Friday, August 3, 2012

I'm afraid of letting grace have its way

Have you ever been told if you don’t believe ______ then you aren’t really a Christian? How about unless you _____ then you are going against God’s word? Fill in the blank, for anything can go in there. It can be hard can’t it? So many people want to do the right thing, live a good life, and help us in the process. Yet it seems all we end up doing is setting hurdles in front of one another.

My first year of college I practically lived at the Baptist Student Union. I was heavily involved with many aspects of what they did, and I loved it. My second year of college I wasn’t involved with the BSU at all. One afternoon I was walking across campus and saw an old friend from the year before headed my way. Thinking it would be a good time to chat and catch up I stopped to speak with him. I don’t really remember much of the conversation we shared, or how long it went on. What I remember most vividly was him telling me black was an evil color and I shouldn’t wear it as a Christian. I had some black jeans on at the time.

It’s interesting what we get in our brains as “to do” lists. Do you have a check list? I have had my share. Go to church – check. Attend Bible study – check. Read my Bible – check. Pray – check. Attend Sunday school – check. Hang out with the right people – check. Don’t curse – check. Stay within the societal norms – check. Oh, your list is your own and different, I know. Truth is mine has contained items I haven’t mentioned here as well. What I desire is to keep crossing things off my list until it looks like this:
  • Know Jesus.
  • Love God.
  • Listen to the Holy Spirit.
It has nothing to do with the clothes we wear, or how many times we have fallen down. It’s about grace, and love coming from God down onto us. It’s about us getting to know Him, and how He affects changes in our lives.

There is a group who will be picketing the church I attend and two others in the area. The group claims to be a Christian group, and I attend a church who claims Christianity and the Bible as their base. The group sees our problem as not believing exactly the same as they do. They are going to help us by warning us we are going to hell. I see the group’s problem as they don’t think God’s grace and love are big enough to do the job they were designed to do.

It’s time to start taking the hurdles down.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The fear of accepting grace.

Judges 6:23
But the Lord said to him,
“Peace! Do not be afraid.
You will not die.”

We don’t get to see God face to face, so the holy terror which would strike our hearts is a little unfathomable. Yet, each time someone does face God they are scared for their life and walk away changed. Moses asked to see God’s glory, and was only allowed a glimpse from which he returned glowing himself. Isaiah threw himself in the dirt claiming his unworthiness. And here Gideon also is worried about death. If there is a difference between them and us, I would have to say it is grace.

Because of grace we are redeemed, saved from God’s wrath, and no longer condemned. We are no more worthy than they were, but we have a place at God’s throne. It is wise to still have a respect for the Lord, for He is the Lord Almighty, but He has brought peace to us all. Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection means we do not have to live under the Law as Moses, Isaiah, and Gideon did. Rather we are able to live as brothers and sisters, heirs with Christ, children of God.

It is quite amazing to realize the Great and Almighty God wants to have a relationship with each of us. He wants to know our hearts, and He wants us to know Him. It makes no difference what we have done, what we struggle with, or how often we fall down. Unfortunately this idea is a little unfathomable for some people.

There are groups who want to make us live under the law again. Usually it will be the law of their own choosing, and truth be told any of us are susceptible of falling into this trap. Whether we put it on our own shoulders, or another’s, the yoke of deeds is not one we need to live with anymore. God’s grace is bigger and His love is greater than any sin we could commit. Peace! Do not be afraid. You will not die. We have seen God, received His peace, and now walk away changed.

Question 1: Have you chosen to accept Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection as your salvation? Why or why not?

Question 2: Do you put laws in the way between God and yourself? What about between God and others? Isn’t it time to take those down and simply let love have its way?

Dear Father
I thank you for allowing me to call you that
I know you are Great and Mighty
I know you are the Creator of the Universe
I am humbled you would allow me into your presence
I ask as my heart grows closer to you
you will remove the laws I have placed as hurdles
to reach your love.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Judges 6:23

But the Lord said to him, "Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die." (NIV)  
The Lord said to him, "Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die." (NAS)  
The Lord said to him, Peace be to you, do not fear; you shall not die. (Amplified)

Gill's Exposition:

Peace be unto thee, fear not, thou shalt not die' let not thy mind be ruffled and disturbed, but serene and calm, fear not any evil shall befall thee, and particularly death; thou shall be safe from any danger whatever, and especially from death, which he expected in his flight would immediately folow

Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary:

For the assurance of peace which He had given to Gideon, was also a confirmation of His announcement that Gideon would conquer the Midianites in the strength of God, and deliver Israel from its oppressors.

Gideon's Fear

The Israelites are in the Promised Land, and have lived under alternating years of distress and Judges. Currently they are under the terror of the Midianites who are scouring their crops and land taking whatever they need as a group of grasshoppers destroying the land. Gideon has been discoursing with someone who he has just realized was the angel of God. Gideon’s story is found in Judges 6-8.

Before the fire had completely gone out Gideon was on his face in the dirt. What would happen to him? His thoughts began to swirl as panic grabbed hold of his heart. “I have seen the great and mighty God. The one they talked about. The one you can’t see. Me, the weakest of the weak. I told him who I was. Why did He not listen? Who am I to face God almighty? Who am I to survive this? What will happen now? What was it he said?” In the quick breath he took before he could go on God interrupted his thinking.

But the lord said to him, “Peace!"

“Peace?” Gideon wondered at such an exclamation. How could he have peace? He wanted it. He currently lived hiding and fearful of the Midianites. Now he will soon die because he saw the Almighty face to face. If he doesn’t die now, he will surely die later for the Almighty told him to fight the Midianites, his oppressors. The Israelite’s oppressors. How would he survive any of this? Was this God so powerful that he could use him, Gideon, the weakest and smallest, to take care of the horde of Midianites through the land? Would he not just die then?

"Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”

Gideon’s thoughts slowed a little more as peace did come to his heart and mind. As this truly was the God Almighty, and He has told me I won’t die, then maybe I can accept that and move forward. This is all so new to me, but it’s so like what I have been told of the past. If he saved us from Egypt, maybe He is now choosing to save us again.” Gideon got up and built an altar to the Lord and called it “The Lord is Peace” for that was what he now had in his heart.