Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Holier Than Thou; True Joy of Salvation

Today's Reading:
  • Luke 5:29 - 6:11
  • Psalm 66:1 - 20
Read Bible Passages Online

Luke 5:29 - 6:11 
5:31 - 32 "Healthy people don't need a doctor - sick people do.  I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent."
This quote was how Jesus answered the disgruntled Pharisees who complained about how Jesus frequently feasted with the lowliest of all -- tax collectors.  If Jesus were to come back today and feast with someone, what types of people do you think it would be? 

Alcoholics, drug addicts and prostitutes?  What about politicians, or highly paid executives who wouldn't think twice about throwing someone under the bus to further their profits?  Or prisoners serving out varied sentences, or the sex offender living in your neighborhood?  How about you?  And how about me?

We are all sinners, and we all need to repent.  I never forget that I am a sinner, no matter how hard I try to commit my life to the Lord.  A sense of righteousness is dangerous.  I don't know about you, but I would be thrilled to dine with Jesus Christ, no matter who the company may be.

I still haven't read enough of the bible to decide if I have a true opinion on severity of sin.  I only know what I've read so far.  Those studies have taught me that adultery is a particularly devastating sin that affects one's entire life.  I just read about how murderers were required to be put to death. 

Severity of sin aside, the only sin I know can't be forgiven is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  All other sins, no matter how bad they are, can be repented of.  And I might not have ever murdered anyone, but that time I decided to try shoplifting in high school would keep me out of heaven just the same without the atonement of Jesus Christ for my sins.

The more I study the bible and the more I try to align myself to the Lord's will, is the more that I have to fight any feelings of righteous that spring out from inside me.  All of these people who might appear to sin more than you do need Jesus Christ just as much as you do.  They need Jesus Christ just as much as I do. 

These are the people we need to minister to.  These are the people we need to share the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ with.  Jesus spent his time in their company because those people needed him most.  We must never let our so-called "righteousness" get the better of us so that we ever feel more worthy of salvation than another person.

We must remember that we are ALL God's children.  He loves each and every one of us.  And it's the prodigal son that gets the most attention from the parent.  When I was a teenager my younger brother decided to live with my father in California while my mother and I resided in Missouri.  My mom's heart would ache over the loss of him.  I would often have to fight jealousy, because I was the child that stayed -- but that rarely seemed to be appreciated when compared to her sense of loss for my brother. 

I'm twice as old as I was then.  I have children of my own.  I now understand what was going on then.  I was never loved less, but I was the one that was there.  I was where I was supposed to be, and therefore I was not the one who was missed.  But that didn't mean she loved me any less, she just longed for my brother more because she couldn't have him at the time.

Our Father in Heaven is precisely that -- our Father.  And our Father longs greatly for His lost children.  Whenever a feeling of righteousness rises up in my throat, that is what I have to remind myself.  I am a sinner.  I repent.  I am forgiven.  But many others are sinners that have not repented and who are not yet forgiven.  The Lord would want us to dine with them.  He would want us to try to bring them home, instead of looking down our noses at them. 

I am so thankful that I am not the prodigal son, because I have salvation already.  The Holy Spirit fills me.  The bible and these studies are food for my soul.  I have a feeling of purpose and love and support in my life that I simply couldn't have without Jesus Christ.  So I will aim to keep my spirit full with the Holy Spirit and to share this amazing feeling with those who don't yet know it.

Psalm 66:1 - 20
66 Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will you what he did for me. 
 Come and listen, and I will tell you what he did for me.  Come and listen!

The Lord gives my life fullness and purpose and security.  I have no fears because I know that the Lord will always be there for me.  The fact that fear has been released from me is such a burden lifted. 

No matter what happens to me, the Lord will be there with me -- providing for me and family and protecting us.  Whatever happens -- no matter how Satan interferes with my life -- the Lord will turn it into something great.  Tragedy might strike, but with the Lord I will come out stronger than ever. 

No matter what happens in this life, I have an eternal life waiting that is free of any sorrow whatsoever.

Salvation truly sets you free.  So come and listen to what the Lord has done for me. 

I am no one special, but the Lord still loves me as His own child.  He loves you as His own child.  So come and listen to what the Lord has done for me. 

Embrace the Lord.  Embrace salvation and experience the same freedom. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Generosity is Food for the Spirit

Today's Reading:
  • Numbers 36:1 - 36:13
  • Proverbs 11:24 - 26
Read Bible Passages Online

Numbers 36:1 - 36:13
The book of Numbers ended abruptly today.  I did not realize that only 13 verses remained in this book until I sat down for today's reading.  The book of Numbers ends by saying that any woman who inherits property (because of a lack of males in the family) must marry within her own tribe.  This way all the ancestral land stays within its original tribe. 

Just like that the book of Numbers was finished. I expected to see the death of Moses before Numbers ended.  I guess that is because we saw the death of Aaron earlier in the book and because the Israel people were poised to enter the promised land.  I just assumed that Numbers ended with the death of Moses, but looks like I'll get to read another book whose authorship is credited to him.

Since I had so few verses for my readings, I re-read the introduction to Numbers and then read the introduction to Deuteronomy.  I also just flipped through the bible a bit and marveled at the wonder of it.  I feel like there's an entire world's worth of secrets waiting to be exposed to me in this greatest book of all time.

In this study that started on January 1st of this year, I have read the books of: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Matthew and Mark.  Additionally I have read a lot in the books of Proverbs, Psalms and Luke.  So I have read six full books and 3 partial books, yet I feel like I've learned an indescribable amount already.  There are 66 books in the bible -- a vast amount of information lies before me, waiting to be revealed.  The thought is astounding, overwhelming, and wondrous all at the same time. 

