4

Our home church is studying Romans and we’re working through chapter 6. In our Bible Study last night, my dear friend Helen pointed out the word “instruments” found twice in Romans 6:13, can also mean weapons. With this change, where the text reads, “instruments of righteousness” it can be read “weapons of righteousness.” 

and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments[weapons] of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments [weapons] of righteousness to God. - Romans 6:13 NASB

In my reading this morning I came across that exact phrase in 2 Corinthians

in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, - 2 Corinthians 6:7 NASB

That piqued my interest, so I followed the trail a little farther, and I found two other very interesting places this word is used.

The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor [weapons] of light. - Romans 13:12 NASB (Like spiritual light sabers!)

for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. - 2 Corinthians 10:4 NASB

So here is a thought:

We are in a war, and the spiritual weapons at our disposal include our own body given to God for the purpose of walking in righteousness. It is an act of war against satan and his kingdom to walk in newness of life, reckoning ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God.

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThanks for stopping by,

See you again soon

Ben

3

In our home church we’ve been studying Romans. On Thursday night we were talking about Romans 6 and how our baptism is a picture of Christ’s death and resurrection.

I was listening to Steve Bremner’s Fire On Your Head Podcast and he interviewed Carlos A. Rodriguez. They got talking about Jesus’ baptism and how God tore heaven open.

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased." - Mark 1:9-11 NASB

You can check out the interview here. The segment I’m reacting to was at about 36 minutes in and went for less than three minutes, but the whole podcast is worth listening to.

This got me thinking about how this relates to Romans 6 and the believers baptism.

Christ’s baptism not only a fulfilled all righteousness, like He said to John the Baptist, but it gave us a picture of what was coming for all of us upon His death and resurrection.

When He was baptized, God tore open the heavens. I love what Carlos A. Rodriguez (check out his blog, HappySonship here) says about this. When you tear something, it’s not because you are planning to sew it back together. It is a destruction. God tore the heavens open and Jesus walked under an open heaven every day of His life.

At the crucifixion of Jesus, God tore the veil in the temple open, once and for all. It was not for the priests to sew back together. It demonstrates that like Jesus, all who are in Christ now walk under an open heaven. No longer do we need to sacrifice yearly for our sins to make atonement to the Lord, so that He will hear our prayers. Now the veil is torn—the heaven open—and we are free to commune with God the way Jesus did. We have the same access to heaven as Jesus did. The store house of heaven is open to us. God's rich supply is as available to us as it was to Jesus.Need direction for your life? Need healing? Need provision? Need comfort? Heaven is open and God is talking.

Not to mention, in the same way as the Father did at Jesus baptism, He poured out the Holy Spirit on us so that we can walk in newness of life. We are new creations—a new species—no longer sin-natured. We are now God-natured. We are not living with dead spirits, suffering from the curse of Adam’s sin. We have living spirits—having been breathed on by the breath of God—inhabited by the Holy Spirit—and benefitting from Jesus’ own righteousness.

Like Paul tell us in Romans 6 when he's talking about our baptism as a demonstration of the fact that we now walk in newness of life—life with an open heaven—with a torn veil and a new spirit.

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. - Romans 6:4 NASB

Hallelujah!

That right there is some good news!

Ben NelsonHey, thanks for coming by.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

See you again soon.

Ben

1

I can't get this song out of my heart. I've been singing it all week long. I picked up Bethel's new collection (I want to call it an album, and I suppose that still works - but it does show my age) and have been loving it, but this one has grasped me.

Have It All

Written by Brian Johnson, Bobby Strand, Lindsey Strand, Mia Fieldes, Joel Taylor

Chorus
You can have it all, Lord
Every part of my world
Take this life and breathe on
This heart that is now Yours

Verse 1
Oh the joy I’ve found
Surrendering my crowns
At the feet of the King
Who surrendered everything

Verse 2
Oh the peace that comes
When I’m broken and undone
By Your unfailing grace
I can lift my voice and say

Chorus
You can have it all, Lord
Every part of my world
Take this life and breathe on
This heart that is now Yours

Bridge
Ohhhh, Ohhhh
There is no greater call
Than giving You my all
I lay it all down, I lay it all down
There is no greater love
No higher name above
I lay it all down, I lay it all down
Singing Ohhhh, Ohhhh

===

Isn't that wonderful!

