Tag Archive | sanctification

Wicked Ways Or The Way Everlasting?

Psalm 139:23,24. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

There are ways and then there are ways. Then there is The Way. Some examples of the Way of Righteousness may be considered through the careful contemplation of, for example, Proverbs 12:28, Psalm 23:3, 1 Corinthians 1:30, and John 14:6. These should be explored by readers who are inwardly compelled enough to do so, and to connect the dots between them and what is shared here.

The Way of Righteousness – brought from Christ to us by the Holy Spirit – is the everlasting way of life. It is the way where there is no death, the way of our soul’s restoration. This is how it is connected to the “abundant life” which, Jesus Christ tells us, is the reason He took on human flesh and dwelt among us. This is the Way whereby He calls us from servitude to the evil one who would rob, kill, and destroy every good that our loving Heavenly Father has in mind for us.

Thus the psalmist wisely prays that God will examine him – search him, know his heart, try him, and know his thoughts. He is asking the Great Physician for an in depth spiritual examination for the detection of wicked ways. These are the hidden ways, lurking in the bushes of our interior landscape that, when undetected can lure us off the Way of Righteousness onto paths which at best are dead ends and at worst lead to eternal separation from God and to destruction. Without careful lives of “walking circumspectly” and perpetually prayerfully asking, seeking, and knocking for the Holy Spirit to ferret out these wicked ways, any disciple of Christ runs the risk of wandering off onto these paths leading to destruction.

On this Memorial Day we wonder how things have gotten to this point in this topsy turvy sin infested world, especially in our presumed “Christian” USA. We find ourselves in a world where good – according to God’s Word – is called evil by the darkness which has gained ascendency over not only the world but all too many churches. Therefore it is imperative to take a good hard look at these two little verses at the end of Psalm 139.

Many today join in the mantra “Pray for America”. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is often the go to verse for this. Certainly this is needed. However, let us remind ourselves that God’s directive includes three others in addition to prayer: to humble ourselves, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways.

Yet since the “sin within” – the wicked ways the Psalmist prays about here – is often hidden and subtle, undetectable by human sensitivity, does it not stand to reason that we will need some divine help to identify it? Only then can we confess what we could not perceive with our own senses, which the Holy Spirit reveals, so that it may be repented of, renounced, and removed by the power of the Holy Spirit? How can He show us where repentance is needed, unless we take a page out of the psalmist’s book and very honestly ask Him to show us “if there be any wicked way in me”? Psalm 19:12 – “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” There it is again!

It is puzzling, especially on these military holidays, how the majority buy into the narrative that the fallen have “died to keep us free.” Yet all the while our moral fabric is in tatters, our Constitution is largely ignored as the law of the land, and the freedoms we have taken for granted dry up and dissolve right before our very eyes! The creeping, gnawing, devouring locusts are not only at our borders, but have more than crossed them. They infest every system we supposedly rely on (such as government, education, corporations, and the like). Sadly this includes especially the churches which are supposed to be the very body of Christ on the earth, the city set on a hill! Intruder alert! Our freedoms have become an illusion, as well as the humanistic means (war and bloodshed) we have been told will “secure” them!

God has His answers, however, but are we asking for them, seeking them, knocking to be let into that place where He reveals them, as if our life depends on it? Or are we sending up the prayers of personal will worship? This goes far, far deeper than a one time “asking Jesus into your heart”, but then going your merry way, not living in fusion with the Cross nor infused with its precious work!

Where’s the outcry for the Holy Spirit to “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Might we be assuming that we have a standing with Him that we do not actually possess? Does not Scripture admonish us to “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” 2 Corinthians 13:5. (Ouch!) And this examination needs to be in the light of God’s Holy Word and the relentless searchlight of the Holy Spirit! No “blessed assumptions”, things taken for granted, about ourselves! May it never be! Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord!

