Thursday, August 17, 2017

Some We Just Avoid

"...avoid such people." - 2 Timothy 3:5b ESV

Yes. The scriptures say this in the new testament. It is a 'seek and save' age. We love and in one sense we are sent in as sheep to the slaughter but it also says that we avoid some folks. We love them and pray for them from afar.

Here is the context.

"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people." - 2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV

Why avoid them? They will steal your time and resources. They will add roadblocks and confusion.

The scriptures go further.

"For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth." - 2 Timothy 3:6-7 ESV

I notice that is says, '...among them...' as if these are a subset of the previous group with attributes of that group. Not all abusive people are users but all users are abusers in some way.

God died on a cross for their sins. He loves the whole world with an intensity we can't understand but at the same time, He gives warnings.

Seducers don't show all their cards until they creep into your house but the warning signs are often there.

"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..." - Romans 13:7-8a ESV

Often a sense of duty will seem to be present to help or continue but don't be fooled. Jesus is the Savior not us and we listen to His voice to see what role we have, if any, in someone's life.

Some folks you have to love from far away. Perhaps even through prison bars. Mercy, love and forgiveness... God has given us those things. He also has given us wisdom.

Let's be wise.

The Apostle Paul didn't start out that way. He used to be Saul. Saul was a man to avoid. God had to blind him and knock him down a few pegs before conversion happened in his life. We don't want to meddle in that process. Paul is a man I'm looking forward to meeting... not Saul. That guy can just keep on walking.

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He Became Sin

"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." - 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV

Jesus became us. He fully identified with us and died 'as us' so we could live 'as Him'. Here is the passage in context.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." - 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV

He took our hit. Adam pointed the finger but Jesus waved His hands and said, 'It was me. Punish me. I will become them so your justice can be fulfilled. Let it be my fault. I am human just like them but with no blemish. Let me be the sacrifice.'

We who believe have become God's 'good deed'. The angels look on in wonder at the grace bestowed on us. We should also.

"Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called 'the uncircumcision' by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands - remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility" - Ephesians 2:11-14 ESV

I want this truth to work on me. Jesus has removed a wall in my life that I could never tear down myself. Men like Martin Luther King did what they did and thoughts what they thought because a wall had been torn down inside them.

Blood has brought us close to Him and in doing so it can bring us close to each other also.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Elders Who Were Carried Away Captive

I'm reading Jeremiah chapter 29 again and again this morning and it is very instructive to me. This letter is to Israel and Israel is a unique nation. It isn't the Church. The Church comes from the same root but that is a different message.

We can look at Israel's cycles and see similarities to the cycles and mentalities of an individual human being. Israel is a survivor. God has caused them to survive.

"Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive--to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon. (This happened after Jeconiah the king, the queen mother, the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.) The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, saying, Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters--that you may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace." - Jeremiah 29:1-7 NKJV

Perhaps we look at the life we had and the one we have now and wonder, 'What parts have me have survived and what parts haven't?' Our cells die and are replaced and we change as we grow. For many life has taken them captive... or it seems that way. Actually, God sends us all into captivity but it isn't to hurt us. It is to grow us up.

"Now these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt; each man and his household came with Jacob: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. All those who were descendants of Jacob were seventy persons (for Joseph was in Egypt already). And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation. But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them." - Exodus 1:1-7 NKJV

Why God does this is mysterious but it clearly has to do with our free will. He wants us to choose freely but fallen people need limitations or they will destroy themselves. We need a tower of Babel as much as we need a Savior. We just don't know it. We long to be free but God sets boundaries and says, 'Live here with these restrictions.' and we fight against those boundaries.

If I kept writing today my post would be 100 pages long because there is so much here in this chapter. There are false prophets in our captivity and all kinds of obstacles but Israel was told to focus on God and the salvation that was coming.

"For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive." - Jeremiah 29:10-14 NKJV

Our salvation is a person. We focus on Him.

Survival mode comes in seasons for us. There is no shame in it. Guilt and shame have real remedies in Christ. Sin, failure and just plain falling short are resolved in Jesus' time on the cross. Shame is self hatred. None of that. No. Never. God loves us and He isn't thinking that way. His thoughts are peace.

