing to be amazed, and quite the other to be transformed.

Please do not misjudge Jesus.  Do not evaluate Him and pass your verdict on Him, making quick and irrevocable decisions that haven’t really been thought through.  Keep asking yourself, “Who is Jesus?” And then listen very closely to the truth that awaits you.

ybic, Bryan

 

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