MY ADVOCATE

1 John 2:1 – My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

What an amazing promise, Jesus is my Advocate. If you dig into this word, Advocate, it is the Greek word Paracletos. Paracletos means ‘the one called alongside to help’. This is the word that Jesus used to refer to the Holy Spirit. John used this word to refer to Jesus Christ. He is my help in every circumstance. Think about this, when Steven was being stoned for preaching the gospel he saw the heavens opened. What he saw was amazing. He saw the man, Jesus Christ, standing at the right hand of God supporting and standing with Steven. Paul said that “there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus”. Today’s verse says it plainly, “we have an Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous”. He also says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. He is with us when we are surrounded with trouble, He is also our Advocate when we sin. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes our heavenly Advocate.

“He is Christ, and therefore authorized; he is Christ, and therefore qualified, for the anointing has fully fitted him for his work. He can plead so as to move the heart of God and prevail. What words of tenderness, what sentences of persuasion will the anointed use when he stands up to plead for me!…Jesus Christ the righteous, this is not only his character BUT his plea. It is his character, and if the Righteous One be my advocate, then my cause is good, or he would not have espoused it. It is his plea, for he meets the charge of unrighteousness against me by the plea that he is righteous. He declares himself my substitute and puts his obedience to my account. My soul, thou hast a friend well fitted to be thine advocate, he cannot but succeed; leave thyself entirely in his hands.”

He is my Advocate and my Friend. He is my help in everything I face. He helps me in my prayers, He helps me when I am tempted, He helps me when I am attacked, He even stands with me and helps me if I sin. I have an Advocate at the right hand of the Father who understands me because of His humanity and can help me because of His deity. He is my heavenly Paraclete.

CLEARLY SEEN

Rom 3:21,22 – But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;

The righteousness of God is what the Bible is all about. It is that righteousness that leads to a relationship with the Lord that we lost at the fall of man. It was cloaked in types and shadows in the Old Testament. It was displayed in sacrifices and symbolic pictures all throughout the scriptures. It is now manifested, or clearly seen, through faith in Christ. Jesus displayed the righteousness of God in His life, offered it to us at the cross, and poured it out on us through the Holy Spirit. It can only be seen and received by faith. Here is how this is explained in the Fire Bible.

“Since we could never deserve his mercy or favor by our own efforts, through his grace God has provided a way for us to be restored to a right relationship with himself. It is a way that satisfied his perfect justice which required a penalty and punishment for our sin—and yet provides forgiveness, freedom from guilt and victory over the power of evil. God’s plan of spiritual salvation saves people from the final consequences of sin and provides them with the gift of eternal life through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ. Receiving this gift is what makes a person righteous….. God’s righteousness, as revealed through the NT message of Jesus Christ, is still available to all who accept the forgiveness and new life made possible through Jesus’ personal sacrifice, which paid the full penalty for our sin against God. The power of this message to provide spiritual salvation and to bring people into a right relationship with God is constantly fresh and relevant.”

To some this righteousness is clearly seen, to others it seems invisible. What is the secret to step out of the shroud of secrecy into the light of this brand new life? The secret is faith and that is given only as a gift. It is this faith that opens our eyes to see the righteousness of God that is offered as a gift through Jesus Christ. How do you know if this gift is for you? It is available only to those who want it.

THE EVIL MONK

Rom. 1:16-17 ¶ For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

Luther said that he had an evil monk living inside of him. He actually believed that all of us have an evil monk inside of us. Today, we have progressed, we now have a celebrity preacher living in all of us. Most don’t want to admit it, but all of us have a bent toward religion and being different from everyone else; thus the celebrity preacher is born. All of this changed for Luther the day he was born again and it can also change for each one of us. Not only did that Augustinian monk meet Christ for himself, the protestant reformation was birthed. Luther had been laboring over the phrase “the righteousness of God”. While he was meditating on today’s scripture verse he suddenly saw it. The just shall live by faith. Check out Luther’s own words, he is funny but very powerful.

“Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction. I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God, and said, “As if, indeed, it is not enough, that miserable sinners, eternally lost through original sin, are crushed by every kind of calamity by the law of the decalogue, with-out having God add pain to pain by the gospel and also by the gospel threatening us with his righteous wrath!” Thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted. At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, “In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’” There I began to understand [that] the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which [the] merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates.”

We actually live or come alive by faith in the work of Christ on the cross. What a liberating message. It is not based on my performance but on the work of Christ. By faith I am viewed as righteous before God and by faith, His life enters into me. We are declared just and made alive by the sudden act of the Spirit in our lives. What a powerful gospel!!!

DISTURBED BY GOD

Rom.1:17 – For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.

Sometimes we have to get really disturbed by the Lord before we can find a lasting peace. I was quite disturbed for over a year before I actually found peace with God. Like everyone else, I thought I had to do something or a bunch of somethings to ever attain to a righteousness that would make me acceptable to our great God. I tried Krishna Consciousness, transcendental meditation, and dabbled with Bahai Faith; after each attempt I felt more and more like a filthy sinner. I still couldn’t shake the carnal pleasures of sin even with my pursuit of righteousness in these religious endeavors. It wasn’t until I saw the purpose of the cross in a moment of time. I saw Jesus as my sin offering, the righteous substitute for me. The moment I believed in His substitutionary work on the cross, peace like a river flooded my soul. Martin Luther also spoke of being disturbed by the pursuit of righteousness. Here’s how he said it.

Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience..…I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God, and said, “As if, indeed, it is not enough, that miserable sinners, eternally lost through original sin, are crushed by every kind of calamity by the law of the decalogue, with-out having God add pain to pain by the gospel and also by the gospel threatening us with his righteous wrath!” Thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted. At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, “In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’” There I began to understand [that] the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith…..”

That was it for Luther, he entered the gates of Paradise when he believed these words, “the righteous man shall live by faith”. It wasn’t his religious duties performed as a monk that broke him through, it was faith in the work of Christ.

RIGHTEOUSNESS

Rom. 1:16,17 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.

This verse contains the mystery of the gospel. The revelation it contains shook the Roman Empire to its foundation and birthed the Protestant Reformation. In it we see that righteousness is not something we do but it is something we receive as a gift by faith. The message in this verse converted Luther and John Wesley, it is the very power of God to transform sinners into men and women of God. So what is this righteousness of God? It is not easy to describe but is clearly seen in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. He is the only man that ever lived a righteous life. It is this righteousness, the righteous life of the man Jesus, that is credited to me when I believe that His death was payment for my unrighteousness. He died as my substitute and all who believe in Him receive righteousness as a gift by faith. Here is how R. C. Sprole describes it.

“As he was preparing his lectures on Romans and studying this epistle’s first chapter, he (Luther) found a notation from an ancient manuscript of Augustine defining the righteousness of Christ. Augustine said that when Paul speaks of the righteousness of God in Romans 1, it is not the righteousness by which God himself is righteous, but the righteousness that he freely gives to those who put their trust in Christ. For the first time in his life, Martin Luther, whose conscience had been wounded by the burden of the law of God that daily exposed his relentless guilt, understood the gospel of Christ. The doors of paradise swung open and he walked through, and it was from Paul’s teaching on the doctrine of justification by faith alone that Luther stood against the whole world in the sixteenth-century Reformation.”

So maybe you are stuck in the quagmire of trying to do better and be better to please God. Forget it, that is a hopeless treadmill that leaves you exhausted and frustrated. Righteousness is not something that we can perform or work our way up to, we are declared righteous the moment we believe in Christ, it is a gift we receive by faith. From that moment we are not only seen pure by the Lord, He actually begins to live a new life in us.

OUT OF ZION

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Psa. 50:1,2 ¶ The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.

Our world could be characterized as a very dark place. I would have to see it is a far different world than the one I experienced as a child. It seems as if this spiritual darkness has multiplied, especially in the last decade. When I was a young teenager the biggest scandal in town was the pharmacist who was performing abortions for pregnant teens. Now it is common to take the life of the unborn and is even considered the mother’s “right”. Who could have imagined same sex marriages or men using women’s bathrooms just a few short years ago. It has become the norm in our upside down world. These problems are not political but spiritual in nature. As the spiritual climate of our nation has waned these issues have surfaced. The problem isn’t politics, the problem is the spiritual climate. I have to say it begins in the pulpits of our nation; oh I forgot, it’s not cool to have a pulpit, a Bible, or a cross in church anymore.

