Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Satisfaction Of The Solution

"Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling. I will walk before the LORD In the land of the living.

I believed, therefore I spoke, 'I am greatly afflicted.'

I said in my haste, 'All men are liars.'

What shall I render to the LORD For all His benefits toward me? I will take up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD Now in the presence of all His people. Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints. O LORD, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD Now in the presence of all His people," - Psalms 116:7-18 NKJV

The Hebrew word there for 'in my haste' is Chaphaz (Strong's H2648) and it means to flee in panic or be working up into a frenzy.

'All men are liars.' is a true statement... but a hasty one. If we live there and that is our confession it will only produce a thirst in us. If we live life continually defining problems that have no solution we will be worked into a frenzy that is exhausting.

People are out for themselves and wrong about many things.

God sees what thirst produces. It produces a need to serve... a need to rise above the lies. But God does not want a servant who is vexed by men. He does not want servants at all. He wants friends. If we love Him we will think with Him and thinking in humility gives us many things including the heart of a servant.

God says 'Take something from my hand and drink what I have already given you that will satisfy you and then be among my people. Take in my grace together with them and see what the cup does to people who started out as liars.'

If we keep drinking what men have to offer us we will only grow more thirsty. The facts alone are going to kill us. Having our eyes on men and God will keep us double minded and on a yo-yo of blessing and frustration.

If we want to 'serve God' the only way we can is by receiving salvation from His hand in a single minded God conscious way. It pleases God when we take what He is giving us. Our haste turns to rest. Our vexation turns to thanksgiving.

"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." - John 6:35 KJV

"But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." - John 4:14 KJV

Today we may come face to face with mankind's great contradictions. If not today then sometime soon... they are all around us. We have a great provision... let's not just settle for a definition of the problem... let's take what God freely gives and live in the satisfaction of the solution.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Confessing Him Before Men

Jesus isn't my friend because we have things in common. We didn't grow up together. It is not because we enjoyed the same things. I am not good for Him. He doesn't remain faithful to me because I am faithful to him. He is as much a friend to me when I am an idiot as when I have some ducks in a row. He is there for me when I am bad for myself and even when I am ugly to Him.

He is patient. He is good. He is kind. He is faithful. I have been impatient and unfaithful to Him many times but He does not change nor does He hold any of it against me. He never will either.

I get broken thinking about it. He is my hero and the people I know who shine forth His life are my heroes also. The hero's example can cause cowards to rise to the occasion in the situations that life often presents them with. Seeing who He is I am mystically transformed by the Spirit of God into a real man.

"And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God." - Luke 12:8-9 ESV

"So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." - Matthew 10:32-34 ESV

We are not on even footing with God unless we acknowledge His friendship... His grace. If we think we are friends because of what we are doing we are wrong. It is subtle form of denial but still a denial. It has never and is never going to be about us. He calls us friends because of what He did. He is the King and we are made royalty by our relationship to Him.

"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." - Isaiah 53:7 KJV

It is natural thinking to love only those who love us. We protect ourselves because we have been hurt and lack the knowledge of our true protector. We flinch because of many blows. Oh, what a convicting thought that is but it is a true thought. When we deny friendship because of someones lack we become the very thing we hate.

God says:

"I will never leave you nor forsake you." - Hebrews 13:5b ESV

"Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me." - Isaiah 49:15-16 ESV

His gentleness makes us great. Grace softens us. We have a friend and anyone can make it if they have Jesus as their friend. Being with Him washes away the things that made us flinch to protect ourselves and we begin to reach out in love.

How many people need a friend like this? How many people need a person who will come alongside them and believe in them? Believing not because the person standing before them is good but because the person sitting on a throne in Heaven is good.

Today is another day. We can laugh and smile with people we like and who like us (If we have them that is) or we can leave the ninety-nine and go after the one who is lost and tell that lost one what a friend Jesus Is. The ninety-nine will be there when we get back.


Monday, April 28, 2014

The Scope Of Personal Holiness

"Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.' " - 1 Peter 1:10-16 ESV

There really is so much subtle truth in these passages in 1 Peter.

It is not uncommon to lack details about the future. The prophets of old saw God's grace but they saw it in the context of their own lives. They had needs and desires but they placed their hope in the right place. They knew that when Messiah was revealed there would be a big change and that it would affect them.

The prophets had no way of seeing how their faith affected future generations. Adam and Eve had no way of knowing the true scope of what would happen due to a few bad decisions in the garden either.

If we lack vision of what the scope of our faith is then it is very possible we could fall back into being 'conformed to the passions of our former ignorance.' On the other hand if we prepare our minds for action in a sober way it will only be because grace is personal and seen in a redemptive vision that transcends us.

