Friday, August 30, 2013

The River

"Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. Then he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate that faces toward the east; and behold, the water was trickling out on the south side. Going on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. And he said to me, 'Son of man, have you seen this?' Then he led me back to the bank of the river." Ezekiel 47:1-6 ESV

This is a passage that has been speaking to me for days. It is such a picture of the exchanged life. God leads me out not so I can cross over but so my feet are no longer touching the bottom in self direction. Then He brings me back to the same side I started on but the river experience is in me. I was in the river but now the river is in me.

"As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, 'This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.' " - Ezekiel 47:7-12 ESV

My eyes are no longer fixed on reaching the other side. Instead they are fixed on God's flow into the world and the leaves that will heal the nations.

Faith Rest at Our Gates

"A glorious throne set on high from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water. Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise." Jeremiah 17:12-14 ESV

Jeremiah had forsaken a works program with God. He had learned something that was against the flow of The culture he was living in. That receiving grace is the only way that God is happy with and the only way to experience life with God.

"Thus said the LORD to me: 'Go and stand in the People's Gate, by which the kings of Judah enter and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem, and say: 'Hear the word of the LORD, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates. Thus says the LORD: Take care for the sake of your lives, and do not bear a burden on the Sabbath day or bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem. And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath or do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your fathers. Yet they did not listen or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck, that they might not hear and receive instruction.' " Jeremiah 17:19-23 ESV

The Sabbath is a picture for us. The Sabbath was never given to the nations or gentiles. It was given to Israel to be a picture of faith rest. A day with no labor set aside where they could trust God without work.

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" 2 Timothy 3:16 KJV

Gates represent several things in the scripture. They are the place or commercial traffic. They are where public opinion is expressed. People are working when they pass there and wear their public working personas as they pass through. It is also the place where the world outside interfaces with the culture of what is inside.

The city can reflect an individual person. The gates are where the person meets the outside world.

This city would not enter into spiritual rest. Activity at it's gates was proof of this. There was no rest in God's provision.

" 'But if you listen to me, declares the LORD, and bring in no burden by the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but keep the Sabbath day holy and do no work on it, then there shall enter by the gates of this city kings and princes who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their officials, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And this city shall be inhabited forever. And people shall come from the cities of Judah and the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin, from the Shephelah, from the hill country, and from the Negeb, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and frankincense, and bringing thank offerings to the house of the LORD. But if you do not listen to me, to keep the Sabbath day holy, and not to bear a burden and enter by the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched.' " Jeremiah 17:24-27 ESV

This is a good lesson for us. Receiving grace and living in faith rest is a protection for us. It is a place where the exchanged life can take place. Rest is the place where God works unhindered and we are quiet enough to hear Him and then follow His leading.

"Then the word of the LORD came to me: 'O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.' " Jeremiah 18:5-10 ESV

God deals differently with individuals then He does with nations. But the principles holds as true.

It is curious how Christ would not deny His royalty but deferred laying claim to His royalty previous to the cross. Christ distanced Himself from corporate, governmental and ideological affiliations. Evil was not paid for on the cross. Nor were ideologies that represent governmental authority. Christ refused to die as a representative of an Earthly government... even of Israel. He claims His Kingship later.

God will hold 'governments' accountable for policy. Specifically policies that affect His reputation and people. Evil is condemned as a kingdom and as a system.

The judgment of the nations (see Matthew 25, Joel 3, Isaiah 34) that will happen one day in the future will be a righting of many wrongs. Kings will shut their mouths at God's clear righteous verdicts regarding their actions.

Corporate decision making needs to be redemptive also but governments wield the sword of justice that protects the individual and if that judgment yields to compromise for less than Christ-like causes there will be a day of accountability for that nation and a withholding of blessing in history.

Christ's government when He establishes His kingdom on the Earth will be a perfectly just one. Just as governments and organizations should continue to strive for excellent in enforcing laws and policies that protect the individual now in this age.

God deals with systems differently then He deals with people. Personal sin is personal and individual with God. It is a problem between two people David understood this and said to God,

"Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest." Psalms 51:4 KJV

Because of Christ's payment on the cross God says to us,

"I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Hebrews 13:5b KJV

The personal debt has been paid but we have the same decisions to make as individuals regarding our gates. Will faith rest and trust in God be our public policy or will we bear our burdens ourselves?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Restrictions and More Restrictions

"If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations - 'Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch' (referring to things that all perish as they are used) - according to human precepts and teachings?" Colossians 2:20-22 ESV

Some see spirituality as a complex system of 'Don't's. They mix the ten commandments and other passages in the new testament together and have devised religious systems of protection from transgressions.

