Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dawn in a Chapter

This morning I read 2 Corinthians chapter 5 once because a verse in Spurgeon's devotional caught my eye and gleemed with light. I find myself reading the whole chapter again and again... captivated by it like a man standing watching a sunrise. One sunrise on one unchanging horizon but what beauty as moment by moment it changes 'from glory to glory.'

What a chapter! I love it more now than ever. What freedom we have... what love... what purpose... this taste of Heaven has left us wanting to be clothed in the perfection we are promised. The promise of future perfection given to all those who have just once put on Christ.

We can stand half awake with sand in our eyes as we watch the sunrise. Soon we will rush off to a job we like, or half like, because it will give us money to live. But in this moment we do something miraculous... we enter into faith. We would rather walk on golden shores but we lace our boots or grab our briefcase while love embraces us.

There is a Bema seat after all... and there also is a final White throne judgement. In verse 11 that knowledge carries a 'terror of the Lord' or 'fearful responsibility' (Phobos in the Greek G5401). It is not the fear that somehow God will judge our behavior. Our sin was paid for on the cross. In fact, if men judged our behavior they would deem to be out of our minds. Love constrains us and because of that we have a sound or sober mind (Sōphroneō G4993) even if it is only for the sake of those that do not know our hope. This cross that kills my old man, buries him, and then raises me and seats me in Heavenly places in Christ has world wide scope. I am cut off from the world and it's systems but the cross applies to every man and woman walking or breathing. It is the key... the answer to the cry of every heart!

I have a candle in my hand and it is lit. Oh, how I love it's light. But wait everyone has a candle and many are not lit. They suffer in the darkness like I did. My candle can light theirs. Can I not rush into the darkness? Love constrains me to go.

The lit candle transforms the whole person. The candle lights and a dark garment stained and tattered is gone and suddenly one white and whole appears for old things are passed away and all things are made new. The sunrise reminds me of who I really am. I am one once dead but now I am glowing with life.

Christ's mind is humble. He has made His journey and now He sits forevermore resting from His work. He only rises now to receive those who come to Him not because there is more to be done.

There is an inward dynamic that works because of the action of the cross. It can't be for the sake of duty only or for me to please myself it must be Jesus and a life lived in the upward spiral of ascension.

Death --> Burial --> Resurrection --> Session

Spinning us into an upward life that moves us to desire to reconcile others to this same reality even as we enjoy it ourselves. Because we know Jesus we have life and when we stand before God the Father He will be happy to see us. Many don't have that assurance.

"Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor 5:20f NKJV

...and so that chapter ends but the beginning and middle wait to be read again. The colors of the sunrise change and I am changed as I behold them. As I pick up my suitcase to go to work it is not drudgery... it is mission. The bills still need to be paid but I go into the world outside my door in love... as one with a blazing candle.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Sound in the Trees

"Then the Philistines went up once again and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. Therefore David inquired of the LORD, and He said, 'You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly. For then the LORD will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines.' And David did so, as the LORD commanded him; and he drove back the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer." 2 Sam 5:22-25 NKJV

A great strategy... flank the enemy and attack when the rustling of the trees will cover the sound of your approach and heighten the confusion of the battle.

In 2 Sam 5:19 David had inquired of the Lord and He had said, 'Go up' and with a full frontal assault David's army broke through the enemy ranks like 'water breaking through a dam'.

Two different approaches at two different times... both specifically given by God and both the result of prayer and inquiry.

Some things require a direct approach and others need to be 'flanked' in a creative way. It is not the position of the trees that will tell us which is which. Inquiry with God is what will reveal it.

A Spirit filled person is like the wind... led by God and the pattern is not naturally discernible.

I want to understand tactics but be unpracticed in devising them myself in the flesh. The natural man has a secret agenda... one that may be a secret even to himself. That agenda will blind a person to what God would want done in a situation. God's aim is love and reconciliation making our conflict a war of restoration and healing. Like medics rushing to the battle to bind up the wounded there are hearts that need to be bound and arms that hang down and need to be put back in joint.

Even when Paul led by the Spirit spoke words to Elymas the sorcerer (see Acts 13:8f) and God blinded the man. What was done was the same thing that happened to Paul and led to his conversion. It was a kindness and not a cruelty.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Next Stop

"And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys." Ex 40:36-38

Do you think it was a happy occasion when the cloud rolled up and it was time to move. It must have a majestic sight. Most trips we take are planned in some way. We buy our tickets in advance. We plan where we will stop to sleep and approximately how long our car trips will be. How do you do that following a cloud? You can't.

"He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." Is 40:11

I am sure that they found God to be a good Shepard. One sensitive to the needs of millions at once. There were many trials during this time in the wilderness... many died... a whole old generation passed while a new generation was born. That new one only knew the leading of the cloud and the bondage of Eygpt was a history recounted to them.

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ." 1 Cor 2:14-16

To the new man bondage and stationary life is a story that must be told to it because the he is a cloud follower. The new man is lead down pathways it never planned. There is much room to roam in the wide open spaces of each destination but travel is done in tribal formation and at the cues of One who is not letting anyone in on each rest stop beforehand.

Here is a great quote:

'Can you imagine functioning in the letter while the Spirit has moved forward in the plan of God? We lose our understanding in the light when we are persuaded to be stationary and stagnant in our own plan. People actually stay behind God when God has moved on... Those who stay in their place never can determine what God is doing in His place. The flesh separates them from the eternal mind of God. They choose to live in the unexpected end of time instead of the unexpectedness of a plan that expects only God.' -Dr Carl Stevens

There is such freedom in God's grace. There is also fire by night to see by and be warmed by... a clear landmark of a cloud that is present in every changing destination. If our life of faith were a photo album then the cloud would be present in every picture.

Our freedom is structured by God's leading but not regulated by law. We have light as we travel with Him. Our hearts burns within us as we learn the finished work on the road (see Luke 24:32) as we see Jesus in every book from Genesis to Revelation.

