Friday, January 31, 2014

Of Osmosis And Autobiographies

I was going to write about osmosis but it got me thinking about autobiographies. I think the concepts are linked.

An autobiography is like a parable. If you focus on the details you miss the point. A parable uses the details to frame a concept. It is a fiction that is constructed to make a comparison or bring out a deeper truth. The reader doesn't know the people described or the setting or the time. Those things may mirror something in the readers life so there is recognition but the details are fictions in that they are someone else's story or perspective. True or untrue they belong to someone else and that person is using them to describe something to the reader that would be invisible otherwise.

A person writes an autobiography for different reasons. They want to communicate something about themselves. It could be certain lessons they have learned. Perhaps they want to dispel myths or preserve a time that only they are keeping alive. autobiographies are often used to write history but are not the best source of information because people lie in them or they just exaggerate because they have lied to themselves.

God commissioned four biographies about Jesus. The Gospels. In truth they are four autobiographies from four different perspectives. God can't and doesn't lie but a separation must be bridged in order for His mind to reach ours.

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." - Philippians 2:5-11 ESV

That brings us back to osmosis. If liquid with a higher concentration of salt comes in contact with liquid that has no salt in time they will mix until the two have the same amount of salt. There just needs to be a gap large enough for the salt molecules to get through. The two liquids need a point of connection.

Jesus is the gap where God can mix with man. Philosophy can describe the glory of God but gives no way for a person to access God's goodness. There is no way to tastes and see that the Lord is good by philosophy.

Grace opens the membranes between worlds. Once opened the infinite nature of God will fill an area of less concentration until it is full and the same. It will equalize but with infinity there is no end... no limit. There is an overflow.

"On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' " - John 7:37-38 ESV

To many people the Book is closed. It is just words on a page. It is just morality and human history. But to those that know Jesus it is a floodgate of glory. It is God telling us the story of His life and of ours in a mystery.

Parables must be heard in humility in order to be understood. Grace gives the divine meaning. It unlocks the mystery of Christ that God wants to reveal... He just needs to bridge the gap to do it.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Inside And Outside

This morning I had a thought and started to play a game with myself. It's called INSIDE / OUTSIDE and I started to think about different objects, places, things and people and ask God to show me things while I think of the inside and outside of them:

A HOUSE (this is my example one)
- Inside a house (people, furniture, a family, a washing machine, an oven, warm... picturing all the rooms, people and things that happen inside and what it looks like... placing myself in that perspective)
- Outside a house (lawn, windows, driveway, a tree, cold... look away from the house knowing it is right there... looking at the house from outside)


There is a physical inside and outside and then there is a mental or emotional one. A book looks a certain way inside but then there are the ideas on the pages... they transcend the physical to someone who can read the language they are written in. If you can't read the language the book might as well be a paper weight... the inside is art and not ideas...

Can we see the inside and outside of something at the same time? Can we look from each perspective separately?

Now some verses:

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean." - Matthew 23:25-26 ESV

First off... ouch... those are tough words... but very illuminating about human nature. God clearly sees inside and outside a person but people try to hide the inside... or they are blind to it... or they value the outside and what people see of their outside in a strange way. Knowledge of good and evil has done that to us. It has skewed our perception.

God... grace... works from the inside out. God cleans us inside and then the outside follows.

"And he said to them, 'Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. 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.' " - Mark 4:21-25 ESV

Both great INSIDE / OUTSIDE verses. Light by it's nature is good for outside use... what we are given is given for outside use... if they don't have an outside expression they are not valuable... they might even be dangerous or lost to us.

The person who is lacking and sees the one who has abundance and gets more and more can be in a place where they are tempted to envy... it doesn't look fair. It's not fair. But it is how it works. Grace must come inside in order for the order to be seen.

Will we allow God to broaden our perception but narrow our focus?

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." - Colossians 3:1-3 ESV

We are in Christ and Christ is in us. God is outside and inside. So are we. We have an inside life and an outside life (working, living, interacting in the world). I want to have more and get more in the spiritual economy.

"Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?' " - Matthew 16:24-26 ESV

With the cross as a focus we can live in a broaden perception. We can pour out what we have knowing no one can out give God.

Life needs to be poured out. That is why it was given. The Gospel needs to be shared, not hidden, put out on the table for all to see.

Like a little child I purpose to play a game today. Going with God and asking Him to show me things I have not seen so that I can live in a way that glorifies Him. It is going to be a lot fun. Happiness and brokenness fill me thinking about it.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Grace In Psalm Sixty Five: Vows Performed

"To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. A Song. Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed." - Psalms 65:1 ESV

That phrase 'shall vows be performed' caught me this morning... Neder (Strong's H5088) Shalam (H7999) the second word Shalam is the verb from of Shalom (H7965), the noun, translated peace and completion.

"O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come. When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions. Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple! By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas" - Psalms 65:2-5 ESV

Vows performed make peace.. but whose vows?

"the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy. You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy." - Psalms 65:6-13 ESV

It is true that by making a promise we plant something in the ground and by keeping it we reap a harvest. It is investment that brings a return. No investment no return.

What investment does grace make? It is the investment that makes the hills 'gird themselves with joy' and the flocks and grain 'shout and sing together for joy'... true Shalom... complete peace in prosperity. Not just a handshake that forms a bond that turns into a lasting relationship... that and more... much more.

"Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow... The sower sows the word... But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold." - Mark 4:3, 14, 20 ESV

"Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building." - 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 NKJV

"And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you" - 1 Thessalonians 3:12 KJV

Jesus paid His vow on the cross. Now grace make a vow that the relationship will be based on a gift and not performance. Jesus kept His vow and grace gives an increase from God's supply.

Being unequally yoked in marriage or business makes a commitment that can not be followed through on. You shake on it but it many times turns to vanity.

Grace makes a one sided commitment that it can follow through on. It doesn't shake our hand. The Father lays His hand on us because of what Christ has done and commits to us. That commitment will bear fruit.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Grace in Psalm Sixty Two: A Safe Shelter

Reading Psalm 62 this morning. It is so good.

