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Enslaved -Mastered by Sin

Enslaved -Mastered by Sin

 

Slavery is perhaps the most common problem on the planet.  There has been to my knowledge no time in human history in which at least one person has not been enslaved.  (Except perhaps before the fall)  This makes slavery the longest running problem we have yet to solve.

To truly do a discussion of slavery justice we need to define our terms.  There are actually in just about every culture two types of slavery.  Its important to distinguish between these two things because many of us may be fine with and even have experienced one form of slavery.  While the other form has much worse implications.

Indentured Servitude

Indentured servitude is the most accepted form of slavery, and many of us have experienced it at some point in our lives.  The basic idea is that you are a slave in order to pay off a debt.  This has looked different in different cultures but the most relatable version would have to be what happens to middle class children!

No! you did not read that wrong.  Middle class children and teens are the largest segment of our american population that deal with this form of slavery.  You in fact probably experienced a form of it when you were young.

Take yourself back to the young headstrong child you once were and think about that time we all had when we (or more likely our sibling who pinned it on us) got into trouble.  Specifically remember when you broke something or destroyed property.  If you had a family like mine you were marched over to whoever owned said destroyed property and told that you had to pay them back for there “stupid whatever” that you broke that shouldn’t have even been there in the first place.

Now as a child or teen, again if you were like me, you didn’t have a whole lot of money.  What this led to then was the next four weekends of your life mowing grass, doing dishes, and washing clothes all for no pay until finally you have worked off your debt to old lady “what’s her name”.  That in a nutshell is indentured servitude.

Oppressive Servitude

Oppressive servitude is the type of slavery however that most often keeps us up at night.  It is an inhuman act of betrayal and violence that has been practiced for almost all of time.  It is the taking of another person or people from there life, at no fault of there own and forcing them to work in terrible conditions, until they are no longer of use.

This type of slavery has taken many forms from sexual slavery of young girls, to the enslavement of africans as cheep labor.  Each of these is despicable and causes a deep yearning in my soul to seek out and to save those who find themselves captured.

It is in this mindset of yearning that we should consider our spiritual lives and the role Christ plays in this world.

See the Bible makes clear that we enter into this world enslaved to sin. (John 8:33)  Make no mistake if you are reading this you were enslaved to sin. (Rom 6:5-7)  This means that by the very nature of slavery we are oppressed by sin and we do many things at the call of our “dark master” of which we should be ashamed.

Its at this understandable point that we start to compare ourselves to the above descriptions, and because we all think of ourselves as generally good and decent people who have never murdered, cheated, or stolen we put ourselves into the category of the oppressed servitude. In delusion we consider ourselves simply victims of chance.

How could sin have done this to us?  Dragged us out of our comfort and contentment and enslaved us!

However, look again at the descriptions that were given, and search your heart for the truth.  None of us were dragged kicking and screaming into slavery.  Sure we were born bad, but we were created for righteousness.  It is in an examination of the evidence that we are forced to admit, we are not oppressed but simply indebted to our “dark master”.

See we all committed acts that have run up our account.  We owe more than we could ever pay and because of that debt we were turned over from birth to our “dark master”.  We are then starting in a world trying to work off a debt that can never be payed only increased.

It is in this reality that we see the true beauty of God.  Who did not rescue us from random chance. Who did not rescue us from an enemy force.  We see the beauty of a God who rescued us from a debt of our own creation.  Who rescued us from our own pride and self worth and asks nothing of us in return except to trust in Him.

Make no mistake you are enslaved….but you do not have to be.

unchained

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2016 in Uncategorized, Unchained

 

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Bursting the Bubble of Wealth

“I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that i must leave it to the man who will come after me.”  -Ecc 2:18

Wealth is an amazing thing.  I was blessed to grow up in a home that while not “wealthy” certainly provided me with a life of ease.  I didn’t have to work to put food on the table, my parents didn’t take my birthday money for gas money, and I always had presents under the tree at Christmas.  I lived a blessed life.

However, there are those who had much more money than I.  Families and people who could have bought and sold all that I had twenty times over and never made a dent in there money.  This also is a blessing.  How then can Solomon find any fault or struggle in the gaining of money and wealth?

Solomon, who was one of the richest men who ever lived, says that even the accumulation of wealth is ultimately vanity and striving after the wind.  He uses these three points to show how living a life that is about money and wealth is a life empty of any reason to live.

  1.  Ultimately we don’t get to Keep It

“I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that i must leave it to the man who will come after me.” -Ecc 2:18

Solomon begins by simply recognizing the inevitability of his own demise.  Solomon knows he will die.  Sooner or later his life is going to come to an end and everything he has ever owned will pass on to his relations.  He will no longer own any of his stuff and he will have no say over how it is spent. Solomon will have worked his whole life only to give his money to those who didn’t earn it.

Ultimately that is what will happen to all of our wealth.  We can only enjoy it while we are here on this earth.  We can use it for good or evil.  We can use it all or nothing.  The only thing we can’t do is take it with us. 

