Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas time in 2010

Yesterday afternoon I'd planned to pick up some face powder at Macy's in the mall and while there, find out why my cell phone wasn't ringing. But when we spied the backed up traffic entering the mall, we decided to brave Kohl's, Target and Lowe's instead. My sweet husband bought me a lovely necklace (that I got to help pick out!) at Kohl's. Target sold us wine-bottle sized bags for our Artmil customers' rolled up gift calendars. At Lowe's, I bought my tool-loving husband a new level (that he got to help pick out!) He found one that also came with a free ratchet!

In the evening, we spent a relaxed four hours over at Craig and Martha's with the whole Miller Clan, minus 12. The 30 of us ate delicious soups, meats, dips and goodies while we chatted around with one another. Then people started passing out gifts. There are three new family units as of this year, and Claire made gifts for everyone as well! Jen showed ultrasound photos of their baby girl, due in May. We gave out boxes of old photos, gleaned from Grandma's albums, to each of the 5 main branch families, along with aromatic wax-dipped pine cones and altered domino ornaments ordered from Tracy's Miller Manor Designs. Baby Jack is adorable at 6 months. He eyed the antics of Arthur and Will, ready for sure to join in next year! Claire played piano selections in the living room for her visiting Grandma. Mark brought in his newly bought Gretsch guitar for all to see. Alan and Kathy invited any to join them at the theatre at 10 pm to watch True Grit.

Today, Christmas Eve, Annie called this morning to say they were buying paint to paint their living room at that very moment! After breakfast, Dennis and I had a wonderful hours-long conversation about how to hone our business and personal lives to better suit the direction God is taking us. After a quick lunch, we outsmarted mall traffic by parking at Vista School and walking over! Powder bought and cell phone remedied, we walked by a store that Dennis thought we should check out. An hour later, we walked out with six lovely new garments for me. Then we found Arthur his first pair of Rockports before heading back to our car at Vista.

Tomorrow we plan to open gifts in the morning and play Arthur's new games with him. Arthur and Dennis are each getting new basketballs so I imagine they'll try those out if it isn't raining. We plan to make cabbage rolls for dinner sometime, and Skype with Paul, Annie, Keith, Bethany, Evangeline, K2, Zach, Kaley, Keziah and Zion altogether at 5 pm. Perhaps we'll even take some pictures to add to this post!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Miller home school, circa 1992

Here are Keith, Zach, Paul and Annie studiously working around the kitchen table on Stanford Street in Springfield, Missouri in January, 1992. I found this photo among all the stuff I am going through to weed out and organize so I can once again know where what is! I've found a good amount of educational paraphernalia I'd be glad to pass on should anyone speak up. Stuff like a collection of various prints of art for art appreciation, a set of 64 prints of US Presidents and world leaders, five sets of 10 cards (10'' x 10") of pictures of: organs of the body, musical instruments, great inventors, birds, and insects with ten facts about each picture on the back of each card.

Arthur decorates for Christmas

On Friday, a package for Arthur came in the mail, a wrapped Christmas gift. I put it on the sideboard and told Arthur it would go under the tree so he could open it on Christmas. On Saturday, he decided it was time to bring in the tree and communicated that fact! The tree was out in the garage, under a huge yellow plastic bag.

Dennis and I figured out a spot to put it, and then he and Arthur brought it in. Since the lights were still on it, I located the end tucked in the branches and Arthur plugged it in. Back out in the garage, Dennis handed down the boxes of decorations to Arthur, who brought them in. I found the tree skirt and let him choose which side to show. Dennis put on some very old Christmas records while Arthur went to town!

First thing, he set out the ceramic Nativity set on the lesser used kitchen counter near the microwave. Absolutely a new spot for it, but we didn't see why not to keep it there. With very little help and just a smidge of direction, in several mini-sessions he hung plenty of ornaments on the tree. (I rearranged a few later on to fill in some bare spots). In between ornament hanging sessions, he hung the straw wreath on the front door and the nine green and red stockings alternately on their hooks over the fireplace. He set out the "Best Christmas Pageant Ever" angel of the Lord, the pine and roses centerpiece, the woven basket with JOY blocks and the ceramic snow covered house in different spots in the dining, kitchen, living and family rooms. In just a few hours, it was done!