"To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David. For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken." - Psalms 62:1-2 ESV

David speaks to the choirmaster about quiet. That alone has a richness to it. It can be 'music, music,and more music' on the outside but what about quiet. God counsels the musician about silence and waiting. There is time for both things.

"How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence? They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse.


For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken." - Psalms 62:3-6 ESV

I used to be a bit dismayed by the seeming paranoia of the Psalmists, 'Is everyone out to get you?.. Really?' But I see it differently now.. today.. human perspective is always seeking to 'topple the leaning wall'. The goodness of a good man still finds fault.. is critical.. disdains success that seems to exceed his own if the successful person is flawed in some way... and they always are.

But God is a fortress. He does not shake the thing that is leaning to watch it fall.. He provides shelter.

"On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.


Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath." - Psalms 62:7-9 ESV

Yes. Trust in the God of all grace not the illusion of success. Be transparent with the God who is a fortress. There is no refuge with the 'shake the tottering fence' crowd. Human opinion is weightless anyway.

"Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them. Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work." - Psalms 62:10-12 ESV

What God renders He renders based on love. We must see the last line in context with the rest. Grace is a refuge. The 'works' spoken of here is the contrast between those who point to the fortress versus those who push on the leaning wall and rock it back and forth until it falls.

Grace provides refuge. It is not interested in noise to drown out discouragement, success that throws money at the problem or extortion to leverage an outcome. Grace wants to give and give and give out of an endless supply of love. Grace wants to cover and teach people so they know where to go... not to human perspective... grace teaches us to seek divine perspective.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Salvation That Dissolves Guilt And Shame

"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. 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 3:16-21 ESV

John 3:16 is one of the most magnificent statements ever recorded. In one sentence it reveals God's deep abiding love and plan of salvation. The greatest love by the greatest person giving the greatest gift and saving anyone from the greatest danger an individual can ever face.

Then in the verses to follow Jesus dismantles evil's most potent weapon, fear, by dealing with the twin roots of fear... guilt and shame.

Guilt is fear because of what we have done. Shame is fear because of who we are. Our works in darkness prove our love for darkness and as creations made in the image of God this love of darkness creates a conflict. Shame is the evidence that the fallen world, that lays down in wickedness, has made it's way into our self image.

God never sent light to us to condemn us. He sent Jesus to save us and part of that salvation is the rooting out of guilt and shame.

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

Jesus not only gives eternal life. He gives freedom. Freedom from what we have done and freedom from seeing ourselves as dark beings who do horrible, faulty broken things. The condemnation we lived in is now gone. It was put on Jesus and nailed to a cross.

"This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 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 1:5-7 ESV

"But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, 'Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.' Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise," - Ephesians 5:13-15 ESV

Objective faith is what pleases God. Objective faith is walking in the light.

"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." - Hebrews 11:6 ESV

Jesus won us a great salvation. He died on a cross and now lives to hand us a gift of eternal life.. no strings attached.. no effort on our part.. a pure free gift. Salvation is a one time thing but freedom from guilt and shame is ongoing. Like Joshua we take back the land piece by piece even though before they crossed the river into the land God declared the land a 'promised land' and gave them the legal rights to it.

"Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father's Son, in truth and love." - 2 John 1:3 ESV

Grace, mercy and peace are the antidotes that counteract and overrule our fallen life. God gives them in objective love and it pleases Him when we have objective faith.

Today is a new day. Shame can have us hiding and flinching at life or faith can cause us to live in the freedom of the finished work. God isn't done giving us gifts. He wants us to own our day. He wants us to live by faith in it. Let's go take what God has given us.


Friday, January 24, 2014

The Wings Of The Morning

"Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,' even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you." - Psalms 139:7-12 ESV

What are the wings of the morning?

Heaven and Hell are invisible realms. Places we have heard about in scripture. Places we go in our minds and imagine but the sea is here on Earth. It has two 'uttermosts' also... the foreign land where life is new and different and the people are unknown to us and we to them. That uttermost is filled with new possibilities and in our imagination the things that limit us here don't exist there. We are Sinbad (the pirate not the comedian) or Robinson Crusoe, heroes and adventures... successes. In the other uttermost we sink down, down, down into the quiet depth of the seas.... in our imagination at least... it is quiet there and darkness. We are alone and numb.

The wings don't take us into God's realms... they take us into our own because the pressure is too great and the problems too real. We feel powerless and so we create a place of power and relief and go there in our minds.

God's right hand does two things in His realms and in ours. It leads us and it holds us. God's approval because of Christ's substitutionary death, His work on and now off the cross, make us a provision of approval. That approval guides us in spiritual things and out of fictional things.

"And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, 'He is out of his mind.' And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, 'He is possessed by Beelzebul,' and 'by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.' " - Mark 3:14-22 ESV

Notice the demonic labeling came after Jesus appointed the twelve. Once Jesus said 'These have special authority' that in when the pressure increased.

'Fly away little disciples' you didn't ask for this. 'Fly away Jesus'... but they didn't fly away. God's right hand was with them and all is bright to the Lord. They could live in delegated authority on Earth and not fly away to some fantasy or get to far ahead of God's plan. God's right hand let them live in the now with purpose and dignity.

God has given each of us authority in the Earth and visible authority to be accountable under in the Earth. If we can't be accountable to what we see how can we say we are accountable to the invisible.

The twelve were not perfect... one of them was a betrayer. Chew on that one. In that accountability our fantasies are put aside. The right hand of God is personal. It does not come because of our accountability. Jesus won it for us as individuals.

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness." - Psalms 51:12-14 ESV

God has His way of dealing with leaders. His right hand leads us and it holds us.

Let's look up at God and around at people today. Let's speak of God's righteousness and the approval available in the Gospel of Grace. Not up and away but in the now as sent ones.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thorns Outside The Garden

Thinking about thorns and thistles this morning and the difference between the garden and the world at large.

"thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field." - Genesis 3:18 ESV

God made thorny plants before He made Adam. They were there in the world. These plants just didn't pose a problem in the garden. It wasn't until the fall that they became an issue.

"A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed... And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it... And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature." - Luke 8:5a, 7, 14 ESV

There is something about thorns and thistles. You can't eat them and you have to be careful around them. Just ask any child playing frisbee in a field that has thorn bushes.