By limiting sinful interactions or actions they reason that God will somehow be pleased and people will be safer.

"These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh." Colossians 2:23 ESV

This verse says these restrictions have no value but only project an image or promote a perception. Wow, what a statement.

A large battlement is erected to stop invasion from the outside but meanwhile our biggest enemy is neglected. Ourselves.

Restrictions do not deal with the self life. In fact they can make the problem worse. Much worse. Self can hide in a system like that very easily.

"Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God." Colossians 2:18-19 ESV

Christ is our safe place. What He has done and what He is doing is where we grow and live and have our holiness. In Him is a great big 'Yes an Amen'. He has nailed the 'No's to the cross.

"My beloved has gone down to his garden to the beds of spices, to graze in the gardens and to gather lilies. I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine; he grazes among the lilies." Song of Songs 6:2-3 ESV

Now we believe... we listen, learn, pray and worship. We participate in a vision to reach people. We let God love us and then love one another. There are children to be raised who need God more than they can know. There are people who have been hurt living in ignorance and false systems who need healing. God has much to say to us and many place He wants us to see. There are memories to be made that are full or joy and laughter and tears.

"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7 ESV

Yes, We resist things but the things we resist are things that steal our identity in Christ or hinder others from finding an identity in Him also. The word for devil there means the accuser. So we resist the great accuser and any thinking that has that same tone.

"...You are complete in Him..." Colossians 2:10b NKJV

A life of restrictions is just a mask to hide behind. The cross eliminates the old broken life. The great commandment to love and the great commission to go is where we live out the completed life.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Stop and Sing

" 'Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,' says the LORD." Isaiah 54:1 ESV

We are all happy when things work in our lives. If we make plans and they come to pass on schedule... if we have an idea and that idea works and produces something great. We celebrate the new job or the married couple's wedding day. Babies being born are a great source of joy and celebration... birthdays and graduations... the new house that people saved and saved and found that is just in the right neighborhood. We want to celebrate these events and we should. These things mean a great deal to those involved and we are happy for them.

Grace is a cause for a different kind of celebration. It is fruitfulness without work or personal accomplishment. There is no labor or process involved. It is God who forever is and was giving what we could not produce.

Grace gives us relationships without production. As it says in the verse... God gives children without having to give birth.

I love worship. It is a place of complete freedom. It is never a celebration of something that has happened it a celebration of who God has revealed Himself to be. Our lips give acknowledgement of God's greatness and majesty and the barren and fertile alike can participate in that song on equal terms.

It is good at times to lay down in our minds the thoughts of what is happening and what is not and just worship.

Maybe things are not working well and our plans seem as barren as a women who wants children but can't seem to have them. Stop and reflect on the good news of the Gospel and sing. Stop and rejoice. God is still God and He has power to give us what we could never ourselves produce. His plan is going well. His work will accomplish what He wants it to accomplish.

"And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, 'Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.' " Revelation 19:6 KJV

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Our Means of Measurement

"Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth." Psalms 31:5 KJV

This is Christ on the Cross crying out from the Old Testament hundreds of years before the Cross. Crying out to the God of Truth.

He was an innocence man. The only one. The just dying for the unjust. But suffering unjustly because of His innocence. He appeals to the God of truth. He is not asking for justice. He is claiming past redemption in the present moment of hardship.

The weight of Christ's blood tips the scales of justice. It is so heavy nothing can match it. A God of truth must honor it as outweighing anything else. Jesus used this leverage to be raised from the dead. It was His legal loophole.

If you have ever played with a scale you know that if you put a huge weight on one side you can pile small things on the other and the scale will not even move. It is stuck.

The cross freezes the scale of justice in our favor. Once frozen for us it also can not be used to measure anything else either.

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

"All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth." 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 KJV

The God of truth who can not condemn Christ also now can not condemn anyone who comes under Christ's covering.

The power we are under is the power of Love under the umbrella of Christ and His life. It is not about right and wrong it is all about redemption. That is the measure we measure with in our minds. That is the measure Christ measured with on the cross.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Science of Suffering

In today's devotional in "Reaching Towards the Heights" Richard Wurmbrand uses the term 'Sufferology'. If you know anything about his life he certainly has an understanding of that subject matter.

For many people I think this is a subject they would rather avoid not something to be studied or systematically understood. Some time in the classroom benefits us for our time in the field and some practical application turns theory into something beneficial.

"Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King. Within her citadels God has made himself known as a fortress." Psalms 48:1-3 ESV

Yes. God is beautiful in His elevation... even in this subject. There is a lowness that a sufferer can experience but God elevates the sufferer who suffers in Him.

"For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble sprout from the ground, but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number" Job 5:6-9 ESV

Here is an interesting exchange God had with a man, Ananias, regarding Paul the Apostle:

"But Ananias answered, 'Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.' But the Lord said to him, 'Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.' " - Acts 9:13-16 ESV

Ananias spoke to God about the Earthy authority that had been given to Paul and God answered with the Heavenly authority grace would soon give to the man. Paul's authority was in his ability to suffer well.

Grace gives us many things in unsearchable quantities... Love... Freedom... Forgiveness... Access... It also gives this great ability to survive the un-survivable. Those who suffer with grief might rather not survive it but God elevates us.

Yes. Suffering can be seen as a science. The Bible is it's textbook. We can learn it's principles and laws and then it will not seem so scary.

"Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 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." 2 Timothy 2:10-13 ESV

Positional salvation is assured by faith in Christ's death burial and Resurrection. It is a once and for all thing. Situational salvation is a science of faith. Learning endurance qualifies us for leadership. How can we bring someone else down a path we have not ourselves traveled before?

Christ is our Shepherd. He suffered what none of us could and will teach us this art if we are willing to be His students.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Parking at Panera

So last night after work I really needed a nap but I know if I go home and take one I'll never get up and go to coffee with my friend at Panera bread. I decide to stay out and go straight to the coffee place. We meet a little earlier and plan to leave a little earlier so I can get to bed early.

We talk and he tells me about the healing seminar in Pittsburgh and how it went. It is a refreshing fellowship time. We head out the door a little earlier than usual. I am exhausted now and we keep talking I little as we stand by our cars.

This muscle car with Metallica blaring pulls up near us. It is half blocking the road and shining the headlights right on us. Then it sits there for a while. Then the muscle car backs into a space and a guy in a muscle shirt get outs and starts smoking with the radio still blaring. The music matched with the big car has an almost intimidating quality. A lady also gets out and goes into the Panera bread.

A part of my tired brain is starting to get annoyed:
- Headlights in my eyes
- Loud music alternating Metallica and violent rap music so we have to strain to hear each other
- Discourteous driving that is blocking the road for no apparent reason

I'm not really annoyed but it was starting to get under my skin a little. We exchange prayer request and get into our cars.

My friend starts his car and backs out of his space. We have this thing where we are mindful of each other to make sure that the other person's car starts before leaving. It is an unspoken courtesy... almost a parting gesture of love and respect.

I start my car but quickly turn it off again so my friend lingers.

The next part is hard to explain. It's not like God tells me in audible way but something about the people in the muscle car draws me.

I am so tired I'm not communicating well but I get out of my car and open the back door and look for the tracts I keep in the back door pocket. We cleaned the car recently so no tracts. I pop the truck and look... only Spanish tracts and Christmas tracts.

Now my friend is concerned. 'Are you alright.' He says. 'Do you have any tracts?' I say.
'Only these Grace Hour tracts. Why?'. He says.
'I want to talk to the people in the car.'
He pulls back into his space. I find a biker tract in my truck after a little rummaging.

By now the music has stopped and the man goes into the Panera bread also.

I just wait. 'Do you want me to stay with you.' says my friend.
'Sure. If you want to.'

The guy comes out with the girl. I approach with the tract. I say something like 'Hey, I hope you have minute. Your music made me think about what we were talking about inside... God is so loud, all around us, but most people can't His voice. Strange isn't it?' My hand extended with a piece of paper in it.

They are the most open people you could ever hope to talk to. We spent an hour in that parking lot. Maybe more. We talked about Jesus, Grace, Church and past histories with religion. The Gospel was presented a few different ways. We all conclude that the issue boils down to Jesus. We all need Jesus and to know God's love. At the end we prayed together in a circle at the girl's request.

The biker tract didn't have the Church information and they want directions to the Church so I went back to my car and popped the truck again and grabbed a Christmas tract. 'Merry Christmas.', I said 'These are all I have that have the Church address on them.' The girl smiled and took it and said, 'Merry Christmas!'

It turns out the guy hurt his shoulder so the girl is struggling to drive the big, hard to handle, car. The 'poor' driving wasn't oblivious discourtesy... it was just people struggling to survive life as best they can.