God’s grace is not bestowed so we can take it for granted as a one shot deal. The process of destroying the works of the devil is ongoing, and it begins with His searchlight in the innermost being! If we are to walk the Way Everlasting, then the little “come hithers” – most often within our impure hearts and the gods of our belly – that draw us onto the ways of wickedness must be rooted out by divine intervention.

Thus Paul’s admonition in Galatians 5:1. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” It was on that cross that the Way Everlasting was opened to us, and we were set free from sin, death, and the power of the evil one.

Without this we can never be truly free, without prayerfully “working out our salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12. Nothing changes until the very core of the heart of man is daily surrendered to Christ and to His cross.

Dr. Martin Luther says concerning the practical outworking of our baptism (Small Catechism, under The Sacrament of Holy Baptism), “It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”

Let us pray to be so inspired, enlightened, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Do You Wonder As You Wander?

The “desert” has its purposes…

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Ponderable… From Slave-ation to Salvation.

Dark Messengers

Some things and/or people in our lives are not going to change…

How can I relate or respond when that happens? Some insights that may help here:

http://www.at-the-crossroad.com/430065897/4341922/posting/dark-messengers

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You are welcome to join us on our Facebook Fellowship at the Crossroad

 https://www.facebook.com/groups/1391871107491524/

Endurance!

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“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Hebrews 11:1-3

Reminders

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Have you considered that…

The answers to the current mess do not exist in humanistic philosophies and especially not in politics or protest or previous patterns?

Nor do they exist in “religiously” asking God to “bless this mess”, and then go on with the status quo – hoping that it will all disappear… somehow!

Let’s be who we are, as spiritual warriors in Christ, and take this battle onto higher ground! The adversary and accuser is spiritual, hateful toward God and man, cunning, sometimes even charming, a pathological liar and father of lies and all liars, real, and has been a contender  for and pretender to the throne of the hearts of men since the beginning. This agenda obviously has been in place for a very long time through the complicity of men.

Therefore…

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

IF my people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Let’s get down to business, Jesus Christ loving people, understanding what it actually means to be “called by My name”. Let’s stop “taking His name in vain” by “playing church” but not being His holy Body on Earth, called out and set apart for His purposes.

Prayer for the Christian is meant to be a way of life, not something everybody turns to when their back is against the wall. “In the name of Jesus” means a lot more than something tacked onto the end of a prayer almost as a sort of charm or incantation.

It is imperative that every blood ransomed, redeemed by Jesus Christ soul to be on his or her knees with the Good Book open, and perpetual prayer on his heart, mind, and lips – with spiritual ears open to discern the Still Small Voice of the Holy Spirit, answering the question, “Lord, what would You have me do? Where do I fit into this?”  Be as Jesus – “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19)

The time has come that there can be no “advice” from any other than the Almighty Himself. “Ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking…” Then when the answer comes, do it, and let no one talk you out of it.

Grace Alone!

If by our own self efforts or religious works we think we can “produce” the fruit of the Spirit, it’s essentially counterfeit fruit, a crop failure, so to speak. It may amount to, at best, no more than humanistic philanthropic effort.

This is also the “righteousness” which the Bible calls filthy rags. Works of the flesh.

Yet “… we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” 2 Cor 4:7. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us in the fulness of Christ.

Sometimes I think it takes awhile for a disciple to understand the whole idea of what Grace implies – often because Grace is not presented in its completeness in many churches, but as the way to “get saved”, that initial experience.

But then what?

Are we not the temples not made with hands in which God the Holy Spirit takes up His residence and does His work – moving on from the moment of being saved, then through sanctification, on to glorification? And it’s all by grace.

As Paul says Romans 1, “That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, then to the Greek. For the gospel reveals the righteousness of God that comes by faith from start to finish, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Seems like words at times are never enough. But it is a good idea to be able to articulate the meanings of the Faith.

“…the righteousness of God that comes by faith from start to finish…” interesting way to put it, via Berean Study Bible.

Or, as in KJV, “from faith to faith.”