If grace is just for me then I will just live my life as I want to but If what God has given me is really not just for me but for others then our calling give us a clarity that has keeping power. Redemption will no longer be solely about 'my life' and 'my needs', although that is part of it, but about the 'revealing of Christ' to others.

Yes, When Christ splits the Eastern sky with His return many mysteries will all suddenly make sense but today Christ may just use us to split someone's eastern sky open in a personal way. Being prepared for that kind of action with Christ set before our faces will keep us from living conformed to the world and walking on the upper highway of transformation.

Circumstances only ever tell a partial picture. Jesus and His redemptive plan is where we find fullness. I want those heavy weights balancing my day to day decisions.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Bridging The Gaps

Thinking this morning about 'heart wedges'... gaps that form or are forced to form between people that were once close but cease to be at some point. How do these separations form? Can they be mended or prevented?

"Wealth makes many friends, But the poor is separated from his friend." - Proverbs 19:4 NKJV

Resources play a part in this process. Some people have vast relational resources and others have little. That is one factor. Separation happens when the resources run out.

There are also boundary issues which can be very complex and invisible. One party may not know the real consequences of passing into territory that the other party sees as unacceptable.

The garden of Eden is our original and most profound example of separation.

"And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'

But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate...

He said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?'

The man said, 'The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.'

Then the LORD God said to the woman, 'What is this that you have done?'

The woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate.'...

Then the LORD God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever -' therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life." - Genesis 3:2-6, 11-13, 22-24 ESV

Wow. there is so much here in just these few excerpts. God is a holy God and his boundaries are just. He was right and we were wrong. We still are much of the time... wrong with God and wrong with each other. We step over invisible lines and gaps begin to form.

The thing God used was a bit strange wasn't it? A tree. Where is the right and wrong in eating from a specific tree? In a way it is not so clear cut. It needs explanation.

Forgiveness has a big role in maintaining closeness and restoring it again. Like the tree it has elements that have no clear moral connection per se.

"Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called 'the uncircumcision' by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands - remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 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, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility." - Ephesians 2:11-16 ESV

The blood killed the hostility. The labels of 'us' and 'them' are taken away. Christ's blood purely represents forgiveness. Life that is rightfully hidden and inside a person is exposed to the open air and poured out on purpose.

A part of us recoils at that exposure.

A holy God cut us off and with good reason. But, That same holy God reconciled us in a way that separation is not possible anymore. Once reconciled to God by the blood of His Son we are brought permanently near... near as far as He is concerned anyway.

"As it is written, 'For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:36-39 ESV

God's methods give us great insight into our relationships. We are made in His image after all.

God revealed grace and truth in His Son. Jesus proved to us by example that even dead relationships can rise again if there is a place for the forgiveness He provides.

I want God to teach me and open my eyes so that gaps can be filled between relationships. The separations no longer have to form in my mind if I see the blood of Christ as my resource and not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

We are made ministers of reconciliation. All of us are... if we have the spiritual resources to be.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Position Not Direction

Our moral conscience is like a old floating magnetic compass. If the needle is free to move and is in tune to the magnetic charge of the Earth it can point us in a northerly direction. A helpful tool. Moral magnetic North is not Heaven however. The compass has no power but the one to reveal something as a guide.

"Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:2 ESV

A quicken spirit coupled with a living soul is oriented Heavenward at Christ were Jesus sits at God's right hand in permanent acceptance.

" 'Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch' (referring to things that all perish as they are used) - according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. 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. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." - Colossians 2:21 - 3:4 ESV

The new person is not so much focused on the permissions of Earthly life. The focus is on the position of Christ. Where He Is in relation to us means everything.

"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 28:19-20 ESV

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' " - Hebrews 13:5 ESV

He Is in Heaven and indwelling the believer connecting Heaven to Earth. Grace looks up in a spiritual direction. He have our back facing the past bondage and we go forward face to face with Heaven not looking down at our feet in shame but walking erect with it's light warming our faces.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Show Us The Father

A Greek scholar named Kenneth Wuest has a three volume set. It is a badly indexed treasure chest of theology (maybe the newer versions have a better index). I woke up wanting to read some of the golden nuggets in volume III this morning. So good...

On page 85 Wuest translates John 1:18 this way:

"God in his invisible essence no one has ever seen. The only begotten God who is constantly in the bosom of the Father, that one has fully explained him."

"Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? ' " - John 14:9 ESV

The Father was and is very pleased with His Son. Jesus as a man who was seen... reflected the heart of the Father who was not seen.

Most of the day yesterday I was thinking of this verse from Luke 10.

