Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Designed To Walk With God

God didn't save us to add us to His collection. We are not projects or notches on His belt. He loves us and clearly wants to be with us and live with us.

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.' " - Revelation 21:3-4 ESV

"And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, 'Where are you?' " - Genesis 3:8-9 ESV

God called out to Adam but it was far from an indictment. God wanted to walk with Adam. The text implies that they had done this before. This was God's desire and God does not change.

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." - John 8:36 ESV

We know God saved us to set us free but what then? Once we are free what do we do? How do we live? Where do we go.

Sin was structured. It had demands that became clear after the illusion of status and pleasure wore off. Lies needed to be maintained. Reputations needed to be upheld. But, Freedom... true freedom... what do you do with it?

Freedom allows for the pursuit of happiness but true joy is found when the creation finally realizes it's design and functions in that design. Mankind was designed to walk with God. It isn't something we have to do. Once it becomes mandatory it losses it's intimacy.

Grace. Grace fits us. It doesn't force us. Once received no rule is necessary. We are who we were always meant to be. We go with the One we were always meant to go with.

"For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time." - 1 Timothy 2:5-6 ESV

Jesus. Forever God Himself became a man and walked with His Father to a cross. It was not strange for Him. It was hard... the hardest thing anyone has ever done... but not strange. It was right. It was needed. It was as right as it was for Adam to walk with God in the cool of the day. Jesus never disappeared into the bushes. Jesus drank the bitter cup so that we could be restored back to our design and then given more.

Adam walked naked in the garden and He was good with that. It was perfectly right.

"As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire." - Daniel 7:9 ESV

"Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." - Isaiah 1:18 ESV

God gives us clothes like His.

No we are not projects to Him... We are sons and daughters and something wonderful awaits us every morning. A fellowship. Clothed in like manner we walk together.

"But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 6:17-23 ESV

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

We put on the righteousness of Christ like we would put on a coat and then enter our day that way.

How are we slaves of righteousness? What do we do with our freedom?

Now we know what we were made for and have tasted what it's like to walk with God nothing else will ever satisfy us. In a sense we are slaves to that reality.

It lacks the structure of sin. We have no one to blame anymore. God isn't like the things we served before. Being with Him is right... not always easy but right.

God puts before us life and death and says, 'Choose life.'

Let's walk with Him He wants to walk with us and talk with us. To be kind to us and give us insight into what comes next. He is our king, our friend and our God and He just wants to be with us.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Identity Loss

Oppression causes identity loss.

"I had said in my alarm, 'I am cut off from your sight.' But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help. Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!" - Psalms 31:22-24 ESV

Like a person caught inside a city under lock-down people can get cut off from the supply.

Under the oppression of Egypt Israel lost their identity as children of promise. There was so much to do all the time and grave consequences if it didn't get done (see Exodus 1).

The prodigal son forgot he was a son and thought he would return as servant (see Luke 15:11f).

We live in a pressurized world and it is easy to forget things. Stress makes us occupied with details and we can forget what is important... like who we are and why we do what we do.

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." - James 1:22-27 ESV

We are on the planet to glorify and worship God. The word serves as a mirror reflecting back to us who we really are. If Christ has made us free we are free indeed. Free to live in grace and receive mercy as children of God. Free to do all we do 'as unto the Lord'.

If the city we live in is under siege our supply lines are still open if we remember to look towards Heaven. We gaze into the Gospel of Grace and remember who we were and what God has made us to be.

There are orphans to visit and widows who are afflicted. Only someone who knows who they are can have a real provision for those folks.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pride's Struggle Against God

Some people reject salvation because they refuse to side with a God who will not endorse their chosen Identity. How shortsighted and sad.

"I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!" - Psalms 66:17-20 ESV

Pride cherishes it's independent ways. Our flesh will always love to sin. It isn't going to change. But, That is not the issue. Thank God, It is not the issue.

Iniquity is emotional rebellion. None of us have a perfect emotional life. The questions is, 'Do we nurture our negative emotions or do we discover a new identity that can feel righteously because it is born from above?'

"Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles. No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the LORD's food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the LORD who sanctifies them." - Leviticus 21:17-23 ESV

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." - 1 Corinthians 6:9-12 KJV

"From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." - 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 ESV

God wants perfection and He has provided it in His Son. The old lame, broken and imperfect identity with it's impulses and desires can not serve as a priest. Only the new nature can.

Pride chooses to nurture in a person's self life that which God has rejected.

We can cherish our iniquity because our old man remains unaccepted or we can worship a God who has given us a new nature born in the humility of His Son's sacrifice.

Once we believe what disqualified us before no longer does. All things become new. God won't see us after what we seem to lack. He will only see us as perfectly hidden in the life of His perfect Son. We become winners seated in the victory of our triumphant Messiah.

Fight if you feel you must. Fight until you are exhausted. God gave you the right to choose. He will be the same. His patience has no end. His holiness will remain uncompromised. He is willing to love you... You just need to let Him love you and He will. His love will change your citizenship and your eternal identity. That is why Jesus died... to save stubborn people just like you and just like me.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Freshness Of Childlike Faith

"And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 18:2-4 ESV

This morning I was thinking about the faith of little children and the boredom of adulthood. God was so wise to have generation follow generation. Just as we become adults people start having children and then those children become adults and have more children. Those children are waves of refreshment to older generations.

Ah, But then there is the boredom of adulthood. Boredom is a form of anger really. Life isn't interesting enough. We are not interesting enough. Responsibilities can bog us down. Creativity gets stifled. Our inquisitive nature gets tired.

"For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry." - 1 Samuel 15:23a ESV

"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." - Hebrews 3:12 KJV

Boredom causes us to justify sinful habits and the sin that has been paid for kills us. Yes, We as justified ones die one inch at a time because our expectation is hidden from us.

Adulthood in the flesh is death. I never want to grow up and grow hard and get serious. Mature. Yes. I want to put away childish naive thinking that is incomplete and partial but faith never grows up. It never gets bored.

"Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law." - Proverbs 29:18 ESV

We must have a redemptive vision. Things don't need to go the way we plan them to go but we must live in faith like little children believing God in freshness.

Grace and mercy are always looking at a new frontier. God wants to get favor to people here and people over there. Jesus is moving from town to town to meet a woman at a distant well or a tax collector in a crowded street. His meat and drink is to do His Father's will.

I want to take my possessions and play with them like child plays sitting on the ground with a little friend they made ten minutes ago. Those things are not things to be grasped unto.

I want to meet Jesus in the marketplace and go eat in a stranger's house.

A faith vision leaves no room for boredom. We need a vision bigger than we are and it is there if we hear God's voice.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bountiful Dealings in Psalm 119

I love Psalm 119. It always hits home to me. The person who wrote it clearly dealt with great hardships. It was likely written by a person taken captive and deported in Nebuchadnezzar’s third and last removal of the Jewish people taken to Babylon.

Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me! My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times. You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments. Take away from me scorn and contempt, for I have kept your testimonies. Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes. Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors." - Psalms 119:17-24 ESV

This Psalm has a portion for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This is the third portion. It would be 'C' if we compared it to our English letters 'C' of ABC... third. Aleph speaks of blessing, Bet of purity and now there is Gimel which involves 'dealings'.

Here is a person taken away captive but God's word is their focus.

Each line blesses me. Realigns me. God's gracious bountiful dealings... I need to see them. My eyes must be opened. Scorn and accusation must be removed from me. I settle into meditation and rehearse God's testimonies (accounts of past redemption in peoples and nations.) Then delight fills me.

We are sojourners in the Earth filled with Heaven's light.

Lord give us words that are born from meditation on truth. Let us speak of your bountiful dealings. Open our eyes and our mouths today.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Just Present Yourself

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

Receiving grace removes any and all barriers that would prevent us from doing this.

Oh, How we need this today and everyday!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Children Of Light

I was studying the giving of light this morning but a got to 2 Corinthians chapter 4 and got 'stuck there.'

One passage was so so good.

"For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." - 2 Corinthians 4:5-7 ESV

Our personal salvation was like the first utterance of creation. That in these jars or clay we have a miracle.

