Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

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“ENSLAVED” – Feb. 24

February 24, 2020

“Then He said to them, ‘Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.'” Matthew 22:21

close up photo of woman with her hands tied with rope

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

I am a slave,
but I am not unique.
I am a slave,
but so are you.
We are slaves but
not in the way you think.

We are slaves of many masters.  We serve them all, typically without title but all hidden while still in the open.  Yet, their authority is enforced when the bounds of their reigns are transversed or challenged.  We were born into the bondage of our initial master, whose realm was established at the beginning, when it demanded our lungs to accept this new product called air.  Next, the bounds of nutrition were delineated through pangs in the belly.  The bounds of consciousness were defined by the needs of sleep.  As we mature, new bounds were yearly discovered.

We all labor to serve the Master of Flesh.  Our bodies demand obedience to biological needs, requirements for the preservation of life.  This realm redefines slavery as “self”.  You may say, “my body is not a master,”  I say, “are you free from it?”.  Try not obeying the Master of Flesh.  Try to exert your freedom from hydration.  Try to exert your freedom from food.  Soon, your flesh will punish your liberty with pain until you yield or die.  The Flesh is an unyielding task master.

Many live their entire existence solely under the tyranny of Flesh, laboring to satisfy its demands.  Some even cede more authority to the Flesh through addiction and/or neurosis.   Yet, all yield to the essential demands of the Flesh from the dawn of every day to its setting.

However, the flesh is not our only master.  As we mature, we enter the realm of another, the Master of Work.  Work’s realm includes all those activities mitigating Flesh’s tyranny.  I want leisure.  Therefore, I must work to be able to take a vacation.  I want amusement.  Therefore, I must work to be able to have a hobby, go to a movie, eat gourmet food.  I want more comfortable housing.  Therefore, I must work to be able to have a better home.  I want to be happy.  Therefore, I must work to be able to consume and feed my craving for happiness.

Work is not a private affair.  Work is a public engagement and therefore ruled by the cultural and governmental masters.  This realm redefines slavery as “citizenship”.  You may say, “my government is not a master.  I live under a constitution.”  I say, “are you free from it?”.  Try not obeying the Masters of Work.  Try exerting your freedom from taxation.  Try exerting your freedom to take another’s property.  Try exerting your freedom to live without clothing.  Try exerting your freedom to cry ‘fire’ in a fireless theater.  Transverse the bounds established by the Masters of Work and you will find your time relegated to satisfying the Master of Flesh.  You will become preoccupied with the necessities of existence because the means to mitigate the tyranny of the Flesh will be removed by the tyranny of Work.  Work is an unyielding task master.

We all yield to the essential demands of society in order to have a slice of the prosperity ensuing from our obedience as cogs in the economic mechanism of Work’s realm.  Even if Work could be freed from the Masters of government and culture, it can never be truly free because it resides in the realm of a third master.  Work cannot be free because work is not an end in itself.

The extent and quality of freedom in the flesh and work can only be experienced through obedience to the Master of the third realm in which we all reside.

The Master of the Divine inhabits a realm that was before the Flesh and before Work.  This realm defines the freedoms of those realms and our allegiance to those Masters.  God created the realm of the Divine.  He is the Master of all.  Yet, Satan rebelled against Gods’ rule and when he fell so did all of humanity.  You and I have been born into rebellion against the Master of the Divine.  Yet, we were not born free.  We were born under the tyranny of Satan, who bent the Masters of Flesh and Work into wicked task masters.  It was never meant to be this way.  The Divine has been redefined as “enlightenment”, “science”, “atheism”.

Our inward desire for liberty is an echoing call of creation.  We misunderstand it to be an inherent right of mankind.  It is actually a memory of creation, longing for a world ruled by the true Master; longing for a world where the flesh and work have no power to harm.  Our desire for freedom is incomplete.  It actually is a desire to be completely free to serve the Master as we were created to serve.

low section of man against sky

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Freedom is the freedom to do what we want.  When we are truly free, our nature takes us fully to God, the Master of the Divine.

