Tuesday, October 30, 2018

In2freedom Vlog ~ Jesus Changes Our Minds

Here's my first step in trying out vlogging (video-blogging).[1] My aim is to share a key thought from God's word to encourage us in how he speaks to us today and leads us through anything we are facing.

If you have been unable to fit in a daily time with God in his word, or you could use an extra dose of encouragement, it's only 7 minutes to consider what God is speaking through his Book.

In this case, do you think that reading God's word might just happen to change your mind about something? It happens to me on a regular basis. And, since he's much smarter than me, that's always a good thing!

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

[1] If I’ve done one before, it seems like a very long time ago that I was thinking of trying it, so I can’t even remember if I did.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Home Church Video ~ From Spitting Out to Eating In

How would you feel if someone described your relation to them as making them want to spit you out of their mouth because you’re so awfully lukewarm?

Now, after an initial wave of hurt feelings, wouldn’t you want to know if you were doing something to cause such a reaction?

In this home church video, we explore why Jesus would tell one of his churches that they were lukewarm and he was planning to spit them out of his mouth if nothing changed.[1]

Along with that, we consider what Jesus meant that he was knocking at the door of the church in order to come back in, and anyone who opened the door to him would experience fellowship like two friends sitting down to enjoy a meal together.

At the center of this focus is Jesus telling the church that they saw themselves in a very positive light that was not accurate simply because they did not realize the true condition of their souls. He then described the way they looked in real life and presented them a very gracious opportunity. He would counsel them in where and how to get what they were lacking, which is, in him.

Join our home church as we examine our own hearts to assess which parts of this message to a lukewarm church is exactly what we ourselves need to hear, along with Jesus’ solution, which is opening our hearts to him.

As always, Jesus only addresses what is wrong with us with a message of grace and hope to help us take hold of what he says. When the poor in spirit let themselves hunger and thirst for the righteousness of faith, even if they only learned about their bankrupt relationship to Christ just now, they experience the faithfulness of Jesus our Savior to do in our lives exactly what he promises to do.

And the fellowship only gets better as we travel with him and follow where he leads.

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] See Revelation 3:14-22

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Jesus Changes Our Minds

Whenever I share like this, I have a dual aim of what I hope will happen.

First, I would love to see other believers built-up and encouraged by the specific lessons from God’s word that have already blessed me in praiseworthy ways.

Second, I would love to see other believers engaged with God in his word daily so all of us would have a testimony of what God has taught us, how we see him working those things into our lives, and how we are joining him in his work.

With that in mind, here are some thoughts from Jesus’ letter to the lukewarm Laodicean church in Revelation 3:14-22.

1.     The phrases, “you say,” and, “not realizing”.

17 For YOU SAY, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, NOT REALIZING that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

This sent me into a time of examining myself to consider whether there are things my sark/flesh says about me that are smugly self-satisfied simply because I don’t realize the true condition of my soul. It included a consideration of how dissociation and self-protection hide things away from us so we can play roles that are different from who we really are and what we are really like.

To our self-protection and sarkiness there will be some kind of message telling us what we “say” about ourselves that is smugly self-satisfied. However, the only reason we could believe such things is that we don’t realize what God sees inside us, especially on the other side of those walls of self-protection.

2.    The phrases, “I counsel you,” and, “so that you may…”

18 I COUNSEL YOU to buy from me gold refined by fire, SO THAT YOU MAY be rich, and white garments SO THAT YOU MAY clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness MAY not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, SO THAT YOU MAY see.

When Jesus shows us that we are smugly self-confident in our sarks/flesh because we don’t realize the mess they have made of our lives, he comes with counsel that would change us. If we continue with the smug self-confidence that is dissociated from reality, he spits us out of his mouth.[1] But he comes with the very counsel that would give us the things we thought we had but don’t.

3.    The parallel between the phrases “you say,” and, “I counsel you”.

Obviously, to whatever extent we are saying anything about ourselves that is false, we need to turn to hear whatever the Spirit is saying to us so we know the counsel Jesus would give us.

This is the way I have viewed my time with God for a very long time. First, I want to present to God what I am thinking or feeling about anything in order that he can examine it for me. Then, as I seek him in his word, it is so that he can counsel me on how I should think about myself and anything I am going through. Our daily time with God will consistently confront us with these differences between what we say and what Jesus would counsel. It is always good to change our minds to his, but it may follow the pattern of Jesus telling us what we say that just ain’t so, and what he counsels us to do about it.

