Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Mark of Love

"Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death" - Song of Songs 8:6a KJV

"They made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote on it an inscription, like the engraving of a signet, 'Holy to the LORD.' And they tied to it a cord of blue to fasten it on the turban above, as the LORD had commanded Moses. Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished, and the people of Israel did according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses; so they did." - Exodus 39:30-32 ESV

The engraving of permanence in the crown and the attachment of a cord of blue to the head dress was the last step. After that the tabernacle was finished.

Also, The engraving of a signet ring must not only be clear to the person inspecting the ring (this ring was like a credit card for families in ancient days)... it's imprint in wax had to be clear since that is what would be read on the contract after the one bearing the ring had left the room and traveled on.

We want the image of God's love to be on us and Him to set us on His heart (affections and thinking) and upon his arm (His power and working in the world).

Love is as strong as death. Death is the most permanent thing we know in this life. Even Christ who was raised from the dead (the one exception to the rule as yet) bears the marks of his death forever. Death remains on His record. It is a notch in His belt. The death He bore was our death and the life we now have is His life. Amazing.

His love has marked us with an image that can be traced back to Him alone. A trained eye sees the mark that only God's ring leaves imprinted in our lives. A permanent mark.

At the moment of the engraving and connecting of His cord this tabernacle was completed. Worship can now take place here. This body was made for worship that bears the stamp of Love.

The clear mark gives us access into the Holy place.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Way of Escape

"Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.' " 1 Peter 1:13-16 ESV

"Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry." 1 Corinthians 10:12-14 ESV

Will we stand by our own power or have we set our hope fully on the grace that will be brought by God when Christ is revealed?

One is a power that is presently in our possession... the other a power that will be present when needed.

When the situations of life come we need a real provision. If we rely solely on our wits, strength, intelligence or political connections we are living in a form of idolatry. All those things will fail because they are made from wood.

True hope comes in grace. The hope of a Heavenly gift that is wrapped and waiting with our names on it.

Christ will be unveiled at the moment of our death and we will see Him face to face. If we see the invisible by faith now..all will eventually be made visible then.

Christ is also unveiled in circumstances. As people set apart by God we act with that fact in mind and with that hope alive in us.

Christ Himself becomes our way of escape and what He has done is our way to move forward.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Waves and Causes

"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?" Luke 9:24-25 ESV

This is a profound truth. A secret.

Life come at us in waves doesn't it? Sometime the waves are gentle and lap our toes and other times they pound our shores in a never ceasing rhythm.

We need a method of coping.

Like grieving people who have suffered great tragedy take up a cause as a way to go forward in their lives we need a cause also.

People unconsciously take up causes not understanding their motivations. A boy may see the primary male figure in his life and spend all kinds of energy seeking to become that man or excel that man in the areas that were lacking.

Christ had a cause. The cross was His method of achieving it. He truly did succeed in 'filling up what was lacking' where every other man had failed.

His cause has become the cause of the Church.

"But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed... For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." - Galatians 5:11 & 13 ESV

The cross is offensive not only because it demands a loss of life but because it is done on someone else's terms.

If we do not lose our lives our freedom will become an 'occasion to the flesh' because the waves will just keep on coming and we will begin to seek refuge from them somewhere else. Somewhere comfortable and familiar.

"The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. A rich man's wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his imagination." Proverbs 18:10-11 ESV

"From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!
For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. Prolong the life of the king; may his years endure to all generations! May he be enthroned forever before God; appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him! So will I ever sing praises to your name, as I perform my vows day after day." - Psalms 61:2-8 ESV

The cause we take up will preserve us through the storm. It is the eternal cause of a laid down life. It is not political or social though it will have expressions in those realms. We serve the King of Kings and loss our lives for the sake of those He loves.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Formula for Sanity

I was thinking the better part of the day yesterday about sanity and came up with a little equation:

Grace = Sanity

Simplistic I know... but profound. You and I may know many people know are sane who know nothing about God or His grace... please stick with me for a moment or two.

Here one Biblical example:

"And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones." Mark 5:2-5 KJV

Here is the end of an account of that man.

"Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 'Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.' And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him." Luke 8:35-39 ESV

He was it his right mind. Before Jesus came no man could bind this man but he was trapped in his mind and as an outsider. No more.

"I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." John 10:9 KJV

You might say that sanity is the ability, wherewithal and awareness to go 'in and out' of concepts, situations and social circles.

