Friday, January 12, 2007

Something You Can't Destroy

We all have the ability. We mess up our houses, leaving dirt, scratches, cracks and gouges in our path. We mess up our cars, staining the carpet, tearing the seats, and denting the fenders. We mess up our relationships,leaving a trail of hurt and conflict behind us. We mess up our churches, finding our will and way more attractive than the glories of God's kingdom and leaving a trail of division in our path. We mess up our bodies, eating more than we should, more often than we should, while exercising less than we should.

I don't know if you have realized this or not, but the Bible is a story of people who messed up again and again. The Bible is not the record of noble people who always made the right choice. The people of the Bible look familiar and human because they have the same attitudes that we do and take the same actions that we tend to take. But, here is the thing that is different about the biblical story. The biblical story is God's story. It is a story of a loving God, who is intent on rescuing us from ourselves and his loving work of redemption is something we simply cannot destroy. It is not based on our faithfulness, rather, it is rooted in his!

Take Abraham, for example. In Genesis 15 God comes to Abraham and makes his covenant with him. He tells Abraham that he is going to have descendants that number like the stars of the sky and that through his descendants every nation on earth will be blessed. What does Abraham do? He goes right out and messes things up. He is tired of waiting for an heir, so he has sex with his servant girl, Hagar, who has a son. Sarah, Abraham's wife (who was part of the plot) gets jealous, starts mistreating the servant girl, and Hagar flees into the wilderness.

What a mess! You would think that God would say to Abraham, "Now, there you've done it. You have destroyed everything I was willing to give you. You have messed up my covenant. It's all over." But that is not what God says. In Genesis 17, God comes to Abraham again and repeats his covenant promises, this time adding that this covenant is an eternal covenant. Why? Because God wants Abraham to know that the covenant is not based on Abraham's faithfulness, but on His. Abraham has finally met something in his life that he cannot destroy. Abraham has been invited into something that he does not deserve and cannot earn. Abraham has been invited to experience grace.

What does this mean? It means security! It means hope! It means a future! No, it doesn't mean that you can live anyway you want to live, because that is a horrible violation of the grace that you have been given. What is does mean is that, if you are one of God's children you have been welcomed into something you cannot destroy. The foundation of your covenant hope is not your faithfulness. The foundation of your eternal hope is God's faithfulness. And since it is impossible for God to be unfaithful, everything that he has promised us is guaranteed and sure. Let that hope get you out of bed in the morning!

As you leave the blog, we welcome your comments. Please let us know, by comment or by email if the blog has been helpful to you and don't forget to visit again our website, www.paultrippministries.org. When you go there you can:

1. Learn more about the ministry.
2. Check out the schedule of upcoming events.
3. Listen to the daily radio broadcast.
4. Purchase a resource that will put the transforming
power of Jesus Christ right next to where you live each day.
5. Subscribe to daily podcast and have the
radio program delivered to your computer daily.
6. Make a donation to support bringing the transforming
power of Jesus Christ to individuals, churches, and
ministries around the world.
7. Fill out the form requesting Paul to come to your area for a conference.
8. Read and reread the blog that is daily being updated.
9. Make direct contact with us through email.

And don't forget to celebrate the one thing in life you did not earn and cannot destroy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

He Sat Down

There is not a day when by thought, word, desires or action that we fail to demonstrate that we are needy people. Maybe it is a thoughtless word of gossip. Maybe it's a flash of lust or envy. Maybe it's an ugly moment of irritation or anger. Perhaps it's a selfish choice that no one would notice. Maybe it's bending the truth to your own advantage. Maybe it's an attitude of self-righteousness or pride. Maybe it's giving way to bitterness and subtle thoughts of vengeance. Somehow, someway, we all demonstrate that we are still in need of God's daily grace.

Now, this need makes you spiritually vulnerable. First, it makes you vulnerable to self-atonement. That's when you make yourself feel okay about your sin. How do you do that? By telling yourself that what you did wasn't actually sin. It wasn't gossip it was a prayer request. It wasn't anger, it was a clear exhortation. It wasn't selfishness, just clear leadership. When you justify yourself, you don't seek God's forgiveness.

Your need also makes you vulnerable to the lies of the enemy. He will come to you in those needy moments and tell you that you do not have enough. He will try to rob you of the faith, courage, and hope that propels you to admit who you are, to seek Christ's forgiveness, and to step forward in courage and hope. He works so that you will doubt God's provision for you.

Now to fight these two areas of vulnerablibity, all you need to remember is these three words, "He sat down." These words are in the first chapter of Hebrews and are found in a phrase that says of Jesus, "After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." He sat down! What amazing words! They can only mean one thing. That the work that he did for us was totally and absolutely complete.

