God’s justice or God’s grace? The cross.

 

God will never compromise on his holiness and on his grace. But we, in our limited try to figure Him out, in our every day, we do one of two things

  1. we either emphasize the holiness of God and we say – look at what I did, God could not forgive me for such a thing.

or we emphasize the grace of God and say – doesn’t matter acheterdufrance.com what I did, God is love, He will forgive me anyway.

 

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“Love is that powerful and prevalent passion by which all the faculties and inclinations of the soul are determined, and on which both its perfection and happiness depend. The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love.” wrote Henry Scougal, the scottish theologian, in his little book “The Life of God in the Soul of Man”.

This past Sunday we, in Koinonia, looked at Samson, acheter viagra his life, his actions, his weakness and strength, and at how the Lord worked through him.

 

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True Spirituality

We are in a Romans 12 series, based on Chip Ingram’s book “True Spirituality”. Today we are true-spiritualityin session 2. Last week we looked at part 1 of a two Sunday’s message on ‘God’s dream for your life‘. Our focus was the Christians relationship with God and the world. Today the focus will be on the Christians relationship with himself, with other believers and with nonbelievers. We hope you will join us viagra discount in our study of this rich and practical chapter of Romans.

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Hungry. Thirsty. Blessed. Righteous.

Everyone knows that the words we speak reveal much about our life.

hunger-thirst-for-righteousnessJust like a photographic image is revealed while immersed in the developing fluid, so the background of our outside life and the richness of our inner life are revealed through our words.

The words that you and I speak are conditioned by the background of our daily lives – affections, thoughts, longings, anxieties, struggles, passions, what we read, what we watch, what we listen too.

In Matthew 5:6 we come across these words:

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Considering our “theory” expressed above, what do these words say about Jesus, about his life? The question will be answered in a future article.

But for now let’s look at the words and the listeners. When Jesus spoke these words, the people to whom he was speaking, the people who heard the words for the first time, for them HUNGER and THIRST rang a clear bell. They knew what it meant to be hungry (they didn’t have our supermarkets, our constant access to food, our money and our refrigerators) and they knew what it meant to be thirsty (they didn’t have out taps, where at any time of day you can have clean, fresh water).

But Jesus meant more than that.

What he was talking about was a kind of hunger and a kind of thirst, which, if not quenched, would lead to death. Have we ever felt like we would die of hunger or thirst?

When we go over these words in Matthew our brain can have a somewhat difficult time in actually rendering the feelings, the anxieties, the fears and the pains which hunger and thirst would provoke.

Now … here is the difficult part: as believers, we should hunger and thirst to be righteous. Its not food and water we are talking about, but RIGHTEOUSNESS.

In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul says this:

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

If we put them together – the verse in Matthew and the one in 2 Corinthians, we can see the following:

  • our hunger and thirst for righteousness is our thirst and hunger for Christ (“IN HIM we might become the righteousness …”)
  • [to be made righteous you need a sinless person to satisfy God’s wrath (sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins”) (see 1 John 4:10)]
  • it was God’s plan to accomplish this – us being made righteous (“HE MADE him to be sin …. SO THAT ….”)
  • we are in the same “class” with Paul when it comes to sinners being made righteous (“WE might become …..”)
  • Jesus is talking about a hunger and thirst that only He can satisfy. (Matthew 5:6)
  • it is a promise – the fact that if we hunger and thirst – we will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6)
  • this hunger and thirst comes with a unique kind of joy in the life of those who have it. (BLESSED are those who ...) (Matt 5:6)

The questions for us today are:

– Can these words hit us, IMPACT our hearts and minds in such a way that we can feel that, if we do not eat and drink, we will die?

– DO WE HUNGER AND THIRST FOR … RIGHTEOUSNESS?

One last thing:

Jesus says : “THOSE WHO hunger and thirst”. Not everyone does.

Do I? Do you?

This is an encouragement for you to desire more of Christ, to want to know Him more, to want to be more like Him, to want to follow Him and obey Him, to desire to be more holy, to be more humble, more loving, more sacrificial.

HUNGER AND THIRST for righteousness, knowing cialis générique en pharmacie that only God can make you righteous through CHRIST.