Without God people can make it in to things but may never find their way out. Maybe it is the reverse... they go out but can't come back in. Direction can be lost. People no longer see a way in or a way out and retreat into destruction or irrational cycles.

Grace gives a way in and a way out for eternal things and not just temporal ones.

"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise." Isaiah 43:18-21 ESV

There is no way into the past to change it. But we can be free in our minds anyway.

I want to be sensitive and clear. Our bodies may betray us because of the effects of the fall and because of that our emotions can be slow to respond. Mental illness is a complex issue and takes many forms. Still, Sanity is within our grasp if we hold grace close to our bosom.

There are pastures on our path that will nourish us as we travel with God from the present into the future and there are no situations that we will go into alone and none that we will not come out of again because of God's care.

He will ultimately bring us out alive. Even death can not hold us.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Sending of the Seventy

"And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name." Luke 10:17 KJV

This is a great verse. Perhaps we happily look at this and say, 'See God gave them authority then and we have that authority now.' It give us a sense of joy and relief even though we are not facing down demons on a day-to-day basis... maybe not at all.

If we look at the verses before we see that that authority didn't start or end with the demonic. It was a certain mindset the seventy were to have with people and provision.

They needed a kind of faith bravado that only a person sent by authority can have.

"Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house!' And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.' " Luke 10:5-11 ESV

Notice that the message was one of peace. It was the grace message but the messenger was not picky about their provision and the people in the house had to disregard the look of the messenger.

A person that hears the grace message and receives it from whoever God sends is a child of that message.

" 'He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.' Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, 'Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.' " Luke 10:16-17 NKJV

They are hearing a sound that comes because a messenger is present but did not originate in the messenger.

The bravado of faith and victory had made the seventy giddy with joy.

"And he said to them, 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.' " Luke 10:18-20 ESV

Jesus lived in finished work victory. To Him Satan was (is) already defeated. It is the gathering of people that gives Him joy. It is seeing the grace message of peace settle into someones inner man and make a home there that is a cause for celebration.

Which names were written in Heaven? Surely it was the seventy he sent but it was also all those whose houses the disciples had eaten in... all those that received the message of peace.

I want to live boasting of the healing power in the message I bring. Some boast in themselves and the clean look they present to the world but that has no value... and no power.

I want to eat at the first house that opens it's door and lets me in. There may seem to be more comfortable accommodation down the street but the house that receives the message has a child of the message in it. That child has their name written in a book in Heaven.

Lastly, I want to loudly and dramatically shake off the dust if that is what the situation calls for. Quietness is not meekness it is cowardice in those situations. If grace is not welcome neither are we.

Then we will have joy... not lukewarm comfort. We will have joy with heat and new fellowship.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

More Than Conquerors

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Romans 8:37 ESV

Negate any despairing thought! Our victory is not based on ourselves. The one with the keys to death and Hell loves us.

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

If this King conquered death... what can stand in His way? He already took the hit for our sins. He willingly stepped in-between us and certain judgement. It did not change Him. His heroic love is unchanging.

We don't look at Jesus and say, 'I can win because He won. What I great example He is. I will do what He did.' Negate that thought! It is as wrong as, 'Look at what a loser I am because of what I have done.'

We can say, 'I have won because of His victory!'

Believers are winners because they abide in the conquest of another.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lost in the Potato Chip Aisle

Up early reading the book of Titus again and again and thinking about manhood and our calling.

Paul opens the book talking about Christ and history from a redemptive perspective. He then talks about his relationship with Titus... who Titus is... then in verse five he says, 'this is why I left you in Crete.'

What is God's plan? Who am I? How do I relate to the people around me? Lastly, Why am I here right now? These are questions we all need answers tor or else we will drift. It is possible that I can go to the store because I need butter for a recipe and come back with a lot of different things but forget the butter.

The recipe of the Church is to put what remains in order and appoint elders in every city... edification, missions and Church planting. That is why we are here and not in Heaven already.

Reading the Bible helps me not get lost in the potato chip aisle. When Paul speaks to Titus... I find that God speaks to me.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Blinded by Bitterness?

"Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no 'root of bitterness' springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled" Hebrews 12:14-15 ESV

Performance orientation in relationships leads to bitterness and our natural humanity is performance oriented. God commissioned Adam to perform.

