Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mark Them

"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

There are some hard truths sandwiched in that group of verses. I think they are best served up as a sandwich. It starts with love and it ends with grace. The God who deals with obstacles, divisions and evil is a God of peace who promotes peace among the breathren.

The word 'mark' in verse 17 is Skopeo (Strong's G4648) and it speaks of awareness or attention. Not social ostracization or attack. The different doctrine that is problem is the teaching that acts as a snare or creates obstacles that block people from growth.

Flattery is not fellowship but a naive person may not know this is true. The word for evil is Kakos (G2556) and the word translated naive is Akakos (G172). Being naive is being unaware of evil. Being naive is dangerous. Grace teaching is wise teaching that informs of God's goodness and protects a person while keeping them innocent (unmixed) with evil.

Like a good father our peace filled God stomps on the head of the snake.

Love and grace provides vision and ability to scope out the things that slither so that they won't cause division. Naive love not strong in grace teaching can easily fall prey to counterfeit doctrine. An the other hand excessive violence devoid of grace may be applied to the situation resulting in destruction of another kind.

"Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works." 2 John 1:8-11 ESV

This verse is even stronger and a historical frame of reference is important here in order to understand this verse. Teachers traveled from place to place and stayed in believer's houses for periods of time while they taught. The greeting here, coupled with the stay in your home, is not a casual hello or goodbye with a handshake. It is a more formal greeting like the letter a speaker might be sent inviting them to come speak at a graduation. If you invite someone to speak you are giving approval to their teaching because they came at your invitation or you responded to a blanket request made by them.

Pastors who put politicians or philosophers into the pulpit may become partakers of the evil of that powerful soulish person. As John said, 'Watch yourselves.'

I want to be rightly related to these verses as a minister of reconciliation and as a protector of the weak and innocent. Spiritual life is not all smiles and handshakes but it is all about grace, truth and love that makes a difference.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Grace Reveals Heavenly Policy

Binding and loosing is a great concept to know and think about. Of all the Bible translations I think Kenneth Wuest handles these next verses in the most illuminating way.

"Simon Peter said, As for you, you are the Christ, the Son of God, the living God.

And answering, Jesus said to him, Spiritually prosperous are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you but my Father who is in heaven. Moreover, as for myself, I also am saying to you, You are Rock [petros, masculine in gender, a detached but large fragment of rock], and upon this massive rock [petra, feminine in gender, feminine demonstrative pronoun cannot go back to masculine petros; petra, a rocky peak, a massive rock] I will build my Church. And the councils of the unseen world shall not overpower it. I shall give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth [forbid to be done], shall have been already bound [forbidden to be done] in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth [permit to be done], shall have already been loosed in heaven [permitted to be done]." Matthew 16:16-19 Wuest Expanded Translation

He said that to Peter but Jesus says this to all His gathered disciples.

"Assuredly, I am saying to you, Whatever you forbid on earth, shall have already been forbidden in heaven. And whatever you permit on earth, shall have already been permitted in heaven. Again, assuredly I am saying to you, If two of you upon the earth are in agreement, concerning every matter of which they ask that something be given it shall become theirs from the presence of my Father who is in heaven. For where there are two or three who have been joined together into my Name with the result that I am the common object of their faith, there I am in their midst." Matthew 18-18-20 Wuest Expanded Translation

The Jesus who sits in Heaven at the right hand of the Father is present with two or more that gather and function in objective eternal truth. God's indwelling presence becomes a manifested presence.

Binding and loosing finds a conceptual parallel with the role of the priest examining a leper in the Hebrew scriptures. The priest does not heal anyone. They examine and they make a declaration based on examination.

Leviticus chapter 13 and into 14 talk about what should happen if people show symptoms of having a plague. They are to be brought before the priest and examined. The priest is to look for specific things and then shut the person up away from the population for 7 days at a time then look again. If a person is determined to be clean they are released if not they are banned from society to protect the community at large from infection. They were 'binding' and 'loosing' people based on the law.

The believer has the authority to bind and loose under grace. The finished work is our criteria. The message has the power and God is in our midst when two or more are gathered together. The Gospel of Grace declares what has happened and what Heaven's mind is on what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. Jesus' work is accepted as clean. Man's work and unredeemed nature is unclean.

Grace sets people free. God's presence in the midst has the power to set people free. If the truth is refused man's true nature is still revealed and the illusion of a freedom separated from God is exposed as a false reality in that person's thinking.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." John 3:16-18 ESV

A believer is loosed and edified by agreeing with Heaven's perspective. That release is like a near death experience. Life becomes precious and new.

In passivity we can opt out of our privilege of being communicators of God's mind. We can put our light under a bushel. There is another way to live.

"O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles." Psalms 43:3 KJV

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


"Peter said to him, 'You shall never wash my feet.' Jesus answered him, 'If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.' Simon Peter said to him, 'Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!' Jesus said to him, 'The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.' " John 13:8-10a ESV

"They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! - assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:19-24 ESV

"Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator." Colossians 3:9-10 ESV


A word of grace is a new communication that reveals newness. Old things are passed away and we can stand upright and look into the eyes of newness.

Today is a new day. By God's grace I am going forward in it in newness.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Grace Until Things Are Wrapped Up

"He gave me instruction and talked with me and said, 'O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding. At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision. Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.' " Daniel 9:22-24 NASB

Here we see the finished work of Christ laid out in time and space. God gave Daniel, a man in captivity in a foreign land, the blueprint and time frame for His plan of salvation. The next verses get into specifics about the breakdown of those 490 years (one week is seven years) and what will happen in broad strokes.

