Friday, May 25, 2018

Who Can We Trust?

I have have been meditating lately on trust... what to trust... who to trust... why should i trust in a person or thing... what are the parameters of that trust... i may trust a person to do something they are able and willing to do but not for something else...

"To the choirmaster: according to Muth-labben. A Psalm of David. I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High... But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds!" - Psalm 9:1-2, 7-11 ESV

I trust God because of His 'name' there is no other name like His. A 'name' in this context is beyond reputation. It is His nature as it has been revealed. It is His character. He Is a king. He is the King. He is not a 'forsaker'. He doesn't give up on people. If He gives His word He keeps His word. Those are qualities that promote trust.

Many folks have a short list of people they really trust. It becomes understandable if you get to know them and what has transpired in their life.

I long to be trustworthy and accountable because of the One i speak about and i want to invest trust in others correctly. People are fallen. All people are fallen. Still trust can be invested. God has trusted me by giving me life, time and influence. These things are gifts and how i use them will affect other people one way or the other.

Who do i trust? What do i trust? I want to trust in a way that glorifies the God of all grace and never lean to heavily on anything but Him.

Bridges are made to be crossed and projects are undertaken to build people and those things involve trust. God help us. Open our eyes so we can live innocent lives free from cynicism. Give us wisdom and we will be wise. Thank You God.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Sharing In The Holiness Of Our Father

"If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness." - Hebrews 12:8-10 ESV

Meditating on fatherhood and sonship this morning and how it shapes the male psyche. God Is our father and in a way that is a crazy thought.

'...that we may share his holiness...'

Wow.

Some Earthly Fathers are good at 'sharing their life' and have a great deal to share. Others are not so good. How much of a man's life is shaped by how he sees fatherhood or how he was fathered? Our Earthly fathers are only a reflection, no matter what they did or didn't do, of a deep relationship that Jesus had and has with His Father.

Grace is given so that the way would be forever open to share in a special identity. Holiness can also be translated as 'set-apartness'. A holy thing is a clean thing. It is eternal and forever untouched by anything base or defiling. Heavenly and holy overlap. Holiness is otherworldly.

God does what He does and we do what we do but do we understand His motivations? Do we know His heart?

I want to know my Father's heart. The new birth gives us spiritual DNA that resembles Him but do we know Him? I want to.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Reading To Remember The Details

"You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you." - Deuteronomy 4:2 ESV

"The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen." - Revelation 22:17-21 ESV

Don't add. Don't take away. Grace should be what is presented. Christ should be central and all in all.

I want to be careful to present Jesus as He Is and in order to do that I read His words often. I review His actions again and again. I read what the Apostles wrote in the books written after His ascension. I read the Hebrew scriptures that talk of God's dealings with Israel, mankind and creation. If I stopped being exposed to the truth it might be easy to start airbrushing the truth. It would be easy add subtle changes that my faulty memory adds to past events. Things might start getting omitted.

I don't want to leave out the need for salvation and the lostness of each individual. I don't want to start omitting Hell or the coming judgement of all thinking beings who die without receiving the free gift Christ has given of salvation.

I don't want to forget details of the Gospel. I don't want to add works or human effort into salvation or sanctification. Jesus did it all. We just see what He did and receive it. The first choice qualifies us for a guaranteed salvation. Then choice by choice brings a progressive sanctification.

I don't envy those publishers who have changed the Bible to make it 'more palatable'. No. I don't envy them one little bit.

Are you thirsty? Come and drink. Jesus has removed every barrier. He died before the 'foundation of the world' so that you and i could have free access to what we were once cut off from because of our own actions and the actions of our ancestors. God loves you. God wants you. Don't listen to any words that add to or take away from that. You are loved. Receive that love today and read, or listen to, the words of the scripture each day so that you can be refreshed in that truth and the details of it would remain in clear view.

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Friday, May 18, 2018

We Have A Ministry

"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." - 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 ESV

What a good mission this is. We have been given 'a ministry.' The word there in Greek is diakonia (Strong's G1248) and it talks about an assigned role where the person executes the command or distributes the affection of another person.

Our 'ministry' is right there in this passage above. It seems like when Churches grow in size they start taking on this word 'ministry' as a substitute for the word 'Church' and that makes sense if in truth the Church is organized in a way so that the Spirit of God is revealing God the Son to people in word and deed.

We have a ministry. You have a ministry. Amazing. We minister in newness.

Sin is paid for. Jesus is alive. God wants us close so He can speak to us and we can know He listens as we speak to Him.

What we do and say today can be centered in this and it can be a very productive day.

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Spirit And Power Of Elijah

Today I am tackling a 'biblical mystery' in my study time and I am hesitant to go into to much detail because unlike other subjects I discuss in my blog this one does not yet have a tidy 'take away' to give you the reader.

Perhaps I will just give you the scriptures I am looking at and you can look at them also. There is this interesting linkage between Elijah's ministry and the ministry of John the Baptist.

"In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, 'Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.' " - Luke 1:5-17 ESV

John was to come 'in the spirit and power of Elijah' but then we see this later...

"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, 'Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.'...