You can pickup the CD or MP3 here.

Enjoy.

Ben

4

What makes the law so attractive?

We’ve been choosing law over grace from the very beginning. Adam and Eve chose the knowledge of good and evil over life. (Genesis 3) Israel chose being given instructions over a relationship with God. (Exodus 20:19)

Even after God demonstrated the inability of the law to save us (Romans 8:3) we go back to choosing the law.

We have tasted and seen the amazing blessings of grace—forgiveness of sins, new nature, life in the light.

We have been given a new heart, been washed clean of the guilt and stain of our sins. Even our old nature has been sent packing, and we have received the very Spirit of the Living God dwelling in us.

And still we choose law.

How, you ask?

In so many ways.

We do to earn the favor of God.

We give to receive a blessing.

We hold the law up to demand our rights as citizens of this new kingdom.

I’ve done it a thousand times. I’ve demanded that God keep His promise based on my performance.

I’ve spent money I didn’t have because God owed me a blessing based on my giving.

I’ve demanded that He heal because He already paid the price.

I believe the problem is not that God is slack concerning His promises, but that I’m living in a law based paradigm. I slip back into law too easily. I begin to demand to receive what I’m owed, not realizing it’s already been given. I lose sight of God the giver and see Him the One withholding the things I am owed. I must plead my case with Him as my opponent rather than my Advocate.

My mistake may be that I’m using a law based reasoning for healing, or prosperity, or promotion, instead of establishing grace as the foundation of my life.

What earns me healing? Do I, by my tithing, pry open the windows of heaven?

Or are these things simply gifts from the Most High, given freely?

Are all the gifts of God like salvation? There is nothing I did to deserve salvation. In fact, I came to the Lord doubly dead—dead by my sin nature—deserving of death by my own sins and transgressions. There’s not much a dead man can do to save himself.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. - Romans 5:8-10 NASB (Emphasis mine

I didn’t stand before God and demand absolution from my old nature. I, with confession on my lips bowed my head and asked His forgiveness and accepted His great grace toward me.

And you know what He did? He sprinkled me with clean water—washed me clean from my old nature and my sinful deeds. He forgave each and every sin I had ever committed. He took the stoney heart out of my soul—the heart that could not keep His law and kept me from obeying His command to love Him and love my neighbor. Then He replaced that old stone heart of mine with a new heart—one that love’s Him—one that has the capacity to keep His Word. (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

Then, best of all, He came and took up residence in that new heart.

We’re not adversaries any longer. I was the enemy of God, but today, I’m His dwelling place, and He’s mine. He is my Home. I am His home. I am my Beloved’s and He is mine. (Song of Songs 6:3)

I don’t have to argue my case in order to get what I think should be mine. I don’t have to drag Him into court and show the judge my marriage license and say, He owes me healing, He owes me prosperity, He owes me a good life.

God Forbid!

Our access to all God has for us comes through intimacy not litigation. [Tweet this]

My beloved Father blessed me with all spiritual blessings the day I surrendered my life to Him. (Ephesians 1:3)

My dear Abba God seated me in Christ in heavenly places years and decades ago when I laid down the weapons of my warfare against Him. (Ephesians 2:6)

The Lover of my soul gave to me all things that pertain to life and godliness through the increasing revelation of who He is, day by day as we dwell together. (2 Peter 1:3)

This great God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has made me a partaker of His own divine nature through His great and precious promises. (2 Peter 1:4)

I’m going to start pressing into His grace, and giving Him space to multiply that grace into my situations and circumstances. I’m done demanding from God, and contending with Him. He is more than enough for me.

Thanks for listening as I slog through some thoughts chasing around in my heart.

Ben NelsonSee you again soon.

In Jesus,

Ben

1

This is the cry of my heart this morning.

