Innocent

Here is the last set of quotes this week.  As promised, the first quote is a continuation of the previous quote I mentioned.  We don’t behave perfectly all the time, but nevertheless we can be certain we are innocent before our Heavenly Judge:

Justification declares the sinner righteous, but it is external to the man.  That is, the justified man may be no better off for his justification if that is all that happened to him.  Justification is a judicial thing.  Just as a man may stand before the court and be declared innocent of a crime — not guilty, and yet it does not change the man inside.  He weighs exactly the same as he weighed before; stands at the same height, with the same color of hair and eyes as before. He has the same relationships and in every way is the same man he was before.  The only difference, he is judicially free, declared not guilty before the law.  — A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 184

Of course he doesn’t leave us that way if we truly seek Him in repentance and offer Him our hearts:

In the history lesson of Psalm 78, we find the Israelites following the Lord “only with their words.”  They knew what to say, but they didn’t know how to live.  They would come to God’s Temple with sacrifices but they would not offer him their hearts.  “I want you to be merciful,” God said,  “I don’t want your sacrifices.”  The people were going through the motions, but not letting God’s emotions go through them.  —One Year Book of Psalms, 6/21

Repentance is primarily a change of moral purpose, a sudden and often violent reversal of the soul’s direction.  The prodigal son took his first step upward from the pigsty when he said, “I will arise and go to my father.”  As he had once willed to leave his father’s house, now he willed to return.”  — A. W. Tozer

The atonement (the fact that Jesus lived a perfect life for us, and died a perfect judgment for us on the cross, and truly did rise again from the dead as proof) makes all the difference in the world and can even change the inside of a man, though we will never be perfect until Christ returns.  How do I know Jesus did rise from the dead?  See my previous “God is Real” posts — Part 1, Part 2, Part 3!

Atonement is the basis upon which God acts toward humanity.  Atonement makes justification possible, and justification leads to regeneration.  This is the work of God outside of a man that has the potential to change the inside of a man.  Regeneration takes place at the same time justification takes place…A regenerated man is a man [or woman] who partakes of the divine nature, a man who has a new relation to God, which gives him eternal life.  –A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 185

But now we are seeing the righteousness of God declared quite apart from the Law (though simply testified by by both Law and prophets)–it is a righteousness imparted to, and operating in, all who have faith in Jesus Christ.  (For there is no distinction to be made anywhere: everyone has sinned, everyone falls short of the beauty of God’s plan).  Under this divine system a man who has faith is now freely acquitted in the eyes of God by his generous dealing in the redemptive act of Christ Jesus.  God has appointed him as the means of propitiation, a propitiation accomplished by the shedding of his blood, to be received and made effective in ourselves by faith.  God has done this to demonstrate his righteousness both by the wiping out of the sins of the past (the time when he withheld his hand), and by showing in the present time that he is a just God and that he justifies every man who has faith in Jesus Christ. What happens now to human pride of achievement?  There is no more room for it.  Why, because failure to keep the Law has killed it?  Not at all, but because the whole matter is now on a different plane–believing instead of achieving.  We see now that a man is justified before God by the fact of his faith in God’s appointed Savior and not by what he has managed to achieve under the Law.  — Romans 3:21-28 (PHI)

From there, we can encourage one another in our relationship with Jesus, our Savior.  The apostle Paul spent much time in prison writing to believers in various places, encouraging them in their faith.  Here is just one example of many, beautifully expressed in the J.B. Phillips translation:

I wish you could understand how deep is my anxiety for you…How I long that you may be encouraged, and find out more and more how strong are the bonds of Christian love.  How I love for you to grow more certain in your knowledge and more sure in your grasp of God himself.  May your spiritual experience become richer as you are more and more full of God’s great secret, Christ himself.  For it is in him, and in him alone, that men will find all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge…in spirit I am by your side, watching like a proud father the solid steadfastness of your faith in Christ.  Just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so go on living in him–in simple faith.  Grow out of him as a plant grows out of the soil it is planted in, becoming more and more sure of the faith as you were taught it, and your lives will overflow with joy and thankfulness.  –Colossians 2:1-7 (PHI)