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day." - Genesis 1:1-5 ESV

God made light and then divided the light and dark times and gave creation contrast.

That is what He is doing with us. The light He gives provides contrast. Jesus is all the light we need. Nothing is brighter or purer than Him. One day He will be the only light we see by.

"And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day--and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life." - Revelation 21:23-27 ESV

Light is divided for cycles or rest and growth. The rainbow is light divided. A promise of salvation and redemption when the colors are seen we so the many sided glory of of God.

Let's walk in the light of God... the light of truth... as we do we are given more light. We are children of this daylight. We are at home here.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pray And Live In Dignity

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," - 1 Timothy 2:1-5 ESV

We pray and then we can lead a dignified life. Otherwise the world with all it's politics, contradiction and heart aches would make us crazy and undignified in our thought life and communication.

I'm going to pray for leaders I do agree with and ones can't agree with. I will unburden myself and live in a dignity that can only come from God.

Pray and God hears and answers... not for justice's sake but because we know Him and pray to Him.

"And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, 'In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, 'Give me justice against my adversary.' For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, 'Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'' And the Lord said, 'Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?' " - Luke 18:1-8 ESV


Friday, July 18, 2014

A Small Seed

I was thinking today about how we are given a little first and then later that small stewardship becomes greater later.

I few words given at the right time go from something interesting to something broad and vast. They start as a seed and then grow into a tree.

"His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.' " - Matthew 25:23 ESV

"I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth." - John 17:14-17 ESV

Hope grows in us. A calling is made known over time. Small investments turn into large futures. I want to be mindful of the small investment of eternal truth.

The Gospel is a lifeline that you can throw out to person in need and it will preserve them. It does not weigh them down. It keeps them afloat.

Words from God keep us from evil. In our life we will have trouble and great joy and the Word sanctifies us right there in the situation. Stewardship of truth gives us a strong core to function from. A stable center which strengthens the rest of our life.

God, I want to notice someone no one notices today. I want a word from you for that person. I want to go where no one goes. I want to speak by faith even if it seems small. I want to see the unseen and be blind to the obvious and mundane. Your words are valuable show me how and where to invest them.

"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." - John 3:16 KJV

This sentence is a seed and I want to sow it far and wide. Wherever this seed takes root and is established life springs forth from death.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Feminine Touch Of Wisdom

Wisdom is described as a loyal wonderful woman in Proverbs chapter four. Look at what she does as a responder.

"Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you.

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown." - Proverbs 4:5-9 ESV

First wisdom must be won. Like a suitor winning the heart of a woman. The lover says, 'There is a way that she might be mine. I want her and only her. How can I win her?'

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.

Prize her. Do not forget her or forsake her. Honor her and embrace her.

She will keep you. She will guard you. She will place on your head a graceful garland and make you a king in the Earth.

What do I need in situations? Wisdom.
What will I seek? Wisdom.

Wisdom is more than information. It is application and understanding. It is not just hearing the words and recording them. It is understanding the nuance of a language and reading the inflection of a tone of voice.

"Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;" - 1 Corinthians 1:20-27 ESV

The cross of Christ is God's wisdom. His grace and mercy seem weak to fallen men and women but they are actually stronger than man's wisest liberal thought.

The cross is ugly but God challenges us to love it. To see beyond the surface and get insight regarding it's meaning and implications.

If we understand the wisdom of grace it will keep us and not forsake us in situations. The flowery garland of summertime will rest on our heads. A woven thing that only a woman would make and a man would only wear it because of the sweet manner of that woman.

A golden crown will be ours in situations. Christ reigns and we reign in life by His side. Dead to the world and our old loyalties and alive to God in the intimate monogamy of wisdom.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Struggle To Press On

Press on. Consider. As citizen of Heaven we await a Savior from Heaven.

"Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ," - Philippians 3:13-20 ESV

Like many people I sometimes struggle getting through a Bible reading in the morning... much like the resistance we can have to exercise in the morning... getting moving... pressing on. An object at rest needs energy applied to it to be put in motion. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion and take less effort, or energy, to move.

