Drop Dead!

Postcard with text "Greetings from the Sunny South." Five African American people in interesting dress--fancy suit, hats, umbrella, frilly dress. One has a fiddle and a dog. Text: "Cake Walkers. Way down south in Dixie."For a short while, we had these words on our mirror in the bathroom: Drop Dead. The idea was that we would start the day with this thought in mind. It was a good reminder; however, I remember the time when a young girl, who came for dinner with her unsaved family, came out from the bathroom, wide-eyed and saying, “You have bad words on your mirror!” To her, the idea of telling someone to drop dead was a threat!

As a church, we have been memorizing verses from Romans 6. (By the way, are you memorizing Bible verses? Is it me or does it get harder as you age? Anyway, that is my “New Year’s Resolution” for 2018! I’m not sure how I’m going to implement it, but I MUST be memorizing more scripture.) Whether it’s a piece of music, a famous speech, or a Bible verse, memorizing allows you to see it differently. As you memorize, you are meditating on the words and phrases in a different way than if you just read it.

Here is December’s verse for our church:

Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Romans 6: 13

As I was working on it, I noticed something. We are urged to yield ourselves to God.  That’s easy to understand, but then Paul adds this phrase: “as those that are alive from the dead.”

OK, Jesus died and rose from the dead. We are to be like Him? Is that what Paul is saying. Of course, that is certainly part of it. But as I “meditated” on this portion of the verse, I dug a little deeper! As born-again believers, we are not only dead, but we are resurrected.  When we

  • Are saved
  • Ask Jesus to be our Savior
  • Trust Christ for salvation
  • Believe and receive Jesus as our Savior

However you want to phrase it when that happens, we die to the power of sin! We die to living our lives for ourselves. We die to our wants, our plans, our path, and we allow God to do the leading.  He directs our paths, guides our plans, and often changes our wants. We are dead BUT alive!

Later in chapter 12:1,2, Paul puts a little more meat on the bones:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

A living sacrifice—we are alive, but we really can’t live for God until we die. That hurts! Death can be painful, and what I’ve found is this:

The tighter we hold on to our wants, our plans, our life,

the deeper God needs to cut to “kill” this world from our hearts!

What are you loving more than God? Can you be honest about this? Is it your traditions? Family? Church denomination? Entertainment? Way of worship? Money? Security? The way you do life?

Look at this verse:

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Revelation 12:11

Wow! What a challenge (and a good one to memorize)! As the Lord’s Return draws closer, will we need to follow their example more: they loved not their lives unto the death?

It’s all quite a challenge, but then, true believers understand that the Christian life is not a cakewalk. (FYI and total rabbit trail. Check out the link if you want to know where that phrase cakewalk originated!)

Will you drop dead today AND allow God to resurrect you so that you can yield your members as instruments of righteousness unto God? That’s a tall order. Thankfully, our loving God also supplies the grace to make it possible!

 

 

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Wooing Not Demanding

ID-100159550The law says, This do and you will live.

The gospel says, Live, and then you will do.

The law says, Pay me what you owe me.

The gospel says,I freely forgive you everything.

The law says, Make yourself a new heart and new spirit.

The gospel says, A new heart will I gave you, and a new spirit will I put within you.

The law says, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.

The gospel says, Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loves us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

The law ways, Cursed is everyone who doesn’t continue in all things written in the book of the law to do them.

The gospel says, Blessed is the man whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

The law says, The wages of sin is death.

The gospel says,The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The law demands holiness.

The gospel gives holiness.

The law says, Do.

The gospel says, Done.

The law extorts the unwilling service of a slave.

The gospel wins the loving service of a son and friend.

The law makes blessings the result of obedience.

The gospel makes obedience the results of blessings.

The law places the day of rest at the end of the weeks’s work.

The gospel places it at its beginning.

The law says, If.

The gospel says, Therefore.

The law was given for the restraint of the old man.

The gospel was given to bring liberty to the new man.

Under the law, salvation was wages.

Under the gospel, salvation is a gift.

God is Enough – Hanna Whitall Smith

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Tonic? Dominant?

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6: 14

Dominion – domain – dominant. Dominant!  Ah, for you music theory lovers, that word has a special meaning!  I will try to put it into ‘layman’ terms.

Music has twelve different tones, and those tones make music, just like the letters of the alphabet make words.  We can play them on any instrument one by one and we get a melody – the tune of a song.  If we pile them up and play or sing them together, we have harmony. Chords make up harmony, and chords come in all shapes and sizes depending on how many tones you put together and what tones you use!

In a scale (do, re, mi…) we can build a chord on every tone.  (Hang in there – there’s a great lesson for us!)  The chord built on ‘do’ or the first pitch of the scale is labeled with a Roman numeral one (I), ‘re’ (II), ‘mi’ (III)… the fifth note, or ‘sol’ is labeled (V) and is called…the Dominant chord!  There it is – Dominant, but why?  To be honest, until today, I wasn’t quite sure.  I mean, shouldn’t the first chord be the Dominant?  The (I) chord built on ‘do’ is called the Tonic.  Tonic?  Why Tonic?  Well, think of the (I) chord as home plate.  Every song you sing ends on the Tonic chord; if it didn’t,  the song wouldn’t feel complete.  Just sing Jesus Loves Me and end on the next to the last note.  It doesn’t feel finished and the chord for that next to the last note pushes your ear to hear the last note.  Guess what – the next to the last note has a Dominant chord, and the last note it Tonic. The Dominant pushes to the Tonic EVERY TIME!  AND if a Dominant chord goes anywhere but to the Tonic at the end of a song, you have what we call a Deceptive CadenceOOOOH!

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Here’s the lesson.  There are so many natural laws in this world.  (I succumbed to one of them in my last blog: gravity!) Music has laws as well. Even if you don’t know or understand the law, your ear naturally reacts to those laws.  That Dominant chord has dominion over the harmony set forth.  It dominates the path which the music will take.  It pushes your ear to want to go home to Tonic!  (What a wonderful name for home: Tonic!!)

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6: 14) Sin does not have to dominate my life!  It doesn’t have to push me to the wrong ending.  When I was not saved, it was true – I was under the natural law of sin.  I naturally was bent to sin and was pushed to its desired end, but no more!  I am now under grace!  My life is a Deceptive Cadence in Satan’s eyes.  He had a plan, a dominating force, but that force was conquered at the cross!! Does that mean I never sin?  Don’t I wish!  It does mean that I don’t have to sin – there’s a big difference!  I have the power to ‘just say no’ because of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Woo! Woo!  That is a very freeing bit of information!  It’s not easy – in fact, it is impossible APART from the GRACE of God, but… ye are not under the law, but under grace!