Thorny areas choke out truth.

"Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe." - John 19:1-2 ESV

They tried to mock Him and make Him a 'King of Pain' but in truth He was and is the King of Kings. He bore our sharp burdens on His head so we don't have to bear them.

"A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed." - Song of Songs 4:12 KJV

We are a garden enclosed. Thorns will be out there in the world but in our garden we have a grace relationship with God. Our past can't hurt Him any more. In the garden it doesn't hurt us. He plants nourishing food in our garden. There are wide open spaces to play and run in our garden. There is joy and communion there. It is cultivated place.

"In that day, A pleasant vineyard, sing of it! I, the LORD, am its keeper; every moment I water it. Lest anyone punish it, I keep it night and day;" - Isaiah 27:2-3 ESV

"Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall." - Genesis 49:22 ESV

God waters us so His plantings grow high and reach over our wall to others. What a beautiful picture that is of a life of faith.. of a heart established in grace.. The spring feeds a thought life that bears fruit and feeds others yet it is locked up so that it remains protected from defilement.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Moral Motives Or Spiritual Ones

Kindness is a great thing but why am I kind?' Correction is sometimes needed but why do we do it? Giving people room to be who they are is great but what is the motive.

Last night I watched two Ali vs Spinks fights on YouTube. The first fight was in February 1978 and the second was in September of that same year. Both fights were over an hour long from start to finish. Neither man was knocked out... they both went 15 rounds... the first fight Spinks won by decision and the second Ali won and regained the Heavyweight championship title. Both were brutal fights. Then I watched a few Tyson fight also. I watched them to study them and see what God would show me. This morning I am thinking of these passages.

"For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." - 1 Corinthians 9:23-27 ESV

"But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, 'If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?'

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose." - Galatians 2:11-21 ESV

Boxers may hate each other or respect each other but when they are in the ring they are there for a purpose. They are there to win. They train to win and study each other to win.

We win Christ. We want others to win Him also. That is our motive. It is not selfish or impersonal. It is the opposite of those things. It is love, mercy, justice and all the other attributes of God's character being worked in us and through us with grace and honor as our methods. Paul became a servant to people and went toe to toe with Peter because he was crucified with Christ and lived a life of different motives. Nullifying grace was not an option for him.

Paul did no random acts of kindness nor did he box the air. He loved on purpose and for a purpose.

You might be a gentle person or you might not be. Don't condemn yourself if you are not one. Learn from those who are and win Christ.

You might be tough or you might not be. Don't condemn yourself!

You might be kind or hospitable or giving or trusting... or you might not be in any given moment. Don't condemn yourself. Find God's mood. Find Christ in the finished work. Learn the scriptures. Be under a covering where you can train. Win Christ.

We agree quickly when conviction comes in and learn to adjust in grace. This adjustment is never a moral adjustment. It is always a grace adjustment. Our orientation is toward God, what He has done and what He wants to do in the lives of people.

This life has many seasons. There are some long hard woozy rounds we spent in the ring sometimes swaying a little but staying on our feet. If our motive is right we can live in Christ's victory and win each moment one by one. It might be a quick knockout or a victory by decision of the Judge of All Judges Himself. Some victories will not be seen until the end at the Bema seat (the reward ceremony for believers).

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me." - 1 Corinthians 15:10 ESV


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Faith Produced By Rhema

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." - Romans 10:17 KJV

This passage is so amazing when you look at the Greek. The 'Word of God' in Greek is Rhema (Strongs G4487) Theos (G2316).

In the following passage Logos (G3056) is used for word.

"Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God." - Luke 8:11 KJV

The logos is the written word or a concept that is intelligible to the understanding. The Bible is the logos of God's mind. Jesus is the Logos of God. He is what makes God understandable to us. The Logos is vital, pure and unique but it is not what produces faith. It provides a platform for faith to be produced but people can have Logos and still be as dead as a door nail.

In order for faith to be produced there must be a message that is heard but it must be a message that dawns on a person. It must connect in a deep way. The mind of God must touch the mind of man. It can't just be the persuasive argument coming from a learned person... it must be the life of God extended to the soul of a person... the mind, emotions, will, conscience and consciousness of self are all engaged. The Rhema pulls a person out of subjective living and invites them into objective reality.

This kind of hearing can produce transformation because faith is now involved. The logos comes alive. Our relationships come alive. Our purpose for living comes into focus. What God is doing and thinking becomes evident. Truth dawns on us and we are not living in the dark. We have a light.

Rhema doesn't tell you what you want to hear. It might say 'Dig ditches and God will deliver the enemy into your hands.' (2 Kings 3) and then the Rhema declares defeat in battle (1 Kings 22). People use the logos to make things come out the way they want it to. God's word is turned into a self-help manual. One of many on a shelf with all the others.

No. The word of God is more than that. Grace is the Rhema of God! Your flesh is going to die in the battle. Your Spirit will have victory. Grace unveils divine reality. The Gospel of Grace is the invitation into God's divine provision for salvation. It isn't going to save your self life. The unconditional nature of it is going to kill it. It is the love that will save your soul and illuminate your spirit. It will save you forever and moment by moment in the details of life.

Jesus did it all. That is Rhema. We can have the His righteousness placed on our account as a gift and only if we receive it as a gift. That is the provision. Then in that provision we can walk by faith into our day with a spiritual victory.

Let's walk in the Rhema that saved us. That might have happened moments ago or years ago. In that light God will give us more light... specific light for day ahead of us.


Friday, January 17, 2014

New Shoes And Places To Go Wearing Them

"For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." - Romans 11:29 KJV

The the gifts of divine grace, which range from salvation to the new powers granted to individuals as new creations, and the personal invitations of God are both things that God never turns Himself away from or regrets.

"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed... Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills." - 1 Corinthians 12:1, 4-11 ESV

"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness." - Romans 12:6-8 ESV

"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." - 2 Corinthians 9:15 KJV

"As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." - 1 Peter 4:10 KJV

There is so much to say about God's gifts. I think most people go through life understanding very little about God's generous nature.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." - Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." - 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

The gift of rebirth is such a wonderful gift. A vital indispensable ingredient to have a spiritual life. New eyes of understanding. New abilities. New Unbroken connection to God that is forever renewed. It is our salvation from Hell and from ourself.

