But When the Fullness of Time Came, God Sent Forth His Son…

As I was attempting to start my bible reading this morning, I was thumbing through some old notes I had taken from studies earlier in the year.  I came across something that I had written that I not only thought was profound, but perfect for the Christmas season.  I wanted to share it with you.  

But when the fullness of time came,  God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that we might recieve the adoption as sons.        Galations 4:4-5    

The essence of the Christmas story is summed up in the above verse.  The Christmas message is the gospel message.   

We all know the story.   

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,  to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the ]descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”  But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.  The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;  and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”  Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.  And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.  For nothing will be impossible with God.”  And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”     Luke 1:26-38

Christ was to be born in the flesh, born as a man from the seed of a woman.  He was a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel), and David, according to every prophesy foretold and every promise.  

He was born of the seed of the woman.  A prophesy fortold from as far back as Genesis 3.  He is the seed of the woman who is to crush the head of the serpent.   He could not be the son of Adam.  Adam had been cursed with death (Gen. 3:19). Every one born of Adam would carry that curse.  But not Eve.  She did not inherit that curse.  That is why Adam named her EVE, “because she was the mother of the LIVING.”  The only problem was, all children born unto her would have Adam for a father.   All children born of Adam would die.  Death would perpetuate through the seed of Adam. 

Christ did not have Adam for a father.  God was His Father. The curse of Adam was not passed down to Him.  He was born of the seed of the woman only. He would be the ONLY one born in such a way.   

Mary was of the “house” of David; the lineage of David.  And she found favor with God. This word”favor” is the same word translated as grace in the Hebrew.   Why was Mary favored?  I think it was because Mary’s heart was humble.  She had purposed in her heart to be a servant of God long before the angel of God came to her bearing his announcement.  

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”

The Greek word translated  to “come upon”  (eperchomai) could also mean to come in to.  The word “overshadow” (episkiazo) means to cast a shade upon, to envelope in a haze of brilliancy, to invest with a preternatural influence.  

Think about it this way.  The Holy Spirit came upon the whole of Mary.  It encompassed her.  It covered her, became one with her.  Much like a husband would “cover” his wife.  Mary became the bondservant of the Lord, humbly offering herself basically as a wife would her husband. She submitted to Him fully, surrendering to His will.  She knew exactly what she was doing, what was being asked of her.  She was not unmarried and pregnant.  She was, in every sense, married to God, in order to bear His Son.  In her was the representation of Israel, wed to God in covenental relationship. 

Mary’s “blood seal” (the medical term is hymen) of her virginity had not been breached.  It remained intact, as she “knew no man“.   But God knew her.  Not in a physical way, but in a spiritual way.  The way God knows us when we accept Him and invite Him into our hearts to dwell as Lord and Savior.  He “comes into us”.   Mary believed Him.  She recieved Him and and came into her and concieved new life, the Life of the Son of God within her. 

It is the same thing that happens to us.  We believe Him, we recieve Him and the life of the Son of God is manifest within us.  

Mary’s blood seal was not broken until the Son of Man EXITED her birth canal.  Joseph, obedient to the word of God, entered into marriage covenant with Mary, took her into his house and gave her his name, but he did not “know” her (have sexual relationship with her)  until after Christ was born.  In a way, Joseph submitted to being Mary’s second husband.   Once Mary had bore the Son of God and gave Him the Name above all Names,  she was free to bear sons for Joseph’s name.  (And I will add that at this point, Mary could no longer be considered a virgin.)

I think the Holy Spirit came upon Mary at the conception of Christ and never left her.  I think He stayed with her the whole time of her pregnancy.   Why do I say this?  Because Luke 1:41 says that the baby in Elizabeth’s womb when she heard Mary’s greeting.  She stated “blessed are you among women, AND blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

May it be done to me according to your Word...”

And the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us…     

  In a way that we may not fully ever understand, the Word of God entered Mary’s womb.  It joined with her seed.  At that momentof conception the Son of God became the Son of Man, the Word made flesh. 