The bible is such a glorious book.  Many of us have multiple copies lying around our homes.  You can buy the New Testament for a dollar or less.  The bible is the greatest selling book of all time.  It might be hard to get a hold of a bible in some countries, but the bible will always be available and will never be eradicated.  Yet how many of us, myself included, have never read this entire book?

I am so thankful for the Lord putting this project in my heart.  By the time I am finished I will have scrutinized every single page of this bible.  I will have written about the entire book.  All of this knowledge that has been available to me at my fingertips for my entire life will finally be realized.  And then, when I'm done reading it, I will read it again and learn even more!  The bible never ceases to me amazing.

Proverbs 11:24 - 26
24  Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.
25  The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.
26  People curse those who hoard their grain, but they bless the one who sells in time of need.
 These verses seem very straightforward to me -- generosity leads to prosperity.  Not everyone who is generous will prosper financially, but these verses have implications that surpass just the monetary aspect of generosity.

Generosity is good for one's spirit.  Being generous to others, sharing with others, blessing others has a profound impact on one's own life.  Who is the most generous person you know?  What do you feel when you think of that person?  Do you feel jealousy or hatred?  Most likely not.  That's what you think about when you think of the greedy person who hoards his or her wealth.  But the generous person, they are dear to your heart, no matter how well you know them or don't know them. 

We all tend to love people who are generous.  Being generous is synonymous with being a good person.  What would it feel like to be that most generous person, I wonder.  I have a feeling that generosity and happiness go hand in hand.  I try to be a generous person but I have much work left to do.  I started with donating to charities and seeing my hard earned cash help others.  The more I help others, the more I want to do more!  It feels so good.  Generosity feels good. 

I could certainly be a more generous person though.  And I aim to become one! 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sickness, Sin, and the Healing Power of Jesus Christ

Today's Reading:
  • Luke 5:12 - 28
  • Psalm 65:1 - 13
Read Bible Passages Online

Luke 5:12 - 28
Jesus continued his ministry and healing practices amongst the people.  In 5:13, Jesus healed a man of leprosy and told him not to tell anyone what had happened.  You would think Jesus would want the man to spread his works, but apparently the crowds that were following Jesus were humongous already.  The man did not obey Jesus and more people sought him out.

Some men sought Jesus to heal a man who was paralyzed.  The crowds were so overwhelming that they could not get near Jesus with the mat the man was lying on.  So they took tiles off of the roof and literally lowered the man down to be healed.  Jesus told the man that his sins had been forgiven 5:20 and he was healed.

The New Testament is full of examples of the healing power of Jesus.  In many cases Jesus heals the person and they go on.  In this case, however, Jesus told this man his sins were forgiven and he was healed.  This says to me that sickness can be a result of sin.  I don't believe it's only the result of sin, for there are verses where Jesus is asked whose sin caused sickness in a person, yet Jesus denied any sin had occurred (John 9:2 is an example).

Whether a person's sickness/disability/etc is a result of their sin, the sin or their ancestors, or is not related to sin at all, the bottom line is that the healing power of the Lord allows us to be healed.  Just because something bad happens to a person does not mean that he or she did anything wrong to cause it befall upon them.  But regardless of how or why a person is sick, the power of Jesus can and does heal people, even to this day.

I have personally been struggling with trying to harness the healing power of Jesus.  Jesus has bestowed upon us the ability to heal and be healed in His name, yet there is so much involved in being able to utilize it.  I have written a few posts about this topic.  One of them was titled "Receiving What You Pray For".

With the power of Jesus, I have been healed from the headaches that plagued me multiple times per week.  Even though I had absolute faith that the Lord's power would and had healed me, it was a struggle.  I felt Satan fighting against me.  The first few weeks were a struggle.  Every time a headache tried to spring up, I had to fight Satan down with the power of Jesus.

I have not had a regular headache in many months now -- probably six months.  I have other health conditions, but as hard as it was for my human body to fight against Satan using the power of Jesus, I have not yet attempted to be healed of any of them.  I also have regular sicknesses -- I have had a fever for 20 days in a row now, but I have not been able to successfully break free of it yet.  I have, however, been able to call out sickness from within my children using the power of Jesus.  Why is it easier for me to do that then to fight the battle with something that is plaguing me?

I think it has to do with self doubt and self worth.  I have to remind myself that the Lord wants us to be healed, He wants us to be whole, He wants us to feel good and to be able to serve Him 100%.  And whether the sickness is a result of an attack from Satan or from my own sin, the result is the same.  With the power of Jesus I am forgiven.  With the power of Jesus I am healed.  With the awesome power of Jesus Christ I am freed.  Thank you, Lord!  Amen.

Update: The day after I wrote this post my fever finally broke!  There was no 21st day.  Praise the Lord!

Psalm 65:1 - 13
This is a Psalm of praise to the Lord.  David sings of how the Lord answers prayers and forgives our overwhelming sins.  We are told that prayers are answered with awesome deeds.  I can think of many times were I have prayed and the Lord answered those prayers more greatly than I could ever have hoped.  The Lord is so awesome and so worthy of our praise.  The Lord blesses us even when we have let a chasm come between us and Him.  The Lord loves us, and the Lord takes care of us every step of the way.  The Lord blesses us with overwhelming abundance.

This Psalm goes on to talk about how the Lord blesses the earth.  With the rains the Lord softens the earth and creates rich pastures.  Even "the hillsides blossom with joy" (65:12).

This Psalm is just a fantastic display of the Lord's blessings, and makes me truly grateful to have the Lord on my side, looking out for me and my family and my friends.  For loving every single person on this Earth and for creating such a gorgeous and wondrous place to live and thrive.  I love the Lord with all my heart, and the fact that He can love me even though I am not worthy is truly overwhelming.