"And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.' " Genesis 1:28 ESV

The problem is that Adam is broken and fallen and can't perform. God does not want to help Adam perform. He wants to weaken him further.

"He weakened my strength in the way; he shortened my days." - Psalms 102:23 KJV

If we stopped here we might all say, 'Hey, That's not good news.' No it's not. It's great news! There are things as a weak person that you learn that a strong person can never know.

Just as Adam needs to perform and can't... He also needs relationships. He needs parents to be a certain way that they can never be. He needs his children to be successful and to outlive him. He needs his leaders to be just and true. He needs his Church to represent God perfectly. These are not wants they are needs and when they are not met it has the same effect as not getting oxygen to the brain or depriving and person of food or dignity. Adam gets hurt and Adam gets bitter. Bitter Adam is unpleasant to be around and even dangerous to be around.

If we are bitter there are likely very good reasons that we are. Some one or something stole oxygen from our lungs! Just look at the mess they have made! We can cry out for blood and harbor it or we can come to grips with the fact that the event has exposed a pocket of performance orientation left in our soul.

Only grace orientation can replace performance orientation. Grace sees no need for people or God to perform in order to be accepted. Bitterness will kill us and defile others. Grace does not claim rights to hold unto wrongs. It does not assign names to pain. Grace and mercy flow in and heal all the effects of wrong.

A weak person will let that happen. A weak person is happy to start over. A weak person needs someone or something to lean on. God is that perfect someone. Any fruit produced must now come from abiding in the vine.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

What about justice? Where is the place for accountability?

"And he said to his disciples, 'Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.' " Luke 17:1-2 ESV

"For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience." Romans 13:3-5 ESV

God has given a place for Earthly authority to deal with the inhumanities the people inflict upon each other. He has also given guidelines for how those situations can be dealt with. Sin has been paid for but justice is still administered in the world at large.

Justice or no justice... Many will still get bitter and just keep on letting Adam defile everyone around them. Bitterness will entwine the doctrinal truth in their soul like a weed.

"And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Ephesians 4:30-32 KJV

"This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith" 1 Timothy 1:18-19 ESV

"From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above" - James 3:10-15a ESV

It is inevitable... people will fail. Will we have the mind of Christ or will we cry out for blood?

There is no condemnation. It may be that we find ourselves crying out first and it reveals to us the desperate need we have for God's mind and God's mercy.

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus," Philippians 2:5 ESV

"And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Luke 11:9 KJV

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Veil Was Rent From Top To Bottom

"And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised," Matthew 27:50-52 ESV

Spurgeon brings this out...

'That rent also revealed all the hidden things of the old dispensation: the mercy-seat could now be seen, and the glory of God gleamed forth above it. By the death of our Lord Jesus we have a clear revelation of God, for He was 'not as Moses, who put a veil over his face.' Life and immortality are now brought to light, and things which have been hidden since the foundation of the world are manifest in Him.' - Charles H Spurgeon

Didn't this act rip open our whole old inner system of thinking and expose it?

The inner chamber in that temple was exposed and glory left it... our body is now a temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in and we become a light on a hill.

We now have a golden lamp stand that gives off light fed by the Holy Spirit. Our spirit is entwined and intermingled with Him.

There is law (the stones with commandments), authority (the budding rod) and sustenance (a jar of manna) hidden in our mercy seat. The blood has been applied and unlike that stone building God will never leave us or forsake us.

Maybe I need to forgive?

Can I forgive? I'm not talking about a performance based forgiveness. I'm talking about the grace based forgiveness that is contained in an intimate relationship. Finished work forgiveness.

For example... Can I forgive my friend for moving away? They didn't do anything wrong by moving away. But, The fact that they made the decision to move hurt me. Perhaps I feel guilty for being hurt by something like that. They are not wrong. I am not right... but I miss them... I am just hurt.

Maybe my parent died... maybe my spouse or sibling is gone. I am angry at them for going. I shouldn't be but I am. I need to forgive them. No, I'll just stuff my emotions inside and repress them. They are not wrong... why should I forgive them? I will just adjust... maybe change myself... I'll die to it! Yes, That is what I'll do... but the hurt remains.

What about God? I have been hurt by God. His plan has not gone the way I wanted it to. He has the power to do what He wants. Why is there evil? Why do things take so long? Why do good people die? No. No. God is perfect! I should not need to forgive Him. I'll stuff those emotions down inside. I am not happy but I should be so I'll press on and live incomplete... that is the best I can do...