"And he said to them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.' " - Luke 10:2 ESV

Jesus diverted the pressure to God. His instruction pointed to God. He fully reflected His Father's heart of grace and His Father's willingness to provide provision for the work at hand.

There are seasons when God's willingness seems hidden from us. Jesus is the revealing of the Father. He goes and sends people. He is the gentle shepherd with healing in His hands.

Today if Christ is our sufficiency we will see and experience the Father.

"I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God." - John 16:25-27 ESV

Today can be a day of asking and of 'plain speech'. I believe God will do things in our midst and show us His thinking if we approach Him through the doorway that is His Son's life.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sent By Grace In Luke Ten

Reading Luke 10 with new perspective this morning. Christ was a gracious leader. His grace extends to every area of leadership.

"After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.' " - Luke 10:1-3 ESV

Go your way. These are the places I want to visit but go your way and pray that the others are led by God the Father. He could have broken the cities and towns into seventy-two parts and assigned a section to each one. No. He says go your way and pray. One group might knock on dozens of doors and the other might meet one or two families and spend the whole time investing.

Pray that the Lord of the Harvest 'would send laborers.' Didn't you just send seventy-two people? Would there be more people? We think of this verse and quote it to the Church. It is a good verse to quote but if we look at it in context Jesus is talking to those seventy-two people about those seventy-two people. He could have commanded them to do what He wanted to do... but grace works differently... grace activates us in spirit leading. These men were not indwelled by the Spirit. That would not happen until Pentecost. The Spirit rested on them to lead them but which among them would be a grace laborer? Pray... Jesus said pray. Willingness isn't enough. It must be by prayer. Just like today. It must be by prayer.

"Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house!' And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. "Heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' " - Luke 10:4-8 ESV

Whatever house you find yourself in... whatever town you find yourself in... go... that is the part that must be done... go... but not just to take territory. Bring peace to the households that receive. Linger at those households. Make those places a base of operations.

"But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.' I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. 'Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.' " - Luke 10:10-15 ESV

Peace to the households but some places will have an air to them that everyone buys into. A spirit that links people into cliques of rejection. Whole places where grace is rejected. Move on. Keep going. There are households somewhere else. Things might change later but for now Christ tells these people to not even let the dust of the place cling to their feet.

" 'The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.'

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, 'Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!'

And he said to them, 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.' " - Luke 10:16-20 ESV

Rejoice in the grace of salvation. Names written down in Heaven that are written there in a merit less economy. Rejoice in that. When that grace kingdom sends a person there is power. Grace has power that no assembly line of organization could ever hope to have.

Jesus gave them guidelines but they were not guidelines that maximized efficiency... they maximized investment. He gave them freedom framed in redemptive purpose.

God the Father used the person of Jesus Christ as a man to send them. He still uses men today. He uses people filled with the Spirit to send other people in guidelines of grace. The power these seventy-two had is still to be had today.

Today I pray for laborers... God, send them... the fields are white... I have no money... no spiritual currency to barter with... if it were left to me none of this would get done... it is beyond me. But you God are the Lord of the Harvest. Today is all I have. Today. Please lead me and guide me. I know the seed of grace is good seed. I know the Gospel is what is needed. Help God. I am believing you for today. Move me today. Lead me to the hungry person. Lead me to the household that wants you. Give me wisdom so a won't be ground down in a place where a should just wipe the dust off... give me wisdom to stick it out in the place were there are hungry people.

Thank you God.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Post Easter Faith

Now, With Easter fresh in my experience I am going to cut off the voices that condemn me and listen to the voice that convicts me in grace.

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot." - Romans 8:1-7 ESV

Faith sees a future filled with hope. It does not see a darkened repetition of the past. Faith has Easter still in view. Faith lives in newness no matter what the facts of the circumstances might suggest to the logical mind.

Natural thinking says:
<natural disposition>+<circumstance>=<what happened before will happen again>
As long as life's balance sheets are in the black it looks like a good system. But if they are in the red then people either strive to change the outcome or give in to compromise.

"May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 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." - 2 Peter 1:2-4 ESV

Faith thinking says:
<spiritual disposition>*(<grace>+<peace>)=<redemptive outcome>
Grace gives expectation and creativity in freedom

The holiday is over. Only the pastel wrapping paper remains. The problems and issues that existed before Easter did not magically disappear over the course of one weekend. I don't want to live in the patterns of yesterday... even in they were working for me. I want to be available to conviction because the resurrection is now real to me in freshness.


Friday, April 18, 2014

The Armor Of Light

"Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." - Romans 13:11-14 ESV

Sleepless night seasons can seem so long. In darkness there is nothing to measure the time against. But when the dawn comes perspective comes also. A glimpse of the grace of God in the face of Jesus Christ has given all that believe in Him perspective.

