Friday, June 28, 2013

Heroes and The Hero

Hebrews Chapter 11 speaks of heroes of the faith

"And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets - who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated - of whom the world was not worthy -wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect." Hebrews 11:32-40 ESV

Then Hebrews chapter 12 speaks of 'The Hero' of the faith

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted." Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV

Jesus is the hero we look to. Our heart is renewed when we look to Him and His victory.

I sometimes look at the things that seem to hinder my walk of faith... money... health... time... and then think of this great cloud of witnesses whose lives are 'made perfect' by us. People who gave all before Messiah had come and others who gave all after He was raised.

I don't want to stand before God and give puny excuses while these great men and women stand watching. They gave all... Christ gave all... by grace I will give my all... not in effort but in believing and functioning like one who believes.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Grace Renewal

"Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, 'My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God'? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:27-31 ESV

What a contrast...
'My path is not seen and my right is disregarded.'
        - Self Centered. Disconnected. Entitled.
'He gives power. He knows me and sees it all. The spiritual outweighs the natural. It is all grace and I will wait in hope.'
        - Faith. Humility. Expectation.

Needs press in. People need renewal. Blame comes easy to the natural man. If we are quickened by God and grace is in view then renewal will come because God will bring it.

The question is often, 'Can we adjust to getting what we don't deserve on God's time table?'

"Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him." Isaiah 30:18 ESV

God isn't just waiting to give to us. He is waiting to be gracious to us. He will 'lift Himself up' in order to do it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Perception at Low Altitudes

"They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn." Job 24:24 KJV

"Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow." Psalms 107:39 KJV

"For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low" Isaiah 2:12 KJV

I have been thinking about the old Englishy term 'brought low' this morning and what can be lofty in my perception. It is in part a perception issue after all. High and low are relative to the viewer.

High things see and are seen by others. Low things have impaired vision and are often hidden from sight. If wrong things are lifted up they block your vision so that you can't see what you want to see or others need to see. Those things need to be 'brought low'.

"The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me." Psalms 116:6 KJV

There are times when it is not my eyesight that is the issue but my altitude. The big picture is hidden from the low vantage point. Small things become large. What is near becomes all we have.

"My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up." Psalms 5:3 KJV

Perhaps lowness will cause the one who looks out to look up instead.

"As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.' ' " Luke 3:4-6 ESV

Jesus evens out the terrain. Grace is visible to the low and high. It removes the barriers. Oh how we need that.

"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalms 46:10 KJV

"All the horns of the wicked also will I cut off; but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted." Psalms 75:10 KJV

"In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted." Psalms 89:16 KJV

Grace amplifies the power of the righteous. The power of the righteous is grace... that is where it is manifested.

Grace fills, or exalts, the valleys and makes low any mountains that would block our view.

"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:8-11 KJV

Let anything that is blocking our view of Jesus be brought low. Also, Let our valleys be filled so that we see Him and are not so consumed with those things that are close but devoid of truth and hope.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Power and Influence

Who is really in control? Where is the real influence? The world portrays a bleak picture.

Finding the person with who can make the decision is often a long tiresome process. Is there even some one who has the power to make the decision? Who has leverage... who has influence? Can enough people sign a petition and make things happen? Maybe if it is an election year they can. It seems that the real decision makers can be layers upon layers above our pay grade.

People leverage value against power. Money has value in certain circles but losses value when you get high enough. The amounts you would need to pay may not even exist. Information has power but that only goes so far also.

Often the people in charge are very dependent on other people and authority is more layered, fragile and vulnerable than it could possibly seem to the fellow at the bottom of the pyramid.

In fiction drama is the story line of the powerful struggling over the valuable.

Value is 'created' in the world to pump up the drama and create needs.

Can you guess Rumpelstiltskin's name? Is the Devil even interested in buying your soul or is he just interested in creating an atmosphere conclusive to such crazy concepts. The valuable becomes devalued if frustration is at such a level where everything is for sale.

Spiritism and the occult portray an invisible world much like man's political and economic systems. If you can just connect to the right power with the right influence at the right time maybe, just maybe, you can get things done.

It's sad really... but it is all that most people have or see.

God's kingdom stands in contrast with the world of big gears and little gears. The smallest person has direct access to the top. If you are reading this it may seem that you are the smallest person.

"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:9-11 KJV

"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7 KJV

Grace says we don't need to barter with Him because He cares for us.

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11 KJV

We don't have to get noticed because He thinks about us.

When we find Christ our search for the power behind the power ends because it all culminates in Him.

"Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him." Proverbs 23:23-24 KJV

With Christ in charge each moment has value. Don't sell them. Each conversation has boundless potential to have eternity touch time and space when we live in God's economy.

God's blood has ransomed back the souls of mankind. The highest power has won the thing of highest value. We can add that tree to the bitter waters of life and they will be made sweet.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Before the Beginning

"Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. For your name's sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant." Psalms 25:8-14 ESV

It's interesting. Some people see God's methods as loving and God's faithfulness in each situation and others don't see it. These verse link that perspective to those that keep His 'covenant' and remember the 'testimonies' of God. Then later it says that God makes that 'covenant' known to those that are in awe of Him and are in a friendship oriented relationship with Him.

What covenant, or contractual agreement, is this? Is it the one given to Abraham, or David, or to Moses? Yes, He gave promises to these men and they were binding ones that God has kept. We may look in awe at these historical events, testimonies, and through them see God's heart of love but will they alone change our minds?

I think we must go back to the root in order to say 'all the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness'.

"Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." John 17:24 NKJV

"He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" 1 Peter 1:20 NKJV

"Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love" Ephesians 1:4 NKJV

This promise produces awe in me. This reveals an intimacy between the Father and the Son that includes each individual. The Trinity made a deal with us in mind before the world existed and every action God has made since is in accordance with that promise.

It has to be grace! No other way is possible. When this deal was forged no one had done anything good or bad yet.

Friendship with God lies right here in this knowledge. True perspective begins here... before the beginning.

God is going to seem impersonal to people that don't see the root of all promises. How can two walk together unless they agree?

His way is a loving way. We can walk on a loving path with an expectation of God's faithfulness today.

The glow on Moses' face had to be hidden from those who lived in a covenant that did not comprehend the root of all promises.

Humility is the way today. The humility of person astonished by grace produces a life filled with light that others can see. They must avert their eyes not to see it. It is a pre-creation light that those who are friends with God have.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Run and Find the Door

"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

Run from idolatry and run to grace.

"I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say." 1 Corinthians 10:15 ESV

Sensible people know they can fall. They look for the door in certain circumstances. The way out isn't always physical but there is a mental way out. Intimacy with grace is a way out and a way in.

We see seduction coming and out we go... not going there. Christ is our way out and our way into a life of purity.

"The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread." 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 ESV

Flee to cleansing and run to fellowship. Go to the place where Christ is exalted and people raise holy hands in worship.

Don't walk... run there. Rebound is quick. Cleansing is real. The past is gone. The anointing breaks the yoke and no cycle can stay aflame with no wood on the fire. Those embers will grow cold.

When the atmosphere is charged I like to sing a song... a melody in my heart or a stanza or two out loud. Nothing cuts the air like worship. I don't just listen... I sing and participate.

"And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray." Isaiah 35:8 ESV

Run and get lost on the highway of holiness. Your pursuers can not chase you there. Christ is waiting to be gracious there. There will fellowship with others who flee to that city of refuge.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

We Have the Keys

The keys of the Kingdom were given to Peter.

"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:18-19 KJV

This same concept is given the the church at large here.

"Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:18-20 KJV

But, If we look at the context the binding and loosing have everything to do with reconciliation to truth, God and each other. Matthew 18 starting in verse 12 talks about leaving the ninety nine sheep to find the lost one... going to those far away in reconciliation. Then in verse 15 it talks about going to your brother and reconciling.

Peter would go to those far away, the gentiles in Cornelius' house, and give the Gospel to them. Those far away would be reconciled. Then He would preach at Pentecost and brothers in disagreement would become one in the faith.

How often do we allow reconciliation to one another to take place? Peter asks in verse 21. What is the limit?

Jesus gave us keys so that there is no limit. How many unclean people can be made clean. There is no limit. How many cities in America can have churches on fire for God? There is no limit.

What can separate us from the love of God. Nothing can. God isn't changing His locks. The Devil is barred access. That angel fell like lightning to the Earth. Our keys look just like Peters keys... just like the keys the early church had.

Let's take the Gospel of Grace near and far.

Our family needs to have the door reopened all the time. It can't stay shut for long of walls go up. Use the keys of grace, mercy and the finished work to resolve conflict.

Ninety nine may be safe in the fold but there is one far away today. It will always be so in this age. As long as our hearts are beating there are sheep bleating and lost in the rainy dark night. It would be easier to stay comfortable but keys are meant to be used. Let's go use them as God leads. May God open our ears to hear the cry in the night.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

God on the Inside

"And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit" Ephesians 5:18 KJV

Imagine. We are filled with God's Spirit. How unique is that.