But, Wait... Maybe I need to forgive God? Not because He is wrong but because an intimate relationship is based on forgiveness.

Jesus paid for all sin and cleared every debt. Spirituality is not performance based. Christ was the only one who could perform and He did. Now that is done and taken care of. It is finished.

"If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope." Psalms 130:3-5 KJV

Forgive God? That sounds so arrogant. Who are we to forgive God? He has done so much... we should be thankful. If favor were decided by merit then God would merit every favor. Grace says merit was never because of performance. Not mine, not yours and not God's.

Have you ever noticed that arrogant people hate forgiveness. It is only given grudgingly and at a very high price... if at all.

It is my conviction that Jesus forgave the Father when He was forsaken on the cross. Jesus knew it was not wrong that He should be crucified. It was right... even though Jesus was innocent... it was right in a higher way. It needed to be done. Still... It hurt Jesus grievously. Jesus gave the Father grace. In ultimate humility He gave grace.

We forgive when people are wrong. We forgive when people are right. We forgive. That is how we deal with hurt.

Finished work forgiveness does not magnify sin but it acknowledges the effects of sin and living in a fallen world.

"Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." Luke 6:37-38 NKJV

Forgiving opens us up to receive forgiveness and perhaps in that moment of light God will reveal something to us about ourselves.

Performance based forgiveness makes the person doing the forgiving bigger than the one who needs forgiveness. Grace based forgiveness restores intimacy on an even playing field. Forgiveness and identification go hand in hand.

The invalid may need to forgive their caretaker. The constant care may remind them again and again that they are weak and can not care for themselves.

Parents need to forgive their children. Children need to forgive their parents. Not because they did or didn't measure up but because people need forgiveness... the fallen world is filled with hurts and pains and the only remedy is forgiveness.

Forgiveness frees us to be thankful... receiving forgiveness and giving it. We need this reciprocal intimacy in order for there to be a true relationship

The cross made forgiveness possible. It reconciled God to man and man to God. It can reconcile us to each other if we let it.

I think God is sorry for the fall. Not because He did anything wrong. He didn't. I think it pains Him that fallen man has gotten entangled in the affairs of demons and will share their fate. He loves mankind and has pity on us. He sees the end result of our collective bad decisions and all the hurt they have caused and it moved Him to act in compassion.

Because of His Son He has forgiven us.

Let's forgive God... Forgive Him that His plan is too big for us to understand. Yes, God is right and good. After we forgive Him we can walk trusting in that goodness.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

As Ye Sware Unto Her

"And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window." Josh 2:21 KJV

"But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her. And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel." Josh 6:22-23 KJV

Joshua remembered the conversation that Rahab had with His men. He honored their commitment.

Will we harbor the Son of God in our hearts today? In a land hostile to what He stands for we give Him shelter and hang his banner in our window. That means something to the Father who sent Him.

Because of the spies Rahab was saved... because of Christ we are saved.

Believe and the blood of Christ is applied.

Believe and inwardly we are dunked into a new life. Then we do it outwardly as well. We get soaking wet with water, with truth and with fellowship.

At intervals we stop and remember the blood that was shed and the body that was broken.

The thief on the cross didn't have a chance to do very much. He simply believed and had a short conversation with God about it.

If we have once believed a decision was made about our fate inside the Trinity. That decision will stand... God will remember every conversation and every commitment.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

We Have Arrived

The moment you believed you arrived at your destination.

"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." Heb 12:13 ESV

We walk like people that have arrived and not ones working toward a destination.

"For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, 'If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.'... " Heb 12:18f ESV

The place we have come to is not a place of punishment, fear and restriction.

"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 ESV

The place where we have arrived is a joyous place of acceptance where God has perfected all in attendance. It is a place where every tragedy has been turned into a blessing.

Our lameness is healed when we realize we have arrived. Our back becomes straight and we put back our shoulders. Our eyes are not on the ground any more... they are fixed on our Savior.

I am going to start my day believing today. From this moment I will launch out in faith and walk in what is already done.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Taking Ownership

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father." John 10:11-18 ESV

I am so glad that God has this attitude. He does not have 'hireling' attitude.

Jesus took ownership of His calling and laid down His life and had fellowship with God the Father in it.