Freedom isn't freedom apart from holiness. The cloud is the landmark that reminds me that I am on a faith journey going somewhere special. My old man will never make it to that place but the new man that is my new identity will find a home there.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Divine Mathematics

"You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen." 2 Pet 3:17-18

Growing in grace and knowledge is functioning in resurrection life!

We don't outgrow our issues they are just swallowed up in a new kind of life. A new life that we are growing in. If doesn't take reasoning per say... it requires seeing Jesus Christ.

Forgiveness is math not reasoning... One Situation + One Cross = Forgiveness

Our life is one of addition, multiplication and growth.

"But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot." 2 Kings 4:41

We add doctrine to the situation. Meal is broken wheat.

"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue" 2 Pet 1:2-3

Then we find that God is really behind the scenes multiplying something amazing. There may seem to be good reason to be bitter about something but the new man is not bitter. He or she is thankful... for the provision... and one day for the situation itself. Not because the old man has 'outgrown' it but because the new one is raised from the dead.

I never have to be stagnant and stuck in reasoning. As long as there are lost hurting people there is much to do. As long as my Bible has pages I have much to learn. Let yesterday be swallowed up in the newness of an ever living Savior.

"Death is swallowed up in victory." 1 Cor 15:54b

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I Need Specifics

"I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name." Ps 138:2 NKJV

'It is finished' is better than 'God is good'. One is specific understanding about what God has done in His love and the other is general understanding about who God is and what He is like.

Some other translations use 'exalted' instead of 'magnified' the Hebrew word is Gadal (H1431) with means to promote or grow. Like when one sibling grows much taller than the others brothers and sisters or if one of the laborers on a job site is promoted and made the foreman.

"In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul. All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O LORD, When they hear the words of Your mouth." Ps 138:3-4 NKJV

God promotes His written Word (Imrah H565) and the writer praises God for the instruction (Emeth H571) he has received by it and through it because of the strength it gave to the structure of His soul. Those with responsibility, power and influence will praise God when they hear the specifics of truth because it gives practical definition that is needed for what they must do.

The Spirit of God will make the written Word alive and give us Rhema (G4487)

"But Mary kept all these things (RHEHMA), and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19

"It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words (RHEHMA) that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." John 6:63

"Go , stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words (RHEHMA) of this life." Acts 5:20

That is why God can take a mouse and turn him into a real man. The book reveals royalty and depravity. It spans the length of wisdom to foolishness; from the beginning of all thing to the end of time itself. There are specifics waiting in that book today... mercy lives there... a call takes shape on it's pages... a life outside the box. Even if we memorize it all we don't know it like we should or could.... or will. God will unfold it's mysteries over the length of a live lived by faith.

'Think of it carefully; study it prayerfully; deep in thy heart let its oracles dwell. Ponder its mystery; slight not its history; none can e'er love it too fondly or well. (atributed to Dr. Franklin Logsdon)

God holds the Bible up and so will I. I'll hold it up even if my arm grows tired and the muscles in it burn. I'll hold up the arms of others that do also. Men's lives hang in the balance. Let it be exalted over my character... may it grow bigger than my ego until it overshadows me entirely.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Airfare Included

When you go out to eat part of the pleasure of it is that someone else does all the preparation and clean up and you just get to sit back and enjoy the meal. Others even clear the plates and bring you coffee.

When God paid for our salvation meals and a airfare were all included in the ticket. We have unlimited minutes inside our family plan.

But, Cleaning something up requires work. Relationships require ongoing attention.

Our provisions are free but who does the work in life?

"And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men." Mark 6:35-44

Thank God for the people who clean up the dishes in the sink. The ones who walk the dog, put gas in the car and mow the lawn.

Thank you God for those who open the church and practice in the band and make phone call after phone call to make sure people know they are loved.

'Would you like a piece of bread?' they say... 'It was broken and blessed by the Master.'

Into the crowd they go. Wading through the ocean of humanity with the supply of bread and fish. Little humanity framed by fire but we are not consumed in it.

We can perform that same action and get used up. There is always another mess to clean up. But there is another way... a secret way. When we walk in something finished the supply is not cut off. We are not burning up a limited quantity of humanity. We live as sent ones and our shoes don't wear out.

We rest when the day is done but find a table set again when we awake. The journey is a long one... rest and eat.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Glorify God

"For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Cor 6:20

This phrase 'glorify God' is an interesting one. You often hear it spoken and get the impression that some sort of performance is involved... an effort to preserve a testimony. That could not be farther from the truth.

I so much want to glorify God today and it will only happen absent of my effort.

We can think of glory in the Hebrew scriptures in terms of the Shekinah or 'brightness of His prescence' but many more times the word that is translated glory is Kabad (H3513) or Kavowd (H3519) which speaks about honour, dignity or reputation.

The Greek mirrors this in the word Doxa (G1391) or Doxazō (G1392) which is to render something or someone excellent. It carries with it a revealing, acknowledging and expressing of a viewpoint that is accurate.

Here is something Jesus said,

"Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once." John 13:31b-32 ESV

What honour and oneness... The cross would be a place where the Father turned His back on His Son for our sakes but in it there would be a revealing and a resurrection. The Father would 'glorify him at once' in that Christ would not be long in the grave and His body would not see corruption but would be raised incorruptible forever.

Peter got a glimpse of Christ's brightness on the mount of transfiguration and later said,"but were eyewitnesses of his majesty." (in 2 Pet 1:16) and John said "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life." (in 1 John 1:1)

Oh! My soul shouts and sings! The Son reveals the Father and the Father reveals the Son. What glory are we witnesses of?

"They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the LORD they shout from the west (from the sea). Therefore in the east (in the realm of light) give glory to the LORD; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One. " Isaiah 24:15-16a ESV

Glorifying God can't be what I do. It is always what Christ has done. The honour due His name is like a sunrise in the East that shines out over the oceans of humanity and shines a light that is life giving.

"Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name." 1 Pet 4:16 ESV

What is our report? We can look to the East in our suffering and let the sun bath us in light. If it is still dark we wait facing that way knowing joy will come in the morning.

Perhaps our 'testimony' deals more with our hope... with the light of a sunrise that others see reflected on our face as they are walking in the opposite direction.

Just like the Father glorified the Son 'at once'... all those that know Christ will soon be glorified...

When all this over our glory will be revealed. Our true state will be known. It will have a brightness and truth will not be hidden anymore.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Doorway to Wonder

"There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid." Prov 30:18-19

Elegant buoyancy, derived warmth, navigation and love that pursues...

The cross is revealed to be a beginning and not an ending. Once that which is dead and buried in God's plan rises that risen one rises with newness of life that has transcendent qualities that are marvelous. Christ was the first of many. He is our anchor within the veil. Spirit indwelling and Spirit filling now make possible dynamics not before known.

A child of God has ears to hear like an eagle has wings. Hearing that functions well in the heights. There is an upper highway where words shine. Spectators see a bird sailing through nothing but the Eagle sees something else... hears something else.

How does a ship go from here to there. Not by looking outward but by looking upward. Sailors are guided by the stars and believers are guided by God. The Bible is a compass. Seeking the Father's will is meat and drink for a hungry soul that is influenced and surrounded by a living Spirit. There is guidance, an anchor in the storm... there is purpose in going from here to there.

Warmth is derived not produced. The Sun on a rock... the Father and the Holy Messiah... we can go and curl up there and we are sustained through the cold dark night. That place is warm... it is not the warmth of a self made fire that produces smoke and sparks and only ashes remain. This warmth is clean.

Lastly... Love... So strange and wonderful. What power... what intimacy compares to it. The cross is a doorway into a different kind of love. You can't explain it to an outsider. It is not the love of a living soul... it is the love of a quickening Spirit. A man and woman have a closeness that no one else is invited into... it is a language that only they speak to one another. Yes. They want other to have it but no one will stand between them.

The resurrection provides objective stability and it is truth we live in. The breadth of God blows on the embers of our mind and makes the scriptures glow with life. We navigate even as someone mighty and eternal navigates us.

God send your Spirit like a mighty rushing wind today. The old is buried and we want to live in the wonders of the new.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Qualified

The cross reveals me to be an utter failure. I have been found so wanting that God had to send someone else to clean up my mess.

God sent some one perfect because I was far from perfect. Like Cain I, with all of your help, murdered this virtuous man. Like Cain I shook my head and said, 'Am I my brother's keeper??' while the blood was still on my hands.

"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." 1 Cor 1:18

To the arrogant the cross is foolish to talk about. Jesus is a man who died and men die all the time. Why talk about it. The whole concept that God would send His Son to be a victim makes no sense. For the man who is brutal and would victimize to save his own life... the one who steps on the fingers and heads of others to climb the corporate ladder one rung higher sees a God like that as weak and a Savior who would perish as weaker.

As the distant image gets closer... a despised man hanging forever it seems in Cathedrals. Frozen in amber. He is everywhere... but easy to ignore if you try. If the image and the words draw close and you hear, 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.' (see Luke 23:34)... and you realize that this statue is speaking to you.

The cross is the bell ringing and sounding out the funeral of a fallen life. It says I am guilty and so incapable that God had to resort to a plan that not only didn't rely on my ability to come through... it rested on the fact that He knew there was murder in my heart. Ouch.

That bad news, that dismal indictment, is the first sentence to the best news I will ever hear. Only the truly guilty can be fully pardoned! The fully leprous are declared by the priest to be clean (Lev 13:13)

The cross reveals the fullness of my sickness. It pushes my basic goodness over the cliff of utter depravity and I find that as I am falling that there is someone there to catch me.

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as WHITE AS SNOW; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Is 1:18

"Then the priest shall consider: and, behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague: it is ALL TURNED WHITE: he is clean." Lev 13:13

The Gospel has never been a message of moral uprightness. It is a message of murder and redemption. Arrogance is a wall that will prevent us from getting through the first sentence... if we make it through to hear... 'Forgive them Father'... and then to 'It is finished!' then what rapture awaits us. What transformation.

We can raise white clean hands in worship with tears of joy streaming down our cheeks and cry, 'I was lost but now I'm found! I was blind but now I see. I was guilty but now I'm pardoned. I was trapped but now I'm free!'

The one I killed died for me. His death sealed my pardon. His empty grave it the proof of it. It was God's plan all along.

Christ no longer hangs on a cross on a hill. He sits on a throne in glory and only murderers are qualified to sit there with Him.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Good Ground

"And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand." Luke 8:4-10

Jesus spoke many parables in the Gospels but it is interesting to me that this is the one where we see the disciples ask what the parable means. Perhaps they asked Him many times but here it is recorded in the scriptures. Then His answer to them is recorded.

"Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God... But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience." Luke 8:11 & 15

These people had this dynamic going on in their life to one degree or another (except for Judas) but still they needed explanation and definition. I think that is because the work God's word is doing in a person is not always apparent. It is something that requires faith because it is not seen right away.

This week a man came to church for the first time and sat in the first row. At the end of the 9am service he raised his hand at the salvation call. P Scibelli had invited him to church 100 times before he came. 100 times!

We are not guaranteed to see immediate return when we invest God Word into our own life or the lives of others but there is a dynamic that is happening none the less and by faith we have 'an ear to hear.' There will be a return... there always is a return of some kind.

The people who go to Jesus about His Word and ask... they understand that God's words are not like other words. They are seeds that contain life in them ready to do a work under the soil... the good heart has God's righteousness given to it and is aware that patience is needed for the process involved... fruit will come someday... the Gospel will do it's work.