Here Paul says, 'Let my life, and those that walk in faith, catapult you into motion.'

Awaiting our Savior... fixing our eyes on Him draws us in like gravity or magnetism does for an object. The effort is not one of maintaining motion but one of maintaining focus and being a gardener of our thought life. We cast down thoughts that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God's character and Christ's Finished Work of redemption and cultivate a life in the scriptures and exposed to Godly teaching and examples so that seeds are being sown into our minds daily and tender shoots are watered moment by moment.

We open the book and sometimes fight our emotions and rebuke our familiarity. We read and reread if there seems to be no connection. We resist the urge to skip over 'less interesting passages' knowing that there in value in getting the flow of a thought even if the content of a particular passage does not interest us at the moment.

If we look in the Bible we find Jesus... not as we want Him to be but as He really is. That is the Jesus we must find. That is the Jesus who is looking for us... visiting us... living with us. He is the Jesus that can remain invisible if our God is our belly and our glory becomes our shame.

"My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word! When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes! Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me. I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame! I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!" - Psalms 119:25-32 ESV

Yes God. Yes. Yes.

I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart... not before that... grace must impact my soul... I must be catapulted forward by your power. Do that today Lord. I trust You. I give myself to You afresh. I seek You knowing You seek me much more... Your desire and love is much more.

Thank you God.

Thank You.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Convictions From Eternal Viewpoint

Our convictions originate from outside of time. We make decisions to think with God about all the relationships in our life from His perspective.

"Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." - John 17:24 KJV

"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:" - Ephesians 1:4 KJV

Decisions were made before the foundation of the world. Redemption was planned out before a man walked the Earth.

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

"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

Grace has been given to shape our thinking. It was not given to puff us up or bring us down it was given to take us out of our thinking and into God's thinking.

Faith founded on what has always been will be backed by a kingdom that has always been.

"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.' " - John 14:6-7 ESV

The doorway is a narrow one. One man. One thought life. We have been given a broad stewardship. All the minutes of this day have been given as gifts. We reign in life as we think with God. We live in victory not by changing our ways but by receiving eternal thinking and having convictions based on what we see our Father doing.

God tells us we are Sons. We have been given power to be His children. Let's take on our new identity and wear the white robe of a child in God's family. Grace will shape our doing in ways our effort never could. Like water washes the body the Bible washes our thinking and builds us.

Knowing who we are is the foundation of knowing what to do next.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Well Known In Heaven

We have grace and peace on Earth because we are blessed in Heaven.

"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places," - Ephesians 1:1-3 ESV

We are known there. We are blessed there.

God the Father asks about us. Jesus talks about us to His Father. The Spirit of God guides us and keys tabs on us. We are blessed in Heaven. We are known in Heaven.

This morning I imagine this conversation like it might happen with an Earthly parent...

"Good to see you Son of my right hand."
"Always good to see you Father."
"Say, How is that friend of yours. The one with the blond hair. I've been thinking about Him. You know the one. He asked to receive you in 1982 in the back of that little church in Alabama. You know who I mean..."
"Yes, I spoke to Him this morning. He has asked us for a few things."
"Oh, I like that boy. Let's make sure he gets what He needs."
"Sure thing Father. The Spirit is right on that and we will send angels to make that happen right now."
"Good. Good. What a great guy. Did he ever marry that nice brown haired girl..."
"No, They broke up in May of 1992"
"Oh, I like that girl... She received you in 1986 after the missionary came to her Church. Great girl."
"Yes, I haven't spoken to her lately."
"Please tell her I love her when you do speak to her. What a great young lady. Her parents are such a blessing to me."

We can imagine long conversations like that but between a Father and Son with infinite love and infinite knowledge of details. People here on Earth but being discussed in Heaven right now.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." - Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV

"Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. 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 12:7-9 ESV

"My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you." - Psalms 139:15-18 ESV

If we know the Son then the Father knows us and when the Father knows our name we have hope because who can resist the goodwill of the Father?

"For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, 'Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.' " - Hebrews 6:13-14 NKJV

No one could prevent that blessing.