The life of the Spirit of God joined the life of the human race, entering into the realm of time and space within the confines of a body of flesh and blood.   A body specifically prepared for a specific purpose.  

For a perfect sacrifice.  The sacrifice to end all other sacrifices. 

In my next post, I want to consider what it meant for Christ to be “born under the law” and what that means for us. 

Until then, I pray you are blessed and humble before the Lord this holiday season as we are reminded of the miracle of His birth and the gift of eternal life found in His Name!  Amen! 

   

How Do We Get Home From Here?

GLINDA-  It’s all right.  You can get up, she’s gone.

The Munchkins all rise and start to move toward Glinda and Dorothy as Glinda speaks to them.

GLINDA- It’s all right.  You can all get up.

GLINDA- Pooh!  What a smell of sulphur!  I’m afraid you’ve made rather a bad enemy of the Wicked Witch of the West.  The sooner you get out of Oz altogether, the safer you’ll sleep, my dear.

DOROTHY- Oh, I’d give anything to get out of Oz altogether! But which is the way back to Kansas?  I can’t go the way I came.

GLINDA- No, that’s true. The only person who might know would be the great and wonderful Wizard of Oz himself!

DOROTHY- The Wizard of Oz?  Is he good or is he wicked?

GLINDA- Oh, very good, but very mysterious.  He lives in the Emerald City, and that’s a long journey from here. Did you bring your broomstick with you?

DOROTHY- No, I’m afraid I didn’t.

GLINDA- Well, then, you’ll have to walk.  The Munchkins will see you safely to the border of Munchkinland.  And remember, never let those ruby slippers off your feet for a moment, or you will be at the mercy of the Wicked Witch of the West.

DOROTHY- But, how do I start for Emerald City?

GLINDA- It’s always best to start at the beginning, and all you do is follow the Yellow Brick Road.

DOROTHY- But… what happens if I…?

GLINDA- Just follow the Yellow Brick Road.

And the camera pans down to Dorothy’s ruby red clad feet to show us that she is standing at the point of the spiral shaped beginnings of the Yellow Brick Road inlaid within the midst of Munchkinland.  All the Munchkins gather around Dorothy as they point the way to the Emerald City and to the Great and Mysterious Oz, and her only hope of getting home.  “Just follow the Yellow Brick Road…”

 

We all have buried deep inside of us a desperate desire to go home.

Somehow, we know innately that this world is not our home, we ultimately do not belong here and we feel uneasy and discontent here no matter how appealing it may be at times.  Yes, we may have love and beauty and creature comforts in this world, but something of a Greater Love draws us, Something or Someone more beautiful than this existence can offer.  Sometimes it’s hard to explain, we can’t seem to put into words the dissatisfaction and longing we feel so deeply in our hearts.

 

Home.

Home to the love that loves us so completely in spite of our flaws.  Home to the love that shelters us in the worst of storms.  Home to the One who sits by our side and patiently waits for us to awaken from the illusion of our dreamy false realities.  Home to the arms that will encompass us in a perfect and consuming Peace; safe and warm and satisfied.

But how do we get there from here?  We can’t go the way we came.

And it’s a long journey from here.

Where do we find our Yellow Brick Road?

Which way to the Great and Powerful, this Mysterious “Oz”, who is our only hope of ever finding home?

The deeply ingrained longing for “home” is real.  It is a desire that transcends us; in other words, it doesn’t originate with us. That desire was planted there by our Creator.  It is a desire for Him and will only be satisfied in Him.  The problem we face is that so much of the world today not only doesn’t know Him, but they do not even entertain the possibility for His existence.  The world tells them that there is no Emerald City and there is no Great and Powerful Oz.  You can follow the Yellow Brick Road all you want, but it leads to nowhere.  What a hopeless state they are in!  It’s no wonder that so many people are committing suicide!  It’s no wonder so many today are escaping their realities with drugs and alcohol, or with pornography or video games or online shopping.  They know the craving is real.  They just have no idea how to satisfy it.  No matter with what they try or how much or how often, still they find themselves empty; hungry for a home they don’t know how to find.

