Friday, February 28, 2014

What Is Done In The Body

"He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience." - 2 Corinthians 5:5-11 ESV

These thoughts settle me this morning... they encourage me.

"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

We are what we are by the grace of God. God is working in us and through us. We can gauge our next move based on the Bema seat judgement. Will it be cause for celebration there?

"For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw-- each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire." - 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 ESV

The foundation is Jesus Christ... who He Is... what He has done. Will we reinvent the wheel or will we sit, walk and stand in what Jesus has done?

Evaluation is based on the quality of materials we use... Gold (God's character and nature), Silver (The righteousness and purity of Christ) and Precious Stones (people who have been transformed and mined out of the Earth) and the active application of those materials. The application must be done by the Spirit of God using a willing participant as a co-laborer... someone yoked to God.

We look at our physical frame this morning and see a body. We also look at the local expression of believers in our area (if we are fortunate enough to have that) and see a body. At the Bema seat what we do and don't do in those arenas... what we say and don't say... where we go and don't go... will be tested by fire. What remains will remain forever.

Today is the day. It is all we have. Let's be who we are by the grace of God and function in the faith that expresses what Christ has already done. We won't regret that we did.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Answer For Arrogance And Insecurity

A lot of reading and studying this morning on a number of topics but not much time to write about what I was studying... Imposter Syndrome... Self-deprecating humor... resentment that comes from compromise... but while I have little time to discuss the issues I do want to present the solution.

"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil." - Proverbs 4:23-27 ESV

Jesus is the one to look at. We look straight ahead at Him. He is the solution for arrogance and insecurity alike.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith" - Hebrews 12:1-2a ESV


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Traveling Songs

Psalm 120 to 134 are songs of ascent. They were like marching songs that you sang on a journey. In this case it was the journey to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is surrounded by mountains.. no matter what direction you come from to travel to the city you must travel uphill to get to it.

Perhaps as a family you had songs you sang together in the car on a long trip. If you served in the military you might have had songs you sang as you marched or accomplished certain tasks. Tunes that are played at certain times on an instrument to let you know what came next.

They sang these songs on the way to Israel for the three pilgrim feasts.

"Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me." - Exodus 23:14 ESV

"Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed." - Deuteronomy 16:16 ESV

If you read these Psalms they are full of therapy and instruction. No one group was singing them alone either. Groups coming to Jerusalem were singing them as they came from every direction.

They are short Psalms but here is a glimpse of each one. Maybe you could read them later... they bring a person on a journey...

"A Song of Ascents. In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me... Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!" - Psalms 120:1, 6-7 ESV

"A Song of Ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth... The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore." - Psalms 121:1-2, 7-8 ESV

"A Song of Ascents. Of David. I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!" Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem! Jerusalem - built as a city that is bound firmly together, to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD... For my brothers and companions' sake I will say, 'Peace be within you!' For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good." - Psalms 122:1-4, 8-9 ESV

"A Song of Ascents. To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us. Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud." - Psalms 123:1-4 ESV

"A Song of Ascents. Of David. If it had not been the LORD who was on our side - let Israel now say - if it had not been the LORD who was on our side when people rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us; then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us... We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped! Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth." - Psalms 124:1-4, 7-8 ESV

"A Song of Ascents. Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore... But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the LORD will lead away with evildoers! Peace be upon Israel!" - Psalms 125:1-2, 5 ESV

"A Song of Ascents. When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad... He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him." - Psalms 126:1-3, 6 ESV

"A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep..." - Psalms 127:1-2 ESV

"A Song of Ascents. Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you... May you see your children's children! Peace be upon Israel!" - Psalms 128:1-2, 6 ESV

"A Song of Ascents. "Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth"-- let Israel now say-- "Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me. The plowers plowed upon my back; they made long their furrows." The LORD is righteous; he has cut the cords of the wicked. May all who hate Zion be put to shame and turned backward!..." - Psalms 129:1-5 ESV

"A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared... O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities." - Psalms 130:1-4, 7-8 ESV

"A Song of Ascents. Of David. O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore." - Psalms 131:1-3 ESV

