Becoming A Slave

During my first trip to Ghana, West Africa in the summer of 2007, I had the opportunity to visit Elmina Castle. It was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, so is the oldest European building in existence below the Sahara. First established as a trade settlement, the castle later became one of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic slave trade. Slaves were held captive in the castle before exiting through the castle’s infamous “Door of No Return” to be transported and resold in newly colonized Brazil and other Portuguese colonies.

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During the tour of the castle, our tour guide mentioned in passing the three ways a person became a slave:

  1. Crimes committed
  2. Debt that could not be paid
  3. Born into it

We fit all three conditions of slavery to sin.

  1. We have committed crimes. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
  2. We all have a debt that we cannot pay. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
  3. We were all born into sin. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).

We are all slaves to sin and unrighteousness. But this was not God’s plan for us. He desires for us to enjoy the pleasure of freedom. He will set us free by taking us captive in His mercy.

We have committed crimes. But He cleared our record.

“Blotting out the handwriting of the ordinances that was against us… and took it our of the way, nailing it to His cross” (Col. 2:14).

We all have a debt that we cannot pay. But He paid it for us.

“Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold…but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

We were all born into sin. But we can be born again.

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Once I was “free” in shackles of sin:
Free to be tempted, bound to give in;
Free to be captive to any desire;
Free to eternally burn in hell fire.
But Jesus bought me, now I’m a “slave,”
Bound by commands, free to obey;
Captive by beauty, free to adore,
Sentenced to sit at His feet evermore!
-Unknown 

Esau’s Trade

Hunger gnaws at Esau, pain eating him from the inside out. He can’t remember ever being this hungry. He staggers, exhausted, into the room where his brother, Jacob, is preparing a warm meal.

“I’m starving! Give me some of that red stew.”

“Sure,” Jacob replied, “but first you will have to trade me your rights as the firstborn son.”

Caught up in the heat of the moment, seeking only to satisfy the immediate needs of his flesh, Esau concedes. “I’m dying of starvation! What good is my birthright now?”

Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his brother, Jacob. Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate the meal, then got up and left. He showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn.

I know what you are thinking. That is stupid. You would never do something like that, not for a meal. After all, how can you compare a bowl of soup to life’s pleasures, trials, and cares that people currently take in place of salvation. Certainly Esau’s trade is MUCH sillier than anything people trade today.

As long as we are making comparisons, I ask you to consider: How can you compare an earthly inheritance with a heavenly inheritance? An earthly inheritance, as great as it could be, is still just a bowl of soup compared to all that the Lord has for His children!

Anything you could take in place of your inheritance is like a bowl of beans in comparison!

Don’t make Esau’s trade. Treasure your inheritance.

The Preaching of Foolishness

Studies in First Corinthians – III

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).

I would like to share a story with you from Alan Redpath’s The Royal Route To Heaven. He writes:

I heard an eminent professor of theology say to students in his seminary class, “Gentlemen, I ask you to remember that you are called upon to know something of the foolishness of preaching, not the preaching of foolishness.” In my heart I retorted, “He is wrong! The word of the cross is absolute foolishness.” It says so in my text: to those who are perishing, the word of the cross is foolishness.

It depends on who you are talking to: those who are perishing or those who are being saved. To those who are perishing, the word of the cross is absolute foolishness. It is a contradiction to all of the science, philosophy, education, and knowledge of this world.

Let us hear the word of the cross spoken on a hill just outside of the walls of Jerusalem:

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). This prayer of Christ for His murders doesn’t make any sense, humanly speaking.

“Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). This pity given to the guilty from the innocent as they both suffer seems strange to human logic.

“Woman, behold thy son” (John 19:26-27). The concern of her well being in the hour of His death is at the very least the result of the purest of hearts.

“My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Now alone, utterly cut off, He is introducing a countless multitude to glory through His suffering.

“I thirst!” (John 19:28). Out of the agony of these parched lips flows rivers of living water.

“It is finished!” (John 19:30). Obedient unto death, forsaken by friend and foe, Jesus has paid the price! The innocent died for the guilty!

What is the word of the cross in your life and mine? It is power through weakness, life through death, resurrection through crucifixion.

Those who are perishing say it is foolishness. If that is so, I was saved by the preaching of foolishness.

Direction Determines Destiny

Studies in First Corinthians – II

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

We have in this verse two contrasting positions: those who perish and those who are saved. Both of these positions suggest movement in a particular direction. The living are either “perishing” or “being saved.” Salvation in particular is considered from at least three different points of view in the New Testament.

Sometimes it is spoken of as happening in the past, “according to his mercy he SAVED us” (Titus 3:5). This is justification.