God would ever be on the outside of us if not for this truth. Christ could walk through walls. He could walk through us but not know us. God could see everything in us and yet not connect. No. God can do all this and He also fills a person.

Like water fills a person and fills every cell within them... so the Sweet Dove fills us. The Fire of Burning and The Water of washing is in every part. The teacher teaches from within and without. The Comforter comforts from inside not just outside.

I can think of no greater intimacy. The human spirit is the very light inside the soul of a person and God's Spirit is entwined even there in our most secret place. He navigates the engine room of all human workings.

"You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him." Romans 8:9 ESV

"But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"-- these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God." 1 Corinthians 2:9-12 ESV

It is the Spirit of God that reveals Christ to us. He teaches what He wants us to know. He is not electricity that we plug into and control. He is our God who soaks us and opens our eyes to what is real and needed for the moment. Christ is the One who is real. Christ is the One needed in every moment.

I ask to be filled this this morning. I take the cup and drink deeply of it. Let my life be stained the color of the One I am baptized into. Not on the outside only but every part.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

We Have a Redeemer

"For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth" - Job 19:25 KJV

"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." - Proverbs 23:10-11 ESV

'Jesus, the Redeemer, is altogether ours and ours forever. All the offices of Christ are held on our behalf. He is king for us, priest for us, and prophet for us. Whenever we read a new title of the Redeemer, let us appropriate him as ours under that name as much as under any other. The shepherd’s staff, the father’s rod, the captain’s sword, the priest’s mitre, the prince’s sceptre, the prophet’s mantle, all are ours. Jesus hath no dignity which he will not employ for our exaltation, and no prerogative which he will not exercise for our defence. His fulness of Godhead is our unfailing, inexhaustible treasure-house.' - Charles H Spurgeon

We have a redeemer.


A redeemer must have strength. This person must have will and ability to step in and buy back what is lost... to defend the property lines of inheritance.

"And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan. That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy to you. You may eat the produce of the field. In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property. And if you make a sale to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not wrong one another. You shall pay your neighbor according to the number of years after the jubilee, and he shall sell to you according to the number of years for crops." - Leviticus 25:10-15 ESV

No land could be lost or sold forever in Israel. The inheritance was fixed. God gave the land to families in tribes and though men had freedom to let it change hands they didn't have the liberty to let it stay that way. God commanded a return of all belongings for each generation.

As you can imagine... if that was truly going to happen someone strong would need to enforce this policy. Among men it was rarely enforced. God however enforces this policy. His children can not sell their birthright. Not forever at least.

As redeemed ones we have a Heavenly heritage. Whatever is truly ours can not be sold or taken for long. The Gospel belongs to mankind as an offer from God to anyone who wants it. Christ is the entrance into a strong tower of defense.

We see outside our door multitudes who need a defender. Children who need someone who will stand in the gap for them or they will be swallowed up by a system that will lock them up and throw away the key.

The world is a place where anything can be bought or sold. Heaven is a place where gifts are given and once entrusted those gifts have a redeemer that defends them.

"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." - Matthew 6:10 KJV

Monday, June 17, 2013

Reduced to Grace

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich." 2 Corinthians 8:9 ESV

What a verse this is! It is like waterfall of motivation. A waterfall has a continual flow of water that pours over it and it just keeps on coming and this verse draws us and draws us. Not by works or obligation... it is just moving in a constant direction and if we let it dwell in our minds we also are moved by it.

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:5-8 ESV

He poured Himself out.

I sometimes think that I want to be filled with God's Spirit or renewed by His Word but maybe there is little room in my soul for what is new. It is too full of the old. I need to pour it all out first then there will be room.

Our thoughts and fears need to be poured out to God and burdens should be cast upon Him because he cares. We want to give Him the bad things... and we should He has asked us to do that...

The first tenth of the best of what comes in goes to God. The tithe is a beautiful thing and it puts my life and possessions in order. What be belongs to me? What is really mine? None of it if I am smart. I'd rather be a steward of God's things.

But then there is the time where we pour it all out. Yes, All of it... times when we make ourselves poor. It is the opposite of our natural inclination... our riches can be our safety. Physical riches, mental riches or emotional riches... Our time can be so valuable but it is good to clear our schedules ever once in while and just pour out... Our refrigerator might be full be some days it is good for us if we eat nothing and give the day to God for something else.

If it is works then we can be doing that outward actions put still be full of ourselves. But when we are drawn from from Christ's rich state into His poorest moment then we are reduced to grace and grace alone. We can pass through the eye of the needle that is the cross. Who will emerge on the other end? Will it be a poor person or a rich person?