To my surprise they both proceeded to hug us before we left. My friend and I just looked at each other and marveled at how good God Is as we got back into our cars.

Yes. God is so loud... but can we hear His voice?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Unwrapping Christ's Riches

"To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things..." - Ephesians 3:8-9 ESV

If you wanted to eat a meal at every good restaurant in the world you couldn't do it. As you were eating and traveling new ones would pop up and old ones would close down. The cause is a 'unsearchable' one. A person can only at best get a snapshot or slice of that kind of experience.

Christ's riches are that way. A plan hidden in creation from before creation has had impact the moment time started ticking and will keep compounding until time and space are wrapped up like a garment ushering in the eternal age. Each person only sees a slice of what the 'unlimited atonement' atones.

The cold water of limitless love has smoothed the rough edges of each life by it's current but no single fallen person has truly touched the span of that love. It is unsearchable.

" that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places." Ephesians 3:10 ESV

A single redeemed soul touches the lives of other people and when two or more are gathered in His name there is an ever expanding dynamic. Like a stone in a pond the ripples of the cross ever expand and expand into eternity.

Let the rulers and authorities see it. Let the spiritual principalities and powers take notice. God's goodness is unstoppable. The multiplication of  Christ's riches are not hindered be death. There may be casualties but the cure will one day overwhelm the disease.

"I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD." Psalms 118:17 ESV

God's riches are unsearchable by telescope and also by microscope. The big things and the small things. They are evident on the inside and also the outside. Hidden since before time but being revealed in time wherever Christ goes and wherever He lives.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

People That Never Fade Away

"For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): 'I am the LORD, and there is no other. I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, 'Seek me in vain.' I the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right. 'Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save. Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. 'Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.' " Isaiah 45:18-22 ESV

What a picture. As nations crumble there are people in them that never crumble. Wooden ideologies will march into obscurity in mass and fade from view and memory but there are souls that will never die and fade. No one who seeks God seeks Him in vain.

"And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" Revelation 5:9 KJV

Isaiah is written from the perspective of God addressing a world and telling them what was and what will be. In the Book of Revelation it has all happened already. The remnant of nations is together singing on the stage of eternity. The song is one of thankfulness. It is a song composed for the Messiah who shed His blood and loved them each individually pulling them out of darkness and into eternal glory.

"By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: 'To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.' 'Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against him. In the LORD all the offspring of Israel shall be justified and shall glory.' " Isaiah 45:23-25 ESV

The sun will set on laws and rules. One day prisons, bars and hospitals will shut their doors forever. The structures will fade and only people will remain. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that right standing was only found in one place and one person.

Jesus is that person.

"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12 ESV

We have only ever seen life out of one pair of eyes. We have only heard words through one set of ears. It should not seem strange that history would have it's hinges set on one person. That person is not us. It is Christ.

"At that time Jesus declared, 'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.' " Matthew 11:25-30 ESV

It is the Father's gracious will that no one who Comes to Christ ever comes to Him 'in vain.' If we come on our deathbed or right now this morning... if we come once and exchange a few words or a ten thousand times in a lifetime. Each interaction is golden and remembered.

Thank you for this one open door God! Thank you Jesus for being our way, our truth and our life.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Grace Changes Our Pace and Methods

"He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, 'Let me go, for the day has broken.' But Jacob said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.' And he said to him, 'What is your name?' And he said, 'Jacob.' Then he said, 'Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.' Then Jacob asked him, 'Please tell me your name.' But he said, 'Why is it that you ask my name?' And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, 'For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.' The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip." Genesis 32:23-31 ESV

This is such a rich account. Jacob and God. The Liar and the King. The man living out the consequences of his fallen schemes face-to-face and toe-to-toe with God. Grace prevailed... not morality... grace had victory and everyone left a winner. The liar left the field of battle with a new name, a blessing and a limp. Grace crippled Jacobs ability to function in natural strength.

"Then Esau said, 'Let us journey on our way, and I will go ahead of you (literally 'along with you'.) But Jacob said to him, 'My lord knows that the children are frail, and that the nursing flocks and herds are a care to me. If they are driven hard for one day, all the flocks will die. Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, at the pace of the livestock that are ahead of me and at the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.' So Esau said, 'Let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.' But he said, 'What need is there? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord.' So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir." Genesis 33:12-16 ESV

Jacob loved Esau but would not mingle his provisions with him. He could not walk along with him. Jacobs strength had changed and now there was a reliance and appreciation for God. Not a far away God. Not just the God of his father. Jacob met the God who wrestles with liars. Jacob was wounded and blessed by grace personally. Grace wounded his self life and changed his brisk pace of self indulgence to a mindful slower pace of love and shepherding.