So, I am a slave.  I am a slave to the Master of the Divine.  I live as an ambassador in the realms of the Flesh and Work.  I pay the requisite requirements to inhabit these realms, but they are not my Master.  I owe them no allegiance.  I will readily say my farewells to the Master of Flesh when the Master of the Divine bids me to return.  I will readily give what is due the Master of Work and give unto God what is His.

I am a slave to only one Master and He is good.  I will serve no other.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for serving other Masters.  Forgive me for forgetting that you have set me free to serve you fully as I was intended.  Thank you for binding me to yourself.  Lord, you know that I am prone to wander.  Let your grace, like a fetter, chain my wandering heart to you.  Take my heart and seal it in servitude for your courts above.    I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

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“LIMPING ALONG” – Feb. 19

February 19, 2013

“And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”  1 Kings 18:21

A while back I strained my knee.  I was training a little too hard and my knee was informing me that I should tone it back a bit.  I don’t like being injured.  It makes you tentative.  While my knee was sore, I did not trust it.  I limped around and tried not to put too much weight on it.  It was weak and I was afraid that it would fail me if I put my full weight on it and forcefully pushed off.  I did not fully trust my sore knee so I limped around.

I wonder how many of us are limping around in our faith. 

Elijah got after the people of Israel because they were limping between two faiths.  They were hedging their bets.  They were not committing fully to either the God of Jacob or the gods of Baal.  They were limping between two opinions.  How many times have we been caught doing a similar thing?

How many times have we avoided the hard things in our faith?

How many times have we moved tentatively for Christ?

How many times has fear prevented us from giving what we are moved to give?

How long have we just limped along in our faith?

I think that one of the main reasons why we limp is due to trust.  We don’t really trust God so we move tentatively.  We are afraid of putting all of our eggs into God’s basket and pushing off.  What if it goes bad?  What if I have read the signs wrong?  What if …?

Ask yourself, “If the Lord is God, can He handle your what if?”  If the Lord is God, there is nothing that we need to be afraid of.  There is nothing that should make us tentative.  If the Lord is God, we can courageously and actively do God’s will.

I read a quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer,

“Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”

Avoiding sin is a very important part of our faith.  Avoiding sin is a commendable and indispensable part of every believer’s faith.  However, I wonder how many are limping along in a faith that is entailed entirely of sin avoidance.  We can become preoccupied with the nurturing of our own souls.  We move cautiously through this life for fear of our soul being damaged or challenged.

God has called us to a faith that is more than sin avoidance.  God has not called us to a tentative faith.

God has filled us with His Spirit.  His Spirit is our source of strength, confidence, and power.  Through His Spirit, we can follow Him actively and with courage.  There is no need to be tentative.  We can put all of our weight, all of our hopes, all of our concerns, all of our cares, all of our dreams on Him and through the Spirit, we can forcefully push-off in full confidence in God.

We can do that because the Lord is God.

Since the Lord is God, there is nothing we have to fear.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for showing me through your word that you are God.  Thank you for being faithful and trustworthy.  Lord, I know that I can rely upon you in all circumstances and that there is nothing that I have to fear.  Forgive me for losing sight of that at times.  Forgive me for being tentative because I misplace my trust.  It seems so foolish to place my trust in myself when I have you.  You are so much better than I am.  Father, fill me with you Spirit; enable me to walk in your Spirit.  Give me the confidence to boldly and courageously follow your will.     Amen

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“SIN, Light” – Feb. 18

February 18, 2013

“And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him.  And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of  Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal King of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him.”  1 Kings 16:30-31

What does it take for actions that are “evil in the sight of the Lord” to become a “light thing”?

How does sin become common place?

Ahijah's prophesie to JeroboamThere are some who think that the Church harps far too much on sin.  “Fire and brimstone” is from a bygone age.  Christians who point out the sins of other people are often ridiculed for being up-tight or backwards.  They  are way too concerned about other people’s private lives.  They don’t understand the modern world.  Those types of Christians are regressing to the dark ages by focusing so much on sin.

The world that we live in does all that it can to normalize what is evil in the sight of the Lord and to make it a light thing.  Sin is not a light thing.