2.    Ultimately we cannot Protect It

“and who knows  whether he will be wise or a fool?  Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun.” -Ecc 2:19

Solomon not only recognizes that one day he will die, but also that when he goes his idiot kids are gonna get everything.  Solomon realized there is no way to be sure that his kids spend his money well.

There is a difference that has been pointed out between being wealthy and being rich.  I can never remember which is which, but the basics are “a wealthy person made there money,  a rich person inherits it”.  Our world is filled with examples of people who ran into this problem. A hard working father/mother builds up a fortune only to see there children with no morals or work ethic tear that fortune down.

Solomon points out to us in these verses the futility of living for money.  Even if you were to get all you could hope, and are ok with passing it on when you die.  You do not get to decide what is done with it once you are gone.  Whoever gets your stuff gets to decide how to use your money.

3.    Ultimately we cannot Enjoy It.

” What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun?  For all his days are full of sorrow…”  Ecc 2:22-23a

Solomon continues as he points out one simple truth that we all understand even if we don’t say.  The more wealth you have, the more worry of loosing wealth.  Solomon acknowledges that all his work and toil to attain such wealth has caused his heart nothing but “sorrow and vexation”.  When you work for wealth you heart is never satisfied.

The sad truth of wealth is that no person if they set wealth and riches as there goal ever said “now I have enough“.  They continue to work and worry and snuggle to get more and more always believing that the next hundred or next thousand will satisfy. Solomon is trying to show us early in life that the only thing that satisfies our desires is Christ/God.

“For apart from Him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?  For to the one who pleases Him, God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. ” Ecc 2:25-26

In the last few posts we have talked about Solomon’s frustrations with life.  We have “burst the bubble” of many vanity that plague the human race.  However the ultimate point is summed up in these last two verse.  All pleasure and joy and good things are given to those who strive after Him.  To those who are not believer he has given the ultimately futile task of gathering and collecting.  I pray that anyone reading this finds there satisfaction in God, and not look for it in the business of collecting.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2016 in Ecclesiastes, Uncategorized

 

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Bursting the Bubble of Pleasure

“‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.’ But behold this also was vanity”  Ecclesiastes 2:1

As I work on this lesson I find myself realizing that this is the stage of life, as Solomon describes them that I find myself.  I am enraptured with pleasure.  Good friends, good food, and good fun are the places where I find joy.  So it is with a heavy heart that I must write that these things fun and enjoyable as they may be cannot bring lasting or ultimate pleasure!

Solomon continues his discussion of useless things here in chapter two of Ecclesiastes by bursting the soap bubble of pleasure.  He comes to it as a man just off a night of self reflection, and begins to discuss the parts of his life where pleasure and achievement were everything to him.  

It is in this discussion of his life of pleasure that Solomon makes note of two things that are important to understand about pleasure and achievement.

  1.  Pleasure is Good, but Too Much is Sorrow

“Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness.”               Prov. 14:13

Pleasure is a gift of God!  There can be no denying this fact.  For some reason back in the middle ages and even before people got a view of God as this heavenly school teacher who was just there to wag a finger and take away all the fun.  At one point a child even using his imagination was considered a sin, but this is not the God we see pointed to in our bible.

The God we see in the bible is a God who led his people to a land of pleasure flowing with “milk and honey”.  A God who threw feast and party for every little event in the lives of the Jewish people.  Even James in the new testament says “every good and perfect gift is from above”

There is a down side to pleasure though, this comes in the law of diminishing returns.  The essence of this law is that the more you do something the less pleasure you will get.  This means that to get the same amount of pleasure you will have to increase your activity.  We see this most acutely in drug addiction.  At first one hit of whatever drug you use will get you high, but as you continue using you need more and more of that drug to get the same high.

The Law of Diminishing returns holds true weather you pleasure is gained from drugs, sex, gambling, video games, or any other pleasurable activity.  If all you are gaining is pleasure than it will eventually turn sour and sorrowful.

2.   Achievement is Good, but Cannot Bring Happiness

“So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem.”  -Ecc 2:7

Solomon was, as has been said before, one of the wisest men who ever lived.  Due to his wisdom he was also one of the greatest kings both Israel and the world had ever seen.  Solomon outlines some of his greatest achievements here in this chapter.  He achieved more than any other king of Israel and yet he still found no lasting joy in his achievements.

No one can say that being productive and having great works and achievements is a bad thing.  The Bible has plenty to say on those who are lazy and slothful, but achievement can have its own dangers.

Achievement for achievement sake, however, lends itself to becoming an escape to the rest of life.  Those who become “workaholics” fall to the same vanity and uselessness that we discussed about pleasure.  Eventually the law of diminishing returns causes you to need more and more; and bigger and bigger achievements.

However, Achievements also has its own unique struggle and that is the struggle of becoming a god to yourself.  When your good works, and your achievements become so  important that God becomes a secondary character in your life.  You begin to elevate your own interests above the interests of others.  The ultimate end of this struggle comes as you get to the end of your life and there are no more achievements to be gained.  Then you become useless, and your god is no more.