We are sowers not transformers. We see value we don't produce value. God does and we are witnesses of His gracious glory.

Each word is like a rain drop that forms into a stream that feeds a mighty river and flows into a cycle of nourishment that returns again like rain. Each phrase a block that builds an eternal structure.

I want to invest in this investment. Jesus and His finished work become visible here when the work of the Word is functioning. No where else will that happen. No work of mine can produce that. This is God's work.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Lamb?

"And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth." Rev 5:6

This image of Christ as a lamb was a strange one to me at first. It is one thing for John the Baptist to say it. In John's gospel...

"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29

It signifies Christ's role as a sacrifice. I understand that... but the scripture keeps saying it over and over in the book of Revelation...

"And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see." Rev 6:1

"And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints." Rev 15:3

Clearly Christ is known this way. It was not a temporary reference that was later dropped. Some say, 'Christ came first as a lamb but will return like the lion of the tribe of Judah.' (see Rev 5:5) making it seem like there is a change of some kind away from this 'lamb' image but it is still this lamb that wages war in Rev 17:14.

This image endures all the way until the end of the book and the end of time...

"And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:" Rev 22:3

Why? What is the significance of this? Stick with me here I am going to put on my white lab coat and get all scientific for a minute... I'll take it off again I promise. {smile}

I was thinking about Christ's blood and the non-reactive nature of it. There are several types of human blood. Blood type primarily determined by immune response. There are substances we call antigens that are found on red blood cells. If person has these substances on their cells then they do not have the antibodies in the plasma of their blood that will react to these substances. There are over 600 known antigens but there are are two that cause such a reaction that they can split blood types into four categories (A, B, AB, O) depending upon the reaction. They have other names but they are so important in blood typing that they have labeled them A and B.

A person with both antigen A and B on their blood cells has no antibodies that will react to A and B in their blood stream and they can receive blood from anyone. They are known as universal donors.

Type O people can give blood to anyone but can not have type A, B or AB transfused into their body because their immune system would react to that blood causing them to get very sick.

Ok... That was a bit complex I know and I may have lost some of you... let's shift gears...

"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the BLOOD OF ABEL." Heb 12:22-24

Christ's blood speaks 'better things', it is non-reactive, Abel's blood cried out from the ground in the fourth chapter of Genesis. Jesus' blood is not screaming for vengeance. It is non-reactive like a little lamb is.

"Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth." Acts 8:32b

Jesus was all that a man is and that is what qualified Him to be our Savior. He is like us... but more... much more. He will not react to what we as fallen men would react to. Psychic infections have produced antibodies in us that lash out... so much so that like someone with an autoimmune disease we attack ourselves and are damaged by friendly fire in our soul.

Not Jesus. He is at peace. He is a relaxed little lamb sunning Himself and basking in the warmth of His Father's love.

At our rebirth we become like little lambs. It is a new nature. God does it to us and in us. We remain human but we are also more. That is why salvation is done 100% by God and not even 1% by us. We might change our behavior but we could never shed our old fallen nature.

The new nature is non-reactive. Sin is not attached to it and never will be. We don't cry for vengeance as a new man. We can plead for mercy for those that offend us.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Common Courtesy

Courtesy is an interesting subject. Expressions of gratefulness, deference to others, measuring actions based on how another party or parties will be affected, and certain phrases that are specific to each culture all weigh into the mix. Some societies are 'politer' than others. The society itself may have a very high or low expectation for the performance of certain rituals that convey courtesy.

What is a balanced spiritual view or 'take' on courtesy. I think that is a good question to ask. Every parent will teach courteous lessons to their children one way or another. We interact with each other all the time daily.

A Spiritual person is never alone. They live life as a dialog at minimum because if no one is in the room with them God is still there. Every other interaction added to that is a 'trialogue' of sorts. God is present even if He is not directly addressed. That makes a big difference in the interaction.

David says this to God:

"Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight - That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge." Ps 51:4 NKJV

David saw the impact behavior had on His relationship had with God as His primary concern.

Religion will always over emphasize or under emphasize courtesy because it will focus on outward behavior primarily. Then in reaction there are others that see courtesy as a set of rules that just do not apply to them by virtue of their relationship with God.

"All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." 1 Cor 6:12

If God is the 'third man' in the room and that 'third man' is your boss and you are at work that changes how you will deal with the 'second' person there. What is our role in relationship to our boss... or do we have a concept of the eldest person taking precedence when entering in our culture?

There is much to say on this subject and it is a worthy one for every person to explore to some extent.

The question I ask this morning is not how a natural person or even a spiritual person sees courtesy but instead, 'How does a soul winner see courtesy?'

A soul winner is exempt from the rules but is also aware of them. God is seen as the 'first man' in the room and anyone else there comes second and the soul winner is last because every word or action is oriented on reconciliation to the first man. That may come off as polite or caring. The soul winner is aware of others not because of societies standards but those standards are used as fish hooks. The soul winner has a large arsenal of fish hook. They look for them as ways to reconcile people to God.

God takes preeminence as the 'boss' in the room but not as an insecure one that needs recognition. He is the gracious, holy, glorious one who elevates everyone there by virtue of who He is.

I want to be polite like a soul winner is polite. To magnify God and elevate the individual. To do that I must see people as God 'is seeing' them and function with a clear objective in mind. Words can have life when God is the 'first man' in the room.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Slap the Water

How old was Elisha when he slapped the waters of Jordan in 2 Kings 2:14? How much did he do through? He was no young boy.

He had plowed the fields of his youth and had burned the yokes behind him. He had had the mantle of a man man of God laid lovingly over his shoulders. He had walked with this same man a while and not every day had been filled with 'You can do it!' speeches. In fact at times he was discouraged in his following. But, Still he went from city to city. He traveled through confidence and through doubt...

