Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Answer To Our Identity Crisis

'Redemptive communication starts with God and ends with God. It does not start with the problem. The answer existed before the problem.'

I'm not sure what I was thinking or reading when I wrote this that back in 2014. Wow. What a different mindset that is.

If we are creatures that crawled out from the mud what we face is new then new solutions are needed but if we are eternal created things then the architect that made us also has an answer for what we face. He 'Is' the answer.

A bunch of fiction comes to mind. One, in particular, that influenced me as a young person was the film 'Blade Runner.' A sequel came out recently. The original movie was based on a novel that came out in 1968 called, 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' On the surface, the film looks like a post-apocalyptic thriller set in San Francisco. This future is dark. Mankind has created humanoid beings called replicants to help him colonize the stars. These beings think they are people and have purposely short lifespans. The main character is a man who has the job of hunting down replicants who are loose among the human population on Earth. As the story progresses it becomes unclear to the man if he is really a man at all. The viewer sees his conflict of identity. Is he really a person with free will or a creation? Near the end of the movie version, a particularly strong and smart replicant named Roy finds a way to get into his creator's ivory tower and argues with him about his short lifespan. In the end Roy kills the man who made him.

I told you it was a dark story. Flawed fallen man has a tendency to picture God as flawed and fallen. A man or woman separated from God's mind must fend for themselves.

'Bladerunner' is considered a classic film for many reasons but things become classic because they hit home in people. Classics touch on some theme that people can relate to.

Am I real? Is God flawed like me? If I can't discover who I am how do I live my life?

Biblical faith is based on a different premise. The Bible reveals a deity who is multifaceted, holy and perfect. We are made in his image and have fallen from that perfection.

"Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures." - James 1:16-18 ESV

Umm... wow...

The answers we seek are in Him and have been there all along.

Jesus walked and talked like a man who was sure of His provision.

"This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: 'I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.' " - Matthew 13:35 ESV

The Bible has the answers you seek. Your problem isn't new. The answer is actually very old but forever new at the same time.

Jesus is the answer. His cross is the answer. His forgiveness. His life. You may say, 'How on Earth would how that man lived or died have anything to do with my life. You don't know what I'm going through.'

The thing is... Jesus was not just a man... His cross was not just His death... we died there with Him if we believe in Him... God isn't flawed.

"For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." - Romans 8:6-8 ESV

A man who is separated from God is hostile to God.

"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." - 2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV

Yes! That reconciliation is found in Christ. He is the answer. If you find Him Heaven's door is opened to you. He is the answer you seek.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Give Yourselves To Humble Tasks

"Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men." - Romans 12:16-17 NKJV

That phrase 'associate with the humble' can also be translated 'give yourselves to humble tasks'.

This is good counsel. People can really get messed up when they 'over think'. I'm all for delving into deep waters. If you read what I write you can see that but I find it very therapeutic to collect the chairs at the end of the meeting or help set something up.

I don't want to argue theology.

Yes, We need to get things right but let's do it in kindness and simplicity. Let's clean up together. Let's drink a coffee and have a laugh. Let's marvel at the risen Saviour who conquered death to give us life and draw us close.

"Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men." - Romans 12:17 NKJV

What good is getting it all right if we are not loving one another? Do we have it right if that is not happening?

Prayer. Forgiveness. Fellowship. Kindness. A simple cup of water.

All of it with Jesus at the center. That is a spiritual life.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Obligations

What obligations do we have to the person or people who have invested in us? They may tell us what we need to do or we might invent something but what is the real obligation?

No one needs a false burden. Life is hard enough.

"Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law." - Romans 13:7-8 ESV

"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." - Romans 12:9-10 ESV

The best gift we can give any person is liberty. Our love becomes an investment in helping a person become a loving individual.

We honor those who have loved us. We do that by letting love shape us. The Holy Spirit must lead us in anything 'beyond' that. The highest, and only, true obligation is obedience to God. That doesn't mean we pull passages out of the old testament given to Israel and say they apply to us. Jesus has already fulfilled that law and we are given the righteousness of that fulfilment as a free gift.

If someone loved us but taught us something that was wrong we honor the investment but not the incorrect principle. If someone loved us and taught us something eternal and right and good we are wise if we teach that to others as we love them because it is eternal, right and profitable.

Wrong principles usually have bondage attached to them.

"Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, 'Where I am going you cannot come.' A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." - John 13:33-34 ESV

When Jesus knew His time was short He cut His disciples loose. He didn't make them declare oaths of allegiance. The freedom He gave them wasn't aimless. It was liberty.

"He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.' And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.' " - Acts 1:7-11 ESV

I love this. It is like the angels are saying, 'He set you free. Go. Be free.' yet at the same time, Jesus gave them a place where power could be received without bondage. If we are at God's house at the right time we will receive power in our liberty. We could be at 'the end of the Earth' and still have a place to get power from God. Small rooms become 'upper rooms' when people are gathered and the book is opened. Jesus is revealed.