When the seventy weeks have expired here are the things that will have happened:
- Transgression will be restrained
- Made an end to sin
- Made reconciliation for all participation in evil
- Everlasting righteousness will have been brought in
- The door will be closed on the prophet or visionary ministry
- Holiest of the Holy will be anointed

Sixty nine of those weeks have transpired. One week is left and it is suspended in history. God abandoned His temple in Israel and stopped the prophetic clock leaving the last seven years to play out on a future stage (see Daniel 9:26-27)

The church and we ourselves are caught between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel.

Sin is paid for but not everything is sealed up just yet. God in His mercy and long suffering held the door open for us to come in. Soon that door will be shut and the last events will unfold and what is finished in our hearts will be finished in the world at large also.

I look at that list of things and reckon in my heart that the work is finished. Receiving Christ puts us on the other end of those things. We will be ushered into them but God sees them as already on the account of the believer.

Christ said this to the Israel that rejected Him.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.' " Matthew 23:37-39 ESV

One day a nation will say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.' and Christ will come to them.

Those who believe now have already said this statement because grace has been revealed to them. He gathers them all under His wings and loses no one who comes to Him.

There is a yearning in us to see God take possession of what He has paid for. Until then we continue to receive grace and point people to the open door.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Grace Transforms

A nugget from last night: 'Grace Transforms'

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2 ESV

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being TRANSFORMED into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV

"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was TRANSFIGURED before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus." Mark 9:2-4 ESV

All of theses are this same Greek word Metamorphoo (Strong's G3339). This is not a cosmetic change. This type of change has been compared to the change a butterfly goes through in it's life cycle. The change from an Earth bound creature into a beautifully colorful one that flits through the air lightly on wings. I like that imagery very much.

This morning I was thinking differently about this. Jesus' change is our change. His transfiguration was a revealing of what already was and will forever be. But, Unlike the butterfly He returned to an 'Earth bound form' to go back down the mountain. Those two disciples could never erase the image of His brightness and Heavenly fellowship from their minds. Peter speaks later about it in first and second Peter.

"So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed" 1 Peter 5:1 ESV

"I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. ... For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts," 2 Peter 1:13-14, 16-19 ESV

This transformation lists these words in this order in 1 Peter 5:1

Revealed (apokalyptō - G601) | Glory (Doxa - G1391) | Partaker (Koinonos - G2844)

Transformation at it's heart has these three aspects. There is fellowship in it. Jesus was not changed alone. As He brightened Elijah and Moses appeared. There was glory in it and there was a revealing not only of what would be but of what already was. Finished work reality was revealed in time. It was unveiled.

Now back to the first statement. 'Grace Transforms'

Yes it does.

Grace reveals that the partaker has a glory that belongs to God. As the partaker partakes glory is revealed. One day the glory that is will literally change our bodies to match what we have but we have it now as partakers of grace.

The butterfly transforms alone. We don't. Truth revealed is a conversation with two or more participants. Transformation is not just whiteness and brightness... it is fellowship. God may cut His stones in private but the glory comes when He places them in His temple.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Grace Allegiance

"Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." Matthew 12:30 ESV

There is no neutral ground in that statement.

Many people have said the first part of the verse. We may have said it. From any other mouth it speaks about loyalties or allegiances. A 'whose side are you on?' test to marshal power or leverage. Or it can be a confrontational tool quickly identify an overt enemy in a potential future conflict.

When Jesus said this it meant something different.

Here Peter tried to manufacture a sincere answer to a question Jesus never asked him:

"Peter answered him, 'Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.' ... Peter said to him, 'Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!' And all the disciples said the same." Matthew 26:33, 35 ESV

Jesus gently said to him:

"Jesus said to him, 'Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.' " Matthew 26:34 ESV

If it were about loyalty Peter would have passed the test. His desire was real. Loyalty wasn't enough in this case. The forces involved here are not just political or social. This was a spiritual issue not a heart issue. Will power is an illusion in a spiritual battle. Will is not excluded it is just not a deciding factor.

If I try to make this a loyalty issue I may use the second part of the verse to prove my loyalty. I try to gather instead of scatter but in doing so I find that scattering becomes the result.

Receiving grace is the only way I can be 'for Christ.' The Holy Spirit must make my human spirit alive at the moment of my salvation and then as I walk in newness the human spirit is freed from the bondage of 'soul attachments' by the word of grace (see Heb 4:12).

A 'graced out' person is one who is 'for Christ' and they gather as a way of life. They stand in grace (see Romans 5:2) so they walk in Love (see Ephesians 5:2)

Peter says this at the end of his first book.

"I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it." 1 Peter 5:12b ESV

Amen to that! I want to use my will to stand in the faith rest of grace today.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Spirit's Ministry of Conviction

"Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged." John 16:7-11 ESV

The only faith that works is a faith that is working by Love. The only way to have that Love is if the Holy Spirit sheds it abroad in our hearts. Only new wine vessels can hold that Love. Old wine vessels just burst. That which is new must have a birth that came from the seed of the Word of God. That seed is incorruptible. That seed names the name of Christ who is the only name under Heaven that men might be saved and made new.

The Spirit sheds the Love of God in that which is new. He sheds conviction in that which is old. When does that happen? This verse gives that dynamic clearly if positional truth is understood as a doctrine.

HE CONVICTS OF SIN. In a finished work the Spirit convicts of sin. He convicts the one who does not believe in Christ and the one who is not believing in Christ. What would be Love shed abroad for the new man is conviction in the soul of someone living in old things and methods. It is not 'fear that has torment'... that comes from another source. The old man loves darkness as a shelter and falls prey to those things that live in darkness.

"Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God." John 3:18-21 ESV

Believing ends our isolation. Grace removes the reasons we thought we needed to be isolated. Grace is the channel that reveals God's kindness that has no condition and a holiness that has no compromise.

We may believe in Jesus but in certain areas and under certain conditions abandon Him. The Spirit who will never abandon us will convict us. Not people or law... the Spirit will do it as He wills. He does it so we will believe. Belief is important to God. He can only fellowship with us in newness. Old things as far as He is concerned have passed away.

"Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison." Matthew 5:25 KJV

The adversary here is the Spirit of God. Belief in Christ is our plea bargain that keeps us from the trap of the old life.

HE CONVICTS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. There is no righteousness outside of Christ. Christ is seated at God's right hand of approval. No one else has righteousness but Him. The one who believes in Christ is seated with Christ in that position. We have a breastplate of righteousness because the Spirit Gives it to us (and the Church since the armor is a corporate experience).

Everyone in the world without that assurance is jockeying for position in some way. They are looking back into the past for approval and forward into the future to get it. They want people on the left and right that they approve of and that approve of them.

The Spirit of God makes sure that if a person doesn't find rest in approval that is not centered in Christ. He also makes sure that those who find Christ find approval. This is part of God's work in the world for this season of history.

HE CONVICTS OF JUDGMENT. Evil has been weighed in the scales and found wanting. Past tense. Evil and the whole system it has produced has been judged and is under judgement.

That sparks anger and discomfort is the old man and relief in the new one. The old man wants what it knows. It wants the good things and the bad things in a Love / Hate kind of way. Those things have an illusion of control, possibilities for advancement and a way to preserve self.

The new man derives hope and relief from the knowledge of an end to contradiction and darkness and that the Sun of Righteousness will one day rise in the East (see Malachi 4:2; Matthew 24:27). Justice will one day be served up hot for a kingdom that desperately needs a kick in the teeth.

If we live in grace conviction is a good thing. It is a steering mechanism. We can quench the Spirit through rationalization. Or grieve the Spirit by a life of unbelief that bears fruit of unbelief. A return to the law will just bring us back into another kind of bondage and we will find no solution there. Conviction should bring us to Christ. Grace gives us a clear path to get to Him and find newness. When we live in newness conviction turns to love and we have vessels that can hold that love and distribute that love to others.

God... Help us today... turn me and I will be turned... speak to me and give me ears to hear what you are saying. Turn me to your Son and keep me from turning inward for answers and direction. I trust You today. Thank You for the work of Your Spirit. I can't imagine life without it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Breath of Life

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you." John 16:12-15 ESV

There is a person who makes words edify. Nothing is Holy without Him. He is the truth and breath of supply. He is someone who has always been and will always be. By grace he unlocks the treasures of Heaven and gives us what no man or creature could reach or conceive of.

"Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" Philippians 2:4-5 KJV

We passively allow a treasure from God's storehouse to be ours. Life. Life as a gift that flows from the vine to the branch and produces fruit in the form of love. Christ is the doorway by which that treasure flows.

Words that bring an eternal gift are a gift.

The giving of the Spirit is in line with the mind of the Father and the mind of the Son. The Son Is God made flesh and given form according to the Father's plan. The Spirit unveils the invisible Father using the visible Son. Words become a vehicle for Life to be experienced.

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV

They are living words because of the person is behind them. The Spirit is like chemist using the periodic table of the alphabet. Letters are formed into words that have structure as vehicles of understanding. The words have someone who sees behind them. The phrases reveal what is seen.

There are other chemists that play with combinations. Their concoctions also have structures that dazzle. Words that are empty and words that are full of that which is not holy. The breath is another breath. Not the Spirit of grace and truth but something else. That Spirit is inhaled and exhaled but life is not it's source and not it's result. Those words are not a gift. They old and lifeless and eventually leave you gasping and dying for lack of air.

"But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." Luke 11:20 ESV

Jesus is the finger of God reaching in and clearing the air. The Spirit is the fresh wind that blows in from Heaven and banishes the haze so that light can shine on our minds. He fills our lungs so we can breath in sweet air.

"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." Romans 10:17 ESV

As believers we can inhale words made by the master chemist. Those words become a remedy... a doorway... revealing the lover of men's souls. Then we exhale again what we ourselves have breathed in.

God... Help us... fill us. Enlighten our minds with what you have done so that we bring the fresh breeze of clarity with us wherever we go. By your finger banish the clouds of our self life and the haze of the world. We want to be different even as we are different walking in the finished work of Christ and having words that communicate Life.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fireproof Victory

There is a victory that has been put on our account as believers in Christ. Perhaps we want ownership of that victory. Why wouldn't we? Our victory is in our connection to Christ and that connection can not be severed. We believed and God saved. The whole operation was possible because of grace.

Here is Jesus imparting a truth to the disciples. It is before His crucifixion and all of their lives are going to change forever soon. He is giving them words to prepare them knowing that there is no context for them to understand the words yet.

" 'Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.'

Peter said to him, 'Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.'

Jesus said, 'I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.'

And he said to them, 'When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?'

They said, 'Nothing.'

He said to them, 'But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.' " Luke 22:31-36 ESV

God has the power to keep us. When our good intentions fail us. When our faith mechanisms change form. The missionary sent out with little but it is multiplied on the field in a sustaining way returns to their home country and has to find a job to support his or her family. It might feel very mundane but the God who was with them when they were sent out is the God who is with them when they come back.