Esau wanted to love Jacob but with assistance mixed with control. Jacob lived in the blessing and that was enough for him when God's personal rouch was fresh in Jacobs mind..

"And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother. ... God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. And God said to him, 'Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.' So he called his name Israel." Genesis 35:6-7, 9-10 ESV

God kept reminding Jacob that He had a new life and a new provision. The illumination of grace renews our consciousness to the new identity we have been given and recenters us again.

"Then God went up from him in the place where he had spoken with him. And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. So Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel." - Genesis 35:13-15 ESV

Grace is not just a victory in a moment. It has durability. God's character meets us in different place and times and when different weaknesses are being manifested and yet He speaks that same words of undeserved favor phrased in slightly different ways and our landscape becomes scattering with monuments to His love for us and unfailing commitment to us.

Once the liar has been crippled by the cross and what it means the person that remains does not need that again and again. The new person needs reminders of what the cross has accomplished so that monuments to grace along a new pathway can be built and a new life can be established on the Rock.

God help us today. Let our weakness make us mindful of the weak and frail but center our identity in You and not in weakness or in strength. Make us ministers that leave manipulation far behind us. Grace has dealt our old methods a deadly blow but given us a new road to walk that is full of glory. Thank You.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Stand Firm In Freedom

"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1 ESV

I love this verse more today than I ever have before. There is a relaxation in this verse. Christ becomes an oasis of refreshment here.

Christ has freed us to have freedom then He wants us to let grace train our will to live in freedom. Oppression has formed lines and imprints in our soul that cause us to retreat back to bondage.

Why did God free me?  Love, That is why. Now I wait and stand in that knowledge. Ok, It's time to move on and do something else. No. No. I won't. I will stand here and not be moved from love. It is here that truth can cleanse me. It is here grace can teach me. This is the place where Christ washes my feet and I must just be still and receive it.

My old nature is uncomfortable in this place. That is fine. He can just die as far as I'm concerned. If I let him live He will infect others with his self knowledge.

The new man is a free man. The free man moves as God leads him. A grace man learns to stand in that freedom and enter into that rest.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Firstfruits of The Spirit

"The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:16-25 ESV

Hope is a beautiful thing. God issued the decree of death to Adam in hope. The hope was based on Christ's death, planned before the foundation of the world, and that people would take the way given to them out of the grip of evil. In would be an end of madness and a new beginning for every willing participant involved.

God did the hard thing... but He did it in hope.

We often groan but we do it having 'the firstfruits of the Spirit' if we know Christ. The first fruits are that first and best part of the harvest given to God before any person partook of the rest of it.

Grace is God's first and best given to a hungry world before the hunger is yet satisfied with the promise that it soon will be satisfied. We are God's firstfruits. The cross will heal the world. The stripes on Christ's back are the proof that man and creation will one day live free of evil and sickness. His blood shed means that no one else will be judged for sin.

The Spirit in us that produces hope will also produce patience. That's good because we are going to need it. Lot's of it.

As we know from our relationship with God to date... God has no shortage of patience. He is patient with us and He will give patience and longsuffering to us.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Grace Advantage

" 'If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.' And he said to them, 'Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.' And he said, 'The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.' And he said, 'With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?' " Mark 4:23-30 ESV

The rich get richer and the advantaged get more advantages... this is the way the world is and it is and not about to change. There is a subtle twist to the concept in these verses though as far as God is concerned. Where is the hearing if no one is speaking? Where is the farmer if there is no seed from some other crop?

Grace multiples but there must be connection to the source in order for that to happen. Grace defies fairness on multiple levels. God gives the same reward to those who come last as He does to those who come first (see Matt 20:1-15) and He rewards those who take what He has to give. Both center around God's generosity. Grace focuses on the giver and the source of life. It brings glory to God.

"Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted;" - Jude 1:11-12 ESV

Cain hates grace. Grace leaves no place to display your talent and effort. So did Balaam and Korah. It leaves no back door for blessing. Politics and soul power will buy you nothing in the Kingdom of God.

'If you have ears to hear, hear this'. Grace gives capacity from God and then maintains connection to God. He is the life in the seed and His wisdom strings words together in coherent ways that profit the hearer above those out of earshot.

"Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" Hebrews 1:3 KJV

Someone with ears hears and realizes that God is the One who binds things together. It is by His words that all things have order. With the will a person chooses to keep hearing and by God's will more and more is given to the listener.

The listener is not given more glory or power... the listener is given more access to God's glory and power.

That access makes our face shine like Moses' face was shining after leaving the presence of God. Moses hid his face because that is what the law does. Grace displays the glory of God like a light on the hill because of it's inclusiveness. Yes. Riches are handed out to those in arms reach but everyone who wants to be included can be included.

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30 KJV

"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Revelation 22:17 KJV

In the Ark there is safety. On the Rock you will be sheltered from the strife of tongues. Go to the place of provision. Draw close so you can hear the words of the Savior.

Help us God to use our ears today and to restore our spiritual hearing somehow we have lost sight of Your Son.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Safe Place

"And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? 'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.' It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?" Hebrews 12:5-9 ESV

Did we all have father's like this? Perhaps not. Correction in a safe environment is a very beautiful place where wisdom and acceptance are mixed together. A place of limited or diminished danger but where experience is imparted because of care. Grace creates a zone of safety.

We have all been in situations where correction meant danger. Fight or flight kick in. We must defend ourselves against the adversary. We must win. It is kill or be killed. A job might be at stake. The spot on the team might be lost and the scholarship that goes with it if we show weakness of any kind.

Not with God. Oh no... Not with God. God fosters an atmosphere of learning in safety. At our worst God wants us. Grace invited us in at the height of our disqualification and showed us the power of love to give us a place of rest.

If I sense danger the urge to hide or resist can be there quite quickly and learning or turning gets put on the back burner.

"And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me! I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly." Proverbs 5:12-14 KJV

We can look back at the things that people tried to teach us and regret that we didn't receive them. We were so consumed with our self in avoidance or resistance that the lesson came later when it could have been sooner.

"For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? " 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 ESV

Grace is dangerous to the natural man because it removes the illusion of complete autonomy, self-reliance and solitary accountability. Grace provides safety to the one who can rest in a love they could never earn.

Grace removes the measuring stick that causes us to fear anything that would make us feel we fall short and reveals people who love and honor one another. Everyone becomes someone we can learn from. God is someone who has something we need and we are safe enough to get it from Him in humility.

There will need to be adjustments today. Changes in course and places where we must change our minds... or let them be changed... if we are going to adapt and grow. If we stand in grace that won't ruffle us... adaptation can happen in a fluid way.

God teach us today... you are our gracious father and there is so much we can learn from You today.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Evaporate the Old and Distill the New

Thoughts that pass through evaporation, Heavenly condensation and distillation do what they were sent to do.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:8-11 ESV

Water is a solvent and picks up impurities easily along the way. Evaporation removes the impurities and leaves them behind. Then up, up it goes in the air until the conditions are right and the vapor condenses and is heavier than the air around it and down it comes to wash and water the world.

God's thoughts are holy and pure like distilled water. Evaporation is the ultimate filter because water temporarily changes form and that form is not a liquid or a solid.

It makes me think of the the Crucifixion, Burial, Resurrection and Session (seated with Christ) cycle. The cross evaporates our person. We survive the process in a different form. Instead of being a liquid human being we are a vapor human being with different properties.

That vapor floats in the Heavens. That vapor can be sent by God to where He wants it.

There is a cycle that keeps our thinking clean where the cross is dealing with the old and there is renewed newness.

My thinking is like a swamp or an iceberg. I want to live in the light of God countenance where there is release in love to join Him in the Heaven's and be sent back down to Earth as He pleases.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Seek the Invisible

"As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18 ESV

At the heart of the spiritual person is someone who sees the unseen. It is detective work of a kind but not one that uses the intellect in a deductive way to piece together clues. It doesn't match the obvious to the obscure a make startling correlations. No. This is a different kind of detective work.

"It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter." Proverbs 25:2 KJV

"For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV

Is it blind faith? Is it deaf faith? Yes, It hears only it's masters voice. It seeks only the eternal. The lamb nature response only to the master's voice and looks for a 'city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God' (see Heb 11:10)

The Love that our heart needs can only be found in the eternal.

"There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' " - Luke 16:19-26 ESV

I like the phrase in the KJV... 'a great gulf fixed' one man saw the invisible and the other didn't. One man had a name on a spiritual level and the other didn't.

Only the craziest of the crazy and the sanest of the sane see the invisible.

Faith sees a Love by the light of grace. God illuminates the invisible by His presence.