You see, the Old testament priests never sat down. Hour after hour, day after day they would offer sacrifices. They would be knee deep in blood, but they would make yet another sacrifice. The stench of burning flesh never abated. Why? Because those sacrifices could never do the job. They were never able to fully pay the penalty. They looked forward to the coming of the Perfect Lamb who would pay the entire price in one final sacrifice.

After he had made sacrifice (of himself), Jesus sat down! What does that mean? It means his provisiion for you is full and complete. It means he has given you all you need to be right with him, to be what you are supposed to be and to do what you are called to do.

So when you begin to doubt his grace or when you're tempted to justify yourself, just say these three words to yourself, "HE SAT DOWN." And celebrate the amazing grace that is yours right here, right now.

As you leave the blog, don't forget to visit again our website, www.paultrippministries.org. When you go there you can:

1. Learn more about the ministry.
2. Check out the schedule of upcoming events.
3. Listen to the daily radio broadcast.
4. Purchase a resource that will put the transforming power of Jesus Christ
right next to where you live each day.
5. Subscribe to daily podcast and have the radio program delivered to your
computer daily.
6. Make a donation to support bringing the transforming power of Jesus Christ to
individuals, churches, and ministries around the world.
7. Fill out the form requesting Paul to come to your area for a conference.
8. Read and reread the blog that is daily being updated.
9. Make direct contact with us through email.

You can rest in his grace because, "HE SAT DOWN"

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The End of Humanity

Well, I'm back. We had a wonderful time in India; interesting at a variety of levels. And we enjoyed a wonderful holiday with family. The blog is back and will be updated about every other day.

We didn't know we would be doing it. We didn't know it would be inserted into our schedule. And we surely didn't know the powerful, life-transforming impact it would have on us.

We were in Northern India and we were invited to visit an isolated little village of dung-plastered huts. We had no idea what we would be seeing and we had no categories for describing it once we saw it. I will try my best to describe the scene. When we left the paved road, we drove as far as we could on a dirt path and then walked our way into a different period of time. Going into this village was like journeying back 700 years. Going into this village was literally a journey to the end of humanity. This was a village of Dalits, the untouchables of the Indian cast system. But these particular Dalits are the lowest of the low. They are rat catchers. Their job in life is to catch rats and those rats become one of the main staples of their diet. These people are so neglected, so down-trodden, so uneducated that they have no culture of cleanliness or hygiene. The first thing that impresses you is how dirty these people are. Dirty clothes, dirty children, and matted hair were the order of the day.

I have to be honest, I was repulsed by these people. I didn't want to get near them. I didn't want to be touched by them. I was afraid of what diseases they may have that I could catch. I had seen enough and I just wanted to get out of there. As we were riding away from this village in a nice, modern SUV, I sat looking out of the window, torn by conflicting thoughts. I was glad to be out of that village, I was repulsed by what I saw, but I had another thought. Although these people were the lowest of the low, although they live at the end of humanity, each one of them is a creature of God, actually made in his likeness!

The moment I had that thought another profound thought came exploding into my brain. What those people looked like to me is exactly what I look like to God. Sin has made me filthy dirty. Sin has destroyed in me any sense of spiritual hygiene. Sin leaves me isolated, ignorant, and dirty. But God didn't run out of our village. He wasn't relieved to be separate from us. Shockingly, he moved into our village. He came and lived with us. In his love, he took on our dirtiness and he gave his life so that we could become clean.

Isn't it amazing to know that God sees every bit of dirtiness in us and he does not turn away in revulsion. No, he moves toward us. He wraps his arms around us and changes us at the core of who we are as human beings. He doesn't separate from us because we are unclean, no, he touches us so that we would be clean! And he invites us to humbly look into his mirror, to see ourselves as we actually are, and to seek the loving cleansing that only he can give us. Isn't it wonderful to know that you can stand before God dirty and unafraid because of the grace that is yours in the Lord Jesus Christ!

As you leave the blog, don't forget to visit again our website, www.paultrippministries.org. When you go there you can:

1. Learn more about the ministry.
2. Check out the schedule of upcoming events.
3. Listen to the daily radio broadcast.
4. Purchase a resource that will put the transforming power of Jesus Christ
right next to where you live each day.
5. Subscribe to the daily podcast and have the radio program delivered to your
computer daily.
6. Make a donation to support bringing the transforming power of Jesus Christ to
individuals, churches, and ministries around the world.
7. Fill out the form, requesting Paul to come to your area for a conference.
8. Read and reread the blog that is daily being updated.
9. Make direct contact with us through email.

Today may you celebrate the One who did not turn away, but who moved in to make you clean!