Friday, January 20, 2017

Holy Discretion

The last few days have been interesting ones. I usually live a very transparent existence. I say what is on my mind and share what I am studying freely.

It is my conviction to have a purposeful life. If something is put down it is there for a reason. Words should have weight. If something is said it should be said with purpose. If it is withheld it also has a purpose.

Purposefully transparency is a great way to live but every season demands some variation and I have been convicted these last few days to withhold some of what I am thinking and not share all that I am studying because edification and growth is my ultimate purpose.

I hope that makes sense. This isn't a comfortable way to live but at times it is a necessary one that we don't speak about. Liars withhold until they are infected by their own lie and even begin to believe them. Many people withhold for the wrong reasons but there is also a right kind of withholding.

"But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth." - Psalm 86:15 KJV

God endures in longsuffering.

"The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law." - Deuteronomy 29:29 KJV

He has secrets that He doesn't share.

I find myself asking the question, 'Why do I feel compelled to withhold this or that?' because not sharing sometimes feels like a burden.

Embarrassment isn't a good reason to withhold nor is shame. Those are not spiritual motivations.

I think God shows us some things purely for our prayer life. We don't say anything about them to anyone but God and that is right and true because those 'spoken words' would not do anyone else any good.

"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." - Galatians 6:2 KJV

This is an amazing verse. Perhaps in the context of this topic we can look at others and realize that people carry things they can not or will not talk about and we can be prayerful for them knowing that we also have things we don't say or do because the timing just isn't right.

"No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away." - Luke 8:16-18 ESV

Yes.

Can God trust us? All will eventually be revealed but can we live in a holy confidentiality because we have a redemptive purpose?

God help us. Give us transparency in what might be embarrassing about ourselves but give us discretion in matters of edification. We are Yours and all that we do (or don't do) is Yours also. Keep us from false burdens. Help us to know when to be quiet and when to speak. Teach us Lord. Thank You God.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Reading And Rereading Jeremiah Chapter 30 - 31

This morning I am reading chapter 30 and 31 of Jeremiah and I am marveling at God's mind.

There is so much here in these chapters. His people are in a bad state but God doesn't abandon them. He Is neither liberal or conservative. I read it again and again and I marvel at the loyal unsentimental love of God for His people.

"The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 'Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you. For behold, days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the LORD, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.' These are the words that the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah:" - Jeremiah 30:1-4 ESV

What comes after this is really shocking. Israel and Judah are almost described as rebellious teenagers who keep getting in trouble and God is a Father who Is determined to see His child grow up into a prosperous adult.

This book was written long ago but Israel was in the news just this week and will be again and again. That land is our object lesson. Those people are God's people.

Amazing.

One thought before I close...

"Thus says the LORD: 'Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, declares the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future, declares the LORD, and your children shall come back to their own country. I have heard Ephraim grieving,

'You have disciplined me, and I was disciplined, like an untrained calf; bring me back that I may be restored, for you are the LORD my God. For after I had turned away, I relented, and after I was instructed, I struck my thigh; I was ashamed, and I was confounded, because I bore the disgrace of my youth.'

Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, declares the LORD." - Jeremiah 31:16-20 ESV

The KJV has Ephraim saying 'turn me and I will be turned' and I like that phrase.

We all need restoration from time to time. We need God to change our mind.

"For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing." - Romans 7:19 ESV

We need restoration. We need grace. We need someone who is never ever going to give up on us.

God is that person. Jesus came from Heaven to connect us to the God who will never give up on us.

Thank You Lord. You are the one who restores. You are the Saviour. You are the gentle healer.

Restore Lord! Restore us. Restore the people around us. Turn the stubborn. Bring us into the land that is our heritage. Thank You Lord.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Dignified And The Efficient

What do you do when you just can't get along with someone?

"I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord." - Philippians 4:2 ESV

Watchman Nee's take on the book of Philippians is that Paul has the conflict between these two women in his mind as he writes this whole book. The book isn't about them. It is written to everyone but this conflict is a primal human conflict. Two women who just can't agree... not because one is right and the other wrong... no... they are just people and people just don't get along sometimes.

They can't work it out with each other but the Spirit gives them different advice...

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me." - Philippians 2:12-18 ESV

Walter Bagehot wrote a book in 1867 about the British Constitution and in it he breaks that document into two great ideals. He says that all great documents about governance can be broken into these two parts. The 'dignified' and the 'efficient.' The dignified represents glorious ideals and timeless truths. The English Monarchy should, in the Victorian mind, represent the dignified. Advising but only when ideals are involved. Ruling as examples of dignity. The efficient aspect represents the action of governance. The practical day to day work of completing tasks or making necessary changes. Both need each other and both must be in balance.

The British Constitution isn't scripture but we can see these two concepts in scripture can't we?