It is sin in the life a person that earns them God’s condemnation. That is a big thing.

The result of living in the flesh (sin) is death.  No one who is in the flesh can please God.   That is a big thing.

It was for sin that God sent His own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, to condemn sin in the flesh.  Jesus, the Son of God, came to this earth for the purpose of condemning sin.  That is a really big thing.

Sin is a very big deal.  It was for your sin and my sin that Christ died on the cross.  What could be bigger than that?

I don’t like the fact that I can see some of my own attitude toward sin in a man like Ahab.  Ahab considered sin a light thing.  I have a tendency to down-play the magnitude of sin in my own life and the lives of other.  I think that it is a common attitude in the Church.  In comparing the Church to the rest of our society, I don’t see much difference.  I am disturbed by our comfort level with that which our Lord calls evil.

Ahab’s attitude toward sin did not originate with him.  Ahab came from a culture where sin had been normalized:

King Jeroboam – “but you have done evil above all who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods and metal images, provoking me to anger, and have cast me behind your back,…” (1 Kings 14:9)

King Nadab – “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of his father, and his sin which he made Israel to sin.” (1 Kings 15:26)

King Baasha – “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of Jeroboam and his sin which he made Israel to sin.” (1 Kings 15:34)

King Zimri – “because of his sins that he committed, doing evil in the sight of the Lord, walking in the way of Jeroboam,..” (1 Kings 16:19)

King Omri – “Omri did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did more than all who were before him.” (1 Kings 16:25)

Israel had a culture led by one king after another that treated sin lightly.  They disregarded what was evil in the sight of the Lord.

We live in a culture that is working very hard to normalize what is evil in the sight of the Lord.  I see so many professing Christians who are daily feeding on a buffet of content and entertainment that is seasoned throughout with what our Lord calls evil.  We willingly consume it without a second thought.  We are fools to think that a steady diet of evil does not affect what we consider to be normal.  Just consider the allowable topics in many Sunday sermons.  It is a sad reality that many actions, which the Bible clearly calls sin, cannot be taught in many pulpits and youth ministries because it is no longer considered that bad.  We don’t want to offend people with the magnitude of the evil in their lives. That is the result of years of evil being normalized into our lives.

Sin is a big deal.  When I down-play the magnitude of sin in my own life, I am equally down-playing the magnitude of the gospel.  I am undervaluing the supreme worth of the sacrifice of my Savior.  I am treating the greatest gift ever given as a stocking stuffer.

It is when we remember that sin is a really big deal that our passion for the lost is revived.  It is the greatest of tragedies to make a person comfortable in their own condemnation.  It is when we treat sin as a light matter that we can become indifferent to the eternal destination of those who are not in Christ Jesus.

I look at my own life and know that I take sin a lot lighter than I should.  I hate that.

I look at the lives of other professing Christians and see them taking sin a lot lighter than they should.  I hate that.

I hate that we flirt along the edges of what is evil in God’s eye and don’t think it is that it is a big deal.  I hate that we are numbed to the flagrant proliferation of evil in our society and we just take another bite.

Sin is a big deal.

The good news is that the Gospel is a bigger deal.  We have been saved.  Christ has condemned sin in our flesh.  Let’s take a big bite of that.  Let’s set our minds on the things of the Spirit.  Let’s reject all of those things of the flesh; all those things that the Lord calls evil, don’t allow your mind to be settle on all that this world is telling you is normal and natural.

All of that is not normal for a child of God.  Those who set their minds on what God calls sin will die.  Those who live according to the Spirit will set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  They will have peace and life!

What will you set your mind on today?

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for saving me from the condemnation of my sin.  Thank you for sending your own Son to do what I could not do.  Forgive me for under-appreciating the magnitude of my sin.  Forgive me for treating sin lightly.  Father, give me your eyes to see sin as you do.  Lord, I pray for your Church.  May we take what you call evil as seriously as you do.  May we never be comfortable with what we have been saved from.  Lord, give us an understanding of man’s condition apart from you and motivate us with hearts of compassion to be your witnesses to the end of the earth.     Amen

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