 

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Where’s Wally ……… ?

The purpose of the maze-like picture game “Where’s Wally” is to find a skinny, tall guy, with striped (red and white) shirt, striped hat, blue pants and glasses – in a labyrinth of people, in a

setting where a crowded mass of people (some wearing striped pieces of clothing), shapes and colors, hide Wally like a perfect camouflage. The same is happening with Israel in the book of Judges, in the canaanization of their hearts, where, reaching the end of the book, you find yourself asking: “Where’s Israel?”

maps_troyChapter 13 begins with the people sinning – “Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” – and as in all cases throughout the book, as a consequence of their sinning, God gives them in the hands of the Philistines. For 40 years.

But there is something missing as the history develops and we reach, after 40 years, the announcement of Samson’s birth. Israel is not crying out to the Lord. Before, in similar settings, they cried out after 8 years of suffering. In this case, it was 40 years. But was it suffering? The fact that the crying out to God is absent leads us to believe that what they experienced in the hand of the Philistines was not suffering. If we go deeper into the problem we might say that if God did not intervene by raising a judge, namely Samson, the 40 years would have become 50, 60, ….

God manifests His grace again by raising a deliverer that the people didn’t ask for, and didn’t think they need. Grace saved Israel from itself. Again. Samson’s birth is a sign of God’s commitment to Israel. A sign of love and faithfulness

for His chosen people, an unloving and unfaithful nation.

The context of Samson’s birth is one which reminds of a few other, almost identical, contexts. Isaac, Samuel, John the Baptist, and ultimately Jesus. The impossibility of these births (barrenness and virginity – in the case of Mary) and the purpose of those born point us to a God who is sovereign, and graceful in accomplishing His will and plan for His people. It shows us that salvation is a miracle and that the only source of if is God.

Chapter 13, in the book of Judges, and the announcement of Samson’s birth are a sketch of the Gospel – a nation sinning, without desire for salvation due to hardness of heart, and a servant born, miraculously, to deliver them from God’s wrath. Will Samson live up to this picture?

We don’t know if, in the game, Wally wants to be found, but what we do know is that, in the book of Judges, Israel has no clue that they need finding. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25

Through Samson, an imperfect deliverer, and later, through His Son, the perfect deliverer, God sets out to find us, and bring us back.

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King over your mouth

One of the most valuable lessons, especially valuable today, when apparently everyone speaks his or her own mind, without thinking much about the weight and sharpness of their words, is the lesson that Jephthah learns (or should have learned). He says in Judges 11:35 – I have opened my mouth to the LORD, and I cannot take back my vow.” – and this in the context where God did not expect or require a vow from Jephthah.1359642974

The lesson here is the lesson of so many verses in the Book of Proverbs that talk about our words, mouth and tongue:

18:21 – Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

17:27 – Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

21:23 – Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

16:24 – Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

15:4 –  A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

10:19 – When words are many, transgression is not lacking.

Words have a weight, and in a sense, it is a weight that nothing else carries. Besides their weight, our words are part of a larger narrative, that of our own being, of who we are inside. We speak from our inner man. Our words carry the weight of our heart. Jesus, in Luke 6:45 viagra pas cher says: The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” There is no way of escaping this truth. What ever else we do to hide who we truly are, in the end our words and actions present our true image, the real portrait of our heart.

What was the abundance of Jephthah’s heart? What is the abundance of my own heart? What is the abundance of your own heart? You can measure it by listening to your words, what you say, how you say it, by seeing the reason for which you say a thing or another. (Do you want a realistic photography of your words? Ask both those closest to you and those with whom you come in contact less often, what your words really “say”, how your words really sound like.) Jephthah, as we have seen last Sunday, when he opened his mouth to the Lord, he was proud and foolish, unwise. If he were less proud and more focused on what God wants, he would have known or remembered Deuteronomy 12:31 – “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.” The questions is, then: If we were less proud and more focused on what God wants, how would we speak?

