DON’T DRIVE IN THE DITCH

One of my friends had parents who were legalistic in their thinking, it was trendy to call unwise behavior, “sin.”

The problem was that not everything they chose to label as sin was sin.

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The Road Less Traveled

The possibility of two roads demanding our choice of one is an old concept.
M. Scott Peck (1936-2005) wrote “The Road Less Traveled” using Frost’s theme for his title.
Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” contains the line “Yes, there are two paths you can go by…”
Jesus also said there are two paths from which we may choose. One is broad and leads to destruction; the other is narrow and             leads to life. (Matt. 7:13-14)
The Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scriptures written at least two centuries before Christ, describes two paths to gain emancipation.   (One is better than the other.)
Jesus also said, “I am the way…” (John 14:6)

While all Christians acknowledge that Jesus is the way, most stop at a point in time–the time they “got saved,” not realizing that   He said He was the ‘Way’–not just a point at the crossroads.
Sincere Christians then begin to walk one of two paths, neither of which is the way to complete salvation/emancipation.

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All of Grace

Like Carl, and many others, Ephesians is a favorite of mine. I could spend an inordinate amount of time in this one epistle (if inordinate were possible). Now, as we venture into Chapter 2, we begin to explore the depths of Paul’s revelation about our position and inheritance in Christ.

The first thing we see is that we were dead (v. 1). We may have thought we were alive simply because we could eat, drink and be merry. But, when we look back on our life before Christ, we realize that any merriment was contrived or forced. We had to DO things to find a moment’s joy. There was no sense of lasting joy.

Most evangelical Christians recognize this reality and that is why they proclaim the necessity of being born again. However, the terms and phrases they use put a lie to the truth that is given here and in many other places in Scripture.

We are told to “make a decision for Christ,” “to accept Christ” in order to be born again or to be saved.

While that is true insofar as it goes, the emphasis on our “personal decision” for a “personal savior” leads many to believe that it is their intelligence, their strength, their effort that placed them within the Kingdom of God.

A little leaven leavens the whole lump (Gal. 5:9), and this subtle error creeps in at the beginning and ruins the life of many a believer.

A dead person has no ability at all. There are no laws that affect the dead, for there are none that the dead can obey. Even the “law” to get saved cannot be fulfilled by a dead person. (This becomes important to understand when considering Jesus’ teachings about dying to self.) {for an excellent treatment of the practical application of dying to self, click here.}

Therefore, what are we to do?

We can’t DO anything unless God intervenes.

That is the plain teaching of scripture beginning with the first mention of being born again by Jesus to Nicodemus in John 3. Even Nicodemus wanted to know what he had to do, and Jesus said, “Can’t. If it doesn’t happen by the Spirit, it won’t happen.” (my rendition of John 3:3-6)

And that is what Paul reiterates here in chapter 2:5 “…even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved…”

Other passages for your consideration of this important truth:

John 1:13  – who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Deu 30:6  – And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

Eze 36:26  – And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Jhn 5:21  – For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.

Jhn 6:44  – No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.

Act 5:31  – God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Phl 1:29  – For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

1Pe 2:9  – But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Jhn 17:2  – since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

Rom 9:16  – So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

Jam 1:18  – Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Act 13:48  – And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

Eph 2:8-9  – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

All scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version. 

I was dead.

He made me live.

Glory to God!

 

NOTE: This is the second in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Ephesians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter two of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put the following link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.

Perfect Weakness

2 Corinthians 12:9   But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.

While many have tried to ascertain the specific nature of the Paul’s thorn in the flesh, I am grateful that God deigned to leave it unknown. That makes the verse, and Paul’s stance, much more applicable to all.

Do we not each have some sort of prickly thing that irritates us no end?

And for most, is that thing not some sort of weakness?

For me, it is my gullibility which gives me the talent of being swayed by most anything that comes along.

It usually takes me awhile to recognize something to be out of kilter. I am slow on the uptake, especially when it comes to quick-minded repartee. It is easy for people (who have such a bent) to get over on me with their strong words and powerful emotions. It is usually not until I am out of their presence that I think of a “good comeback.” It is then I can recognize the sideways path that particular thing could have led me on.

