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prepared for the gospel

The laws of Moses and the revelation of the prophets have prepared you for the arrival of the kingdom realm announced by John. And now when this wonderful news of the kingdom realm of God is preached, people’s hearts burn with extreme passion to press in and receive it. - Luke 16:16 TPT

Here’s another verse that came out of the box for me when I read it in this new translation (The Passion Translation.)

The context is Jesus parrying with the pharisees. It’s fitted snuggly between His teaching on the Lord’s requiring sole proprietorship of you life, and a rebuke for those who use divorce laws to commit adultery.

You may be more familiar with it in the NASB or something like it:

The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. - Luke 16:16 NASB

What I love about this new take is the idea of the Old Testament being preparation for the Gospel of Grace. The law and the revelation of the prophets was supposed to be getting us ready to receive grace.

The Law demonstrates to us how incapable we are of living up to God’s standard of righteousness on our own. As Paul says,

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, - Romans 8:3 NASB

The law could not save us, but it could prepare us. We were like steak in a marinade. Stewing in the law was supposed to tenderize us for the grace that God had in store.

The prophets demonstrate both the law’s frustration with man and his inability to keep it, and God heart toward His people. Over and over in the prophets we read the Father’s heart to be our God, and for us to be His people. His desire to be a Father to us is stated over and over.

They shall be My people, and I will be their God; - Jeremiah 32:38 NASB

Those attentive to God’s Fatherly intentions were ready to receive with gladness the teachings of this Messiah who came to save. They were ready for baptism, ready for repentance, ready for regeneration.

But this was not universal. There were many who used the law to their advantage, instead of allowing it to tenderize them, to break off their pride and draw out the sweet juices of repentance. These refused the kind offer from the Lord to enter into relationship. They were content with their relationship to the law. They would wield the law, thinking it held no threat for themselves.

But they were so wrong.

As the Lord began to preach the Gospel, many set up fortifications against the incoming tide of grace. This grace would ruin the law leash by which they kept others under control. It would give the hearts of the people back to their Father and release them from the tyranny of these pretenders.

I’m so glad for this Gospel of grace. I’m so thankful for the freedom it offers. Freedom from the tyranny of the law. Freedom to truly connect with our Father. Freedom to be His children and live in relationship with Him.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by today.

See you again soon.

Ben

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Christ And The Rich Young Ruler - Heinrich Hofmann

 

Having revealed the rich young man’s knowledge of God’s law we hear the question that echoes in every man’s heart.

Which commandments do I have to keep?

Do I have to keep the Ten Commandments?
Do I have to keep the dietary laws of the Old Testament?
Do I have to tithe?
Do I have to …

observe all that I commanded you… (Matthew 28:20)

Lord, give me a list lest I die!

This young man was asking the wrong questions.

1 - Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life? (Matthew 19:16)

2 – Which ones? (verse 18)

Jesus messes with this in John 17 where He makes the stunning statement:

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. - John 17:3

Jesus wrecks this idea again when He describes the judgment.

Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.' - Matthew 7:22-23

Wow Jesus, You pretty much destroyed that whole ‘good deeds’ thing!

You see, it’s not about a list of things to do.

It’s about a Man to love, a Shepherd to follow, a Heart to hear.

Yes there are all kinds of DOs in Christianity, and even in the mouth of Christ – hearers and not doers – these are the ones who fall into condemnation. But doers who aren’t knowers are just as lost.

Lord, I want to know You. I want to hear Your voice. I want to follow Your heart.

Ben NelsonThere’s more…

Come back soon.

Ben

 

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photo credit: Rennett Stowe via photopin cc
photo credit: Rennett Stowe via photopin cc

Today’s red letters are from Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Mount.

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return. - Luke 6:38

I know that nine out of ten times (perhaps 99 out of 100) when this is taught, the lesson is about money, but I think it has a much broader reach. The fact is that the context is that of relational advise more than money advise, though Jesus’ words are flowing back and forth between giving, and loving, and judging, and well, just life in general.

And that is what I want to use for my application today, LIFE.

Are you stingy with your life? Do you keep all of your “self” to yourself? Are you a life hoarder?

Have you ever noticed that when you pull back from living your life in community, your life begins to dry up? At first it might feel like you have a bit more freedom, nobody asking you to serve, nobody poking at your life, or getting in your stuff. But soon, you feel like life is not fulfilling. You go through a rough patch and there is no one to stand beside you.

I don’t think we realize that life is a commodity, and we are not given life to hoard and keep to our selves, but the life we are given is meant to be shared, spread around, planted, given away.

Now, I know there are some of you out there who give away all the life that you have, and keep none for yourself, and of course you are the ones reading this thinking – “I should get more involved” – Well, perhaps not. Be sure to save some of your precious life to sustain your family. He who does not care for the needs of his own family is worse than an infidel – that goes for your time and love and life, as much, or more than it does for your money.

