“The Reason Sinners Live”

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I’ve been reading the book, “Spurgeon Gold: Pure. Refined.”, compiled by Ray Comfort. To appreciate the noteworthiness of this statement you must understand that there are not too many books beside the Bible that I have begun to read and have delighted to keep reading. And if you don’t believe me, just ask my parents -bless their hearts- who homeschooled me for nearly a decade! Anyway, the reason for mentioning this great read is that I would like to share with you a snippet from the passage, “The Reason Sinners Live”:

 “Remember that by a glance, we may commit adultery; by a thought, we may be guilty of murder; by a desire, we may steal. Sin is any want of conformity to perfect holiness, and that want of conformity is justly chargeable upon ever one of us…Instead of destroying offending [or sinning] man from off the face of the earth, the Lord comes near to us in loving condescension, and pleads with us by His Spirit, saying, ‘You have sinned, but My Son has died. In Him, I am prepared to deal with you in a way of pure mercy and unmingled grace’…Apart from the blood of atonement, you would now be past hope, shut up forever in the place of doom. But see how the Great Father bears with you! He stands prepared to hear your prayer, to accept your confession of sin, to honor your faith, and to save you from your sin through the sacrifice of His Dear Son.”

You may want to reread that. Astounding, right?!? We are undeniably sinners but not hopeless sinners BECAUSE Jesus Christ is undeniably Salvation!

Last week’s post, “What Kind Of People?”, largely emphasized our responsibilities to live in perfect holiness- distinct from the world and consecrated unto God. And if you are like me, you have come to learn that attempting to do so strictly and solitarily in and of ourselves is just not possible. Reiterating Charles H. Spurgeon, remember that perfect holiness may be compromised by a glance, a thought, or even a desire! Don’t get me wrong, the descriptions of holy living very much remain responsibilities for us, yet it is ONLY through Jesus Christ that such a life of holiness is possible…

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, though whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:1-2, NIV84).

“And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven” (Colossians 1:21-23, NASB95).

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His Glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24-25, NASB95).

 -Victoria

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What Kind Of People?

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people, belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9, NIV84)

This is a verse that is quite familiar to most churchgoers.  It is found in the second chapter of Peter’s first letter “to God’s elect, strangers in the world” (1 Peter 1:1, NIV84).  First Peter 1:15-16 explains that we are addressed as “God’s elect, strangers in the world” because “He Who called [us] is Holy, so [we are to] be holy in all [we] do” (NIV84).  In essence we are to be the definition of holy: distinct from the world and consecrated unto God.

We aren’t left hanging there.  We are told exactly what such holy living is…

– living in reverent fear;

– having faith and hope in God;

– obeying the truth;

– being rid of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind;

– longing for the pure, unadulterated Word of God; and

– coming to Him, the Living Stone and being built like living stones into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13-2:5).

Hmmm, there’s that term “priesthood” again.

Does that mean that we need to walk around in flowing robes with way-too-tall-to-keep-our-balance-hats atop of our heads?  We’d surely stand out if that’s what it does mean!

It pertains to a role or more expressively a character, not necessarily a garb.  And this character is described in Malachi 2:1-9 as well.  As a priesthood, we are to listen and set our hearts to honor the Lord God Almighty, revering God and standing in awe of His Name (vv. 1-2, 5) – living in reverent fear and obeying the truth.  True instruction must be in our mouths and nothing false is to be found on our lips (v. 6a) – being rid of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander.  We are to walk with God in peace and uprightness, turning many from sin and preserving knowledge (vv. 6b-8) – preaching the pure, unadulterated Word of God in what we say AND what we do.

So as we approach the beginning of another year may I pose a question for us: What kind of people are we to be?  Seems like a pretty heavy New Year’s resolution to me.

Victoria

The Hopes of all the Years…

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Last week we took a look at the phrase penned by Phillip Brooks in 1868 “The Hopes and fears of all the years” and focused on the fears that may have existed as part of the Christmas Narrative.  This week, we would like to take a look at the HOPE referred to in the song, “O Little Town of Bethlehem“.   The HOPE of course, was the promised Messiah.

  • Did you know that before the birth of the Messiah there was “400 years of silence”?
  • Did you know that the first coming of the Messiah was foretold in at least 300 Old Testament Prophecies?
  • Did you know that all of those prophecies made hundreds of years before the birth of the Messiah were all fulfilled down to every detail in the person of Jesus Christ?

George Heron, a French mathematician, calculated that the odds of one man fulfilling only 40 of those prophecies are 1 in 10 to the power of 157. THAT IS A 1 FOLLOWED BY 157 ZEROS!  Another mathematician, Dr. Peter S. Ruckman, claims the odds of fulfilling only 60 of the prophecies in one person are one out of ten to the 895th power. THAT IS A 1 FOLLOWED BY 895 ZEROS!