The tragedy may come that rocks our faith to the foundation. Death, sickness, career changes and changes in Church leadership. These things happen... what will happen to us? Things won't be the same... we won't be the same.

I love verse 32 "I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." it is written in red. These are Christ's words.

We think we own the victory. We want to own the victory. The victory really owns us. That is why conversion is possible and the connection will never be severed.

This circumstance is the extreme case. It may only happen once or a handful of times to us in our lifetime. But the principle is one we can live in. It gives us a confidence.

Grace is durable. When I say Christ performed so I don't have to and Christ was responsible so I don't have to be. The weightlessness is refreshing and we go out ministering with no moneybag expecting that God will provide. Works get pushed to the back burner as a distant but still accessible option. But then the bottle of trouble gets uncorked and the unthinkable happens and we realize we are not surviving on our own power. God is keeping us by grace through good decisions and bad... God's grace is durable. The illusion of our good intentions goes out the window.

Grace gets worked into us by God. We wrestle with it and we seek to grasp it. But really it holds us all the while. The trial whisks away the chaff... that is what sifting does... then a strengthening of the brethren ministry can begin in force.

Just like gold needs fire to be purified and have the dross rise to the top and be taken away. Our Grace based theology also benefits from and withstands the flames and we are reduced to grace and nothing but grace.

Religion is not fire proof and some folks spend their lives rebuilding cathedrals. I want to spend mine strengthening the brethren.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Common Ground

My thought today was about common ground... how important it is. This is a good verse.

"Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common." Acts 4:32 NKJV

The first part is beautiful. It talks about a unity that is only found in love. The last part shows a one of there reasons there is no division. Common ground.

'All things in common' is composed of two Greek words Hapas (Strong's G537) which talks about wholeness where there is no exclusion and Koinos (G2839) a word that denote the ordinary nature of something. It is some thing that was not sanctified for holy use.

How many of us have realized that a relationship with a person was really based on some key issue, thing or association only to have that thing taken away. A thing we had both made 'holy' in the wrong way. When that thing changed or disappeared so did the relationship.

The Acts 4 church saw things as common and people as holy. They had no division. Now, The things those people owned, the places they sent their children to go to school and all the other trappings are gone. They are all still together today in Heaven.

Grace makes common people holy and holy things common. Everyone can meet there on that common ground. Not everyone will... but everyone can.

Things will get shaken up. Some time and some day there will be shake ups. We are often surprised at what remains. I know I am.

I want God to help me properly categorize what is holy and what is not. It is the only way to be a true friend that I can see.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Elasticity of Time Because of Love

"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." 2 Peter 3:8-9 ESV

What a fascinating set of verses. They say so much about God and who he is. A thousand years is far beyond any one man's or woman's lifetime. More happens in a thousand years time then any person could hope to really know. It displays the grandness of God's scope of perception.

At the same time it shows God's ability to 'stretch out' time or 'compress it' it is linked to His priority system because the next verse explains God's heart of redemption. A day is a long time because God wants to save and a thousand years is a short time because God wants to save.

People have used verse eight to try and rewrite the creation account in Genesis and stretch it out. That never sat well with me. The Bible is a literal book unless it is clearly figurative. If you compare line upon line that becomes abundantly clear.

I think a verse like this speaks directly to our lives in a different way. We have all had to wait or endure a season of some kind. We have all had days that seemed to stretch on forever and seasons that seemed to pass in a blink of an eye.

Memory, endurance, patience and desire are all connected.

"Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, 'I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.'... So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her." Genesis 29:18, 20 ESV

Lust can't wait but love can. Jacob loved Rachael and served the years he needed to and then doubled that time again to be with the one he loved. His love gave him elasticity in perception. That is what love does.

"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained." Philippians 3:14-16 ESV

If we set our eyes on redemption... our personal need for it and attainment of it in Christ... today we can see the redemption that has happened in eternity past and on a cross two thousand years ago personally... we are dead and done and yet saved and safe because of Christ... and then set our eyes on what is outside of us and see events through redemption's eyes. If we do that time is no rigid thing. It does not tick by in an endless march. Eternity comes into time and gives us a new way to see things. Time stretches and compresses.

How long is the wait to see a loved one that has gone before us? It is like a thousand years and it is also like a day. How long can we wait for the person who has a hardened heart to come around? A steady dripping of Gospel soaked love will erode even the hardest stone if given time. Love has that time.

It may take a decade to build a church in a city. What is decade to love? It is a happy moment.

Then we have today. Is it important? The little decisions we make... do they have weight? To God today is a historical era of great complexity and length. Redemptive perception can buy back this day. What we could not earn in a thousand years God wants to give us in just one day of believing. Gold. silver and precious stones are riding on our disposition today.

I am going to set my face on Christ today. I'll let the Spirit stretch my perception of space and put me right there at His throne beholding Him with the eye of my imagination.

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith" Hebrews 12:2a KJV

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:1-2 ESV

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ESV

Gazing into the face of freedom we are made free.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Free From Gravity

I love verses like this... in just a few sentences they get down to the root of the issue. No muss. No Fuss.

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life - is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." 1 John 2:15-17 ESV


Those three things are the root of everything that is wrong. Our flesh interacts with a fallen world system at these three junctures... what my fallen body wants... what my fallen mind wants... and 'the pride of life' can be translated 'the boastfulness of biological life'. These three are then broken down in different ways and categories but at the root we have these three. The need for praise, control, sensual fulfillment, riches, revenge, boasting, lying, jealousy and even our need to perform so that we can have good things to say about ourselves all narrow down to this small group.

