Are you too good for God?

“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”
Phil 3:7

To faithfully follow Paul’s example we need to incorporate a habit of prayer and a manner of life that includes salvation (deliverance) from our good works, as well as our need to be saved from our bad works… that is our transgression of or lack of conformity to the Law of God (sin).

The latter speaks of indifference to God as we pursue a created consumptive god unto our Self and our ravenous Desires. The former attempts to approach God by prideful, self-sufficient merit. (“I did it My Way!) “Well, I tried anyway!” Either is devastating and falls short of demonstrative, saving Biblical faith. One pedals from God and the other pedals to God. Infinity times Eternity separates our greatest and cumulative attempts on our very best days.

    God said, “I AM THAT I AM!” And He did not say, “You Are as You Are and that’s good enough for Me!” Remember: “The redemption of a soul is costly.”

    True saving and sanctifying FAITH flees to and finds merit in Christ, and in the work and Person of Christ alone.

    “I count all things as loss for sake of knowing Christ…” 

    We actually can be “too good” for God in our own mind as we present our selves to the Savior similar to the Rich Young Ruler… “Lord, what one thing might I do to ensure heaven…?” He wanted a stacked deck in his favor by his standard, and not God’s decree revealed in the Garden.

    The answer of Jesus is still relevant and inclusive of us today, “Why do you call Me good? There is none good but God alone.

    “It is not the healthy who need a physician, it is the sick who need a physician. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”  The Friend of sinners.

    Come to Jesus. He is mighty to save.

    #ThatIsAWrap

    “The Sun is the Same in a Relative Way but You’re Older…” (Time by Pink Floyd)

    “…with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

    Time is a very small thing to Almighty God, yet not inconsequential nor is time a thing indifferent. God by His inscrutable wisdom incorporates time into His grand Eternal Purpose by the unfolding of His Eternal Decrees, which most people will unknowingly experience today, (and every day), by providence and by reflection upon History. When we see God introduce Himself to us in the Genesis Creation account, it is within the constraint time defined by evening and morning, limited to those first 7 days of the Creation Week. Subsequently, we know He walked with Man in the cool of the day until the Time of the Fall, and until sin entered the world. Death through sin interrupted Man’s Time of nearness, of intimacy with God. God our friend was acted upon by Man the insurrectionist, as He submitted Himself to the preservation of the holiness of justice in a moral universe gone awry. We know in retrospect that His Story of Redemption was actually enacted at this time of His seeking out Man in the Call of “Where are you?”

    All subsequently and surely changed. In mercy God acted, and the Way to the Tree of Life was barred until that time of Man being made fit by grace to eat of its fruit of eternal bliss, and thus live forever.

    Time Matters

    Finally, from our perspective; but perfectly from His
    “In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son born of a woman…”
    “From that time Jesus began to preach…”



    “My hour has not yet come…”

    “My hour is at hand…”
    “My time is at hand. I am to keep the Passover…”

    “But of that day and hour no one knows… but the Father…”
    Jesus

    “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.”
    Ecclesiastes 3:11
    “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”
    Matthew 25:13
    “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”
    Ephesians 5:15-16

     

    1. Rise up, O men of God!
      Have done with lesser things.
      Give heart and mind and soul and strength
      to serve the King of kings.
    2.  Rise up, O men of God!
      The kingdom tarries long.
      Bring in the day of brotherhood
      and end the night of wrong.
    3. Rise up, O men of God!
      The church for you doth wait,
      her strength unequal to her task;
      rise up, and make her great!
    4. Lift high the cross of Christ!
      Tread where his feet have trod.
      As brothers of the Son of Man,
      rise up, O men of God!

     

     

    The Rescue of Our Stupid World that Feeds Anger

    “The churning of milk produces butter…and pressing the nose brings forth blood;
    So the churning of anger produces strife.”
    Proverbs 30:33

    There is a Cause to that Particular Effect…

    This proverb is about the cessation of stupid. What did you think would happen if you kept prodding and poking at your nose? Haven’t you learned that if you pick at it long enough you will soon be rewarded with a blood bath? And here we also see by comparison the proverb states that if we feed the “anger monster” the battle moves to intensified strife. Is that helpful to any? I think not, except for the warmongers who thrive on inflicted misery.