We all rejoiced in Arthur's pro-activity, his skill, energy and perseverance, that the Christmas decorating was done (so painlessly!) and how positive and family-unifying the time had been. We praised the Lord for all his help in this task, which is so often so daunting for me. Arthur's gift-in-the-mail now sits under the tree, waiting for others to join it!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Snow at Thanksgiving

So many good pictures! We hadn't planned on snow, but it was beautiful and very enjoyed by everyone who could bear the cold

Friday, December 3, 2010

Over the River and Through the Woods . . .

That old song about overcoming wintery obstacles to make it to Grandma's house was one of the themes of our recent Thanksgiving family reunion. As ten family members around the country made their way to join the three of us at home in Washington, mild fall temperatures gave way to arctic cold, much snow and icy roads for the whole week we were together.

Sunday, Nov. 21. Keith and Bethany fly in from Phoenix with Evangeline and K2. We stop for Mexican food on the way to our house. Book reading is big with both E and K2 so we do a lot of it. Keith and Bethany have taken one week of vacation out of only two for the year from their apartment ministry to come be with the family.

Monday, Nov. 22. We all wake up to total snow cover and wonder how Zach and Kaley will be able to drive down from Spokane after they land in the evening, flying in from Louisiana. Chris and Bethany take Evangeline to Highland Health Foods to pick up almond flour to make yummy chocolate chip cookies and to Costco for salmon, scrumptious fuji's and a bag of avocados. Keith moves his family across the street to stay at neighbor Dave's basement just before bedtime.

Tuesday, Nov. 23 At 12:30 am, Zach and Kaley arrive from their elongated drive through blinding snow flurries down from Spokane. Zion hasn't slept well on the journey but Keziah has fared better. She goes to sleep on the hide-a-bed in the living room one night until Auntie Annie arrives to share the outside room with her. Zion sleeps with his folks in the guest room. After a few hours of sleep, the four grandchildren get to re-meet one another and share the books, toys and cats. The dads take them out, bundled up, to slide down the snow on the driveway.

When Evangeline comes in, she is cold so Grami promises to make her some warm juice. This becomes an instant tradition, requested after every snowy outing, with Keziah joining in.
Grami's note: I didn't get any more about the days written yet and still have trouble finding the pictures I want to include but here is one that captures the fun and energy of one evening dancing to the music!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Arthur joins the gym

We took Arthur to the gym tonight. The fine trainer there, Victor, had said Arthur could join even before he turns 16 with parental supervision. We waited till after our family visiting us at Thanksgiving was over and till Dennis recovered from the flu enough to work out again.

Arthur has always been attracted to the exercise machines in stores so we knew he would be up for this. He wore his gray sweat pants that are just like his Dad's along with his new white Nike's.

The treadmill was his first endeavor, which he held onto and leaned toward as he loudly ran. Next up, he really found his stride on the elliptical, where he could go hard and fast until he periodically needed to slow down to recoup a little. Then we showed him every machine or exercise we do except lifting the dumbbell bar. I kept his weights below the amounts I use and he seemed to do fine on all but one. The five pound weights you raise over your head in each hand (I'm up to 8 pounds each now!) were more than he could handle, though he was fine curling them to his shoulder. He'll get stronger quickly I'm sure.

Victor has us coming in this Saturday morning at 9:00 to give Arthur a workout plan on paper like we have and to show him and us how to use the stationary bikes and other machines we don't currently use. Dennis will also get his plan updated and I may as well. It is such a blessing to have a trainer at all and Victor is very good as well as very pleasant and kind.

We are so thankful the Fitness Center has permitted us to include Arthur in our workouts! This enables us to do it as a family instead of one at a time at different times with Arthur still needing to exercise. We plan to work out in the mornings so that Dennis can be in the office by 9:00 am, which means we'll leave for the gym by 7:00. We can praise the Lord together all the way over and back, or something else just as good and as fun.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Our dryer story

Do your appliances go on the fritz in three's? It seems like ours often do. All in one week the dishwasher started depositing dirt on the dishes after it washed the food off, the motor in our wonderfully good vacuum burned up, and the old dryer stopped producing warm air.

Dennis will clean the dishwasher squirter-outer places of hard water deposits so that hopefully will take care of that one. The vacuum salesman promised the brand new one he sold us would suck up dirt even better than our faithful but extinct Sharp. As for the dryer, on Saturday we drove by a place that services appliances and sells used ones so we checked with the owner about getting a new element.