We imagine a present tense conversation but in truth it happens in eternity so it echos from the past and into the future all at once.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved." - Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV

God spoke a blessing within the Trinitarian counsel of Father, Son and Spirit in Heaven before the world was made and though we are here on the Earth that blessing is made to reach us now.

Not everyone is known.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'" - Matthew 7:21-23 ESV

We are blessed to know God by His grace and not our works. We are known and spoken about. We will be known and spoken about.

Isolation is a terrible thing... We are known! The moment we received Christ by faith we can have great assurance that we are known and will be known forever.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Grace Cuts The Bars Of Bondage

"I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name." - Isaiah 45:2-3 ESV

I really like this verse. This is victory where we find hidden amassed treasure. It is not an attack we barely survive and have scars from. It is the conquest and discovery of secret things. Doors and security bars are cut open to reveal hoards of riches.

The treasure chest of time is found.

The hidden rooms of freedom are discovered.

The riches of creativity and integrity hidden away by guilt and a defeated self image see open air and sunshine for the first time.

"Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness." - Psalms 29:2 ESV

"Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth." - Psalms 50:2 ESV

"God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." - John 4:24 ESV

"But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." - Luke 11:20-23 ESV

Who is the stronger man who kicks down the door and takes what has been locked up by lies and greed. Jesus is the stronger man. He sets us free then because of grace we live free.

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." - Galatians 5:1 KJV

"Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery." - Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." - 1 Peter 5:6-10 ESV

Yes. Let words of grace come in.

"Thus says the LORD, 'Though they are at full strength and many, they will be cut down and pass away. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more. And now I will break his yoke from off you and will burst your bonds apart.' " - Nahum 1:12-13 ESV

Let the reality of grace cut the bars of the bondage of anxiety. Worship though you may be in a prison cell. Worship and the Earth will quake. The crumbling and shifting of your fragile humanity will cause pressure on the temporal structures built upon the sand and they will come down. Only what is on the rock will remain and that structure is shining and glorious.

"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 124:7-8 ESV

The name of the Lord is grace. Jesus is the name of the Lord!


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Redemptive Communication In The Book of James

Looking at the subject of communication in the book of James. Fascinating.

James has so much so say about what we say, how we say it and if we say something. I am going to list just a few verses with the communication words in all capitals.

"For he who SAID, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder.' If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So SPEAK and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment." - James 2:11-13 ESV

"But someone will SAY, 'You have faith and I have works.' Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." - James 2:18 ESV

"Not many of you should become TEACHERS, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness." - James 3:1 ESV (Teachers speak and instruct)

"So also the TONGUE is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the TONGUE is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The TONGUE is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell." - James 3:5-6 ESV

"From the same MOUTH come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so." - James 3:10 ESV

"This is not the WISDOM that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the WISDOM from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere." - James 3:15-17 ESV

"What causes QUARRELS and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and QUARREL. You do not have, because you do not ASK. You ASK and do not receive, because you ASK wrongly, to spend it on your passions." - James 4:1-3 ESV

"Do not SPEAK evil against one another, brothers. The one who SPEAKS against a brother or judges his brother, SPEAKS evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? Come now, you who SAY, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit' - yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to SAY, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.' As it is, you BOAST in your arrogance. All such BOASTING is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." - James 4:11-17 ESV

"Come now, you rich, weep and HOWL for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten." - James 5:1-2 ESV

"Do not GRUMBLE against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who SPOKE in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. 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. Is anyone among you suffering? Let him PRAY. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing PRAISE. Is anyone among you sick? Let him CALL for the elders of the church, and let them PRAY over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the PRAYER of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, CONFESS your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The PRAYER of a righteous person has great power as it is working." - James 5:9-16 ESV

"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 5:17-18 ESV

"My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone BRINGS HIM BACK, let him know that whoever BRINGS BACK a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." - James 5:19-20 ESV


There is so much here isn't there?

It makes me want to be a person who communicates mercy because I am meditating on grace. God apparently wants a focused communication life... prayer directed at Him... praise for circumstances directed at Him... true communication between people... not keeping things hidden inside but expression focused by and through faith.