Ah! But it is to the glory of God that such occurs!

How? you ask. Aren’t you a supposed leader in the Body of Christ?

Yep. Kind of contradictory, don’t you think? Leaders are supposed to be strong and strong-willed; not given to weakness.

Well, maybe so, in the eyes of men.

But, this is the way the Lord has dealt with me. And though I have sought Him many times to restore to me the mind I had when I first began to serve Him, He has seen fit to keep me–and to use me–in this weakened state.

In this place, and from this place, it is easy to see that it is not my own strength, but the power of Christ that resides in me. (Sometimes I forget that, though. It is then I will fall flat on my face and look pretty stupid to myself and those who are with me at the time.)

I can do nothing apart from Him whom my soul loves. My weakness magnifies His strength. My weakness is shown to be absolutely nothing in the light of His glory.

Allow me to share a personal story that brought all this home to me.

I was an aide for a 9-year-old boy who had the mental capacity of a 3-year-old. His physical deformities were many, and only added to the difficulties I had in trying to teach him just the basics of living. One day, driving to work, the Lord broke my heart when He asked me, “Can you see My perfection in Joshua’s imperfection?”

Can you see His perfection in your particular weakness?

Blogged Bible Study–Nothing (John 15)

Jn 15:5
 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.       KJV

Nothing.

I can’t do a thing apart from Him.

I know the context of the verse is talking about bearing fruit. Of course, it is true that I cannot bear any kind of quality fruit if I am not in the Vine.

But, the reality that the Lord is driving home for me is that I am not capable of anything apart from Him.

Nothing.

What is excluded from “nothing?”

Nothing.

Anything I do is included in that. Everything I do is included in that. Nothing is excluded from that.

Without Him I am useless.

Aside from the fruit-bearing and the normal spiritual stuff we relate to the concept, I am being turned to look at the realities of my existence on this plane at this time.

I can’t even brush my teeth without Him.

The Lord is to be in and a part of absolutely everything that I do.

The following may be somewhat crass, but it is still a good illustration of the point:

My wife came into the room all excited one day, because she had been able to have a bowel movement. No, there had not been any problems before. Yes, she was doing well at the time. But, it occurred to her while in the midst of the business that the Lord had made her body, and He had made it to function well. For that she was giving Him the glory.

That made me realize how often I take things for granted about this life.

It is for certain that if we were to have a difficulty with that particular function of the body, we would get all excited and praise the Lord when it was restored to its proper health.

Then, why not give thanks when it is working properly–before it goes awry?!?

He is my all and in all.

Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing.

Apart from Jesus, I am nothing.

 

Note: there are others who are writing on themes contained within the 15th chapter of John’s gospel. Check it out and be blessed.

It’s Not Mine

Eph 2:8
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:    KJV

This verse stood out to me this morning in a way like never before.

The Lord is showing us through the language here that the whole thing–grace, salvation, faith–the whole kit and kaboodle is of Him.

I can’t even brag about or claim any part in the faith that I have, because it is not something that I have. It is something that I have been given.

I have been given the faith to believe. I have been given the grace to receive. I have been given the salvation from sin, from dead works, from going my own way in my own strength.

It is all of Him.

I bow myself before the Father.

Child of God

Ro 8:16
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:      KJV

How great and wonderful it is to be a child of God!!

Many, though, must rely on the various verses of scripture that ‘prove’ that we are a child of God. (1 John 5:13; John 17:3)

How much better to have the witness of the Spirit within our spirit!!

Sadly, though, we have not had the training, the teaching, the emphasis on learning the life of the spirit. We have had more training and teaching on the sense life. This comes from both the pulpit and the world–mostly from the world, because we do not hear the kind of teaching that helps us to not be of the world.

We would do ourselves a heavenly world of good if we would begin to train ourselves to walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, to listen to the Spirit. This is simple, but not easy.

In fact, being led by the Spirit is an absolute must for those who claim sonship with God:

Ro 8:14  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.     KJV

This verse reads in an emphatic sense in the Greek: Ie, “these and no others are the sons of God.”

Does that put a different light on your walk with the Lord?

Does that put a different light on ‘greasy grace?’