The gifts are not going away. We may not receive them and that is sad but once given God does not even consider taking them away or being sorry that He gave them. They are fixed.

A calling is different. God thinks of it in the same way He thinks about a gift... no regret. It is an invitation into something new. Sometimes this has a wide window of entry and other times the window is short. God never regrets inviting us but we may not show up to see and experience what He has called us into or it may get postponed for long periods of time.

Gifts from God are good and perfect. A calling is a realm of possibilities. If we have received Christ we are all gifted and we are all called. Called to Him and called into adventures that He has planned for us.

"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began," - 2 Timothy 1:9 KJV

"Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:" - 2 Peter 1:10 KJV

"To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." - 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 ESV

Last night we were saying, 'Everywhere we go our feet are shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.' (see Ephesians 6:15). So no matter where we go today... who we meet... whatever room we go into... Jesus is there beckoning us to meet Him somewhere. He wants us to wear the shoes He gave us so we could go on a great adventure.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Starting In Stillness

It is a quiet morning and I am quiet also. There are things to do and I do them but my mind is clear and still like an early morning lake is clear and still. I am at peace.

Yesterday was busy... the day before also. The coming weekend ahead has totally changed. My great friend's mother has gone home to be with the Lord and now I will make a smaller journey to a different city go be there to hold my friend's hand and say goodbye.

In my stillness I pray for my friend. I am still and confident in God's power... in God's love.

"Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" - Psalms 46:10 ESV


"And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." - Joshua 24:15b ESV

There has been a change in venue... a grace adjustment has been made but the God I am oriented on is the God of all grace. The one who loves me without condition. The one who saved me completely by His power. The one who showed me the work of His Son and gave me a choice. In freedom He gently persuades me in things that I have little interest in and also things I have great desire for.

I am at peace. The God I am involved with is not the God of my ancestors circumstances nor is He the God of the Heathen land I live in now. He Is peace and I am at peace in Him.

Soon the day will be very full again. More changes... more work... more decisions to be made. The lake will ripple with activity but now here in the stillness I have made a choice. It is the same choice I made for the first time over 20 years ago.

Seeing the King... I rely on His strength... Seeing the cross I count on Christ's payment... His blood has purchased my pardon and blotted out my past... I take the cup of salvation and drink deep... The life I live now is His Life... any faith I possess is His faith... in freedom I choose to move forward.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Learning To Like Greetings

I like greetings... 'Hello, Good to see you!... a wave... I not only like them because they are pleasurable. I like them on purpose.

"Greet one another with a holy kiss." - 2 Corinthians 13:12 ESV

Many years ago in Bible college I was out with a few friends an outreach and I think we were talking about food and one of them remarked, 'I tried that but I can't like that.' It showed something to me about that person. They tried the thing, whatever it was, and wanted to give it a chance... they even tried to like it... but just didn't.

Back to greetings... There is just something about them. Some people greet others when they first see them that day and then that is it. They don't even look at the other person or acknowledge them again until something is needed. This can be the case with distant relationships or with very established ones where 'words are not needed.'

Different cultures value greetings differently. Each family does also. In part this can be a learned behavior or a tendency because of a genetic make up... both nature and nurture contribute something to form these patterns.

There was a point in time when I saw the value of the genuine greeting. It makes people feel special... important... it dispels familiarity... for a moment (or a few seconds) a person has the full attention of another person. Each greeting can be like putting spare change in a jar because recognition is at the heart of relationships.

Like anything the whole thing can be turned on it's head. People get mad if you don't greet them or people can give you the 'fish hand' with a plastic smile and words right out of a can and the other person walks away glad that part is over and they can move on. Greetings can just be part on the 'sales pitch' and both people involved recognize the phoniness of the interaction.

I love watching two 'grace' people greet each other. Two free people who don't do what they do because they must or because it is expected. When they come together and exchange words, hand shakes or give a hug it is always fresh and real. They are like two kings or queens meeting one another. It is royal and has historical significance.

I have learned to like greeting people and I do it all day long. I often greet the same people again and again without an expectation of response. It isn't that I greet them like an amnesiac who acts like they are seeing the person for the first time all day long but it is a greeting or an acknowledgement of some kind.

It's a little thing but this kind of regular exchange leaves the channels of communications open. People know they have value and they know that they can approach 'the greeter' to talk about deeper things or share what is on their heart in times of need.

It is also a great way to mortify self occupation.

If you live in Philadelphia it would be good if you like Philly Cheese Steaks. They are everywhere and of the highest quality. If you can't... well then you can't. If you live around people it would be good to love greetings. But the same thing goes.

Lastly, I like to greet God often during the day. He is always there but the same principle can be applied. Maybe the part of the reason God gave us sleep at night is so that He could get a greeting out of us in the morning. That's not a scripturally supported idea but it is possible. The greeting is a kind of prayer... it is a way of practicing His presence. Instead of a quick hello and there a long day ignoring Him until we need something it is a constantly renewed fellowship and communion in the Spirit of Grace.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Peace Filled Warrior

There is something heroic about a man of peace who stands ready to defend what is right and true.

"Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain." - Philippians 2:14-16 NKJV

"Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day" - Jude 1:3-6 NKJV

Jesus is both the Prince of Peace and the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He is a lamb and a Lion. He is the perfect man.

We look at Him and we are amazed. Somehow in each situation we are placed in there is a need for a balance of both aspects of manhood. A man of peace is needed and also a man of war. A woman of peace and a woman of war.

The battle is not a battle against flesh and blood and the peace is not natural either.

The stakes are high. Our families... our loved ones... our culture... our freedom... the souls of men and women... these are the things that hang in the balance.

Oh God. I must become less and you must become more in my life. Your Spirit filling and guiding and moving must be at the root of my thinking. Fill me today... make me a man of great peace who fights for the right things and in the right ways.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Holiness Becomes Grounds For A Declaration Of War

The Gospel of grace is not an 'anti' message. It does not debate or refute. It is a proclamation.