Another way of seeing the abundance of your heart is looking at what you treasure most in life. Jesus said in Matthew 6:21 – “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” That which is the highest, most precious treasure of your heart is what will drive your actions and ultimately your words. If Jesus Christ is your highest, most precious, most treasured treasure, He will have your heart and your words will bear the mark of that treasure. You will be loving in what you say, you will look to build others up through your words and intentions. As Proverbs 15:4 says, your tongue will be a tree of life for others.

The book of Judges ends with a, by now, very famous verse, Judges 21:25 –In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” The lack of a king in Israel drove them to do what was right in their own eyes and mind. Today, let the presence of the King of Kings in your hearts drive your words and intentions. Let Jesus be King over your mouth.

 

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Have you ever been in the belly of the fish?

In Hebrews 4:16, the writer of the letter says: “we draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” If you go to the one who seats on the throne of grace, what else can you find if not grace and mercy.

jonahWe are reminded of this in another way, when reading Jonah 2, where you find this verse that we’ve read so many times, but maybe it never had it’s full effect on our heart. The verse goes like this (Jonah 2:1) – “Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish.”

It automatically brings to mind this question: What was the strangest, most difficult circumstance where you prayed? Why is the place or the circumstance in which we pray important or helpful? Because of what Jonah says later. But let https://www.cialissansordonnancefr24.com/generique-cialis/ me ask you this, first:

What was the most difficult place in your life, where you had to kneel before the throne of grace? Our “times of need” (Hebrews 4:16) are our “belly of the fish” (Jonah 2:1).

So why is the place important? If you read chapter 2 in Jonah you will understand how important the belly of the fish was for him. It helped him understand and recognize, through prayer, God’s sovereign power. Jonah says this in his prayer:

Jonah 2:3 – “YOU cast me into the deep

Jonah 2:6 – “YOU brought up my life from the pit

Jonah and all of us, sometimes, need the “belly of the fish“/ the “times of need” in order that we:

  1. acknowledge that God is in control, that he is SOVEREIGN
  2. that He alone is our saviour
  3. that everything works for the good of those who love Him and are called for His purpose
  4. that we need to kneel before the throne of grace for grace
  5. that He will save us for a purpose

Rejoice in the Lord always!

 

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What do you do with a new mind?

What are acheter du cialis en ligne the things that mostly fill your thoughts and meditations in moments of silence, or when waiting for the bus, or when riding your bike through Aalborg, or when you simply look out your window for no reason?

Don Delillo, the american writer, in his novel Libra, writes this beautiful sentence thatStop-Thinking contains a vivid image of people not thinking of anything while waiting for the subway: “People stood on local platforms staring nowhere, a look they’d been practicing for years.” Are you like that, are you “staring nowhere“? What are you thinking of?

What is the life our minds? What does it do? What does it “feed” on? What does it delight in? Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:7 – “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”

One of the effects the new birth has on our lives is the renewal of our minds: Romans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind”. What do you do with a new mind? Paul answers this question for us in Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

So dear brothers and sisters in Christ, THINK over the Word of God, think over what Paul says (just like he tells Timothy to do) because through your thinking over it the Lord will give you understanding of it. And if our minds have been renewed, and were cleansed by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 9:14 – “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience“) think of the things that God wants you to think of, delight in the things God wants you to delight in, and want the things God wants – namely His glory.

Glorify God with your mind and your thoughts too!

 

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Idolatry

Leszek Kolakowski, the Polish philosopher, in one of his essays, entitled, “Why a calf? Idolatry and death of God, wrote that “we are sacrificing God on the altar of our own selfish interests, as if we were worshiping ourselves instead of Him.” 

Jeroboam's_Idolatry_(Bible_card)Idolatry is on the one hand very comfortable and on the other, very dangerous.

Firstly, I say comfortable because of a cluster of things – easy access, as it were, to the act in itself – can be done any time, any place; then there is the easiness with which the heart is inclined to do it; and also the imediacy of its reward – somekind of fleeting sentimental pleasure that boosts the mood of the “worshiper” – which is actually of a more complex nature than I have the space and time here to expand on).