Let’s take a look at just a few of these prophecies and their fulfillment…

  • Genesis 12:3 tells us that Messiah would come from the lineage of Abraham.  Mathew 1:1 reminds us that Jesus came from the lineage of Abraham.
  • Psalm 89:29 tells us that Messiah would come from the lineage of David.  Luke 3:23-31 reminds us that Jesus came from the lineage of David.
  • Jeremiah 31:22 and Isaiah 7:14 prophecy that Jesus would be born of a virgin.   Matthew 1:18-20 and Luke 1:34-35 confirm that Jesus was in fact born of a virgin.
  • The Old Testament prophet Micah tells us that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).    Luke 2:4-7 tells us that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.  Incidentally, this prophecy detailing the fact that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem Ephrata was most likely the inspiration behind the song “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
  • Isaiah 7:14 tells us that HIS name would be called Immanuel.   In Matthew 1:21-23, Jesus is called IMMANUEL!
  • Malachi 4:5 tells us that the Messiah’s coming would be announced by a man coming in the Spirit of Elijah.  Matthew 3:1-2 tells us that John the Baptist came in the Spirit of Elijah.
  • The next verse, Malachi 4:6 tells us that the Messiah’s announcer would turn many hearts to God.   This was fulfilled in Luke 1:16-17 and Mark 1:3-5.

The prophecies get even more specific from there talking about specific miracles that Jesus would do, the fact that he would calm the stormy sea (Psalm 107:28-29 / Fulfilled Matthew 8:24-26),  the way that He would enter Jerusalem and even the way that HE would die.

Jesus IS the Messiah, the One TRUE HOPE, the Only Person in all of history who has and could fulfill hundreds upon hundreds of prophecies! 

There is one more fact that makes this even more exciting.  There are over 500 prophecies which detail Jesus’ second coming!   If HE fulfilled every prophecy related to HIS first coming, you and I can be sure that HE will fulfill those second coming prophecies as well!

Rejoice: Jesus IS our TRUE HOPE and HE IS coming back soon!

~Stephen

The Hopes and Fears of All the Years…

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In 1868 Phillip Brooks penned the lyrics, “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight”.  Of all the years that I have been singing “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, these lyrics leapt off the score this year like never before.  I wonder what might have been on Brooks’ mind as he penned these lyrics? 

Was it Mary- who was expecting a child, and not just any child but the Son of God, when she was a child herself AND in what seemed to be a fearful predicament for which women were disgraced (Lk. 1:26-35; Mt. 1:18-19)?

Was it Joseph- to whom Mary was pledge to be married and who feared what to do and what might be done to Mary (Mt. 1:18-20)?

Was it King Herod- who was troubled with fear at the news of not just the appearance of any other king but the Rightful Messiah King (Mt. 2:1-7, 12)?

Maybe it was the people- who, along with Herod, were fearfully distressed- perhaps they were not prepared to be in the physical presence of their God and Savior (Mt. 2:3, 3:2; Luke 3:3-8a)?

Or possibly it was the fear of a reverent expectant awe and amazement, like of the Shepherds and those whom they told, which Brooks had in mind (Luke 2:15-17)?

And what about THE HOPES OF ALL THE YEARS…

Victoria

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Check back next week to read about THE HOPES OF ALL THE YEARS!

GIVER of Life

Your basic biological definition of life would be something along the lines of: matter which exhibits certain qualities of life.  Such a definition would usually have connotations of life being a “phenomenon” with “questionable explanation”.  Have you ever questioned life?  It’s likely that you have, as it seems that nearly every person has or does question life.  And concerning this, here’s a question I’ve considered…

What if our seemingly innate necessity for such questioning of life is not by happenstance but is rather intelligently and meaningfully on purpose for a purpose?

Consider the kinds of questions we have a tendency to ask about life- What is it?  How is it?  Why is it?  And from where or whom has it come?  It seems that explanations of the what, how, and why questions wholly depend upon the explanation of the where or whom question.  So from where or whom has life come?

–   “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’…God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them…the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (Genesis 1:1, 26-27; 2:7, NASB).

–   “See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who…give life” (Deuteronomy 32:29).

–   “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He is pleased to give it…For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself” (John 5:21, NIV84).

Where or Whom: Life comes from God, His very being.

What: Life is a gift.

How: By the sovereignty and grace of God.

Why: Because God is pleased to give life.

Our necessity for such questioning of life is intelligently and meaningfully on purpose for a purpose.  It gets us to think about and attend to the Giver of Life.  The question then becomes, “Will we acknowledge God as the Giver of Life?

Victoria