Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Feeling Righteous?

I've often avoided books in the bible like Proverbs, mostly because I thought it was a list of do and don't, and I don't have a very teachable  spirit sometimes, so I though, "what's in there for me to learn, I already know everything..."  Just kidding, I don't think I know everything, but I don't have a teachable spirit.
 Anyway, Jesus isn't really about a lists of do's and don't so, I guess if the Bible is about Him, there must be something else in there other that that list I suspected it was.  I got part of chapter 8 of Proverbs sent to me in an email today so I read it.  Wow, I never noticed how clearly Jesus spoke in the Old Testament, I mean I know it's all about him, but sometimes I struggle to see Him in there.  Not today.  "Chapter 8 is Jesus speaking about Himself through the writer of Proverbs as clearly as he was speaking to John or Peter or anyone else that hung around with him in person.  So cool, listen to Jesus here,

I was there when he set up the skies,
when he drew a circle in the ocean to make a place for the land.
I was there when he put the clouds in the sky
and made the deep springs flow.
I was there when he set the limits on the sea
to make it stop where he said.
I was there when he laid the foundations of the earth.
I grew up as a child by his side,
laughing and playing all the time.
I played in the world he made
and enjoyed the people he put there.

“Now, children, listen to me.
If you follow my ways,
you will be happy too.
Listen to my teaching and be wise;
don’t ignore what I say.
Whoever waits at my door
and listens for me will be blessed.
Those who find me find life,
and the Lord will reward them.
But those who do not find me put their lives in danger.
Whoever hates me loves death.” (Proverbs 8: 27-36 ERV)

So here I thought, some smart dude, probably named Solomon, wrote down some instruction about what I had to do in order to have a decent life and be ok with the Big Man.  Wrong.

Proverbs is not about what I have to do to be a righteous person and ok with God.  Proverbs is about what Jesus will do if we depend on Him, not ourselves.  Maybe that's not mind blowing to you, but it is to me.

Let me try for a minute to show you why my mind has be "Burted".  I'll just take a few random ones and show you what I mean.  Proverbs 13:6, "Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickendness overthrows the sinner".  Righteousness = Jesus, nothing we do makes us righteous, He does.  So Jesus guards the man of integrity (that just means someone who stands up for what he believes in, in this case Jesus), but wickness overthrows the sinner (that's everyone who doesn't know Jesus yet).

Proverbs 10:16, "the wages of the righteous brings them life, the income of the wicked brings them punishment"  Sounds really similar to Romans 6:23 right, "the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus."  So those who have recieved Jesus free gift are righteous because of His free gift, not because of their own trying to be righteous or right with God.  But the wicked = someone who hasn't revieved that free gift yet gets punishment = death.  You get paid with life when you receive his gift, you get paid with death when you turn it down.

I think the languages messes with us sometimes, it seems a bit harsh that someone who hasn't taken Jesus up on this free gift yet be called "wicked" but scripture says that anyone who doesn't take that free gift is against God, their sin, which we all have keeps them separated, and steals our life.  

Let's try one more just for fun.
Proverbs 14:33, "Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding,
but it makes itself known even in the midst of fools."

Break it down..., Wisdom (which comes from Jesus through the Holy Spirit) rest in the heart of a man of understanding, so if you get that Jesus is everything, and what he offers is free and you don't have to earn right standing with God so you're free, that will make itself known even around people that don't know that yet.  Is that crazy or what??  You living in the freedom of the Grace Jesus gave you, will cause others to see and know Jesus.  

So there you go, you're mind blowing reality for the day.  Jesus is the one who has done everything, He's fulfilled all the Laws and delivered on the promises and paid all the debts that sin has racked up on your behalf.  And now you're free to live in the reality that he's going to keep on keeping on so that all those things in proverbs and rest of the bible can be reality in your life.  I hope you'll let Him show you, I hope you'll let Him do his thing.

Friday, May 17, 2013

When I look at the stars I feel like myself.

Abram believed the Lord and he credited it to him as Righteousness.  Wait a minute, all he did was believe what God told him and the Lord credited that too him as righteousness.  So before he ever did any sacrifices or made any alters, or followed any commands, he just believed.  Wowzers, I wish following Jesus was like
that.  I mean this promise the Lord was giving to Abram was pretty outlandish.  Abram was like a hundred and he never had any kids of his own, but God was saying look how many stars I made, if you could count them, that's how many babies and grand-babies and grand-grand-babies I am going to make from you and ol' Sarai over there.  This was such an incredibly unbelievable thing God was saying.  As if Abram could count the stars.  As if Abram could even begin to fathom what this promise was going to mean.  He knew as little about what God had in mind as the little he knew about the stars.  Abram didn't have any picture from the Hubble floating around, as far as he knew the stars were some twinkly night lights that he might have used to tell the seasons, or help him go in the right direction in the dessert.  He probably didn't know there were billions of them.  There was know way he could have know each one was gigantic ball of gas and fire and whatever else stars are made of.  He probably had no idea how huge this promise God was making would be either; that because he believed God, God saw his righteousness and was able to give him more faith to continue believing the impossible, that his son was going to help shape the entire history of the world and how God's plans would play out.  That's a pretty huge promise.
Imagine, or maybe you don't want to, the conversations that followed the next little while.  Old man Abram says to his aged, barron wifey Sarai, "ok Sarai, I know we're old and kind of out of practice, but the Lord says we're going to have a baby, so you know what we need to do..."
"Get out of here you ol' coot, stop being so foolish..."
But at some point, she believed the Lord too I guess, along comes baby!
In The Story: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People it's written this way,

"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "so shall your offspring be."  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead - since he was about a hundred years old - and that Sarah's womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.  This is why 'it was credited to him as righteousness."(Chapter 2)

Wait, maybe following Jesus is just like this after all.  Abraham looked at the promise of God, then he looked at the impossibility of that promise happening based on the simple fact that his body and Sarah's body were beyond any ability to make a baby.  How could that not cause him to weaken his faith?  Well because he knew his faith wasn't really his faith, it was given to him by God.  He wasn't depending on himself at all.  He'd been given a situation that he couldn't do anything to make happen, except depend on God.  and God delivered, the faith to believe and the means to make it reality.
Jesus has given us an impossible promise, "Your sins are forgiven."
'Nope, not mine, not possible, I'm as good as dead...'  On my own that is.  But God's promise is that He'll make the way, He'll make the impossible happen.  As we continue to depend on Jesus for everything he will strengthen our faith as we look at his promise and chose to believe it.  God saw Abraham as righteous, not because he was a good person, or did the right things, or sacrificed the right things, he saw Him as righteous because he continued to believe, depending on the faith God was giving him, that God would take care of everything, that he would fulfill His promise.
We have to follow Jesus the same way .  Jesus will give you the faith to believe what he says, that your sin is forgiven and that you can follow him.  Even if it seems impossible.  Even if you think your struggle, your condition, your addiction, your brokenness is beyond fixing.  It is beyond you.  But just look up and start counting the stars, then go to the Hubble website and  look at what God spoke into existence, then look at your situation again.  His promises are true, and he doesn't ever go back on His word.  And when he gives you the faith to believe what he says, he counts that as your righteousness and he doesn't see your struggle, your condition, your addiction, your brokenness, your sin.
He only sees the promise he made, 'I gave My only son's life for those things, so that I could make a way for you to be whole again.  And now I'm going to make it happen, just believe me, I won't let you down'