If we walk out the door looking for what can't be seen we will see all that we need to see this day. What should stay hidden will stay hidden... the seen will have purpose and right perspective. We will walk in the light as ones led be the Spirit of Grace.

God will use the Bible as His voice if we have ears to hear. It is not an angry voice or a judgmental one... the seeker of the invisible finds divine appointments filled with grace, mercy and truth.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Knowing God Is Personal Is Our Heritage

" 'You shall loosen your hand from your heritage that I gave to you, and I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever.' Thus says the LORD: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land." Jeremiah 17:4-6 ESV

Grace is our heritage. The faith of the Son of God is the mode of operation we have been given... His faith in His Father has become our faith. Our enemy is not just the thing that is actively against us... It can be the things that are just impersonal to us... laws, principles and policies that do not have us as individuals in mind.

If a use credit without paying it back in a timely way I will soon begin to work for my creditors and earn them money. Anyone with a large credit card bill can attest to the truth of that principle.

" 'Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.' The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? 'I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.' " Jeremiah 17:7-10 ESV

God is not nor will He ever be impersonal to our needs and desires. He knows and He cares. Yes. He has knowledge and and He was compassion. Jesus knows just what it is like to be us.

My heart is deceitful in many ways, and that is an understatement, but one of them is to make God impersonal. God is not a creditor. All debts have been paid as far as He is concerned. If I abide in grace my roots will go deeper and deeper. Fear will not be a primary motivator. The fruits of love will continue in seasons of drought.

"Like the partridge that gathers a brood that she did not hatch, so is he who gets riches but not by justice; in the midst of his days they will leave him, and at his end he will be a fool. A glorious throne set on high from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water. Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise." Jeremiah 17:11-14 ESV

We are faced with options every day. Faith living or sight living. Hyper-spirituality uses subjectivity to deny reason and makes God a piggy bank for the flesh. We don't have a God that wants us to ignore reality. We have one that wants us to live like He is personal and connected along spiritual lines. Faith is a higher law that does not negate reality. It simply opens options that the natural man has no access to.

God wants us to be salt and light in the place and time we are living in now.

"Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:2 ESV

The 'grace economy' not only makes things possible... this faith give us assurance that God will be seen and the invisible will be made visible. If people refuse grace that is their decision but on a deep level they will have been exposed to something divine and that exposure will have multiplying consequences in their life for the rest our their life.

If you are in debt up to your ears. Fear not. You don't owe the Eternal King anything. Go to Him and trust in Him. He will help you.

We add but God multiplies. The steps might not be easy but God will do the work if we let Him.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dressed Up In Our Minds

"Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, 'Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously. And He said to them, 'Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?' But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." Luke 2:46-52 NKJV

I really like Jesus' 'what did you expect attitude' here. It isn't teenage rebellion but it does show a clash of sorts. Jesus was sure of his identity but those around Him either didn't know or fully understand what that meant.

He submitted as the picture of meekness and humility but did not lose what he knew to be true. Something was added to Christ's Earthly life over time in that process.

I can berate myself mentally today. That may be my default way of thinking because of active or passive graceless voices that I heard growing up... or expectations of myself that fall short... I can undress myself... or I can dress myself up in my mind with a garment of righteousness.

"Do not let your adorning be external... but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." - 1 Peter 3:3a-4 ESV

Christ put on the robe of His identity in His mind and when it came time to express it He did effortlessly. It was who He was.

We have a suit and tie to put on in Christ. We have a jewels heavy on our wrists and neck. Like an older generation that dresses up to go sit on the porch or make a trip to the store we can put on our identity derived from our Father this morning.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Walls Become Doors

"May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed! Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen! The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended." Psalms 72:17-20 ESV

The provision is so immense that it covers every person. Let word of it fill into every ear and mend every heart. God's Love is so great it could fill this planet like an ocean can fill a tea cup.

"Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, 'Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.' " John 20:19-21 NKJV

Christ passed through the wall of fear to reach these people. Our walls are no obstacle for Him. Our limits do not limit Him. Seeing Christ transformed them. The walls must have faded into the background.

They saw the hands and side of one who passed through Death and returned to them with a smile. No door stopped Him because He was never going to leave them or forsake them to their fears.

"And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.' " - John 20:22 NKJV

He showed them the way out of fear and let them inhale what He was exhaling. They needed a deep breathe of hope.

There is a lot of talk that reinforces the walls of fear... not grace. Grace words pass through the walls and give you air to breathe again.