So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. And they asked him, 'Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?' And he said to them, 'Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.' " - Mark 9:2-5, 10-13 ESV

Elijah appears on the mountain with Moses and Jesus is speaking with them but then just a few passages away the disciples ask about him and Jesus again points to John the Baptist.

Here is John speaking about himself early in his ministry.

"And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, 'Who are you?' He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, 'I am not the Christ.' And they asked him, 'What then? Are you Elijah?' He said, 'I am not.' 'Are you the Prophet?' And he answered, 'No.' So they said to him, 'Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?' He said, 'I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said.' (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.)" - John 1:19-24 ESV

Clearly, they are not the same person. That alone is important. Elijah appears during John's ministry. Over time different sects of Judaism have been infected with the idea of reincarnation. Some say that souls are reborn. I was speaking to a learned Jewish man once and he was convinced by the end of the conversation that I was the reincarnation of an ancient prophet because of the power he sensed in my words and no matter how much I insisted otherwise he was stuck on that idea. Kabbalah has this idea interwoven into its tenants.

People use this idea to try to tie up concepts that are too hard for them to come face to face with like death and coming judgement.

"...it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment," - Hebrews 9:27b ESV

That is a clear doctrine.

Elijah is, however, a mystery. He didn't die like other men. He was taken and his mantle fell on another man.

"And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan. And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground... And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over." - 2 Kings 2:7-8, 11-14 KJV

Elisha took up the mantle of Elijah as he took on his mission and there was power in that calling. John took on the calling of being 'the voice of one crying out in the wilderness' and had a ministry. It wasn't one of miracles but it mirrored Elijah.

This story isn't over either. Jesus is coming again and Elijah has a role in that.

Like I said... It is a mystery. The Bible is full of both clarity and mystery. Just pondering these things makes us wiser. Just debunking errors like reincarnation alone is valuable and worthwhile because these things become stumbling blocks for people.

We aren't ancient people reborn in new bodies working out some cyclical process of purging. We are us. We are born once and unique. No one can be us and we are not anyone else. God loves us and gives us one life to make one important choice. Will we believe in His Son and live or will we go our own way and perish?

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Four Men On A Mission

This morning I was reading this next passage and it was very fresh to me. I pictured four men on a road trip together. Perhaps like folks might pile into a vehicle and go on a fishing trip today. They met early and went on an adventure.

"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them." - Mark 9:2-3 ESV

Jesus, Peter, James and John. Jesus was and is God himself. James would only have a few more years on Earth. He dies soon after the Church is formed. Peter becomes a big shot. John gets imprisoned on Patmos.

Jesus was why they went. He was the friend who 'organized' the trip and He was the man they got to see in a whole new 'light'.

Here is how this account is given to us in one of the other Gospels and I'll include what happened before the trip also...

"Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, 'Who do the crowds say that I am?' And they answered, 'John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.' Then he said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' And Peter answered, 'The Christ of God.' And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, 'The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.' And he said to all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.' Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem." - Luke 9:18-31 ESV

Peter knew who Jesus was on paper but on that trip He got to see something else about this Him... this God-man... this Messiah...

Missions is a road trip with God and with other people. There is nothing like it. We see an aspect of God we won't see any other way. We get to know people in ways you can only know someone if you have travelled with them.

Summer is coming. Maybe we could go somewhere together and talk to people about Jesus. Maybe we could pray and organize a trip. Is our Church going somewhere? Could that happen? Yes. It could. God would be there with us revealing Himself to us.

Isn't this the way it has been done for thousands of years?

I don't want to just know God on paper. I want to see Him glow in a place I have never been before.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

Make Straight Paths For Your Feet

"Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed." - Hebrews 12:9-13 ESV

Healthy parental discipline takes two primary forms. Something unwanted is added (more chores, extra study time, a new temporary responsibility, etc...) or some privilege is taken away (freedom to participate in events, keys to the family vehicle, etc...) these provide incentives and deterrents for proper and improper behaviour. This discipline is never condemning or demeaning. It is instructive.

The focus of this passage isn't on the discipline per se. It is on the state of mind we have when we feel like we have been put 'in time out' and things are not the way we want them to be. That feeling can be present regardless of how we got in a situation. It deals with what we can do when things aren't as we would like them to be.

We could have drooping hands and weak knees when we have to face our circumstances as in that state it is very possible that we get 'put out of joint.' Isolated. Depressed. Dejected.

God tells us to 'make straight paths for our feet' by living in a redemptive plan with Him. Instead of blaming Him for our circumstances or treating Him like He Is a hard taskmaster we make a plan with Him to get from here to there. We look at point B (a place in clear sight) and make a plan with Him to get there. We do that again and again and there is healing in that process in part because we are transacting with God in each decision.

It is Monday and we may have not overwhelming enthusiasm about what we see ahead of us today but we can 'make a straight path for our feet' today and live in a redemptive expectation. We ask God to give us a soul to speak to and share the good news with. We can ask Him to be glorified through us in what we do. We can plan with Him. We can worship in Spirit and in truth. It can be a great day. No! It can be the best day we have ever had.

"I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see." - Revelation 3:18 ESV

Yes! God has all of this in stock in abundant supply. It is ours if we have believed. We 'buy it' by faith. We appropriate it and it is ours.

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