"A Song of Ascents. Remember, O LORD, in David's favor, all the hardships he endured, how he swore to the LORD and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob, 'I will not enter my house or get into my bed, I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.'... There I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed. His enemies I will clothe with shame, but on him his crown will shine." - Psalms 132:1-5, 17-18 ESV

"A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore." - Psalms 133:1-3 ESV

"A Song of Ascents. Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who stand by night in the house of the LORD! Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the LORD! May the LORD bless you from Zion, he who made heaven and earth!" - Psalms 134:1-3 ESV

In a way the journey to Jerusalem is our journey through life as we take step after step. Coming out of places of backbiting and deceptive talk and into the place where 'brothers dwell together in unity' is a beautiful journey. Going from the anguish of our trouble and lifting our hands to worship in the Holy place is so refreshing. Remembering as we go... David and the horn of power that sprung out from his family line, the Messiah, the Savior, Jesus the son of God.

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV

Let's go there. I mean today. Let's present ourselves.

Let's make the trips into the fields bearing seed so we can continue on our journey of worship with more singers at our side.

We don't go alone. God hears our song.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Topic Of The Cross

"They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, 'The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.'

But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, 'What were you discussing on the way?'

But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest.

And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, 'If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.' And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 'Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.' " - Mark 9:30-37 ESV

If we have no understanding of the cross we will have ambition that has no fellowship with God. After the cross comes in and it is no longer a topic to be avoided with God it is then we become ministers. We can love instead of looking for recognition.

Love becomes a stewardship. Instead of replacing Christ we go as people crucified and raised from the dead. Able ministers to the guilty and the innocent.

When we no longer fear to discuss the cross with God fear of every other topic fades as well. Everything that could ever separate us from fellowship was nailed to that cross. No topic is off limits. We can come just like little children to the one who loves us.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Looking At Joshua 8

Looking at Joshua chapters seven and eight this morning and the concept of rebounding after defeat.

"And the LORD said to Joshua, 'Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land. And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its livestock you shall take as plunder for yourselves. Lay an ambush against the city, behind it.' " Joshua 8:1-2 ESV

We have all suffered seeming defeats in life. Times where our motives were good but something was missing in our thinking or where we have taken something that belonged to God and misappropriated it... keeping it as our own.

God tells us the victory is still there waiting for us. It will require an ambush to take it.

"And the men in the ambush rose quickly out of their place, and as soon as he had stretched out his hand, they ran and entered the city and captured it. And they hurried to set the city on fire." Joshua 8:19 ESV

In the midst of my own thought life we set a trap. The majority of our forces are marshaled behind the city (30,000) with some out in front (5,000). This speaks to me of resolve. We must choose to live in finished work victory. The victory happens when I see the cross behind the situation and then the landmark is destroyed by fire so we can not revisit the defeat.

"And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law." Joshua 8:34 ESV

Now after the victory we are not taking what does not belong to us. Instead we return back to the objectivity of God's truth in preparation for what comes next.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Let Faith Stand Alone

"Do not fear, only believe." - Mark 5:36b ESV

Another way to translate this is 'Not fear only faith'. The words is Monos (Strong's G3441) and it means to stand alone without a companion.

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 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, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel," - 2 Timothy 1:6-10 ESV

Not fear only faith because of grace.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Birth Place Of Decisions

"But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your 'yes' be yes and your 'no' be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation." - James 5:12 ESV

It is a beautiful thing when our heart does not condemn us isn't it? There is the active smiting of our conscience but then there is the more passive idea that if the gap between our expectation and reality begins to widen we can become disillusioned or disappointed or conversely driven and determined.

Everyone knows that commitments should be kept. The smallest child knows that. I love these verses because We have a God that removes condemnation... the active kind and the passive kind.

"Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;" - 1 John 3:18-21 ESV

If we have a heart that doesn't condemn us it is for one reason only. Our eyes are fixed on God... God's greatness and God's commitments.

"He has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' " - Hebrews 13:5b ESV

God's faithfulness makes God's perfection always close at hand. That perfection is not intimidating because of knowledge about God's grace. God the Father has hidden each believer in the perfection of His Son.

"Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few." - Ecclesiastes 5:2 ESV

"My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody... For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!" - Psalms 57:7, 10-11 ESV

We say 'yes' and 'no' all day long. Some of those short statements have very long range consequences. We want to be aware of that and have wisdom and function from a place where there is no condemnation. A condemned heart make decisions tainted by a need to compensate. It it tries and often fails to fill the gap of expectation and reality. Only God can fill that gap. Only Jesus HAS filled that gap. He was and Is all that the Father ever wanted. He was, Is and will be all that we ever need if our mind comes into alignment with divine reality.

The cross takes care of active condemnation because of transgression. The resurrected Christ and a new creation self image take care of the passive condemnation of living in a fallen world.

"A Psalm of David. O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved." - Psalms 15:1-5 ESV

The law made provisions or 'substitutes' if commitments couldn't be met. It was not rigid beyond reason.

"And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean." - Leviticus 12:8 ESV

"And if someone is too poor to pay the valuation, then he shall be made to stand before the priest, and the priest shall value him; the priest shall value him according to what the vower can afford." - Leviticus 27:8 ESV

Provisions can be made for many things with people. The 'price' of salvation is to high for any man but other things have room for battering as long as it is a clean dealing.

"You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog (male prostitute) into the house of the LORD your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God." - Deuteronomy 23:18 ESV

So today I will do what I said I will do (or make a sufficient substitute provision) and take care of what I will commit to in the future but I will do it as a reflection of a risen Christ... I will walk in the world as an ambassador and minister of reconciliation not as a slave but as a person made free because of the perfection of Christ.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Training For A Triathlon

I was thinking this morning about what it would take to participate in a triathlon. It is February 19th now. What would I do now and along the way to get ready for one in May?

The the 'Olympic distance' triathlon is a .93 mile swim followed by 25 miles on a bike then ending with a 6.2 mile long distance run.

There would have to be seriousness to the training. If we were passive then when the day of the race came it would become obvious wouldn't it? There would have to be variation in training also. Swimming on some days... cycling and running on others. What about the transitions from water to bicycle and then from bicycle to running. Then there are the hundreds of people who are also involved. What a difference it must be to swim a mile alone versus in a pack of people with varied degrees of swim training and skill churning up the water and blocking the shore.

What if instead of a triathlon in May it is a trial of some kind. No one wants those. Maybe we would just run the other way. Just plant ourselves on the couch and break out the chips and dip.

Trials are coming... they don't have dates like triathlons do but they will soon be upon us.

Like the triathlon that has three parts I was thinking this morning about three things that are vital in any trial. Prayer, time in the Word and quieting myself.

"Pray without ceasing." - 1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." - Colossians 3:16 ESV

"But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me." - Psalms 131:2 ESV

"For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength" - Isaiah 30:15a KJV

Each of these things has a whole sphere of beauty to explore. Some people run and that is what they do. They would never even sit on a bicycle but they know how to run. Perhaps there are those of us that swim in the Word but can't sit for more than five minutes in prayer. Perhaps it is quietness and confidence that is a the place where we excel but we don't really know how to think because we have not climbed hills and navigated the turns of the scriptures.

Then there are the other people in the race (trial) and the details. If we are wise we train in navigating people who have different aptitudes and varied levels of experience.

The trials are coming. There is no need to fear them. We can train to reign in them and beyond them. We can grow in quietness and confidence in God. We can navigates portions of the Bible that we have never gone to before. We can meditate on, take apart and even memorize scripture. We can strengthen our understanding of grace and commit to memory verses regarding salvation. We can pray... alone and with people... pray for the present and for the future.

Training will change our response on that day when the day comes. We will not be flat footed and unprepared.

Jesus prepared His whole life for one final day. He is more than our coach. He has run this race before and He can guide us and strengthen us for each phase of training and each step in the event.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Happiness Is Not Mandatory

Happiness is not mandatory for the grace believer. Perhaps we think because we have been given so much we should be happy. Happiness can become some sort of badge of success or confirmation of blessing in some circles.

Just to put it out there... I have great joy but I am not always happy. Happiness is not my 'goal' in life.

I don't want to counsel people toward happiness either. I want to communicate the profitability and sensibility of faith even if it is just by living it out in front of them. I want to connect with people... sit where they sit and share their joy or sadness as someone who is believing with them or even for them if they have little capacity in the moment.