"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 5:13-15 ESV

"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

It is not anti-religion, anti-sin or anti-legalism. It declares something as holy and gives access to what is holy. If we remove our shoe in recognition our feet touch that holiness.

Once the person declares and holds to the realization of that new-found holiness there is going to be a conflict. That is going to incite a war because darkness hates the light. But the message is a message of peace.

God makes your family holy and then says, 'Take it. It is yours. I have given it to you' ... our job... our life... our call... our Church... our physical body... It is holy now that the Gospel has come in. We claim these things by faith and become salt and light in the middle of them.

There will be a contest. People will have choices to make. God won't override our will or theirs. But through it all God will be glorified.

The victory has already been won in the finished work of Christ. We walk in that victory.

Light dispels darkness. God used Stephen to plant and water the Gospel in the life of Paul the Apostle. Stephen never argued with Paul. He died as a blazing light in front of Paul's eyes.

If the Gospel is 'anti' anything... It is anti-death.


The Simplicity And Sincerity Of Grace

I have been jumping from theme to theme this morning looking at scriptures about redemption, deliverance and salvation. Each has a different nuance to it. Then I came upon this group of verses...

"For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end (as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus." - 2 Corinthians 1:12-14 NKJV

Redemption is interesting... The payment happened in the past but it will not be complete until God takes possession of what He has bought. This has not happened yet. That day is the day when clarity will be complete.

We can't really know each other fully until that day. We look at each other through eyes of faith understanding each other only partially. The thing that usually happens when we don't understand something is that we make mistakes and fumble around because of a lack of information. We jump to conclusions and make assumptions then afterwards we feel a little guilty or sorry for the misunderstanding.

Here Paul is saying he has a clean conscience because he functioned in simplicity and sincerity that was linked directly to grace. Grace works even when we don't see the full picture. Grace leaves no residue of regret in relationships.

"Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is." - 1 John 3:2 ESV

What we will be has not appeared yet but grace is how we will function in that future time. Living in it by faith now is an amazing privilege.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Recompence Of Reward

"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward" Hebrews 10:35 KJV

What has value? Where is the great reward? It depends on our value system doesn't it. If we value money then riches are a good reward. If it is honor then honor is good. Maybe it is social change... or the future generation. All those things have value.

In the grace economy faith is the thing that leverages future rewards. The justified person must live in and by faith. A choice is made to invest. There is some dotted line we mentally sign. It is an investment that may often be misunderstood by others but the payoff will come one day.

Faith can be like a retirement fund, a spiritual 401K.. we can't spend it now but the reward will be there later.

I spent a lot of mental time praying for people and thinking about situations today... some situations are ones that I can participate in and others are far from my reach... I can't make decisions for people but I can love, pray, believe and help in different ways as God gives ability and opportunity.

Does that kind of faith have value? I believe it does and because of that I can rest in the knowledge that God is moving and will move.


Outside Our Circles

"And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." - Matthew 13:57-58 KJV

"Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." - Proverbs 25:25 ESV

Let's go outside our circles today. It is warm and cozy in our warm little house but maybe it is outside that the message is going to be heard and God is going to move. I can know the face of my friend and loved one so well that I can miss out on the miracle. Wonderful things can happen when we come face to face with a stranger and share the Gospel with them.

Perhaps we go with the friend we know well but that venture, that lifestyle,  destroys familiarity in our friendship. We know each other and have a veil in front of our eyes about who that person is. Then after the fellowship and evangelism time the veil is gone again regardless of the outward results.

"Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith" - Galatians 3:5 ESV

How about bringing our children and going to serve and share with people? At the store with our wife in the checkout line. Not striving but in understanding. Familiarity will creep in all by itself. It needs no help. Unless we function in faith action we will be subject to whatever comes or reactionary because we are standing on our heels and caught off guard.

We are not on this Earth to just be nice people. We are here to love people and that is a different deeper thing than a nod or a joke with a stranger.

"How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written,

'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!' " - Romans 10:14-15 ESV


Friday, January 10, 2014

Survey The Structure

I want to be strong in the basics.

The columns that hold up our thinking must be strong... free of rot... free of termites or cracks. It is good to walk around slowly and prayerfully and survey the structure. Does the roof leak... the gutters... the windows... looking where the structure has settled and needs attention... is the basement dry... will the porch hold weight.

It is easy to go off on a journey in our thinking and leave our home unattended and to chase the grey areas but it is in rooms we live in that the form the tone of our lives. If they are cluttered and falling down that bleeds out into the rest of our life. Tight clear thinking that is defined and formed by the eternal is such a resource... not rigid thinking... flexible toned thinking.

"For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." - Psalms 119:89 KJV

"Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature." - 1 Corinthians 14:20 ESV

"But God's firm foundation stands" - 2 Timothy 2:19a ESV

Perhaps upon inspection we see that our structure is wrong... it wasn't based on who Christ Is and what He has done... grace is not the measure it was measured with... the windows don't catch the light so that we can see clearly from inside. The bushes need to be trimmed... the dead tree needs to be removed.

People often live with broken things. They have long complex work routes to get somewhere because they can't or won't fix what is broken. Often the fix is simple if they just return to the basics and repair the things that hold everything else in place.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Leaving The Cycle Behind

Sin cycles... who doesn't have them or hasn't had them at some time in the past? I am not writing this to make anyone introspective... so please don't be. Understand with me that this is a common condition to all of mankind. Sin has no power over them that believe.

"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 6:13-14 ESV

Samson's account is an instructive one. He had spiritual power manifested as physical strength. One day he lost that power.

"She made him sleep on her knees. And she called a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. And she said, 'The Philistines are upon you, Samson!'

And he awoke from his sleep and said, 'I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.'

But he did not know that the LORD had left him. And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison." - Judges 16:19-21 ESV

Did he sin one time too many? Will we? That question is just part of the cycle.

Yes, God convicts us of anything that lacks faith but He never holds the fear of judgement over the head of the believer. It id finished! Sin is paid for... period.

The cycle of sin is actually perpetuated by a fear of loss. Licence is granted by self to function in autonomy and the Sin / Guilt / Self Justification cycle continues.