It is amazing that we can take ownership by faith of what we are powerless to perform. By prayer and faith we move in God's leading and He produces fruit in the midst of it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Some Meditations in Proverbs chapter Twenty-Three

Reading Proverbs chapter 23 this morning... truly great wisdom regarding the inner man.

"When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food." Prov 23:1-3 ESV

A worldly leaders lead by power, influence and a balance of debt. He will seek to make you indebted in some way to increase his influence.

Spiritual leaders present the removal of debt. After all Christ erased all debt.

"Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies, for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. 'Eat and drink!' he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words." Prov 23:6-8 ESV

I like the word 'stingy' here. It is literally 'evil eye' but stingy works very well. The freedom presented here is one devoid of grace and mercy. It is apart from holiness. It is bait with a hook hidden in the midst of it. There is a strange inner calculation going on with an appearance of freedom. It is a freedom that robs you. It is the embrace that you find later was really for the purpose of stealing your now missing wallet. Our freedom is not the freedom of a 'stingy' person. Our fellowship is not 'networking.' Our love has no calculation.

"Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words." Prov 23:9 ESV

There are times when you have one thing to say to someone. If you say more, no matter how well meaning, it will just dilute what has been said and open up a pathway to mockery. We can be confident in love and it's power. It doesn't need our help.

"Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless, for their Redeemer is strong; he will plead their cause against you. Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge." Prov 23:10-12 ESV

Here we see a restraint that is apart from law. The inner man that is instructed in grace becomes established and boundaries of honor are formed. Knowledge of God's presence creates invisible boundaries that don't need fences to be imposed to define their limits.

"Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol." Prov 23-13-14 ESV

Spiritual attachments are not sentimental. Reality is comprised of higher realms of the unseen and as friends we must wound each other at times. Those wounds are far better than deceptive kisses (see Prov 27:6).

"My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad. My inmost being will exult when your lips speak what is right. Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way." Prov 23:15-19 ESV

The 'stingy' man trusts primarily in leverage of some kind. But there is a upper highway of wisdom and worship that his feet will never see. It is a clean place that only the redeemed can walk. The new life has hope. It is possible to envy empty laughter... to miss the fact that the happy scene you see is really a set for of props on a stage that lacks substance.

Christ is the true path. To travel by His direction is a life of substance.

"Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags." Prov 23:20-21 ESV

Feeding our appetites only steals our time. Time that could be spent being about our Father's business.

"Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice. My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways." Prov 23:22-26 ESV

Wow. So much is in all of these verses. I like that the emphasis is not of doing or ever duplicating in some way. We need only behold grace to be changed by it.

"For a prostitute is a deep pit; an adulteress is a narrow well. She lies in wait like a robber and increases the traitors among mankind. Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. 'They struck me,' you will say, 'but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.' " Prov 23:27-35 ESV

Instant gratification is a snare.

God gives liberty in Christ. The upper highway is a protected road but out in the wilderness there are all kinds of dangers. We need a light to illuminate our pathways. God has given us light. The Bible is that lamp. Christ is our compass. He will navigate our way today. There will be voices calling to direct us to a broader way. Let's not be fooled by their sound.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Truth is Speaking

"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 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: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." 2 Pet 1:16-21

Peter was an 'eyewitness of His Majesty' were He was there on the mountain hearing the Father speak about the Son. We are 'witnesses' when we hear the scriptures. The Spirit speaks within our range of hearing just like the Father spoke about the Son and the disciples heard it.

Private interpretation gets the scripture to sound the way man wants it to sound. What the scripture really says is "This is my beloved Son: hear him." (Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35). It is a merciful correction to our viewpoint and we do well to hear it.

This is the light that shines in a dark place.

If we hear the words this way... as being focused on and through the uniquely approved Son then we hear them unfiltered. They are a voice not just a book. Truth is a person speaking.

If we really hear God's voice we become manifestations of His voice.

"And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean." Mark 9:8-10

Once corrected we find that all we see is Jesus. We walk down hill with Him. Our weigh is different as we descend from the mountain back into practical life. We carry a secret. The downhill trek is so much easier than the one uphill ever was.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Focus on the Moment of Visitation

"Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the WILL of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly." 1 Pet 2:12-19 ESV

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect WILL of God." Rom 12:2 NKJV

It is such an interesting thing to be in the world but not of the world. Christ was this way and now as believers in Christ we are also. We are to be spiritual people in the midst of moral (and immoral) people. Mindful of God as people are being mindful of our actions. God is not judging our actions but he has the desire that these people, who have no faculty available to them but sight, would glorify Him in the day of their 'visitation'.