He said it would cost a minimum of $90 to fix it and we'd still have an old dryer, so why not buy a newer, used one, "like new" for a little more? So we did. We loaded it in our van, borrowed the furniture dolly from work and moved the old one out and onto our pick-up. Then we brought the new one into our laundry room.

We discovered that the the pigtail on the newer dryer was for a dryer plug, while our receptacle (being in an older house) was made for ranges. So Dennis switched the pigtails and we plugged it in. No light came on in the dryer. Dennis pushed the start button and nothing happened. Then he switched the wires on the pigtail as shown in the diagram on the dryer. Nothing. We were disappointed but praised the Lord for the unknown He was accomplishing through this!

On Sunday afternoon, I washed four loads of laundry and took them to dry at the laundromat. Dennis and Arthur initiated the new vacuum in Arthur's room, played some basketball and watched the Seahawks win a game!

On Monday at lunchtime, Dennis came home from work. We put the new used dryer back on the dolly, out the back door, over the cement and up onto the pickup bed along with the old used dryer and drove them both down to the shop in Pasco.

The owner helped Dennis get our recent purchase back into his store, where he plugged it in. He turned the timer dial to 70 minutes, something we had failed to do, and then turned the 'start" knob. Presto! it worked! Come to find out, the dryer doesn't have a light in it. We laughed and smiled out of the store with our dryer. The shop owner and Dennis pulled the old dryer out of the pick-up and put the newer one up in it's place.

Sure enough, when we got the newer dryer into our house the second time, it worked! Dialing those minutes made all the difference! I opened some scrumptious new white sheets I'd been waiting to wash and had Dennis feel of their smoothness. He, trying to keep from soiling them with his dirty fingers, rubbed the back of his hand over them. Connecting the dryer exhaust he'd unknowingly gotten a little cut so we were both shocked to see two lines of scarlet suddenly appear on the snowy white sheet! Of course, it washed right out with cold water, then into the washer went the sheets, getting ready to initiate the dryer.

Perhaps we'll know some day this side of heaven what this was all about, maybe not. It's good to have a dryer now and it was good not have gotten all bent out of shape at any point in the story!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Teaching cats to get along

Shasta is our silky orange and white 10 year old female cat displaying what we jokingly refer to as "hormone problems". She loves hard petting, all the while insatiably demanding, "More!" with sharp meows, interspersed with loud purring. But then, she will sometimes suddenly bite the hand that is petting her! She sticks very close to home and fancies herself the queen of the place.

When Shasta was a tiny kitten, our old Rita cat did not affectionately approve of her presence. However, Rita dealt with Shasta's intrusion by ignoring Shasta, thus remaining secure in her queen hood in our home until her death at 18.

George wandered in 2 years ago half starved as a 4-6 month old kitten with beautiful long black, white and brown fur. He has the air of an ephemeral waif who may not be long for this world. He doesn't have a lot of sense, being fearless, standing down huge dogs who wander in our back yard. He's killed many birds and mice, always presenting them to us on the porch. He wanders all around the neighborhood accepting love and attention from whoever offers it. He's already lost a couple of his nine lives, one to the squirrel who lives in our tree (we think) who sunk his teeth deep into George's flesh under one front leg. That took weeks to heal!

For these two years, Shasta has picked fights with George whenever he did anything she did not like, George's existence being the thing she dislikes most! She hisses and shoots out her paw and they go at it, chasing, caterwauling, wrestling. (Maybe it was Shasta's teeth in George's flesh!)

And for two years we've been making comments out loud about how Shasta is jealous of and threatened by George, etc., etc. Two days ago, I decided it was time Shasta learned to accept that she has a brother. So I told her that George was her brother and she needed to be nice to him. I told her several different times, while I petted and held her. Today I haven't observed any altercations. The most amazing thing, though, is they both slept on the same bed all morning! We'll see if the truce holds up.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sears will be open Thanksgiving Day

I was surprised to hear that Sears will be open Thanksgiving morning this year for the first time. I won't be shopping there that day since I'll be getting ready for the family to gather here at 1:00 pm. But I am thankful I live in a country where the owners of their businesses have the freedom to open their doors any day they desire to. Or close them. Or pay their employees for the holiday or not.

I tried to leave a comment on the site where I read the article but was unsuccessful. Every comment I read was down on Sears for daring to do it. "Is nothing sacred?" to "You can be sure the bigwigs will be enjoying their families while their employees are having to give up family time just to keep their jobs."

