Saturday, January 23, 2016

Hot Pink Lipstick & Old Testament Law

Hey Ladies,

This weekend we went out with some of our amazing friends, two of which are my cherished girlfriends I don't get to spend enough time with. I was feeling fancy enough to wear this hot pink lipstick my makeup artist sister-in-love gave to me (spoiler alert: I don't wear it nearly as good as she does.) By the time I got done with my tacos, I looked like a child who just finished a strawberry popsicle in the middle of summer. No matter how nicely they tried to direct me to the hot pink smudges, the situation could not be mended. Both being mothers, their Mom lightbulb went off, they dug for a baby wipe, & sent me to a mirror. Though seeing the disaster for myself made me feel even more like a 5 year old, I was able to wipe away the impurities and start fresh.

Fast forward to tonight when I heard Dr. Justin Cooper speak at our church. This wasn't even his main point, but it struck me because it reminded me of my lipstick disaster...

The Law of the Old Testament is like a mirror given to show us our sin, our impurities so that we see our need for Grace through Jesus, the only thing that can take our sin away and make us clean.

Whoa, I know. That was a big jump.

Let's back up with a Law v. Grace crash course.

God gave the Israelites laws that would serve to...

A) set the Jewish people apart so that others would see God's presence in their lives.

B) lead them to recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, along with the prophecies given throughout Jewish history.

For example, the Passover symbolized the night the angel passed over every Hebrew home that sacrificed a lamb & covered their doorpost with its blood, sparing the first-born from physical death. Almost 1500 years later, Jesus would sacrifice His life, shedding His blood so that we would be spared from a spiritual death.

Many Jewish laws were a foreshadowing of Jesus & the deliverance He would bring.

When Jesus came He fulfilled every prophecy. He followed every Jewish Law because they were given by God. But the Jews had gotten so preoccupied with the act of carrying out the Law that they forgot the point of the Law. Now that Jesus was here, they didn't have to sacrifice animals to have their sins forgiven, He would soon give the sacrifice of His perfect human life. The religious leaders saw Him as a Law-breaker, but He actually fulfilled the Law perfectly so that Grace could enter in.

We as Christians are saved by Grace, not the Law.

The Law serves as a mirror that shows us our inadequacies. It reveals our need for Something stronger. How can we fix something that we cannot see?

Grace, the avenue through which Jesus bestows salvation to all who believe in Him, is what wipes away all the stains that are revealed by the Law.

... Just like my hot pink makeup disaster would have never been controlled without, first, a mirror. & then a good cleansing.

The old hymn says...
Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow. 

When we receive Him as our Savior, we are pure. He doesn't see our sin anymore, we are spotless.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.    - John 3.16-17 
Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.     - Romans 5.1 
For by grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.     - Ephesians 2.8-9 
Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.     - Jesus, Matthew 5.17

None of us are perfect, no matter how closely we follow the rules. We need His Grace.
Have you let Him cleanse you today?


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

To the Men...

Hey Guys (If there are any guys out there reading this...),

Proverbs 31 is not just written for the ladies, you know. It's important to remember that this particular proverb was given from a loving queen mother to her son, King Solomon. Yes, she was instructing him on the virtues that comprise a priceless woman, but she was also speaking between the lines a little. She had a special point of view and a unique audience with the king of Israel. She was reverently implying that her king was to be the sort of man worthy of standing beside the Virtuous Woman. She was leading her son to the conclusion that, in order to attract the attention of this woman who was continuously seeking the Lord, he too must be looking upward.
"A virtuous woman, who can find?... Will it be you, Solomon?"

In verse 23, she plainly states that the husband of the Virtuous Woman will be a respected leader.

Proverbs 31.23

Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

In the context of the Jewish nation, the gates were where courts were held, judgment was executed, and important decisions were made. Elders were respected leaders who worked together to maintain harmony through God's law in Israel.

So even though he isn't getting as much screen time as the Virtuous Woman, God has spoken through Solomon's mother to give truths about the Virtuous Man as well!

The Virtuous Man is known in the gates. Those who really matter know this guy's names.
The Virtuous Man is known when he sits with the elders. They know his name for the right reasons.

In order to have this reverence and position, he holds the things of God as a high standard. He is a gatekeeper both in his vocation and in his home.
A gatekeeper allows in what is needful and refuses to let in what is harmful, praying for discernment to separate the good from the evil. 
A gatekeeper protects the things he loves from the unknown in times of darkness, utilizing sound judgment that is based on absolute truths. 

The Virtuous Man is also accountable to other men who have a relationship with God.

My husband does not have the ability, or the desire, to spend five hours talking over coffee about every aspect of life like I do with my girlfriends. What's spiritually renewing to me oftentimes makes him want to throw up. But somehow he and his guy friends find ways to edify each other through fishing, going to the gun range, or biking 80 mile trails. Weird, I know. But somewhere between all the manliness, my husband gains insight from a Godly friend, or gives wisdom to a growing Christian. Christian counsel is so important to everyone, especially to the spiritual leader of the home.

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.     - Proverbs 27.17

Here is what our Lord has to say about good counsel, spoken through King David, Solomon's father...

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.     - Psalm 1.1-3

If we desire God to permeate every corner of our lives, why do we take advice that is contrary to God's Word? Why do we desire to look like the world who doesn't have God's peace? Why do we seek a higher position and more respect from those who do not respect our Father?

David's delight was in "the law of the Lord". As Christians, we now have grace through faith in Jesus Christ. That should be our delight. We can't help but delight in the freedom we find in Christ! 

He meditates on God's Word constantly. There is no separation between job and church, family and personal life. Our lives are most cohesive when we allow the Lord into every compartment.

When we live like this, we will succeed. If God is for us, who can be against us?

Even Solomon in all of his wisdom sought advice from his Godly mother. We all need someone to go to for our spiritual questions. But ultimately we need a personal relationship with Jesus in order to bring forth fruit and prosper.