Victory is linked to our calling and not to our performance. That is what Samson lost hold of that caused him to lose his power. He forgot God, lost a sense of His presence and the place he had in God's plan. He lost sight of who he was and it took him losing his eyes to give him vision again.

Will your sin find you out? It will. Can the cycle be short circuited? Let us go back to the context of the orginal verse.

"So Moses said to them, 'If you will do this, if you will take up arms to go before the LORD for the war, and every armed man of you will pass over the Jordan before the LORD, until he has driven out his enemies from before him and the land is subdued before the LORD; then after that you shall return and be free of obligation to the LORD and to Israel, and this land shall be your possession before the LORD. But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and BE SURE YOUR SIN WILL FIND YOU OUT.' " - Numbers 32:20-23 ESV

If they left their calling the consequences would become evident in time.

"Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;" - 2 Peter 1:10 NKJV

We have a High, Holy and Heavenly calling. We are called to God. To be with Him and function in the freedom of walking with Him in his cause and to function in gifts given to be used for God's purposes. God will then meet our needs in various ways as we move forward.

"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." - Ephesians 6:11-16 KJV

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:" - 1 John 2:1 KJV

Instead of falling asleep on Delilah's knees let's don the armor and join the ranks of the Spirit led. As we function in our calling with our feet shod with the gospel of peace the cycles will fall away with nothing to support them. When we fail we confess it and leave it behind us. Failure is not our identity. Heaven calls us by another victorious name and sends us. Let's answer the call.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Faith To Follow

I love when you see a scripture in a new context and it speaks to you in that context.

If we are not humble we can approach the Bible and just find verses that support the idea we already have formed in our mind. That is a slippery slope. It is like going to a counselor with a problem... We should be going for help or guidance through the problem but it is possible because of the difficulty we look for justification in our problem and a place to put blame or move blame away from ourselves.

We can bring our situation and life with us to the scriptures and have them speak to us in newness. That is a different ball game. In that place we receive a new provision and not a band-aid for an old wound.

I read these verses thinking about the woman's life before this incident and how it shaped her responses and actions in it.

"Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, 'Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.'

And Elisha said to her, 'What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?'

And she said, 'Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.' Then he said, 'Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.'

So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, 'Bring me another vessel.'

And he said to her, 'There is not another.'

Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, 'Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.' " - 2 Kings 4:1-7 ESV

She was in a tough place. She was married to a man of God for years and his death created a crisis in her life, a void. It made me think of Elisabeth Elliot. A wife of a missionary killed attempting to reach native people with the Gospel on a foreign field. Like this woman her husband's life left a legacy and a problem. God was up to the challenge of the problem and because of the legacy this widow knew where to go in her problem. Elisabeth Elliot saw great redemption in her life and went on to have a powerful ministry to many people.

Men of God are not perfect people. Pastors and leaders are not perfect. Not all people who stand and appear to represent God actually represent the God of all grace. True men of God are greatly out numbered by counterfeit ones. It has always been this way and will continue to be that way until Christ comes. But what a provision they are when you find them... imperfect men who know and point us to a perfect God and a often unexpected provision.

This woman didn't place blame anywhere. She had learned with her husband where to go and she went there. The provision required her to learn new skills in humility. She did what was needed and went back to Church, the equivalent of it in ancient Israel, and got more direction.

We have needed men to teach us not to blame. We needed them to point us to God in their generation. Then we, men and women, can teach those same lessons. Our provision is a provision of grace. That pathway to it must be shown to others in order for them to see it.

Follow the faith of the man who does not blame and preaches the grace message. If he is going somewhere and you go with Him you will see things you would not otherwise see. There will be challenges but there will also be great redemptions and redemption is where we see God manifested in the world.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Perception Has Power

Perception is such a powerful thing. How we perceive people and ultimately how we see God shapes so many things.

This is very evident in the work place... often it is not performance but perception of performance. It is not what we think or feel, no one can see that. It is the perception that has impact.

Grace by it's nature puts a monkey wrench in perception because it unveils something eternal. It does not ignore perception it just draws you beyond it.

"Abstain from all appearance of evil." - 1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV

"We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." - 2 Corinthians 5:12-15 ESV

People will think us mad but love constrains us in as winners of souls.

"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise." - Proverbs 11:30 NKJV

I want to understand perception but not function as a man-pleaser. Grace makes us into soul winners who are out of our minds but lovingly work to provide clarity so no 'air' forms in-between. Each relationship has some other soul involved that needs to be won in grace. That goes for edification and evangelism alike.


Peace Is Finding The Seated Saviour

Peace which passes understanding is the peace that Christ left with us. It is not circumstantial.

Jesus was relying on God's plan in the Gospels and He had this peace.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." - John 14:27 ESV

Now Christ is seated in Heaven and the Holy Spirit is revealing Him in all His seated glory. Christ's position becomes our experience.

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." - Philippians 4:7-8 ESV

Peace is what guards our hearts. The settled reality that our Saviour finished the work of salvation is intellectually true but knowledge is not enough. Knowledge would just be one factor to weigh in with many other considerations. Peace must 'go beyond' knowledge. It must go before us like the Ark went before the children of Israel.

Peace makes my mind safe enough to think pure excellent thoughts.

"If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me." - Psalms 139:8-10 ESV

"But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God." - Acts 7:55 ESV

Jesus stands to greet Stephen when he is martyred but He is sitting as we seek Him and stays seated when we make our bed in destruction. We find Him only in the finished work. That is the choice we have. God in His mercy may meet us many places but if we are looking that is where we find Him. He is presently seated in finished work victory. Interceding actively at rest in the position of highest honor to the right of His Father.

We can quiet ourselves because we must to have clarity but quiet is not peace. We need the peace that guards our hearts and minds. The inner quiet of a listening mind that seeks a seated Saviour.

Our wisdom starts from Love, Joy and Peace and continues from that place.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." - Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

"But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." - James 3:17-18 ESV

If we find the throne of Grace we will have the resources to be peacemakers.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Initiated By Choice But Moved By Power

"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." - Romans 6:4 KJV

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:20 KJV

There is an action that happens by God's power... a transfer that occurs. By an act of will we enter into a process that was not initiated by us nor is it sustained by us. Like a person stepping into a flowing river we step into the stillness of Christ's death. It surrounds us and momentarily muffles our senses like diving into a pool or being lowered by strong arms into the water at baptism.