Being business owners ourselves, we are sensitive about incessant attacks on "The Man" which business in general has come to represent in the eyes of many of our citizens. Seems any business owner is fair game to be considered greedy because they may possibly earn more than they need to stay alive. The fact that their profits enable them to grow, invest, employ others, and so become the chief job creators in our economy, is overlooked or disdained.

Maybe Sears had a tough year in our recession economy. Maybe they need an edge to stay alive in 2011 to keep employing the many people they do employ right now. All I know is that continued attacks on our capitalistic economic system do not help us recover. Such thinking does encourage our slide into socialism, however.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Before the Frost

These geraniums are what I feast on and drink in each time I look out my kitchen window. Any night now, a hard frost could come and leave them brown and wilting. Since my camera has now recorded their fall splendor I won't mind so much when they are gone from view. They were Annie's Mother's Day gift this year. The Eiffel Tower in the back is an unfired remnant of her high school ceramic projects.

Doing the Will of the Father

Jesus came into the world to do the will of his Father. (see Hebrews 10:7-9). His words, "Not my will, but Thine be done" were not just in the Garden before he gave himself over to death in obedience to his Father's will. He lived his entire existence seeking and doing the will of his Father who sent him. "I can of mine own self do nothing." John 5:30. "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." John 6:38. "I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me." John 8:28-29.

Why is this a big deal? Because, as a man here on earth like the rest of us, though he was also fully God, Jesus did have a will of his own. He could have looked out over the heart-wrenching needs of the people around him and decided to take things into his own hands. He could have called thousands of angels to defeat the ungodly men who held whole nations in cruel bondage. He could have organized teams to go throughout the earth healing all the sick, broken people. He could have caused all the wealthy people on the earth to share everything they had with the poor people so everything would be fair and equal. You may remember that the Jews were very upset that he did not throw off the yoke of the Romans as they thought the Messiah would.

But he did not do any of those things. He only did what he saw his Father doing. He did everything he did do in obedience to and out of love for his Father. All in obedience to his Father's will, he healed some and raised some from the dead, he preached the Kingdom of God, he laid down his life, was resurrected, ascended and now sits at the right hand of his Father in Heaven making intercession for all those his Father has given him.

Why didn't he do more about all the needs he saw? Because he was here to do his Father's will, not his own. Doing more or less than his Father asked would have been sin. His Father's will was that he would live a sinless life of obedience here. In that way, when Jesus laid down his sinless life, his obedient death would pay in full for all of the sin that had caused all the wreckage in the world. His resurrected life would then empower all those the Father had given him to live the same lives of dependence on and obedience to his Father. In this way, his everlasting Kingdom over all the kingdoms of the world would be built and reigned over by all those he redeemed along with him.

God is the only one who has the power to build his Kingdom. He saves us and fills us with his Spirit not so that we can go around doing all the good we decide needs to be done. (It is true that if we follow him as his children we will do good and exhibit all the fruits of his Spirit, but not by following our own wills.) He makes us able to commune with him, as he made Adam and Eve before they chose to follow their own wills. He has chosen to build his Kingdom through those who will obey him and do his will.

After our new birth into his family, when we are given his Life abiding within us, we are no longer our own to follow our own ideas of what we think needs to be done. "You are not your own, you have been bought with a price." We have been given the power of his Spirit to bring every thought captive (our own ideas and imagination as well as the goadings of the devil) so that we may be given over, as Jesus was, to do the will of our Father.

We have missed our purpose in life if we think our job is only to do what we have learned is right and good and pleasing. Nothing short of his will done on earth as it is in heaven is our purpose. We have not been given his new life to be good people. Doing good deeds is not our purpose, any more than it was Jesus' purpose. There are scads of people doing good deeds all around us who do not know God through Jesus Christ and who are not building his kingdom. They look good and others think well of them. But on the last Day, Jesus will say to them, "Depart from me, I never knew you, workers of iniquity!" If we content ourselves with doing what we think is good, we will fall short of bringing God glory, which is sin. And we haven't been given new life to keep on sinning!

We have been made like Jesus, children of God, to do as he did, to do the will of our Father. And the truth of the matter is anyone who does the will of the Father on earth will be hated as Jesus was hated. The earth is full of people doing their own will who, by so doing, hate God and all his children. Now it is true there is no law against the fruit of the Spirit but that fact hasn't prevented Christians from being martyred by those who hated them throughout the ages.