"The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light." - Romans 13:12 KJV

"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." - Galatians 3:27 KJV

"And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." - Ephesians 4:24 KJV

"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." - Ephesians 6:11 KJV

"And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness." - Colossians 3:14 KJV

Forget putting on a happy face... put on Jesus Christ. Then even our mood can be dictated by the mind of Christ as we walk in the Spirit.


Social Engineering

God utters whole truths not partial ones. Whole eternal truths produce something wonderful.

Partial truths create a vacuum. In that vacuum words become tools to meet needs. Advertising creates a need by painting a partial picture. Dating profiles are designed to create attraction and hopefully form relationships. The personalized email or letter with your name on it targets the individual in a subtle way by saying, 'See we know your name.'

Some folks can create a whole fictional past relationship with a stranger just by looking at a name tag and making general statements to convince this person they have never met before that they grew up together in the same town and went to the same school. With each interaction they gather more small facts and clues to build on. No one has a perfect memory. Social engineering uses partial truths to extract real facts and access something valuable... it could be money, sex, power or loyalty... any thing valuable can be socially engineered out of a person or group if they are unsuspecting or otherwise vulnerable.

We even socially engineer ourselves if we think that somehow by doing so our needs and wants will be met.

God doesn't socially engineer people. We have nothing to offer Him of value that He does not already possess. God deals in truth... whole truth. The Gospel is a whole truth and it has a purpose but that purpose is real connection.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16 ESV

It is so simple and real that people who have been made wary and jaded by all the manipulation all around them just can not believe the simplicity of this all important truth.

"Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?" - 1 John 3:15-17 ESV

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God." - 1 John 4:7 ESV

"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." - John 13:35 ESV

Love validates the truth. The truth will still true in a vacuum and people will still be accountable to it regardless. It is not about behavior or pleasing God. The only behavior God has ever been perfectly pleased with is the behavior of His Son.

Love becomes linked to evangelism. Our prayer becomes, 'Make me a soul winner God. Fill me with love and compassion that makes a difference and full targeted truth.'

Grace shows us that doing is an accidental byproduct of being loved and persuaded in a true connection to God. God's Grace is a whole truth that imparts in a never ending flow. It only takes things that will block the flow. It gives and gives and gives.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Midwinter Morning Thoughts

"A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain." - Psalms 127:1 ESV

"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... Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:12-13, 16 ESV

I am not building this house nor am I tearing it down. I leave that work to God.

On a cold mid-winter morning when things seem uncertain and my emotions are not high, warm, sunny and carrying me along this is a comforting thought. Things are frozen outside and have been for a while and not much construction work gets done in these seasons. It is a season. It will pass.

God is still doing what He does. I don't have to feel the progress in myself or in others. He is the master builder. I can rest. I can draw near to His heat. I can let His objectivity be my guide. I can read the words in His book in confidence that it surgery is needed the words will do what need to be done.

A new season is coming. Who knows what it will bring but it will be warmer soon enough and the construction done by God in the wintertime will be used when springtime comes.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Where Do You Find Yourself?

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." - Philippians 2:1-8 ESV

God was and is God. He didn't have ambitions to be God or downplay the fact that He was who He was. He didn't try to be anything more than what He was. He was the Great I Am. He still Is and forever will Be.

But, Every morning He woke up and found Himself to be a man. He made choices each day to walk by faith. There was an emptying of Himself and decisions were made. Jesus found Himself as a man but then took the form of something not craving to be something else. What He chose was in a sense the lowest position of an already low estate. The word is translated servant or bond-servant but it really means slave.

Jesus basically said, 'Look today I am a man again. If I am going to be a man than I will choose to be a slave of my master.'

Is that a satisfying life?

God the Father did not make Jesus into a slave. Some people wanted that for Him. They wanted to make Him into their slave.

"And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, 'Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.'

And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side." - Mark 8:10-13 ESV

Jesus would not be the slave of men. He knew who He was and chose to serve God as a slave in freedom not desiring to be something else. God is not a hard task master. Jesus knew He was born to be the Savior of the world and He daily embraced that reality.

"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. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." - Philippians 2:9-13 ESV

This morning we 'work out our salvation' just like Jesus did when He woke up. Jesus fulfilled the role of the servant. It is finished! Sin and all the rules and regulations that would be against us were nailed to the tree with Christ Himself. Now He gives us a daily gift if we will take it. His mindset.