Will complaining bring back a wandering sinner (someone who has missed the mark in life)? Will negativity?

What will make it rain? The prayer of faith will.

What will seal a deal. A true 'Yes' or 'No' will.

I need to hear myself speak wisdom from above not below. People need grace words from merciful people and in order to be a merciful person I need to hear merciful word that are from God and to speak those words to myself.

We have been given grace but mankind quarrels and devours one another because no word of grace is heard and processed by the soul. The war in our soul can cease the moment we hear the gracious announcement of the finished work in application for our lives... that same word gives us a soft answer that can turn away wrath in others.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Put On A Clean Shirt And Go Soul-Winning

When things don't go the way we want in life and we feel like we have had a spiritual 'setback' we can always study and rehearse verses about grace and go soul winning.

"As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." - 2 Timothy 4:5 ESV

Some might think this is a program of some kind. No. It is a return our roots. It is us going back to realizing that this life is not about us and our expectations. This is a seek and save that which is lost age of history. At it's roots Christianity is reaching souls with grace and truth.

Others might say, 'I don't do this now. I never have. Why start now... especially now when I am depressed?'

Do you want to see the supernatural right before your eyes? Grab some tracks and grab a spiritually hungry young person (or old person) and go somewhere armed with the Gospel on your lips. You will see light and dark manifested right quick as you open your mouth.

Here is an old testament passage that illustrates the newness that can happen when we face down disappointment wit this kind of 'revenging disobedience with obedience'.

"The LORD said to Samuel, 'How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.'

And Samuel said, 'How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.'

And the LORD said, 'Take a heifer with you and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.' And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.'

Samuel did what the LORD commanded and came to Bethlehem.

The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, 'Do you come peaceably?' And he said, 'Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.'

And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice...

Then Samuel said to Jesse, 'Are all your sons here?'

And he said, 'There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.'

And Samuel said to Jesse, 'Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.' And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome.

And the LORD said, 'Arise, anoint him, for this is he.'" - 1 Samuel 16:1-5, 11-12 ESV

Samuel grabbed a lamb and went to sacrifice. We have a lamb that has already been slain. We grab a message and go. Maybe it is on slips of paper. Maybe it is something else we give out or a shirt we wear or a sign we hold but we go. We go looking for someone to anoint. We go on purpose to speak words of life.

It is amazing who those words will connect to when we go.

Or you can just stay home depressed that king Saul (representing the carnal man) didn't work out as planned.

"And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet." - Matthew 10:14 KJV

"Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed [himself], and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat." - 2 Samuel 12:20 KJV

'Put on a clean shirt, say a quick prayer and go soul-winning.' That's what I say. It is amazing how newness can be ushered in because someone who is hurting gets encouraged by the words of hope you are saying purely by faith.

I am convinced that God will arrange such appointments when we determine in our heart to function just this way. Let's face it... how many people are willing to do this?


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Glorious Power Of Sanity

"And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." - Colossians 1:9-14 ESV

Salvation pulls us out of insanity and puts us in our right mind. Power fills us. It is the power of patient endurance that has joy and thanksgiving.

Grace makes us sane. Oppression puts pressure on our mind in ways that change it's shape. The weight causes an imprint on the soul. God removes us from the impersonal power and authority of darkness and places us into the kingdom of his loved and loving Son.

I notice that the prayer Paul prays is for knowledge, spiritual wisdom and understanding of what has already been accomplished. A progression that needs to be understood. Information comes in then it must be processed before it can be experienced. Spiritual wisdom is Biblical wisdom. It is wisdom that sees the character and nature of God... wisdom that has the cross as a focal point... wisdom that is not detached from reality but explains reality in the light of eternity. If that wisdom is employed then understanding will provide the platform for the will and faith choices can be made which will produce fruit.

God has delivered us. It is a past tense deliverance that allows for present tense understanding and future fruit.

This is how every generation before us has been fruitful in faith. Now it is our turn.