I'm taking a good look at Jesus today. He survived the un-survivable. He didn't dodge the bullet He took the bullet. Now nothing can touch Him and He is in my life and He is not ever going to go anywhere. His peace can take me out of whatever is keeping me in. His purpose displaces my need for survival and His glory fills the Earth.

"Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen! The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended." Psalms 72:19-20 ESV

I want my prayers to end here also.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Price of Idleness

"And they said, 'If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for a possession. Do not take us across the Jordan.' But Moses said to the people of Gad and to the people of Reuben, 'Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here?' " Numbers 32:5-6 ESV

Does love let me sit idle? It's a question I think about often. God has blessed me and other could have what I have but I could spend to much time enjoying my blessings when really in God's eyes there is warfare happening that I need to enter into.

"And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. ... And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. ... And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. ... And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other." Genesis 13:1, 5, 7-8, 10-11 KJV

We know what happened to Lot right? He ended up in trouble... more trouble than Abraham could bail him out of this time. Sodom was slated for destruction... but it looked good to Lot at a time of strife. Lot was looking for what was a good deal for him and his family and basically said, 'Let Abraham go to war without me. I'll choose what is good for me and my immediate family.'

This is just my meditation. Where is loyalty in my life? Maybe relationship are worth fighting for? It's not works and it's all grace... but perhaps it's good to step back in the heat of the moment and say, 'What is the value here?' because looking out for number one in the situation may seem good in the short term... but is it in the long view? Is it God's mind.

Don't get me wrong. Christ ascended into Heaven after His Resurrection and left us and the World behind in a bodily sense. In that way He moved on but at the same time He never left us or forsook us. He didn't leave for greener pastures. He didn't exit the battle. He took on a new role in a new phase of His life and ministry.

I went to a face-to-face service for a woman this last weekend. She never put anyone in here rear view mirror. She had a prayer journal and it just got longer and longer even though she moved to different cities to live near different relatives in the last two decades of her life. Here relationship continued in prayer even if they were separated by distance.

That moves me. I want that. I don't want strife but I don't want ease either. I'll have ease in good season and when this 'corruptable puts on incorruptable' I will be able to handle that liberty without getting myself in trouble by 'lifting up my eyes' in the wrong direction.

I think God gave us prayer and these relationships that at time rub us, at times, in the wrong way to preserve our lives. We may think we do others or God a service by praying for them or remaining connected when really it is God's provision to keep us grounded.

Friday, August 2, 2013


"But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:25-28 ESV

This is such a great passage. I don't know of any quite like it in the scriptures. It reveals the inner communication of the Trinity in such an intimate way. That word 'groanings' just hits you in such a special way.

Maybe we have had our groaning times. A yearning that is so broad that it defies description. The Greek word can also be translated 'sigh'.

God does this for us.

You don't sigh for someone if it is impersonal. Groaning are personal.

God has the details covered that we don't or can't have covered. His will is to be so much a part of our lives that He sighs at the details and has a plan that will work out for our good in every situation.

I don't think anyone could ask for more than that.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Keeping Alignment

Reading the Gospel accounts you don't see Jesus as someone looking to leave His mark on the World. He is not someone who is drawing much attention to Himself. Yes, People are following Him but He says things that seem to purposefully drive them away at times. Then there are the accounts where He asks someone to keep quiet what He has done.

"And he asked them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Peter answered him, 'You are the Christ.' And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him." Mark 8:29-30 ESV

Here He was happy to let someone else get the credit for what He had done.

"Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast." So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, 'Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.' This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him." John 2:7-11 ESV

From a very early age as soon as we know that our action affect the World around us we delight in doing things that change the World. If one child pulls another child's hair and there is a reaction the child who does the hair pulling may laugh because they don't understand about causing other pain yet but they begin to see that what they do affects the World around them. Children may use crayons for that purpose also. Art at it's root is the production of something that imitates the beautiful or affects the perception of others. The artist makes a change it the World and that is gratifying. Children will draw all over the walls and floor leaving their mark.

Jesus used His will but not for change. He strove (if we can even say that) for alignment.

"In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God." Luke 6:12 ESV

He had that alignment and He kept it all the days of His life.

"And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one." John 17:11 ESV

"I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me." John 17:20-21 ESV

I want the same alignment That Jesus has. Winning the World was Adams charge and saving the World was Jesus' charge. I don't have to do either one.

"He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.' " Acts 1:7-8 ESV

In prayer we can find the way to behold God's work and explain that work to others. Fulfilling that purpose brings a joy that can be found in nothing else.