God’s Righteousness

anonymous religious hasidim jews during pray near western wall
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I was told once that Christians can be divided into three groups:  Modern-day Pharisees, Christian Eeyores, and lastly, the Grace Community.  And I was told that I was the modern-day Pharisee type.  A lot of you were as well.  You know, the really annoying, judgmental, legalistic type?

 

But, c’mon, unless you used to be an Ultra-Orthodox Jew, you were nothing like a Pharisee. Neither was I.

 

The Pharisees were hard-core religious zealots who devoted every minute of their lives to being righteous; they were sincere and serious. Their zeal was based on the Laws that God spoke to Moses.

 

“For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.” Romans 10:2

 

Not according to knowledge?

 

The apostle Paul goes on to explain in Romans 10 that their religious practices were “their own” attempts at righteousness, and had nothing to do with God’s.

 

Yes, God gave the Law to Moses, but He did not give it so that it would lead us to Him.  To a life of faith, of reality.  The Law was given to increase the knowledge of sin and to lead us to despair and to the feet of the Lord God. (Romans 5:20)

 

So, if you desire righteousness and holiness, your efforts at being ‘good’ will not succeed. The Bible is so clear.  Again and again we are told that, to be righteous in God’s eyes, you must have FAITH.  Before Jesus came, one had faith in God and the words He spoke to one’s heart.  After Jesus came, one puts their faith in the death, burial, and resurrection.  It is THAT that spells out the good news, the gospel; it is that that saves a soul from hell.

 

Paul calls the gospel “the word of faith.”  The gospel is “the word of faith” because it has to do with assenting to what God reveals to your heart, it is about saying yes, having faith, and telling God, “yes, I believe that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead.”

 

The Christian life is a life of faith.  “From faith to faith,” as it is written.  We are saved through faith by grace, and then we grow to know Jesus through faith by grace.

 

Faith is the noun form of the verb “to believe.”  Faith is about trusting God.  It’s about        believing Him. You trust Him for salvation and you continue to trust Him every day afterwards.

 

. . . yet with most of us, there was a slight detour into “works.”  For me, it was a 15 year detour.  Although we were not as serious and sincere as the Pharisees, we church addicts were still nonetheless trying to establish our own righteousness based on “law.”  Our lives were guided by rules and principles and standards (not by the Lord.)

 

But God brought me back to Himself.  He asked me to quit church, to give up my religious idols. To surrender my pride to Him. He asked me to stop TRYING to be righteous.

 

It’s great news because anyone can do this; the gospel applies to anyone and everyone!    God’s idea of righteousness is attainable.

 

We don’t have to be modern-day Pharisees to be righteous in God’s eyes.  I’m still blown away by that!  So, thanks for listening. 🙂

 

“Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:4

Christian Dream Interpretation — God shares the Gospel with a gay waiter — Part 1 of 3

Fort Lauderdale Hotel & Marina Commands $163M

Darren and Darryl were two gay guys that I once worked with at Café 66, the intracoastal restaurant located on the property of Pier 66, a 4-star-hotel and resort in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  They were both waiters. Darren was my best friend at that job, but Darryl didn’t like me at all.

Darren accepted me because he too was a Christian, but Darryl gave me these intense, scowling stares during our staff meetings in the kitchen.  Other than the creepy looks, Darryl avoided me.  Except for the day of his dream.

Disturbed by a dream he had the previous night, Darryl went from employee to employee asking their opinion.  Finally, he approached me.  He told me the dream and then asked if I had any idea what it meant.  I was honest and said no.

I worked as the Administrative Assistant to the restaurant’s Executive Director, Steve Silverman.  A highly polished and manicured Jewish man who had a legendary reputation for having his secretaries quit on him.  After I got hired, I heard this phrase numerous times from employees all over the resort, “Oh, you are Steve’s new secretary?  He’s awful to work for!  You’re not gonna last long.”

However, I lasted a year and a half; I seem to have a knack for getting along with difficult people.  I did quit, but it was to pursue my Biblical education in another state.

My office was down in the basement, but on the day of Darryl’s dream, I was up in Café 66 filling in for an absent hostess.  After I told him I had no idea what his dream meant, I went back to my station at the hostess stand . . . and prayed.

I said hesitatingly, “God, if you want to give me the interpretation of his dream, you know, that would be cool.”

And then suddenly, with an almost physical sensation of something being dropped on my head, the meaning of the dream was downloaded into my brain.  It was clear.  And it was cool!  God was preaching the gospel to Darryl!