The “Name” of Jesus Christ: In His Authority

We Stand in His Stead, As His Body, Administrating The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth!

This is actually what it means to be a Christian – to not only represent but to embody Christ through the Holy Spirit on earth. It is not a simplistic thing. It is a powerful calling, with a two fold intention 1) of destroying the works of the devil: “… The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil”. (1 John 3:8). And 2) “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12)

Let’s repeat that: Jesus came to destroy the works (power / authority of the devil and all its manifestations), and make us into sons of God. If we keep these two purposes in mind, a lot of puzzling things fall into place when we read and contemplate the Holy Scriptures.

Jesus prayed for a divinely empowered Church which would stand on Earth against the evil one and all his works “in His Name” – in His authority, in His stead. It does not come from us; it comes from Him. His “High Priestly Prayer” – His last word before His arrest and crucifixion, was a prayer for the bestowal of this on His people:

“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:22-24)

The Apostle Paul reveals to us that the Father raised us up and seated us in Christ Jesus in heavenly places! We are co-participants in Him through His crucifixion, resurrection, and His ascension into Heaven. We perceive ourselves in this way with the eyes of faith – as in Him in all these events of His Passion.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

This is not just so we can go on a big power trip, or have a “God complex”, but so that we are also aware that our old sin nature is dead in Him, first of all. Out with the bad and old, in with the good and new – all “in” Jesus. In Jesus’ Passion (His death, burial, resurrection, ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit), we have access to complete victory over sin, self, Satan and his system of this world.

“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”(Galatians 5:24)

We reckon it so and live in what we reckon.

In the “Great Commission” as Jesus was about to ascend, His final reminder was about His authority, and it is in this authority – in His Name – that we’re to go forth and teach all nations to observe all that He commands. Why? Because through us He is calling souls out of the dominion of darkness into His kingdom to be restored as sons of God!

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

The Role of Suffering

The foregoing understanding of Jesus’ name and authority brings meaning and purpose to life’s challenges, adversities, and suffering. This is the part that many today do not wish to acknowledge: the Lord’s disciplining of those He is transforming into sons.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) “And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ – if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:17)

“For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastises everyone He receives as a son.” Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?… (Hebrews 12:6,7)

“And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ – if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him. I consider that our present sufferings are not comparable to the glory that will be revealed IN us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the revelation of the sons of God.” (Romans 8:17-19)

God will use everything that happens in life for our good! Not just the parts that feel good. Just as gold or other precious metals cannot be purified without the refiner’s fire, so we too spiritually require a similar process spiritually. This is not popular thought in today’s “name it, frame it, and claim it” formula Christianity. To our Heavenly Father we are golden. Yet it remains that the impurities must be removed, and we must also be forged into vessels for holy purpose.

These are just a few basic thoughts on the Name of Jesus. It could be summed up thus and affirmed in this way: If Jesus says that all power (authority to reign) in heaven and on earth is given to Him, and I am in Christ Jesus as a participant in His sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension, and if I live, move, and have my being in Him, then I can speak to all things “in His Name” – on behalf of His authority over all of life.

Thus we need to remember to “Rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Thessalonians 5:17)

Take these things to heart. Ponder them often. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the wisdom in these verses and to expand your understanding of them. Our Lord never refuses wisdom to anyone who asks. It does not happen overnight, however, so persevere.

People talk about “being born again”. That is only where it starts, but so many stop there due to popular shallow teaching. One can, however, look to an Old Testament type concerning this. The process can be stated simply this way: A slave could be set free from Egypt overnight, but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of the slave. For that they were sent wandering in the wilderness, to be prepared for receiving the Promised Land.

You might get free of the devil, in other words, but it takes awhile to get the devil out of you – in a manner of speaking. This inner work of “sonship reconstruction” is done by the sovereign hand of God Himself. We only pray, surrendering our will, “Come, Lord Jesus. They will be done.” And so we show up for work. His work in us by grace.