"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The New vs. The Old

Matthew 9 (KJV)
(16)  No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.
(17)  Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.

      Vss. 16 & 17 make the same point: Speaking of religious conventions, adding the new to the old will not make the old better, but make them both useless. The new covenant of grace cannot successfully be added to the old covenant of law.
      In John 12:24 (KJV) Jesus said,
(24)  Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

      Jesus spoke of His own death, but not only that. As God's sacrificial Lamb, Jesus was condemned to die according to the law, bearing all of the world's sin-guilt(John 1:29), that the law would be perfectly fulfilled. In Jesus, God judged the world's sin, ending the law's jurisdiction.

Romans 3:19-26 (KJV)
(19)  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
(20)  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
(21)  But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
(22)  Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
(23)  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
(24)  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
(25)  Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
(26)  To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

      Jesus established a new covenant, with a new law of far greater depth and breadth than the old law: 
John 13:34-35 (KJV)
(34)  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
(35)  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

      In view of vs. 34b, obeying Jesus' new commandment by our own will and strength is impossible. Only Jesus, or someone yielded to His Holy Spirit, could do that. Even following the Ten Commandments is impossible in our own strength. Hebrews 4:12-13 mandates not only their actions and restrictions, but the godly attitudes behind them as well. 
Hebrews 4:12-13 (KJV)
(12)  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
(13)  Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

      Apostle Paul thoroughly covered the law in relation to the new covenant of grace:
Colossians 2:8-23 (KJV)
(8)  Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
(9)  For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
(10)  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
(11)  In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
(12)  Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
(13)  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
(14)  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
(15)  And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
(16)  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
(17)  Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
(18)  Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
(19)  And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
(20)  Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
(21)  (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
(22)  Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
(23)  Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

      Just as the old garment of Matthew 9:16 and the old wineskin of Matthew 9:17 are useless when filled with the new, so the old covenant laws are useless, and even a hindrance, in the new covenant of grace.

 (If you made it this far, you probably noticed my use of the King James Version throughout. That is to accommodate our more legalistic brethren, who seem to lend more authority to the KJV than the more contemporary versions. As this study contrasts the new covenant of the spirit and love with the old covenant of the word and judgment, I thought any accommodation to the weaker brethren might help them accept the truth more easily.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Growing Pains

Some will tell you growing up will always cause you pain.
Also they will tell you loudly, with no pain, no gain.
Seems unfair that pain must come from something you can’t help.
Trouble is, the other way, you’d stay a whining whelp.

Many pains while growing up are joints and other parts,
But the pain that hurts the most is one that strikes our hearts.
Puppy love comes first in line, we’re helpless to restrain
Falling hard and loving deep, too young, we feel the pain.

Aging is supposed to fix such immaturity,
Making us quite strong and stable, like the old oak tree.
Who, I’d like to know right now, made such a stupid rule?
Falling hard and deep in love attacks the older fool.

Worst is unrequited love, the pain goes deep and sharp
To the core, emotions’ seat, no plucking of the harp.
Growing pains will never end, it seems, until we die.
Then will come the knowledge true, and wisdom with no lie.

Do we have to wait till then to learn this lesson right?
Knowledge true and wisdom high comes from the godly light.
How can we get at this Truth so altogether sure?
He is waiting for our brokenness to make us pure.

Sure of what, and who is He that we should just believe?
Jesus, sorrow bearer, He’s the one we must receive.
Take this loving Savior’s work, give Him take your growing pains.
Then you’ll know His peace most blessed, when in you He reigns.

Sure as Hell, I Don’t Belong In Heaven

I was born a loser, like all who came before me,
Took a while to find out just how bad.
Came of age, like all my peers, then the pleasures found me.
Found in them a joy I never had.
Joy on joy assailed me, wave on wave they came,
Thought my fun would never hit the end.
“Truth,” my loins oft told me, “Truth comes in the game.
Truth you find when goodness you must bend.”

Sure as hell, I don’t belong in heaven,
It’s the place that God made just for saints.
Justice says I’ll never glimpse of heaven.
Hell’s the place for me and all the ain’ts.

Life gave more than its fair share of turning,
Left and right, up and o’er the hill.
Fast track vanished, left me with its yearning.
Wants left vacant—oh yes, and the bill.

Not a hint of what was on that joy-tab,
Figured I could pay it with good works.
Never counted on a greater Truth-jab
From a two-edged sword designed for jerks.

Sure as hell, I don’t belong in heaven,
It’s the place that God made just for saints.
Justice says I’ll never glimpse of heaven.
Hell’s the place for me and all the ain’ts.

God was always some humongous white-beard,
Watching for my blunders, book in hand.
Thinking of His love for me seemed just too weird.
Pie-in-the-sky, by-and-by, strike up the band.

God’s love changes even bogus viewpoints,
He just had to break my hardened heart.
Jesus bore God’s love though Roman spear-point
First bore drink, then pierced His loving heart.

In my flesh I don’t belong in heaven, but
It’s the place that God made just for me.
Jesus says I’ll live with Him in heaven.
Hell’s the place for all who will not see.

Certainly, I’m not a great and good guy,
He well knows that my old ways die hard.
Loving God, in Christ, forgave my wrong way.
Now such awesome love I can’t ignore.

He gave all to wash away sin’s leaven,
Purifies my mind from all its harms
Now, in Christ, this new man’s bound for heaven
Where I’ll rest in Jesus’ loving arms.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Video: I Have Never Loved Someone

Shara Worden nailed pure, godly love in this live performance, self-accompanied by her ukulele. Listen, and you'll see no further comment is necessary.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Our Daily Bread response for 120706

Resting is hard work.

I'm retired, which means I should have lots of time to spend resting with my Lord. Right?

Wrong! I spend my days doing “stuff” of little eternal consequence, like tinkering with my computer, my trike, my apartment, even my writing. All of it seems important at the moment the need appears to me, but by day’s end I look back and wonder what happened. Each of those things has its place in my life, but time spent with my Lord is a need so easily back-burnered. But He understands.

Yes, He does understand, but His understanding does not exempt me from the consequences of pushing aside my relationship with Him.

Gal 6:7-8 ESV
(7)  Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
(8)  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

And what about the person working hard to earn a living wage? Obviously she will spend each moment not committed to her employment, profitably engaged in spirit-building endeavors.

If only that were true; urgent peripheral jobs, many of which are indeed important, can still crowd her Best Friend out of the picture. So, how can we “Git’er done,” without compromising our #1 priority?

Git’er done!

God frequently uses the analogy of a competition for our life in Christ. In any competition, our focus falls simultaneously on two priorities: First, our goal. And second, our process for reaching it. Hebrews 12:1-2 presents the idea of keeping our priorities straight, even in a hectic race. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses(men and women of faith throughout history), let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. And Philippians 3:14 reinforces the idea of keeping the ultimate goal in sight: I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

But one piece of this puzzle is still missing: How can you and I keep God in mind while pursuing life’s urgencies? The Psalmist raised, and answered, the same question.

Psa 119:9-12 ESV How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.  (10)  With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!  (11)  I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  (12)  Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!

Seems odd that the competitive process should figure so essentially in keeping our relationship with the Eternal One ever vital, but the world does compete with that intimate relationship, and life is a dirty competitor. We must not allow our busyness to elbow our Savior out of His position as Priority Number One.