"He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days." - Psalm 102:23 ESV

Yes. It happens to all of us but God has a well-timed plan that we will see unfold in due season. Don't despair if you feel trapped. God will release you when the time is right and you will thank Him for all of it. Yes. All of it. We don't know what we need. God only knows that.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Three Things

"So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." - 1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV

"...remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." - 1 Thessalonians 1:3 ESV

"But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation." - 1 Thessalonians 5:8 ESV

Faith, Hope and Love

Hope in Jesus... Hope becomes a covering for our thinking.

The work of faith is combined with the labor of love to make up a protection on our heart.

These three abide (have a home) now on Earth in God's plan.

Jesus must be at the center of this and every other meditation. Grace. Mercy. What He has done and how He thinks must be central.

No striving. No outcome driven focus. Just Faith, Hope and Love abiding now.

God show us how that applies today in our interactions and planning. Not just a pie in the sky future. Our thinking dwells in Heavenly places so that we can have a place to abide here and now on the Earth in our actual provisions.

A covering for our heart and for our head. That is what we need and that is what we have.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Amen In Him

"For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory." - 2 Corinthians 1:19-20 ESV

Wow. It is a great thing to have a 'Yes and Amen'.

Perhaps 'Amen' sounds religious in some way. It did to me at first. Monks say it. Swaying crowds singing Gospel music shout it as they wave their hands. It wasn't a word in my vocabulary or perhaps I uttered a sarcastic, 'Amen brother' here or there to jokingly agree with something.

I didn't see the depth of Shalom that was in the word. 'Amen' has a universal rightness to it. It is agreeing with God. It is uttering a phrase that says, 'I am on the same page with the eternal mind.'

It wasn't in my vocabulary but neither was Jesus. In Him I have my 'Amen' and if I have half a brain I also have a 'Yes' when I hear an eternal truth and it resonates in my being.

Yes and No. Yes and No. Yes and No. People will say these two all day long. They are like the zeros and ones in a computing machine but who in the room will say, 'Yes and Amen'? Who will look at an empty cross and use their sanctified imagination to gaze into Heaven to see a risen Christ? Will take on His light burden and shed their own heavy burden? Who will join with Him in a seek and save mentality and leave behind the judgement of people in approval and disapproval?

I sit here penning a blog entry but my heart is swaying in a great multitude singing and shouting 'Amen'. I have music because of Jesus. I have glory in Him. I have a connection to the Father as a dusty human being anchored to the Earth. My Spirit is free to roam in glory.

Thank You, God. Yes and Amen to Your Son. He Is my glory. Give me words to say that come from You so others will have an Amen today. Maybe it would be their first one. Thank You, God.

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Reclining At The Table

I woke up thinking about this passage...

"Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 'Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?' He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, 'Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.' " - John 12:1-8 ESV

We are always going to have needs. The thief says, 'What a waste. That should have been spent another way.' but it is not true.

Jesus could have said, 'Don't have this dinner to honor me. Let's just hand out the food on the street.' but He didn't. He reclined and enjoyed what was put before Him. Far from stopping Mary, He quieted Judas.

We also need to tell that saccharine goody two shoe voice that wants to stop us from enjoying God and each other to pipe down. Special times are special. More will always need to be done. The poor are always around but the visitation of God fills the room with a fragrance.

I for one like the birthday and anniversary party. I like the send off dinner and celebrating some ones return. These are rare times and we should savor them. The fire is always going to demand another log. Fires are like that. Our life with God is a life of recognition.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Study Out Your Approval

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." - 2 Timothy 2:15 ESV

If you study you will find that God approves of you. He doesn't approve of people because they study. He approves because of Jesus. Jesus IS approved and God only sees us as hidden in Christ.

Teachers who teach God disapproves of those who walk by faith in His Son will be ashamed because they didn't rightly handle the truth.

You are approved! Your past can't change that. Your present can't. Your future can't. Study and find out what grace means. Study and prove it to yourself then teach it to others.

"...Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, 'Do not fear, only believe.' " - Mark 5:36b ESV

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38-39 ESV

Your senses are NOT going to tell you this. It must come from the Bible. It must be experienced by being with people who have studied this out also. Forgiveness is learned. This approval is based on God's justice already being satisfied by Jesus Christ.

Shun the teacher that says you don't measure up and won't unless you do a list of things. They will be ashamed.

Believe and receive. Get a PhD in that and you will have peace in crazy times. You will know how to bounce back when others don't. You will be a 'workman' that does not work for God's approval but reveals that God has already done all the work.

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