I started this morning out doing a study on the will of God... that is why the word WILL is capitalized in these verses.

There are moments, windows of opportunity, that open in people's lives... perhaps there is a lot done and said by us that seems ineffective but is really focused on those moments of visitation. That is just one reason why it is important that we live our lives identifying with Christ. Who He is and what he has done will not fail us... or other people.

"So Jesus answered them, 'My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone's will is to do God's WILL, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.' " John 7:16-18

How many years of Sunday school are focused on a moment of visitation in a child's life? If they have that moment they may just unwrap all that doctrine and teaching they received like a gift on Christmas morning.

Perhaps there will be a moment in an unbelieving adults life, a person close to you, when suddenly the things you said and did will make sense to them. A moment when the cross and Christ on that cross has deep personal impact for them. That is our prayer isn't it?

Conforming to the world is never the answer... mindfulness of God and identification with His Son is. When we look back we will not regret that we did.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Where do I Stand?

I just want to read this again and again and let it wash over me.

"Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace." Rom 6:3-14 NAS

What freedom this is! It is future filled with new beginnings. Transformation is what we have to look forward to. A life placed under grace.

We have died to sin consciousness... we have died to missing the mark... we have died in God's eyes and been reborn into something pure that can not be defiled or undone.

We can walk like the cross happened... like Easter happened. It happened in history and it has happened in our lives.

Nothing needs to reign in my life but God and this truth.

I like to read this and say to myself, "If this is true... since this is true... then what?"
I can read it and say to God, "Maybe I am thinking too small... God will you help me?"
Then I read it again... and again... and again... All the while I have a conversation with God about my relationships, my marriage, my job, my bank account, my future...

Today my body will not bow before the tyranny of a system I have died to... my mind is before another throne... It is a throne of grace.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

On the Wings of the Wind

"And David spoke to the LORD the words of this song on the day when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said, 'The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence.' " 2 Sam 22:1-3 ESV

I read this chapter a few times this morning. I appreciate the drama of this next part:

" 'For the waves of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I called. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry came to his ears. Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations of the heavens trembled and quaked, because he was angry. Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him. He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet. He rode on a cherub and flew; he was seen on the wings of the wind. He made darkness around him his canopy, thick clouds, a gathering of water. Out of the brightness before him coals of fire flamed forth. The LORD thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered his voice. And he sent out arrows and scattered them; lightning, and routed them. Then the channels of the sea were seen; the foundations of the world were laid bare, at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils. He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.' " 2 Sam 22:5-20 ESV

There are philosophies in the world that are like the 'cords of Sheol' that just entangle us... politics... pressure... injustice...

Imagine David a patriotic little Israelite suddenly on the wrong side of his King for no good reason. He saw the underbelly of the system and was assailed by the storm of contradiction that comes at a person.

At the blast of God's nostrils the foundations are laid bare. God shows us what is real and saves us from situations we could not emerge from ourselves.

" 'The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation' " 2 Sam 22:47 ESV

If my day is calm I want to see Him in the calmness. It there is a storm in my life I want to call upon Him and see Him 'on the wings of the wind'. His saving power is very sure. Sometimes it is very subtle and at others it is very dramatic. In either case I will rely upon it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Living Approved of is Living in Loyalty

"The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful - for he cannot deny himself. Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." 2 Tim 2:11-15 ESV

Live in the finished work of Christ. His shed blood is the proof of our approval. This is an issue of loyalty and allegiance. It is disloyalty to God to come to Him and present yourself and act as if you are 'unapproved' by Him because of performance. God will be faithful to us no matter what we do. To deny our approval is to deny Him. If we deny what Christ has done we forfeit the experiential benefits (mental, emotional and perhaps logistical benefits) that come with the life of a believing believer.

The Bible is our tool to find and rediscover our approval again and again. If we learn to use our tools we won't we shamed workers. Instead we will become craftsmen in grace.

Even in this there is no condemnation... but we can suffer loss in the midst of Christ's victory needlessly.