Do we dare to let go? I want to have a loose grip on my own life. His life is what I need take hold of today. His life is what everyone needs.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Soulish or Spiritual

"The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV

The word for natural here is the word Psychikos (Strongs G5591). It is better translated soulish. The soul is the whole invisible part of us. The soul is us. If the soul has no living spirit it is us without God.

"But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven." 1 Corinthians 15:46-47 ESV

This verse is talking about Adam and Christ but it is also talking about us. The soulish man is a dusty man.

It is so easy for any of us to live as the 'soulish man'... it is the most natural thing in the world in fact. We are used to that person. He might not trigger alarms like a stranger would. Our dog doesn't bark at that guy when he comes home.

"The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all his innermost parts." Proverbs 20:27 ESV

"But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right." Job 32:8-9 ESV

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV

A soul that is in Christ is a finished product in the sense that God has added the ingredient that will make everything right... Himself. Once in Christ that old solitary self no longer really exists. The new person who is never alone and will never be forsaken is what we are made to be. God will never leave or forsake a soul that has a spirit. He will see that individual as new and in Christ.

Just like we could not save ourselves before we knew Christ. We can not pull ourselves out of self now. God must do it.

"But the salvation of the righteous [is] of the LORD: [he is] their strength in the time of trouble." Psalms 37:39 KJV

"Our God is a God of salvation, and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death." Psalms 68:20 ESV

God must pull us out of self. We find mechanisms that allows us to become available for Him to do that.

"For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness." Romans 6:10-13 ESV

A person born from above has the right ingredients to live a spiritual life. It is proximity to God that is the issue now. We can live far away and be 'just ourselves'. Lacking and missing something that we can never find or provide... Or we can be close and aglow with the life that come from Christ who Is the Life Giver.

Draw us close today God. Make our solitary self a thing of the past. Fill us with your Spirit. We are sealed by your Spirit but fill us and light us ablaze with your life as we fix our eyes on Your graciousness.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Rich in Liberty

Grace makes us rich.

"But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.'

Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?

He said, 'The one who showed him mercy.' And Jesus said to him, 'You go, and do likewise.' " Luke 10:33-37 ESV

We often hear the story of the 'Good Samaritan' and think of it as a moral story but really it is a spiritual one.

The priest and the Levite worried about being unclean. That is why they crossed the street. Being unclean meant time off from work. They were 'company men'... their time, money and even clothing did not belong to them per se. The Samaritan was a traveling entrepreneur. His time and money was his own. He had money to spend on the hurt person and a will to do it. He used his will as he wanted. Funny... God said the traveling man was a true neighbor to a stranger.

Here is another parable coming from a different angle. But this one reveals the source of riches...

"He also told them a parable: 'Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?

A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.'

For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?' " Luke 6:39-46 ESV

We can say 'Lord, Lord' as moral people today and still cross the street. Why, because our humanity is a log in front of our eyes. We are stuck in roles like the priest and Levite were. Here is why we are rich.

"Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great." Luke 6:47-49 ESV

Grace gives us a foundation in the person of God and not surface behaviors. Founded on the rock we can be travelers in this world with real spiritual currency and the liberty to spend it on what and whoever we want to.

It is not some moral obligation to help that is the issue. If I live there I am just blinded by my own self interest with a cloak of goodness.

God reveals the neighborly relationships and opportunities to a person who hears His voice. Grace provides denarii in the moment and the denarii needed on the way back.

God fill us with your Spirit. We might not have silver or gold but make us rich neighbors as we travel our road today.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Answers Are Shared

The person in despair has come to a conclusion, 'All is lost.' The settled person also has come to a conclusion. Did they ask a question? Do they really have an answer?

If we don't form questions we may not get answers. If we don't request provision we may not get it.

"What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." James 4:1-3 ESV

Many times we can be empty with nothing to ask. We can also be so full of the wrong thing so we strive without asking or ask amiss in our sense of great need.

Questions can connect us. Requests can open supply.

When I am empty I like to read scripture because that is a place I can reconnect. God can love me there. I need to need Him.

"And David built there an altar to the LORD and presented burnt offerings and peace offerings and called on the LORD, and the LORD answered him with fire from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering. Then the LORD commanded the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath. At that time, when David saw that the LORD had answered him at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he sacrificed there. For the tabernacle of the LORD, which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering were at that time in the high place at Gibeon, but David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was afraid of the sword of the angel of the LORD." 1 Chronicles 21:26-30 ESV

A gracious relationship is one of exchange and intimate connection. God's Word is a sword but we need not fear it. We can inquire of God.