The light of truth becomes armor. Eternal security to protect our thinking. The righteousness of Christ is given to protect our heart. A belt of truth so that we can run the race. Good news gives us fleet feet. Faith as a shield and a spiritual sword.

Many of us have lived years and years in the perspectiveless darkness of a night that seemed to never end. No more. No more.

We are redeemed and our body will soon follow but our soul can cleave to the dust it came from. When we put on Christ by faith we are cut off from that night time provision so that we can live as children of the day.

"But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him." - 1 Thessalonians 5:4-10 ESV

Awaken us today God. Awaken us to grace as the sun begins to shine in our heart. Brighten our steps. Enlighten our minds. Let the night fade away as we live in the light of your love.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Your Song Has Preserved Me Alive

"This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me." - Psalms 119:50 NASB

The second part can also be translated 'Your Word has preserved me alive.'

"The words of the LORD are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times." - Psalms 12:6 NASB

Word is Imrah (Strong's H565) in the original Hebrew and is sometimes translated promise. It refers to little speech, poem or song that expresses something real and heartfelt.

When the pressures come in remember... God has a written a song just for you. It tells the story of the victory of His Son. You are in that story and so am I.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Take A Moment To Commune With Him

I love the Bible.

In a moment a passage can come to life and God's mind becomes real and vivid. God's amazing grace... the way He thinks is not the way we think but His thoughts from above are available to us. If we let ourselves be available to Him through His word.

This passage really bowled me over this morning. Like a wave crashing over a person on the beach and causing them to lose their footing and be carried in the tumble. Eternity meets time and space and like a wave it shakes what is not firmly anchored down as it saturates the Earth.

"For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, 'This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.'

In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.'

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged (discerned) ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another - if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home - so that when you come together it will not be for judgment." - 1 Corinthians 11:23-34a ESV

Putting aside the power of things. It is not the bread or the wine that has the power... but communion is powerful. Real communion when a person fellowships with God and God reveals Himself to that person in mingling intimacy. God giving his Son so that men and women might have mental, emotional and spiritual nourishment.

I think back to a principle we spoke about before involving knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Knowledge being an awareness of structure, understanding one of function and wisdom is discerning value. Do we discern the bread and the cup? Do we discern the value of people and the love God has for them? Do we discern grace?

God makes it clear... He wants us to remember Him... to commune with Him... but there is a wrong way to do it that brings harm. It can be dangerous if it is mishandled. If it is only moral. If it is impersonal. It is not about bread and wine. It is about grace and mercy! Oh yes it is.

This whole thing is about God's love for people! He sees what people go through as they suffer in a fallen world. He is holding out His hands on the threshold of the human experience. He comes as close as He possibly can without compromising His holiness or our right to choose and he calls and yearns and wants people to come so that He can fill, wash, heal and sustain them. Life is very hard. In the end God will fix all of it but living in time there are tremendous needs.

We can go through the motions of a spiritual life but lack the communion that comes from fellowship with the God of all grace. We can miss the value and be very unwise in life. It is possible... very possible... but in a moment that all goes behind us... the crisis is past when our eyes are fixed on Him... remembering Him... discerning who He is and what He has done... in Heaven sitting on a throne at the right hand of the Father, in an individual standing or sitting right beside us and manifested in a group of people.

Stop, take a minute to discern the situation and be wise. Stop and receive grace and love. Wait a moment and 'wait for one another' in the dignity of spiritual understanding.

Wisdom from above stirs up compassion in our hearts that moves us to function in faith. Let us be worshipers today as we discern the value of the one who loves us and loves the people all around us.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Cords That Bind Us

I woke up with this passage on my heart and let me start by saying that there is no condemnation for what is past. I say this  first because it is a subject that many hold secret guilt about... secret uneasiness... if God be for you, and He is, who can be against you.

Here is the passage...

"And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, 'Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?'

He answered, 'Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.'

They said to him, 'Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?'

He said to them, 'Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.' The disciples said to him, 'If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.'

But he said to them, 'Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.' " - Matthew 19:2-12 ESV

So, In a few short sentences Jesus strips away the sentimental mask of religion and gets to the heart of the marital relationship. I like the King James version for this verse.

"Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." - Matthew 19:6 KJV

We see the picture of something wrapping layer upon layer to bind it together so that no one cord cut could sever it so that two things become one. When those ties that bind are severed it causes the once bound parties to enter into licence that is not liberty. Manuscripts vary on what verse nine says. Some say that divorce cases the woman to enter into adultery but in the ancient world only a man could initiate a divorce so it would have to be a man who initiated the divorce and the woman would then be put in a difficult situation having to make difficult choices for the sake of survival.