FALL AFRESH

Written by Jeremy Riddle

©2011 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing

VERSE

Awaken my soul, come awake
To hunger, to seek, to thirst
Awaken first love, come awake
And do as you did, at first

CHORUS

Spirit of the living
God come fall afresh on me
Come wake me from my sleep
Blow through the caverns of my soul
Pour in me to overflow

BRIDGE

Come and fill this place
Let Your glory now invade
Spirit come and fill this place
Let your glory now invade

===

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

Walk in the grace.

Ben

Today I want to feature another song from Amanda Cook. It's a great declaration of God's love.

Enjoy.

Peices

written by Amanda Cook, Steffany Gretzinger

Amanda Cook, Steffany Gretzinger © 2015 Bethel Music Publishing (ASCAP). All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

VERSE 1

Unreserved, unrestrained

Your love is wild, Your love is wild for me

It isn’t shy, it’s unashamed

Your love is proud to be seen with me

 

CHORUS

You don’t give Your heart in pieces

You don’t hide Yourself to tease us

 

VERSE 2

Uncontrolled, un-contained

Your love is a fire burning bright for me

It’s not just a spark, it’s not just a flame

Your love is a light, and all the world will see

 

DOUBLE CHORUS

You don’t give Your heart in pieces

You don’t hide Yourself to tease us

You don’t give Your heart in pieces

You don’t hide Yourself to tease us

 

BRIDGE

Your love’s not fractured

It’s not a troubled mind

It isn’t anxious, it’s not the restless kind

Your love’s not passive

It’s never disengaged

It’s always present

It hangs on every word we say

Love keeps its promises, it keeps its word

It honors what’s sacred, cause its vows are good

Your love’s not broken

It’s not insecure

Your love’s not selfish, Your love is pure

 

Here's one of my current favorites.

Mercy -

written by Amanda Cook and Steffany Gretzinger

VERSE 1

My past embraced

My sin forgiven

I’m blameless in Your sight

My history rewritten

 

CHORUS

Cause You delight in showing mercy

And mercy triumphs over judgement

 

VERSE 2

Oh Love, great Love

Fear cannot be found in You

And there will never be a day

You’re uncertain of the ones you choose

 

BRIDGE

So I will awake

And spend my days

Loving the One who has raised me up

From death to life

From wrong to right

You’re making all things beautiful

===

Thanks to Bethel Music for these lyrics.

BenHeadshotSee you again soon.

Worship today.

Ben

14

 

Adulterous Man

How has it come to this? I’m standing here with a rock in my hand amidst all this anger. The anger is not mine, but I can feel it. It’s all around.

I didn’t see this coming as I sat at breakfast with my wife, Anna, and my two little ones. I think of myself as a good father, a good husband. I have a steady job working with the dairyman. We sell our milk from a cart near the sheep gate. I almost have enough saved to buy a few cows of my own.

But at noontime, as I sat in the square eating the lunch my Anna had packed for me, I saw her. I have known her for a few months. I say known, but not really, though our eyes have met often. The few words we have traded have been suggestive and flirtatious, but meant nothing.

When I first saw her, the words of my father rang in my ears. On my wedding day he told me I must be like Job and make a covenant with my eyes if I wanted to be faithful to my Anna. But that day, my eyes saw only my sweet bride, and I can remember thinking such evil could never tempt me.

The day I first saw this woman in the market, she caught me staring. I looked away immediately, but I felt temptation’s net, and it had me. The next time, I let my eyes linger a bit longer.

Once I saw her walking through the temple gate with a man I took to be her father. I later learned it was her husband. Not a great match for her.

Today, she walked right up to where I was eating and sat down beside me. I told her she should not sit next to me right there in the square because people would whisper.

“I just need someone to talk to,” she said, right on the edge of tears. “Where can I talk with you?”

I took her to a place I knew would be empty and quiet at that time of day, and she began to cry in earnest. She told me of her life, and at first I just listened. I told myself she needed me to listen. She needed a friend. She just needed to talk about it. I needed to be compassionate, to listen like a friend.

Soon I was holding her as she sobbed and trembled.

The rest is a blur. What started as a comforting touch became an embrace, and soon I found myself overwhelmed. Compassion became passion, and the next thing I knew, the door burst open.

A group of men broke in, some in religious robes, including my own rabbi. This rabbi had married Anna and me; he had circumcised my little Yacob. They grabbed us and started dragging us out into the square.

