RSS

Tag Archives: truth

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

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 28, 2016 in Uncategorized, Unchained

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Time and Place

“For everything there is a  season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” Ecc 3:1

It is amazing that God ordained all things to happen inside his timing and will.  He set up the rules and order of this world and set all things in there place.  God has, as Ecclesiastes 3 says, given everything a season and a time.

What does this mean for our lives though?

Has God so controlled our lives and actions that we have no freedom?

No!  Rather God has placed markers and “signs” and given us his word that we might understand that every action, desire, and outcome has a place.  No thing that happens to us is ever out of Gods control, and we need not fear finding ourselves in a situation that He has not planned.

Solomon uses quite a few “this/that” statements to show the control and placement of things in this world.  These few verses are easy to both over and under spiritualize, however they are powerful statements of Gods control and plan for our world and lives.

Born and Die (V.2)

Solomon starts out slow and easy by just letting us know that God has ordained a time for our birth and our death.  No accidents occur in Gods world.  No one has been born or ever will be born that God did not know about first.  Just as know one has been born a surprise to God no one has died as a surprise to God.  We enter and exit this world as a planned creation of God, and he watches out for us throughout it all. (Matt 10:29)

Break Down and Build Up (V.3)

Christ is referred to as the potter (Isa 64:8) and we the clay.  If you ever watch a potter throw a clay pot it is fascinating to watch.  Sometimes after working on a pot and building it up for hours a flaw might be found in the construction.  If there is a fault found a potter doesn’t try to fix that hole or just put clay over it, instead he breaks down the work he has done back into a pile so that he can start fresh.

As the clay, solomon points to the fact that there are God ordained times of building where we might rise as leaders and teachers, however because of our own flawed nature when we get out of sync with God or prideful there is also a God ordained time of breaking down.

Silence and Speech (V.7)

It is ordained through the discernment of the Holy Spirit, and through the reading of the Bible the knowledge of when to speak.  There are times that we are called as Christians to speak up and say what God has taught us. (David and Goliath being a good Old Testament Example) However, there are also times that God has given us the wisdom to stay silent.

Most of us, unfortunately, have a case of the opposites.  When someone is running down our God or God is calling us to share we stay silent.  When someone is asking us about gossip or we have opinions we speak.  God has called us to seek out the times when he has called us to speech and silence.  Pray only that He gives us the wisdom to know the difference.

War and Peace (V.8)

Similare to speech and silence it can be hard to discern which of these God has ordained in a specific situation.  As humans we tend to go to war over little things and keep the peace when barbarians are at the gate.

Understand,  God has given us the call to war as a tool to be used.  There is nothing wrong with standing your ground and holding a position you believe.  We are called however to make sure to only use that tool when it is appropriate.

Romans says it best like this “in as much as it is up to you, live at peace with all men” (Rm 12:18)  This is a call to use discernment.  A call to say that if its not a must issue than choose peace.  However, if it is against the Bible or Gods authority ….prepare for war.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 31, 2016 in Ecclesiastes, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 24, 2016 in Ecclesiastes, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bursting the Bubble of Wisdom

“And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven” Ecc 1:13a

Before i begin to describe what Solomon has to say on the subject of wisdom and its uselessness, I feel i should take at least a second to explain the title of my blog.  In studying the book of Ecclesiastes I was struck by a description of vanity that was given by Waren Wiersbe:

“It is whatever is left when you pop a soap bubble.”

So as we look into the first few chapters of Ecclesiastes we should be looking for those things that remain after Solomon bursts a few soap bubbles.

Solomon started out his final book on wisdom describing the monotonous way that life seems to progress.  Nothing new happens and everything just cycles back to where it came from only to cycle back there again.  It is strikingly similar to how many eastern religions view life!

On the surface you can see where these religions might get this idea, Solomon lays it out clearly for us.  All of life that we can see is cycles, so why not believe that our lives are just on a cycle as well.  What use is being good, or moral, or kind if we are just the latest cycle of a never ending pattern?

It is these traps of wisdom that Solomon describes as first catching his mind.  In these very verses he changes from historian to philosopher as he applies all his wisdom and learning to the problems of life.  Solomon then comes up with three basic principles that he sees in life.

1. Life is hard, but ultimately from God

“I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven.  It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.”

Solomon found that ultimately life is a gift from God as is work, but that does not mean that life is in any way easy.  Since the fall of man the work that God gave us has been cursed to be hard (Gen 3:14).  The gift of God was corrupted and what was meant to be a joy and a purpose has turned into a chore.  However we are still called by God to work and to find joy in him as we do the work that he has given to us.

2. Life once lived cannot be changed

“What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.”