"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, 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 12:1-2 ESV

Perhaps we seek a different kind of power... a strength of body or mind or an alignment of opportunities and resources before we walk by faith but in truth those things, if they come, are things that come later. Understanding is first. Glorious power. The power that reveals the glory of the person and finished work of Christ is the foundation of salvation. If that is revealed no weakness will ultimately hinder us from walking in a way that is pleasing to the Father.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Strength And Immunity

When I received Christ God gave me sanity. I would say 'restored my sanity' (I was very messed up) but in truth I was never sane before like a was the days and weeks after receiving Christ. There was a newness and relief beyond anything I'd ever experienced.

In the back of my mind I thought strength would soon follow. I supposed that an immunity to things would come as well. Maybe not full immunity but a way out would be there that was just as good as immunity. If I was sick I could pray now and get better. I was re-gened as a new person who would never truly die. Surely this meant elevated influence and ability. I was not a conscious thought per se... more that it was in the back of my mind.

Sanity did give me strength in degrees because my self destructive nature no longer had free reign but far from being stronger I found myself more vulnerable. I did not realize that the strength I had admired before also incorporated callousness. A quality that if cultivated now interfered with my relationship with God. It was a trade off I wasn't willing to make.

I cared now and caring made me vulnerable.

No, In the twenty plus years since then strength has not followed neither has immunity. Moments of it perhaps... salvations from and in circumstances certainly... but not in the way I imagined... not because 'I' was powerful.

But, In time I was to discovered a new greater power far beyond what I dreamed of before.

God's Love.

Love flowing through me from God was something I had never known before. It is the most marvelous thing. Love flowing at me from God. Sensing Love. Loving when it made no sense.

One day when this corruptible puts on incorruptibility I expect to be strong and immune closer to the way I half imagined in those early days of my Christian walk. I'm sure it will be beyond what I could have possibility imagine... Still those things will never exceed the love I have right now.

Not my love. His love that belongs to me.

Love is our power. Love that flows in communion. Love manifested in fellowship. Love that loves the lovely and unlovely alike.

Love is the strength I never knew I needed. Because of Christ I will never again have to do without it.

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith - that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." - Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV


A Stewardship Of Caring

"...of whom the world was not worthy - wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth." - Hebrews 11:38 ESV

People are very heavy on my heart this morning. I have great hope and expectation for what God has but still I see the burdens people carry and the things people suffer and as I study I pray for people.

It has me reading 1 Timothy and meditating on Paul's counsel to Timothy. He gives all kinds of administrative advice that likely meant so much to that younger man who had to cope with his leadership position.

"I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service," - 1 Timothy 1:12 ESV

Paul was grateful that he could care for people. He was grateful that he was given a clear manifestation of the message. He saw the value of ministry and imparted what God had given him to others.

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," - 1 Timothy 2:1-5 ESV

Prayer is valuable. The salvation that comes in the person of Jesus Christ is needed across the board.

"The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. ... And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless." - 1 Timothy 3:1, 10 ESV

Leadership is needed... but also it is a fine thing to let there be some obstacles to overcome before hands are laid on a person. This is true in ministry and also in life. I like that the requirement the ministry I was reared up in requires a Bible college education and not some subjective test that might be passed due to charisma, connections or soul power. These tests are grace oriented ones for sure but still they remain. Leaders appoint leaders because they see something of God's work on a person and that is good. No one wants to be a leader without God's blessing.

"Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden." - 1 Timothy 5:22-25 ESV

I think of doctors who take precautions to keep themselves free of infection. t is important that we do that also.

"Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers." - 1 Timothy 4:13-16 ESV

The food we eat as spiritual people makes all the difference. Living in grace moment by moment. We can't afford to be self occupied or to neglect what has been given to us. People have great needs and we must be stewards of our own spiritual health to walk worthy of what has been given to us.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

No Progress

"The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.

So the Pharisees said to one another, 'You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.'

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, 'Sir, we wish to see Jesus.'

Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

And Jesus answered them, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.' " - John 12:17-26 ESV

What a interesting twist. His enemies recognize Him and people far and wide are beginning to follow Him... for a natural man it would seem that this was a turning point that any man would be looking for... the equivalent of an actors big break or a person's long awaited promotion to management.