“Let the boy go,” my rabbi said. “I know him.”

The woman’s husband was among our intruders. “You Jezebel! You harlot!” he yelled in our wake.

I followed the angry group out into the square, where they had gathered up stones. I’d lived in Jerusalem my whole life, but I’d never seen anyone stoned in the streets. We read about it in the Law of Moses, but we never took it that far. My rabbi stood beside me. He bent down and picked up two stones. They were bigger than a man’s fist. He took my right hand and forced me to take the cold, hard lump of hatred.

I dropped it, but he reached down, picked it up, and gave it back to me.

“If you will not do this thing, you will be up there with her,” he said to me. I could hardly breathe.

Then the crowd swelled forward. One of the rabbis called out, “Jesus is in the outer court. Follow me, and let’s hear what that upstart will have us do with her.”

Soon the woman lay face down in the dust. I could still hear her sobs. Before her stood a man dressed in common robes. There was already a good-size crowd with Him before we pushed our way through.

“Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?”

It was then I realized this was not about the woman, or about her sin, or about the law. It was a test for this preacher. It was not the woman in the dirt who was on trial here. It was this Jesus. This was a test for Him. They wanted to see what He would do.

Would this so-called Son of Man side with the sinner, or would He side with the religious leaders? They hated the title He had taken. They worked so hard to be more than mere men. These priests, scribes, and Pharisees craved the esteem of men; they were anything but common.

But this Jesus, He would eat with sinners. He was not ashamed to be with them in their homes and in the streets. How would He deal with this woman? Would He take her part and defy the Lord God’s own law? Would He take up a stone with us and break faith with the people?

This had me nervous. If He took up the law, I might just be next.

As I stood, stone in hand and awaiting His judgment, I thought back to those glances that brought me to this place. I wasn’t so innocent. A place in my heart had sought out this adultery. I allowed my eyes to draw me into dissatisfaction with a life full of blessing.

Jesus positioned Himself between those of us with stones and the woman. She was still weeping with her face in the dirt. He knelt down and wrote something in the dust.

I could not see what He was writing, but, in the silence my guilt and shame were mounting. Again I heard my father’s words: “Remember son,” he would say, “Hell and destruction are never full, so man’s eyes are never satisfied.”

How had I fallen so far? How could this man expose my heart without speaking one word?

Then He stood and looked at us—at me!

The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone,” He said.

After a moment, He got back down in the dirt with the woman. As He continued to write in the dust, His finger tracing the law in my heart, I saw for the first time the wickedness of my actions.

And I was not the only one. First the elders began to back off, some dropping their stones, others taking them away as they quietly pulled back from the crowd.

As I stood there, I could hear my own voice speaking my vows to dear Anna those eight years ago. What I wanted to do was fall down and beg Him to forgive me. That’s when I had to leave. I wanted to run, but I just dropped the stone and backed away. My sin, my unfaithfulness, filled my heart. I had to be rid of it. But how? How could I be free of this guilt? I never knew this darkness of guilt and shame until I stood in the presence of such holiness, such wisdom, such purity.

Who is this man?

