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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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Working and Waiting Without Complaint

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only”  – Matt 24:36

…………………………………………………………………………….Waiting is the worst!

Whether it is waiting for a sentence to begin or waiting for the next season of your favorite show to come out, it is universally excepted that the waiting is the worst part!  It has only gotten worse in our culture of now.

Waiting touches us all as christians in one of our weakest areas, the area of patience.  We like to believe that we have patience, after all we wait for things all the time, but if we were honest with ourselves we would see that the only time we truly practice patience is when we have no other choice.

Is it any wonder then that James calls us to patience in the waiting of our Lords return!

“For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”  – Matt 24:37-39

Matthew makes clear in his gospel that no one knows the day or the hour that Christ will return to gather up those who follow Him.  He also makes clear that just like when Noah was on the earth Christ’s return will be at the time when we are not expecting it and are just going about our normal lives.

Matthew goes on to say that in many places there will be two working and one will be taken and another left behind. (Matt 24:40-42) He warns us to stay awake and alert for the coming of the Lord.

“But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.  Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Finally Matthew uses the analogy of a thief coming in the night to tell us to stay alert and be ready because the Lord will return at the hour we least expect.  These verses in Matthew serve to prepare our minds for what James calls us to later on, a call to patience in our suffering on this earth.

James tells us three things that we should know if we are to wait for our Lord the way that he and Matthew call us to do.

1.  Wait As A Farmer Waits

“…See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.”  – James 5:7b

A farmer is one of the best examples of patience we have in our world today.  He literally spends an entire year waiting for his crops to grow, waiting for rain, and waiting for the harvest.  Is it any wonder then that James calls us first to wait like a farmer waits.

A farmer though he is waiting is also very active in his waiting.  He does not just sit on the porch and look at the field and hope for growth, but instead goes out and tends to those fields, nurturing and caring until the time of harvest.  This is what we are called to do as well, we are called to be active in our world for the Gospel to be nurturing and caring for this world and its people until the time of harvest.

2.  Wait Without Complaint

“Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged;  behold, the Judge is standing at the door.”  – James 5:9

How many of us when asked by our parents, boss, or authority figure to do a task do it with absolutely no complaint.  If we all answered zero we would be very close to correct.  Most of us if asked to do something that is not what we want to do in that moment will grumble and complain like we were asked to kill our best friend.

James and ultimately God is calling us in these verses to wait on his coming working in the fields (see point 1), and to do so without grumbling or complaining.  He is calling us to a life of following Him knowing that Christ’s return could be any day.

With this call to a life without grumbling is a warning that the one who will judge us is just outside the door.  The image is that of an authority figure who you are grumbling about being just on the other side of the door hearing every word.  It is a vivid reminder that our Lord is near at all times.

3.  Wait As The Prophets

“Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”  James – 5:11

The prophets we an amazing group of men.  Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Elisha, Elijah, and Isaiah all count themselves among this group of amazing men.  What then is it that James is calling us to follow about these men?

Is it there passion?  Or perhaps is it there strength?

No!  James is calling us to follow there steadfastness, and faith.

Now in language steadfastness means much the same thing as patience, however the evoking image of steadfastness is being immovable even in the midst of a driving force.  See all of the prophets were calling forward to a time that was coming, constantly saying that what they were prophesying was near at hand.  However, very few of them lived to see all of there prophesies come to pass.

This is what James is calling us to!  Calling us to be the workers in the field active in planting and nurturing the harvest, to do so without complaint or grumbling, and to be steadfast in our work even if the end is not in our time.  He calls us to this because as James says “the coming of the Lord is at hand”

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Radical vs Realist – Elijah & Obediah

We need revival!  We need a new work!  We need a radical change! 

Many a conversation among church leaders seem to center around these statements.  I myself have had many discussions with people both my own age and much older who are desperate to see a radical change in our churches.  In fact there has been a book published by David Platt called Radical, that is all about how we need to get back to the “radical” life to which Christ has called his church.  However, is the radical approach the only way to change the church?  Is there room for realists in the body of Christ?

To truly understand this we need to define what the difference is between a “radical” and a “realist”.

“A radical is one who holds or follows strong convictions and extreme principles, usually in an uncompromising and direct method.”

“A realist is one who is aware of and understands things as they are, and seeks to work within a system to enact change.”

Perhaps putting it more simply we should say that a radical would be more likely to tear the system apart and start fresh and new.  A realist, however, would be more likely to stay within the system to enact a change.

How does the Bible showcase these two different viewpoints, and how can they work together to further His kingdom?

Elijah

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Elijah was a radical!  From calling down fire to prove God’s power to calling the priests of God to eradicate the priests of Baal, Elijah was always making what most people of Israel would call controversial decisions, yet there can be no doubt that he was used by God to move the people of Israel back to God.  In all of Elijah’s activities though it is his challenging of the king on which we should focus.

The radicals among us can identify with Elijah’s confronting of the king (Kings 18).  Isn’t that what we are called to anyway?  Confronting the problems in our government and church from the front and taking a stand.  To be the person standing in the breach, drawing a line and saying “You Shall Not Pass”*.  The heads of our churches are saying that this is what God calls us all to do.  That we are called to be standing between the armies of the world and the people of God with our only options being corruption or death.

Is this radical path the only way?

Obadiah

While Elijah may be a well know radical of our Christian history, there is in this same story (Kings 18) the tale of a much lesser known man Obadiah.  Of this man’s life we have little to know knowledge, he may be the same Obadiah from the prophets, more than likely he is just another man with the same name.  The only thing we are told of this Obadiah is this:

“Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly, and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water”   – 1Kings 18:3b-4

So the entirety of this man’s legacy is that he feared the LORD so much that he would take the prophets of God  to hide and shelter them from an evil queen.  Notice, however, what these verses do not say.  They do not say that Obadiah confronted the queen about her evil.  They do not say that Obadiah quit his position to live in the wild with Elijah.  In fact, we find out in later verses that he was still a trusted servant of the king who was causing all of Israel’s problems, yet this man “Feared the LORD“.