Secondly, I say dangerous, based on two things:

1. For the disastrous exchange of the worshiped person: we replace God with ourselves, or some man made thing.

2. For what David says in Psalm 115:4-8

“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them BECOME LIKE THEM; so do all who trust in them.”
[Psalm 115:4-8]

Idolatry has https://www.acheterviagrafr24.com/achat-viagra-en-ligne-quebec/ the power to make us mute, blind, and unable to feel or move, just like the idol we worship, which in itself has no powers at all. Mute and blind towards the real God. Unable to feel or move – feel Him and move/act according to His guidance.

These comforts and these dangers show how easily can a heart be deceived. We see this in the book of Judges, where the text talks about Israel doing evil in the eyes of the Lord. Judges 3:7 says – “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs.” What was the evil? Forgetting God and serving idols.

In Galatians 5:19-20 Paul writes – “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, IDOLATRY, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

So the question is: how do we keep ourselves from idolatry? John writes in his first letter: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21) Yes, but how?

Paul gives us the answer in Galatians 5:16-17 – “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

Therefore, on Sunday, in celebrating Pentecost, we celebrate the Spirit that helps us put to death any desires for idolatry, any desires to put ourselves in the place of God, any desires for “sacrificing God on the altar of our own selfish interests.”

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“Do not be conformed to this world”, be conformed to Christ.

In Judges 4&5, the process of the “canaanization of Israel” is in full development. Instead of obeying the Lord, the people of Israel embrace the idolatrous culture and continu9781908762887e to do evil in the eyes of their Lord. This “friendship with the world” will lead in the end to the famous, but sad, last verse of the book “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.”

Reading this, it is hard not to hear ringing again and again in your ears James’s question: “don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God?” (James 4:4)

Here, in these two chapters also, the focus on the sovereignty of God is unmissable.

v.2 – “the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan”

v.7 – “I will draw out Sisera”

v.14 – “this is the day in which the LORD has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the LORD go out before you?”

v.15 – “the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak by the edge of the sword”

v.23 – “on that day God subdued Jabin the king of Canaan before the people of Israel”

This time, God appoints a prophetess to judge the people. But her duty is different from that of Othniel, Ehud or Shamgar. Deborah, the prophetess, comes to summon a leader. She is not a ruler, or a military leader, she is not responsible for leading the nation. What she does is find the one who is supposed to lead Israel to war. Deborah, as a prophetess, plays the role of an intermediary between God and the people, which leads Barack in v.8 to say: “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” He agrees to lead the people, but with the condition of having the Lord with him, through Deborah.

There are many ways of looking at and studying the book of Judges. One of them is to look at the things that the Lord wants to teach His people and the people are simply blind to it. In verse 14 Deborah says to Barak: “this is the day in which the LORD has given Sisera into your hand.” Here, one of the things that God is trying to teach the people is His grace, the undeserved gift from God. If you look closely Deborah uses past tense in addressing Barak – “the Lord has given”. The Lord has already, by grace, given the enemy in his hand, before he even went to battle. Isn’t that an encouragement? Rejoice, because by the same grace of God we are victorious today.

The accounts of chapters 4 and 5 are relevant for us today in several ways:

  1. The way in which God uses Deborah in the life of His people should be an inspiration for all christian women today – to put their life in http://www.achaten-suisse.com/ God’s service and serve boldly and joyfully.
  2. In the way in which God is not bound by context or culture – the so called “canaanazation of Israel” is not something that holds God at bay. He sovereignly and gracefully accomplishes His will in the life of His people, for His own glory and honor.
  3. In chapter 5 (which is a poetic retelling of the account in chapter 4) in verse 16 we are told –  “Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart”. This great searchings of the heart is something that should characterize us all, christians, today. It should be a discipline put in practice through prayer and meditation on God’s word, through repentance of sin and through turning to God, our Lord, and obeying His commands.
  4. One of the things that is extremely relevant for us today, and it is also one of the reasons why in Koinonia we choose to study the book of Judges, is this aspect of not being “conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Our threat is not called canaanazation, but the ungodly culture and the idols are just as prominent as then. Today, very much like in the time of Judges, everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes. As christians we are called to be salt and light in the world and in the culture and context where we live, so that Christ can shine brightly through us. By doing that we are called to not identify ourselves with the world, but to present and talk about our identity in Christ. So,  … “Do not be conformed to this world”, be conformed to Christ.

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