One day the mantle of loving people fell upon him. He took it and used it.

"Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, "Where is the LORD God of Elijah?" And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over." 2 Kings 2:14 NKJV

Have we been loved? There is a day when the mantle of loving others falls on us. Let's slap the water and cry out to God. Miracle after miracle will surely follow.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Jesus Is My Heaven

"O my Lord Jesus Christ, if I could be in heaven without Thee, it would be hell; and if I could be in hell, and have Thee still, it would be heaven to me, for Thou are all the heaven I want." -Samuel Rutherford

Once it was the blessing,
Now it is the Lord,.
Once it was the feeling,
Now it is the Word;
Once it was the gift I wanted,
Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing,
Now Himself alone.
-A.B. Simpson

To move from a circumstantial acquaintance to a pure intimate relationship is what love stories are made of. Grace says, 'No matter what the circumstance, or what you do or don't do in them, I will stick by you and be on your side. Even when you are not sure what side you are on I will remain loyal.' It says:

"I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" Heb 13:5b

The moment Adam saw Eve he loved her. The 'moment' God saw us He fell in love with us. When we were born from above we sprang from Christ's side made complete in a moment like Eve was.

This kind of love pushes circumstances into the background.

It changes us even as we observe it and realize we are the objects of it.

It is new wine that must go into a new wine skin or else it will break the vessel. The fallen man's love stories always end in tragedy. The new man's stories will always result in victory.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Enigma of Grace

Jesus is an enigma. He is in a category all by Himself. There is no one like Him. He not only had the facts... He is the truth. He was not just a man... He was, Is and forever will be deity.

People joke about Him and take His name in vain. I understand why. Worshiping a man at face value seems ridiculous... after all isn't he like us.... just a man? Even those walking with Him could not fathom who He was. The people of the day tried to trip Him up in His own words because He was so right that they just could not stand it.

In John 5 Jesus said, 'If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.'

"The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.
Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me." John 8:13-18

Jesus represents a kind of order that defies categorization. It can only be categorized by itself. The natural man may cry 'circular logic' and wag a finger at us. Let them. It is circular like the sun circles the Earth or like the seasons rotate and repeat. Truth replicates itself again and again because of the life within it.

Grace provides that same magnitude of order. Jesus is the pure manifestation of both grace and truth. On one level grace doesn't make sense but on another it is the only thing that makes sense. I don't marvel that people mock it and don't understand it. I marvel when they do get it... when I do.

As children of God we have an order that has depth that can not be seen at face value.

"Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?
If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.
If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.
So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.
But all things should be done decently and in order." 1 Cor 14:35-40 ESV

Do you have to be Jesus in order to live in the authority of what He said? No you don't. Are you the only one who knows anything because truth has been imparted to you? Good question.

The mystery of Christianity is the incredible authority of what is said by the most humble of people. A great theologian can blush and return to His office only to drop on His knees and repent after a short conversation with His spirit filled gardener.

There is a decency and order to love. A life filled with grace and truth has that order. Someone who doesn't have it is not excluded. This kind of life doesn't exclude. That person just isn't recognized. Love is recognized. Christ is recognized. Christ in Spanish, or German, or Korean or even English is recognized.

God, fill me with Your Spirit today so that I might live in this grand enigma that is the Christian life... not a form of godliness or some high minded theological framework absent of humility but the powerful authority of Christian communion and fellowship. Let Jesus be my focus. Give me words of life bathed in grace and truth. I want people to see Jesus. He is the only explanation needed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

There Is a Vacancy

"And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then I said, 'Here I am! Send me.' " Isaiah 6:8

I love the way this is phrased. It smacks of pure opportunity... an adventure is going to happen that will be backed by God's authority. It is like an advertisement in the classified section or on Craig's list.

It dares us to throw ourselves into something. The task is not so specific that we would discount ourselves as disqualified nor is it so general that we don't know how to respond to it.

God isn't even addressing us as an individual... yet. He is just saying, 'I am looking for someone available.' He is announcing a vacancy that could be filled by someone... anyone who hears can respond.

One thing about Jesus is that we see is His availability. He was ready to go to the woman at the well or to eat at a tax collector's house. He had His suit case packed and sitting at the foot of His bed so that He could do the next thing at the drop of a hat.

I want to have that quality. No matter how I feel or how much money I have in the bank I never want it to dampen my availability to God.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hot and Dangerous

"In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.
Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
And one called to another and said: 'Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!'
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
And I said: 'Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.
And he touched my mouth and said: 'Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.' " Isaiah 6:1-7

These passages are really shocking to read. An unclean man comes face to face with a The Holy God. His small little world suddenly has the bright light of eternity shining on it. It is like a small shy child being shown on national television to have a test paper with a big red "F" with a circle on it in his hand. Crying with shame and disappointment.

There is something about that altar. The place of sacrifice... if we are touched by it. The shame is gone. Touched by something that is hot and dangerous to the natural man. Something out of reach. The coal must be brought to the man.

Christ's cross is like that. Hot, dangerous and out of reach. We don't see it's purpose until we are touched by it.

"And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then I said, 'Here I am! Send me.' " Isaiah 6:8

Once touched something strange happens... suddenly we can hear that God is speaking and that He has been all along. It is not a voice directed at us alone. It is directed at all of humanity at once.

'Who will go for us?', says God.

The angels are still chanting, 'Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!' but with shame now removed God's voice can be heard over the sound of it. Who can answer it? Who even knows God is speaking? The angels are so loud that the sound of it shakes the foundations of an unclean man in an unclean land.

There are coals in the altar because of Jesus. Jesus is really the one who made it happen. God's cry of 'Who will go for us?' could only really be answered by one man. A man who said amen to 'Holy, Holy, Holy' and did not hide in shame.

Because of Christ there is a cross that can touch us and make us clean. A cross that can open our ears.

Who knew God wanted to recruit men? Isaiah now jumps up and down with his hand raised, 'Here I am God. Pick me. Pick me.'