    The point of the proverb is the logical progression and necessary outcome of a stated course of activity. Garbage in…Garbage out. But what of the exceptions?  Agitate milk and voilà! Look what happens! Milk is magically transformed to cream and butter. Cream is a precursor to “ice cream” and we all know that is one of those “very good” things God made.

    But alas, we live in an angry world. Even folks I know who ought be dancing for joy seem trained in the art of anger. Careful… it’s infectious. Abundant strife across our land is indicative of angry hearts within the breast. Men churn and agitate the flesh for ad infinitum reasons, most of no essential account, but they all produce magnified and multiple consequences.

    How can we restore order to this chaotic mess? Simply put: That solution has never changed, so there must be a rending from above. We perish if God departs… or if He allows ordinary cause-effect to reign apart from radical intervening grace. He must visit us from on high. Simplistic? Ponder the rending of the heavens again; would that ever be simplistic? I think not, but always glorious and purposeful where the Gospel is preached.

    Not all agitation is bad. One is a work of the flesh that stirs up enmity, and the other a grace and work of the Spirit that yields glory. There is hope for you, my friend. There is hope for me. There is hope for the nation. It becomes a question of who mans the churn and what we target as the end product of acceptable results. We desperately need the “Divine Agitator” to create some “butter”. If we continue to stir the cauldron, trouble will continue to brew up as surely as a pot of coffee is produced by my percolator every morning. (That’s Louisiana Community brand coffee, BTW.)

    My experience: We are hard-wired to produce enmity, strife and jealousy by default until grace comes and conquers us. There must be “Regime” change in our hearts. Jesus must come and gentle us with restraint and self-control…the fruits of righteousness. (Consider, and then count the number of toddlers you know who play together with one toy by peaceful resolution vs contention and selfishness. Then consider even believing adults and the challenges of friendship… ungodliness and self-promoting jealousy easily rule the day. #HardWired for strife… from the beginning.)

    By a gracious encounter with the One who comes to us, we are offered escape from the madness and self-destructive behavior as those who dwell in the Gerasenes. Not all those in Mark 5 were happy with the finished product. Not all will be rejoice today. There is always a pricetag. God values the individual, not the mass. Sheep crashing off a cliff hurts the bottom line in the temporal world, though we easily neglect that Eternity still rejoices over this same fact of the one clothed and in his right mind, until today. Just be aware: Many can temporarily profit from strife. Or war…

    The God of grace and mercy stirs the pot, and we are refined. As we churn the same container via our efforts of fleshly indulgences we produce a sour and useless concoction that potentially harms many. Grace teaches we are perfected through the wonder of adversity, as we yield ourselves to grace as trophies, as vessels of honor and glory, going from anger to resolution of peace and gratitude in Him. Isn’t this worship? Worship is about knowing and enjoying our great “ChurnMaster” who refines us as gold or silver cast from the smelter’s pot.

    From the beginning God has acted to bring light from darkness, order from chaos, He recreates something good from absolutely nothing to work with. He is Creator who does all things well and “very good.” He labors over us until Christ is formed in His people.

    Today, we will encounter many who live in bondage to an angry heart. (Have you taken off the blinders to see the infection of anger all about? It has many nuances and flavors, but where is the joy of a glad heart in the world today?) What a wonder that the Gospel entrusted to us is the Light of escape from normative, fallen behavior into a glorious experience as that of the rich cream that rises to the top as milk is agitated within the churn. We never know when the Spirit will show up to stir in grace to bring glorious joy in any present circumstance.  Historically, we know the harder cases often become the brightest and purist vessels. Glory floats to the top in rich fashion. When God agitates He constructs something eternal: ordinary water is remarkably turned to exquisite wine. He makes all things new. Do we live in expectation that God is, and that His purposes CANNOT fail?