Solomon looked on pleasure and achievement and pronounced judgement.  Without God they are useless and vain pursuits.

 

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2016 in Ecclesiastes

 

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Haman – The Problem With Pride

“Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as i see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.”  Est 5:13

If there ever was a story that had a drastic flip side it is the story of Haman and Mordecai.  On the one hand you have one of the most humble people recorded in scripture who did nothing but serve his king and people, and on the other, you have Haman. This man was as vile as Mordecai was pure, and yet if we look strictly at the facts we may find we have more in common with Haman than Mordecai.

I think I can safely say we have all had those days where we are just on top of the world. You know the ones?! Where everything is going your way, and nothing could possibly bring you down. Your on cloud nine, and clouds one through eight are looking up at you with black-hearted envy! Those are great days!  Then it happens, that one person shows up who just really stokes the flames of hate in your heart, and that’s it the day is ruined all your successes brought low by the inconsiderate appearance of stupid old “whats his name”.

There are many reasons that these people might bother us.  It could be that they are more successful in the worlds eyes and what we have done pales in comparison. Possibly, they don’t show us the respect due our station in life and that infuriates us.  Most likely, however, the cause can be boiled down to the fact that we have started to believe our own hype, we drank our own Kool-Aid, or just simply believe we are better than; and when we see this person who doesn’t fall in line with our belief structure it pops that little bubble of pride on which we have been sitting.

So how do we prevent these bubble-bursting moments in our lives?

1. Learn to view success through God’s eyes.

“I have recently been reading a book called ‘The Measure of Our Success’ by Shawn Lovejoy, and it has been helping to redefine how I view my success.  We as Christians should define our success by the question , ‘Are you reaching who God has given you to reach?’ not, ‘Are you reaching ‘the most’ people for God’.  If in final doubt just remember this, “We have nothing to prove, and no one to impress”*

2. Realize your place in life is temporary.

“So many people get so worked up about what job they have, where they went to school, or who their friends are, that they miss the fact that all of those things only matter for a little while.  It is a fact that in your life your friends will come and go, your job will change, and your education will be replaced, but the one thing that will last is what you have done for Christ and His kingdom.

3. Know that your life is not your own.

“It sounds like a cliche’, point, but it is true of all of us in Christ that no matter who you are or what you do your life is not your own.  It is by believing that we have the final say that we get ourselves into the mess of pride.  If you got you to where you are today then you can take pride, but if God got you there then who are you to take credit, and demand praise.”

So don’t be Haman! Don’t allow your worth to be wrapped up so much in self that one little distraction can throw you into a tailspin.  Instead allow your worth to come from Christ, so that when the world comes to burst you bubble they find the rock of Calvary in its place.

If you enjoyed this check out my other blog at ministryinreality.wordpress.com
 
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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in On the Flip Side, Pride

 

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Mordecai – A Lesson In Humility

“Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.”  Est 6:11

If there ever was a man who knew how to remain humble, even when he had every reason to be proud, it was Mordecai.  To this day this man of God, a paragon among the Jews of his time, has his story cast in the shadows of what we know of as the story of Esther.  He remains now and forever as nothing but a side story in the grander plan of the salvation of the Jews, and I believe that is exactly how he would like it.  If, however, I could shine a light on this small but great man for just a moment, we could learn a great lesson in humility.

How many of us when we have done a great thing, at least in our minds, are willing to let them go unnoticed   Are we able to just let our deeds be enough for us or do we demand some greater prize? This is a struggle that we are all faced with at one time or another, yet how we answer those questions can be a great indicator of our humility. So how should we act when we have done some deed deserving of recognition?

1. Let the act speak for itself.

Often the first indicator of our humility in these situations can be how we “spread the news”. We should be as Mordecai was in the Book of Esther and once the deed is done, be content to go back to our post and resume our duty.

2. Continue without bitterness

Even when we get the first step right, and we don’t go shooting off our mouths about how great our actions have been.  We may still be waiting for someone to notice our “greatness”, and when that recognition does not come we get bitter and angry at those people who “refuse” to recognize our works. So when you get this bitter feeling ask yourself, “Did I do it for the recognition, or because it was the right thing to do?”.

3. Know that God is in control.

The ultimate answer to all humility questions is this, “Are you fine if only you and God know?”.  If your answer is yes then you have truly reached the point where you are contented in the place where God has you, and it is there that you can begin true humility.

One last question before the discussion is done, “How do we react when recognition finally comes?” Do we rub it in the faces of all those people who thought we were nothing, or accept it graciously?  Mordecai, again gives us a better example than we could hope to receive.  He is finally rewarded for saving the kings life. He is driven through the streets with one of the kings top officials shouting how great his honor is in the kings eyes. How does he respond?

“Then Mordecai returned to the king’s gate…” Est 6:12

If you enjoyed this check out my other blog at ministryinreality.wordpress.com

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Humility

 

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