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." James 3:17 KJV

Grace gives us free interaction with God's kingdom and that interaction is pure. Shalom is fulfillment. It does not need to steal to get it. It does not rob God of glory. Peace just is. Peace dwells in love.

All of that other stuff has an expiration date. Not love. God's love never expires.

We can't disconnect ourselves from the three operations by which the world interacts with people but God has disconnected us by giving us a new nature to function in when we believe. That new nature has nothing to do with those interactions.

"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." Philippians 4:6-9 KJV

Daily death, burial and resurrection is the key to functioning in the new man and freeing us from the old one.

"For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 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. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace." Romans 6:7-14 ESV

I am confident that if the Gospel of Grace lives in me then the love of the Father will be in me also. Living in love is living in freedom. Heaven is free from the gravity that holds things down in the world.

Our freedom becomes a witness. Our peace and love shine a light that comes from God. Our words can then explain to others how they can have what we have.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thoughts About Donkeys

Reading verses about donkeys this morning. Interesting stuff. Spurgeon mentions this reference in his evening devotional (Exodus 34:20).

"All that open the womb are mine, all your male livestock, the firstborn of cow and sheep. The firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before me empty-handed. ... Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the LORD God, the God of Israel. For I will cast out nations before you and enlarge your borders; no one shall covet your land, when you go up to appear before the LORD your God three times in the year." Exodus 34:19-20, 23-24 ESV

But donkeys end up in interesting places.

"You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit.

If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.

You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his lawsuit. Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked." Exodus 23:1-7 ESV

The donkey reference is slipped in between the lawsuit references to reset the tone of things.

Here is an account of a prophet told not to 'eat, drink or return the way he came'. He would not be disobedient for a king but he was for another prophet and then this.

"And as he went away a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the donkey stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body... And he went and found his body thrown in the road, and the donkey and the lion standing beside the body. The lion had not eaten the body or torn the donkey." 1 Kings 13:24, 28 ESV

It is also used in Exodus chapter 22 a chapter dealing with restitution.

"If a man gives to his neighbor a donkey or an ox or a sheep or any beast to keep safe, and it dies or is injured or is driven away, without anyone seeing it, an oath by the LORD shall be between them both to see whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor's property. The owner shall accept the oath, and he shall not make restitution. But if it is stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner." Exodus 22:10-12 ESV

There is much more to this. Spurgeon likens the donkey to a person. Reading it this morning I see it more as a vehicle or pet project. God also has His own pet project.

"And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 'Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!' " John 12:14-15 ESV

His vehicle is a new vehicle and the purpose is redemption.

Where is Jesus in relation to my projects and plans. Does the first born belong to God? Is the God of Grace riding in the center of my lawsuit? Perhaps if I saved me neighbors donkey there would be no lawsuit.

If my plans are not redemptive I want to be ready to give them a quick ending and not ride them into compromise with the lion and the donkey standing by looking at my lifelessness with others making reports about it.

What will bear our burdens? Will we come and 'appear before the LORD' today? The God of all Grace will do something special each time we come.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Provider and Warrior

"And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, 'Are you for us, or for our adversaries?' And he said, 'No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.' And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, 'What does my lord say to his servant?' And the commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua, 'Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.' And Joshua did so." Joshua 5:11-15 ESV

I don't think I ever saw this progression before. The manna ceased because the people had been brought fully into the land of promise and the leader of the LORD's armies appears. Joshua has to defer to that leadership. Going into battle holiness must trump delegated authority before Jericho's walls are to come down (see Joshua chapter 6).

Joshua didn't cease to lead but he was discouraged indirectly from taking on a new role that wasn't his to take. The Hebrew word for the captain or commander of the LORD's army is Sar (Strings H8269) and it speaks of someone who is fully in charge because they have been given that right directly from the King. That person reports directly to the King.

The Israelites learned that God was their provider and now they would learn that God was their warrior. They did not fight alone nor did God fight to win their battles. He is not for us or against us in this respect. The war is not what we think it is anyway. We see the war as being primarily about our interests and we look for allies in that fight.

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33 KJV

The moment we passed over chilly Jordan into the promised land there was a faith exchange. Instead of trying to make things happen... our effort becomes the effort of shoe removal. Our labor is the labor of entering into the rest of the finished work. Our leadership is to lead in submission to the captain of our salvation. Christ has His sword drawn and we fall on our face before that reality. There is a land to be taken but grace is the only way it is going to happen... not effort only grace.

We lead people into the promised land. That is evangelism. Then we lead people under the King of Kings. That is edification. Earthly leaders can become little gods to their followers. Spiritual leaders magnify God and impart a way to eternal perspective. They are keepers and deliverers of God's message of Grace. They give the Gospel and live the Gospel. The battle is the LORD's battle.

Is He for us or against us today? That is the wrong question. Behold the grace of God and take off your sandals. You are walking on holy ground.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Voice from Heaven

We are drawn by a voice. It is a sound we hear in our spirit not in our ears.

Something deep in God longs to connect with something deep in us.

"Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me." Psalms 42:7 KJV

The water of the sky meets the water of a lake or ocean and there is an upward drawing and intermingling.

"Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you." Philippians 3:13-15 ESV

"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began" 2 Timothy 1:8-9 ESV

The set apart Ones are not fooled by sight. Results are measured by focus on God's purpose and reveling in God's grace. They see outside of time and space because they hear a voice calling them that is eternal and sits speaking from eternity.

"Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house." Hebrews 3:1-2 ESV

Heavenly brothers, who share in a calling, fellowship around Jesus.