    We have a saying in the OR about surgeons who keep picking at this or that, tinkering with an exposed area, needlessly prodding and poking at an vulnerable body part. If they pick long enough they are sure to stir up bleeding. So it is with picking and pressing the nose… leave it and anger alone with the expectation that God is the life and light Giver who alone can apply the perfect pressure to bring one to “Cease striving and know that He is God…”

    My point probably is, (who really knows), don’t be angry; it never achieves the righteousness of God. Yet, be angry and do not sin. Turn your anger into an agitated prayer for the King to rouse Himself and “make a thousand hearts His own.” (Cowper) There are lots of churns going on all about us at any one time. May we be light and life with the Word of Truth entrusted so that we might offer escape unto joy to fallen men we know and love. May our contribution to the fracas be grace and truth, and not another voice of agitation.

    Fear After the Fact of Forgiveness by the Sovereign Potentate

    “But there is forgiveness with Thee, That Thou mayest be feared.” (Psalm 130:4)

    Well, it works for me this way, anyway. You do as you will… or should I say, “as you can”?

    God must act in forgiveness before we can properly fear Him. Yep. It’s another one of those “but God…” scriptures similar to the Ephesians 2 Grace First Model. I mean, it’s His move isn’t it? It always has been. After all, He is a seeking, a pursuing God. On the Chess Board, God is always white. No slur there, He is light. (I digress. Back to the reservation! Oops! “Sorry,” said Pinocchio.)

    Are you confused in thinking the old hymn goes, “’Twas not that Thou didst choose me, for Lord that could not be! Thy heart would still refuse me, Hadst I not first chose Thee.” That’s the Arminian and erroneous version. #Rutrow

    Of course we know how is really goes…
    “’Twas not that I didst choose Thee,
    For Lord that could not be!
    My heart would still refuse Thee,
    Hadst Thou not first chose me!”

    If you think about it, otherwise it is the Job, (the man Job, and not employment we seek), experience of Divine revelation. “Lord, I heard about Thee with the hearing ear, but now mine eye sees Thee, and I retract and repent in dust and ashes.” #Worship. True worship contextualizes even body posture as a secondary nonverbal cue as to heart condition. 

    It is only a clear view of God that enables and insists upon a full view of His holiness so we decidedly and rightly fall and worship. Without fear. That’s the enigma. Without fear. And we serve Him in holiness. Without fear. And that is why Jesus came; access to the glory of worship without fear by fear being established. So it’s a fear of respect and awe; and we see and know glory!

    “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
    And grace my fears relieved…”
    Newton. 

    True and saving religion is a paradoxical thing that God only can explain in the mystery of Christ the crucified.
    #Paradox #Mystery

    “He made Him who knew no sin, to become sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

    #HeckofaParadox and a #Glorious one at that!

    #HeOpensTheDoor because frankly and Biblically, we are, on our best day, dead and in a casket, and there simply ain’t no caskets I have ever seen with a doorknob on the inside. And there sure ain’t nobody escaping.

    Well, that was like a walk-about in the forest. I gotta go. My tractor is calling me to go break up some soil for that spring garden. And that appeals to me greatly.  


    Now a worthy song… it actually fits. 

    https://youtu.be/zKjq30_pC2k

    Phew! What is that Putrid Smell?!?

    “…that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit…” (Eph 4:22)


    Shocking!

    If you dare revisit your old man in your former life, (BC Days), you will discover things are not improved, but more corrupt, yet strangely familiar in wooing the heart to wander. There are places prohibited to the flesh as the new man has a terribly frightening capacity to deviate. We never gravitate of natural accord toward light and truth, and the purity they bring; one might say that somewhere hidden within is always the supernatural or divine component. 

    Things never improve in the old man, nor in the old manner of life. Our hope is in the newness of life recreated in Christ Jesus alone. 

    Reformation of the old is not our need. Regeneration or a whole new beginning is! This requires a new construction upon a whole new foundation with new plans that do not include a renovation.