This is God's mind on marriage but for those who have had a marriage, or more than one, torn asunder there can be a contradiction in the heart. Receive God's love. Receive God's healing. Receive God's grace. Don't unwrap what has been wrapped together or cut the cords that hold a relationship and don't be condemned if those cord have been cut in the past. Sin is paid for, all sin, now we are free to be alive and not live as victims or as perpetrators or past mistakes.

"Let the one who is able to receive this receive it." - Matthew 19:12b ESV

Grace gives us ears to hear and changes our orientations and motivation. In this moment we are free. Free to reconcile or free to move one as God leads us. Yes, As God leads us. No preference... leading. But leading that has liberty and is free from condemnation.

God is the binder of wounds and the mender of hearts. Today is a new day. Our faith is placed in Him alone. He is the one who moves us and connects us together.

"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:" - Colossians 1:12-14 KJV

He cut us free from a power and ushered us into a kingdom . A kingdom filled with holy relationships that have God between people. He is bound up in the cord of marriage and every other relationship that is close and holy in nature but marriage is a special manifestation on Earth of Christ's relationship to the Church.

"And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." - Ecclesiastes 4:12 KJV

If one person knows God then God is there in the relationship. If two know Him He is wrapped up in the midst strengthening the bond. Don't cut the cords or encourage others to do it. Let God wrap the love that connects around us. It is not there to hinder us. It is there to hold us and embrace us.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Grace In Galatians Chapter Six

Reading Galatians chapter six this morning and jumping from scripture to scripture mostly in the old testament. In my mind I unintentionally am back to the theme of personal and corporate spirituality.

"Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load." - Galatians 6:1-5 ESV

The spiritual person loves others. The involvement we have with people is redemptive and active... not because of superiority of some kind. We are all equal. Grace makes all people equal but gifted by God. We care so we get involved but not in a way that Lords over people. We become a resource and position ourselves to be a resource by 'bearing our own load'. The load we bear is practical... pay the bills... wash the dishes... call your Mother... civic involvement... sure it is that... but at the root the load we must bear individually is the finished work cross of Christ. The eternal linkage that binds us spiritually to Christ's power, authority and freedom. Christ is the load bearer who bore our heavy load of sin now we are yoked with Him and Give Him the details of life and walk in and through those details with grace carrying us and everything else through the day.

"Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." - Galatians 6:6-9 ESV

Sometimes there is feedback of our involvement with people. God encourages feedback that is edifying. But, There is knowledge of the still invisible harvest that is coming down the road. When we carry our cross... Christ's cross... the finished work cross... our load becomes light and our well doing is a doing that is done unto God and not people. So each dish we wash we wash in God's presence... each business deal is made before God and done in faith that pleases God... each interaction with people is not to police them or judge them but to love them in redemptive purpose before God.

"So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand." - Galatians 6:10-11 ESV

Paul speaks of large letters here and that is because he was making an emphasis but it is also thought to mean that He was writing the words himself. You usually had a scribe to write the letters but that he didn't this time and he loved them so much that he wrote them anyway.

"It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus." - Galatians 6:12-17 ESV

There are going to be 'spiritual' people who see spirituality as a badge of office to police the world and especially the Church. The will do good to people outside the Church for evangelism's sake but then tighten the screws in the Church. But, That is the last thing anyone needs.

Doing good equals giving grace. Simple. People outside need that and people inside need it even more. The people inside have hopefully lost the illusion that they are something special apart from God. The world will reject them and they will feel that separation so if they can't get grace in the Church they aren't going to get it in the World.

I love Paul's last statement... 'I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.'... If the scars on my back don't live up to your works program then I have nothing to say to you. {smile}

"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen." - Galatians 6:18 ESV

Amen. Let this be a week of grace with our spirit. Out the door there are loads to bear. There are checks that need to be written to pay for things. That are people that have mouths that need to be filled and hearts that need to be encouraged. God you are our burden bearer. We give these things to you... all of it... and go as ministers of reconciliation out into a largely unreconciled world. Give us light hearts and strong words. Grace words.


Friday, April 11, 2014

The Uzzah Conflict

Reading 2 Samuel chapter 6 this morning and looking at the life of David. In this chapter we see aspects of our individual relationships to God and his manifestation of His character to people. God's holiness, His grace and people's reactions... David in particular.

"David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim. And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark." - 2 Samuel 6:1-4 ESV

Happy. Happy. Everyone is happy but David uses the wrong method to transport the Ark.

"And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry because the LORD had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day.

