Monday, March 30, 2015

Living Stones

- Born again as a new creation in Christ, we have purified ourselves by obeying the truth so that we have sincere love for each other (see 1 Peter 1:22). When we obey God's Word and sincerely love each other, there's no room for malice (vice/viciousness), deceit (falsehood/craftiness/dishonesty/ trickery), hypocrisy (pretense/insincerity), envy (jealousy/ resentful discontent/coveting), or slander (hurtful talk/malicious speaking/evil speech/defamation/gossip/backbiting).  "Malice delights in another's hurt; envy pines at another's good; guile imparts duplicity to the heart; hypocrisy (flattery) imparts duplicity to the tongue; evil-speakings wound the character of another." (Augustine) As we are enabled by the Holy Spirit, God gives us the desire and power to put away these attitudes and action, but we must still carry out the "putting away"--that's our responsibility. It's a matter of obedience.

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness...Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen...Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love." (Ephesians 4:22-24, 29, 31-31; 5:1-2a)

- God is building a spiritual house/temple using living stones (Christians), those who have come to Jesus Christ, the Living Stone (rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him). We serve the Living Lord who is the Source of life. "In Him (Christ) the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit." (Ephesians 2:21-22) Christ is our Foundation. "So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: See, I lay a Stone in Zion, a tested Stone, a precious Cornerstone for a sure Foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.'" (Isaiah 28:16) To ponder: Are we living stones that build our lives on the Living Stone? Are we being lively memorial stones that are visible and stand out as monuments of God's goodness, grace, and help ourselves, our children, and others remember what God has done? "You were full of sin. Far from being stones that were white with purity--you were black with defilement, seemingly utterly unfit to be stones in the spiritual temple, which would be the dwelling-place of the Most High God. And yet, He chose you to be trophies of His grace!" (Charles Spurgeon) "True believers are stones full of life, so joined to Christ as to be part of the live rock, instinct with spiritual vitality. God has quickened them from the dead. The Holy Spirit has come to take possession of them. Whereas once they were dead in trespasses (Ephesians 2:1) and sins they now live by the living seed that God has put into them, and the life that they live in the flesh is the life of Christ within them. “I no longer live,” said the apostle, “but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Can your eye of faith see that temple of God made up of living men and women, not alive through the life of the First Adam but alive through that Second Adam, of whom it is said, “The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45)." (Charles Spurgeon) "To really live we need passion for Jesus and purpose to serve Him...We represent hope to people who may have given up on finding real life. We are stones rolled away, giving them a glance into the empty tomb. We provide evidence that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life...Share what God is doing in your life and commit to be a living stone before your friend." (Beth Moore)

- Because Christ's sacrifice gives us direct access to the throne of God, we Christ's followers become holy priests, set apart for His use. Each one of us is to function as a priest whose purpose is to serve God, our King. Aside from living a holy life in a close relationship with God, our main duty is to bring others closer to Him. We are to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. "Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor Me." (Psalm 50:23a) "My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, You, God, will not despise." (Psalm 51:17) "I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship." (Romans 12:1) "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that openly profess His Name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (Hebrews 13:15-16)

"WHAT ARE BELIEVERS? "Stones," for every Christian has that in him which is solid, durable, and ornamental. 

The grace of God gives a man solidity--he cannot be as light, trifling, and vain as he used to be. He has solid and settled thoughts upon high and holy subjects; he has solid hopes and joys. He is not carried about with every wind of doctrine--but becomes established and settled in the faith. 

He is durable too. Others fall away--but he endures to the end. Once fixed on the foundation, once really united to Christ, he remains built on Christ forever. 

He is ornamental too. Some stones are capable of taking a very high polish, and so is the Christian. The polished stones in God's temple will catch the rays of His glory and reflect them; and in every stone, the great Builder will see His own lovely likeness reflected. 

They are living stones. They are living, each one being quickened by divine grace, and made new creatures. They are lively, made so by divine communications, and kept so by fellowship with Jesus, the life-giving stone.

These living stones are not thrown together in confusion--but each one is fitted for his place before he is put into it. Every separate stone is laid on the foundation, which bears the entire weighs of the whole building. All the stones are united to the foundation, by a cement so strong, that nothing can ever separate them. The Holy Spirit acts as the cement in this spiritual building. He . . .
  brings us to Christ, 
  lays us on Christ, 
  unites us to Christ, and
  keeps us in eternal union with Christ!

These living stones are a holy priesthood.
Being stripped of their natural and carnal coverings, 
being washed in the laver of regeneration, 
being clothed with the garments of salvation, 
and covered with the robe of righteousness, 
and being consecrated by the application of the blood of atonement, and the holy anointing oil, the unction from the Holy One--they are prepared and qualified to officiate in this living temple. 

These living stones are to offer up spiritual sacrifices. This they are to do continually, the sacrifices of prayer and praise, which like holy incense, ascends as a precious perfume to God." (James Smith) 

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