Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Christ's Righteousness

I am reading the book "His Robe or Mine" by Frank Phillips. The book explains how salvation works out in the life of the Christian. While the ideas are not new their presentation is powerful. The author shares a quote from the book "Thoughts on the Mount of Blessing" that I would like to share here. Let me set up the quote. The author of the passage, Ellen White is describing Jesus' trial with all the physical and emotional abuse that he endured. She says:

"'The Father's presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. He has no need to resist evil, for Christ is his defense. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord's permission, and "all things" that are permitted "work together for good to them that love God.'" Romans 8:28.

These words are powerful. It is difficult to imagine how Jesus was able to take comfort in the strikes and blows he received, being spat upon, being ridiculed and mocked and being treated as we deserve. Yet he took comfort in the fact that his father was permitting these things to happen.

I believe the application of these words to our lives offers the greatest opportunity for insight. In Jesus' story we can see that these acts were part of the sacrifice that Jesus offered to the world. Yet when we look at our own misfortune, poor relationships, financial trouble, daily uncertainty, and illness or death, we label these as unnecessary for our development. We say with our false wisdom that these things are the results of sin: others' sin, my sin. We think to ourselves if I made better choices or surrounded myself with Godly people these things would be minimized.

While there is truth to this I believe in thinking this way we miss the greater truth. God permits our trials for our blessing. No God is not the originator of death and evil, but He in His wisdom acts as sieve through which the sands of destruction are poured for our purification. This is why James can say "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4

Amen, Amen, Amen.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Living in the Light

So much of what goes on in our culture involves darkness. People seem to associate darker movies, shows, books and ideas as essentially more real than their lighter counterparts. Whatever happened to the days when people wanted to live in the light. The bible says "the people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them"(Isaiah 9:2).

Ancient Israel lived in the shadow of their decisions, but when Jesus came into the world he was the light of the world. He is and always was the light of the world. Many of us think that light comes from the sun or from some other celestial body. However these lights can only illuminate the outside world. The world within remains in darkness apart from Christ. Jesus says "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."

With Halloween approaching many people will celebrate the darkness in this world when they celebrate a holiday that corresponds with Samhain the Celtic holiday of the harvest. In ancient Celtic culture Samhain marked the beginning of what many saw as the start of the dark part of the year, a time when the world between the living and the dead merged and spirits walked the earth.

As we approach All Hallows Eve perhaps we should think about how Christ came into this world so that world of the dead would melt away as the light of life illuminates the hearts and minds of his people.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Waiting on the Lord

Waiting on the Lord is not a passive process. In Isaiah 40:31 it says that if we wait on the Lord He will give us wings like eagles. For many people this means that they must stop and sit down on the stoop of their life as a child does that is waiting for his father to come home after work. However this is not the implication of the biblical writer. The word in Isaiah in Hebrew is "qavah." This word carries the connotation of expectant and eager anticipation of an event. Little children and adults I might add look forward to the holidays. The holidays in the United States start with Thanksgiving and end with New Years. Anyone who actually looks forward to these holidays will make some preparation for the these anticipated events. A family might make travel arrangements, save up money, or prepare festive decorations as the time approaches.

In any case there are visible signs of their anticipation. This is even more true of the Christian that surrenders their life and plans to the Lord and prepares their lives in accordance with the will of God for His providence and His soon return.