And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and he said, 'How can the ark of the LORD come to me?'

So David was not willing to take the ark of the LORD into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite." - 2 Samuel 6:5-10 ESV

In one way David's reaction is shocking... and understandable... David had a relationship with God and this was a breach in that relationship. David's words are interesting.

'How can the ark of the LORD come to me?'

Indeed. What just happened? David knew God and yet what happened to Uzzah happened on David's watch.

"And the ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and all his household. And it was told King David, "The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God." So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing. And when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn." - 2 Samuel 6:11-15 ESV

David changed His method. Now the Ark was carried by people as it should be and David's relationship with God resumed but it is not clear that David was healed from what happened or understood it.

Then Michal, Saul's daugther, enters the picture. She is a great picture of a man made expectation of reward. Saul's 'gift' to David. David's Earthly claim to royalty apart from God's promise. A personification of his flirtation with ambition.

"As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, and she despised him in her heart...

And David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, 'How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants' female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!' " - 2 Samuel 6:16, 20 ESV

She neither understood David's conflict or his joy. The outward trapping of Christianity or spirituality never do.

I don't think David processed what happened to Uzzah until later.

This passage David wrote many years later comes to mind.

"Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." - Psalms 51:2-5 ESV

In these verses we see the complete separation of our relationship to God and the one we have with everyone else.

Grace needs no man's hand to steady it. If the presence of God it carried by men (plural) in the method it was designed to be carried then there is a great capacity for joy and mobility. Blessing is the result of God's presence. David saw grace when Obed-Edom's house was being blessed. Blessed even though mistakes were made. Blessed even though David could not process God's holiness and God's dealings with people on an individual level.

No one can receive grace for us... It is a thing an individual must do one on one with God if it is going to happen at all.

Religion kills people. The vehicle is wrong even if the sentiment is right. Religion puts people in positions where the Ark looks like it needs help. God doesn't need our help.

Perceptions of how we need to look outwardly will only mock us and ignore our inner conflict. Spirituality exists alone before God but His presence is carried by more than one man... each one with an individual portion and perspective that is slightly different. They all see the Ark from a different angle. Same Ark but different vantage points.

Do you have an 'Uzzah Conflict'? I have had mine. There might be ones waiting for me down the road. The presence of God is waiting to be a blessing. That presence can only be approached and transported on the basis of grace. There is no other method.

By God's grace we can dance and sing before the moving work of God with understanding and great joy... let self awareness go out the window... clean and holy now as we dance alone and together in God's presence.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Our Constant Need For A Shepherd

" 'Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,' calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

'Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from righteousness: I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off, and my salvation will not delay; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory.'" - Isaiah 46:8-13 ESV

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

(John bore witness about him, and cried out, 'This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.' ')

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known." - John 1:1-18 ESV

A transgressor (Pasha - Strong's H6586) is someone who break away and goes where they shouldn't because of disconnection. Someone who is 'stubborn of heart' (Abbiyr H3820 - Leb H3820) and far from righteousness has a firmness that has not broken away... it is just a firmness that is misplaced.

As the old hymn says 'Prone to wander. Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.'

God sent a shepherd to gather his wandering lambs. To bring us in and move us to the right place. Our weakness can cause us to fall out of place and our native strength can cause us to stay where we shouldn't stay but God has sent a Saviour.

Grace is not wagging a finger at us calling us transgressors. No. God understands us and sent us a provision. Do we understand ourselves? Do we understand our constant need?

Jesus becomes our bridge back to the eternal. By one moment of faith in God Son we were translated out from under darkness and into His Son but we need a daily salvation from our own thinking and mindsets. A Shepherd who will lead us out and bring us to good pastures and clean waters.

"Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:" - Philippians 3:2-4 KJV

We have no confidence in what we have done or even how we think. Our confidence does not lie inside of ourselves. It resides in God. Our salvation sits at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is the one who Is before the beginning but came into time and space to save us from ourselves.

"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," - Philippians 2:4-5 ESV

Move us today God. Move us from our own interests. Let the freedom we have in grace cause us to abandon thoughts of condemnation because we fall short and convince us and cause us to walk on the upper highway of your thinking.

Thank you God for sending us a Saviour.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

They Could Not Take It Away

"After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the Jews' Feast of Booths was at hand.

So his brothers said to him, 'Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.'

For not even his brothers believed in him.

Jesus said to them, 'My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.'

After saying this, he remained in Galilee." - John 7:1-9 ESV

"And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away." - Luke 4:29-30 ESV

Jesus had brushes with death but He laid down His life at the right place and time and not before. He functioned in redemptive purpose and not sentimentality.