It always fascinates me that just when Jesus seems to have a turning point that leads to a natural victory He turns the tables even on that to go to the cross. God's plan was always more important to him than any evaluation that He could make by sight. He never measured success by temporal standards.

He didn't progress toward it at all.

He started from success and ended in success. He sits now on a successful throne and when we see Him we will see our triumphant King.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus," - Romans 3:23-24 ESV

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." - Romans 8:1 ESV

"For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." - 1 Corinthians 15:22 ESV

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

"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 1:8-10 ESV

All who believe are placed into Christ's victory. We are not progressing toward it. We are in it.

I am not getting better. I am not making headway. I have been placed in victory because of God's mercy.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God," - Ephesians 2:8 ESV

"And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole." - Luke 17:19 KJV

The empty cross is our victory. Period.

There are things we want to see happen in this life and we will see great progress in projects but we will also see great setbacks at times. It is never a measure of our personal success or failure. Ultimate success is found inside of a risen Savior. If we have Him we have won already.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hidden Manna And A Secret Name

"But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality... He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it." - Revelation 2:14, 17 ESV

Thinking about hidden manna and the name we are given by God. Both are hidden. The manna was hidden in the Ark of the covenant in an urn of gold (see Hebrews 9:4) and the name is also hidden in a kind of code that only we know how to decipher.

Balaam heard God's voice but was tempted leverage his spirituality for gain. He used what he knew of weakness in people to try and have both spirituality and gain. It corrupted him and caused a strange obsession. Balaam could not curse Israel but became obsessed with finding a loophole.

I find that wanting to have my cake and eat it also puts me in danger. If I try to protect my self life or in sentimentality protect someone else's I can live in Balaam's teaching and rationalize my carnality. Wow.

But, There is a prize for being a grace overcomer... a secret prize... food hidden inside of something else... manna no one else can see... the original good stuff that feeds a soul so it needs nothing else... no work necessary just gathering daily what comes from Heaven... and a name that is special... a name only God and the individual know... a secret connection that can never be taken away.

Grace speaks to me like God calling me by my special name.

It has the same power as an old friend showing up in our adult life and calling us by a beloved nickname we were only called as a child. Our young may not be known by our adult circle but at the hearing of that name spoke aloud we realize we are known and remembered. Grace when it comes fresh gives us that rush of shared intimacy.

Today there may be pressures to sell out our faith and live a double minded existence.  Hold the stone with your name on it in a palm of your hand. Feel the substance of your new identity and the intimacy of your new name and nature. If we overcome we win over double minded with intimacy as our prize.

"For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ," - 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 ESV

Yes and amen.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Life of Faith Rest

Live by faith. Rest in Faith.

Faith. Rest. Life.

"Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me." - Colossians 1:28-29 ESV

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.' " - Romans 1:16-17 ESV

The Gospel reveals the grace of God and a faith to faith progression in grace reveals the righteousness of God.

Our struggle is often to enter in faith rest and live our lives from that place.

"We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions." - Romans 6:9-12 ESV

There is a reckoning involved in that struggle. We mentally identify with Christ's death and the new life that we can now live. The struggle is mental. The battlefield is the mind.

The witness of righteousness however is not mental it is a life of faith moving to faith in a progression.

I struggle with decisions... so do you I'm sure. Not all of them. Some are clear cut and obvious. Others are not. Situations are fluid and decisions must be made.

A believer has God's power working in them. Anyone can have God's power working on them. God is sovereign and does things with people all the time but the believer in Christ has the unique privilege of being a co-laborer with Christ.

"I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." - 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 KJV

Faith. Rest. Life.

Life. Rest. Faith.

No passivity today... just rest. No mental laziness. We rise from sleep and move into faith. Situations and problems will try to move us away from faith rest but we toil to stay there... we cling to the anchor that holds... Christ inside the veil of Heaven and we remain tethered to Him by the Spirit in our thinking. Passivity would tempt us to keep our mouths closed today but we are standing under the waterfall of grace not beside it and others are bound to get wet when they talk to us.

The water flows from our belly... love resting in love making compassionate decisions. Our lives are not our own. This is our life... a life of entering into rest.