Thursday, October 19, 2017

Enjoy The Victory

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." - 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV

I'm reading a booklet and the Pastor says something interesting about besetting sin...

'Smoking is not the real issue; the issue is that this person enjoys no victory. His health is being tremendously affected. The whole issue behind his predicament is a besetting sin that he will not let go. As a result, He is limited in his blessings, in his process, and in his progress in the Kingdom of God. He has admitted that he doesn't feel right when he smokes, but he will not receive victory above his preoccupation.' -Carl H Stevens, Jr (Church Leadership)

The part that caught me this morning was '...he enjoys no victory...'

We need to enjoy victory. You might say, 'I'm not a competitive person'. Ok. I get that. But victory comes in many forms.

"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. 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 12:10-11 KJV

Who did 'they' overcome in this Heavenly vision of the future? They overcame 'the accuser' who told them that their identity was something less than what it was.

The Blood of the Lamb = The reality that sin has been paid for and delt with

The Word of Their Testimony = The story they rehearsed about God's faithfulness

Loved Not Their Lives = The lived like eternity was real

Oversimplified. Yes. Maybe a little.

It isn't the smoking. It's the cycle of defeat. Jesus provides a counter spin of victory that overcomes the whirlpool of accusation. Every believer is an overcomer because of the blood but no believer will experience daily victories unless they talk truth against the current and live beyond self-love.

You are a winner. Say it. You have won because of Jesus.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, 'For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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 8:35-39 ESV

I like the 'no' in that passage. That 'no' shows a contest. Let's win that battle today and say, 'No. We (not i) are more than conquerors.' because the accusation isn't just against us and we don't live in victory just for ourselves.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

How Does Godliness Happen?

How?

How do we have clarity?

How do the obstacles in our thinking get removed?

How is the mental clutter washed away?

The Bible has a 'how' paragraph in the Psalms.

"Beth
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word." - Psalm 119:9-16 ESV

In Psalm 119 each section has a theme. It is an alphabetical song. 'Beth' or 'Bet' is the second letter of the alphabet and the first letter used in the Hebrew word translated here as 'How'. The Hebrew word mah (Strong's H4100) is a question word that is really more than just 'how.' It has 'what' and 'why' mixed in also.

It questions the first portion of the Psalm. Beth asks about Aleph. B asks about A.

"Aleph
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!" - Psalm 119:1-3 ESV

How?

How can 'a young man' be this person?

The Psalm gives us answers, doesn't it? Words. Focus. Jesus is the blessed One. We look at Him and not ourselves. We hang on His words and follow His steps.

We wake up to find dust, dirt and leaves have cluttered up our path. Problems seem to make devotion more difficult. Our thinking needs cleansing. How does it get swept away? How does our cluttered desk return to order so we can think orderly thoughts?

Jesus. Look at Jesus. What did He say? How did He live, die and rise again? Where is He now? He Is sitting at the right hand of the Father. His salvation work is finished and now He Is ever living to make intercession for us. That meditation sweeps away the dust and rinses out the glass so it is clear again. That is the 'How' of being blessed. That is the 'B' that follows our 'A' and makes it practical and possible.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Prepared To Give A Gift

"Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." - Ephesians 4:28-29 ESV

The two ideas are linked, aren't they? Theft and speech. We can take through what we say or we can give but it takes a kind of labor to give. A person can steal in a moment but bringing a gift takes preparation and thought.

If people have ears then they have a need. They are 'in need' of grace. They may not even know it but they are.

My work is the same work Israel had in the wilderness. I gather manna for today. I get some for myself and my household but I also get some for whoever else I might come in contact with. I used to be a thief. I took what I wanted with my words. If I come unprepared I might just live that way again today.

I don't have every word planned out. I've just received a gift from Heaven and I'll put it out there like people would put a bowl of candy on their desk. Then, in the future, if people need a mint or want something sweet and nourishing they will know where they can come to get something.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Negative Influences

Human beings use different language with different people. Some folks do it more than others. People may talk to parents one way but then use totally different language, words and phrases with a co-worker they barely know. It makes sense. We have all experienced it. We can say these are 'masks' and sometimes they are but it seems to go deeper than that. Children of divorce see it in parents that remarry people who have very different personalities than their original mate. Sometimes there are radical changes and that can be attributed partially to happiness levels. They were sad and frustrated in the first marriage but now they are happier so things have changed. Mood seems to be part of it but the bottom line is that for most people personality is plastic and it changes depending on who we spend time with. People 'bring out' aspects of who we 'are' or who we want to be.