Now this is a very difficult thing. Naturally, no one wants to incur the wrath of his fellow man. It is natural to think that if what you are doing is causing a bunch of people to despise, resent and mock you, you must be doing something wrong. (Unless you are Rush Limbaugh!) We naturally think that anything God requires of us will produce peace, prosperity and a good name respected by others. We also naturally tend to forget about the cruel deaths that Jesus and all the apostles all faced.

However, our new birth into the family of God and our new citizenship in the Kingdom of God has translated us from natural into supernatural. We will fall short of becoming like Jesus if we cling to the old natural ways of thinking after we have become supernatural. His Spirit is hard at work within us to transform us into the the image of Jesus. So let us let him have his way with us. Whether we are to die martyr's deaths or not is all in his hands. Our job is not to worry about that or anything else, but to follow where he leads in obedience, to walk in his Spirit, to do the will of our Father in heaven. May we no longer disobey our Father by doing our own will, however righteous it may seem. That which looks good, sounds right or is commonly accepted is no longer our guide. He is.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Creation Theology: Living In Christ

Sermon 5 -- October 10, 2010

Today we are going to look at the new identity of the believer, some of what the Bible says about this transforming work of the spirit of God in the life of the believer. Paul in 2 Corinthians states we are in Christ and that we are new creations (metamorphosed). 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Cor 5:17

Born of Imperishable Seed

There is a spiritual work, a work of God, that happens in the life of every true believer in Christ. The Word declares we are in Christ, we have become new creations. Jesus himself stated that we must be born again (John 3:3). Peter, in 1 Peter 1:22,23, says we are born with an imperishable seed. 22Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, (this is an evidence of the working of God in these believers) fervently love one another from the heart, 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. Let’s meditate on this fact that we have been born again, begotten, given a new beginning by an imperishable seed, a life that cannot be destroyed. This life has already begun. In fact Ephesians 2:6 states that as believers we have been, in the past tense, seated with Christ in the heavenlies. The believer, once they are born again, have in truth, in God’s eternal reality, been raised up with Christ into an imperishable existence and are seated with Christ in His kingdom that will never end.

4But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (this is in Christ) Ephesians 2:4-7.

Paul states a similar truth in Colossians, where he tells the believers to set their minds on the things that are eternal, things above, since we are to be raised in newness of life and our true lives are hidden with Christ in God.

1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Colossians 3:1-3.

Union with Christ

As believers our lives are hidden with Christ in God. When we are born again, born of God, born of imperishable seed, the Spirit of Christ begins His work in us. In Jesus’ prayer to His Father in John 17:22,23, He requests that God give the believer His own glory. So we see that we share the same spiritual unity that Jesus enjoyed with His Father, that we are one with God even as Jesus and His Father are one. Then He makes this statement, I in them and You in Me. Christ here is in us and God in Christ is also in us. It is getting very crowded in our new creation life because we must not leave out the Holy Spirit! 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19. This is the relationship of the believer with Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God the Father. We are to be perfected in unity with the Spirit of God. This being done will make it possible for those still in the world to see God.

22“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. John 17: 22, 23

Now if we are in Christ, in the Spirit, many things are true of us. In Romans 8:1, Paul says, There is now no condemnation. To be condemned is to be declared guilty of wrongdoing. The believers are not looked at in this way by God. In Rom 8:31, Paul says, If God is for us, who is against us? He continues and says, Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? 33 and Who will separate us from the love of Christ? 35

This right standing (position) with God is possible because we are in Christ, since the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. The requirements of the Law that once condemned us as sinners are now fulfilled in us as believers. How does this happen? It is by our walking not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. We are to set our minds not on living in the flesh which is independence from God. Rather we are to set our minds on who we are in Christ, in unity with the Spirit of God. Our minds are to be set on this reality of God, on the things that are eternal, things that are of good report. Paul says if we do this we will have life and peace (eternal life and peace with God). Why is this? Setting our minds on the fleshly, natural life separated from the fellowship and control of God, is hostility toward God. Man in the flesh, in Adam, cannot please God and is not even able to because of his slavery to sin. However, Paul says the believer is not in the flesh, not in Adam, not a slave to sin because he is in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in the believer. Christ is in you, though your physical body is decaying, but you have the Spirit that is alive because of God’s having dealt with your sin. We have His power to walk in His righteousness because the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us.

1Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:1-11

The New Testament says of us that we are in Christ. Our life is hidden with God in Christ. We have this union with God because of our relationship with Jesus.

1Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, (set your mind on the things of the spirit) where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Col 3:1-4

Such are the promises of the believer.

New Creation Theology: Peace, Position and Power as a New Creature

Sermon 4— October 3, 2010

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God (peace) through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand; (position) And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (power) Rom 5:1-5 NIV

Having been justified through faith, this is a done deal. The believer, who has put their faith and trust in the finished work of Christ, has been justified in the sight of God. The enmity between God and man that existed because of sin has been satisfied so now we have the ability to have peace with God. The NT writers many times use the greeting grace and peace, as Paul writes to the Romans, to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Rom 1:7 This grace, this free gift of God in the giving of His son, results in peace with God and a changing of our very nature.

The one of the results of justification is the believer’s receiving a new nature. The Lord spoke to Ezekiel of a day in the future when He would put his spirit within men.

19“And I will give them one heart (an undivided heart), and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God. Ezekiel 11:19,20

God says He is going to do a work in men which will enable then to walk in His ways. So God has a plan to put this new spirit within us as believers in order that we can walk in newness of life, walk in the Spirit.

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Rom 6:4

So let’s examine some of the results of justification, the results of having a renewed relationship with God and having the Spirit of God as our helper.

Peace With God

First, as we have already mentioned, we have peace with God. This is the result of our faith in the finished work of Christ on our behalf. The NT writers call believers saints, sanctus (Latin), hagios (Greek), holy. That means we are no more creatures of wrath but holy, saints, children of God. In Romans 8:1 Paul states there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, the believer. We believers are called holy because we are justified, we have been made right in God’s sight. Eph 1:4 states we are holy and blameless before Him.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6.

The angels that appeared to announce the birth of Jesus tell of this peace.“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14. God sent Jesus, His only begotten son to bring about peace, a truce, a sacrifice for sin, and the end of man’s estrangement from God. Peter says the word which God sent, Jesus, was to preach a gospel of peace, peace with God. In Peter’s words, “The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all). Acts 10:36

Another verse from Ephesians tells this whole story of our separation from God and then Him making peace through his Son. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.14 For He Himself is our peace. Ephesians 2:13,14.

We have peace with God through Jesus Christ. We are chosen to stand holy and blameless before Him; this is God’s plan for us. This is not just something we say and not something we have to wait for until we are in heaven. It is the result of the work of God in the life of the believer. The result of our being justified is that our standing before God has changed. We have peace with God.

Position in His Kingdom

This new relationship we have with God results in a whole, new identity for the believer. Our new position is filled with astonishing treasure. For example, we are no longer enemies of God, but have become the very children of the only true God. We are now seated with Christ in heavenly places. We are joint heirs with His Son Jesus, with our inheritance the whole earth. We are citizens of His Kingdom, the Bride of Christ who shall reign with Him eternally over all the kingdoms of this earth when He returns in glory. And all of this only partial list is the result of His work in us making us into His new creation, new creatures. We have metamorphized much in the same way that a caterpillar turns into butterfly; we are no longer what we were. This is not something the we are doing; it is a work that God is doing in us. He has reconciled us to Himself.

17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation 2 Cor 5:17,18

This is the result of our new position, our new identity. Remember we were in Adam, the flesh, the old man and now we are in Christ. We enter into this relationship in which we have a new identity, which is in Christ. The Spirit of holy God is dwelling in us. Our Christian walk here and now is a matter of putting off (reckoning dead) the old self, the flesh, and putting on our new self which has been created in the likeness of God by the power of God. Paul refers to this process in his book to the Ephesians.

20But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self (put off your flesh life), which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Eph 4:20-24

Paul then goes into some practical examples of putting off the flesh and putting on instead the new self. But it is important to realize that these are not laws that we are to maintain by strength of our old man! We are putting on and existing in the new self, that has been created in the likeness of God, because we have this power from God to live pleasing to God, to become like Him. We have His power to resist sin. Our new creation selves look like God because they are created in His image, in righteousness and holiness of truth. Our new creation identities, our new selves, are good and righteous. We have been re-created in truth, and have the approval and acceptance of God, who is Himself called Truth. Jesus said He is the way, the truth and the life.

