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November 3, 2003

Unstuck

Hebrews 6:19-20
This (hope) we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the (Presence) behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Personal note: Hebrews is still a difficult book for me to get arms all the way around (so is Ezekiel, which is my OT reading right now). If I go slow enough, I can begin to digest it in smal pieces. That's is my process here - digestion.

To begin, hope is the result of our faith in the work of Christ. It is the guarantee of God's promise which has been given to us. Hope is also the anchor point for our lives, which is the point of these verses.

In his book Post-Modern Pilgrims, Leonard Sweet shares the story of a large ship that is stuck in a bay. The only way to get unstuck is for the crew to load up the ship's anchor into the dinghy and row out ahead of the ship. They would drop the anchor and then the ship would wench itself forward.

We have cast our soul's anchor not behind or below, but ahead into the Holy of Holies - the place of God's presence and glory. It's not just so that we don't "drift" or become swpt away, but so that we can also "unstick" ourselves and pull forward into His presence and our purpose. Hope awlays seems to draw us ahead - out and up. Faith calls us to cast our anchor beyond where we can see. But it is always into the place where we have been preceeded by Jesus.

Lord, give me the courage not to drop anchor for security's sake. Let me cast it forward, so that I am drawn to You and into Your presence.

November 25, 2003

Sin Stress

1 Peter 2:11
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,

On a label attached to the front of my computer monitor is Romans 13:14 - Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill it's lust. It's there as an accountability reminder. So much stuff floats around the net and I know that I am very susceptible to digging through following some of the garbage that is out there. The issue of the how the flesh still has influence on the life of the believer and how it's lusts can override the spirit though disobedience is a difficult one. Ultimately, I know that I am redeemed, and that "Sin" has no authority over me. God's grace and forgiveness covers my "sins." Yet there remains a residue from my failures that is difficult to deal with - the emotional impact of guilt.

This verse helped me get a hold on something today. That although the state of my spirit is not changed due to a particular "sin" (I'm still redeemed, forgiven when I repent, restored in my relationship with the Father, etc.), my soul remains troubled. Disappointment, is compounded by my new hunger to indulge my flesh. I feel guilty, unfulfilled, yet pulled towards sin with more force.

An answer for this dilemma resides in understanding that the battle with my flesh has to do with my wholeness, specifically my emotional well being. Starving my flesh has as much to do with living the "more abundant" life that Jesus promised (John 10:10) as does my walk of faith. It is critical to win this war so I don't sacrifice the peace and joy that is the Kingdom of God. As a "sojourner" it is critical to free myself of the baggage I carry to pursue Him completely (Hebrews 12:1).

Lord, I commit to winning the war against my flesh. To be free of the self-induced condemnation that results from my failures by fighting the good fight of faith against the self-indulgent desires of my flesh. So then to walk in love and joy and peace.

February 19, 2008

Those who believe

Mark 16:15-18 (NKJV)
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

This section of scripture, part of the "longer ending" of Mark, is not included in the earliest manuscripts. Yet the book of Acts shows the apostles doing these things: casting out demons, speaking in tongues, healing, even "snake-handling" (Paul on the island of Malta). This could explain why it was included, even if it was an afterthought.

I believe in healing, tongues, and deliverance. I wonder why these demonstrations of God's power are not more natural and numerous in the church today? We have no problem believing that the presentation of the Gospel transforms lives. It's just that the demonstrations of God's power to transform lives is harder. We're comfortable with the process of sanctification. Less so with the moments of regeneration.

I know that Biblical, prophetic teaching/preaching produces change in people's lives. But in my opinion, it's not enough (at least as the exclusive process by which transformation takes place). Following Jesus must be more than a way to better our lives; it must transform them. That's what I believe.

November 3, 2010

The One Similarity

Acts 11:15-17 (NKJV)
15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”

OBSERVATION
Peter is describing the events that took place at Cornelius’ house, probably the most significant gentile convert to “the way.” After Pentecost, this is probably the most important event in the expansion of Christianity. Recognizing it’s significance, it is important to keep in mind everything that Luke describes that took place in Chapter 10, and what the apostles chose as the determining factors to evaluate one’s conversion:

Acts 10:44-46 (NKJV) 44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God…

APPLICATION
It is interesting that those “of the circumsion who believed” (that Jesus was the Messiah, and that he had sent the Holy Spirit to indwell the life of the believer ) only had one evidence to evaluate whether the “uncircumsicised” were the same as them in belief and experience – that is “they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.”

Still today the issue of tongues is misunderstood and divisive in the church. Yet it was the initial factor that united early Jew and Gentile believers as followers of Christ. It was not ritual. It was not doctrine. The thing that united men and women, Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor and identified them as believers is something that is described as “heavenly language.” When one is immersed into the life of the Spirit, it would naturally produce something that is “super-natural” – beyond our previous experience, but fully organic and natural.

The early church saw this as a natural (although not exclusive) part of a new “spiritual” life. I don’t know why today we rarely acknowledge the significance of tongues, and are even resistant to it? I love what Peter said in 11:17, “who was I that I could withstand God?” I wish that more of us would come to this realization..

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to JustJeff | Life Journal in the Spirit Living category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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