"When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, 'I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.' Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: 'As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you...' " - Genesis 17:1-6 NKJV

God wasn't saying, 'Walk before me and be on your best behavior'. He was saying, 'I am giving you a new name because when you are with me you are blameless. In the KJV the word is translated 'perfect'.

When we walk with God it doesn't 'bring out the best in us'. No. If that is what is happening we are missing something vital. We have a new identity of perfection that He puts in us and it only comes out when we are with Him.

I think I have heard the phrase, 'I am going to remove all the negative influences from my life.' about 10 times just this week and I just can't get onboard with it. People get annoyed with me because I don't express overwhelming support but it just makes me sad and a little sick inside when I hear people try to go for a 'godless' solution that only sounds good on paper. Somehow people think that if they get rid of everything bad then only the good is what will remain and be strengthened but that is just not how life works.

Some people and situations are toxic and I am all for dealing with that if it is possible but that is an extreme surgical procedure and it is not the answer to most of life's problems. Surgery often means irreplaceable loss. People throw others away because they don't like who they are when they are with them.

The answer is to walk before God and 'be perfect'. That will mean saying 'no' to things but we are saying 'no' to the old because we have something new not because we are trying to purge the old to make something happen.

"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?" - James 4:7-12 ESV

Negative influences will flee from you and if they don't you will have the power of a person who is exalted by God. If you say, 'All you people are sucking the life out of me and I deserve better.' you are one step closer to becoming a person who sucks the life out of others.

They are not the problem. They will be replaced by other imperfect people who will disappoint you in some other way. It is just a matter of time. If we walk with God He will bring people into our life we won't have to look. He will do it.

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." - John 1:12-13 KJV

I tried to use a more modern translation but they all take the word 'power' and translate it 'the right' and that just loses something. We have the 'power that authority gives us' to operate as children of God.

If we are stubborn and rigid people being around God brings out our new nature. If we are weak and wishy-washy we have a new life in God and His presence give us backbone.

God thinks you are perfect. Really. He thinks that because when you are with Him you are perfect. He gives that perfection as a gift to those who believe in His Son. If you are not 'with Him' you can't know who you really are but if you do walk with Him it won't matter what other people do or don't do... a kingdom will be walking with You.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Heart And Soul - Part 4

In the last 'Heart and Soul' post we spoke a little about God's word opening us up to reveal to us our need to enter into rest. There is much more to be said about joints and marrow.

Joints speak of a person's life up until now (because their condition is affected by life) and marrow speaks of future vitality because blood is made in the marrow of our bones.

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account." - Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV

"Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips." - Psalm 63:3-5 NKJV

"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones." - Proverbs 3:6-8 KJV

Joints also speak of individual relationships...

"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." - Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV

Each joint works a little differently. One limb bends this way and another rotates that way. Every 'relationship' supplies a certain type of movement. Speaking the truth in love is good for every relationship.

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." - Proverbs 17:22 KJV

Meditating on God, looking to Him for direction and discovering His heart of love gives us good bone marrow. We laugh with people and respecting the way the bones meet so that they are not pulled out of joint. Some toes wiggle and some don't. We can respect the boundaries while still exercising movement but our intention for each relationship is growth in grace. We speak the truth to reveal the Saviour and grow upwards into the Saviour's headship.

I thought of a few people this morning that I haven't spoken to in a while and prayed for them. I want to build them up when I see them and let them know they are loved. I want for them to have 'future vitality'. I want the 'bend' or 'turn' of our relationship to be one of honor and respect otherwise things may get pulled out of joint.

God please bless our joints and marrow today. Teach us to live. Fill us with joy and cause us to enter into Your rest. Give us wisdom for our dealings with one another and please organize laughter therapy sessions we can have with people this week. We praise You and worship You in the holiness that You have given by grace. Thank You Lord.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Gender Battles

Men and women have such different battles.