    It is not that we cease being who we were but that we become all the Father has called us to be.

    “And this is marvelous in His eyes…”

    Escape from a Welfare State: Stop the Theft!

    “Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need.” Ephesians 4:28

    Our failed application of, and subsequent violation of the 8th Commandment to “not steal” is rampantly resident in our current system. As a nation we reward non-work with the alternative of welfare and entitlements to those whose hands are fit for production. This has produced generations of thieves irrespective of race or color. Our neglect of the principle “If a man will not work, neither let him eat,” is devastating to that man and this nation.

    As a young man in my oilfield days I was a driller who ran a crew of men. The role to hire and fire as required was a necessary hat to wear. I eventually understood from my practical people experience a difference in work ethics. The man who was committed to wife and children consistently performed his work well; his motivation implicit to his commitments. The ne’re-do-wells were the rolling stones without roots. Welfare clients never bothered to apply except to request a signature on their form that stated no jobs were available. (This was so they might continue their unemployment benefits.) Today, we reap the consequences of stupid and willful violation of natural law that instructs us to care for one’s own, and then there is the specific revelation from God of commanded duty to work to not steal and to share with legitimate, needy neighbors. Work is an honor and privilege. Work is worship. Work is a Creation Ordinance. 

    #LikeBegetsLike and we always get more of what we subsidize, whether intended or not. Weeds grow in abundance in my garden without provocation, and only by my neglect. To remove them requires the sweat of the brow. It’s the curse, you know? Christ alone cures the curse by killing it and its effect in us, “far as the curse is found…” (Wesley)

    Spiritual truths and principles are valid in every arena. Sowing and reaping pursues us both privately and publicly; from the bedroom to the boardroom…from the sanctuary to the public square. Truth is truth, and it is never a small thing to neglect what God has said. Devastation occurs by indifference and neglect. However, repentance is a gift that God offers, (we are under orders of commanded duty to…Repent!), and the specific application of the fear of the Lord for any called people to witness “the Lord building a new house, so our labors might not be in vain.

    The King is coming and His requirement of each of us is an accounting of His entrusted stewardship. Our debt is coming due. We have taught many to bury their entrusted treasure and live off the fat of the working class who desire to simply do what God has stated. 

    Light and Luster: Avoiding and Treating Spiritual Cataracts

    “While you have the light, believe in the light, in order that you may become sons of light.”
    Jesus (John 12:36)

    Deliberate decisions, conscious choices. Faith is Purposeful. Intentional.


    Every day we are confronted with light and darkness easily lost or diminished in normative shades of gray. A slight deviation to the one side results in a shift in sensitivity to light, and we soon rationalize that the Light is not what it once was. Luster and clarity seem a few grades lower. The Treasure once found in that obscure field has inflationary considerations we failed to notice at the first… the Pearl of great price looks less radiant. How can that be?

    Apostasy is incrementalism disguised as a dusk subtly attractive in its waning hues of gray as the days advance. This is sadly, normal Christian experience for so many that could easily be avoided if we treasure and live the principle of “in Thy light we see light.” A son of light perceives the value and power of the armor of light, and deliberately chooses life by its adornment. The old comfortable garments that the Light originally exposed as inadequate can strangely find their way back into our wardrobe. Repentance in daily practice is required preventative maintainence to treat the loss of visual acuity by our spiritual cataracts that grow ever so slowly in the spiritual aging process. “Was Light ever really much brighter, or first love really much deeper and stronger?” Care and discipline in the wee hours of the light of dawn is the rising path of nearness to The Source of sustaining righteousness. Do we persist in seeking God in secret? Do we avail ourselves to Light that exposes nuances of persistent areas of life shadows?

    Deliberate and conscious must be my life purpose, my resolve to agree with the Psalmist and say, “Earnestly (early) will I seek Thee; my soul thirsts for Thee.”

    “Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119

    “You have been bought with a price. Glorify God in your body.”