Jesus gives a model of an inquiry here:

"But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." Matthew 6:7-13 KJV

Even though verse seven says not to make empty repetitions this prayer has likely been repeated more than most. Why? We see a connection here. There is a depth of exchange. Jesus' questions have answers in them already but they are questions shared with the Father and the answers are shared answers.

We can sit in a spiritual corner and twiddle our thumbs or we can rage in our wanting. There is another option. Grace demands nothing of us but love wants to meet with us today. There are places to go and provisions needed in places. We can make memories today that last. Wisdom is not solitary. Answers are like gifts... they are given.

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another." John 15:16-17 ESV

I love this translation. If we ask of the Father and have true exchange with God we will love one another. The answer will be something shared with us that we want to share with others.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Blind Eyes Will See

Reading John chapter 5 this morning and I'm seeing grace all through this chapter. God is revealing Himself and yet mankind is blinded and needs to have a way to see God. Jesus becomes the way that mankind can be saved.

We all naturally look in the wrong places.

"The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, 'My Father is working until now, and I am working.'

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. So Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

'Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. 'I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true.

You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.

But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.

And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?' " John 5:15-47 ESV

As I read this I hear something amazing. It is not people talking to me or me devising or discovering something using intellect. If we are quiet we can listen and become aware of something.

Naturally we look at people and search for qualities and listen for words hoping to find something that can only be found in God. Just as Jesus never sinned He also never presented glory as a man presents it. He lived in ultimate humility... He always glorified the Father. It is because of that reason that we as blind people now have an opportunity to see and hear God.

Let's not be fooled by goodness or by skillful communication. Only God is good and it is only by seeing Christ that we see God. Without Christ the Father is inaccessible. The Father has made Christ accessible so that 'whosoever will' would have access.

I sit musing about the life of Christ. Like a mental picture book I flip through the pages of miracles and picture Jesus' kind face as he walks and talks. I see His life and His death... His words on a cross... His last exhaled breath... now He Is risen and appearing to men and women... He shows His hands to Thomas and meets Peter and the others fishing by the lake... then up, up, up He goes... through sky and past stars to have a reunion in Heaven... what melodies must have proceeded from the mouths of angels as He made His entrance into Heaven... what Joy unspeakable as He sat down at the right hand of the Father... my imagination stretches to imagine the unimaginable...

"So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God." Mark 16:19 ESV

"Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing." Acts 2:33 ESV

We would never see God if Christ had not poured out what He did.

Even now there is vision if we let Him open our eyes. We can hear if we keenly listen to hear what Jesus says. We will hear grace in His voice and no other voice will give off that sound. A kind voice alone can not impart hope... I powerful voice alone still only has the authority of the power it can muster itself.

By Jesus we hear the Father. By the Spirit we hear Jesus. We listen today God. Let our hearts be quiet... we turn our eyes to the author and finisher of our faith. We value Your Words above all naturally necessary things.

When Grace has been revealed we picture a smile as You look at us God. That smile lets us face the day.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Our Treasure Is Safe

Hope is the confident assurance that someone benevolent has things under control. When the goodness of the person in charge is in question or the confidence that things will be handled correctly is shaken people lose hope.

A person without hope must rely on whatever resources are at hand. They will despair, compromise or just try to take control of what they can.

Control requires effort.

"For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." 2 Timothy 1:12 KJV

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:19-21 KJV

"By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:2 KJV

Faith gives us access to the knowledge that we are the beneficiaries of God's goodness and care. Pure grace is very stable.

If our work has to contribute to any of this it casts a shadow on our hope. That hope can truly be eclipsed in peoples lives if the Gospel of Grace is tampered with. Why? Because control is then shifted from God to us... or to other people. Anyone but God will prove to be unreliable. Treasure must be stored in a safe place for the soul to be at rest.

"and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:5 ESV

The human part of God's plan has been finished by Jesus. When that is revealed to us and we mix faith with the reality of God's gracious nature and that His far reaching plan has taken care us us in life and in death our inner being rejoices and we desire God to be revealed to others.

The only thing on my spiritual to do list today is to believe. Our treasure is safe.

"Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." John 6:28-29 KJV

That is the 'obedience of the faith' that we are called to and we may even fail in that area and if we do we can say 'turn me and I will be turned.'

"Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, 'I believe; help my unbelief!' " Mark 9:24 ESV

A word of grace will restore our hope because it reestablishes who is in charge and the goodness of the One in charge. Every important thing that is ours is under His constant care.

