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Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Sermon Today

Hello again!

The sermon today was on Galatians 3. The main point of it was the Gospel of Christ Jesus. He brought out how we cannot be saved by the law, but only by Jesus’ grace. How we are cornered by the law on purpose; that purpose being that we find our-self lost, without hope of ever being able to meet the expectations of the law. But then, to show his great power, Jesus comes and destroys our sin replacing it with his perfection. It’s not just that now God is looking at us “through bloodstained glasses,” but Jesus actually took our sin away and left us with his perfection!

He (the Pastor) also talked about our “going through a wasteland,” which is a point when we find ourselves trying to compensate and “do better”, in other words, we find our-self acting like the Galatians. And in short; that isn’t right.

That’s all that really stuck with me, if you want a more detailed version, go to West Wood Alliance, Mansfield.

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2011 in Todays Sermon

 

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The Point Of the Trinity

Hello Again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, (Ephesians 1:15-17)

All normal talk for Paul; He commends them, he tells them he’s praying for them, so on and so forth. But wait, what’s this? The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory? But Jesus I thought Jesus is/was God and God is/was Jesus, so how can Jesus (the Christ), if he is also God, have God as his God?

7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. (1 John 5:7)

Jesus can have God as his God because he is Jesus, but he is also God. I think that makes some sense. – But what’s the point? Now that I think about it, why does it even matter if the Trinity does or doesn’t exist?

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

The “point” of the Trinity is to remind you that Jesus can sympathize with us, have the power to defend us from Satanic attack, and overall do anything. – The point is they all have separate “jobs” yet are the same person. God poured out his wrath on his only son, so that Jesus could free us of our sin and so The Counselor (the Holy Spirit) could come.

Video URL: www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNuhnf8gh9o

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Ephesians

Hello again!

Today I’m starting the book of Ephesians! – This is what God gave me today in his word today:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, (Ephesians 1:1-5)

The very first words Paul says involve the Gospel (of Jesus). I think that gives you an inclination of what Paul is “all about”. But why focus on the Gospel? Surely Paul would start talking to them about something more important to their day-to-day lives, right? After all, a new believer needs the Gospel (of Jesus) to be saved, yes, but a believer doesn’t need that stuff anymore.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Sure, it’s the power of God. It’s just in this verse he obviously must have left out the bit he added when talking to the Romans. The bit that says it’s the power of God unto salvation. And it can’t be anything else, of course.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Romans 1:16)

Ah, yes, he is saying he’s just not ashamed of the Gospel (of Jesus) because it is the power of God for salvation. And I suppose there is a difference between the two verses. – But what would all of this mean? What does it matter if Paul’s main message was the Gospel (of Jesus), and that the same message is the power of God?

The point is that the Gospel is the point… The Gospel is the most important thing there is or can be, it’s the means God decided to use to bring all men to him! The point of this post is to say this; the Gospel isn’t just for “new believers”, it’s for everyone, new and old believers. It’s the power of God!

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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True Faith?

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

The crown has fallen from our head; woe to us, for we have sinned! (Lamentations 5:16)

Why would God, our God, cause His chosen people to “loose the crown”? It doesn’t seem to make sense, sure they sinned and turned away from him to idols, but is that worthy of total annihilation?

But you, O LORD, reign forever; your throne endures to all generations. (Lamentations 5:19)

So that’s why God would let the crown go from His people. Yes, to punish them, but also it seems to teach them a lesson. They’re mortal, he isn’t. In short, they should shape up now and do good before they actually are “no more”. But does that apply to us? Do we too need to hurry up, repent, and start doing good? Well, in fact, to a certain extent yes. But not in the context you’re probably thinking of now:

 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17)

Looking at it from God’s point of view, we have a small speck of time in which to repent. So from that perspective we do need to “hurry up and be saved”, but are good works required for repenting and salvation? According the above verse it seems that we need to in essence “prove” we have faith by our actions, but are good works required for salvation? Well, is faith required for salvation?

28For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. (Romans 3:28-30)

Now it seems we have to conflicting passages, the one says faith without works is dead. Yet the other says works are not required for salvation, and only faith is needed. Well let’s dissect this:

We are justified, or, “saved” by faith in Jesus alone. Yet that faith is not true faith, unless it is accompanied by works. No work’s “under the law” are required for salvation, instead works of the Spirit are required.

for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

So what’s the conclusion? – The Israelites required works of the law to be saved, we require only faith. And when we have faith, God sends his Spirit into us so that we back our faith in him, with works for him. That’s why faith without works is visibly dead; If you don’t have the Spirit of God working in you, even if he only causes you to say a nice word instead of angry one, you don’t have true faith.

