Tag Archives: righteousness

The Finished Work

Back in the early 70’s I worked for my brother-in-law in aluminum siding. A local company paid us for applying the siding to older homes, hopefully making them look like new. This company wouldn’t release our compensation until the job was completed. On the bigger houses this could take a month or more. As a job was nearing completion, I’d tell my wife, ‘I think we’ll get paid today.’ But invariably we’d finish the day with more work to do. Job not done = no pay.

I relate that story to illustrate this point: our Lord Jesus came to earth with a job to do. The consequences of sin had to be dealt with, once and for all. And the Word of God joyfully reveals that Jesus finished His assignment. Through His death, burial, time in hell and resurrection, Jesus completed the plan of redemption.  The work has been done with nothing more to do. The check is signed in His blood.

What does this mean to you and me? We’re not waiting on God. Prayer isn’t attempting to get God to do something He’s otherwise reluctant to do. We aren’t required to “eek out” a victory over the devil. No good works are necessary to receive answers in prayer. All requests for God’s promises have received a resounding answer: Yes!  The work’s already done. For those who have accepted Jesus’ Lordship, righteousness is ours, health is ours, peace is ours, deliverance is ours, and an abundant life is ours.

Why aren’t we experiencing more of what is already ours? The Bible declares four times, “The just shall live by faith.” We are responsible to believe! And not merely intellectually. We’re to believe in our hearts. Heart belief is at the core of everything we receive in life – good or bad. If we don’t like what we’re receiving, we must check our heart.

But for right now, focus on the finished work. Mankind owed a huge debt that we could never have paid. As Jesus entered heaven and sat on His throne at God’s right hand, He, in effect, handed over a receipt of our bill marked PAID IN FULL!

April Fools

Every April begins with April 1st [Duh!] or April Fools Day. Thinking on that spurred my lightning fast mind to ask, “I wonder how that got started?” Well that question sent me off to the internet and a quick search yielded an article entitled “April Fools Day: Origin and History” by David Johnson and Shmuel Ross. [According to Google “Shmuel” is spelled correctly] Here are some excerpts from the article:

April Fools’ Day, sometimes called All Fools’ Day, is one of the most light-hearted days of the year. Its origins are uncertain. Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it stems from the adoption of a new calendar.

Ancient cultures, including those of the Romans and Hindus, celebrated New Year’s Day on or around April 1. It closely follows the vernal equinox (March 20th or March 21st.) In medieval times, much of Europe celebrated March 25, the Feast of Annunciation, as the beginning of the new year. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian Calendar) to replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year’s Day to be celebrated Jan. 1. That year, France adopted the reformed calendar and shifted New Year’s day to Jan. 1. According to a popular explanation, many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1. Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on “fool’s errands” or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe.

There are at least two difficulties with this explanation. The first is that it doesn’t fully account for the spread of April Fools’ Day to other European countries. The second is that we have no direct historical evidence for this explanation, only conjecture, and that conjecture appears to have been made more recently.

Another explanation of the origins of April Fools’ Day was provided by Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University. He explained that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor that they could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine, amused, allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event.

This explanation was brought to the public’s attention in an Associated Press article printed by many newspapers in 1983. There was only one catch: Boskin made the whole thing up. It took a couple of weeks for the AP to realize that they’d been victims of an April Fools’ joke themselves.

April Fools’ Day is observed throughout the Western world. Practices include sending someone on a “fool’s errand,” looking for things that don’t exist; playing pranks; and trying to get people to believe ridiculous things.

My grandfather was a big tease and enjoyed April Fools’ Day. My mom helped us set him up one year. I was about 10 or 11 years old at the time. Our home was actually part of Pa’s farm. [All we grandchildren called him “Pa”] My brother and sister and I walked right by the farmhouse on our way to the school bus stop. With mom’s prompting on this particular April 1st we strode up to the farm house like a small gaggle of geese and I knocked on the door. Soon Pa appeared and I recited my line: “Mom said to come quick! Our calf fell and hurt himself.” As Pa went back in to get his coat, we backed away from the door and waited. He hurriedly stepped out of the door, donning his coat at the same time. In perfect unison we three grandkids yelled out “April Fools!” We were quite proud of ourselves. Pa responded in his own special way. “Holy Jocks,” he said. I never knew what he meant by “Holy Jocks,” but we heard him say it dozens of times.