Faithfulness is not continuing to do something. It is continuing to hear someone and operate in what you are hearing in meekness and humility. What we hear can lead us into years and years of moving in a consistent direction. When someone serves for decades is registers as noteworthy to us. That is God. The call might result in a week long mission trip to a place we will never return to or a conversation with a stranger or loved one that is devoid of familiarity and filled with freshness. Those are also noteworthy and special.

If Heaven seems silent it is good to trace our lives back to the last thing we know we heard and dwell there for a while. That is a good place for the waterspout to touch down again. There is music in that event, place or word from Heaven. A called one has a soul that hears and is able to respond and sing along.

"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." Colossians 4:6 ESV

God's calling is seasoned with grace. What we speak is the manifestation of what we hear. Grace always communicates the high, the holy and the Heavenly.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Spurgeon ended his evening devotion for today this way, ' patience let us possess our souls.' and what great biblical advice that is!

"Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist... By your patience possess your souls." Luke 21:14-15, 19 NKJV

These words are couched right in the middle of prophecy. Jesus is talking to people who will see these things fulfilled within a generation then reflected again in the latter days with their children's children. The concept is referred to as 'The Dual Fulfillment of Prophecy' and it is worthy of study because much begins to make sense once you apply it it to the scriptures involving the end times.

"Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." Luke 21:32-36 NKJV

Prophecy has an echo. Something happens now in the hearers lifetime and then later again in an amplified way. It this case it would be trouble that echoed.

History is an echo chamber but our soul does not have to be. We don't have to replay our words again and again in our minds reviewing what we have said or will say. Patience quiets the self reflected noise. God's Word echos in powerful ways outwardly and ours does not have to inwardly.

Inner recriminations and rehearsals exhaust us and make us look for the external relief that non-thinking 'carousing' brings. They become weights we look to be relieved of. Instead of inner self talk we can communicate with God. We cast our care upon Him. In humility we ask for direction in confidence.

"They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience." 1 Timothy 3:9 ESV

This verse speaks of people who do work related to the church but it applies to all of us.

We can possess our souls in patience when God's words have made their way inside our thinking. Faith can be held on to. This involves our will, a kind of Christ oriented focus and settled decision making (reckoning) that someone who has a living Spirit has rights to participate in. A natural person can believe in themselves or something else with limited power. A spiritual person invests faith and is held by the power of the One they believe in.

Quietness inside is a possession that we don't have to relinquish. Forces try to wrestle it from our grasp but we possess it by faith as we possess our own soul.  

Let's fight the good fight of settled faith today. God wants us to have all that He has given.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Full Attention

I was thinking last night of the great value of attention... real focus... taking note of what is being said or done in detail. If we are been trained in some way we apply focus to what is being taught so that it can be learned and retained but that same focus has great value in our lives in many places.

"And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law." Nehemiah 8:1-3 ESV

For many this was the first time these people heard the Bible taught in this way. The had had principles and moral-isms no doubt taught to them by their parents but now they were going to hear from the scriptures directly.

"Then he said to them, 'Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.' So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, 'Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.' And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them." Nehemiah 8:10-12 ESV

They cried and then laughed because of what they heard. Suddenly their lives made sense in a way it never had before. Eternal perspective... grace perspective... had made the day a holy day.

"And they found it written in the Law that the LORD had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, ... So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim." Nehemiah 8:14, 16 ESV

God's word revealed many things to them and they began to live in the word and what it said. It lived in them and they lived in it. That attentiveness that they brought to the scriptures because of hunger and lack of familiarity was then able to be brought to other things and circumstances.

What if a husband decided to live in the book not 'do it' but live in it so it would live in him? What if He made a decision to love his wife as Christ loves the Church and then study his wife in detail? What would he learn in those times of observance and asking questions? It would change his marriage for the better wouldn't it? By studying her inside a principle he would learn how to apply that love in new ways. God would teach him.

What if parents studied each child while the grace of God and the Bible inhabited their thinking?

What kind of neighbor would this make us? What kind of friend would we be?

Is it possible we are trapped in crystallized structures and don't even realize it? I think it is. We build social rules devoid of grace and inattentive to truth all the time unless this process is active in our hearts.

It's easy to pass judgement on the person who parks so badly that it nullifies a spacing space next to them for use or the person who jumps into the elevator before you have time to get out. We can set our attention on rudeness, it is all around us, or we can have attention on redemption.

That is the heart of a missionary really... isn't it? To go to a place and be redemption's 'man on the ground.' To be the eyes, ears and hands of Jesus in a culture or situation. To liberally spread the seed of the Gospel each place they go... having eyes open to see where to spread it next.

We can practice God's presence. God is here. His book being opened on our lap and in our mind has made today a holy day. Eat the fat and drink the sweet wine of grace. Then we look to see who is without it and go send portions to them.

God... open our eyes today so that we see. Give us questions to ask and be answered that will illuminate our circumstances and relationships. Make our life a life of prayer, praise and holy inquiry. You have answers for questions we have not thought to ask. Today is a holy day... what happened before in low living need never be repeated. We walk on a upper highway of praise. Let our perspective change our actions. Cause our cup to overflow with grace and mercy so that it pours out on others.

You are attentive to us. God, Give us that same capacity.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It Is Not For Sale

"O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called 'knowledge,' for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you." 1 Timothy 6:20-21 ESV

I taught a class last night and when preparing to approach an academic theological subject you need to have 'all your ducks in a row.' The class was slated to be just shy of two hours long so we covered a fair amount of material in that time. I prayed it wouldn't be just knowledge and yet at the same time it was an academic setting. It was a faith adventure for me.