But friends, I am here to tell you there is a Way.  There is a hope.  There is One who made a way for us to satisfy the desire for Home, Who indeed IS our Home.  And there is a Road that leads us there.

 

It’s simple to find.  And you do not have to start at the beginning.  You can start from wherever you are!

 

Your journey Home begins with your first believing in the Truth that there is a God who made you, who formed you intentionally and who desires to be known by you.  In this way, God our Creator is not like the Wizard of Oz who was “mysterious” so as only to hide the fact that he was not who he portrayed himself to be.  The Wizard of Oz was, in the end, just a man like everyone else.  Our God is not at all like anyone or anything else.  He is Who and What His word says He is and through His word He is revealed and knowable.  John 1:1-5, 9-13.

And that Word became a man, but not a man like anyone else (John 1:14). He was also God revealed to us in human form, clothed in flesh and blood, entering time and space in order to bridge the great divide that separated us from Him.  That great divide is the sin that we are born into, sin that we commit and sin that we cannot escape or deliver ourselves from.  Our sin is what separates us from our Home.  But the Word that became a man -Jesus Christ, came to pay the penalty for our sin, to die in our place, to satisfy the righteous requirements of God in our stead.  Because He did what we could never do for ourselves, we now have access to the “Great and Powerful” God, the only hope of ever satisfying the deepest longing and hunger of our souls.

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“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.  John 14:1-6.

 

Our hearts long to be at home with our Father.  The only way to get home is through Jesus, who indeed IS the Way.  When we trust in the work He did for us on the Cross by shedding His perfect, sinless blood, our faith in that work gives us access to the Father.  The Holy Spirit comes like a dove and lights upon us and sinks down within us and takes up residence in our spirit.  He unites with our spirit in a way that resembles a marriage, we are made one with each other.  When God looks upon us, He sees that union and the holiness that is bestowed upon us through the Spirit.  We come to KNOW Him.

 

In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” John 14:20-21

 

It is no longer us He sees, but the Spirit of Christ within us.  Our identity has changed.  We are made a new creation.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  Now all these things are from God,who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.    2Corinthians 5:17-19

 

It really is a marvelous mystery!  And one you do not have to fully understand to reap the benefits from.  You only have to trust that it is true and accept that truth within your heart.  God performs the rest.

 

The next step in the process of going home is to follow.  Just as Dorothy had to follow the Yellow Brick Road, we have to follow Jesus.  Following Jesus is in every sense following the “Glory Road”.   Following Jesus and His commands keeps us in the center of Gods perfect will for our lives.  No matter where you are in this world; in a field of poisonous poppies or in the middle of the haunted forest surrounded by flying monkeys, if you are on the Glory Road you are going the right way.  God’s eyes are on you.

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.

“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.

 Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”  John 14:23-27

 

 Following Christ means reading His word.  Following Christ means surrendering your will to His.  Following Christ means to live according to the Spirit and not according to our own sinful desires. And even that is something we cannot do in and of ourselves, but only as the Holy Spirit empowers us to do it.  Praise God that He has provided every need we have.

If we do these things according to the prescribed plan of God, we will find our way home.  In fact, we will find that we are already home in Him.   We will find that our desperate, unexplained longings are satisfied in Him.  The things of the world will, over time, fade away.  And we will rest in the hope that we will experience an eternity with the God of all creation, Who formed us for His good pleasure, to enjoy the riches of His Grace and Mercies, living in the Presence of His Glory forever!

Way better than Kansas!

Seeing Christ in Yom Kippur

Today at sundown the Jews will celebrate Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year.  It was the one day of the year when the High Priest could enter into the Most Holy Place, the Holy of Holies behind the veil where the Glory of God dwelled above the Mercy Seat in the Tent of Meeting or in the Temple.

The Priest would ready himself meticulously, performing all the requirements of cleansing and covering in order to present the offering for the entire nation of Israel for the year.  On this day, he represented the whole people.  He brings the blood of the perfect sacrifice in order to atone- or cover- the sins of the Nation for the entire year.