The Bible has a lot to say about fools, especially in the book of Proverbs. The word “fool” is a translation of the Hebrew word EVIYL. According to Unger’s Bible Dictionary:

“The word is used in Scripture with respect to moral more than to intellectual deficiencies. The ‘fool’ is not so much one lacking in mental powers, as one who misuses them; not one who does not reason, but reasons wrongly. In Scripture the ‘fool’ primarily is the person who casts off the fear of God and thinks and acts as if he could safely disregard the eternal principles of God’s righteousness.”

If we go by that definition then we can only conclude that today’s society is teeming with fools. Of course, we’re limited in what we can do about those around us and their foolishness. But we can work on ourselves, and that, dear friends, is a full-time job!

So, on April Fools’ Day, if you’re planning to pull a prank on someone, keep their safety in mind and don’t demean them in any way. And when it comes to fools, don’t be one!

The Value of Words

If you know me you know that I’m a “words guy.” I use the Greek and Hebrew dictionaries and lexicons to help me understand the words of scripture. I also make use of English dictionaries, because I’ve discovered that what words mean and what we think they mean are often very different.

Choosing the words we say in conversation is extremely important. We’ve all discovered by now, I’m sure, that words can heal and words can hurt. Words even create an atmosphere. If you’ve ever entered a room where cruel words were recently spoken you have discovered that they leave a heaviness in the room, even if you weren’t there to hear them. Words can encourage, edify, comfort and soothe. They can also wound, discourage, alarm and destroy.

Proverbs 18:21 tells us that both death and life are in the power of the tongue. In fact, if you think words aren’t important, the book of Proverbs will prove you wrong! Jesus’ brother James wrote that with our words (tongues) we both bless and curse. [James 3:9, 10] He also instructs in the same chapter that we can steer our bodies by the words we say.

So, on one level I think most have discovered that speaking positive words makes for a better life than harping on the negative. But there’s another level I’d like us to consider. Let me start with a few of the classic New Testament scriptures on the value of words.

Mark 11:23For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

Romans 10:9, 10 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

II Corinthians 4:13And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak,

I can’t tell you how many messages I’ve taught on “confession.” The basic principle of biblical confession is twofold: believe in your heart and confess with your mouth. Confessing what God says works! But we’re not getting the results we should. The promises of God aren’t “You win some, you lose some and some get rained out!” God’s promises are yes & amen. Jesus came to give us abundant life. We’ve been made more than conquerors.

The question remains then, why aren’t we getting the results we should? I think the answer is contained in these (and other) scriptures. For our words to carry the power they should we must first BELIEVE. Believe in your heart. Don’t doubt in your heart. We believe, therefore we speak.

If we’re honest with ourselves we’ll acknowledge that a lot of our confessions were attempts to appease God into doing something for us. “If I confess it often enough, loud enough, passionate enough …” If that’s been our focus it is fleshly and legalistic. Everything done for us by our Lord Jesus was done before we were doing anything right. Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. [Romans 5:8] Making positive statement won’t change Him. He’s already for us, with us and in us.

The release of power comes as we believe in what’s already done on a heart level, and form our words around that belief. Believe in your heart; confess with your mouth. We believe unto righteousness; confession is made unto salvation, which includes forgiveness, healing, deliverance, peace and all that Jesus won for us.

That leaves us with one more question needing an answer: what if I don’t believe in my heart? Here’s where we must be brutally honest with ourselves. Most of us have confessed things we just don’t believe. No wonder it hasn’t come to fruition. So, what now?

The root meaning of faith is to be persuaded. Many times becoming persuaded is a process. The good news is that confessing what God has said will help you become persuaded. Therefore, as long as your confession does not fall into attempting to please God so He’ll come through for you, your confession can continue working for you to persuade your heart of truth.

The writer of Hebrews said it this way: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” [10:23] Hope is a confident expectation with joy. Keep speaking the Word to persuade your heart. God is faithful!