Those disciples that He set free became Apostles.

Hey, The people we invest in may forget about us. It isn't ideal. It isn't honorable but did they become loving people? If so, It was all worth it.

I want to honor those who have loved me. I see it as an obligation because it honors God. Even more than that I want to love people because I have been reconnected to love again and again far beyond what I could ever deserve. God loved me when I was his enemy. Now, I can love the unlovely also because His Spirit is in me moving me to love beyond my present capacity. He constrains me in this love.

I'm praying God breaks all of our false bondages and sets us free to love as He intended. I'm also praying we all find a place of power to gather and be renewed in objective truth. That place will preserve our freedom and send us out with seed that will grow up and become a vehicle to break every bondage a man or woman can find themselves in.

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Some Thoughts About Nabal And Investment

Today I was thinking about Nabal and investment in people.

"And there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel. Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and badly behaved; he was a Calebite. David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. So David sent ten young men. And David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal and greet him in my name. And thus you shall greet him: ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. I hear that you have shearers. Now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing all the time they were in Carmel. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.’” When David’s young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David, and then they waited. And Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters. Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?” So David’s young men turned away and came back and told him all this. And David said to his men, “Every man strap on his sword!” And every man of them strapped on his sword. David also strapped on his sword. And about four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage. But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to greet our master, and he railed at them. Yet the men were very good to us, and we suffered no harm, and we did not miss anything when we were in the fields, as long as we went with them. They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. Now therefore know this and consider what you should do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his house, and he is such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him.” Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves and two skins of wine and five sheep already prepared and five seahs of parched grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on donkeys. And she said to her young men, “Go on before me; behold, I come after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal." 1 Samuel 25:2-19 ESV

Nabal was rich but he didn't understand or appreciate human investment. Abigail did and she also knew that Nabal's behavior would enrage David who was an investment minded person.

God owns the cattle on 1,000 hills. He is an investor. He is rich and that is how truly rich people operate. They invest. They own things and even use debt to their advantage.

There is so much to learn from this account. Deep principles. Who are we going to be? David is royal in his investment. Abigail is wise. Nabal lives in his emotions and is shortsighted at best.

Jesus was and Is an investor. I want that mind.

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Still Water Resting Places

"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.' " - John 8:12 ESV

What a claim. Today, I wake up and rejoin the caravan of millions doing this. I shake off the dust and follow Jesus. He is the good Shepherd and I know He Is wise and is leading us to green pastures and still water resting places.

"A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever." - Psalm 23:1-6

Yes and Amen.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Resurrection Power

"But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from." - John 7:27 ESV

I am keeping up with my 'Ariel's Harmony of the Gospels' (at p144) and the phrase above caught my attention. Where did this idea come from? Why did they think no one would know where Messiah came from?

His origins are in the scriptures.

"There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit." - Isaiah 11:1 ESV

"Their prince shall be one of themselves; their ruler shall come out from their midst; I will make him draw near, and he shall approach me, for who would dare of himself to approach me? declares the LORD." - Jeremiah 30:21 ESV

"But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days." - Micah 5:2 ESV

I think it arose from the expectation parents put on their children. It was sort of an urban legend. Parents must have said during the hard times of Roman occupation, 'Messiah is coming. He could come at any time.' but then this added element of surprise got added that he would be a stranger.

People assume a new thing must come from a new place but that isn't always how God works.

"And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from. So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, 'You know me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.' So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come." - John 7:26-30 ESV

We have treasure hidden in us. I get 'new things' out of a very old book every morning. Mercy is new and fresh or it isn't mercy.

It is the mystery of resurrection power. Alignment with eternal truth has a life that can spring forth at unexpected times and from unexpected places.

I'm sure that when Jesus died people thought, 'I suppose we should look for something else.' but they were wrong. It was just a matter of time and Jesus was going to come alive again and bring power with Him.

If you are discouraged don't despair. God isn't done yet. You don't have to look somewhere else. We just need new eyes for the old landmarks.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Praying With Tenacity

You have been praying but it hasn't happened yet... so... keep praying...

"And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, 'In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, 'Give me justice against my adversary.' For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, 'Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.' And the Lord said, 'Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?' " - Luke 18:1-8 ESV

I don't think we are going to wear down God with every request... this was a widow who needed justice... this was a person who used to have the support of a husband but now no longer has that support... Is what we are asking for this urgent and needed? Is God the only one who can do it? If that is the case and it is a need and not just a want or a preference then Jesus is giving us clear instructions about what to do.

There are a dozen things I want this morning but do I have a cause like this? Is the great commision a cause like this? I say that it is. I want to do my best to wear God down for souls and the salvation of people. I can't do what only He can do. I am like a widow in this area. I can say words but only He can save souls.

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:16 KJV

That unrighteous judge couldn't stop that widow from coming. God doesn't want us to stop coming.

Thank you God! Really... Give us this heart. Make us tenacious people who keep coming to You over and over until we see You move.