The purpose of the church is to house the very glory of the Lord. His presence in His church convicts the world of sin, displays the righteousness of God in its people, and attracts people to the glory and beauty of His presence. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes today’s verse.
“The Lord is represented not only as speaking to the earth, but as coming forth to reveal the glory of his presence to an assembled universe. God of old dwelt in Zion among his chosen people, but here the beams of his splendor are described as shining forth upon all nations. The sun was spoken of in the first verse, but here is a far brighter sun. The majesty of God is most conspicuous among his own elect, but is not confined to them; the church is not a dark lantern, but a candlestick. God shines not only in Zion, but out of her. She is made perfect in beauty by his indwelling, and that beauty is seen by all observers when the Lord shines forth from her. Observe how with trumpet voice and flaming ensign the infinite Jehovah summons the heavens and the earth to hearken to his word.”
The world desperately needs an awakened church. The church is the light that penetrates the darkness and the salt that preserves our culture. Let Zion awaken and the Glory of the Lord shine brightly in this dark day.

“The Cruciform Life” Living a cross shape life-

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS.

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” Gal 4:19
Everyday we have to walk out our cruciform. Being cross shape people in a secular world and that takes on challenges all in its own. When our life takes on the shape of the cross: you begin to live the vertical life of loving God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and you begin to live the horizontal life of loving your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). The cruciform life is a day-in-day-out lifestyle of gospel-driven love for God and others. (Quote from Cruciform Life by Jimmy Davis) Living life where God has placed you in the body. We begin to allow Christ to shape our lives. Matthew Henry says; ” that they may be renewed in the spirit of their minds, wrought into the image of Christ, and more fully settled and confirmed in the Christian faith and life. That Christ is not fully formed in men till they are brought off from trusting in their own righteousness, and made to rely only upon him and his righteousness.”

Spurgeon says it this way; Why, when a Christian is in a right state, his love to Jesus is the mightiest force in his nature, it is an affection which, like Aaron’s rod, swallows up all other rods; it is the mainspring of his action, and sways his whole body, soul, and spirit. As the wind sweeps over all the strings of the Aeolian harp, and causes them all to vibrate, so does the love of Jesus move every power and passion of our soul, and we feel in our entire being that our Beloved is indeed ours, and that we love him with all our hearts. Here, then, is the Beloved realized, and our love realizes it too.

How will my cruciform life take on the cross this week? More than likely it will be to die to things I love and choose the things Christ saw his Father do. He has the words of life, why would I choose any other words to define me? Lord let me speak only cruciform words as I gather around table of thanks. Everyday I am being spiritual transformed as the cruciformation continues. Let me have a cruciform love that takes on God’s own love that flows out to others in redeeming love and let my love be redemptive.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Phil. 2:5-8

Have a supernatural Thanksgiving Eucharisteo Week!

CLOUD OF WITNESSES

Heb. 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

This is a very powerful picture painted for us in the book of Hebrews. The word cloud used in this passage, defined by Vincent “means a great mass of cloud covering the entire visible space of the heavens, and therefore without definite form, or a single large mass in which definite outlines are not emphasized or distinguished”. This is no ordinary cloud. This is the cloud of witnesses just described in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. This is Abel’s sacrifice of faith, Enoch’s walk of faith into heaven, Noah’s work of faith, and Abraham’s life of faith. The author sees us struggling with the daily obstacles that hold us back, being cheered on by the lives of those that have gone before us. We are being challenged to shake off our daily hinderances and finish the race that we began by faith. Here are some thoughts from Albert Barnes on today’s verse.
“The apostle represents those to whom he had referred in the previous chapter as looking on to witness the efforts which Christians make, and the manner in which they live. There is allusion here, doubtless, to the ancient games. A great multitude of spectators usually occupied the circular seats in the amphitheater, from which they could easily behold the combatants. In like manner the apostle represents Christians as encompassed with the multitude of worthies to whom he had referred in the previous chapter. It cannot be fairly inferred from this that he means to say that all those ancient worthies were actually looking at the conduct of Christians, and saw their conflicts. It is a figurative representation, such as is common, and means that we ought to act as if they were in sight, and cheered us on.”
I love to imagine the scene in heaven as the eternal race draws to a close. The witnesses know what is at stake and they also know the challenges we face. Like Jesus stood to cheer for Steven, He stands again with all His other witnesses as we approach the finish line. Their shouting from another world penetrates the atmosphere of this realm as this age draws to a close. What are they shouting? Finish the race, run with all your strength, the reward is greater than you can ever know. Shake off your fears, your doubts, your insecurities and your sins and run with strength into His arms of love.