Can you hear God's voice? He is speaking and He wants an answer.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ships That Never Set Sail

"After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted very wickedly. And he allied himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish, and they made the ships in Ezion Geber. But Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, 'Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the LORD has destroyed your works.' Then the ships were wrecked, so that they were not able to go to Tarshish." 2 Chron 20:35-37 NKJV

"Jehoshaphat made merchant ships to go to Ophir for gold; but they never sailed, for the ships were wrecked at Ezion Geber." 1 Kings 22:48 NKJV

Passages like this should not be ignored by us. They also need to be seen correctly under the new covenant. Our relationship to God is based on grace not law. God Himself is the one who has made the relationship possible and He is also the one who maintains it. Then we all also have a 'ministry' that reaches beyond to others that is in one sense an 'out growth' of our relationship with God and in other ways it stands alone once established. Our ministry does not shut on and off like a light switch. It is possible to be backslidden and still have a ministry... not recommended but possible... or have periods of being backslidden. Again, God is the one who is making the relationship and the ministry possible not us.

"For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." Rom 11:29 ESV

The marriage relationship is a parallel to our relationship to God. It is not an exact equivalent but it has parallels. A woman may have a great relationship with her spouse. It may be very rich and meaningful... but no matter how rich the relationship... if she is unfaithful to him or even is flirtatious with other men it is going to cause major problems.

Jehoshaphat spent a lot of time and money on a fleet that never sailed. In the Chronicles account it links this failure directly to his relationship to wicked King Ahaziah but in the book of Kings it is just listed a detail in Jehoshaphat's personal history.

For Sampson it a period of time before he lost his eyes. How many years did it take to build those ships? Ships that would never hold gold. They would never serve the purpose they were made for. God didn't revoke Jehoshaphat's status as King but He did make sure Jehoshaphat's fleet never set sail.

Do you want that for your life? I don't want that for mine.

Holiness is not and has never been a function of the law. The rules can't make me holy and yet we must be holy in order for our ministry to be effective. We can build all we want... it is another thing to set sail.

Lust will blind you... it will destroy you. Don't be friends with it... ever. If you start getting friendly end it and burn the bridge behind you. You can find all that you need in God. Flee from the situations that would ignite your passions and run into God's arms. Taking shortcuts to have our needs met will always have dire consequences down the road.

God is ever waiting to be gracious to us. Our relationship to Him is like a garden. It is beautiful and it has fruit that both parties enjoy. If you see a plant that doesn't belong get rid of it... and make sure you get the roots that are underground as well. God has other plans for that little plot of land.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Who Needs a Savior?

I was thinking today about the term 'Savior'... what it means to need one and what it means to have one.

"And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior." Luke 1:47

"Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins." Acts 5:31

"From this man's seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior - Jesus" Acts 13:23

Once we come to terms with the fact that there are messes we can't get out of ourselves we have hit a real turning point.

Then when we realize that we have someone who is there to overrule what we have done or gotten ourselves into that is yet another step.

Lastly, We see that that person will always be there and that our lives are eventually 'put right' no matter what we do. There may be consequences to endure but we are ultimately safe. Then we can enter into a rest that is indescribable to someone who doesn't have that level of security.

"Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him" Heb 7:25a

From the gutter most to the uttermost.

If I have room to fail then I also have room to succeed.

Chances may go by that we miss but they are not the 'end of us.' Because there is no 'end to us.' The person saving us isn't going to throw those things in our faces forever either. Every good decision is remembered and every bad one is ultimately forgotten. Amazing!

No matter how this life goes at the end of it as believers we know that angels will lift us up out our bodies before the pain of death hits and up we go into the great beyond.

It makes me happy to know I have a Savior. It makes me brave and grateful. It makes me want to give more and dare greater endeavors.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Blocking the Flow

I've been thinking about dams the last few weeks. Both physical and emotional ones. Perhaps because of the recent aboriginal 'uprising' in Canada. One of the grievances these native people have is the Canadian government's use of the land and the damming up of water sources.

It made me think, 'Why do people dam up rivers anyway?'

"He dams up the streams so that they do not trickle, and the thing that is hidden he brings out to light. But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?" Job 28:11-12 ESV

It all boils down to power. We do it to have influence over the water or the land it flows on. Modern dams are used to create electrical power. But, It has always been about power of some kind even if that power allowed us to have the ability to water our crops in a way we couldn't before.

Here is an interesting verse and I think it speaks volumes about our Adamic nature.

"Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the firstfruits of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power. Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father's bed; then you defiled it - he went up to my couch!" Gen 49:3-4 ESV

Adam ruins things and then moves on to the next thing and ruins that. Our soul's solution is to just dam things up and take control. Dam up those emotions if they are wreaking havoc and get them under control. What happen when something breaches the dam we have erected to ease the consequences of the fall of man.

"The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts." Prov 17:14 NKJV

When the dam breaks watch out!

The problem with dams is that once they are built they must be maintained because of everything that is built around them both upstream and down.

I think many of us dam up love to get power and because of that our emotional 'ecosystem' downstream suffers greatly. God wants there to be a flow but we have so much invested in the dam and the return of investment it seems to bring us.

"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." John 7:38

Fallen man leaves a wake of destruction in his path. God takes time to redeem each broken thing. Love redeems... buys back... restores.

It is no wonder that our loving God's plan seems to be aimed many times at destroying our structures. Perhaps God is simply doing things to restore the flow.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It Is Already Waiting There

"I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." 2 Cor 12:2-4

We surmise that this man who died was Paul Himself when He was stoned at Lystra in Acts 14. We don't know what was heard or seen there. With all that he writes about grace seems to be a more important topic to Paul than even this. But, In light of all the things he said and suffered passages like this intrigue me.

"Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." 2 Tim 4:8 NKJV

The crown is already waiting there on the shelf. Paul's crown... but not just his. Is there a wall with shining crowns made of precious metals stored by the hundreds on velvet pillows in Heaven? Rows and rows of them waiting as far as the eye can see in the place where no dust has ever or will ever collect? Or is it something else? Time will tell.

The sight is one we can only imagine now but the statement, 'There is laid up for me...' remains clear in our minds. We can say it also. Because of Christ there is 'place card' at a table in Heaven with our name on it that is already written.

Now as we walk the Earth there are many rooms we walk into where there is no real place made for us. Rooms where no one knows our name or cares. Heaven isn't like that. If you are in Heaven then you belong and are known.

We haven't even scratched the surface of what God wants to give us.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fancy Footwork

Jesus, the Living Word, took a towel and a basin and washed the feet of every disciple at the last supper. The King of glory dunking a cloth in water and squeezing the water out of it so it ran down and rinsed off the feet of common people like you and I. Taking care with each person. What a picture.

The Word became a servant but remained a judge.

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." John 1:14

"Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." John 15:3

"But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men" Phil 2:7

"And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." John 12:47-48

Yet, this same one who is pictured as a servant now sits on a throne at the right hand of the Father. But look how He side stepped in John 12 "...I came not to judge the world... But..."

It says this about us in the epistles...

"Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?" 1 Cor 6:2-3

The word for judge here is the same word used in John 12. It is 'Krino' (Strong's G2919) and it is a broad meaning. It refers to an ability and authority to separate... like going through fruit at the market a choosing the right produce to discard and what to buy. It also means that judicial decisions are made and forensic analysis as well.

Is the servant part linked to the judgment role? I'd say it is. That is very practical for us to know. It applies to us. A term has been coined 'Servant Leader' but who can span that great chasm of the High, Holy and Heavenly and the lowly, humble and many times grimy... only Christ can... only the Word can... the Word washes... the Word judges.

That graceful little sidestep is so important, "...I came not to judge you... But, there are some Words you need to hear... It is your decision but these words will last forever..." it is like the graceful execution of a turn in a ballroom dance.

The servant who discerns has the foot work of a boxer in warfare if that service is really Christ's life being lived out. The written Word mixed with faith and centered in and through Christ Himself comes alive in a believer and Jesus' divine mind and nature are imparted by that communion.

We can dunk the cloth and rinse the feet and it won't 'bring us down'. Christ spans the gulf of the Earthy and the Heavenly. Christ trains us to reign while we serve.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Flow of the Oil

"A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, "Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.
So Elisha said to her, 'What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?' And she said, 'Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.'
Then he said, 'Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors - empty vessels; do not gather just a few.
And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.'
So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out.
Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, 'Bring me another vessel.' And he said to her, 'There is not another vessel.' So the oil ceased." 2 Kings 4:1-6 NKJV

This account makes me think of many things. With passages like this I want to say to God, 'Speak to me. I want the content of the miracle.' It might be easy to say the oil means this and the empty vessels mean that and then use it to justify my own hyper-spiritual doctrine... but no... I won't settle for that this morning. I want the miracle not the knowledge. I want the Spirit not just a principle.

I want to know God's ways not just His deeds.

Help God. Help. I have read this before but I haven't. It is new. Give me newness. I'll wait God and think and pray and ask. I am bankrupt like this woman.

I think of the prayer chain. The need and the borrowed empty vessels. The cancer, the foreclosure, the child with a fever... Can I cure... can any of us... who has the money to buy the debt and save the home? I can pray... we can pray. The humility of sharing the need and not keeping it private... many knees bowed as empty vessels... vessels that are empty but are made to hold something... links in a chain of faith. Faith that make God in Heaven smile. Let me spend my life as a link in many prayer chains. When I am old a still want to see the lists of needs... to put my hand in the hands of another on my right and on my left and pray together with God right there in our midst hearing and multiplying the worth of it.

I think of ministry and the flow of the oil. How God has been present at Bible study after Bible study and Church service after Church service. The momentum of passing the jars... fill one and take another... fill it and take another... thinking at times 'When will this run out? but it doesn't... there is a flow as long as there are people. God make me diligent to 'borrow vessels' to seek people. Not be so proud or comfortable that I would just settle for a few.

I could sit in my house in debt with just a little oil. I have been that person before. But no. I want the miracle. I need the person of Christ. God, Tear away the curtain of the natural and open Heaven. Pour out the oil. Jesus is my treasure. Let there be a flow of love. Reveal the keys of wisdom for the crippling debts this life imposes on people. I know nothing as I ought to. I see through a glass darkly. Help God... direction today... I am asking and believing... wisdom today... the prayer chain today... people today... provision today... love, mercy, hope today...

God, I won't close the book and put this scripture on the shelf. I want it open in my mind. Lay the template of it's meaning on me as the hours tick by. Reveal to me it's riches. It is like a vein of gold that stretches deep into the Earth. I have a barrel full but I am leaving my mark so I can find this place again.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Destined for Greater Illumination

"And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness." Gen 1:4

From the beginning God divided the visible from the invisible. He made things that can be seen and things that can't be seen. It is good that not everything is bathed in a bright light all the time. Night serves well as a time to rest and revitalize.

This division seems to have been made for creations sake because it does not apply to God Himself.

"And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." Heb 4:13

As men and women who know God and are reborn by His Spirit we have become creatures of light and are destined for greater and greater illumination.

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." 1 Cor 13:12

"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:" 2 Pet 1:9

Ultimately our habitation is one of great illumination.

"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." John 14:1-2

Mansions are built to be seen after all.

Ultimately all will be visible to us bathed in in light that comes directly from God Himself.

"And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever." Rev 22:5

There is great comfort in knowing that everything hidden will one day be revealed. It is good that many things are not shown to us now and that one day they will be. As we draw near to God by beholding His Son things do become clearer and clearer. Christ Himself becomes our place of rest preparing us for what is to come.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Come and See...