What must I do to be saved from this condemnation that fills my heart?

~~~

To read the original story, see John 8:1-11.

===

If you find yourself asking these same questions check out this post - What Peace? - where I lay out God's plan in simple terms.

 

Copyright - 2015 -  Benjamin Nelson

This story comes from my book "Encounters With Jesus. Forty days in the life of Jesus through the eyes of those He touched." You can get yours today at Amazon.com.

If you've read Encounters it would be a huge blessing to me if you would write a review, and tell a friend about it.

If you would be interested in buying more than one copy, email me for bulk rates.

BenHeadshotThanks for coming by.

We'll talk again soon.

Ben

2

Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? - Isaiah 53:1 NASB

Father God asks us a question through Isaiah the prophet. “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Or to put it in another way, Who get’s to see the mighty power of the Lord?

This is the prolog to Isaiah’s wonderful description of a Messiah who would be shamed, mocked, despised, bruised and crushed.

Is the Father saying “Look at My power displayed in how I can crush Jesus?”

NO!

That’s not it at all.

What is He saying?

He is introducing a recurring theme in Word.

God’s greatest strength is demonstrated in weakness. God’s greatest power comes crashing through vessels that, to the untrained eye, seem useless and discarded.

Paul writes of it in 2 Corinthians,

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. - 2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB

It was a huge revelation to Paul at that time, but it by no means a new concept.

In fact, it is one of God’s favorite methods.

It’s known to all the world through 1 Samuel 17 where David defeats Goliath.

Jehoshaphat demonstrates the strength of weakness in 2 Chronicle 20 by sending the singers out before the armies of Israel and winning against enemy hoards.

Four lepers, locked outside the city gates during a siege deliver the entire city from sure starvation in 2 Kings 7.

Not to mention Gideon and the Midianites, Joshua and the ambush of AI, the masses of Israel escaping the armies of Egypt, Daniel in the lion’s den, and many others.

And we find it in the Lord’s instruction to the Church as she goes forth to labor in the Great Commission.

That is where I want to camp for a few minutes.

He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." - Acts 1:7-8 NASB

Let’s look at this promise. We’ll focus on two words.

“You will receive power…and you shall be My witnesses

From the BlueLetterBible: Dunamis - dü'-nä-mēs

Power: strength power, ability

1.inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth
2. power for performing miracles
3. moral power and excellence of soul
4. the power and influence which belong to riches and wealth
5. power and resources arising from numbers
6. power consisting in or resting upon armies, forces, hosts

That get’s me psyched! We’re going to receive power when the Holy Spirit comes—come on—shout it with me - POWER! Dynamite power!

But what power? What kind of power are we talking about?

Power to be a witness.

When Jesus spoke these words, (yes—I know He didn’t speak Greek, but that’s how God chose to record if for us) the Greek word for witness had a pretty straight forward meaning. Much as you would expect, it meant one who gives testimony—one who tells what they have seen and heard.

So what’s the big deal—why the need for power?

As it turns out, this group who went forth as witnesses to the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ changed the meaning of the word.

The Greek word we read as witness in Acts 1:8 is the word ‘martys.’ That’s right—it’s where we get our word martyr.

You see, this band of disciples took their testimonies and turned the world upside down. Yes there were signs and wonders accompanying their testimonies, but the most striking sign to the world that hated this message of the cross was not healings or miracles.

It was men and women laying down their lives.

It was the power of the cross manifest in multitudes of Christians dying for their faith.

So much so that the word witness came to mean one willing to die for their faith.

This is power made perfect in weakness.

This is God’s greatest demonstration of power.

And this is the promise of Acts 1:8—When the Holy Spirit comes, He will give you the power to lay down your life.

Hallelujah!

BenHeadshotThanks for coming by.

Keep the light on!

Ben

2

He is Risen!

"Victor's Crown"
Darlene Zschech

You are always fighting for us
Heaven's angels all around
My delight is found in knowing
That You wear the Victor's crown
You're my help and my defender
You're my Saviour and my friend
By Your grace I live and breathe
To worship YouAt the mention of Your greatness
In Your Name I will bow down
In Your presence fear is silent
For You wear the Victor's crown
Let Your glory fill this temple
Let Your power overflow
By Your grace I live and breathe
To worship You

Hallelujah
You have overcome
You have overcome
Hallelujah
Jesus You have overcome the world

You are ever interceding
As the lost become the found
You can never be defeated
For You wear the Victor's crown
You are Jesus the Messiah
You're the Hope of all the world
By Your grace I live and breathe
To worship You

Hallelujah
You have overcome
You have overcome
Hallelujah
Jesus You have overcome the world

Every high thing must come down
Every stronghold shall be broken
You wear the Victor's crown
You have overcome
You have overcome
[x4]

At the cross the work was finished
You were buried in the ground
But the grave could not contain You
For You wear the Victor's crown

Hallelujah
You have overcome
You have overcome
Hallelujah
Jesus You have overcome the world

Every high thing must come down
Every stronghold shall be broken
You wear the Victor's crown
You have overcome
You have overcome
[x6]

Thanks to AZLyrics!
Thanks to you for coming by.
See you again soon.
Ben