It’s important not to “fall off” on either side; either that we are saved by works alone (that’s the law perspective), or that nothing is required of us at all.

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Forgiven

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults. For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; (Lamentations 3:30-32)

“We have transgressed and rebelled, and you have not forgiven. “You have wrapped yourself with anger and pursued us, killing without pity; (Lamentations 3:42-43)

The author seems to be contradicting himself. In the space of 10 verses, he went from talking about God’s steadfast love, to talking about how God is a pitiless God. Is that the God we have? A God always changing from gentle to cruel (or vise versa) in an instant? Well we can see God isn’t a constantly changing and fickle God in Hebrews 13:8. – Yes the Lord will return and grant mercy, but it seems he first wishes to kill all but a few of the Israelites! So now we have a different picture of God, arguably, a slightly worse one. Is God truly so unforgiving and pitiless that he would slaughter his chosen people without cause or justification? No! All of this was happening because Israel had made its bed, and it was now time to go to sleep. They had “transgressed and rebelled” against God, and God hadn’t forgiven them. Which reminds me, I thought, according to the Bible, that God was a forgiving God?

The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; (Daniel 9:9)

O LORD our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds. (Psalm 99:8)

It seems to me God has gotten stuck on the punishing bit. – This leads me to another question: we don’t offer sacrifices anymore, and some worship items and ideas more than God. So why aren’t we a bug-splat against the world? God poured his wrath out on Israel, why not do likewise to us? We sure deserve it.

12 For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
(Hebrews 8:12)

He doesn’t “do likewise to us” because he’s already forgotten our sins! There is a difference between Israel’s time and now. Back then sacrifices were required, to try to “appease” God. And the moment they started to worship an idol or something else, God’s wrath would fall upon them. But now, because Jesus actually became sin for us, God’s wrath falls on him instead of us! – The veil separating us from God has been torn from top to bottom, and God now hears our prayers.

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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The “Jail Treatment”

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

he has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago. He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has made my chains heavy; though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; (Lamentations 3:6-8)

Let me get this straight, God stuck Israel – The author is referring himself to Israel here – in darkness, made his chains heavy, and then stopped listening to there prayers. Now, to a certain extent I for one can understand this, after all, the Israelites forsook him. But don’t you think our God would be a little more kind; a little more sparing then that? After all, people today “forsake” God for modern idols, so why is it all those people didn’t get thrown in jail with an extra-large size ball ‘n chain? – Well God did in fact make a way for the Israelites, just as he made a way for us not to get the “jail treatment”.

Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the LORD your God. Then the LORD will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you. (Jeremiah 26:13)

That’s all the Israelites had to do, just reform their ways, actions and obey the Lord. Simple, right? Well as anyone who has tried (and inevitably, failed) can tell you, it’s impossible for us in of our-self to do. By our self we simply, no matter how hard we try, make so much as a dent in our “self”. Hence the ball and chain for the Israelites; but even then, God “called off his wrath” and left (a small) remnant of Israel. But aside from that, what is the difference between now, and back then?

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

The difference between now and then is “the way” has changed. “The way” to God has changed from we do, to he did. That is how we “come to the Father”; Through the son!

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Yoked to Christ

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

“My transgressions were bound into a yoke; by his hand they were fastened together; they were set upon my neck; he caused my strength to fail; the Lord gave me into the hands of those whom I cannot withstand. (Lamentations 1:14)

Our sins (above).

The Lord has become like an enemy; he has swallowed up Israel; he has swallowed up all its palaces; he has laid in ruins its strongholds, and he has multiplied in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation. (Lamentations 2:5)

The result thereof (also above). – The result of sin is that God becomes an enemy. But what I find interesting, is that God himself is the one who put the yoke around Israel’s – the author is referring to himself as Israel here – neck. Does but does this apply to us? Well no, it doesn’t actually. But why doesn’t it? And if (because) it doesn’t, what burden do we have, if any?

Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. (Galatians 3:25)

Why doesn’t it apply to us? Because unlike the Israelites, all our transgressions were bound up onto Jesus for us. He bore our yoke for us and now we’re no longer under the supervision of the law. But what is it we’re under now, if not the law or our sins (guilt, etc), then what?

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

The “yoke” we now bear is Christ. But what’s the point of saying all this? What’s the conclusion? Because Christ, God’s only son, died and rose again for us, the burden we now bare is not one of guilt, but one of freedom in Christ. – We’re now yoked to Christ, and that’s quite freeing!

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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