So which path is the one God wants?  How should these very different ideas deal with each other?

The answer to these questions is shown in the next segment of these verses. (Kings 18:7-16) As Obadiah is on a mission for the king, he finds himself confronted by the Elijah himself.  When Obadiah sees him he bows in homage to this man who has put himself on the line for God.  These two men then converse about there different “ministries” and discuss a mission Elijah has for Obadiah.  They meet as equals, neither one condemning or challenging the others methods.

We as a group of Christians need to continually be taught this truth, “There is no wrong way”.  Christians get caught up in saying that radical life is better, or an organic (realistic) life is better; when the honest answer to these struggles is both are valid avenues to change.  Instead of trying to undercut other styles of change we should be building up our fellow Christians in there unique situations and agree that as long as we are moving toward change in Christ that we are on the right path.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2013 in Radical vs Realist, Uncategorized

 

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The Life

I am…, the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the father but through me.”  John 14:6

In previous posts we have talked a lot about Christ and what He said about Himself in John 14:6.  We went over every detail of the names He gave Himself to his followers so that they would be able to know more about Him, and we talked about the implication of those names.

He called Himself “I AM” which showed how He is always the same and can sustain and save us.  He called Himself “The Way” which showed He gave direction to the lost, safety to the traveler, and rest for the weary. He called Himself “The Truth” which showed He gives freedom from worry, death, and pride.  Now we get to the most important of them all “The Life.”

Life is such an important concept, in fact, the right to life is one of the only truly universal beliefs.  There is no culture where life is not held sacred. Now certainly there are those who take the right to life more seriously.  We in America for example, hold it to be one of our “big three” rights along with liberty and happiness. Without life we would literally not exist.

So what is Christ implying when He calls Himself “The Life?”

1. He Implies A Connection To All Things.

There is nothing in this world that does not connect to God. Whether it is a slug on a leaf or a king in his castle, God is intimately acquainted to all the world. Not only is He connected but he cares about all things. Luke 12:6-7 even tells us that God knows every sparrow sold at market, and every hair on our head.  God is intimately connected to this world!

2. He Implies A Ownership Of All Things

If Christ is “The Life” then that implies a certain amount of ownership. The psalmist says,”For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills” (50:10). The implication of this verse is that all the world belongs to God.  How then can we expect to ever repay God for all the good things that he has given to us?

3. He Implies A Purpose To All Things.

If Christ not only has a connection with us and an ownership over us, then it must be to that he has a purpose for us.  Think of all the things you have owned.  They were created with a purpose and bought for that purpose.  Now if we as people do not create things without purpose why then do we believe our God would do so? The bible itself proclaims: “For I know the plans I have for you says the LORD, plans to prosper and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future.”  – Jeremiah 29:11

Christ, however, does not finish this statement with names.  He finishes with a purpose, and that purpose is to lead all who would be seeking to His father, the author and perfecter of our faith.  The Father in whom our salvation lies!  So no matter if you are seeking who God is (I AM), where God is taking you (The Way), the mysteries of the gospel (The Truth), or the meaning of life (The Life); remember this.

No man comes to the father but through me.”  John 14:6

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in John 14:6

 

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The Truth…(Part 2)

I am…, the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the father but through me.”  John 14:6

So if this is true (see The Truth…Part 1), if we truly are afraid of God because of the truth He knows about us.  Then what is he telling us by saying that he is “The Truth”.  Surely it is more than just a quaint nickname or a halfhearted metaphor. Is He possibly revealing apart of his nature?  Is He saying that He has nothing to hide from our searching of Him?

What Christ is ultimately saying then when He gives himself this “nickname” is that we can search, ponder, and question Him all we like.  That no matter what accusation or slander we as people can throw at Him, He can take it all and not be changed!  Because as we said before “The Truth” is the most accurate interpretation of all of the facts, and when you put all the facts together the only interpretation you can have is that God is in control!

So what comfort does this truth give us?

1. This Truth Gives Freedom From Worry.

On the subject of worry Billy Graham had this to say: “Anxiety (worry) is the natural result when our hopes are centered in anything short of God and his will for us” When we worry we are taking our sites off of God and putting them on the troubles of this world. “The Truth” is that if we do as God has told us in his word (Phil 4:6-7) we can be free from the stress that worry brings!

2. This Truth Gives Freedom From Pride

Pride is a cancer of the mind that allows us to believe that we are above God. It allows us to say that we know how to run our own lives and no one can tell us any different. This stems from what gamer’s like me call the illusion of choice, the idea that we can change the ultimate outcome. “The Truth” is that anything that has been done was already know at the beginning of time, and nothing we can do can change the outcome that Christ will win!  When you understand that, you are free from the pride that control can bring.

3. This Truth Gives Freedom From Death

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

The saying goes that the only things for certain are death and taxes.  The story of the bible is one of redemption and salvation from death.  Not from physical death as some skeptics say, but from a death of the soul.  This death is caused by a complete separation from our God.  None of us will know how this truly feels on earth because we are all connected in a small way to Gods love.  “The Truth” is that God, taking on the form of a man, came down to this earth to save us from this separation!

So what is “The Truth”?  The truth of God is this, that He loved this world and everyone in it so much that he was willing to sacrifice His flesh and blood.  He did this even after we as a people had turned our backs on Him and distorted His perfect world.  “The Truth” is that His salvation is free to anyone who will come and ask it of Him.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in John 14:6

 

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