But if you find yourself feeling alone, left out, forsaken, consider whether you have stopped sharing that wonderful commodity that God has put in your hands for the express purpose of sharing – YOU.

Do you want to unstop the flow of life into your world? Share what you have, and God will press it down, shake it together and pour so much life back into your lap you won’t know what to do. [Tweet This]

How was Jesus able to feed 5,000 people? By taking the tiny offering of a young boy who was willing to share.

Paul said it this way:

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. - Galatians 6:7

Spread some life today!

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

photo credit: Woodlouse via photopin cc
photo credit: Woodlouse via photopin cc

So – are you wondering if I will ever move on? I am almost done – just stick with me for a little longer.

As, I am sure you remember, we are responding to Jesus’ words

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. ~ Matthew 7:15-16

by digging through the little book of Jude to find some of the fruit that would identify such a tree – well in all reality we are letting the mirror of the Word give us a peak into our own hearts.

If you came here to load up with ammo to throw at your least favorite prophet, you will have to do some plank removal first.

Anyway – Let’s hear from Bro. Jude:

These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. ~ Jude 19

One of the Lord’s core values is community. He went to considerable lengths to break down the formidable wall of sin keeping us out of communion with the Father. If we are to walk with the mind of Christ, this (community) must become one of our core values as well.

When words are used to insert a wedge between brothers, beware! When a message, a teaching, a word of prophecy makes you distrust others who are in Christ, or suspect their intentions, it would be a good time to step back and take it before the Lord.

Check your motives here too. Were you looking for a reason to divide? Looking for an exit strategy? Another one of the Lord’s core values is faithfulness.

Just as Jesus remained faithful to the Father, even when that faithfulness was going to cost Him a visit to the horrible and wonderful cross, so His hope is to find a willingness in us to bear reproach and insult if necessary, to maintain or restore relationship. (please see disclaimer)

God crucified Jesus – He let the Truth spend some time in the grave – in order to restore relationship!

What would you do?

Would you leave your gift at the altar, and go repair a broken friendship before going back to worship?

Beware of words that divide, and God forbid that we should use our own words to maim the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t allow your words to be the spear piercing the side of the Body of Christ. [Tweet This] Don’t use the “sword of the Spirit,” His own word, to tear His body to pieces.

Tomorrow we will look at how Jude tells us we should use our words. I think you will like it.

BenUse good words to good purpose today!

See you tomorrow

Ben

--Disclaimer - I am not talking about abuse here - please hear me, I am not suggesting we door matt our way through life as physical or verbal punching bags, there by empowering some creep - got it? Good!

My Beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms In the vineyards of Engedi. (Song of Songs 1:14 NASB)

Today I am going to take a little time to point out a progression in the life of the believer that we are going to follow through the Song of Songs.

It has to do with the focus of our relationship with the Lord.

Our Maiden began the last two statements about her beloved with the phrase “My Beloved is to me…”

Many, if not all of us start here, focusing on what the Lord has done for us. Oh, and by the way, we are in good company, It is, of course, David who tells us “forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2)

How much of our worship has to do with what the Lord is to us.

Let me say again, this is not a bad thing, but it is not the end. There is a higher form of love. And our maiden is going to change.

Consider these other 3 verses spread across the Song.

My beloved is mine, and I am his; He pastures his flock among the lilies. (2:16)

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine, He who pastures his flock among the lilies. (6:3)

I am my beloved’s, And his desire is for me. (7:10)

Do you see the progression? As her relationship with Christ matures, her focus slowly moves away from herself, and onto Him. [Tweet This] It is no longer what Christ offers her in their life together, but what she can offer Christ.

Check it out:

  • My Beloved is to me
  • My beloved is mine, and I am his
  • I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine
  • I am my beloved’s, And his desire is for me

Do you see the move from self-centered to Christ-centered life?

Christianity is a continuum for sure, and we are all on a journey. I believe you will love the transformation you will see in our Maiden, and if you will lean into your relationship with the Shepherd King, I believe you will love the transformation in your own life.

BenLet’s walk this out together.

See you next week.

Ben

Today I was listening to my #1 Favorite podcast - The Phil Vischer podcast - and the last article they talked about this week had to do with a piece written by Shane L. Windmeyer about his change of heart about Dan Cathy, the President and COO of Chick-fil-A.

Windmeyer is the the founder and executive director of Campus Pride, the leading national organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and ally college students. His organization was pressing to get Chick-fil-A's off of college campuses.

Apparently Cathy reached out to Windmeyer, and over the past 6 to 9 months they have forged a friendship, out of the spot light, without business and politics getting in the way.

I was so impressed with Mr. Cathy's going for relationship rather than retaliation.

This kind of Christianity that values people has the potential to change the world. [Tweet This]

You can check out the article from the Huffington Post here.

BenThanks for stopping by.

Ben