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:25-26 KJV

A believer in Christ has an anchor for the soul. Christ is the anchor of our soul and that anchor holds through every storm of life.

The Bible outlines God's plan for mankind from beginning to end. The future is safe. God has written all about what will be in broad strokes that no one can alter.

There is no need to live any part of the day with shadows cast over our hope. Our past is gone and our gracious God is in control of our present and our future. Our soul is safe. We can rest and worship from a place of rest.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Major on the Majors

I used to spend time down at the Bible college at night when I was taking classes in the 90's. For some of the slots that I had free I would walk people to their cars and hang out with Lloyd who worked security at the school and Church. What a graced out guy. He had eagle eyes (I'm sure he still does) and He knew all the characters in the area and around the Church.

Sometimes I would go with Him to the bank to do deposits for the Church and when we would ride there he listened to the police scanner. He was very edifying and safety was his ministry. He was keenly aware of danger and cared deeply for people.

Our Pastor however never spoke about the characters that sometimes wandered through the parking lot outside the Church and He never listened to the police scanner... Maybe because he had Lloyd and the others there to do that for Him. He spoke about hope, healing and missions. He talked about God, redemption and the Bible. He covered danger from the pulpit but the Church was made to feel like a safe place.

While danger must be addressed and it is important to address it. It can't be emphasized as a major emphasis.

The folks that are hurting in Oklahoma are no doubt talking a lot about the Tornado that devastated their homes and lives. Our hearts go out and our prayers go up for those folks. Tornado talk will go on for a while and then hopefully life will begin again and they will talk about it less and less. If it is the Tornado this.. and the Tornado that... and it goes on and on for years and decades in a household as a main topic of conversation it will be a sad household with few joyful pictures of children playing and water gun fights.

If there are burglaries in my area and people are having their homes broken into I will have a conversation about it with my family or more than one. We will lock the basement windows and not leave the garage door open but other than the precautions we will go on with our lives in peace and joy (and rebound). I'm not driving around my neighborhood with a police scanner and it won't be the main topic at dinner every night.

But, then again that is not my ministry.  Not everyone has Lloyd's calling.

Paul lived His life under Roman rule. The Roman government was not kind. Individual freedom were not valued. The day to day news likely carried horrific stories about atrocities that would sicken us if we heard about them. You don't see much mentioned in Paul's writings. He exposed the cosmic system underneath the system you see on the surface.

He had better things to focus on.

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding." Romans 14:17-19 ESV

The kingdom of God is about peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Tares are a footnote... and so are false teachers and legalism and carnality. Bad government will pass away.

Satan and the whole demonic host is a footnote in history. Redemption and glory will be the main themes. Grace and mercy will be heavily emphasized. Much will be written about Jesus and people of faith functioning in faith and revealing eternal things in time and space.

Yes. The victors will write the history that is remembered. In this case the victor is the righteous judge and King of Kings.

By all means let us right wrongs and protect freedoms. Let's live wisely and safely. Let's clean up the messes that need to be cleaned up and help folks rebuild their lives. Too many are hungry and sick. Let's feed, help, love and bind up wounds. Let us showcase the eternal while doing it. Let's emphasize the safety we have in the Savior as a main topic. He is the one who will be remembered. If we make Him a footnote in our day to day conversation we have the whole thing upside down.

"Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." Luke 9:60 KJV

*A special thank you to all the Lloyds out there that make doing this possible

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Greet and Love in Wisdom

"Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you." Romans 16:16-20 ESV

Wow. Have these verses been misused by many but they are so important to understand. We are not be naive. Naive people are easy marks. Grace has a certain sound and we are to listen for it. We are to become discerning of what is wholesome and eternal.

In the world at large and in the Church there are people who are very gifted but they divide and create obstacles. It is ignored because they are gifted. They are producers because of their natural talents and gifts so they are given leeway in their ministry of division.

The beautiful thing about grace and grace teaching is that it gently exposes evil for what it is without exploring evil in an infecting way. What the Bible teaches arms people with real armor without giving them nightmares. Grace gives security and unity. It providing a wall around our city while breaking down the middle wall of partition that separates us from experiencing communion with God and true fellowship with one another.

We are to greet one another with a holy kiss. Beware of those who want to whisper in your ear about why you shouldn't accept that one and why this one is disqualified. It is our God of peace who will crush Satan under our feet in due season. God doesn't use dividers as helpers in this process. Yes, there are tares mixed in the wheat... God knows all about it.

"Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith - to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen." Romans 16:25-27 ESV

The message is a message of strengthening and revealing what is true and wholesome. Light dispels darkness. We deal with darkness head on with light not whispers. We include. We love. We proclaim faith. Shepherds protect the sheep with a rod and they use the rod as needed. The message is one of safety. We call people to a city of refuge where they can live without fear. The door is still open to an Ark where they will be dry. The guilty need a payment for their sins. We all need a place where we can function in purity.

The grace message repels the predator who is hiding under a cloak of goodness because it says, "No one is good but God." and it invites the weak and damaged by saying, "No one is as good for you as God is."

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Take a Flask of Oil

"To the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ" Ephesians 1:6-9 ESV

"I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places" Ephesians 1:16-20 ESV

Wow. What have we gotten ourselves into?

Or better yet what has God gotten us into?

God wants to lavish love on us. He has already set up a 'trust fund' for us as children when we believed in Christ. Now He wants to open our eyes to the richness or the hope, the consequence of His exercised power and the scope of His Love as it is displayed in Christ.

"Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. ... But the wise answered, saying, 'Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut." Matthew 25:1-4, 9-10 ESV

In application... let's take wisdom and richness with us today so that in the circumstances of the day we will have what we need to have a path that is lit by God's light. Let's seek Him early... we won't regret that we did.

In the crisis or the triumph we can have the wisdom of an inheritance and the richness of a lavished love if we take the flask of oil with us on our journey.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

God Gave Us a Book

God gave mankind a book. Not a pamphlet or a paragraph... not a brochure or a manual. It isn't just filled with stories. or poems, or instructions, or legal information only. The Book is filled with so many things. It is long but not so lengthy that a man or woman can't read it cover to cover in a years time.

For one thing... what a loving gesture that is.

I have thought that all of creation is, in a way, god's 'illustration' for His divine masterpiece. All the people, animals, stars, tastes and sounds each person sees and manifold sights that no man has ever seen... all the distant sights around distant stars and microscopic sights are sights we just get glimpses of...

"Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away." Luke 21:33; Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31 KJV

They can't be illustrations like we think of them. They are not printed in-between the covers as a permanent part of the book. The words will stay and these pictures will fade. The words will last and last and last. So will the the people who are made of the book. They also will last.

"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." 1 Peter 1:23 KJV

"You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart." 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 NKJV

Jesus is called the Word (see John 1) an He Is life. The Trinity is the author of our lives and Christ is the author of our faith and yet we are no dry characters in two dimensions. We are participants that God breathed His very life into. Amazing.

Last night. I was thinking about the things the Book is good for and what it is not good for. The list of what it is good for is long and varied.

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

Here is a good exhortation for us:

"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching." 2 Timothy 4:1-2 ESV

Here is a good warning about the book:

"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book." Revelation 22:18-19 ESV

Why? Because it is God's message and He doesn't want it tampered with or changed. He wants the instruments to retain their shape.

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 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." Hebrews 4:12-13 NKJV

Grace reveals the Bible to be a scalpel and a sword. Grace shows us the smile on God's face. It reveals that the sword is for us and not against us.

"He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD." Isaiah 2:4-5 ESV

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." Matthew 10:16 KJV

The Book makes me a lover and a fighter. The Book is a sword of Life.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Seeing the Pattern and Winning the Race

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

He speaks of the single mindedness of competition and yet in the verses before he extols the flexibility and adaptability of communication and identification.

"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 Corinthians 9:21-23 ESV

Have you ever heard an athlete extol the virtues of perceived weakness?? If anything athletes (and fans) talk more 'smack' than any people on the planet. They ooze confidence and even belittle one another in humor to display the advantage.

Only one wins the race... only one... that part always sticks with me. Who is that one in light of scripture? Who won the race? Who finished the work? Who competed and reigns as victor.

Are we running to be the winner or are we running as winners because we see something from the above sight that I talked about in the previous post? I must have a single-mindedness like an athlete does, that is clea,r but what am I seeing? What is my focus? What is my victory?

"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" 1 John 5:4-5 ESV

Our victory is a finished work victory and our race is a finished work race. Only one wins... only one has won.

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31 KJV

Do we see it? If we see it and ask God we can have fire that does not consume the our frail human nature. We are like the burning bush that Moses saw... it puts off no smoke and remains fresh and unchanged by the flames. The source of it's light is vision and not human fuel. It is seen so that God can be heard.

"And on the lampstand itself there shall be four cups made like almond blossoms, with their calyxes and flowers, ... And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain." Exodus 25:34, 40 ESV

Somehow God showed Moses how he saw the tabernacle and then Moses had that above sight and God added people who had His Spirit resting on them... divinely skilled people to do the work.