"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. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." - Romans 12:2-3 ESV

"For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God." - 1 Corinthians 7:22-24 ESV

We awake to find ourselves in one condition or another this morning. What will we choose? Will we dance on command like a dancing monkey because circumstances or powerful people tell us to dance? It doesn't have to be that way. We can look to the God of all grace and realize we belong to Him and He has made us free.

"But he said to him, 'A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.' ... And the master said to the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.' " - Luke 14:16-17, 23 ESV

God has made a banquet for people and He wants His house to be full of people so that there will be great rejoicing.

Since this morning I wake up and find myself in this place and at this time out I go into the world to live my life and invite people to come to the great banquet of the King.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Alone And In The Crowd

"And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable... And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet... And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, 'Ephphatha,' that is, 'Be opened.' And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly." - Mark 7:17, 24-25, 33-35 ESV

Just thinking as I am reading Mark 7 about Jesus' public life and His private life.

"In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles:" - Luke 6:12-13 ESV

Jesus went aside at times. Those times were interrupted by crisis and even not possible because of circumstances. The scriptures reveal His efforts, or intentions, to be away from the crowds.

He also had a very public life engaging the crowds and taking time for individuals.

Just thinking that it is good to be alone at times and good to be with people. I wouldn't want it to be one or the other all the time and at times I want one but I get the other and in grace I can make the adjustment. God give a provision for both and in both.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An Advocate Forever

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn't looking for him and doesn't recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans - I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live." - John 14:16-19 NLT

This advocate is with us forever. Jesus was here a short time and will return but the Spirit of God is with us forever... forever.

We are not orphans.

We are not without an instructor.

The person with us is not less than Jesus or more than Jesus. He is Sovereign God Almighty.

This is a bond that will not break. It will last forever.

Like the disciples had a history with Jesus we have a history with the Spirit... a fragrance of memory. We don't want to grieve Him or quench Him today. We don't have to to live in worry about that happening either. We have a grace relationship with Him. He is the Spirit of Grace.

The world at large sees something but it doesn't see Him. They hear something but not what He says.

Fills us God.. open our eyes and give us ears that hear 'It is Finished!' echoing through time.. let the words become life.. please move us through our day.

Thank You God!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Marveling At The Diversity Of People

Just marveling this morning at the diversity of people and how much different people add to the life of an individual. To be in a diverse group where there is love is a beautiful thing.

"All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free - and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be?" - 1 Corinthians 12:11-19 ESV

Indeed. If everyone were the same what would life be like? Some things that people do seem exotic and we want to possess what we don't have but the beautiful thing about Church life is that in a sense we can have the benefit of what we don' t have by association.

"As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.' On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another." - 1 Corinthians 12:20-25 ESV

'Look how dirty you feet are. Tisk Tisk Tisk.' Diversity leaves room for care doesn't it? Nakedness gives a place for fashion. Ministry is centered in diversity. Care. Love. Help. Humor.

"If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." - 1 Corinthians 12:26-27 ESV

Grace is so needed. It must reach every member. Like blood being pumped by the heart to reach every part of the body we also want the cleansing, nourishing and healing mercy of God to reach each portion in the body of Christ.

Thoughts from the mind direct the whole.

Comfort, honor and joy knit us together even as we are joined together.

I am glad to be a part of something today... something big and diverse. I am thankful for the Church I go to and the fellowships I have in an organized way. That is manifestation of the body but truly there is a larger grander manifestation in the world and in Heaven that we are also a part of... beautiful... really Beautiful.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Structure In The Wilderness And Mission in The Promised Land

Reading Psalm 90 This morning. I think a key to understanding and relating to this Psalm is seeing that it is a Psalm of Moses...

"A Prayer of Moses, the man of God. Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You return man to dust and say, 'Return, O children of man!' For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!" - Psalms 90:1-17 ESV

Moses is so systematic and structured... counting and measuring... affliction and work. The prayer of the man of the Law is, 'Establish the work of our hands!'. Moses lead the children of Israel through the desert as nomads... the work of their hands was never established. As soon as they got settled somewhere the  pillar of cloud moved and they had to pack up and start over somewhere else. Amazing.