It made me think of this charge. We are guardians of truth and investment not peddlers of knowledge.

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ESV

Lucifer had a self knowledge that brought him low.

"You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries" Ezekiel 28:14-18a ESV

Looking into the heart of darkness we see a salesman. He sold Himself a lie dazzled by beauty given to him but claimed as his own. He was able to draw away 'a third of the stars of Heaven' with his tail (see Rev 12:4) dooming them to share his fate.

The truth is given not sold. It is a guardianship. The Gospel of Grace is a pearl of great price.

"Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding." Proverbs 23:23 KJV

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" Titus 2:11-13 NKJV

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Colossians 3:16-17 NKJV

Grace has become our teacher. Love is the lesson we learn. We are guardians of a gift that we give to others. The truth is never for sale.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Until We Meet Again

"I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." Psalms 37:25 KJV

It takes time to see the scope of God's care.

There are many people we know and perhaps we are not deeply involved in their lives but over time we find ourselves running into them again and again sometimes it is a a span of years before the next encounter. That is how it is with some relationships. Life rarely goes as planned. Maybe you get a season or more than one to really know a person and form a relationship. Once formed the relationship is forever but time is like a river... It keeps on flowing and bringing us to different ports of call.

The thing that shocks me when I suddenly see a person after years and years and realize God has been with them all along and cared for them. It should not shock me I know... but it does. Maybe because our perception revolves around us and our five little senses. We live our lives in a ten foot radius. Everything outside of that is theoretical. Things and people that pass out of reach may never return... we don't know. It's good if we don't take for granted the seasons we have. They will end and another will begin soon enough.

"As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." Proverbs 25:25 KJV

News from a far away place and good news that blankets a span of missing years is so welcome. It is a witness to us of God's faithfulness. God's work is so large and vast. It is sure and lasting.

Grace means so much. To understand it and embrace it.

"The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens; By His knowledge the depths were broken up, And clouds drop down the dew. My son, let them not depart from your eyes - Keep sound wisdom and discretion; So they will be life to your soul And grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, And your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror, Nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; For the LORD will be your confidence, And will keep your foot from being caught." Proverbs 3:19-26 NKJV

Today I'll be praying for some friends who are far away. Some are far by distance and others are far by years.

I am confident that God will keep their feet from being caught and will hold them close to Himself.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fruit with Seed

'And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, and he said it should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar.

He said: 'Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen! Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult. You mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew or rain upon you, nor fields of offerings! For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil. From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty. Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles; they were stronger than lions. You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel. How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan lies slain on your high places. I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women. How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!' " 2 Samuel 1:17-27 ESV

I've been reading several different portions today and they all minister to me in some way but this one just struck me and reverberated.

One of the concept we spoke about last night at coffee was reproduction. Something that has life reproduces that life. God made living things to be reproductive. This is true of a Church, of a person and of a message. The Gospel of Grace is a reproductive message. It is good seed.

"The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:12 ESV

David's epitaph for Saul and Jonathan is a beautiful one. It is full of grace, honor and finished work perspective. He honors friend and enemy equally. It is God's anointing on Saul that mattered not Saul's actions toward David.

It is this little phrase that especially interests me in verse eighteen '... he said it should be taught to the people of Judah ...' because David's seed was making more seed. He had it in his mind to teach honor, grace and finished work perspective.

God's life is a life that multiplies.

Any number multiplied by zero returns a zero. This is called the 'zero element' or the 'zero property of multiplication'. If we magnify ourselves life what will we get?

David was not magnifying himself. He lived a life that magnified God. David's thought life was fertile soil for God's multiplication. God anointed David and David, unlike Saul, responded to grace and David had life that multiplied.

We are going to make decision after decision as we move through life. Those decisions can function as spiritual birth control. They may purposely hinder reproduction to preserve our self life.

We all want to grow but growth and fruitfulness are linked. Why would God continue to grow something that is not fruitful?

God help us. Show us the difference between what is reproductive and what is not. Help us to make decisions that give room for multiplication. Today will be an extremely productive day if we walk it with you.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Cure For What Plagues You

"So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, 'If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' They answered him, 'We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, 'You will become free'?' Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:31-36 ESV

Fear, guilt and shame. Individuals deal with them and they rule cultures in varying combinations. We are very naturally attracted to people who seen immune to these motivators. They appear to be the 'alpha dogs' to our fallen animal nature.

Shamelessness is anathema to the religious man but it is very attractive to the natural one. Freedom from shame seems like paradise. So does freedom from guilt and fear.

"Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, 'Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.' He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 'As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.' " Psalms 2:1-6 ESV

The King God has set on His right hand is the King of freedom. Perhaps God laughs because of the misplaced blame. Whole nations blame Him for their bondage and conspire to have Him removed from their schools and gatherings. They want to take knowledge away from their people thinking it will cure them from guilt and shame.

Empires and cultures have tried to do just this thing. They have come and gone but God remains forever.

God says to His Son...

" 'Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.' Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him." Psalms 2:8-12 ESV

"The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward." Psalms 19:9-11 KJV

Grace is a kiss. Be afraid not to live in it. Why... because of consequences? The consequences are not the guilt and shame the world projects. The clean awe of God is the beginning of wisdom. This love casts out all imitations. This fire will not burn us. It will only consume our bondage.

Once you kiss the Son He makes you free... really free. You become free of the guilt people impose on you. Free of the shame that makes you want to hide. Free of a life of avoidance.

That is what fear with torment does it makes people hide and do whatever is required to avoid pain.