"And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." - 1 Corinthians 13:2-8a ESV

We are not loving a person by being their victim. Being willing to be witness of God's sacrifice is a different thing altogether.

"Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house!' And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you." - Luke 10:3-6 ESV

God makes us lambs for His purpose and grace has transformed us and convinces us situation by situation what to do and how to love.

"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." - John 3:8 ESV

As this next season of life comes our way we want the Spirit to guide us what to do and where to go... not walking carnally or in some form of sentimentality... God has a redemptive purpose for our lives today... a revealed will that we can rejoice in. It is a plan bathed in grace as our Shepard leads us. Don't heed the voice of a hireling that forces action. Listen to the Shepherd who loves us into living a life as we give our lives away in redemptive purpose.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The New Option

Resurrection happens because of the willing sacrifice of an innocent one. That is the rare case where justice demands resurrection.

"But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit" - 1 Peter 3:14-18 ESV

Wow. Here is a quality of living that is set apart. A Heavenly life that is a different life. Seeing the quality of this life we are put at a crossroads. Do we attain to it? We can't. Even if in the situation we remain innocent... in our hearts somewhere there is guilt. Only a perfect spotless lamb can be found to be an acceptable sacrifice. This is a life that can only be received and not one we can attain to.

"Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted." - Hebrews 12:2-3 ESV

He is the puzzle piece that completes the picture. Justice can not win without Him but with Him mercy always rejoices against justice.

"For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus." - Romans 2:14-16 ESV

Accusation and excuses were absent from the life of Christ. He lived under a different law and because He did we now have a strong tower to run to and we find a shelter from the storm of human contradiction. Knowledge of God's sovereignty and the hope of resurrection based on the life of the lamb provide a strong shelter and a spring of living water that comes from a pure clean spring in the belly of our emotions.

Today is a great day to be set free from thoughts that accuse. Injustice is real... it just does not need to have power over us. We can live under a higher law by receiving a higher life.

It is also a day where we can let go of excuses. Excusing ourselves and others. Sin hurts. It produces death. Denial stuffs the pain away but it only poisons our mind from within. The blood of the lamb cleanses us. Yes. Not our sacrifices... His one great sacrifice finished the work in the very situations that we face... have faced... and will face.

If we live passively the storm will buffet us and we will lose our innocence. Behold the lamb. In seeing Him we are given a new option... a place of shelter from the storm... one that involves resurrection life.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Islands Of Strength

"We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, 'The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.' For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." - Romans 15:1-4 ESV

In this case Paul numbers himself among the strong. Strong in what? Was he a strong business man? Did he have physical stamina and skill? It seems he had all of those things. But it was the strength of a spiritual life that he references when he references Christ's work. The strength of forgiveness. The insight into the grace of God.

"May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, 'Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.' " - Romans 15:5-9 ESV

The strength of the vertical contributes to strength in the horizontal life. Jesus had 'inreach' so that He could have 'outreach'.

"And again it is said,

'Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.'

And again,

'Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.'

And again Isaiah says,

'The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.'

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.' - Romans 15:10-13 ESV

Our God is the God of endurance, encouragement and hope. The weakest of us can have strength flowing from that. We can 'give' what can only flow from Jesus... eternal forgiveness, mercy, divine favor... to those we know and then from that base of operations we can reach the world around us.

Today we are islands of strength... not because of what we can do... but because of the grace and mercy that has been given to us and the knowledge of God's character and nature.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." - John 3:16-17 KJV


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Organic Understanding

The first part of Isaiah 11 verse 3 is translated in widely different ways.

"And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears" - Isaiah 11:3 KJV

"And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear" - Isaiah 11:3 ESV

That is because the Hebrew word Ruwach (Strong's H7306) is used. This word talks about recognition through the sense of smell. Delight or quick understanding that comes from instant recognition of something that has proven good and pleasurable in the past... like coming home and opening the door and smelling cookies baking in the oven or the smell of your favorite food warm and waiting for you. This knowing is an organic knowing that is instinctual.

The word we translate Spirit... ruwach (H7307)... is literally wind or breath...

Let's look at these verses again thinking in these terms. I have capitalized the words that specifically contribute to this concept.

"And the SPIRIT of the LORD shall rest upon him, the SPIRIT of wisdom and understanding, the SPIRIT of counsel and might, the SPIRIT of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of QUICK UNDERSTANDING in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the BREATH OF HIS LIPS shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins." - Isaiah 11:2-5 KJV


What is the scent that we instinctively recognize in our human spirit? The fear of the LORD or awe of the LORD that instantly causes delight when it comes in contact with our spiritual senses... the recognition of grace... the realization that God has mercy... He had it before when we needed it and He has it now... the goodness of God... the faithfulness and consistency of God.