There are days when I must rediscover my approval. I look for it like my misplaced car keys. There is no starting my day without it. Without those keys I must find some difficult way to get to my destination because I can not drive there.

He says earlier in the chapter:

"No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything." 2 Tim 2:4-7 ESV

We can meditate on those three roles... the soldier, the athlete and the farmer. If we live as approved ones what can happen in our lives? How are we like these three people?

What territory can be taken if we live as soldiers in the delegated authority of the finished work?

Do athletes work some other trade? Yes, Sometimes. But, what about the professional ones? They do what they love and all of life is a sport to them. They play and play and play. They function in the rules of their sport and win. One of the rules we live in is approval. We can't win without it.

A farmer who sees his season through until the end gets to benefit from the crop. He sows a message of approval and keeps sowing and watering and finally reaps a crop.

Soon it will be time to start my day... to face the world. Right now I ask God to fill me with His Spirit. Right now I put my shoulders back and chin up and live in God's approval. I might even whisper it aloud to myself just so my ears can hear it. I sing a little song like 'Redeemed - How I Love to Proclaim It', 'Amazing Grace' or some other worship song that can be sung to an audience of two... God and I. He hears it and loves it and I hear it and it reinforces the eternal in the world I live and walk in.

If I stumble today I can hum my little song and smile. It will help me find God's smile again as I dust myself of and go on. Perhaps if there is a little skip in my step because of God's approval I won't stumble at that thing at all.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Prize

This topic came up last night at Panera bread. What is the reward of living a spiritual life? Paul says,

"What then is my reward?" 1 Cor 9:18a ESV

To the intelectual crowd it might be knowledge. To the prosperity crowd gain or abundance. Those with a bad self image is might be change. To the sick it could be health. To the hopeless it might be a new start. The fallen world provides many motivators but does the end result and purpose of our life reside in anything fallen?

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

Innocence is what was lost in the garden and intimacy was what was won and Calvary and bestowed to us at Pentecost. Grace and mercy flow to us from God unhindered and the prize is living in that flow.

But there is more.

"To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings." 1 Cor 9:20-23 ESV

The soul winner sees people as the prize. People who have communion with God restored. Fellowship made possible by association with believing people.

I could study all the time and gain knowledge but would that be a substitute for people? Would I trade prosperity... health... reputation... for people.

What is our prize today?

"God answered Solomon, 'Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked for possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hate you, and have not even asked for long life, but have asked for wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may govern my people over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge are granted to you. I will also give you riches, possessions, and honor, such as none of the kings had who were before you, and none after you shall have the like.' " 2 Cron 1:11-12 ESV

If we ask for wisdom to share with people in the blessing of the Gospel isn't our God Solomon's God? God may just add all kinds of other good things we aren't even seeking anymore because of His great goodness. Who knows?

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Knowledge is power... right?!? It seems so. People who know things seem to get things. If someone knows the short cut they get to the finished line quicker. But knowledge is just one layer of things.

Information oriented people are prone to think that more information is the solution. Take a look at this group of verses:

"Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that 'all of us possess knowledge.' This 'knowledge' puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that 'an idol has no real existence,' and that 'there is no God but one.' For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth - as indeed there are many 'gods' and many 'lords' - yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled." 1 Cor 8:1-7 ESV

The power of an idol is directly linked to our previous association with a false belief system. The defilement comes from the ingesting of information... not food. Information can be the idol. After all it is what we substitute for God and reliance on Him. What we 'knew' long ago but has been replaced by new knowledge still hurts us but not on an intellectual level.

Redemptive knowledge is different. For one thing it is alive because it's source is alive. Jesus is alive. It contains an awareness of God's viewpoint and perspective. It views God looking on with gracious eyes.

"Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble." 1 Cor 8:8-13 ESV

Ah Ha! Paul's knowing is not a knowing that he uses as leverage against people or for himself. It is a knowing that causes him to want to lay down his life. He is living a life outside of himself... divorced from the old.

This knowing is never isolated. The thinker has spectators and is viewing others. It is not in a self conscious way but a God conscious way.

Redemptive knowledge is the knowledge that only a redeemed person can know. It doesn't leave us with a hunger to know more and more. It overrides our self life and opens a door to a new life.

As a spectator we are aware of what knowledge has done to people... how being cut off from God has hurt and blinded people. A victim is required for redemption to take place. Jesus was that victim. He limited His freedom to come Earth and be a man. He saw His commitment through to be a sacrifice. We are free but at times we sacrifice our freedom for others. We have a redemptive conscience and not a conscience of convenience.