4.    The parallel between the phrases, “not realizing,” and, “so that you may”.

This is where there is so much hope. No matter how deluded we are because of what we don’t realize about ourselves, Jesus presents the very things that would lead us to truly experience the exact things we don’t have.

For example, Jesus shows us the negative, sinful, discouraging, false things we think, believe and feel that we don’t even realize are problems with us. However, he does not show us these things so that he can condemn and reject us, but “so that you may” experience his blessings in real life.

When a dissociative person thinks they have peace, but in reality they are merely a peacekeeper who tries to keep everyone happy so there are no troubles to face, Jesus brings them to the end of their peacekeeping by letting all kinds of impossible-to-handle situations come up in order that they would discover that they did not realize how poorly they were doing deep inside.

Once he has us there, where we can see what we did not realize about ourselves, he can then show us how we can have peace with God through him in a way we would never experience it in our own strength. He changes the mind of a peacekeeper into the mind of a peacemaker.[2]

This is a humbling Beatitudinal picture.[3] If we keep thinking the lie that we already have as much as we need of the work of Christ, we are putrid in our lukewarmness so he wants to vomit us out of his mouth. On the other hand, if we admit to the impoverished condition of our souls exactly as he describes us, and mourn that the inner reality is so contrary to our outer role, and meekly admit that we will never fix this ourselves so that we allow ourselves to hunger and thirst for the wealth of righteousness that can only be experienced by faith, we can come to Jesus for everything we do not have and receive it all as a free gift.

In other words, only when God brings us to the place of admitting we do not have the righteousness, joy, and peace of the Holy Spirit,[4] and we allow ourselves to hunger and thirst for what we do not have, will he then pour out his grace to do in our lives what can only happen through faith.[5]

Conclusion: we must let the Holy Spirit examine us and tell us the truth of what we are like and how we are doing in order that we can earnestly repent (change our minds to match his) and open the door to Jesus’ gracious knocking.[6] 

Of course, a daily time in the word and prayer would do just that.

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Revelation 3:15-16
[2] This is seen in the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:1-12
[3] In the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:1-12, the peacemaker is someone who has already seen their poverty of spirit, mourned the sinful and sarky condition of their souls, meekly accepted that they cannot fix themselves, hungered and thirsted after the righteousness they did not have, and so were satisfied by the righteousness of God by grace through faith. This makes them into a merciful person with a pure heart who now wants everyone to experience peace with God through the gospel, so much so that they will even consider it a blessing when they are persecuted for doing so.
[4] Romans 14:17
[5] The “grace through faith” of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9) is the same grace through faith that leads us our whole lives.
[6] This is what Jesus tells us to do in Revelation 3:19-20

Saturday, October 13, 2018

From Spitting Out to Eating In

Here’s today’s big lesson: If we will do something different towards Jesus, Jesus will do something different towards us.

Someone has described insanity as doing things the exact same way while continually expecting different results. God counters such insanity by showing us that there is a way to respond to him differently that leads to different results.

Through a series of blessed events I found myself in Revelation 3 where I am looking at Jesus’ ministry to the lukewarm Laodicean church.[1] I arrived here a day or so ago as I considered what it would look like for Jesus to come in and share a meal with us. I wondered what that would be like when people feel inner trauma that has never seemed to know him in such a way.

What stood out today is that Jesus said, So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”[2] Based on the present condition of that church, Jesus had already decided what he WILL do. If nothing changes with the church, nothing will change with Jesus’ discipline.

However, when Jesus says, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me”,[3] he presents another possibility. Instead of him spitting us out, he would come in and share a meal with us.

Although I have preached on this passage numerous times, all ending with a church choosing to stay the same instead of changing, I have never noticed how strongly it connects the pictures of Jesus spitting us out and Jesus sitting down to share a meal with us. What a contrast!

To spare us the negative emotions of thinking that whatever Jesus would do for us depends on what we do for him, everything is in the context of the salvation we have already received by grace through faith (Jesus is speaking to one of his churches), and, the encouragement to do something different is simply in response to our discovery that Jesus is standing at the door already knocking.

In other words, no matter how we look at this, things do not begin with what we do. However, what happens after we discover something Jesus is doing does affect what happens next.

Our part is not to make something happen, but to respond to what is happening. If we respond by saying no to opening the door, we become vomit. If we respond by opening the door as encouraged by the Spirit, we become host to Jesus sharing fellowship with us over a meal.