Women need to feel loved, covered and protected. If they sense this covering they will blossom and their creativity and beauty will shine. If they sense a lack of it... they may be covered but if they sense, or feel, they are not covered or loved they are in distress.

Men miss read the signals. Men want something else.

Men need honor, respect and affirmation. If they sense they have this... not so much by feeling because they are not in touch with their feelings in the same way as women are... but sense it by evidence that they can process. They may be respected but think they are not being respected or are not worthy of respect... they are in distress.

I see examples of these differences all through the scriptures. These principles are evident in the Genesis 31 account or Jacob, Laban and Rachel. Jacob was leaving and was led by God to do so, in part because his purpose could never be fulfilled connected that closely to Laban's house. Rachel took Laban's idols because she wanted the covering on her father's house to go with her and her new family. The idols hindered her. Idols do that but she did it out of genuine need.

God really is the one who meets our unique needs. He meets the needs of the woman and he meets the deepest needs of the man. People disqualify but God qualifies by grace. We get respect and honor in Christ. We get love and covering in Christ. Then as we receive it by grace we become representations of what we have received. Without Jesus we accept a counterfeit version of what makes us feel whole or we try to manufacture what is missing ourselves and produce a self-reliant fiction to endure living without the things that would make us whole.

I see it in music. I see it in the Bible and I see it in life everywhere.

"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.' " - John 14:6-7 ESV

I told people on a street corner this weekend, 'I am not afraid of what is happening in the world today because I have gone to God's throne and He has washed away my fear and filled me with love. I don't know what I will feel a few days from now but right now that is the truth.' and yet I know that if I lose my focus on Christ. If I am 'turned aside' those needs in my soul will become driving forces again. Our soul gets hungry just like our body does. It hungers for love, respect, honor, covering, kindness and all the things that God sent His Son to Earth to give us.

Men. The women in your life have different needs but they get those needs met from the same person that you get yours met. Be a man and go to God and receive grace.

Women. I'm not going to tell you what to do. That isn't what you need from me. I will just point you to Christ and tell you He loves you and has you covered and then be a grown brother and friend in any way I can be so that you will sense you have what you need to blossom.

Thank you, Jesus, for being the doorway to the Father for us. His house has all that we will ever need. We are loved just as we are. We are valued. We have divine purpose and we have the ability to fulfil our purpose. We worship there. There is no sighing there only joy. Thank You. Thank You Thank You.

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Departures With Peaceful Boundaries

I am reading Genesis chapter 31, again and again, this morning.

"So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. And Jacob said to his kinsmen, 'Gather stones.' And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there by the heap. Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed. Laban said, 'This heap is a witness between you and me today.' Therefore he named it Galeed, and Mizpah, for he said, 'The LORD watch between you and me, when we are out of one another's sight. If you oppress my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no one is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.' Then Laban said to Jacob, 'See this heap and the pillar, which I have set between you and me. This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, to do harm. The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.' So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac..." - Genesis 31:45-53 ESV

We are told that the location of this heap of stones has prophetic significance in the end times. It is a boundary set up and judgement befalls those who cross it to do harm.

Reading it made me think of departures. Jacob wanted to make a life with his family away from the influence, and displeasure, of his father-in-law. The heap of stones was a way for that to happen without animosity.

Isn't it beautiful when people can part ways and not think or speak ill of one another? I think so. I would wish that parting didn't have to happen but it does sometimes. People have different visions and where ever there is growth there is also division but it doesn't have to go badly.

"...and Jacob offered a sacrifice in the hill country and called his kinsmen to eat bread. They ate bread and spent the night in the hill country.  Early in the morning Laban arose and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned home." - Genesis 31:54-55 ESV

Yes. If God is between us we can love one another. It never says anywhere that Laban was a godly man. Jacob is the one who put down the first stone. Jacob said, 'Gather stones'. Those stones could have been used as weapons but Jacob made them into a monument and a 'no stone throwing' policy was initiated.

Yes. Let's live that way. Even if there were injustices involved in the parting. Let's pile those accusations in a heap and respect that heap as a boundary to never cross with the intention of doing harm. Jesus shed His blood on a cross to pay for all sin. Let us never take up those stone again to harm one another.

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