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Monday, September 24, 2012

Freedom From Mastery

2 Peter 2:19

“They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them” (NIV).

Addiction is a genuine and deadly problem facing our society. The phenomena cuts across cultural and socio-economic strata and strikes at the heart of our experience as human beings. The face of addiction is as varied as the addicts themselves. The reasons individuals become addicted are also as multifarious as the number of those who suffer from this disease. Addiction can manifest itself in many forms; such as, drug, gambling, sexual, shopping, workaholic behaviors. The word “addict” evokes mental images of marginalized people using illicit drugs and living on the fringes of society in a criminal culture, this is not always the case, as this disease can affect individuals of differing ages and economic situations. The definition of the word addiction is, “The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.” Statistics show that, “Illicit drug use in America has been increasing. In 2010, an estimated 22.6 million Americans aged 12 or older—or 8.9 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication (such as a pain reliever, stimulant, or tranquilizer) in the past month. This is up from 8.3 percent in 2002. The increase mostly reflects a recent rise in the use of marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug”( ). Drug addiction is a disease of the soul, sadly those who succumb are often involved in criminal activity and are dealt with as criminals rather than as those in need of a physician; although conversely, society must be protected from the criminal activity that may accompany addiction. It is a sad statement on the human condition that generations are being lost to addiction. A further repercussion of drug addiction is the contraction of HIV, AIDS and other contagious diseases that result from the sharing of dirty needles and sexual activity. Addiction is scourging our society and killing our children. True compassion and Godly wisdom, as well as medical and counseling knowledge is needed to treat the addict and help free him/her from their addiction. It is true that since The Fall man has been seeking to regain the wholeness that was lost in the Garden. Said St. Augustine of Hippo of this human state, "You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” The Christian band, Plumb's 1994 song, “God Shaped Hole,” speaks of this truth,
And the restless soul is searching
There's a god-shaped hole in all of us
And it's a void only He can fill.”
This world is a harsh place and the only true and eternal respite for our souls is in Christ Jesus. Only He can make us whole in Himself and heal our brokenness. Scripture is definite regarding the subject of addiction. I Corinthians 6:12 the Apostle Paul instructs, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (KJV). It is true that anything that we place before God has become an idol in our lives. Leviticus 19:4 admonishes, “Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the LORD your God”(NIV). 2 Peter 2:19 states, “They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them”(NIV). Paul speaks succinctly of our situation, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (Romans 7:18). We can rest in the knowledge that God is working on our behalf as believers, “For it is God who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose” (Phillipians 2:13).   

Father thank You for Your Word and Your promise of freedom to us.  Please show us the areas of our lives that are not submitted to You.  Please cover us with Your healing wings and free us and our loved ones from serious addictions that are destroying lives.  Thank You for Your love, thank You for Your Son, through Whom freedom from addiction is possible.  In Jesus name we ask these things.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

In Spirit and In Truth

John 4:23,24
 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

 Worship is a lifestyle, not merely an allotted time slot in a church service. We worship God with our lives by our obedience to Him and demonstration of His love toward others. Throughout history the style and types of formal worship have evolved and changed. Worship has morphed over the millenniums from the sacrificial system of the Old Testament to David's heartfelt longing recorded in Psalms, from Jewish worship in the synagogue to the denominational High Church liturgy into the contemporary worship that is so prevalent today. Regardless of the form, God is interested in the heart intent of the worshipper. In worship we are softened and changed, we are equipped to receive the Word that God has prepared for us to hear. Worship encapsulates our entire lives, we are to be living sacrifices to Him, for His Glory. When we worship God fully with our hearts and minds He is able to change us more amply into the the image of His Son. In true worship, there is a posture of bastazo, or a constant attitude of submission (Wilson 15, 1989). 

Worship is defined as, “Reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.” The Jewish roots of Christianity are deep and non-negotiable. The Old Testament is Jewish in origin and any subsequently Christian church that does not embrace its rich history is not completely understanding God's unfolding plan of redemption for mankind. Says Marvin R. Wilson, author of the book, Our Father Abraham, Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith, “Christians can converse intelligently about the latest automobiles, fashions, music and sports, but too few give evidence of a deep understadning of their spiritual heritage. At best, their grounding in Biblical soil is both shallow and shaky. Hence, they usually embrace an uncritical conformity to the prevailing spirit of today's world” (Wilson 5, 1989). To truly worship God, we must understand Who He is. We gain our understanding of Him through scripture. Many scriptures speak of worship and fearful awe in the same breath, Psalm 2:11 is one such scripture, “Serve the Lord with reverent awe and worshipful fear; rejoice and be in high spirits with trembling [lest you displease Him]” (AMP). How do we span the gulf between God's awesomeness and fear of Him? This distance is crossed in love, as Psalm 5:7 proclaims, “But as for me, I will enter Your house through the abundance of Your steadfast love and mercy; I will worship toward and at Your holy temple in reverent fear and awe of You” (AMP). Worshipping God is not a burden as Psalm 25:14 speaks, “The secret [of the sweet, satisfying companionship] of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its [deep, inner] meaning” (AMP). Worship is duly God's,“Give to the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness or in holy array” ( Psalm 29:2, AMP). As His workmanship we should honor him as Psalm 22:29 echos, “All the mighty ones upon earth shall eat [in thanksgiving] and worship; all they that go down to the dust shall bow before Him, even he who cannot keep himself alive” (AMP). Ultimately, every knee will bow and every tongue confess Him, All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall bow down and worship before You” ( Psalm 22:27, AMP ). All creation is His as Psalm 33:8 says, “Let all the earth fear the Lord [revere and worship Him]; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him” (AMP). Certainly, humble respect of God's personage is integral to true worship.

Lord, in Jesus name, I pray that You help us to know You better through the reading of Your Word and intimacy in prayer.  I pray that You enrich our worship and open our spirits to Your Spirit.  We need You and love You and humbly ask You to reveal Your heart to us.  Thank You and praise You.  Amen.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Run To Win

1 Corinthians 9:24 "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." NIV

Pic from
Paul compares the Christian experience to a foot race.  This would have been a very distinct analogy to the people of the First Century, who were well familiar with the Hellenistic Olympic Games.  The Olympians trained intensely so as to be the winner and receive the prize.  They would receive a laurel wreath that would be placed on their head and their name would be inscribed in the Olympic records. This was a great honor.  They would receive great accolades--they were very much the celebrities of the time. 

In middle school a friend and I were fierce at Badminton; well, as fierce as two seventh graders can be.  The annoying thing about us is that we skipped, spun, tip-toed and did victory dances.  While our opponents got angrier and sweatier we just smacked the birdie and perturbed them all the more with silly sound effects.  We were all but unbeaten and there was a price on our heads in the locker room.  Sports Day arrived and I signed up for tennis, which I played relatively well.  Brash from winning so many Badminton games, I began my vexing antics again.  I had a different partner and she wasn't so impressed with my amazing tip-toed backhand.  We began losing and by the time I got serious and really put some elbow into it, it was too late.  I had fooled around too long and we lost, I'll never forget the look on her twelve-year-old face.

Eternity isn't a tennis match or a foot race.  The prize is much more dear than any accolades or a wreath.  In order to run the race so that we may win, we must be trained in the Word of God and love more fervently than any athelete trains.  Becoming too confident of our own abilities is a sure-fire way to lose.  As Christians, it is our responsibility to get as many people across the finish line as possible for the Kingdom.  This is God's will and His heart.


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