This is what Adam lost in the garden... what Jesus had resting upon Him all the days of his life... what we who believe in Christ's death, burial and resurrection have indwelling us, sealing us and we sense by faith surrounding us.

"But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ." - 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 ESV

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

This is not purely intellectual. There is an rational explanation for it but it is not going to be discovered by the mind alone. This is deeper than that on an organic level.

Grace originates from the God of all grace. That is the favorable mindset that carries the distinctive scent of divinity.

"Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" - Psalms 34:8 ESV

Yes. God this morning we inhale and exhale mixing faith with your promises. Cause us to exhale the production of that life.

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer." - Psalms 19:14 ESV


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Spirit Of Wisdom And Understanding

I hope to park in Isaiah 11 for awhile. There is so much to be learned here. Our mind is the primary battlefield. Partial or surface understanding leads very easily to misunderstanding and disappointment. Understanding is a treasure map that points us to the grace of God. It proceeds from, and always returns, to the Son of God. Wisdom brings us home.

Knowledge can impart the structure of something to a person. Understanding can show the function of something but it takes wisdom to see the value of a thing or a dynamic.

Recently at a question and answer time after a men's meeting P Butch Veader gave a great practical example of this principle. He talked a learning how to use a tool from an old craftsman. The experienced man makes it look easy but it is not until you have the tool in your hand try to use it that you see the nuances of it's use. If you are just handed a tool you have never used before you analyse the structure. There is a certain way you hold it... maybe you turn it over in your hands and try to process the structure of the tool. Understanding is putting it to use correctly. Knowledge moves into understanding. The skilled craftsman shows you and corrects your technique. If you are wise you listen to the man with years of experience. The arrogant but zealous young man who will not listen will make many mistakes. The passive man may not make as many mistakes but will also not have a great volume of results. The wise person with both knowledge and understanding can have great success in applying that knowledge.

"And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear" - Isaiah 11:2-3 ESV

A spiritual person has a different value system. Structure, understanding and value have a divine aspect to them. The Spirit reveals a creator behind everything in nature... a natural man looks at a beautiful woman and may see an object to be possessed, lusted after or appreciated but a spiritual man see a Heavenly Father standing behind that woman and focuses his eyes of the divine which places the natural in perspective. Wisdom does not change the structure or something or someone but it can change the use and assessment of value radically.

Smart people look and hear and process information in practical insightful ways. Wise people process value.

Grace amplifies and reveals the value of each human being. Jesus' love manifested on the cross shows a value system that must be grace oriented... the Father's love to send Him... the Spirit's love to reveal it to us... to pay so much for so many who will never respond must be grace.

The Spirit of Grace is the Spirit of truth.

God fill us with your Spirit today. Make us wise people who discern structure and function in wisdom. People who see grace and learn it from the master craftsman... not independent and not passive... strangers and pilgrims moving through life following Jesus and hearing His words each step of the way.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Thought Life Of The Messiah

"There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,

the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,

the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;

and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins." - Isaiah 11:1-5 ESV

I am working my way through the Hebrew of these verses this morning and each new word grouping is marvelous. The spacing is a bit odd... it is my attempt to convey what is being done in the Hebrew. Each concept compliments and contrasts the another concept.

Written before Christ's birth this passage speaks of Messiah's mind. The attributes of His thinking... the terrain of His inner life and decision making. His mind would be a place where the Spirit of God could rest. In the flood of humanity the dove finds a place of rest on only this one high mountain peak... Jesus' mind.

Christ's thinking was never wrong it was always right.
He never lacked the right words to say to others. He never lacked power in what He communicated.
Grace and Truth through and through...

He did not judge but what His eyes saw in conflicts. He saw something else.
He did not make decisions but what His ears heard. He heard something else.
He came from an even place... a righteous place... in all His thinking and deciding... the Spirit rested on Him and He rested and functioned from the Spirit.

His words would be deadly to the wicked. His words would be potent in their reproduction.

"The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea." - Isaiah 11:6-9 ESV

Under His rule there is a knowing that goes beyond knowledge. Like water covers the Earth that is what the knowing will do in men. This isn't happening now. It will happen later. God is working out His plan of redemption. One day the Earth will be full of God's knowledge. The topography of the Earth will match terrain of Christ's mind.

"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." - Revelation 12:10-11 KJV

Now... today... we have the mind of Christ expressed in grace. A mind that hears and sees something else. We see a cross that sets us free from self. That thinking is place where the Spirit of God can rest. That thinking is deadly to wickedness. That thinking reproduces in the hearer and brings to life what was once dead.