This is an excellent post by Tanya Nemley.
God Speaks I Listen
Matthew 18:22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.
Matthew 26:67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him
Matthew 27:30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.
Mark 14:65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.
Immanuel עִמָּנוּאֵל means “God with us”.
So let me get this straight…God Himself came down to the earth that He created and fixed things so we could straighten out our relationship with Him so that through Jesus Christ we could be holy and clean enough to be presented to God and live with Him forever in heaven? Yes!!!
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Dear Father, all too often my relationship with you reverts to more religion than relationship. Praying, reading Your Word, Bible study, keeping rules, fasting, and quiet time with You are all good things. However, their value in getting closer to You diminishes if I do them as just routine, something more to check off my list of to-do’s.
One lure that draws me toward the religion trap is the foolish idea that I need do all those things so I can earn Your love, favor, attention, and approval. But of course these things (love, etc.) are gifts of Your grace, not things I earn. You already love me to the max. Jesus showed that when He suffered and died so I could be forgiven and reconciled to You. You are my Father, and I am Your child (John 1:12). Your Word overflows with declarations of Your favor for and attention to those who belong to You. Besides these, You’ve given us Your Holy Spirit so we have power and resources to live purposeful lives that please You.
I want to keep doing those good things, but let me do them because I love You and because they draw me closer to You. May I throw out any hint of earning anything. Thank You for reminding me of the wonderful truth that You desire relationship rather than religion. Amen.
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:8 New Living Translation)
The other morning as I walked along, one of those old “if-only” thoughts popped into my mind. I used to torment myself with those a lot. I’d whine, “If only I had gone God’s way instead of mine, then I wouldn’t have hurt so many people, and I would be enjoying ‘X’ benefit that I don’t enjoy now.” Possibly true, but I can’t change what I’ve done, and there’s no longer room in my life for “if-only.”
That kind of regret focuses on me, not on Jesus. It brings no honor to God. In fact, it hints that I have hindered His power to forgive and heal. It hisses that God is somehow limited by my failure. How ugly! I’m going to my thought closet right now to yank out every one of those if-only garments that the Holy Spirit will show me. That will make room for more praise and thanksgiving and additional attractive spiritual clothing (like humility and patience).
Hebrews 12:2a “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith….”
2 Corinthians 5:15 “And [Jesus] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for [Him] who died for them and was raised again.”
Ephesians 4:17, 22-24 “…[You] must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. …You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
(All Scripture quotes NIV)
At times I have approached the Word of God—whether reading, hearing, or studying it—feeling fearful. I feared I could never do enough or that maybe I couldn’t please God or that I would find that I was a hopeless failure. That kind of thinking interfered with the benefit or growth I might have had.
But fear lies. The truth is that Jesus took care of my failures at the cross. Another truth: I could never be good enough to earn God’s love, but God loves me anyway. And another: I’ve received God’s gracious gift of salvation and have become His child. Furthermore, God has given me His Holy Spirit. He is a spirit of power, love and a sound mind (1 Tim. 1:7).
Because of these truths, I can look at Scripture in the faith that says God loves me and wants to show me His ways which are life-giving. When I use that filter—the faith filter—in my reading, hearing, and studying of God’s Word, I can learn to really live.
I said, Father, I cannot come to You in my nakedness. Yet I have nothing fit to wear to enter Your presence. Any efforts to be good enough to come to You simply fall apart because they are just human.
My Father said, “Here, take the priceless robe that belongs to my Son–His glorious righteousness–and be clothed so you can come and talk with me.
I responded, Thank You! I can’t thank You enough! Thank You for enabling me to come speak with You. Amen.
“But we are all like an unclean thing. And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like, the wind, have taken us away.”
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness….” –Isaiah 61:10
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” –2 Corinthians 5:21
(All Scriptures are New King James Version)
I’ve appreciated Pastor Tom Hilpert’s sermons on the Book of Revelation. Three I especially liked were #17 “War, Famine, Disease and Death: In All Things God Is In Control which I reblogged earlier today; #20 The Joy That Awaits at https://clearbible.blog/2018/02/27/the-joy-that-awaits/ ; and #21 The End of Grace at https://clearbible.blog/2018/03/13/revelation-21-the-end-of-grace/
I hope you’ll check them out.
Here is a good sermon by Pastor Tom. God is indeed in control. He will accomplish His purposes, and those purposes are good and just and right–perfectly.
You need not fear the terror of night, or the arrows of war, or the plagues. God is in control of history. He is using the sinful and horrible works of humankind to bring about his purposes. In the simplest possible terms, God is putting things right. Even the sorts of things that make us think God is not paying attention are, in fact, being used to prepare the world for the end of the old, broken, sinful order and the beginning of the new, joyful, perfect order.
To listen to the sermon, click the play button:
To download, right click on the link (or do whatever you do on a Mac) and save it to your computer:
Download Revelation Part 17
Revelation #17. Revelation 6:3-17
I want to clarify a few things. My best guess about the seven seals (or, rather, the first six) is that they do not…
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