Posts Tagged ‘sin’

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Stop, Look and Listen

August 22, 2015

Exodus 3

  1. Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.  So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 

In Exodus 3:1-2 Moses was doing what he always did. He was doing his own thing, minding his own business, just moving along in his life. He’d been living in Midian, had a wife and family and had been there for about 40 years.

So, here he was on the far side of the desert at Mount Horeb. He led his sheep up the mountain.

There was a flame of fire that caught his notice because the bush that was “burning” wasn’t burning! He noticed the fire, but not the Angel of the Lord. The flame drew him to the Angel of the Lord.

At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell as tongues of fire.

(Acts 2:3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.)

Most Bible scholars agree that “The angel of the Lord” always refers to a visitation of the pre-incarnate Jesus.  So, the Holy Spirit drew Moses out of his normal, everyday life and introduced him to Jesus.

            When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” Moses answered, “Here I am.”

 When Jesus (The Lord) saw that Moses noticed and came to look, God the Father called to Moses by name. Jesus told us that no one comes to the Father except by Him/Jesus and that no one comes unless the Father draws him. Jesus tells us that He, Jesus, calls us by name.

(John 14:6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

John 6:44  No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.)

Moses couldn’t even hear God until he responded to the Spirit and the Son. Once he did, he heard God call his name.

God doesn’t change. Even back in the Old Covenant times, He was preparing mankind for the New Covenant.  The trinity works in the same way.

Moses was not seeking God when the Holy Spirit (or the flame) got his attention. Moses couldn’t yield to the Lord until he saw Him in the flame, the Father couldn’t call him to his ministry until Moses went through Jesus first.

It is still the same today. We all yielded to Christ when the Holy Spirit prepared our hearts to see Him. We responded when we heard our own name, when we knew that He was calling us personally. What a wonderful God we serve!

We’ve been told that we have to decide to accept Christ in order to be saved.  Just like Moses, all we did was notice Him and He did the rest. We entered into His kingdom the moment we saw Him. Also, like Moses, we cannot miss our “burning bush” experience. God Almighty, Elohim, gets our attention Himself in whatever way will best capture us, then He completes it in us.

The next thing that happened was that God told Moses to remove his shoes because he was standing on holy ground.  He was already in the Kingdom. Again, Moses did nothing but listen.  “Holy” means “set apart for God. ” Moses was standing in a piece of heaven on earth. The “dirt” of this world (his sandals) doesn’t belong there. When we acknowledge Jesus’ call, our “shoes” are removed also and we now stand in God’s kingdom on earth. The great thing about the New Covenant is that Jesus removed our shoes for us. Moses, being Old Covenant, had to remove his own.

                        5 Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Moses, a murderer, one who ran away from God is now afraid. He is face to face with the Almighty. Even we, in the New Covenant, are aware of our sins and our unworthy condition the first time we hear our name called by God. God, however, goes on speaking to Moses without acknowledging Moses’ fear. God wasn’t interested in his shortcomings or his past, God now focuses on the future.  Just like what He did and does with us.

God laid out the whole plan. He told Moses that he would be the one to set the people free from Egypt, that they would leave there wealthy, that the land promised to Abraham was waiting for them. He tells Moses what His Name is and answers all of Moses’ questions.  The next thing Moses did was try and get out of it, but that’s another story.

The takeaway here is that God never changes.  Moses didn’t deserve grace, neither do we. Moses was a sinner, so were we. Moses was called, so are we.

We receive eternal life not because we gave our life to Christ, but because He gave His life for us.

           God So loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

        God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:19)

        In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

So, like Moses, it’s not about us, it’s about Him and His love. (With Moses, it was His love for the Jewish slaves in Egypt; with us, it’s His love for us who were slaves to the world.)  He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs  according to the hope of eternal life.      

All we need to do is say “Thank you” and spread the good news to others so they can be set free too!

 

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The “Grace” Controversy

July 28, 2014

GOD’S GRACE. Controversial?

Who’d have ever thought that God’s grace could be controversial?  Yet, it seems to be a controversial topic among preachers and teachers today.  What a strange world we live in (oh, the world has always been strange).

In Paul’s day, the religious Jewish folk said he was “blaspheming the Law of Moses and the temple” because he was not telling Gentiles (non-Jews) to become circumcised or that they had to follow the Jewish laws.  Today, there are those who say that persons who preach grace want to throw out the Old Testament….similar? [If you read the Book of Acts in the Bible, you’ll see this everywhere Paul went.]

The Old Testament was the only “Scripture” available to the first Apostles.  Paul, as a teacher and lawyer, used it to prove that Jesus was the Messiah to the Jews.  Paul proved Jesus was Messiah to the Gentiles by signs and wonders.  The Old Testament scriptures would have had no meaning to non-Jews.  Paul used whatever he could to show the non-Jews that God loved them; however, they wouldn’t be able to connect the dots using a scripture that had no relevance for them.

As Christian believers in this time, we have the wealth of the Old Testament to peruse as we see Jesus Christ throughout.  We can see God’s plan of redemption beginning in Genesis and follow it all the way through.  We can see God’s character and how patient he was to the Jewish people and how He loved them.  We see his plan to return mankind to a place where they are one with Him again.  We see how blessed we are that we have a new contract (covenant/testament) and that, as believers, we have been set free from the law of sin and death. {Romans 2:8}

When Jesus walked the planet among us, he was accused of casting out demons by Beelzebub (Satan).  [Luke 11:15]

When Jesus was here, there were no Christians.  He came to the Jews to explain to them who he was and to show them that they were not able to keep the Mosaic Law perfectly enough to ensure salvation.  He showed them how impossible it is to keep the Law so that they would know that they needed a Savior (Him).  Most of them eventually did not believe and many of them called for his crucifixion.

He had a dual message:  1) that no one can keep the Law well enough to be saved and, therefore, God sent His Messiah to save them; and 2) to prophecy about the New Covenant (or agreement, contract or Testament) and what would happen after He died, took our punishment, and rose again to a new life…ushering in that New Covenant.

I knew the grace of God when Jesus Christ became my Lord and Savior. John 3:16-18 says

16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Just believe?  Isn’t that grace?  This was God’s plan from the beginning.  No hoops to jump through, no Law to obey, just receiving His gift of mercy and grace.

So…we just believe and go on living however we feel like?  Well, we could, but there is another component…the Holy Spirit who comes and lives in us when we turn ourselves over to Jesus Christ, believing He has done it all.  The Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus in us.  Our lives begin to change as the Spirit begins changing our desires to match up with God’s desires. We cannot remain the same as we were…we are alive for the first time, we KNOW love for the first time and we respond to that love. [John 14:17; 16:5-15]

Many of those who are so uptight about grace forget the Holy Spirit’s empowerment and our new ability to respond.

When you fall in love with someone, even on an earthly level, you want to please them, you want to learn all about them, and you change your life for them.  Think about how it would be if that person’s spirit was in you helping you to understand them, showing you how to love them and, more than that, showing you that they love you more than you could even absorb.  That’s what grace is like…that’s what grace is.

             Grace is Jesus.  Grace is Love.