We once fell out of innocence into corruption... by grace through faith holiness it is something we have been baptized into forever. Now, In liberty we lay down what no one could take from us.

That is why, as a policy, I won't buy soda in a liquor store in the United States or get change for the meter in a porn shop. Is it because I am self righteous? Am I afraid of the liquor's power over me? I am free... but I am a spectator and I have spectators.

I'd eat at a pub in Ireland. It is different culture. We spent years witnessing in the red light district in Baltimore... we went as a group and we made sure to always have gospel tracts in our hands on the street.

Grace has given me convictions. I don't see sin and transgression everywhere... I see people who need Jesus.

This knowledge is restful... not naive... not lustful... it is a doorway to wisdom... in communion with God I have it and it has me.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Seeking Change?

This morning I am reading 1 Corinthians chapter 7 over and over again. It covers a number of subjects but a theme I see again and again is the subject of change. Seeking change. Somehow we think change will bring happiness... a change in marriage... or job... or location. Those changes can be helpful to a degree.

"Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity. For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ." 1 Cor 7:20-22 ESV

To 'avail ourselves of the opportunity' is a great thing.

"I want you to be free from anxieties." 1 Cor 7:32

God wants us to be free from anxiety. But change is not necessarily going to be what will do that. Circumstantial change may alleviate the symptoms for a while but the root issues must be dealt with in order for there to be true freedom.

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36 ESV

"But what does the Scripture say? 'Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.' So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Gal 4:30-5:1 ESV

The old person we were will live in slavery in spite of circumstances because it is the child of bondage. The new person we are can live in freedom because it is the child of freedom. Christ has set us free by giving us a new identity in freedom. That new person is free by nature not by circumstance.

Let's live in the new nature. Grace is the intimate expression our God's communion with that new nature. Receiving grace will meet our deepest need.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Stability in Crisis

"Then Pilate said to him, 'Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?' But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed." Matt 27:14 ESV

What a beautiful picture of regal confidence. Jesus so trusted His Father's will and plan that no false witness could turn Him toward self justification in a secular court room.

Then in the religious realm He answered this way:

"And the high priest stood up and said, 'Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?' But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.'
Jesus said to him, 'You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.'
Then the high priest tore his robes and said, 'He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy.' " Matt 26:62-65 ESV

He answered with His position and with prophecy.

"But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.' " 1 Cor 1:27-31 ESV

'In Christ' we have accountability... 'In Christ' we can boast of our position... 'In Christ' we can bear accusation in regal humility and not reaction.

"The anvil breaks a host of hammers by quietly bearing their blows." Charles H Spurgeon

God is our strong tower. In times of peace and times of war we can run into Him and He will be our stability and safety.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Decent Order of Grace - Part 15 - Divine Showcasing

Some men are all smiles, handshakes, jokes and engagement. Others are shy and faithful and watchful. Some have much to say and others little. Some fill a room and others come in unnoticed.

"When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers." 1 Cor 16:10-11 ESV

What is Paul telling these people about Timothy? Perhaps they could miss Timothy's portion if they weren't told in some way to look out for it. It seems that Timothy was not an alpha man type. Paul made clear to them that Timothy was 'as I am' even if he did not have the same personality.

"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love." 1 Cor 16:13-14

Eyes open men! Being a man 'in Christ' is not like being one in the world. Strength comes from a different place... vision sees what the world misses... love is the method... love is the action. It is not some hippy-dippy kind of love nor is it the love of a weakling. It is the love of a warrior who has been awakened to righteousness (1 Cor 15:34).

If we walk by sight we will miss the important things.

I love to see a man of God showcase people. When it is done in the right way it is very edifying. Not in some sort of comparison that makes one person look better than another but in a way that communicates that a hidden person, or a visible person, is special to God.

It is grace of course and it is not expected, demanded, or required.

These recommendations go a long way. Especially if they are done in some way that is unrelated to performance of some kind. What God thinks about a person has nothing to do with their performance.

The Father showcased His Son when He said, 'This is my Son is whom I am well pleased.' Christ showcased His disciples. If God opens our eyes to see who someone is in Christ we can showcase them to others. It may be just what those people need to receive a portion that will be vital to their life.