Solomon was using his wisdom not only, to look at what life was about now, but also to  examine his past life.  He uses this proverb to illustrate the point that to try and spend our days making the past where we messed up look strait is just “vanity and striving after the wind.”  There is only one who can make our lives clean and that is God.  Solomon ultimate statement here is that you can spend your whole life trying to make up for what you did, but it won’t change anything.  Instead we should live our lives for Christ who has forgiven our pasts and made purposeful our future.

3. Life’s problems cannot always be solved

“And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly.  I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.”

Solomon uses his last moments talking about wisdom to make clear that he was the smarted and most knowledgeable man that had ever lived at his time and the one thing he figured out was that he would never have it figured out.  You could search for answers till you are blue in the face and still never find them because they are questions that will not be answered this side of heaven.

Solomon, in fact, figured out what philosophers years after him would describe this way:  “Ignorance is bliss”  He figured out the dirty secret that the more you know the more you understand that you don’t know anything.  The smarter we get the more we realize its all useless because we can never truly have all the answers.  That is why Solomon ends this chapter with this simple statement:

“For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.”

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 10, 2016 in Ecclesiastes, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why, Why, Why?

Why, Why, Why?  The single most annoying question to infect the ears of a parent, teacher, or pastor.  This question is a never-ending circle of cause and effect that if brought to its final conclusion can end up at the creation of the world every time!*

James, however takes this question in three different routes to answer three specific questions as to why we as a people fall into the trap of Worldliness.

Question 1:  Why do we fight among ourselves?

If you have lived in this world longer than a few minutes you already know that arguments and quarrels are something we cannot seem to shake.  Every day seems like another fight and another time when “they” are wrong and “we” are right.

The church is not immune to this problem.  Even in the time of James there was fighting and strife inside the people of God.  As James, with the direction of the spirit of God, attempts to address this issue he uses a culprit that has already appeared in his book as the cause of all our sin….Our Own Fleshly Desires.

In James 1:12-15 he spells out how our base desires are what tempt us into sin and cause us to seek after other things.  By that same note James here in chapter 4 says that it is the fight between our old and new flesh that causes arguments and quarrels.

“You desire and do not have, so you murder.  You covet and cannot obtain so you fight and quarrel.”  James 4:2

James says that we desire things in our life both fleshly and spiritual and we cannot obtain them so we murder, steal, and fight.  However he leaves us with what is the base problem “You do not have, because you do not ask.”

Question 2:  Why are my prayers not answered?

So all of our quarrels can be summed up in that we do not have the things we desire, and we do not have the things we desire because we do not ask!  It seems so simple all we have to do is ask God and he will give it to us!

Again if you have been involved in Christianity for any length of time you have run up against the statement, “God did not answer my prayer”.  Putting aside the fact that “no” is just as much an answer as “yes”,  we encounter the problem that not everything we as Christians have prayed for has come to pass.

James once again has the answer.

“You as and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”     James 4:3

So the reason that we do not see prayers being answered is because like the people of James’ day we are praying wrongly.  We do not see health and wealth pouring from the sky precisely because we are praying for health and wealth.

You may ask then, “How should I pray?”

“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'”  Matthew 6:9-13

The Lord’s Prayer, as it has come to be know gives us a great instruction on how we should set up our prayers.

1. Adoration of God The Father

2. Request for the will of The Father

3. Request for what we need to do The Fathers work.

4. Forgiveness for when we have disobeyed The Fathers words.

Question 3:  Why can’t I have it all?

We are by our very nature an adulterous people.  Every good thing that God has done for us and we still try and find ways to sneak the world into our lives.  It is from that lack of commitment that this final question spawns.  “Why can’t I have both the world and God?”

James again in answering these three questions lays out the answer to us beautiful in his letter to the people.

“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”   James 4:4

Anyone who has been married can tell you that its not as easy as it looks from the outside.  As a man I can attest that the other women do not get uglier just because I am married (like I thought they might) nor do my thoughts get easier to manage.  Rather, I now focus my mind on my wife so that she is my every thought.

This is how James speaks about our relationship with God.  The world and all it offers us does not get less appealing just because we give our lives to Christ.  Rather, we are called to focus on God above all the things of this world.

Just like a marriage, James says that our relationship with God is one of a singular nature.  I cannot expect to flirt with other women and not have my wife be mad at me. Likewise, we as a Church cannot have friendship with the world and still be a bondservant to Christ.  We must be committed wholly to Him.

In answer to the question Why, Why, Why, James simply replys…Love God, Seek His Will, and Ask in His Name.

*(ex.. Why does a grasshopper hop – cause it has legs – why does it have legs – cause God made it that way – Why did God make it that way? – Cause he created the world, now be quiet and go to bed!)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

 
6 Comments

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,