Power in the Spirit

We are able to live this Christian life here and now as His new creations by the power of the spirit of God. Christians are the only ones who can truly live pleasing to God because we are the only ones with the Spirit of God living in us enabling us to live righteously. An electric drill that isn’t plugged into a power source is not a very good tool. You can use it as a hammer or as drill by spinning it around yourself with a bit in it but it is not functioning as it was designed. The Christian walk was designed to be lived by the Christian’s dependence upon the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead which is empowering our mortal bodies.

At the end of this list of actions the Christian is to put off and put on you find the phrase, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit”.

25Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and do not give the devil an opportunity. 28He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. 29Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Eph 4:25-30

9However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

12So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Rom 8:9-12

We are called to live by the Spirit, in the power of the Spirit of God that lives in us.

12So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Phil 2:12,13

So as believers we have Peace with God, a Position in His Kingdom and His Power of the Spirit of God within us enabling us to live godly lives. This is the birthright of the child of God who has entered into newness of life through the blood of Christ.

New Creation Theology: Justification by Faith

Sermon 3 — September 26, 2010

Last week we talked about the two states of man according to God and the Bible. We are either in Adam or we are in Christ. If any man is in Christ he is a new creation. God has through the work of Christ on the cross made it possible for individuals to be reconciled to Him, set again in fellowship with holy God. This was made possible by His work of reconciling (God reconciling man to Himself), satisfying the breach between man and God. It is from this work of God satisfying the wages of sin that we get the term justification, which means God paying the price of our sin, not overlooking sin, but dealing with it on the cross. The Christian can enter again into right relationship with God, draw near holy God, able to have fellowship with God. Let’s look at a couple of passages from the New Testament that discuss this issue. Let’s turn first to 2 Cor 5:17-19. Paul writes,

17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away;(sin and the old man, who we were in Adam) behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, (this work is from first to last the work of God, His plan, His provision) who reconciled us to Himself (placed us in proper relationship with Himself) through Christ (through the finished work of God on the cross) and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 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. 2 Cor 5:17-19 (the ministry of reconciliation — God reconciling the world to Himself, not counting sin against us since we are now alive in Christ, new creatures.)

Our faith as Christians is in the finished work of Christ, his substitutionary death which He suffered for you (1 Peter 2:21). We must consider and believe and stake our lives on this great truth, that God has truly made provision for our renewed relationship with Him. Paul ends 2 Corinthians with this verse, He (God) made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor 5:21

Our job, as Christians then, is to put our trust in this finished work. As people we trust in many things; we trust that the garbage man is going to come by once a week, we trust our chairs to hold us and that our cars are going to get us to where we are going. As Christians we are to trust that what the Bible says about our relationship with God being restored by the work of God in Christ has indeed taken place.

15But the free gift (Christ’s death for sin) is not like the transgression (Adam’s sin in the garden). For if by the transgression of the one (Adam’s sin) the many died (the whole race of man), much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

18So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom 5:15-21.

We enter into this relationship with God as a gift from God by grace alone, by faith in the finished work of Christ. We believe in the adequacy of Christ, God’s perfect sacrifice to redeem us. Paul says in Titus 3:4 that God saves us, not by works of righteousness that we do but by His mercy. We are saved, justified in the sight of God, freed from life in Adam (the sin and death life we are born into, a life of separation from God) by Christ our Savior. As Paul states,

4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, (in other words, not by our own efforts) but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration (in biology, the ability to recreate lost or damaged tissues. How much this illustrates the new life of the believer!) and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that being justified by His grace (having been justified: for the believer this is a finished work) we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-6

Hopefully we understand this concept, that we are justified by grace alone, not in anyway by our own goodness. Paul’s words in Galatians make this clear, 16nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, (How then are we justified?) even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. Gal 2:16

This had special meaning to the Jewish Christians to which Paul was addressing this letter. Many of them had spent their lives being good people by obeying the Law. Here Paul states that no man is justified by the Law but by faith in Christ. How does this relate to us as believers? Why does Paul spend so much time emphasizing this truth? From my own experience and from observing other Christians there is a tendency to understand being saved by grace and faith in Christ but, after that point, to attempt the working out of our salvation, the living of our faith by the law, by rules and regulations that we put on ourselves. The problem is that if we leave the Spirit out of the finishing of our faith we will lack the ability to live in newness of life. Paul said we are to be, renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior Titus 3:5,6 It is the Spirit’s work in us that makes us new, that gives us the ability to live godly. We begin our life by the working of the Holy Spirit and we continue by walking in the Spirit, by the enabling of the Spirit of God. So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Gal 5:16 NIV The Spirit of God wants to work the character of God into the fabric of our mortal lives. So we are to be born of the Spirit and now we must walk in the Spirit in newness of life.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Gal 5:23-25

New Creation Theology: Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ

Sermon 2 -- September 19, 2010

12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— 13for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.