So, I sheepishly walk over to Darryl.  “Umm, this has never happened to me before, but like, God gave me the interpretation of your dream.”

In his dream, Darryl was driving a car.  In the passenger seat was a toilet bowl filled with poop; it was raining out, and the steering wheel was shuddering. There were other details that I don’t remember (this happened almost 30 years ago), but the basic message was this:  “Darryl, you have sin in your life, and you are trying to control your life with your own effort, but you are headed for destruction and therefore God wants to save you, and be the One who ‘drives’ your life.”

Darryl was thoughtful, but unsure.  He said “okay, thanks,” and then I walked back to my station.

About an hour later, he excitedly came up to me and said, “I finally figured it out!  I ate pizza late last night, and the pizza is what gave me the weird dream!”

“Oh.  Okay, thanks,” I said.  But, of course, I didn’t believe that for a minute; I knew that God had preached the good news to him through that dream, hoping to save him.  Hoping to give Daryl new life and to begin a relationship with him.

I believe God occasionally speaks to us through our dreams.  And I believe that God Himself gives the interpretation.  I was thankful to be used by God to give Darryl this message about sin and salvation, about death and life.  It is now 30 years later, and who knows, maybe by the time of this writing, Darryl has surrendered to God, and been reborn with the life of Jesus Christ.

To be continued . . . Part 2 here.

Jesus Christ IS the TRUTH.

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“I am the way, the truth, and the life!” Jesus answered. “Without me, no one can go to the Father.” (John 14:6, CEV)

Jesus is “the truth,” and we can grow in our knowledge of the truth by growing to know the Lord Jesus.

This life of faith begins when God calls us.  When we were lost and dead in our sins, He called out to us and revealed to us the gospel. (Romans 5:10). If we respond to the gospel message with faith, if we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, then we can begin this brand-new life where God leads us “from faith to faith.” (Romans 1:17)

And like the Israelites who were set free from slavery only to wander around in circles in the wilderness for years and years, we too will have our years of wandering in the wilderness. For me, it was 15 years of being deluded by lies and false teaching, wandering in circles, passing my days as if I were stuck in a cage.

As Bob George used to say, “Truth sets you free. Error binds you.”

This captivity is alluded to in Isaiah 14, when Isaiah prophesied about Satan’s future by saying:

Those who see you will stare; they will ponder your fate: “Is this the man who shook the earth and made the kingdoms tremble, who turned the world into a desert and destroyed its cities, who refused to let the captives return to their homes?” (Isaiah 14:16-17, BSB)

He refused to let the captives return home!  Satan is the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy. He uses lies and falsehood to destroy us, to turn Christians into captives. And he refuses to let his captives return home.

But JESUS the MESSIAH is the mighty warrior who sets us free from our cages!  Who fights on our behalf using the TRUTH to set us free.  In other words, HE sets us free because He IS THE TRUTH.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32, KJV)

After 15 years of being a captive, Jesus, the truth, set me free by leading me to discover my complete forgiveness (thank you, Bob George & Classic Christianity), and soon afterwards had me learning how to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ (thank you, Aaron Budjen). We are forgiven people, and understanding this will totally transform your Christian life.

Since being set free, I have drawn close to Jesus; I have grown to know His peace and His rest . . . Even in the midst of life’s pains and problems — His peace which passes understanding remains with me.

I want others to know this joy that exists in the midst of suffering.  This new life of freedom is so exciting!  And it’s so real and true, that to me, it’s comparable to a Near Death Experience.  It has been that life-changing for me.  Just complete night and day.

So, my life today is about the freedom He’s given me.  It’s not a freedom to sin, but a freedom to grow to know Him and His love for me.  A freedom to receive all spiritual blessings, and to grow every day in the knowledge of His will:  His glorious ‘last will and testament.’  It is a freedom to relax in the Promised Land of REST, freely enjoying His wonders, His beauty, His grace and His peace.  Nothing can separate me from the love of God! And nothing can remove me from this land of peace.

Meanwhile, it hurts when I see my brothers and sisters living in cages.   I write this blog today while somewhat heavy in heart; a good friend and sister in the Lord is being lured into a cage through the false doctrine of dispensationalism:  the teaching that paints God as a schizophrenic madman who is mercurial and inconsistent.  A God that is impossible to know. . .  But I must let her go and let her stumble and learn; my friend is on her own journey of faith.

I can’t change anyone’s mind, but what I can do is write these words today and declare that there is a strong and mighty Lion who is fighting for us – the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  He is fighting to set the captive free.  He is the truth who can set you free.

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

 

 

March 9, 2019  3:41 PM