CONSTANT RENEWAL

Acts 3:19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

Whether we realize it or not, all Christians live in need of constant renewal. One way of saying it is that we all tend to leak. My need for refreshing reminds me of my daily, total dependency on the Lord. The life in the Spirit Commentary touches on how we can do this in their comments on today’s verse.
“Peter’s “times of refreshing” is one way of speaking about the baptism in the Spirit. The people can now experience the renewal or “refreshing” of their souls through the joys and the power of the Holy Spirit. As a result of their repentance, not only will their sin be forgiven and they will receive relief from their guilt, but they will also experience spiritual renewal through the Holy Spirit.”
This experience is even more critical in light of the world’s condition. Are you baptized in the Holy Spirit? If so, are you taking advantage of the benefits this blessing brings you on a daily basis? How can we do this? It’s really quite simple, stir up the gift of the Spirit in your life. Stir up the Spirit by extended times of worship. Stir up the Spirit by praying for long periods of time with your heavenly language. As you make this a daily part of your life, you will begin to experience these times of refreshing in your own life. Here are some comments from the Fire Bible on today’s verse.
“Throughout this present time and until Christ’s return, God will send “times of refreshing” through the outpouring and work of the Holy Spirit) to all who truly turn from their own way to follow God. Although difficult times will come before Christ returns and many will abandon their faith in God, he still promises to send times of spiritual revival, renewal and refreshing to encourage his faithful followers. Christ’s presence, spiritual blessings, miracles and evidence of the Spirit’s power will be a reality for those who endure opposition from the world, reject its evil influences and remain true to God during the difficult times ahead.”
Staying in a state of renewal is almost impossible if you are not consistently in fellowship with people who also love renewal. The church you attend and its view of the Baptism in the Spirit is critical for you to walk in the power of the Spirit. Renewal is available to you, step into His presence and begin to enjoy these spiritual blessings.

SHOCKING REJECTION 2

Rom. 9:3-5 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

This is one of those hard to comprehend passages. Paul says he would suffer eternity in hell if it could be given in exchange for the salvation of the Jews (of course that is impossible). Why was Paul so passionate? It had something to do with his people’s shocking rejection of the blessings of being God’s people. Yesterday we spoke about their rejection of their adoption as sons and daughters, the blessing of the glory of God’s presence, and the benefit of being God’s covenant people. Paul goes on to describe how they also snuffed at the place of the law in their daily lives. As Christians who are saved by grace we cannot afford to disrespect God’s law. We are not justified by our observance of the law but the law is actually written on our hearts. Rather than saying that grace gives us a free pass to live as we please, we recognize that Christ in us enables us to live a holy life that brings glory to God. Paul also said that the Jewish people lost their sense of majesty in their worship. It seems that it had deteriorated into formalism rather than the passionate worship that lives in His presence. Too often Christians can also lose that sense of majesty. Worship is treated as just preparation or even just part of the warm up waiting for the teaching. Actually, worship is the main event, the act of enjoying God. Finally, the people of God had lost their trust in the promises of God. We too have be given thousands of promises from the Lord that cover every aspect of our lives. God’s promises are like anchors that hold us fast in the midst of the storms we often face.
These six blessings that we have covered these last two days are critical for us to embrace in our walk with the Lord. The Jews snuffed at these blessings and have suffered the consequences. We should run under the protection of His covenant blessing, our very existence depends on it.