15But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. Rom 5:12-17

The scripture says here that all of man is divided in to either of two camps, those that are in Adam and those who are in Christ.

The Reign of Adam

The biblical view of man is that he lost fellowship with God because of disobedience. The Bible begins with God creating a perfect and good world. Man was created to live in that world. Adam and Eve had fellowship with God. The presence of the Lord was with them in the Garden (Genesis 3:8). This fellowship with holy God was broken by their disobedience. After they disobeyed God’s command, which was to not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they hid themselves from God in guilt. They were barred from the Garden of Eden, losing eternal life when they were thus denied access to the Tree of Life. As a result of this Fall, all of man has a fallen nature, one that is out of favor and fellowship with their Creator.

This concept of man, fallen and in need of a Redeemer, is at the foundation and heart of the Christian message. Paul states this in Ephesians 3 that all men are born in Adam and thus are, by nature, children of wrath.

1And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2in 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. 3Among 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. Eph 2:1-3

sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned

many died by the trespass of the one man

The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation Rom 5:12,15,16

Sin is not a matter of how good we are but a matter of nature. Sin entered the world through Adam, who passed it on to his descendants. Paul states here that man was helpless, ungodly (not godlike, not good), sinners (those who had missed the mark concerning righteousness) and deserving of judging for this sin: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Rom 1:18. There was a need to be justified, reconciled to God, and that was because sin had entered the world and had spread to all men. This sinful state is not simply the result of the acts of sins that we have committed but is a flaw in the fabric of our natures as a result of being descended from Adam and Eve. For through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. Rom 5:12.

The Reign of Christ

The work of Christ is the reconciliation of man back into fellowship with God. A number of factors come into play here. First is the fact that man was unable to redeem himself. None of us could be good enough to merit being reconciled to God because each of us, as children of Adam, is stained with sin. We are, by nature, children of wrath, sons of disobedience. Paul says while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Rom 5:6.

6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Rom 5:6-11

The sinful, helpless, child of wrath state we are in Adam does not mean we are totally degenerate and have no resemblance to God who created us in His image. What it does mean, however, is that compared to the holy perfection of God, man cannot by any means, by his own effort, make himself holy. The good news is that the work of God, the sinless life and death of Jesus is the propitiation for our sins:

2 He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. 1 John 2:2

10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins 1 John 4:10

17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Heb 2:17

all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Rom 3:23-26

“Propitiation is a theological term denoting that by which God is rendered propitious, i.e., that ‘satisfaction’ or ‘appeasement’ by which it becomes consistent with His character and government to pardon and bless sinners.” (Definition from Wikipedia). This is the way God chose to deal with sin. With Jesus’ sacrifice, He was able to say, “It is finished!”, the wrath of God against sin has been satisfied, appeased. It really was your and my sin that brought Christ to the cross because we were born in Adam. But if we are in Christ we are being identified with Jesus, who is the second Adam, the Adam from above. God doesn’t see us through our sin but through the work He did through Christ Jesus to redeem us from our sin.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Rom 8:1

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. Rom 5:1,2

Justified through faith in Jesus Christ, we have entered a state of being at peace with God. God views us as justified, as having never sinned. Paul says we have peace with God. We are to stand, trusting in this position, realizing our faith in the work of Christ has brought us into a place of grace, which is unmerited favor, in our relationship with God. We are to stand thoroughly convinced of this peace with God. This is the Christian message and it is the hope of our calling. God, seeing our hopeless estate, has provided so great a salvation for those who believe.

The great question for every person is whether they are in Adam or in Christ. If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation and living in the reign of grace. The believer is dead to guilt for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. But more than this, the Christian is free from the reign of sin; he has entered into the reign of grace. No more is he a slave to sin. Now, he is a slave to righteousness. We receive a new nature, we are new creations, we are said to be, “in Christ”. Christ is in us, who is the hope of our glory and eternal life. His “new creation life” within us is also the power to live a Christian life today here on earth.