When the children of Israel crossed the red sea they were saved but they wandered until they crossed over the Jordan river. The Jordan river talks about co-Crucifixion. Moses could not go with them. It could not be law and counting and structure. Now it would be Joshua. The man who had a different spirit. A taker of what was given. A warrior. Not a structured scholar but a simple believer. A man of mission. Both men are types of Christ but Christ is the substance.

"And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.' " - Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

The substance is grace. Grace had to come directly from the source. We see grace in men in the old testament... David especially... but Christ writes his words directly on our hearts. The work of our hands will never be established wandering in the wilderness... the work can and has been established by Jesus Christ... passing over Jordan and into the promised land we begin to take what God has already given us.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Food That Nourishes

"You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it... Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" - Psalms 139:2-6; 23-24 ESV

"And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry.

And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, 'May no one ever eat fruit from you again.' And his disciples heard it.

And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, 'Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers.' And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city.

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, 'Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.'

And Jesus answered them, 'Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.' " - Mark 11:11-25 ESV

These are verses from a devotional I am reading. I see the parallel between the fig tree and thinking that is not nourishing. Grace and Gospel oriented thinking is the 'ancient pathway'... the way everlasting... and there is always something to eat there, in season or out of season, it multiplies and feeds.

That is the thought life that feeds us and is multiplied to feed others. Jesus describes it here...

"Jesus said, 'Have the people sit down.'

Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, 'Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.'

So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten...

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, 'Rabbi, when did you come here?'

Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.'

Then they said to him, 'What must we do, to be doing the works of God?'

Jesus answered them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.'

So they said to him, 'Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'

Jesus then said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.'

They said to him, 'Sir, give us this bread always.'

Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.' - John 6:10-13, 25-35 ESV

Sit and eat. There is a tree that is cursed and bread that is blessed. Grace is the thinking that is blessed. Jesus is the bread of life. God's gift is eternal life to all who will take and eat.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Rest In The Finished Work Of Christ's Redemption

Just one verse this morning...

"For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, 'In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.'" - Isaiah 30:15a ESV

Rest. Rest in the finished work of Christ's redemption. Pure rest.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Increments Of Faith

I spent the night thinking about time increments in our life:

A LIFETIME - One human life is like grass. We are born naked and die naked bringing nothing out of this world that can be counted by worldly possessions.

"For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers." - Psalms 90:4-6 ESV

AN ACT. 40 years... Moses had three of these: Egypt, the desert and as deliverer

"And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian." - Genesis 25:20 KJV

"And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite:" - Genesis 26:34 KJV

"And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan." - Exodus 16:35 KJV

"For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God[hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing." - Deuteronomy 2:7 KJV

A DECADE. We move and life changes so much over time. Work. Perhaps were we live. Fashions. Music. Culture.

"So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife." - Genesis 16:3 ESV

A YEAR. The full cycle of going around the sun. Perhaps the clearest cycle we see in nature

"The LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son." And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him." - Genesis 18:10 ESV

A SEASON. Like Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall we have emotional seasons. They pass but leave an impact on our lives. Like picture albums filled with tan happ people on one page and then bundled up and building snow men on another.

"Woe is me! For I have become as when the summer fruit has been gathered, as when the grapes have been gleaned: there is no cluster to eat, no first-ripe fig that my soul desires." - Micah 7:1 ESV

"for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone." - Song of Songs 2:11 ESV

A WEEK. God created the world and rested in one week. Our week is a microcosm of the world we create with our decisions. I want to live each week like it is my whole life. Work. Rest. Play. Evangelize. Worship. Read. Create. Love.

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." - Exodus 20:8 ESV

"Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none." - Exodus 16:26 ESV

A DAY. Sun up and Sun down.

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." - Matthew 6:34 ESV

A MOMENT. Now is what we have. It is where we live. It is our vantage piont. The thief on the cross had his moment but just that moment echos into eternity captured forever in the scriptures.

Time ripples away from us like circles. Each moment of faith is a stone cast in a clear pond. The circles reach beyond us.

"And Moses said to the people, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again." - Exodus 14:13 ESV

"Sing to the LORD, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day." - 1 Chronicles 16:23 ESV

"Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation." - 1 Peter 2:12 ESV

Now is the moment to believe. Grace has removed every obstacle. It will even move us out of our own way if we let it and receive.