It was a rigorous ordeal.  It was a big responsibility.  If he were not prepared according to the mandates required by God, it could cost him his life.

And what were the requirements of the people this day?

To humble their souls before God.

 

“On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the Lord.

You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God.

IF there is any soul who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people.

As for any person who does work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.

You shall do no work at all.  It is to be a perpetual statue throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.

It is to be a Sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from the evening until  evening you shall keep your Sabbath.”     Leviticus 23:26-32

 

The Day of Atonement is a day that points to Jesus Christ.

Now of course, I am not Jewish, but the more I study the Word of God the more I come to appreciate the Feasts and Holy Days of the Jews.  I see Christ in all of them, which indeed is their whole purpose.

In this picture of the Day of Atonement, we see Christ as our High Priest, as the perfect sacrifice, and as our perfect rest.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:14-15

Christ is our perfect sacrifice, the unblemished Lamb; as the Son of God, born without the inherent sin connected to the seed of Adam.  This sacrifice done once and for all.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;  

and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh,  how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  Hebrews 9:11-14

 

Christ is our Sabbath; our resting place.

Because of Christ’s finish work on the Cross, we no longer toil for our salvation, it is completed in Christ.   There is no longer any work to be done except to believe in that finished work.

 

“Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own.

Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”   Hebrews9:23-28

“After saying above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have not desired, nor have You taken pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;  but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.  For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.    Hebrews 10:14

Since the work of God is wrought in Christ Jesus, since all is fulfilled on our behalf to satisfy the judgement of God in order to make us clean and holy before God, what is left for us to do?

To humble ourselves before the living God and recognize what He has done for us.

I am not Jewish, I know, but I love and know the God of the Jews, the God that presents Himself in the Hebrew Bible (The Old Testament).   I see Him throughout it as I study His Word.  I see how it points to the New Covenant established and completed in Christ.

My offering before God on this day is to humble my soul before Him.

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

                                                                                      Hebrews 10:19-22               

What God desires of me is to actually do what He has provided me the ability to do; to enter into His Presence, to worship Him and commune with Him in the fellowship of His Holiness.  Oh God, I pray that we never lose appreciation for what He has done in order for us lowly, sinful souls to do that!  In Christ we are made clean!  In Christ we are prepared and clothed in order to enter behind the veil and into the Presence of His Glory!  We can do that every day, any moment, within a moment.   All because of the work Christ did!  We can rest in His mercy and in His love for us.

Today I choose to honor this special day that foreshadowed the coming of the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice that atoned for the sins of mankind, for the sins of mine- and yours if you choose to accept Him as such. Today I choose to humble myself before Him, to lay my very life at the foot of the cross where He bled and died for me.  Will you join me today in recognizing this holiday that may have started with the Jews but had its finish for the church?  It is not just theirs to celebrate, but ours as well.

Praise God for it!

Sometimes You Find that the Road Itself is a Destination

I love maps.  Sometimes when I am contemplating a trip somewhere, I will get a map out and start studying the area between where I am and where I want to go.  First, I will look for the major highways, calculate the distance I need to travel, and then figure the time it should take me to travel it. Then I will start looking for interesting things that may be encountered off the beaten path.   A couple of years ago, my husband and I decided to take a spontaneous road trip to Maine.  I was very excited because I had always wanted to travel to the New England area and the added bonus was that it was October and we would be able to take in the beauty of the fall foliage along the way.  Long before we packed the car and headed down the road, I was studying the map.  This was a road trip, so I didn’t want to over plan, I just wanted to have a destination in mind, have a rough idea how to get there, pack our clothes and a cooler, and just let the rest happen.  The whole time my husband was driving, I was navigating; atlas in one hand and google maps on my phone in the other.  The maps were a comfort to me.  Even though I was far from anything familiar, I was oriented. I was never lost. Oh I may have gotten us turned around a time or two.  I may have headed us down a road I didn’t really mean to go down. We had to negotiate a detour here and there, but we were never without knowing where we were or our ultimate destination.   And along the way, we got off the major highways and onto some pretty spectacular country roads with breathtaking views and country stores and we even stopped at a garage sale and found some New England “treasures”.  It was definitely a trip we will always remember.