And now, if you haven’t already, go back and read my “God is Real” posts, to see why I’m so certain that all of this is true — Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

 

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Harmony

This first quote was read at our wedding and is very special to me.  Perhaps this is part of the reason why our marriage has lasted over 40 years and is still strong today.  However, this scripture goes far beyond marriage to relationships with all others.  It’s wonderful to see it as translated in the J.B. Phillips version of the Bible.  I love the thought of “harmony” in relationships–not pushy or proud; forgiving, understanding, waiting when necessary; kind, peaceful, putting others first.  We don’t succeed at this, of course, but that’s where the first sentence comes into play — “purified and beloved of God Himself” — God is the one that purifies us (see the first quote on my next post).

As, therefore, God’s picked representatives of the new humanity, purified and beloved of God himself, be merciful in action, kindly in heart, humble in mind.  Accept life, and be most patient and tolerant with one another, always ready to forgive if you have a difference with anyone.  Forgive as freely as the Lord has forgiven you.  And, above everything else, be truly loving, for love is the golden chain of all the virtues.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, remembering that as members of the one body you are called to live in harmony, and never forget to be thankful for what God has done for you.  Let Christ’s teaching live in your hearts, making you rich in the true wisdom.  Teach and help one another along the right road with your psalms and hymns and Christian songs, singing God’s praises with joyful hearts.  And whatever work you may have to do, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, thanking God the Father through him.  Wives, adapt yourselves to your husbands, that your marriage may be a Christian unity.  Husbands, be sure you give your wives much love and sympathy; don’t let bitterness or resentment spoil your marriage.  As for you children, your duty is to obey your parents, for at your age this is one of the best things you can do to show your love for the Lord.  Fathers, don’t over-correct your children, or they will grow up feeling inferior and frustrated.  Slaves (or workers), your job is to obey your masters (employers) not with the idea of currying favor, but as a sincere expression of your devotion to the Lord.  Whatever you do, put your whole heart and soul into it, as unto work done for the Lord, and not merely for men–knowing that your real reward, a heavenly one, will come from the Lord, since you are actually employed by the Lord Christ, and not just by your earthly master.  –Colossians 3:12-17

I just heard recently in a sermon that at the time these words were written, slavery was nothing like we understand it today.  Roman slavery was a choice; one third of the population voluntarily connected with a master, giving up freedom in order to obey another.  Sadly, I would assume this was the poorest of society, so whether it was closer to slavery as we know it, or to a worker/employer relationship, I don’t know.  I do know that Christ rightfully expresses the value and equality of all–slave and free, master and servant, male and female, all races and nations (see Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11, Psalm 67:1-4).

 

Seeds

This week I’m sharing more quotes from my journals.  These come from scriptures, books, even Facebook posts from friends.  I don’t write something down every day but some days I come across many to record.  My journals are full of great truths I don’t want to forget or neglect.  Here are some of the recent quotes:

This is the blessedness of waiting upon God:  it takes our eyes and thoughts away from ourselves, even our needs and desires, and occupies us with our God.  –Andrew Murray, Waiting On God, pg. 39-40

Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed.  –Unknown

If you are then “risen” with Christ, reach out for the highest gifts of Heaven, where Christ reigns in power.  Give your heart to the heavenly things, not to the passing things of earth.  For, as far as this world is concerned, you are already dead, and your true life is a hidden one in God, through Christ.  One day Christ, the secret centre of our lies, will show himself openly, and you will all share in that magnificent dénouement.  –Colossians 3:1-4 (PHI)

The eye of the LORD is on them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy.  Fear and hope are generally thought to be in conflict with each other.  In the presence and worship of God, they are found side by side in perfect and absolute harmony.  And this because in God Himself all apparent contradictions are reconciled.  Righteousness and peace, judgment and mercy, holiness and love, infinite power and infinite gentleness, a majesty that is exalted above all heaven and a condescension that bows very low, meet and kiss each other.  –Andrew Murray, Waiting On God, pg. 40