"If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." 1 John 1:6-7 ESV

People have turned this verse into some works program but read it. Who hides from the light? What child skulks in the shadows and takes a long way home. A child who is avoiding someone they are afraid of.

If we face God and kiss His Son then we will soon be convinced that fear of anything is needless and obsolete. What guilt? What shame? They do not exist when standing before God... only love, acceptance and memories of God's faithfulness.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Falling Seven Times a Day

"Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous; do no violence to his home; for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity." Proverbs 24:15-16 ESV

The number seven is significant. It means completeness. In Leviticus they did many things seven times including sprinkling the altar seven times to cleanse it and make it ready (see Leviticus 16:19.)

If someone someone fails seven times it means they are a perfect failure.

" 'Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him.' The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith!' " Luke 17:3-5 ESV

If they 'sin against you' seven times a day they are a perfect nuisance and you would have to be a perfect Saint to put up with them. 'Increase our faith!' sounds like the right thing to say if someone is going to be that annoying.

No one wants to fail that much or have to forgive that much. No one wants to be knocked down again and again. We want to be the one who rises every time... that is a virtue. Tenacity... having the never give up attitude. We want the power to continue and triumph.

"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 40:28-31 ESV

Power! Yeah that's what we want. Who wouldn't want it. Who wants these titles. The perfect failure? The perfect victim? The perfect forgiver??

The question is... will the winner wait on God. That's in there nestled in that verse. Will the young strong man who has never tasted failure wait? Will a taste of failure be enough?

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23 KJV

"As it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.' " Romans 3:10-12 ESV

These verses basically declare every person a 'Perfect Failure'. The question is have we come to terms with the fact. To a partial failure a gift is a nice bonus on top on what ever it is they earn by their own power. To a perfect one grace is life because it is all they can ever have. The perfect failure can learn to wait on God.

God gives a specific warning to people about messing with a righteous person. He basically says, 'You don't know who you are messing with. That person may look like target but they know how to wait on Me.'

I am going to start my day out as a complete failure. I reckon it is true in my mind now before my day really starts. Then I am going to wait on God and ask Him to fill me with His Spirit. Failure isn't going to make me subjective if it is perfect failure. Partial failure will cause me to be introspective but not perfect failure. Why look inside for improvement if my failure is complete?

From zero something truly amazing can happen. God does the lifting and God does gives strength that renews and renews. Winning is not the issue any more. Christ has won and we are His conquered ones. It is ironic.

Let's face it... God has a good sense of humor.

Only 'Perfect Failures' can be 'Perfect Forgivers.' Only perfect failures want to be.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Making the Trip Home

"How lovely is Your tabernacle, O LORD of hosts!" Psalms 84:1b NKJV

Reading Psalm 84 over and over again. What a Psalm. It is like proverb after proverb strung together. Truth wrapped in praise and longing.

"My soul longs, yes, even faints For the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home, And the swallow a nest for herself, Where she may lay her young - Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts, My King and my God." Psalms 84:1-3 NKJV

God's house is our home. It is a miracle that there is a place at the table for everyone who comes. It is a place where they are safe to do the most important things in life like giving birth and raising a family

"Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; They will still be praising You. Selah

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.

As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools." Psalms 84:4-6 NKJV

Notice the three aspects of interpreting a proverb from (September 17, 2013)

> Synonymous Parallelism (Repetitious) - Repeating to reinforce a truth
> Antithetic Parallelism (Contrastive) - Just as one side or concept is true
> the other opposite concept is also true
> Synthetic Parallelism (Completive) - Expanding a truth with a new or
> reinforcing truth

The Selah is a trigger for this kind of contemplation and thought. These three concepts can be in our mind as we read and worship.

Blessed people who call the tabernacle their home are a thankful people. Those same people find strength in God (linked to living at the tabernacle) so their heart makes journeys to find God even when they are far away. They cry but their tears change the landscape. Their tears are mingled with tears from Heaven to become beautiful drinking places.

"They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion.

O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah" Psalms 84:7-8 NKJV

Each one is strengthened. Each one has an audience with God..

'Jacob's God' refers you back to Jacob's life... a liar... a wrestler... a man blessed in spite of himself... fruitful with many children... humble and having power to bless others in the end... If you heard his prayer God hear mine. If grace is the order of the day then I will make claims based on grace.

The Psalmist leverages grace. God must make room and God must hear him because it is the nature of His deity. God's track record demands it.

"O God, behold our shield, And look upon the face of Your anointed." Psalms 84:9 NKJV

Jesus is our shield. In a sense we blind God with the glory of His Son and sneak into His house, sit on His couch and raid His refrigerator as one of the family.

"For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness." Psalms 84:10 NKJV

Now we have an antithetic parallelism after many synonymous and synthetic ones (see above). The worship builds and builds in intimacy then breaks into a comparison. It reinforces truth to block against future temptation that is coming down the road. When the Psalmist is tempted or when he feels like Jacob he goes back in his mind to where he lives... God's house.

"For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.

O LORD of hosts, Blessed is the man who trusts in You!" Psalms 84:11-12 NKJV

Those who live in God's house are not there because of merit. They are guests of the Son and the Father is blinded by His Son's glory. All guests are honored guests. God's house has many mansions. Jesus left long ago to prepare a place for us. We have one now if we want it and make claim to it. Even if we stray it lies waiting for us. It will be beyond what we imagine when we see it with our own eyes.

I can read this Psalm as Jacob but my heart makes a pilgrimage and returns home as Israel. Yes... We worship You God.

"How lovely is Your tabernacle, O LORD of hosts!" Psalms 84:1b NKJV