Jesus dying on a cross is the ultimate dignified act done by the ultimate person. He was and Is dignity incarnate and His dignity dignifies us if we let the Spirit work efficiently in us.

Paul points these two women, and all of mankind, that struggles in conflict to the dignity of the cross. If that dignity is the advising example then we can be governed by love efficiently because The Spirit of God works in us and is always in tune with the dignity of the Trinity.

We can rejoice in a crooked world that amplifies conflict and division if we behold the cross and 'work it out' with God.

"...for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." - Philippians 2:13 ESV

If the cross is our point of reference we can find a way past every obstacle because God does it in us and through us.

One day we will be face to face with the dignified One. He Is full of grace and truth. Let's stand and rest with our eyes fixed on Him as we deal with what must be dealt with in our day to day lives. He makes all the difference in every situation. His finished work counsels us in amazing practical ways moment to moment.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Live With The Loyal Friend

As I read this next passage this morning two concepts come to mind... friendship and loyalty...

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love." - John 15:4-9 ESV

Our position and our experience can be so different, can't they? The passage above speaks to our experience. If we are cut off from nourishment we will wither like a branch on a tree but our mind can be nourished... our soul can be fed... our spirit can be renewed.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." - Romans 12:2 ESV

God asks us to live with Him in our thinking. We are living in His thinking. He never forgets us.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." - Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

"The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us," - 1 Kings 8:57 ESV

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' " - Hebrews 13:5 ESV

Accusations come but will they get us to give up our residence? No. God is loyal. Jesus was and Is a friend who loves until the end. He gave up His life in friendship and He hasn't changed.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

The Mystery Of Menopause

As far as we know there are only three species that experience menopause... humans, killer whales and short-finned pilot whales. Every other living thing reproduces until the end of their life.

The whole concept of menopause baffles evolutionist thinking because this mindset is based on the idea that the goal of life is to pass your genes on to the next generation. If that stops then why should a creature keep on living? Why is there a biological process in place to support such a state?

The best answer I have seen is that God made us this way.

I'm not bringing this subject up to solve a scientific mystery. This issue points to the uniqueness of man. We are made in God's image and we have a special place in creation.

"...For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace..." - Hebrews 13:9b KJV

Grace makes us free to give and receive support. We don't live to perpetuate ourselves. We live to glorify God and grace glorifies God.

You might be young and just starting a family or you may be past that stage of your life but you are very precious to God.

God, please establish us in this truth. We are not important because of what we do. Your love gives us worth and you love each one of us so richly. Thank you God.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Quickened To Be Involved

Knowing Him...

"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith - that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own." - Philippians 3:8-12 ESV

God has given us eternal life. In one moment of faith the introduction is made and a relationship is solidified that can never be severed. But the 'power of his resurrection' can be experienced again and again in time.

I want to know Him. To know Him we must spend time together. I must hear what He is saying. There must be interaction.

Do I know God well enough to know what is important to Him? I want to. I want to know what He thinks. I want to be involved in what He Is doing. I want to know Him.

Simple.

I'm sitting here thinking of a number of people. I know them but I don't really know what is happening in their lives. I want to be involved.

"If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you." - Romans 8:11 ESV

God, please quicken us to be involved and proactive. We want to know you and we want to be involved with each other in a holy ongoing way. We need quickening to do that.

Thank You Lord.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Planting Surprises

When I was younger I used to purposely leave money in my coat and blue jean pockets so that I could find it later. Maybe it was $10 or if a was doing well I left a $20 dollar bill. It was because I found money in a pocket before and it really blessed me so I decided I could 'surprise myself.'

When we heard the Gospel we gained knowledge of a past event that had potential impact on our present and future experience. It was like a wrapped gift or an unopened letter.

The conversation at Church I have been speaking about most of this week was about sobriety but we didn't mention alcohol. It was more about what we think we will be like as old men because of how we are living now. We talked about our 'wallet table'... the place where we put the things we need in our pocket as we go out the door.

We live in a debit card age and I don't plant $20 bills anymore. It's still a great idea but I'm not in that mode anymore. I put ziplock baggies filled with Gospel tracts in my coats and I keep a stack (that keeps spilling over) on my wallet table so I remember to take them as I go out the door. They are little gifts I can hand out at a moments notice.

I refilled and arranged that table and my coat stash just this weekend. After a friend talked about how he found himself without tracts on a recent trip.

The Gospel is like a pleasant surprise God plants in a person's future... more really because it is life-saving... future saving... transforming. I want to be able to reach into my pocket and find it to give to someone at just the right moment.

If I live in this sober way now then that is the kind of old man I will be. I plan (if I am given the time) to be that old man who extends a shaking hand with a tract in it to strangely dressed young people. If I live that way now then I am more likely to live that way later.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." - John 3:16-18 KJV

What a glorious gift. Thank you God.

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