Final Presence

My Word of the Year for 2014 was the word “Presence.”  It’s been a great word to study this year.  I have a final, very interesting quote to share with you in my next post, but here are some of the recent quotes I wrote in my journal:

How faithful you keep your promises, God! Your presence drives out loneliness, your love banishes emptiness, your commands cure my aimlessness. Thank you for continuing to be with me in Jesus, through the Holy Spirit…Jesus, I know that you will not leave me empty or orphaned.  I thank you for the promise of your presence.  Invade, invigorate, inspire by your Spirit.
[Eugene H. Peterson, A Year With Jesus, pg. 335-336]

Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.  [John 3:2, ESV]

But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence.  [Colossians 1:22, MSG]

There is one institution on earth with the capacity, the presence, the credibility, the endurance, and the passion to perform the ultimate act of caring for the poor.  It is the church, the body of Christ…But presence is about more than numbers.  Presence must also be strategic in location.  Churches exist in exactly the right locations to serve the poor.  In the slums, in the villages, and in the city centers–the church is present everywhere.  The church is not simply there physically either; its members are integrated within the community.  Salt and light.  [Hope Rising, Scott Todd, pg. 144, 146]

 

In His Presence

This week I’m sharing some of the quotes from my journal related to my Word of the Year:  Presence.  Here are some more of the encouraging quotes I have come across this year:

I live in your presence, not the hope of your presence; I participate in what is happening even now; not in what I wish would happen.  — Eugene H. Peterson, A Year With Jesus, pg. 30

No one doubted God’s presence with them because He had energized their activities with a power beyond their own.  The fulfillment of Jesus’ words — ‘he abides with you, and he will be in you’ — was the most obvious fact of their lives.  –Dallas Willard, Hearing God, 2/21

But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in His presence.  — Colossians 1:22

Jesus, the very thought of thee with sweetness fills my breast; But sweeter far thy face to see and in Thy presence rest.  — Bernard of Clairvaux

 

Thanks

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.  –1 Corinthians 1:4

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  –1 Corinthians 15:57

There is the wave breast of thanksgiving—a catching God’s eye with the easy motions of praise—and a time for it.  In ancient Israel’s rites for a voluntary offering of thanksgiving, the priest comes before the altar in clean linen, empty-handed.  Into his hands is placed the breast of the slain unblemished ram of consecration:  and he waves it as a wave offering before the Lord…Thanks be to God.    (The Annie Dillard Reader, pg. 414)

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  –Romans 1:21

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!  –2 Corinthians 9:15

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  –Ephesians 1:16

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  –Colossians 3:17

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  –Philippians 4:6

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. –Colossians 2:6-7

Still Coughing

What does coughing have to do with prayer?  Another special devotion I read in Haiti from A Word for the Day  was regarding the Greek words “proseuchomai adialeiptos,” which means “pray without ceasing” (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17).  The author explained it this way:

This word was used in Roman times for a nagging cough; while the person didn’t cough every moment, he would still cough often, so it could be said of him, “He’s still coughing.”  In other words, prayer is not just those specific times when we pray, but also a constant communion with God, a continuous consciousness of God’s presence in which we view everything in life in relation to Him…every moment is a moment for prayer; like the cough, we’re still praying.  In short, we view everything that comes along from a spiritual perspective.

Well, it just so happened that I read this the morning after I visited the orphanage in Haiti.  One girl really caught my attention because she had a constant cough like this.  I really took it to heart to pray for her and to understand what it means to “pray without ceasing.”  It doesn’t mean to pray 24/7; it means you keep on praying, keep on returning to it.  I would say my life is like that.  I almost always try to see things from God’s perspective.  If I’m not happy with a situation, or if I’m frustrated, I will say (literally) to God, “What’s this about?  What are You doing here?”  — in an effort to get His perspective.  I am continually returning to pray, regarding nearly everything in life.  I never want to try to control Him; I simply want to leave things in His hands.  He knows best.  I pray in order to commune with Him, express my trust and need of Him, and seek to understand.  Like a persistent cough, I will never stop praying.

I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.  Philippians 1:3-4 (HCSB)

For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you.  Colossians 1:9 (HCSB)