Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fellowship Offering ~ Series on Friendship

I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you. John 15:15b

The Hebrew word selem is used in the Old Testament to denote a fellowship offering or a peace offering, a required sacrifice of God's chosen people. Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary defines the nature of this offering: the person or community offering this sacrifice to God was in a positive, covenant-keeping relationship with God and enjoyed the fullness of His peace. This voluntary sacrifice anticipates the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ whose voluntary sacrifice creates reconciliation for the sinner and invites the sinner into fellowship with God.

With genuine affection, Jesus reveals the Father to His disciples, imparts intimate wisdom as He prepares them to share the Good News with the world. Only hours later, after their shock of the unexpected arrest and crucifixion of Jesus, will these words begin to resonate within them. Only years later, will each disciple, one by one, come to understand the depth of fellowship Jesus gives. Now, centuries later, each Believer enters into this circle of friendship. The ongoing outcome of being friends with God ~ truly knowing His peace in His presence ~ exceeds all circumstances, endures all suffering, and enlarges all hope.

Jesus Calling, a daily devotional book written by Sarah Young and published by Thomas Nelson, continues to rise in popularity since its publication in 2004. Sarah Young, a well-educated woman who travels with her husband planting churches, touches the soul with her prayer-full words. Nearly every day, I hear someone mention this book, see a quote on Twitter, or reference on Facebook. There are apps for smartphones and e-readers. In fact, I have the app on my iPad. These devotions reinforce the peace of Jesus that a person can find in relationship with Him. Jesus Calling is a Fellowship Offering that refines the peace of God's presence. I share an exert:
July 10 
Relax in My peaceful Presence. Do not bring performance pressures into our sacred space of communion. When you are with someone you trust completely, you feel free to be yourself. This is one of the joys of true friendship. Though I am Lord of lords, and Kind of kings, I also desire to be your intimate Friend. When you are tense or pretentious in our relationship, I feel hurt. I know the worst about you, but I also see the best in you. I long for you to trust Me enough to be fully yourself with Me. When you are real with Me, I am able to bring out the best in you: the very gifts I have planted in your soul. Relax, and enjoy our friendship.
Dominus Pacem Dat ~ The Lord Gives Peace. Are you looking for this kind of friendship? Just listen because Jesus is calling to you! ~dho

The ongoing outcome of being friends with God ~ truly knowing His peace in His presence ~ exceeds all circumstances, endures all suffering, and enlarges all hope. Donna Oswalt

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jesus, Friend of Sinners ~ Series on Friendship

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.

Opposition to the ministry of Jesus, which confounds the expectations of the scribes and Pharisees, intensifies. Jesus responds to obvious hostility from the religious establishment. Selfish and stubborn describe the actions of those rejecting His ministry. Because Jesus has dinner with everyday, ordinary folk, with "tax collectors and sinners", He is accused of being a glutton and a drunkard.** Enduring religious and political ridicule and ultimately physical violence, Jesus, Friend of sinners, continues to seek those in need of spiritual healing. 

Today's times mirror this period in Greco-Roman civilization. Just as Jesus speaks to the growing crowds in the villages, He calls to the masses all over the earth. Both then and now, people are too busy or too tired, critical and calculating, looking for escapes or making up excuses. People are still consumed with fear and desperate for hope. The world stands in stark contrast to God's Kingdom. Jesus, Friend of sinners, continues to seek those in need of spiritual healing.

Jesus says wisdom will reveal her own results. What is this wisdom? Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced! You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work, treating each other with dignity and honor. [James 3:17-18 The Message] If I, a sinner, am a friend of Jesus, then my life will reveal Jesus in my acts and deeds. Jesus, Friend of sinners, break my heart for what breaks Yours.  ~ dho 

The world stands in stark contrast to God's Kingdom. Jesus, Friend of sinners, continues to seek those in need of spiritual healing. Donna Oswalt

 **Deuteronomy 21:20-21 According to OT law, being a "glutton and drunkard" is noted as a capital offense and warrants the death penalty. This twisted and false accusation of Jesus by the religious leaders is an attempt to discredit His ministry.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Glorious Friendship - Series on Friendship

For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. Romans 5:10 NLT

In Scripture the terms justification, atonement, and reconciliation describe "a change" or a change "from enmity to friendship"(NKJV Study Bible). Reconciliation marks the ending of a hostile relationship and a beginning of a spiritual transformation through Grace. The words "friendship" and "saved" in this verse refer to reconciliation, from the Greek word katallage. Through Christ, one can acknowledge the need to change, can repent from sinful ways. At the same moment, God's relationship with the sinner changes; God declares the Believer, once the enemy, to be righteous. Reconciliation incorporates grace into the language of friendship.

Blessings fall on the sinner who professes faith in Christ, the sinner who finds restoration with God. The redeeming love of Christ blesses each Believer with the promise of an eternal and glorious friendship with God, but there is MORE! With reconciliation comes inner peace, an awareness of God, greater hope, renewed confidence, abundant love. Unfortunately, this promise does not come with a guarantee of no troubles or trials; there will be suffering as long we live on the earth. Yet, even in these difficult times, the blessing of joy comes to God's friends. Within these opportunities to evidence faith, God reveals hope. 

Christ is the hope that brings reconciliation to any who would believe. Christ is the promise of eternal restoration with God. John MacArthur says, "Christ bore the full fury of God's wrath in the believing sinner's place." With Christ's death and resurrection, reconciliation merges with righteous living. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. (Romans 5:11 NLT) Embrace the resurrection life; embrace this glorious friendship! ~dho

With Christ's death and resurrection, reconciliation merges with righteous living. 
~ Donna Oswalt

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Christ, the Law of Liberty

So speak and so act as those who are to be judged 
under the law of liberty. James 2:12 ESV
Liberty actually means "freedom from captivity", and America celebrates its freedom on on this day - July 4th! For Christians, liberty is true freedom from sin, genuine freedom to walk in obedience to Christ. In Christian liberty there is freedom from the bondage of sin through faith in Christ. With the Holy Spirit helping our every effort, the Believer walks in obedience with God. Wiersbe writes, "We are judged by the law of liberty - the law of love written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit." Christ is the Law of Liberty.

In James 2:8, the "royal law" [also known as the Supreme law of God, the law of love, Sovereign law] states:You shall love your neighbor as yourself. This law comes from the King of kings and defines our response to others. As someone freed from the captivity of sin, someone given eternal life through the law of liberty, God's freedom plan redefines our purpose. In word and deed, we are to love our neighbor as someone under the Law of Liberty. Our words and deeds - free from prejudice, from oppression, from exploitation - should reveal Christ's love written on our hearts! His Grace and Mercy become ours to share. Celebrate Christ - True Freedom - this July 4th! ~dho