The thing about that trip in particular is that while we had Maine as our goal, the trip wasn’t just about Maine.  It was about the road we traveled getting to Maine.  It was like the road itself was a destination. It was the unexpected wonders we encountered on the road between here and there.  It was the time we spent together in the car talking, musing about the sights we were seeing or the new food we were trying.  Maine was just beautiful when we finally got there.  What an awesome thing to finally experience the might of the Atlantic ocean from those rocky shores.  But in reality, the bulk of the memories we treasure now are the ones that were made on the road between here and there.

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”

Ephesians 2:1-2

This was me before I knew Christ as my Savior.  I was truly lost in this world.  I had no direction.  I had no map.   The thing is I didn’t realize it at the time because I was so deceived and distracted,  busy chasing cheap and empty things that in the end left me feeling discontented, discouraged and depressed. And ultimately, I was on a fast track towards a destination of eternal death.

Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.     Ephesian 2:3

 

A road is meant to lead you from one place to another, but in a sense, the road itself is a place.

When I accepted Christ as my Savior, I started walking a much different road than the one I was on.    It was itself a place of transformation and refinement.

In scripture, the Glory of God is most often represented as a fire.  Fire does two things, and both of them transform the substance it which it comes into contact.  The fire will either destroy it or it will refine and purify it.   Sometimes it will simultaneously do both.

 

When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are inviting the Spirit of God to dwell within us.  He takes up residence in our spirit and becomes one with us.  It is very much like entering into a covenant  relationship of marriage.  We must understand that we are committing our heart, mind, body and soul to Him.  He, in exchange, gives us His eternal, supernatural, holy life.  He comes into us to “make us holy” unto Him.  We now have the ability to know Him, to understand His word and to walk in His ways.  We have entered the “Glory Road”.

The fire of the Glory of God comes into us through the Holy Spirit.  It begins to burn away and refine things in our soul.     It begins its transformative work within us to conform us into the likeness of Christ.  This part of the sanctifying process and work of the Holy Spirit usually takes time, much like getting from one destination to another takes time.   It is by way of the walking that changes us.

 

Sometimes this burning away isn’t very pleasant, in fact, it most of the time it downright hurts.

But no matter how painful the course, we must stay true to it.  It is the only way it works.  It is the only way beauty can come up from the ashes.

 

We may stumble and fall. We may take wrong turns and think we are lost.  Sometimes the detours derail us.  But as long as we have the Spirit of God and His Word as our guide, we can stay oriented!  We can never truly be lost again.   Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s bad.  It just means it’s hard.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10

The work of God is performed in us by walking with Him.   Enjoy the road, friends.  Understand that the road is part of the salvation experience and in fact, prepares you to reach your heavenly home.   May God bless you this day as you seek to follow Him and yeild your lives up to His refining Glory fires!

The Importance of Believing Rightly

Believing the wrong things can be very dangerous.

One time when my step-sister and I were kids we had taken a long board and laid it across a 55 gallon drum and used it as a teeter-totter.  After a while, we got bored with it and went inside to play with something else.  A short time afterwards, a friend of my step-dad came over and as they were standing around talking, the friend noticed our contraption and asked what we were doing with it.  My step-dad lied and told him we were using it as a ramp and jumping our dirt bikes on it.  Said friend supposed that if a couple of little girls could jump this homemade, Evil Knievel style ramp so could he.  After all, he did just ride his motorcycle over to our house.  Let’s just say it didn’t end well with the friend.   He should have never believed my step-dad… Very dangerous.

People often reject biblical Christianity because they don’t understand it.  Even people who consider themselves to be Christians often reject the parts of the bible they don’t understand.  Having the correct perceptions and perspectives are important; because it affects what we believe and what we understand to be truth.   What we perceive as truth will have a direct bearing on how we order our steps in life. It will determine who and what we value.

