Tag Archive | obedience to Christ

My Sheep Hear MY VOICE

This is a word for people who have surrendered themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ at some point in your life, and who know the freedom for which we have been set free in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

When we do what we hear Jesus saying to us, at His word things happen. But not apart from hearing from Him. I think this is the “Jesus Modus Operandi” – if we are in Him – just as He did only what He heard from the Father. If we have been crucified in Him, raised up in him, and are seated with Him in heavenly places, then why do we not hear Him? Because we’re not actually believing what He tells us in His word about our relationship in Him! And we may not have a serious prayer life where we seek Him with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and ask for that hearing to be mightily restored.

There may also be too many “middle men” trying to interrupt that direct connection. Those of you who experience Him through the Holy Spirit know what and who I mean  when I say that. The middle men will tell us this is not possible; we have to hear from them first. And there are layers and layers of filters, so that the Word of Christ is completely distorted and therefore has no potency in our life.

Beware! Whose voice are you hearing and heeding?

Radical Mercy

Just winging this one with no preplanning…

http://www.jcryle.info/2016/01/christian-worldliness.html

First, dear reader, please click on the link above and consider what challenges this brief article by J.C. Ryle presents to you. See if it upsets your comfort zone!

What comes to mind first of all?  What’s your definition of “worldliness”?

I’m struck by a couple of things that have emerged in my spiritual explorations recently. I’ve been pondering the nature of what the “kingdom” is scripturally, so this morning I was drawn to my very old copy of Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God and Peace Essays. Apparently it’s time to review it again. It certainly brought some new insights and ways of reviewing my own stance on things, and unearthing something that I did not perceive before as “worldliness”.

To answer the question posed above, I’d have to conclude – based also upon standard responses as to how “worldliness” is viewed – that it traditionally consists in quite a lot of moralizing along the lines of the 10 Commandments.

I’ve had to conclude that most of us would say that worldliness is something somebody else is doing that I’m not doing.

However, what if we dare to go deeper, in light of Luke 6:27-36 – that part of Jesus’ teaching often disregarded because it is too “radical”? Might worldliness look like the opposite of this?

 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

As I continued reading Tolstoy’s book, and in light of the J. C. Ryle article, combined with the teaching of Jesus on the subject of non- reaction, it became clear to me that there seems to be a great deal of difference between what Christ is really getting across here, and the worldliness of being a “reactionary” on any level.

So to answer the question, according to Jesus’ directives here, worldliness could be defined as being a reactionary living life in an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth mode.

Where am I with this? I must ask this, and then examine myself to see if I am actually in THE faith of Christ Jesus. What is to be my response? How deep and on how many levels does this need to be addressed?

It’s become so easy and so “intoxicating” to become fascinated with world events and the machinations of politics these days. All the drama can easily draw a person into its perpetual conflicts! All one has to do is look at social media to see the extent at which we’re all encouraged to join the party, if you’ll pardon the pun – no matter which party the conflict represents. It’s all conflict and reaction!

There’s plenty of criticism coming from those who do not have ears to hear what Jesus invites us to –  His kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit – as He asks us to come out of the world and be separate, and to be as radically merciful as He is merciful.

Jesus challenges Christians with a question, and it must be honestly addressed, “Why do you call Me Lord, but do not do what I say?”

Cross Purposes 20 / Pacifist, Not Pass-A-Fist

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For reflection: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?…” (Luke 6:46. See verses 47-49 also.)

 

OK, I’m going to poke the stick at the bear on this one. Lately I’ve been getting into discussions with people on the matter of nonviolence, especially Christians who vehemently defend their rights under the Constitution to keep and bear arms. Certainly you are entitled to your rights politically and legally. And I’m just as entitled to my right to trust in the Higher Power for everything in my life, including safety, and to not keep and bear arms. 

Personally, as a Christian who takes the Lord’s Word seriously, I’ve been giving this a lot of prayerful thought, and examining these matters in the light of Jesus’ teaching. 

First of all I’ve always been a pacifist (not “pass-a-fist”, if you catch my drift). I did not grow up in a household that bears a resemblance to an arsenal. This wasn’t even in our consciousness.

As the years progressed, and I experienced deeper Christian conversion, I realized that the problem with  weapons may not be the weapons themselves, but the fear and aggression in human beings which drives people into seeking out weapons and using them. The problem is a human condition called “sin”. However, what purpose do weapons have, except to kill or hurt someone or something?

Additionally it does not make a person a coward, just because he or she chooses not to be armed, as is implied by many of the gun-toters.

I also realized, in surrendering my life to the Holy Spirit, that it is Jesus Christ Who provides the solution to the human aggression problem through redemption, the plan of salvation, and the transformative work of the Holy Spirit to set us free from these fears and aggressive tendencies as we grow in grace.

This is the beauty of the Christian message and a major reason why it is so important, especially in these times, for once again we find ourselves on the brink of thermonuclear annihilation as we play yet another round of “my gun’s bigger than your gun”. For when aggression grows in the human heart, apparently so does the size and sophistication of the weapons.

The question is, when and where will it stop? “When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?” So goes the old folk song.

As Einstein said, one cannot solve problems on the same level they were created. My point here is that Jesus Christ provided that higher level of solutions in everything He taught and exemplified. As I prayed about this issue, over and over, the answer I kept being reminded about was the beginning text quoted above. In modern English, it would say something like, “How can you call Me your Lord when you do not do practice My teachings?” He really was quite blunt and to the point about the matter.

He knew that the adversary of souls is where the real weaponry must be aimed, that it is on a spiritual level – a warfare which calls for peculiar spiritual artillery where “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4). That is the root and source of all Humanity’s woes!

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”(Ephesians 6:13-18) This is what Jesus’ “army” looks like.

The opening verse for this article comes near the end of Luke’s version of the Sermon On The Mount. Jesus had spent the entire night in prayer. He calls His twelve apostles out of a large crowd of His disciples. We’re told (Luke 6:19) that many people were trying to touch Him, due to the great power emanating from Him. As He healed them all, He turns to His disciples and begins to deliver this magnificent and completely other-worldly teaching to them. This was a word for disciples!

There is a lot of “radical” instruction here (You might like to read Luke 6 for yourself at this point.) Everything He teaches is diametrically opposed to the way the world system looks at things. A few examples: bless those who curse you; if someone takes something from you don’t demand it back; love your enemies – that’s what makes you different from the world, since it’s fairly easy to love those who love you.

And Jesus basically winds it up with a provocative challenge: If you’re calling Me your Lord, why aren’t you living according to My teaching?

I see this as His challenge to Christians in our times where we need a solution above and beyond bigger weapons and the fearful, vindictive attitudes which drive their proliferation.

So instead of weapons proliferation, how about some “pro-life-eration” instead?  

Maybe it’s time to finally beat those swords into plowshares and those spears into pruning hooks. If not this generation, then who and when? Tomorrow will be too late. Why expect the next guy, and the next guy, and the next guy to implement nonviolence as a fact of Christian life and experience?

Whatever happened to “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me”? 

Yet many say, “Well, I know Jesus taught this, BUT…”

If further insights and enlightenment are desired, read the entire chapter. Ponder well.