It is interesting that Jesus does not identify the “door” on which he is knocking. It is just a metaphor after all. However, yesterday I caught a glimpse of Jesus knocking on the door that has hidden away the worthless orphan-minded child part of myself and asking that part of my soul if I would like to fellowship with him like friends over a meal. I knew the answer was yes.

Today Jesus wants me to see another situation in which the door handle is on my side and he is knocking from his side. It is the one who hears his voice and opens the door who will receive the waves of grace that will satisfy us with his unfailing love.

After enjoying the blessing of what the Spirit was teaching this morning, I realized that God is preparing me for situations up ahead that will require me to be in fellowship with him in my inner being, especially when circumstances would shout out that I am a worthless orphan after all. This makes it even clearer that keeping in step with him each day will make me all the more ready for divine appointments than if I keep dragging my feet on whatever he gives me each day.

Somehow, if my experience of Jesus in my inner being was like an orphan-minded child who is being transformed through the newness of mind I have in Jesus, my fellowship with Jesus will not only help me to proclaim “him” to people as I have been learning,[4] but will give me righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit no matter what anyone else chooses to do.[5]

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Revelation 3:14-22
[2] Revelation 3:16
[3] Revelation 3:20
[4] Colossians 1:28 (context: Colossians 1:27-29)
[5] Romans 14:17

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Left Side of Therefore That Helps us Turn Right

Did you know that the adverb “therefore” is used 785 times in the Bible? That would suggest that we ought to find out what “therefore” is there for, wouldn’t you agree?

The simple thing that stood out today is that what comes after the “therefore” is directed at something we do, and we struggle with that side of the “therefore” to the degree that we do not get what comes before. 

The phrase in question is, THEREFORE, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.”[1]

What Paul describes after the therefore, is that he did not lose heart in his ministry.

However, the reason Paul did not lose heart in the ministry he was given was based on what he describes in the preceding chapter.

The essence of the “therefore” comes down to this, that the ministry Paul had received by the mercy of God was of such vast superiority to that of the old covenant that it kept a servant of Christ filled with the constant hope of bringing more people into the freedom of our Lord and Savior, and with that hope a man did not lose heart.

Guess what keeps holding people like us back from this freedom?

Answer: we keep relating to God as if we are under the old covenant!

What I mean is that, while we may understand that salvation itself is all of “grace through faith,”[2] we live the Christian life as if everything suddenly depends on works.

And then, with our mind set on our works and how we are doing, we wonder why we keep losing heart when Paul never did. We look at things Paul tells us to do, things that are only possible under the new covenant, and wonder why we aren’t as excited as him about such things when we keep trying to do them under an old covenant mindset.

How does this relate to living in the wisdom that is from above rather than the wisdom that is from below?[3]

Answer: the new covenant gives us everything we need to walk in freedom so that we can constantly look above, and constantly set our minds on the Spirit, because there is NEVER anything wrong between us and God.

Even if we stumble into a sin, it is not the sin that is between us and God, but our despondency and guilt and shame because we imagine he still sees us through the old covenant. Under that belief, the thing that keeps us from God is the whole collection of wrong beliefs that convince US to keep OURSELVES away from God.

In real life, under the new covenant, there is no distance from God just because we sin. Any believer who gets caught in a sin, the moment they confess that sin to God because they understand they are relating to him under the new covenant, there is immediate forgiveness based on the completed work of Christ, and God works to cleanse us from the unrighteousness we cannot remove ourselves (blessed are the meek).[4]

Since losing heart is such a significant characteristic of our journey, and we have seen the narrow way littered with the lives of people who lost heart and turned away from wonderful and amazing things God was doing, it is clear that we must let ourselves marvel at the glory of the new covenant. II Corinthians 3 explains this so clearly, so please meditate on that passage if you recognize your tendency to lose heart based on self-focused works-based thinking.

II Corinthians 4 leads us into the wonders of a gospel that is described as “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (vs 4), that “has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (vs 6).

When that is the gospel that shines into our hearts, it becomes the reason that we do not lose heart. Simple as that.

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] II Corinthians 4:1
[2] Ephesians 2:8-9
[3] Referring to our present journey through James 3:13-18. Our latest home church videos will catch you up if you are interested.
[4] I John 1:9 gives the promise of forgiveness and cleansing upon confession of our sin, and Matthew 5:5 identifies that it is the meek who obtain the inheritance of God; not the strong, not the good, not the righteous, not the religious, but those who meekly recognize their own inability to fix anything wrong with them and so they joyfully embrace the righteousness of faith given to them in Jesus Christ our Lord.