“What you see and what you hear depend a great deal on where you are standing.”    C.S Lewis

Perception, or the act of perceiving something, is basically the idea of how we filter incoming information.  We can perceive with any of our 5 senses; touching, tasting, smelling, seeing or hearing,  but it is more than just taking information on board. It is how we process it.  It is how we interpret the data we take in.

Perspective on the other hand, is the position from which we view the world outwardly.   As C. S. Lewis said, it is the view from which we stand. As a dental assistant, I sit on the left of the patient while the doctor sits to the right.  It is part of my job to make the doctor aware of things that he may not be able to see from his perspective; from his limited view from the right side of the chair.   It’s not that he is blind and cannot see, he just can’t see clearly from where he sits. From where we sit (or stand) in life will also determine how we process our incoming data.

We will believe what we perceive as truth.

What we believe defines our reality.

At one time in my life, I did not believe the bible was true.  Oh, I would have told you that I did, but the evidence of my life would have said otherwise.  The sum of my reality did not factor in seeing myself as a sinner, let alone being held eternally accountable for my thoughts or actions.  That was the direction I was walking.

 

But I had people in my life who were praying for me.

And God began to work through those prayers and I started to entertain the thought that perhaps I was believing wrong things.  I allowed the possibility to enter into my mind that perhaps my truth was really a lie; that God was not only real, but alive and well and in pursuit of my heart.

I picked up my old bible and began to seek to understand God and His word.

I started to believe differently.  My reality shifted.

This is why believing is so paramount to the Christian faith.  It is the act of changing your mind- from perceiving one thing as truth to perceiving another thing as truth.  It’s abandoning one reality and surrendering to another.  That is repentance in its most basic form.

 

God implores us in His Word to believe rightly.

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3:36

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. John 5:24

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. John 6:35

For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.  John 6:40

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this? ” John 11:25-26

And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me.  He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me.  I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.” John 12:44-46

Do you get the idea that believing is important?  Look at all the promises that are afforded us by believing!  Salvation, forgiveness, eternal life, to never hunger or thirst for truth, the resurrection, and to never walk in darkness! And that’s just a few from the book of John! (And I didn’t even list John 3:16 here because I know you already know that one, right?  If you don’t, look it up!)

 

It is my hope that by spending time together studying the word, you will come to perceive God like never before.  I pray that it will change your perspective of yourself and the world around you.

Believing is the first step in salvation for a reason.  It opens up the doors for everything else the Spirit has to offer; to receiving, knowing and growing in your spiritual life.

As C. S. Lewis also once said, “We are what we believe we are.”

Just believe RIGHTLY!

All Roads may lead to Rome, but only one Road leads to Glory

 

I believe God has been inspiring me (maybe nagging me) to start this blog for quite some time- alright, longer than I care to admit.  It’s not that I wanted to be purposefully obstinate, it’s just that I am so completely ignorant of such technological matters.  It felt scary and overwhelming.  But finally I decided to dive in, and with much prayer and pleading with God for the grace and ability to do what I surely believed He wanted me to do, here I am- blogging.

Turns out it’s not really that hard to set up a blog.  There are plenty of helpful websites and Youtube videos to walk you through.  Now, it was just getting down to the task of actually writing something meaningful and intelligent.

 

I have been contemplating the content of my initial post for some time.  I don’t know why, but I felt like it really needed to be epic.  Again, I was putting too much pressure on myself and making this harder than it should be.   I just wanted to give a proper introduction of the “Glory Road” blog to the world, one that adequately reflected my reasons for taking on this venture.   Then this morning as I lay in bed in the early morning hours, it all started to come to me; the right words I was waiting for.

 

All Roads

There is an old proverb that says “All Roads lead to Rome”.   The saying got started back in the days of the ancient Roman Empire and was a testimony to the elaborate road systems they engineered, ultimately leading a traveler from any secondary city to the capital city of Rome.    (Now we use it as an expression to mean that there are many different ways to reach the same outcome or destination.)