"As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe." - Mark 5:36 KJV

That is what we can do right in this moment. Only believe. Look at Christ and only believe. That moment of faith ripples backward and forward in time. Changing our future and erasing our past from our experience. The moment of faith ripples outward also and impacts the people around us.

The faith of a mustard seed is the faith of a moment where we trust in Jesus and the Father He has reconciled us to. Let's have the faith a of mustard seed.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Peter's Role To Reveal Grace

Reading 2 Peter chapter 1 again and again this morning. Wow. Peter knew his role. He had a measure of celebrity by the time this book was written but it never went to his head. You can see the focus in this book and chapter very clearly.

"Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." - 2 Peter 1:1-2 ESV

He saw everyone who believed as having equal standing.

"Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder," - 2 Peter 1:12-13 ESV

In essence he is saying, 'As long as I am around I am going to tell you about Jesus, what he has done and what He is doing. When you see me you will be reminded of Him.'

Do you think new Peter ever felt like old Simon? I am sure He did.

"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall." - 2 Peter 1:3-10 ESV

But Peter knew how to be put back in the flow so nearsightedness didn't shipwreck him. He had confirmation after confirmation that rebuked those feelings. His thought life of mixing faith with truth and learning to give Himself grace (because God was giving Him nothing but grace) gave Him a momentum to live in... a river that would take Him places not by His own power but by God's power.. an identity that was not self oriented but had a consciousness of belonging.. a role to play in people's lives.

Peter was elected into His present position. There can be a lot of theological baggage that comes with this term but let's just look at it in it's pure sense.

People's names are put on a ballot for mayor or some other office. There is a process and then one day the votes are counted and the person who 'wins' now holds the office. Ta Da... they are the new mayor. Yesterday they were not the mayor... today they are. It is written in the history books. The letterhead gets changed a new name placard with the new Mayor's name is placed on the Mayor's door. Even if they are not re-elected at some later date the person becomes the 'former Mayor'. They can never go back.

Peter knew His role. Yesterday He was a fisherman. Today he is a believer. God elected Him and that was it. He might feel like old Simon but He is not old Simon and never will be again. One decision caused Simon to turn a corner and become Peter forever. He can never be taken out of office. God elected Him and God does what He does and it lasts forever.

It is so good to have a way to not be self oriented any more. To live with Jesus as our focus. To bring Jesus into focus for others by being who God has made us to be.

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain." - 1 Corinthians 15:10a ESV

Amen. Amen.


Monday, February 3, 2014

A Covering That Seeks Love

"Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends." - Proverbs 17:9 ESV

Clearly covering here is not a moral issue. What ever this 'matter' is has power to cleave intimacy. The question we ask is not about the issue itself. The question is, 'What are we seeking?'

"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins." - 1 Peter 4:8 ESV

Yes. Love is what we are seeking. Love that comes from God. Love that is revealing in the finished work. Love that functions in grace.

What about the woman who gets beat up by her boyfriend? The fellow who goes from person to person ripping people off. The predator. The abuser. Seeking love might be seeking jail time for people. That might be just what they need. Do we bad mouth people? Do we label them? Are we any of us better than any one else? No.

We seek love for the victim and the victimizer alike.

"And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

Then said Jesus, 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.'

And they parted his raiment, and cast lots." - Luke 23:33-34 KJV

Jesus forgave them but they didn't stop doing what they were doing.. not yet anyway. Maybe they did later.

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." - Ephesians 4:29-32 ESV

Forgiveness is a covering.

If it is just behavior modification it will fail. It will not hold water. It will have little strength. It must be 'as Christ forgave you'. Not just in comparison. We can't just copy Jesus. It must be God's mind functioning in us and agreeing with God about what Christ has done on the cross. We go as ministers of a real historical reconciliation.

"The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit." - James 5:16b-18 ESV

If we cover people in private we are already seeking love on their behalf. It will change the way we deal with them in public.. no matter who they are.

We pray and we become one with the heart of our covering. Jesus is sitting making intercession day and night. Only Heavens history books will tell us what that means in our daily lives. Our few minutes of prayer... our time throughout the day.. it provides a covering because it is seeking love.