Sometimes it is spoken of in the present, “Ye are saved” (1 Corinthians 1:18). The Greek participle in this scripture is in the present tense and denotes “being saved.” The is sanctification.

Sometimes it is spoken of in the future, “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Romans 13:11). This is glorification.

Each on of us is either perishing or being saved. Either we are being delivered from the disease of sin and self or we are becoming more sinful and selfish. What is the direction of your character? Is there progress in the Lord or regress into sin? Do you have an increased hunger for the things of God or are you feeding the appetites of your flesh?

What determines the direction you go? It is “the preaching of the cross” (1:18). This does not just mean preaching itself, although that is part of it. The word for “preaching” is the Greek word logos, the same word that we find in the first chapter of John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word (logos) was with God, and the Word (logos) was God… And the Word (logos) was made flesh…” (John 1:1,14). It is the WORD of the cross that determines your direction.

Need directions? Follow Jesus!

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A Good Confession

by Frederic Faber

The chains that have bound me are flung to the wind,
By the mercy of God the poor slave is set free;
And the strong grace of heaven breathes fresh o’er the mind,
Like the bright winds of summer that gladden the sea.

There was nought in God‘s world half so dark or so vile
As the sin and bondage that fettered my soul;
There was nought half so base as the malice and guile
Of my own sordid passions, or Satan‘s control.

For years I have borne about hell in my breast;
When I thought of my God it was nothing but gloom;
Day brought me no pleasure, night gave me no rest,
There was still the grim shadow of horrible doom.

It seemed as if nothing les likely could be
Than that light should break in on dungeon so deep;
To create a new world were less hard than to free
The slave from his bondage, the soul from its sleep.

But the Word had gone forth, and said, Let there be light,
And it flashed through my soul like a sharp passing smart;
One look to my Savior, and all the dark night,
Like a dream scarce remembered, was gone from my heart.

I cried out for mercy, and fell on my knees,
And confessed, while my heart with keen sorrow wrung;
‘Twas the labor of minutes, and years of disease
Fell fast from my soul as the words from my tongue.

And now, blest be God and the sweet Lord who died!
No deer on the mountain, no bird in the sky,
No bright wave that leaps on the dark bounding tide,
Is a creature so free or happy as I.

All hail, then, all hail, to the dear Precious Blood,
That hath worked these sweet wonders of mercy in me;
May each day countless numbers throng down to its flood,
And God have His glory, and sinners go free.

Unless

There are Universal Laws to which all men are subject unless acted upon by another law.  An example is gravity – It is a constant force that is always in place and effects all matter.  Furthermore, you don’t have to believe in the law or even be aware of it for it to work.  Unless another law, like lift, gives you power over it, gravity will constantly be successful in its quest to keep you on the ground.

Photo by 900hp

One such Universal Law is the Law of Sin & Death.  It states that all men are sinners (Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”) and that sin ALWAYS leads to death (Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death.”)

And so you can see the predicament of mankind.  WE ARE SINNERS DESERVING OF DEATH! 

That is a law governing all of mankind…UNLESS!  Unless acted on by another law.

Just as all matter is subject to gravity unless acted upon by another force, all mankind is subject to the law of sin and death unless acted on by a permanently opposing law.  

I am here to tell you that there is another law!

Scripture tells us, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”  Romans 8:2

God has another law!  It was put into play from the foundation of the world.  It is the Law of a substitute.  The innocent dying for the guilty.   The just taking the place of the unjust.

An object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted on by another force.

An object at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted on by another force.

The law of sin and death tells me that I am a sinner and sin leads to death unless!

I am Thankful for the Lamb, Jesus Christ!

The Lifetime of an Opportunity

It has been said that the opportunity of a lifetime must be seized in the lifetime of the opportunity. Every great opportunity has its limitations. There is a limited period of time in which to make use of their offer and their opportunity.

This truth is illustrated by the story of an old Saxon king who set out to put down a rebellion in a distant province of his kingdom. When the insurrection had been quelled, the king put a candle over the archway of his castle where he had headquarters and, lighting the candle, announced to all who had been in rebellion against him that all who surrendered while the candle was burning would be spared. The king offered mercy, but the offer was limited to the lifetime of the candle.

Every great offer of life and of time has its candle limitations. We always say tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes. All we have are our todays. It doesn’t matter what you will do with your opportunity tomorrow, what will you do with it today?

To the sinner, today is the day of salvation. Please don’t wait for we are not promised tomorrow. Repent and turn to Jesus today.

To the child of God, what is it that God is calling you to do? Please, the world is counting on the Church today. We cannot afford to wait until tomorrow.

The wick is short. The flame flickers. The opportunity has almost lived its lifetime.