12th Century French theologian Alain deLille wrote, “A thousand roads lead men forever to Rome”.

Rome was one of the largest and most civilized empires of the ancient world and contributed much to modern government, politics, law, literature, language and society in general.  The problem was they were plagued with blatant immorality.  They worshipped a pantheon of false and pagan dieties that incorporated sexual as well as other perversions into their religious practices.  They entertained themselves en masse with brutality (especially against Christians), baths and brothels. It is said that the ultimate fall of the Roman Empire came because of its internal moral decay.

A.W. Tozer writes in his book Whatever Happened to Worship?, “Rome went down like a great rotten tree. She still had military strength and the show of power on the outside.  But Rome had crumbled away on the inside.  Rome doted on plenty of food and drink and on circuses and pleasure and of course, on unbridled lust and immorality.   What great army put the Roman Empire down?  Rome fell to the barbarous hordes from the north- the Lombard, the Hun, and the Ostrogoth-people who were not worthy even to care for the shoes of the Romans.  Rome had become fat and weak and careless and unconcerned.  And Rome died.”

Christian, spiritually speaking, we do not want to be on any road that leads us to Rome, and unfortunately, in this world there are many.

Rome, in my analogy, leads to death and sin and destruction.

 

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13.

Friend, as followers of Jesus Christ, there is only one way for us, one road we want to be traveling on, and that is the road that leads us to the One True and Living God-  the Glory Road!

When The Lord led Israel out of Egypt and into the wilderness, He led them by His Glory; a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night.  The Glory cloud would descend onto the tent of meeting and there the Lord would speak with Moses “face to face”.  When Moses prayed and asked the Lord to ”let me  know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight,” the Lord responded by saying, “My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33.  God’s Glory is His Presence.

If you are a born again, Spirit filled believer of Jesus Christ, then that Glory resides within you.  “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one…” John 17:22.   (And, by the way, if you are NOT a born again, Spirit filled believer of Jesus Christ and would like to be,   go here – https://billygraham.org/story/how-to-be-born-again/).  This is where you start your journey!)

The Glory of God has descended upon you and you can now hear the voice of your Father leading you in the right way.  But you must harken unto that voice in obedience and follow Him fully.  That is what will keep you on that Glory Road.  “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1John 1:6-7

 

It is unbelievably easy to take a wrong turn.  It is just as easy to stumble and fall.  I’ve done this many times; so many times it’s embarrassing.  But to be perfectly honest, The Glory Road isn’t always the easiest way to travel.  It is sometimes very difficult and demanding, at times extremely painful.  It always requires a great deal of self-sacrifice and self-discipline. God will at times lead you in ways that will make you scratch your head and wonder if even He knows where He is going.

By the way, when (I would say “if” but who are we kidding?) you do lose your way and get off track, it’s just as easy to get right back on.  It only requires that you turn around (repent) and head back toward the Light.  It is in these times of wandering away, lost and confused, that God shows Himself to be a loving, gracious, forgiving and merciful God.   “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” Matthew 18:11.   If you stray, He will come looking for you (Matthew 18:12-14).

When we are born into this world we begin a journey of a lifetime.  You have the span of that lifetime to decide which Road you are going to travel; the Road that leads to Death and Darkness or the Road that leads to Light and Life.  “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of Life.’” John 8:12.

 

Don’t be afraid.  Man up and choose the right road, friend.  I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist, but I fear your time for choosing in running thin.

 

This is the purpose of the Glory Road blog, to stand in the hedges and the by- ways of all the roads leading to Rome and cry out, “You are going the wrong way!  The right way is over here!”

Help me point others to the narrow way.  Help me cry out to the lost, to those wondering in the dark deceived and misguided by the enemy of our souls.  Let us join together in unity and love and be a beacon of hope to a dying world.

If you have made it this far, then I thank you for taking the time to read my first blog post!  Please feel free to share and invite others to follow the Glory Road blog.  I pray that He uses it for His purposes and for His Glory!   God bless you!