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Showing posts from July 24, 2016

Exchange - New Life Series #6

When was the last time you exchanged money for some item, service, or food? I'll bet it was less than 24 hours ago. We exchange things on a regular basis without understanding or actually using this word. We can even extend it to our time and talents because we are exchanging these regularly to gain something, also. Paul used this word early in the book of Romans to explain what humanity has done with what God has given them. "They became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles…They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things…women [and men] exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones…They became filled with every kind of wickedness, greed and depravity [exchanged goodness for evil]." (Romans 1:21-29) This is the life of the walking dead, one that is flesh driven, creator ignoring, and perpetually deepening itself in sin. God chose a different way to he…

Nature - New Life Series #5

You and I and the Apostle Paul have the same problem. He shared it openly when he said, "I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin...For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…It is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing." (Romans 7:14-19) Paul understood the perpetual conflict between his sinful nature and his newly acquired righteous nature (we say his "old nature" and his "new nature"). When he wanted to do good, in his old nature he could not do it. His motives were wrong, his actions were tainted by sin's influence, and he was impure. Now we're not talking about a person in the twenty-first century who is captured by an addiction; we are talking about an Apostle, one who birthed new…

Transformation - New Life Series #4

One day Jesus took Peter, James and John up on a mountain top and was "transfigured" before them. (Matthew 17:2) Jesus had looked on the outside like a normal person, a carpenter by trade, one who was no more special than any other Israelite, but deep inside he was God and for a moment he let the who he was inside shine out for these three men to see. This is the idea of transformation. Paul spent the first eight chapters of the book of Romans explaining that we, whether Jew or Gentile, are all dead in sin, but faith has come by the Holy Spirit's work in our hearts and now we are saved. On that basis then, Paul encourages the Roman Christians to "offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed [transfigured] by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:1-2) The objective of a new way of living is to be a sacrifice in your body; to not le…

Circumcision of the Heart - New Life Series #3

Circumcision was a rite of the Jews begun by Abraham that required every male on the eighth day after birth to be circumcised by a priest, father or mother. It was a way in which they as a people were set apart from other nations but did not keep them from turning to idols and the worship of false gods. So, this term receives new meaning when applied by Paul in the New Testament. To the Romans Paul said, "The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision (that would be Jews), are a lawbreaker. A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code."(Romans 2:27-29) God makes a distinction moving from the physical to the spiritual and to Christ's righteousness within us from righteous acts related to the Law. We beco…

Resurrection Life - New Life Series #2

Lazarus was called forth from an opened grave at Jesus' command. He waddled out, grave clothes impeding his ability to walk, with "hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face." (John 11:44) He was like a mummy waking and walking. Jesus instructed others to "take off the grave clothes and let him go," to "loose him," to free him from that which bound him. And at that, Lazarus was back alive. Possibly there was evidence in his skin of what the grave was beginning to do to him. He had been there for four days. But now he was alive once more to eat, drink, speak, listen, laugh, and more. In the future he would pass back through the door of death but this time it would be final and he would be in heaven. This is an imperfect illustration of what happens when a person decides to become a follower of Jesus Christ. Our spirits were separated from God by Adam's sin in the Garden of Eden and we were dead in trespasses and sins. (…