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Lip-Worship

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” (Mark 7:6-8)

We’re presented here with one thing Jesus, rather self-evidently, hates: lip-worship. He hates when people praise Him only with their mouths and not with their actions. These are the people who prefer holding to the “traditions of men,” then to hold to what God wants. i.e. Those who, as a tradition, go to Church, yet don’t experience any change in the way they live their lives. Those who read their bibles every day, yet, as James put it, after looking in the mirror and seeing how dirty they are, walk away unchanged. Those who are ‘fake’, or merely external, Christians. It’s the same as if we were trying to love God with what we say, instead of what we do:

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth. (1 John 3:18)

Now please don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning going to Church or reading the Bible! Those are very good things, and should be done regularly. But you’re wasting your time if you go to a Church, listen for an hour, then leave unchanged. Likewise you’re wasting your time if you read the Bible, but don’t do what it tells you to do, or just plain out read it with a closed mind… To put it another way: the Bible is useless to you, as is Church, as is meeting with other believers, if you don’t grow by it.

The point being this: either we must ‘do all things to the Lord’, by growing as Christians in doing them, or not do them at all.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

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The “Secret”

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. (Philippians 4:11-12)

Well, Paul, what’s the secret then? And why is it we would need it? After all, you, yourself, (in verse 19 of this same chapter) say God will meet all our needs. But, first question first:

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

That’s it? You can do all things though him who strengthens you, and that’s all you have to say. No secret gimmick? No astonishing secret, just that you can anything in Christ? Well what do I need that for? That sure doesn’t seem like it would help me much in prison!

At least, to start with that phrase may seem “useless”. But when you realize that you can’t actually do anything in of yourself to, as the case may be; endure prison, or something of the sort, then realizing you can do all things in Christ is an extremely comforting verse and assurance. But even still, unless you live in some place where being a Christian is still illegal, you won’t be thrown in prison for it. So I ask again; what do we need this verse for? What does it matter, unless we’re hungry (etc) that we can do all things in “him who strengthens us”?

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

The reality of the situation is; whether physically or spiritually, we can do pretty much nothing by our self; accomplish nothing for the Gospel physically, and not grow spiritually. It would be like a plant trying to grow and spread seed without the sun. In our case, the sun is the son, and in order to do anything, we shouldn’t do anything. I know how that sounds, it seems counter-intuitive, but if you’ll reread the verse in Isaiah, you’ll see that anything we do, is just like an “unclean rag”.

So all in all, Paul’s “‘secret’ to being content,” is everyone’s secret to being content, both spiritually and psychically as Paul himself would no doubt tell you.

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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The Former Things Have Become Former

Hello again!

This is what God gave to me in his word today:

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. (Isaiah 65:17)

Yeah, OK sure, but what exactly are the “former things” referred to here?

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. (Isaiah 43:18)

So the former things being referred to here are the Israelites past, what you used to have to do to be saved, which I suppose fits with the context (such as Isaiah 65:5). So, if not the past, what am I to think about, nothing?

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)

So we should focus on things above, like for example; Jesus… So let me get all of this straight; the old things, namely the old Law, have passed away to be replaced with the New Law, Jesus… But if Jesus replaces the law, what’s to keep me and everyone else from sin? If Jesus took all of our punishment for the disobeying the law, what’s to keep us from using our new-found freedom? I mean, becoming a Christian practically gives us a licence to be able to sin!

20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20-21)

1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:1-4)

So what you’re saying is that being a Christian not only doesn’t give me and everyone else a licence to sin, but in fact means that we should do nothing but good, after all, if our old nature was crucified, isn’t that only to be expected of us? … And if so, it’s an impossible expectation for us to meet, there is no way I can be perfect of my own volition.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)

So in the whole, because Jesus died for me, the old things – namely the old Law – have passed away. And because the old things have passed away, the barrier between God and us (the vail) has been torn, and because of that Christ can and does live in us… And because Jesus lives in us, he empowers us to will and to do his good works.

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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God Who Saves

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come. I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me. (Isaiah 63:4-5)

God’s fury needed to be unleashed because of our sins and disobedience towards him. So he (God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) made a way; he would send his one and only son to take our place, to be cursed and rejected for us… And when the hour came when Jesus was to be crucified, cursed, and rejected by his father for us came; he prayed that God would let this cup pass from him, but he didn’t. Then he looked around, and found even his disciples were no longer there for him. So he alone took every last drop of God’s wrath onto and into himself. – That, is the Gospel of Christ Jesus. It isn’t complicated, it isn’t hard to understand. It just is what it is; our salvation.

Video URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TtupQ24bHo

You are loved!
Joshua Cleveland

 

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The Old Order Has Passed On

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; (Isaiah 61:1-2)

So why again was the Spirit of the Lord on him? Not because he was brave; not because he was strong enough; not because he (Isaiah, the prophet who is speaking) was such a good boy. But because he was appointed by God to “bind the brokenhearted” and to  “free the captives” (etc). I wonder how it is he did this; could it just possibly be that he had some deep knowledge into all things spiritual that just about no one has today? Yes, this has to be it, how else could he do all those things after all…

3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)

Isaiah, the prophet, is speaking prophetically. He can’t actually do those things, but someone whose coming, will do all these things. “For the old order of things has passed away.” – Could Isaiah bring a new order of things? Could Isaiah bring a new law? A law that states that “It’s already been done, you don’t need to do anything now”? Only Jesus could wipe away every tear, only he could declare and receive the day of the Lord’s vengeance. Only he could comfort all who mourn. And only Jesus could change the old order of things (sacrifices, etc).

So what’s the point in saying all of this? The point is simply this; the old is gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old prophet has been replaced by the new prophet, priest, and king. The one with the ability to change the old of order of the law to the new order of Christ.

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Sweat and Simple

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness. (Isaiah 59:1-3)

Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. (Isaiah 59:15-16)

The Gospel; It’s simple; it’s sweat; it’s our unfair justice and our undeserved salvation. The LORD, God himself brought salvation from our own sin. Simple and sweat. – God still hear’s you; he still hears me; his arm isn’t to short to reach anyone. Some people tend to say things like: “I’m to far gone for God to save me” among a great deal of other things. But the truth of the matter is that God’s arm is never to short to save.

Video URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iT88jBAoVIM

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Works, or Grace?

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

I will declare your righteousness and your deeds, but they will not profit you. When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you! The wind will carry them off, a breath will take them away. But he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land and shall inherit my holy mountain. (Isaiah 57:12-13)

So; I’m saved by grace? But that contradicts what I’ve been told! I’ve been told I need to paddle my boat as far as I could before turning on the engine…

16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[a] Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:16)

So should I do?! There’s nothing left!

24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:24-26)

OK, but what should I do?

7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

 10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

 11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” (Luke 3:7-11)

I knew it! Works are required to be saved!

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

Ah; so really I do nothing good, it’s actually God doing it through me. So I think what you’re saying is this; My works are useless and I can do nothing to save myself. But when you enter into me and save me, you give me the ability and the want to serve you (God). And that’s why James say that faith without works is dead; because just believing (having faith), isn’t enough, I need to actually let you come in and work in me to will and to do.

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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