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Monthly Archives: March 2016

Jesus Christ IS Good News!

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God Is Jealous For Me

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When Rain Falls

Net of Pearled Wonder

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God Sketched Me, So I Am Safe

I ran into this verse the other day, “”No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:44)

Yes, I have come to Christ, although many times and many days I do not feel as though I am a Christian. Other times, I feel that I am such a bad person that I don’t know how God could possibly love me, and…am I really a Christian after all? This verse tackles those kinds of doubts with complete assurance in Christ.

Starting Point: Have I come to Christ? Yes, I have; it is a fact of my personal history that at a certain time and place I received Christ into my heart. And, Christ is my witness, because he was there.

Next, the verse tells me that I could not have received Christ in my heart on that occasion unless the Father had drawn me. Therefore, knowing that at one time in my life I did go to Christ and I did receive him, I know that the Father himself has drawn me.

We think of drawing as the physical or spiritual action of pulling someone towards themself. That is what the dictionary tells us for this verse. But on this occasion, I want to think of “drawing” as the homonym definition of drawing with a pencil on paper.

Copyright Jack Neubart

Copyright Jack Neubart

God created me; therefore, he did have a plan or design. And he fashioned me according to his design. Genesis tells us that God created us in his own image. Therefore, God gave me a shape and form that functions a bit like predestination. For example, if I were a potter and I threw a clay pitcher, it would be highly unlikely that my pitcher would spend its life being used as a plate. A life of pouring water–yes, but a life of carrying people around on its back as a donkey would–no.

So God drew me–he designed me–in a certain way, so that at the right moment in my life, when he was ready to draw me in the sense of pulling me towards himself, I was ready to be pulled. The verse tells me that my coming to Christ is only because God drew me in.

Well, proceeding, if my salvation is utterly dependent upon God from start to finish, then I know that I am secure, because God is God. He takes good care of his “stuff.” I am “stuff” that belongs to God, and I know that he will neither lose me, nor break me, nor toss me on the junk heap, nor abandon or otherwise destroy me. I belong to God, and he takes the best of care of what belongs to himself. So, my salvation is safe and secure in his hands.

The rest of the verse bears this out, because Christ promises to raise me up on the last day. And we all know that  Jesus doesn’t lie.

I spoke here from my own point of view, and what I said is true for all Christians. May this verse bless and encourage you on what can at times be a difficult path. Know that you are safe and secure in the most capable hands of Father and Son.

Blessings of reassurance, joy, and peace!

 

Week 4 Life Group: Colossians Bible Study–Holiness, Grace, and Peace

Colossians 1:2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

Outline

I. God’s Holy People: What does holiness mean in this verse? (See separate post on “Holiness”)

II. Grace

A. Popcorn: What is grace? What words or short phrases come to mind when you think about God’s grace?

1. God’s undeserved goodnessWk 4 Popcorn SideBar

2.a wonderful, saving surprise against the flow

3. GRACE = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense

4. Mercy when least expected

5. The giving of “slack”

6. Hospitable

7. Tender

8. Loving

9. Forgiven

10. Debts forgiven

III. Peace

A. What Is God’s Peace?

1. God is himself the “Fountain of peace.” (Pink, 30)

a. Peace is an attribute of God. Peace describes his nature.

b. God is impassible–he himself is never perturbed and he does not suffer.

c. God is immutable–he does not change.

d. Scripture

i. with God there are no surprises (Acts 15:18 (NKJ))

ii. with God there are no disappointments (Romans 11:36)

iii. with God there are no disturbances (James 1:17)

iv. with God there is no change (James 1:17)

2. How does this attribute of God and these verses reassure us?

a. Our salvation is not based on us nor upon our behavior but upon God’s own eternal decision within himself.

b. We can’t surprise God, nor disappoint him, nor cause him to change his mind about us. Once adopted into his family–always in his family, always loved.

c. Are we then robots, completely controlled by another? No. Modern example of “predestination” (think Calvinism) coexisting with “free choice” (think Arminianism): Harry Potter and the Sorting Hat. Although the hat made the ultimate decision, it never went entirely against the wishes of the student, but took his or her desires into strong consideration. (Decision of the Hat)

3. Is God then completely mechanical, cold, and unmoving towards us? No. Church Father Cyril of Alexandria always spoke of “qualified impassibility,” or, “God suffered without suffering.” The Council of Chalcedon (Council of Chalcedon 451) adopted his thought concerning the two natures of Christ in one person, one nature divine and one human, united yet distinguishable, which remained the norm in the Christian church for one thousand years. From Scripture, we see that both Yahweh of the Old Testament and Christ in the New suffered and experienced emotion. Yet, paradoxically, God in himself, God eternal and sovereign, remains always unperturbed, always at peace as the fountain of peace.

Think of planet Earth as viewed from space. How does it appear? Completely smooth, having a level and even surface. From earth, however, steeply elevated mountains and precipitous canyons abound. Earth is also home to severe earthquakes and tremendously destructive storms. Likewise, the eternal God, in and of himself, never changes and is always at peace, at rest, within himself. Yet in his interactions with us, when he relates to us at our own level, he often responds to our storms with storms of his own. (Psalm 18) (“Our Great God” by Fernando Ortega)

God in grace, mercy, and love accommodates our frailties and finiteness by using a translator to interpret and express himself to us. This translator is divine, God himself. He is Christ, the Word, the logos, the expression and outward manifestation of God. Christ became flesh and lived among us.

As noted above, God expresses and manifests himself as Yahweh, I Am That I Am, in the Old Testament, and as Christ in the New Testament. God-in-relation-to-human-beings suffers with us and responds to our repentance, prayers, and petitions. Nevertheless, in his eternality, He is always at peace. He is like a father who can fully comprehend, sympathize with, and have compassion for the suffering of his little child, without he himself in his being ever becoming “shaken to his core,” nor disturbed in any way.

The Good News of Jesus Christ, the Gospel message, is that God did indeed “come down” to us.

God in his infinite holiness, unchangeableness, and purity of peace did come down, all the way down, to Planet Earth in order to participate fully in the humanity of people, except for their sin.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. (Galatians 4:4-5)

Next Week: Two Kinds of biblical peace for humans–1) covenantal peace (think peace treaty) and subjective peace (think peace of mind)

 

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you

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A Living Polystrate Book

A most amazing thing about the Bible is how it remains unchanged and relevant through all  the ages of worldview evolution–which is how people’s thinking about the world changes with the world itself.

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The Bible sprang to life among the Ancient Near East cultures, when chaos and unpredictable gods governed people’s lives.Modern_Bible

It flourished during the centuries when sophisticated Grecian philosophies dominated the thinking of the Mediterranean world.

It survived the Dark Ages when almost no one could read it nor had a copy of it even if they could.

It’s made it through the Enlightenment and is currently a best seller even in the multicultural, post-post modern world we live in.

Unchanged, unchanging, but changing the hearts of thousands and millions over the course of time.

What other book speaks so strongly?

Rivers of Living Water

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ESV  John 7:38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said,

‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’

He Is Our Peace

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NIV Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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