We willingly place ourselves into His death but that is just a starting point.

Early in the morning the Earth is still asleep. No sun has risen yet and few things are stirring. We can become silent like the world around us. We wait and pray like Jesus waited and prayed all night long with His Father. We enter in. It is a place we are welcome to come into. Grace has made this our place... our pool... our fountain... our death... our burial... our resurrection.

"But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." - Romans 13:14 ESV

"But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." - Romans 8:10-14 ESV

Later it will not be quiet. The world will be moving. There will be more decisions to be made but the dynamic is the same. Jesus was the same Jesus praying all night as He was walking, talking, healing and teaching. He moved as grace and truth personified. We move a trophies of grace personified. Putting on Christ we make choices in the flow of the river we have stepped into. God's power and life is the medium we move in and because of that we are led of God having wind in our sails.

This is not a work. It is a choice made possible by the Gospel of Grace. This is the narrow road that leads to life.

Jesus was dragged willingly into this process knowing that when He went to Jerusalem it would begin. He suffered in stillness and submission not resisting but walked bearing His cross in His Father's plan. Taken by the flow of it and aligning His will with each twist and turn. Then after the resurrection we see a man raised from death into life who moved with purpose towards ascension and session (sitting at the right hand of the Father). Jesus completed this work and ran this race.

Our entry point is Christ's death but once we enter in we are brought instantly to to Christ's session. He is alive and reigning now and we also are alive and reigning with Him.

"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." - Romans 5:17 KJV

One day the spiritual action we enter into by an act of reckoning will become a physical reality.

"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." - John 14:3 ESV

Until then we put on what we have been given by grace and the light of Heaven shines in and through our lives as broken but treasure filled earthen vessels.

At any moment we can return and enter in. We can quiet ourselves and be in the flow again. It is a choice away. The life that is produced inside will work on the outside in time. Faith will produce words that have power. Victorious life will make a difference in the world that only Heaven's history books will reveal in fullness.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Rest Has The Resources

Caring about people is a byproduct of knowing God's grace. I'm not giving up on anyone who is breathing air. That is my conviction

The number of people in the world is overwhelming. The number in our lives can seem that way. Needs go beyond us. We can only be in one place at a time. The beach is littered with starfish. We can only throw one back in at a time. Etc... etc...

Rest can live never giving up. It has the resources to live that way. Jesus sits in Heaven never giving up.

The next step after 'I'm never giving up' is 'I'll never be offended if rejected.' One enables the other. Try these two without the relaxation that grace brings and the fire will consume you. Jesus is fire that frees us and sends us while preserving us.

So, if you have ever been in my life you will always be in my life. God will sort it all out at the Bema seat (judgment for believers) and the White Throne (Judgment for unbelievers). As for me I'm not here to judge anyone. I'm just here to love people.

Jesus' life and words will separate the sheep from the goats in the end anyway.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Regret What Is Broken Or Embrace Newness By Grace

Regret is a thief that is powerless to fix what is broken. Fallen man breaks more things by trying to make broken things work. Regret forces him to live in the realm of blame because of the consequences of his failure. Grace has no blame and therefore no regret. Grace can rest in hope. God gives a new thing. Mercy is new every morning.

The natural man sees broken and fixed. The spiritual man sees new and old.

Our soul craves wholeness and connection. Grace, mercy and love give us all that our soul craves. Will we embrace this new thing or try to fix the old one?

Jesus is the new thing. Without Him we are stuck with the old. It follows us into the new day because of the broken nature of the fall.

God sees everything in creation as disposable but the human soul. His redemption is in newness. His Word is eternal and settled in Heaven. Eternal things are not disposable. Relationships based on eternal things are not disposable. Relationships based on disposable things will one day dissolve.

God has no regret. No darkness is in Him. He is full of holiness and justice. Grace justifies the ungodly.

"But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." - Romans 4:5 KJV

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:" - Romans 5:1 KJV

Without mercy the old follows us into the new day. Mercy creates a cocoon of safety that is free from the pressures of the old. Ever notice that when you are with a 'mercy person' how easy it is to be with them?

If God leaves some broken things in our lives... and He does. They are not there to be fixed. They create channels for God to pour love His love into the world. Our new wine bottles can hold His love without bursting. We can pour it out into relationships and circumstances. It only makes room for more to be poured into our newness that mercy has enabled.

"No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, 'Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?' He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, 'Is there not a lie in my right hand?' " - Isaiah 44:19-20 ESV

The lie that we approve of is held tightly in the right hand of our approval and we feed on the ashes. Those ashes could come from yesterdays burnt offering, yesterday's provision or a dream that went up in smoke.

The right hand must be kept free to grasp what is new. Fix the old or worship God with open raised hands in newness? Make a choice.

If we are not moved to release our hold on the broken things then God has His methods in place to convince us... the prodigal Son... Martha and Mary after Lazarus died... Peter going fishing after the crucifixion... all are examples of this concept.

Living in constant regret sets us down a hard path.

At first we won't let go and then after a while we can't let go. God helps us but it is a struggle where we fight against the One who is saving us from drowning.

Worship can open our hands... fasting can also... but I think this process is very personal. We must seek God and find the way to keep our hands free. One thing is for sure.. it will require us to operate in faith.

If we don't let go we will eat some tasteless spiritual meals and grow lean due to lack of nurition. Then comes the famine, drought or a whale that swallows us up as we are running... long nights with no fish in our net... boyfriend after boyfriend... movie after movie... meal after meal... weekend after weekend. Our fist closed tight we can not carry much. We can not approve of much anymore. Soon we shake our fist at people, ourselves and eventually at Heaven. We assign blame.

"Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny." - Matthew 5:25-26 ESV

In this area the Spirit of Grace becomes our adversary. Faith becomes our place of agreement. Action by faith becomes the way we exercise faith. In unique ways God continues to stretches out His hand to give us a new provision. It might be a job or a friend, a thing to be involved in, a crisis where we must make a choice. A new opportunity to derive our identity from Christ in the Finished Work. Mercy that we don't deserve. It is too narrow a place to bring what we are carrying. We may drop important things to keep the lie but we must drop something...we might spend days, weeks or years dropping irreplaceable things but God does it again and again... shaking the shakable and making us drop something.

If we don't know grace this can go on and on.

"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

If our heart is established in grace or is actively being established then grace does something quite amazing. It highlights the important things as important. It reveals the eternal non-disposable things. The choice of what to take through the narrow place becomes clearer until one day our hand is open again and we find the thing we held so closely for so long is gone. In awe we come to ourselves. We are not quite sure where it went. It has dissolved because that is what temporal things do... they dissolve.

We are broken in different ways. Some visible to us, some visible to others and some only visible to God. Love won't fix our old marriage it will create a new one with the same two people again and again and again. It won't fix our past it just gives us a new present and future that has no past but only what was eternal will remain. The wood, hay and stubble are soon gone and only the gold, silver and precious stones remain.

Cast your regret and every other care upon God. He will never regret caring for you. His gifts have only just begun. His redemption is real and powerful.

"But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD." - Jonah 2:9 KJV

That means it is His job.

We walk by faith. Learning but not regretting. Ceasing from the labor of trying to discover the problem and fix it so that next time we have a better outcome. Walking by faith is the better outcome. The new thing is the solution for tomorrow's problem. The mercy will be there and the transformation that comes from beholding Christ in the situation is what develops maturity for our future situations.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Gathered By Grace

Grace draws us by love. It takes our hands. It opens it's arms. It waits outside our slammed door.

I'm thinking this morning about some of the things that draw people and what chases them away because I believe that God progressively draws people to Himself. That drawing is more of a dance than a consistent tugging. There are ebbs and flows... turns and differences in perceived distance. He never leaves us but He gives us room at times and draws us close at others... all to win us.

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." - Hebrews 10:23-25 ESV

The 'gathering' and 'exhortation' are conceptual parallels linked to the 'confession of hope' and 'encouragement'. People fly solo for a reason. They were chased away by others or something in them moves them to isolation... it could be trust issues or independence issues... fear or disdain of the demands imposed or inability to meet the ones that have been imposed in the past.

People might say, 'I don't need to gather.' or 'I don't like to gather.' or even to themselves, 'I don't like who I am when I gather.' or 'They want me to be something I am not.'... all of it is linked to demands and commands imposed by self expectation or external pressures.

Grace exhortation wins us and creates a desire in us to be close to one another. Grace is gentle but moving. It does not put a spotlight on self. It informs us of a new pure clean identity and a living active Savior. It points us to a better way. It makes available a new option. That option involves nearness.

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace" - Ephesians 2:13-14a ESV

I want to be with Jesus in part because I like who I am when I am with Him. Not because I fear He will say or think bad things about me when I am not there. I know He won't.

The law ignites in me a desire to rebel. That rebellion is hurtful to myself and to others. People get trampled in it's drive to freedom.

The natural man either chases away the criminal or joins him. There may be honor and comradery among thieves but there is no fellowship because they are all alone even when they are together.

Passivity is my enemy because it lets me live in isolation. It leaves others in isolation or banded together in connections based on rebellion.

Actively abiding in rest and living in divine exhortation makes my hope large. Big enough to cover others. It puts more food on my table than I can eat myself. It challenges me but not by command... it draws me by love.

God... Give us big tables this year... big hearts and big tables... so people can exhale, relax and put themselves aside to join hands and revel in who You are.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Vision In This Coming Year

I was thinking last night about the term 'bear false witness'. It is listed as one of the 10 commandments that this is an behavior that Israel was not to participate in. In the new testament the command is reiterated in three of the four Gospels and then also in the book of Romans.

We quickly see when looking at this phrase that there is something deeper here than the lie itself. There is the accountability of the communicator, the shoddy quality of the communication itself and the motive of the one 'bearing' the communication all presented in that little phrase.

Each of us is an eyewitness to our own lives. We see and then we teach others what we see. We give a report. Our perception is shaped by many factors so our reports can vary so wildly from one another based on those factors and biases.

People see things and say things all the time. Our perception is limited and our communication is also. Our communication is intertwined with our desires... pure ones and other more faulty broken ones get in the mix.

'Happy New Year!', people said last night to friends and strangers. Perhaps they smiled and made noise but inside there was no lasting smile. They communicated hope but woke up with a hangover. The inside didn't match the outside.

Where is the true witness? Where is the one whose inside matches his outside and that is a witness of the reality of the world and hits the target every time in their report of it? Isn't that God?

I see the room around me and my limited circle and see the clock turn over and from my little corner I say, 'Happy New Year' hoping it will be just that. I want to have a happy year... I want the people I love to have one... the people who had a less than happy year behind them to have a better year in front of them... I want the world to be a better place in the coming year. I have reservation about that happening but I have personal hopes also.

What is my 'witness' or more importantly what is God's witness? Can they line up?

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" - Philippians 2:5 KJV

"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 4:8-9 KJV

"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." - Colossians 3:16 KJV

What I see is what I will report. It is what I will teach to others. Grace takes truth and puts it on the inside so it can be expressed on the outside and match what God thinks. Everything else is a lie. A lie about how things are and ultimately a lie about who God is.

The person communicating grace is a person communicating truth. That communicator must be linked objectively to God through the Jesus of the Bible.

That person can be you or it can be me but there is a price.

"And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire." - Matthew 18:9 ESV

The single eyed one that looks to Jesus and focuses on grace has better vision than the offended one with two eyes.

I might say, 'But I won't have a happy new year with just one eye. Don't I need it to have a good year? After all.. I need all the help I can get.'

Just blow another noisemaker with one eye on the world and one on God and see how your year turns out. Remember... If you do that you will just say all the things you see.

I am convicted that happy or not I want something deeper... something truer... something eternal this year. In order for there to be hope there must be a true witness of grace.

Who is sufficient for these things? Certainly not me... but I can willingly limit my vision and look to Jesus.

"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.' " - Mark 10:27 ESV