Do you ever stumble across an odd statement while reading your Bible and think, Are you kidding me?
This happened to me this morning. I was reading the account in Numbers where Moses struck the rock and water came out. This account is actually the second time in Israelite history this event has occurred—and check this out—it happened at the exact same place as before: Meribah, which means “quarreling.”
The first account of getting water from the rock was shortly after the Israelites were delivered from Egypt. But the second account that gave me pause happened a generation later. Same place, same situation, but this time this generation had grown up in the desert and grumbled and complained to Moses about not having water.
For some time I have been wrestling with the classical reformed view of the ‘third use of the law’ namely using the Decalogue as the guide for life.
My concern has been the great propensity we have for sliding into legalism and self-justification, just as the Jews did. I keep coming back to the two laws Paul mentions, ‘the Law of sin and death’ and ‘the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’, and that living in the latter, is the natural state of the regenerate. Sanctification should be of the new creation life just as much as regeneration is its beginning.
Have you become aware of and what are your thoughts on Brian Rosner’s take on how Paul not only viewed the Law, but applied it in Christian living, namely by repudiation, replacement and reappropriation.
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better” (Ephesians 1:17)
I’ve been involved in a small Bible study group for almost three years. A good friend of mine is also in this group. Watching the transformation that has taken place over the years has been incredible. As he’s come into a deeper understanding of Jesus, I’ve seen him overcome the religious ideas he grew up with. God has given him a spirit of wisdom and revelation, and he’s entered into a deep and intimate knowledge of God that has transformed him.
It’s been beautiful to watch, but more impressively, it is something that can be replicated!
“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayer” (Ephesians 1:15-16)
It is not unusual for the Apostle Paul to open each of his letter with a prayer for the people he’s writing to. However, Ephesians is unique because he stops twice to pray (Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21). Both prayers are similar in that he is praying that they (and by extension us) will grasp the fullness of the mystery he’s writing about in this letter. The mystery is about Christ and the Church.
Paul opens by giving thanks for them because he’s heard about their faith in Christ Jesus and of their love for the saints of God, but also because of what he shared in the previous verses: “…and you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13-14).
"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory" (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Last summer, we tried canning for the first time. We had an abundant tomato harvest so naturally we wanted to preserve as much as we could. The process was simple enough—sterilizing the jars, blanching the tomatoes, and boiling the jars to remove air and seal them. Now we have a shelf full of canned tomatoes that will last a very long time.
Something similar happens when we receive the gospel message. We are marked, sealed, and preserved by God. He puts both His mark of ownership on us and “seals” us through the promised Holy Spirit to preserve us for the day of redemption.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24
Seven years ago, I was in a terrible bicycle accident that left my face ruined by road rash. My chin was split open, I had a black eye, and the skin on my shoulder was shaved off. I was black and blue from head to toe but fortunate in that I had not broken any bones in my face.
I was laid up that following week and couldn’t work. I remember each time I looked in the mirror, I would thank God for healing my face even though at the time it was still in bad shape. I was trusting God to heal me because there was nothing anyone could do for the damaged skin.
This took a lot of faith to trust and speak those words over to myself in the midst of the situation because I looked the opposite of what I was thanking God for.
Watch this video teaching by Juli entitled Help for the Brokenhearted.*
In brokenness, in situations where we are crushed, our spirit is at risk and our hope is wavering, yet wholeness can come through the Lord’s tenderness. God’s faithfulness will give us the grace and perspective needed to navigate, survive, and even flourish in suffering.
In this teaching, Juli shares a very personal story of heartbreak and highlights God’s faithfulness in midst of this situation. Her message will encourage you to lean on the Lord’s promises and make room for God's healing work in your heart.
*Juli taught this sermon at Orchard Hill Church on March 29, 2015.
What happens when you are faced with the reality of your faith?
You have a choice. To walk it out, scary as it may seem, or to turn a deaf ear to the prompting in your heart.
Today, I’m facing such a dilemma…and yet what will I choose?
I’ve been in Chicago for a few days. I love this city, as it is like a second home to me. Even on a work trip, I find the time to do the things I enjoy. I frequent my favorite restaurants, and I run the lakeshore trails while breathing in the beautiful skyline. I do touristy stuff like visit the Art Museum or Shedd’s Aquarium. And I’ve even taken a selfie under the Bean in Millennium Park. For me, it is a fun escape…even in the cold windy month of March.
Yet this time, I am faced with the issue of homelessness. I’ve seen it before—it’s part of big city life—but this time it is like a vice gripping and squeezing my heart. A man stopped me the other day and asked me to buy him a sandwich. I refused because I was scared to interact with him as he was clearly intoxicated and I was alone.
But what bothers me is that I spent $40 on my own dinner that night and didn’t think twice.
“Also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:11-12 NASB)
When God created the world, man was the crowning jewel in all creation (Gen. 1:26-27). He made male and female in His image to reflect and display His glory. Mankind’s fall merely put this plan on hold it did not thwart it.
When Jesus came to redeem through His death and resurrection all that was stolen in the garden, He gave birth to the Church (Col. 2:18). The Church is the crowning jewel in redemption. In Ephesians 1 alone, Paul reminds us that the inevitable result of all of God’s actions is that He will be praised and glorified (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). The Church brings glory to God, and this was part of His master plan. “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:10-11).
“And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” (Ephesians 1:9-10)
What if our redemption was meant only for this world? Don’t we live this way? Don’t we have a narrow view of what was accomplished on the cross? I know I do. I get so wrapped up in day-to-day living that I lose track of the bigger picture.
In the previous verses, we are told that we have been redeemed and forgiven in accordance with God’s grace (Eph. 1:7). Then Paul mentions that this has been lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding (Eph. 1:8). I truly believe he says this so we will understand the next statement, “…and he made known to us the mystery of his will” (Eph. 1:9a).