"You will only be able to take a person as far as you have gone yourself." -John C. Maxwell (quoting Les Parrot)

A variation of this quote was attributed to my Pastor who has since gone home to be with the Lord. It really typifies his life as a believer. He was a man who constantly communicated a 'Go all the way with God' attitude. That is the kind of attitude I admire. I have made decisions to this end and I am determined to keep making them. From what I can see... going with God is the best possible way I can spend my life so I am going to God all the way with Him. Why settle for anything else?

The above statement is the reason that no priest or man can take you to Heaven. He has not been there himself so how could he take you there. I want to follow the one who has conquered death. I can follow the faith of a man (see Heb 13:7) but they will not save me. They can't save me. Jesus can.

I can cast all my care on the one who sits in Heaven because He is in a place to carry them. I can go with Him through any situation because He has traveled that way before and found the victory that no one else can find.

To talk about grace is one thing... to 'go there' is another. What about mercy and love? If we don't dive deep who will? Maybe we have had great examples to follow... people we have known who walked the walk right before our eyes. Perhaps we have read about great people and what they have done. The Bible is full of people whose faith we can follow but the decision is ultimately ours.

We can live in mediocrity or we can go for it. We can pray or we can just talk about it. We can follow God or we can just live in excuses. We can just read a verse or two every once in a while or we can tear apart the scriptures and see how they work. Not in striving but in Love. Our eyes can be on the floor or on the horizon.

Do you want to tell your children, 'Follow God I used to and it was great.' or to have a bar stool ministry of some kind? Can any of us afford to live only in what was?

If Jesus is going somewhere I want to be on that bus! Jesus wants us on the bus also if we have the gutz to get on it. Grace and mercy have paved the way to this kind of adventure.

Today is the day. I want to go far today. I want to live where God has taken me because from the vantage point of Heaven I will have something real to say. I want to find rest in Christ so that I can say to the restless, 'I have found a place for you to rest.' I want to say,

"Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" Jn 4:29 ESV

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Authority to Build

We can be tempted to use God given authority to be severe or for demolition but the challenge is to use it creatively to build up.

"For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down." 2 Cor 13:10 ESV

The phrase translated as 'in my use of' can also be translated 'borrow'. Paul went out of his way not to borrow the authority given to him. He determined that writing them was better than losing his temper in person. It is not that the gracious person never gets angry... it is just that they don't enter into sin because of it (see Eph 4:26).

The authority given to us is for construction not destruction. Building requires plans even if those plans are as simple as, 'Everyday I am going to find stones and add them to this pile so that when I have enough I will build something with them.' Simple. Like collecting shells on a beach.

Building requires creativity. Christ is right now creatively building His Church... quietly doing it behind the scenes. From the straightforward task of gathering materials to all the other more complex tasks that require artistry and skill because of great complexity. Christ is working it all out. The perfect foundation has already been laid.

Will we let the sawdust on the floor frustrate us into rash action? Is it right that we should borrow God's tools to smash something because is doesn't look the way we think it should yet? Construction creates scraps and dust and seems disorderly at stages. That is how it works. Fortunately most of that construction is underground and hidden like the forming of the stones for the temple (see 1 Kings 6:7).

We will need more creativity to navigate our going in a house under construction... you can't just come in, hang up your coat and plop down on the couch.

The idea is that someday that is what you want to be able to do. Maybe that is what God wants to be able to do that in us? Perhaps our words will assist in that process in the lives of other people.

Grace builds. It saws, digs, gathers, paints, plasters and polishes something that was planned before the world began. God sees the finished product already.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Checking the Score

"Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving." Col 4:2 ESV

The word translated 'Continue Steadfastly' is Proskartereō in the Greek (Strong's G4342). It is a verb that means devotion or participation in endurance. Like a fan that is devoted to a sports team we are invited to be zealously devoted to prayer.

This devotion has the quality of watchfulness also... of awareness... there is an expectation from God that something will change and we are looking for that change actively... we are also aware of our surroundings like a night guard is watchful and aware as he walks his rounds.

Lastly the verse speaks about thanksgiving. A prayerful watchman has a grateful heart. We are grateful for what is and also what will be. Prayer does that because we are in communion with the one who has stretched out His hand and given us so much.

A thankful person actively assesses the value of relationships and assigns a high value to them. Prayer is a form of 'active thankfulness'. Worship is extolling God's qualities aloud and prayer is a way that we directly relate God to circumstances by communicating with Him about them and allowing Him to communicate to us.

Can you tell someone they should root for a certain team? You can but will they do it with devotion? A person becomes a fan by exposure to the greatness of something... through a unique kind of identification that make them follow along and have a desire to see victories and check scores constantly.

Exposure to God's greatness makes us look for a way to 'check the score' of the game. Prayer is the way we do it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Eat Up Your Mercy

I am not afraid to eat what is in the cupboard when I know I there is money in the bank to buy groceries.

"For I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm My covenant with you. You shall eat the old harvest, and clear out the old because of the new. I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright." Lev 26:9-13 NKJV

It is good to use mercy because there is much more of it to come. There is new mercy for this coming year... day by day it is renewed every morning. I can 'eat up' all the old mercy. We don't have to save up favors with God.

We have a great need to obtain mercy from God every day of our lives. Maybe we think that because of a cycle of sin we will need mercy later and we will need to store it up somehow. The paradox is that if I pre-plan to use it early, because every man and woman needs it, I won't need it later to cover transgressions because they won't happen.

Cycles of sin can be broken by receiving mercy because once it is received there is a satisfying communion and fellowship... there is spiritual momentum and transformation... the yoke is easy and the burden is light... I sought Him and found Him early and the day was spent with Him leaving no time for anything else.

I have eaten up 2012's mercy. I want to have a healthy diet of mercy in 2013. Eat up my friends... there is much more where that came from!