We see the pattern of a risen Savior in Heaven. A man who moved from person to person winning souls in the Gospel of John and now dons the golden crown. With that pattern the appearance of weakness does not threaten our victory.

God please take the victory we are standing in and place it on our heads this morning. Help us to speak faith and not let our natural dictate to us our state of mind. You are our victory. Quicken us. Give us mental fortitude apart from striving. Give us confidence apart from boasting. Help us to present grace apart from any hint of work. Let us live in the victory that has been won.

Upper Vision

"It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do." 1 Timothy 3:1 NASB

Here is a rough re-translation of this verse that reveals some of the Greek used in the verse. 'This is a word of faith. If anyone stretches in yearning towards what God has shown them from above that beautiful enterprise will have passion from above.'

An overseer is a visionary. One who sees and one who feels. Something has been revealed from above and they have been given a birds-eye view of it. Heaven's viewpoint has been imparted to a man.

"An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)" 1 Timothy 3:2-5 NASB

This person must be a 'one woman' man. It isn't talking about the state of a marriage or necessity of marriage. It is talking about a loyalty of heart and mind.

The things listed are not requirements given like a checklist given in a job posting. God is not looking for strong men. He is saying that if a man has seen and desires to stretch out his arm to a work that is only possible by God's power there will be a passion and a stability and single mindedness that comes with that kind of endeavor. Stability will be produced because home life, the pursuit of pleasure, relationships with people and money have been revealed to come under the overarching importance of what God has done. The man has gotten a glimpse of the fact that God's will in Heaven can really be revealed in the Earth in some special way.

This man decides to give his life over for the cause that is produced by what he has seen. This man has seen a purpose greater than himself and his wants and needs and decides to put all his eggs in that basket.

Good administration will be needed to see the vision come to pass but it is not necessarily the order and organization of gifted administrator that is needed for the visionary. A person with those gifts can be added to the work as it unfolds. What is needed is the selfless life of a father who in grace leads his home and says, 'Our family is very important but we don't live for just ourselves. There are important things to do in life and we do them.' he doesn't have a 'I just want you to be happy attitude.' He says 'I have joy because I live for something bigger. I want you to have that joy and that dignity.' That man's children may not all embrace the vision of the family but it isn't because the vision has not been clearly set forth in grace. How can a man lead in the Church if he is not this way in the home? It will just be a job... God is not looking for more employees. He wants men who will see what He sees and not turn away from what they see. Men who will take the little strength they have and use it to stretch, not do, but stretch, yearn, dream and plan.

"and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil." 1 Timothy 3:6-7 NASB

This person can't be too green. If they are they will confuse their ability with the work. They will take what God has shown them and write themselves into the script giving themselves titles and importance that just doesn't exist.

God's work is God's work. God's truth remains true with or without us. God uses us in spite of ourselves we add nothing. We are vessels of passion and we can be content to let God pour Himself into us and through us. If work is mingled in it will leave a place for the accuser to come in and condemn.

A visionary will see the value of perception. He will value what he sees and what others see. If he is so single minded that he runs over the people around him and the community he lives in he will be mocked and misunderstood. The endeavor given from God is a beautiful enterprise. The visionary becomes a communicator that imparts that beauty to others. He unveils what God has unveiled to him. His words and laid down life will produce a degree of respect in the community. Not everyone will feel that way. There are some who will oppose the work because it is a work of God. That is the way it is.

A visionary evangelizes people. He may not have the gift of evangelism but what he has seen is executed for the purpose of salvation and preservation. His individual gospel ministry will keep His vision in focus. His connection and desire to connect others to the above life is of utmost priority. Otherwise he will be bogged down in terrestrial details.

Let's not let the lists given in verses like these intimidate us. We are trees of righteousness. If grace shines on us and we refuse to turn away from it the new life in us will begin to stretch towards it like trees leaning and growing towards the sunlight. Our single mindedness is a series of choices we make not to turn away... even when other attractive sights demand our attention. Everything else will fall into place as we do the next thing by faith in the wisdom that is taught to us in the anointing. (see 1 John 2:27)

In grace God can show us His desires. Things that can be. Things that God wants to happen in the world. Any man can become a hero by grace. Christ in them is already heroic.

"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Matthew 6:9-10 KJV

Yes God. Your will be done. Give us upper vision and upper passion for what You have already accomplished and what it can mean in people's lives in foreign lands and right here in our own homes. It is a paradox that Christ's finished work reveals to us how much work there is to be done in the world. Open our eyes Lord to see You and to see what is only possible by faith.